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GCW cover girls reflect on their experience in the spotlight

Empowering, celebrating and changing lives

Cover photography by Brandi Stage Portaiture unless otherwise indicated

“I cannot tell you how many women — some I know, some I don’t — reached out to tell me that they had scheduled a mammogram after reading my story. Some of them had not had a mammogram for years; others had not had one ever. I am happy that my story inspired women to make the appointment and have this potentially lifesaving screening done.

Some reached out to tell me their story. I am inspired by them and their grace and strength. I think about what others have gone through and realize that my life is all in front of me; for that, I am grateful. Treatment has come a long way, and new treatments are being discovered and implemented every day.

Some reached out to tell me that they had just been diagnosed. I have heard from so many who are starting their own journey. Everyone’s experience is different. Mine is just mine. I am always happy to listen and support any way I can. I know that talking with someone who is on the “other side” can be reaffirming.

I thank Gulf Coast Woman magazine for the beautiful story, and if (GCW Publisher) Dorothy Wilson hadn’t persuaded me, I would never have met many of the courageous and beautiful women who reached out to me. Happy 25th anniversary, Gulf Coast Woman!”

Kathy Springer

CEO, United Way of South Mississippi

“Being featured on the cover and in a multi-page story in Gulf Coast Woman magazine about my fight against domestic violence in October 2021 was truly an honor. It gave me the opportunity to tell my story about my experience with domestic violence and to help educate and bring awareness to the issue after the tragic loss of my daughter and grandson to an act of domestic violence. I felt compelled to share my story with other women so that they would learn and know how to look for the signs.

I felt as if the magazine provided that platform and allowed me to use my voice and, better yet, be a voice for my daughter through the article and the cover feature. I am forever grateful that I was chosen for the cover for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”

Renata Flot-Patterson

President and CEO, Gulf Coast DMC

“The April 2022 Cover of Gulf Coast Woman Magazine was a highlight of my life. I think every female dreams of being a cover girl, and I am no exception. I was recognized from one end of the Coast to the other after the publication became public. This is one of the reasons I was asked to join the team of the attorney general of Mississippi as a constituent outreach officer. Because of exposure like this, I was able to attain the job of my dreams.”

Starr Chapman

Constituent outreach officer, State of Mississippi Attorney General

“I have been my mom’s caretaker for five years. She lives alone over an hour drive from me and feels lonely quite often due to not being able to drive. Over the past five years, I have noticed her becoming more withdrawn and not wanting to go anywhere.

When we were asked to be on the cover of Gulf Coast Woman magazine, I saw that spark in her eyes again. She was excited and a little giddy. This was a huge honor and blessing for us both, and it brought joy to her heart and a smile to my face. I cannot thank you enough. We had such an amazing experience at the photo shoot. What a legacy this is for my family! Thank you!”

Robin Killeen

Founder, WOW Women of Wisdom Inc.

Photo by William Colgin

“This cover was such a great surprise! After starting over after 36 years in Pass Christian and losing it all in 2005, moving to Ocean Springs was an amazing new chapter. Now celebrating 54 years, I have been honored to mentor many young women. We now have a successful full-time team that helps us continue the joy.”

Paige Riley

Owner, Hillyer House

“What an honor it was to be on the cover of Gulf Coast Woman! To be featured as the cover on the first-ever legacy issue meant the world to me. I was very humbled to be chosen and accepted because it would have made my dad, Bill Peden, so very proud. The support from my husband and daughter through the years and their cheering me on through 37 years of fundraising helped me say ‘yes’ to this honor.

I absolutely love the way Gulf Coast Woman celebrates ALL women! Not only are the professional women uplifted in celebration, but the entrepreneurs and arts advocates also receive love and recognition. Reading the stories about the struggles and the victories makes me strive to be a better person and challenges me to continue living my passion.

Thank you, Gulf Coast Woman, for bringing the best out of all of us!”

Peggy Sprabery

Arts advocate, retired teacher and entrepreneur

Courtesy of Bella De León

“Gulf Coast Woman featured me when I was 16, and for that, I will always be immensely grateful. They took me seriously as a young entrepreneur, and their unwavering support throughout the years has meant the world to me. Being surrounded by other successful women in business on the Gulf Coast still resonates with me to this day. It’s a genuine and heartfelt connection that I hold dear in my journey.”

Bella De León


“Back in 2019, when I was 62 years old, being selected as the cover model for the beauty edition was a truly extraordinary experience. In a society fixated on youth, receiving recognition at a younger age may have been taken for granted. However, being acknowledged at 62 is a distinction I will forever hold dear. Gulf Coast Woman magazine helped me realize that at 62, one should aspire to be the best version of herself, regardless of age. This valuable lesson has continued to guide me, and I strive for it daily.”

Brenda Blount

Director of development for the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art

“Since being on the cover of the January 2023 issue of Gulf Coast Woman magazine, my life has changed drastically. The response has been overwhelming. When I shared my story, other women started sharing theirs with me and how they were inspired to seek help for some of the circumstances they are facing.

I have gone on to be a sought-after motivational speaker, even being booked at venues out of state. I have been nominated for more awards for my business and acquired a marketing agency to totally revamp my business. So much more is in store for me since Gulf Coast Woman shined the spotlight on me. I am forever humbled and grateful for the opportunity.”

Paula Farve

Founder and CEO, Shea Queen Organics

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