Congratulations to the 2018 Top Ten Business Women of ABWA!

As a leading organization for working women, the American Business Women’s Association takes recognition to a national level with the prestigious Top Ten Business Women of ABWA program. The Top Ten is the highest honor awarded to a member in ABWA. These women are applauded for their career accomplishments, community involvement, and of course, their contribution to ABWA.


2018 American Business Woman
Kathryn Knotts

Attorney, The Carlson Law Firm, LLC
Leading Women Express Network
College Station, TX
Member Since: 2009

Growing up Kathryn Knotts always knew she wanted to be an attorney. By the time she completed high school, she knew that wherever her profession took her, she wanted to work and live in a rural county in Texas.  After graduating high school, Knotts attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor where she also danced on their ‘Sader Belle Dance Team’ and worked as a nanny and HR clerk for a manufacturing plant.  Knotts graduated from UMHB in August 2002, cum laude and began law school at Baylor University three days later. She graduated from Baylor Law School with an emphasis in civil litigation in December 2005. Shortly, thereafter Knotts began her journey with The Carlson Law Firm, P.C. in Killeen, Texas, focusing her practice on personal injury and medical malpractice. In 2007, she was recognized by her firm as Attorney of the Year.   After working and managing a team in the firm’s home office for six years, Knotts had the wonderful opportunity to fulfill her high school dream and move to a rural county. She transferred to Brazos County to manage the firm’s Bryan-College Station office, where she has worked to more than quadruple the office’s productivity in five years. Knotts is also a Gold Ambassador with Plexus Worldwide, where she enjoys helping others find better health and wellness.

Knotts joined the American Business Women’s Association in 2009 after attending an ABWA event where her firm’s COO was honored as a Business Associate of the Year.  After joining ABWA, Knotts attended her first national district conference in the spring of 2010 and was hooked! Since joining ABWA, she has served as Secretary to Globe Chapter in Killeen; VP of Communications, VP of Membership, President Elect and President for Leading Women Express Network; Houston Area Council Representative for Leading Women Express Network; and has served on numerous committees in Globe, Leading Women Express Network and Houston Area Council. In 2010, Knotts was honored by the Central Texas Area Council with a Hall of Fame Award, and in 2014 with the Houston Area Council Shining Star Award.  Knotts also has served as the ABWA Houston Area Council Women Celebrating Women Luncheon co-chair for 2015 and 2016. 
Knotts is also actively involved in her local community with American Cancer Society, United Way, Relay for Life, Leadership Brazos Alumni Association, Brazos County Bar Association, and Texas Trial Lawyers Association. She is also an active member of First United Methodist in Normangee where she serves on the Board of Trustees. Knotts spends her free time with her husband, Bryan Knotts and her son, Cade Knotts.


Gracie Bradford

CEO/Founder of MBradford Management Associates, LLC
South East Express Network
Pearland, TX
Member Since: 2013

Retiring after thirty years in the healthcare industry, Bradford founded her own business. She has strategically stayed on target for the past three years self-publishing five children books that have won awards and are now online nationwide in electronic format and softback.

“I am thrilled to see young ABWA entrepreneurs taking risks to start their own business with unthinkable determination to succeed,” says Bradford. “Being a part of ABWA has opened up many networking opportunities and business leads. Each monthly educational event is like a dose of medicine to prevent unwanted symptoms complacent in pursuing a dream.”


Pamela Carvell

Sr. Manager, Manufacturing & Supplier Quality for Pfizer Global Supply, Pfizer, Inc.
Lancaster Area Express Network
Lancaster, PA
Member Since: 1991

As the liaison for the Pfizer IT department, Carvell has literally seen the world through the eyes of Pfizer. Traveling internationally on average of twenty countries annually, her journey has given her a broad perspective of the diversity of our world.

“After serving on the ABWA National Board of Directors for two consecutive terms, my Director observed and recognized that my ABWA involvement had added value to our Pfizer team. This resulted in a promotion,” states Carvell. “I’m making it a personal mission to ensure that others see what I see and that future generations are able to benefit from the organization as much as I have.” My goal, seeing that ABWA remains timeless and successful for the next 68 years!


Sharon Godbee

Retail Marketing Manager for Wrangler, Division of VF Jeanswear
Heart of the Piedmont Chapter
Greensboro, NC
Member Since: 1987

Having been employed at Wrangler for her entire adult life, Godbee has navigated many changes and paths in the journey to arrive at her current destination. Managing a team of top-notch women, who, like her, share the passion for the Wrangler brand and the VF organization.

“The professional growth and the advancement of my career are direct results of my 30-year membership in ABWA, states Godbee. “ABWA has inspired me to want more, do more and be more while striving for continued career advancement. Wrangler recognizes the influence of ABWA in my success and has subsequently been extremely supportive in my efforts to advance in the workplace.”


Kathryn Hope Jeffery

Accountant/Payroll Manager for Prince George’s County Public Schools – Friendly High School
Oxon Hill Charter Chapter
Fort Washington, MD
Member Since: 2006

Working for Prince George’s County Public Schools, Jeffery provides comprehensive accounting and financial services to Friendly High School. She also finds it very rewarding to stay actively involved in mentoring these students by encouraging them to become involved in sports, drama club or debate club, for example.

“ABWA has provided me tools to help me accomplish my goals.’ says Jeffery. “The professional accomplishments modeled by the women in ABWA, the standards and the vision of the organization have inspired me to achieve my professional goals. The members of ABWA have provided me access to their stories of challenge, growth and success.”


Mary Shindell

Member Engagement Manager, Merit Network
Maia Chapter
Ann Arbor, MI
Member Since: 1990

As a Member Engagement Manager, Shindell supports two of Merit’s newest growth areas, professional services and a cyber security monitoring service. She has collaborated with Michigan’s state and local government agencies in the area of cyber security to help local government and municipalities become more secure.

“Completing ABWA Apex courses in Resume Writing and Job Interviewing helped me in identifying a perfect job opportunity at Merit Network soon after being laid off in the Spring of 2010,” states Shindell. “The Negotiating Your Pay and Persuasive Communications course came at the right time because it helped me negotiate my current position.”


Carol Skelton

Realtor, Keller Williams Realty
Heart of Birmingham Chapter
Birmingham, AL
Member Since: 2006

As a Senior System Analyst – Engineering for BBVA Compass Bank, Skelton currently leads a team of analysts to review internal reconciliations to manage risk and provide an accurate assessment of corporate risk to senior management. She designed the training of the analysts for the team, to insure the consistency of skills is maintained and improved each year.

“ABWA has given me the encouragement and confidence to step outside of my comfortable banking arena.” states Skelton. “It has provided to me the means and confidence to learn new skills in marketing, sales and negotiation.”


Jessica Smith

Assistant Vice President & Branch Manager, IBERIABANK
Cy-Fair Express Network
Cypress, TX
Member Since: 2011

As a Vice President, Branch Manager Smith views her first great accomplishment was working in her community and getting involved with many local nonprofit organizations. She worked to develop many relationships and was able to make new connections by having the passion of serving others and guiding them towards starting a small business in the community.

“ABWA has made a huge impact in my professional life as well as helped me identify my personal goals. I always dreamt of being the first in my family to obtain a college degree, which I believed would open more doors for me,” states Smith. “Being a member of ABWA has empowered me and provided me with a huge support system through leadership programs at regional and National conferences as well as scholarships. Today, my younger brother, Sean, followed my footsteps and attends Texas Tech.”


Janis (Jan) Stewart

President/Owner of Office Helpline, Inc.
Engaging Leaders of ABWA
Lawrence, KS
Member Since: 1989

Stewart is the owner of Office Helpline, Inc. which provides office services, primarily bookkeeping and payroll, to small area business, not-for-profit organizations and homeowners’ Associations. Additionally, under Office Helpline, she offers business consultation for new start-up and on-going concerns, as well as provides QuickBooks training.

“I remember looking around the room full of women at an ABWA leadership training session taught by SCORE for business owners and want-to-be owners thinking, “if these ladies can be successful, I can too,” states Stewart. “The APEX, Negotiation course has helped me work with clients who need to recognize the value-added I bring to the table.”


Sue Tyson-Parker

Executive Director, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Charity Inc.
Oceanside Charter Chapter
Indialantic, FL
Member Since: 2000

In her position as Executive Director, Tyson-Parker branded the newly formed charity, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Charity, Inc. with three entities. The Police Athletic League, Pet Posse and the Public Safety Charity are viable not for profit charities in the community committed to changing the lives of children, homeless animals and first responders.

“Since joining ABWA 17 years ago, my confidence has improved, the online courses and conferences have helped hone my business acumen skills as well as the leadership training, giving me the ability to manage difficult situations,” states Tyson-Parker. “The formation of the Space Coast Women’s Express Network stemmed from the need of a daytime ABWA league for those women who couldn’t attend evening meetings. Today we are thriving with over 50 members who are enjoying what ABWA has to offer.”