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Courageous Conversations

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
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Gail Stalarow, Cabrina Owsley, Maureen Wittels,

(From left) Gail Stalarow, Cabrina Owsley, Maureen Wittels, Sergeant Rubin (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

The Buzz Magazines and Crime Stoppers of Houston teamed up to host the inaugural women’s Lunch and Learn forum, “Courageous Conversations” today at Post Oak Grill. Approximately 40 women gathered in an intimate setting to hear from a panel of passionate women who took the time to bravely share their personal, powerful stories.

Gail Stalarow talked about her experience of being robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight. Afterward, it was her own legwork – plus an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers - that helped in the arrest of the suspect. She was also able to have some of her heirloom jewelry returned to her. Read more about Gail’s story, and tips for being safe while shopping and running errands on an everyday basis, here

Recently, Gail testified at the Texas State Capitol with Rania Mankarious, executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston, on legislation intended to help prevent robberies and help other people in situations like hers.

Cabrina Owsley – who became known as the “River Oaks jogger” – shared her story of being abducted while jogging in her River Oaks neighborhood. She boldly put up a fight, including jumping out of the trunk. She was able to escape with the help of a compassionate passerby.

“The survival instinct is a gift from God,” Cabrina said. She said keeping a sense of humor, even after being in a life-threatening situation, is important too. She’s committed to sharing her story to help protect other women.

Maureen Wittels shared the tragic story of the loss of her son, Harris, to heroin addiction. Harris was a talented actor and executive producer of hit TV show Parks and Recreation and he was funny since he was born, Maureen said. Harris coined the term “humblebrag” and also wrote a book by the same name. He had many fans – here in Houston and in Hollywood, such as Aziz Ansari and Sarah Silverman.

“{Addiction is} a stigma and needs to be treated like a disease,” Maureen said. She created a support group called GRASP (Grief Recovery After Substance Passing) in Houston for others coping with loss after addiction. She shared some “Harris-isms” including this quote: “Stop ‘future tripping.’ All we have is today.” Read more about Harris and his life in this article Maureen wrote for the Huffington Post

After Gail, Cabrina and Maureen spoke, there was an opportunity for Q&A with the panelists along with experts Patricia Daza, Ph.D., senior staff psychologist at The Menninger Clinic, Sergeant Rubin with Crime Stoppers and Rania Mankarious of Crime Stoppers.

Dr. Daza said that secrets keep us “stuck” and that the ability for the panelists to share their experiences – and find meaning in how to move forward in life – help members of our communities too. She said that at Menninger, clients are encouraged to work on rewiring the brain as well as “rewiring” family systems in learning how to be vulnerable and share difficult subjects with each other.

Sgt. Rubin spoke about how to make ourselves a “smaller target” and to always make sure to be aware of the environment around us. Protecting yourself by carrying pepper spray (there’s a new product that marks the attacker for up to seven days) and a flashlight and taking self-defense classes is beneficial. She said it’s so important to notice what’s going on around us and to pay attention to our own intuition.

Thank you again to all of the incredible panelists for sharing their stories with us and thank you to Crime Stoppers of Houston for collaborating with us on this valuable event and for all that you do for the community every day.

See more from Crime Stoppers of Houston in Rania Mankarious’ weekly blog on our site, Sunday Mornings with Rania. Call 713-222-TIPS anonymously anytime. 

  • Panelists

    Panelists Gail Stalarow, Maureen Wittels, Cabrina Owsley (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Allison Lewis, Paige Hollek, Michelle Sacks, Sergeant Rubin, Tania Cruz

    Crime Stoppers team (from left) Allison Lewis, Paige Hollek, Michelle Sacks, Sergeant Rubin, Tania Cruz (Photo: Dylan Aguilar)

  • Paige Hollek, Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld

    Paige Hollek, Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Sweet treat

    Sweet treats from Michael's Cookie Jar (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, Joni Hoffman

    Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, Joni Hoffman (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Joni Hoffman, Rania Mankarious

    Joni Hoffman, Rania Mankarious (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Display table

    Display of Buzz May issues and Crime Stoppers' pamphlets. (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Joni Hoffman, Myrna Engler

    Joni Hoffman, Myrna Engler (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Michael and Joni Hoffman

    Michael and Joni Hoffman (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Teri Gerber, Joni Hoffman, Myrna Engler

    Teri Gerber, Joni Hoffman, Myrna Engler (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Jacquie Baly, Rania Mankarious, Michelle Heinz

    Jacquie Baly, Rania Mankarious, Michelle Heinz (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Michael Hoffman, Patricia Daza, Stephanie Cunningham, Kim Montgomery

    Michael Hoffman, Patricia Daza, Stephanie Cunningham, Kim Montgomery (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Teri Gerber

    Teri Gerber (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Jacquie Baly, Rubin, Michelle Heinz

    Jacquie Baly, Sgt. Rubin, Michelle Heinz (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Michelle Heinz, Cheri Fama

    Michelle Heinz, Cheri Fama (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Charlene Slack, Carol Deason, Claudia Kreisle, Trish Morille, Catherine Wile

    Charlene Slack, Carol Deason, Claudia Kreisle, Trish Morille, Catherine Wile (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Tania Cruz, Paige Hollek, Jennifer Jaroszewski, Jacquie Baly, Alex Blair, Brenda Trevino

    (Top row, from left) Tania Cruz, Paige Hollek, Jennifer Jaroszewski (bottom row, from left) Jacquie Baly, Alex Blair, Brenda Trevino (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Amanda Jenson, Sherri Glover, Melissa Davis, Cheri Fama, Michele Heinz

    Amanda Jenson, Sergeant Rubin, Sherri Glover, Melissa Davis, Cheri Fama, Michele Heinz (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Michelle Sacks, Allison Lewis, Tama Lundquist, Tama Faust, Randi Rubenstein, Teri Gerber

    Michelle Sacks, Allison Lewis, Tama Lundquist, Tama Faust, Randi Rubenstein, Teri Gerber (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Myrna Engler, Joni Hoffman, Samantha Cunningham, Patricia Daza, Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, Kim Montgomery

    (Top row, from left) Myrna Engler, Joni Hoffman, Samantha Cunningham, Patricia Daza (bottom row, from left) Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, Kim Montgomery Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Lindsay Aronstein, Stephanie Wachs, Maureen Wittels,  Cabrina Owsley, Gail Stalarow, Patricia Ritter, Jill Talisman, Aida Araissi

    (Bottom row, from left) Lindsay Aronstein, Stephanie Wachs, Maureen Wittels (top row, from left) Cabrina Owsley, Gail Stalarow, Patricia Ritter, Jill Talisman, Aida Araissi (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Jill Talisman

    Jill Talisman (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Sherri Glover, Melissa Davis, Amanda Jenson,

    (From left) Sherri Glover, Sgt. Rubin, Amanda Jenson, Melissa Davis 

  • Michelle Sacks

    Michelle Sacks (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Trish Morille

    Trish Morille (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Rania Mankarious

    Rania Mankarious (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Patricia Daza, Gail Stalarow

    Patricia Daza, Gail Stalarow (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Gail Stalarow

    Gail Stalarow (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Cabrina Owsley

    Cabrina Owsley (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Rania Mankarious

    Rania Mankarious (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Cabrina Owsley

    Cabrina Owsley (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Maureen Wittels

    Maureen Wittels (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Joni Hoffman

    Buzz editor Joni Hoffman (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Sgt. Rubin

    Sgt. Rubin speaking (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Stephanie Wachs

    Stephanie Wachs (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Cheri Fama

    Cheri Fama (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

  • Panelists
  • Allison Lewis, Paige Hollek, Michelle Sacks, Sergeant Rubin, Tania Cruz
  • Paige Hollek, Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
  • Sweet treat
  • Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, Joni Hoffman
  • Joni Hoffman, Rania Mankarious
  • Display table
  • Joni Hoffman, Myrna Engler
  • Michael and Joni Hoffman
  • Teri Gerber, Joni Hoffman, Myrna Engler
  • Jacquie Baly, Rania Mankarious, Michelle Heinz
  • Michael Hoffman, Patricia Daza, Stephanie Cunningham, Kim Montgomery
  • Teri Gerber
  • Jacquie Baly, Rubin, Michelle Heinz
  • Michelle Heinz, Cheri Fama
  • Charlene Slack, Carol Deason, Claudia Kreisle, Trish Morille, Catherine Wile
  • Tania Cruz, Paige Hollek, Jennifer Jaroszewski, Jacquie Baly, Alex Blair, Brenda Trevino
  • Amanda Jenson, Sherri Glover, Melissa Davis, Cheri Fama, Michele Heinz
  • Michelle Sacks, Allison Lewis, Tama Lundquist, Tama Faust, Randi Rubenstein, Teri Gerber
  • Myrna Engler, Joni Hoffman, Samantha Cunningham, Patricia Daza, Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, Kim Montgomery
  • Lindsay Aronstein, Stephanie Wachs, Maureen Wittels,  Cabrina Owsley, Gail Stalarow, Patricia Ritter, Jill Talisman, Aida Araissi
  • Jill Talisman
  • Sherri Glover, Melissa Davis, Amanda Jenson,
  • Michelle Sacks
  • Trish Morille
  • Rania Mankarious
  • Patricia Daza, Gail Stalarow
  • Gail Stalarow
  • Cabrina Owsley
  • Rania Mankarious
  • Cabrina Owsley
  • Maureen Wittels
  • Joni Hoffman
  • Sgt. Rubin
  • Stephanie Wachs
  • Cheri Fama

More photos

Panelists

Panelists Gail Stalarow, Maureen Wittels, Cabrina Owsley (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Allison Lewis, Paige Hollek, Michelle Sacks, Sergeant Rubin, Tania Cruz

Crime Stoppers team (from left) Allison Lewis, Paige Hollek, Michelle Sacks, Sergeant Rubin, Tania Cruz (Photo: Dylan Aguilar)

Paige Hollek, Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld

Paige Hollek, Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Sweet treat

Sweet treats from Michael's Cookie Jar (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, Joni Hoffman

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, Joni Hoffman (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Joni Hoffman, Rania Mankarious

Joni Hoffman, Rania Mankarious (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Display table

Display of Buzz May issues and Crime Stoppers' pamphlets. (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Joni Hoffman, Myrna Engler

Joni Hoffman, Myrna Engler (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Michael and Joni Hoffman

Michael and Joni Hoffman (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Teri Gerber, Joni Hoffman, Myrna Engler

Teri Gerber, Joni Hoffman, Myrna Engler (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Jacquie Baly, Rania Mankarious, Michelle Heinz

Jacquie Baly, Rania Mankarious, Michelle Heinz (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Michael Hoffman, Patricia Daza, Stephanie Cunningham, Kim Montgomery

Michael Hoffman, Patricia Daza, Stephanie Cunningham, Kim Montgomery (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Teri Gerber

Teri Gerber (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Jacquie Baly, Rubin, Michelle Heinz

Jacquie Baly, Sgt. Rubin, Michelle Heinz (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Michelle Heinz, Cheri Fama

Michelle Heinz, Cheri Fama (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Charlene Slack, Carol Deason, Claudia Kreisle, Trish Morille, Catherine Wile

Charlene Slack, Carol Deason, Claudia Kreisle, Trish Morille, Catherine Wile (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Tania Cruz, Paige Hollek, Jennifer Jaroszewski, Jacquie Baly, Alex Blair, Brenda Trevino

(Top row, from left) Tania Cruz, Paige Hollek, Jennifer Jaroszewski (bottom row, from left) Jacquie Baly, Alex Blair, Brenda Trevino (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Amanda Jenson, Sherri Glover, Melissa Davis, Cheri Fama, Michele Heinz

Amanda Jenson, Sergeant Rubin, Sherri Glover, Melissa Davis, Cheri Fama, Michele Heinz (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Michelle Sacks, Allison Lewis, Tama Lundquist, Tama Faust, Randi Rubenstein, Teri Gerber

Michelle Sacks, Allison Lewis, Tama Lundquist, Tama Faust, Randi Rubenstein, Teri Gerber (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Myrna Engler, Joni Hoffman, Samantha Cunningham, Patricia Daza, Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, Kim Montgomery

(Top row, from left) Myrna Engler, Joni Hoffman, Samantha Cunningham, Patricia Daza (bottom row, from left) Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, Kim Montgomery Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Lindsay Aronstein, Stephanie Wachs, Maureen Wittels,  Cabrina Owsley, Gail Stalarow, Patricia Ritter, Jill Talisman, Aida Araissi

(Bottom row, from left) Lindsay Aronstein, Stephanie Wachs, Maureen Wittels (top row, from left) Cabrina Owsley, Gail Stalarow, Patricia Ritter, Jill Talisman, Aida Araissi (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Jill Talisman

Jill Talisman (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Sherri Glover, Melissa Davis, Amanda Jenson,

(From left) Sherri Glover, Sgt. Rubin, Amanda Jenson, Melissa Davis 

Michelle Sacks

Michelle Sacks (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Trish Morille

Trish Morille (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Rania Mankarious

Rania Mankarious (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Patricia Daza, Gail Stalarow

Patricia Daza, Gail Stalarow (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Gail Stalarow

Gail Stalarow (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Cabrina Owsley

Cabrina Owsley (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Rania Mankarious

Rania Mankarious (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Cabrina Owsley

Cabrina Owsley (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Maureen Wittels

Maureen Wittels (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Joni Hoffman

Buzz editor Joni Hoffman (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Sgt. Rubin

Sgt. Rubin speaking (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Stephanie Wachs

Stephanie Wachs (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

Cheri Fama

Cheri Fama (Photo: Dylan Aguilar) 

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