From ingenious dreamers to creative problem solvers, some of Houston’s best and brightest are women who have helped not only give birth to this city, but who have also been essential in making Houston and the world better. In honor of the centennial anniversary of women's right to vote, Houston First is highlighting the contributions of some of our city's extraordinary women--past and present--who are pioneers, community leaders, and culinary and cultural moguls. Also see our VisitHouston site.
By Houston First
Irma Gonzalez Galvan was born in Brownsville, TX, and moved to Houston in 1946 with her mother and siblings at the age of 5. Many years later, as a struggling single mother herself, she decided to open her own small downtown eatery in the middle of an economic downturn.
After a brief stint as a sandwich shop, Irma’s Mexican Restaurant was finally born, outfitted with Irma's personal furniture from home and staffed with her children working by her side. Irma is a self-made entrepreneur who decided to chase after her dreams in her middle years. She is a community-minded businesswoman who is known to give her utmost attention to each and every customer.
Irma is the first female chef from Houston to win the prestigious James Beard Award. In a city already well-known for its culinary excellence, Irma has proven to be one of the very best. Since the 1989 opening of her first restaurant in a depressed region of the city, she has been a force for positive growth in her community, drawing visitors and vitality from every corner of the city with her delicious cuisine.
To find out what Houston means to Irma, check out her My Houston interview.
Beyoncé is an entertainer that truly needs no introduction. This Houston native is one of the world’s top-selling recording artists and the most nominated performer in Grammy Award history. She is also the most awarded artist by the MTV Video Music Awards. Queen B was even featured on Time Magazine’s list of the top 100 women who defined the 20th century.
Born Beyoncé Giselle Knowles in Houston, TX, she first rose to fame as lead singer of the all-female singing group, Destiny’s Child – one of the most popular R&B acts of the late 90s and early 00s. Her solo career, launched in 2003 and continuing to this day, has shown her to be one of the most prolific entertainers of her generation.
As a Hollywood actress, head of a fashion and beauty line, or writer/director, she has shown herself to be a tremendously versatile artist and businesswoman. Beyond this, she has also proven to be a caring and community-minded philanthropist – raising emergency relief funds in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and a recent collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion to provide coronavirus relief in their shared hometown of Houston.
To check out Beyoncé’s favorite Houston spots, check out her My Houston interview.