Let’s Hear it For the Girls: A Women’s History Month Salute

Girl power fuels so much of what we love about Downtown Arlington. The collective energy of female entrepreneurs, artists, leaders, volunteers and patrons has been palpable over the years, driving everything from the music in the air to our favorite culinary indulgence to the very nature of our placemaking.

Arts and Culture

Professional actress Persis Forster established Miss Persis Studio of Dance in 1954, which continues to flourish with her daughter Persis Ann as the studio’s artistic director. Valerie Galloway serves as the executive director of Theatre Arlington, a Downtown tradition since the early 1970s. Now celebrating its 10th year in Downtown Arlington, the Levitt Pavilion has been thriving under the leadership of Patti Diou even before the first band took the stage. Violinist LeeAnne Chenoweth produces Timeless Concerts, a fun and eclectic chamber music concert series.

Without exception, these and all the other exceptional leaders of cultural entities, non-profits and membership organizations will be the first to redirect the credit to the hundreds of women and men who volunteer time, contribute financially, and serve as members of boards of directors.

Passion and Vision

No shout out to Downtown Arlington women would be complete without acknowledging the trailblazing work of Tillie Bergen, who’s own journey of faith, service and compassion underpins the work of Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex every day. Long-time community leader and Dream Builder Award recipient Lana Wolff has served District 5 as its representative on the Arlington City Council since 2003. Pacesetters like Nancy Tice, Linda Dipert, Amy Schultz, Geraldine Mills and countless others pour love into all that they do, and Downtown Arlington is certainly the better for it.

Maverick Mettle

Meanwhile at the University of Texas at Arlington, women are grabbing headlines. In just the last month, UTA announced the appointment of Adrian Parr as dean of the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs; assistant vice provost for faculty development Martinez-Cosio was named to the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institutes Educators board; under the leadership of UTA Police Chief Kim Lemaux, the National Council for Home Safety and Security ranked UTA as one of the 100 safest college campuses in America; four UTA alumnae were recognized as 2018 Healthcare Heroes by the Fort Worth Business Press; and the Lady Movin’ Mavs won the national intercollegiate championship in wheelchair basketball.

Down to Business

From Sugar Bee Sweets to Potager Other Stuff to Wondrous Works in Wood, many female entrepreneurs have also set up shop in Downtown Arlington. DAMC asked several of them to share their unique insights about the past, present and future of their business and Downtown:


The Sanford House was designed and built on a vacant lot on Center Street. It opened in 1997. Over the last 21 years, it has expanded into a small luxury hotel with a fine dining restaurant, full service spa, and event facility. The family business is now on its third generation. Like the revitalization of Downtown Arlington, it has taken many years of hard work, sweat equity, and consistent messaging to gain a sustainable momentum.

Our customers used to say that The Sanford House was a “hidden jewel in the DFW Metroplex.” Now people come up to me and say, “We loved eating at restaurant506 at The Sanford House!” It’s wonderful to be a jewel that’s finally out of the box!

- Dr. Joan Bergstrom, The Sanford House & Spa


Growing up, I was part of our family business. You put everything you have into it – the business becomes “part of the family.” It’s an experience that is wonderful, frustrating, exhausting and exhilarating. A small business can adapt to challenges and make changes in a way that simply can’t be done in larger corporations. Achieving lasting relationships is the key to success, and I’m proud to advance our business in the community in part though my involvement in civic leadership opportunities.

- Valerie Landry, The Sanford House & Spa


Downtown Arlington has been a huge part of my life since 1995. I first came here to live at the Salvation Army Life Shelter, then the Woman’s Shelter when it was on Main Street, and then I lived on Pecan Street. And then I opened my Bentley’s. From my journey to experiencing homelessness to now owning my own business, I’m so proud to be part of the revitalization of Downtown.

 This is a photo of a quote that I keep on my fridge. I think it sums up my beliefs perfectly.

- Dana Ladd, J.R. Bentley’s


When our lease in another location was up a couple of years ago, we made the decision to buy our building on Abram Street. We were super excited to hear of the promise of the Downtown and wanted to be a part of the change and revitalization.

We love having our business located in Downtown Arlington! Since we moved, our business has grown, we’ve made a ton of new friends in the Downtown community, and we enjoy being so close to other businesses and restaurants.

We absolutely cannot wait to see the new Abram Street – it’s going to be terrific! I think that increasing Downtown walkability, better integrating UTA into the community, and continuing to support Downtown business growth are going to completely transform Arlington.

- Belinda Gist, RTP Promotional Products


Since I opened my business, my mantra over the last 15 years has been this: I firmly believe that as long as you have passion, faith, and are willing to work harder and longer than you ever wanted to, you can do anything you want in this life.

 My sheer determination and my refusal to let everyone be right who said that I wouldn’t make it has kept me here in Downtown. Today, I feel Downtown is finally on the cusp of becoming something of real value to the city. I am glad to be a part of that.

- Jana Holland, Collected Treasures and Nettie Jane Designs


Our business, On Tap, has been open for a little over year, and the biggest change we've noticed is that the number of our customers and regulars has grown exponentially. We’ve become a regular part of people’s lives!

 The revitalization efforts in Downtown Arlington has brought people together. I can't tell you the number of times I've had Arlington residents say thank you for creating a place in downtown Arlington where they can come and hang out with friends and family, meet new people, sample from a rotating selection of craft beer, and pick up some draft beer to enjoy at home.

- Jas Bains, On Tap


If we’re getting honest, as a school girl I never saw myself staying in Arlington. Marrying a hometown guy? Nope, that wasn’t in the plans either. But now I know: the community we have here in Arlington cannot be replicated anywhere else. Where else could I walk into the bank or post office and consistently run into people that genuinely care about me, my family, and my business? Where else could my kids’ school counselor also be my old babysitter? Where else could we walk into church on Sunday morning and see more new and old friends than strangers?

Locating our business in Downtown Arlington was an easy decision because it’s so centrally located to those we love to serve. We POUR ourselves into this community because we want EVERYONE to have the opportunity to live and work in the BEST place on the planet.

- Amy Cearnal, CearnalCo


Share Your Story

There are so many other women whose contributions have forged, nurtured and enhanced every aspect of Downtown Arlington. Please help us thank them by sharing their stories in the comment section below.

About Downtown Arlington

Designated by the State of Texas as the Arlington Cultural District, Downtown Arlington blends a unique mix of activities, sights, tastes and sounds that attract visitors and locals alike. Within its less than a two-mile radius, Downtown is home to a top tier public research university, prolific fine and performing artists and arts institutions, live entertainment, exciting NCAA and professional athletics, one-of-a-kind dining and retail, and a supportive business climate.