JUST IN: Neiman Marcus Downtown GM/VP Jeff Byron Has Retired

Jeff Byron (File photo)

Gee, whiz! Talk about starting the week with more boo-hoo news. It seems that Neiman Marcus Downtown GM/VP Jeff Byron’s last day was Thursday.

After being in the luxury retailing industry for nearly 40 years, the mustachioed baby boomer decided to retire. Despite reach-outs for confirmation that he’s burned his Brioni suits and Zegna ties and headed to some Caribbean island, he is staying put in  North Texas.

During his four years at the downtown store, he “enjoyed the privilege of working with so many great people both at Neiman’s and within the community,” and admitted that he “will miss interacting with all on a regular basis.”

Regarding his involvement with the area’s non-profits, Jeff revealed that his three-year term on the Equest board had ended, but he still plans to continue volunteering for various North Texas charities…that is, when he’s not enjoying the landscape at his lake house.

Hopefully, Jeff’s replacement will be on hand for the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Ten Best Dressed Fashion Show and Luncheon hoop-la with cutie pie Zac Posen’s fashion brightening up the runway on Friday, September 15, at the flagship store.

Friends Of Wednesday’s Child Is Closing

Sorry to start the week off with some sad news, but The Friends of Wednesday’s Child is ceasing operation.

Whoa! Before you go thinking that WFAA’s Cynthia Izaguirre won’t be doing her “Wednesday’s Child” segments, stop thinking that. These are two separate organizations dedicated to supporting foster children in need of permanent homes.

Friends of Wednesday’s Child (File photo)

Founded by a couple in 1985, Friends of Wednesday’s Child “provided for all their unmet needs while they are in foster care. These unmet needs include many of the things that establish a healthy, productive childhood; from tutoring to medical/dental care to summer camp to birthday gifts.”

According to the Friends of Wednesday’s Child’s website,

“It is with heavy hearts we write that Friends of Wednesday’s Child is closing its doors. We do not have the financial support to continue. The good news is North Texas has some outstanding allies in the community of people who serve children living in foster care. We are in discussion with these great groups who are interested in absorbing Friends of Wednesday’s Child programs and services. We hope to announce something in the coming weeks and months. An education can transform the lives of these children and put them on a path to success in school and life. Thank you for your support in making it possible. It is an honor and a privilege. Please continue supporting them. You are the difference.”

It must have come as a surprise for the staff, since they had just recently submitted a MySweetCharity Opportunity about its Top Kids at TopGolf fundraiser in November.

On the other hand, WFAA’s Wednesday’s Child program is still in operation finding adoptive parents for foster children. As a matter of fact, WFAA will be holding a phone-bank drive today at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. to raise money for Community Partners of Dallas’ annual “Back to School Drive.”

Update: Daisy Mae Has Less Legs To Stand On, But More Love To Support Her

It’s amazing that Daisy Mae, the white Labrador pup, managed to pull herself out of the gangbuster collision on Tuesday, July 11, and survived in a nearby ravine for days without water and comfort. Thanks to Mutts and Mayhem, she was found, rescued and taken to a vet.

Posted by Mutts & Mayhem Animal Rescue on Wednesday, July 19, 2017

But after checking with canine orthopedic specialists and her loving owner Erica Cruz, Daisy’s back left leg had to amputated due to the devastation.

She is now on pain killers, recovering and looking forward to a reunion with her family.

Nigel

According to four-year-old Nigel (a three-legged Pyrenees/poodle), “We tripods really get along quite well. Why there are even websites dedicated to our  ‘tripawd’ situation. In some way we feel so sorry for you humans with only two legs. Daisy is young and has a loving family. In no time she’ll quickly adapt to her new way of getting around.

“By the way, can you fix me up on a date with Daisy when she’s up and about?”

While Daisy and Erica are still recovering from the shock of the accident and their physical damage, their being together will help the mending.

But there’s still the funding for Daisy’s medical treatment.  Mutts and Mayhem is still trying to help ease the financial challenges that Daisy’s facing. It’s simple. Just go to this page and right under the amount of donation, click “Animal(s) you would like to sponsor.” That’s where you write “Daisy Mae.”

If you can help show your appreciation with ca-ching, wonderful. If the money just ain’t available, just send good thoughts.

* Video courtesy of Mutts and Mayhem

The Wilkinson Center Is Dealing With The Loss Of Volunteer Vickie Thompson And The Need For The Can Do! Lunch To Change

Vickie Thompson (File photo)

The Wilkinson Center’s Anne Reeder admitted that the past week has been tough. Longtime Wilkinson volunteer and “Lakewood Mom” Vickie Thompson suddenly died of a heart attack following the Lakewood 4th of July parade. It was just a year or so ago that Vickie had been named Wilkinson’s volunteer of the year. Whether it was pitching in to help the community or rallying others to the need of an individual, she exemplified the very word “volunteer.”

For those who knew Vickie, it’s hard to imagine the Lakewood neighborhood and the Center being without the blonde powerhouse leading the charge.

Anne had hardly adjusted to that news when she learned that the Sixth Annual Can Do! Luncheon was going to have to change. No, not the event itself, but rather the traditional date and possibly the location. Since its inception, the fundraising luncheon spotlighting entrepreneurship had been held at the Dallas County Club on the second Tuesday of May.

But it seems the Club had recently notified event planners and members that a new policy limited events with more than 100 guests to Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays only.

Anne Reeder (File photo)

Emilynn Wilson (File photo)

What’s a girl to do?

Luckily, Anne had already arranged for fundraising force-of-nature Emilynn Wilson to chair the 2018 luncheon. It was Emilynn who hauled in a whopping $283,435 for the Callier Cares Luncheon this past April at the DCC.

Comparing notes the ladies bit the bullet and booked Monday, May 7, at the DCC.

So, white out May 8 and ink in the new date for the 2018 Can Do! Luncheon. This one is going to be tough without Vickie, but one can’t help but suspect that her spirit will fill the room.

Baylor Scott And White Health CEO/President Jim Hinton To Remain CEO, But Adds Pete McCanna As System’s President

Baylor Scott and White Health CEO/President Jim Hinton is not your everyday leader. Having taken over his new role in January as head of the largest not-for-profit health care system in Texas, he’s been very busy looking to the future growth of the organization. Evidently, he decided that an adjustment was needed moving forward.  And that adjustment was in his role. While he’ll remain CEO, Jim has tapped Northwestern Memorial Healthcare Executive VP/COO Pete McCanna to be president of Baylor Scott and White.

Jim Hinton (File photo)

Peter McCanna*

According to Jim, “This new office will further expand the capabilities of our already talented leadership team, helping us more rapidly evolve. We are committed to extending Baylor Scott and White’s long history of success by transforming into a nationally recognized, high-value integrated delivery network; and to transform, we must drive costs down, while making the right investments in key areas.

“Pete is a highly respected senior executive with a track record of helping to grow organizations, create and implement successful, long-range strategic plans and lead financial turnarounds. He is one of the best and brightest in health care.”

These two are no strangers. They have a track record when Jim was CEO at Presbyterian Healthcare Services in New Mexico and Pete was CFO.

Pete and his family are in the process of moving from Chicago to Dallas, so he can assume his new role in September. BTW, Pete already knows how to speak Texan. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Texas and is married to a native Texan.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Lexus TACA Party On The Green

Tia Wynne, Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhardt

Katherine Wynne

Michael and Amy Meadows and Charmaine and George Tang

In celebrating its 50 years of supporting the performing arts, TACA has been undergoing some changes like expanding its fundraising efforts to include the visual arts. Another big change was its annual Lexus TACA Party On The Green that for ages has taken place at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.

Lisa Garza-Selcer

John Tesar

Janice Provost

Nicolas Blouin

But on Friday, May 12, the whole kit and caboodle was relocated to Sammons Park in the Arts District. Made perfect sense and resulted in success, with loads of the pretty peeps grazing from food station to food station and dancers, singers, actors and musicians performing throughout the night.

Dancers

While the post is being written, the photos are ready for you to check out at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery now!

Dallas Film Society President/CEO Lee Papert To Exit The Popcorn World

Sarah and Lee Papert (File photo)

Dallas Film Society President/CEO Lee Papert is leaving the dark theaters of the film world and looking to a brighter future. As soon as the official word on his departure is received, it will be posted.

In talking with Lee, he admitted that six years ago he started a whole new world, both personally and professionally. Just the week before being named to head up the DFS, he married Sarah Papert, who is executive director of the Vickery Meadows Learning Center.

Lee will still be at DFS through June. After that, he’ll probably have to go through popcorn-withdrawal treatments.

Not Even A Rainy-Day Delay Could Put The Whoa For The Equesters Galloping Ahead From Their “Field Of Dreams” Gala

One thing is for sure. Those horse-loving Equest folks are flexible. When radar showed threatening weather storming into North Texas for Saturday, April 29th’s Equest Gala at Texas Horse Park, cool minds ruled, coordinated with vendors, sponsors, guests and the ponies and moved the whole kit-and-kaboodle to the next day. Here’s a report from the “field of dreams:”

Kelly Howard, Blair Dwyer and Elizabeth Schwartz*

Ray Johnston*

The Equest Gala, themed “A Field of Dreams,” was truly an inspirational evening of hope, determination and joy. With Saturday’s forecast of severe storms, a difficult decision was made to reschedule the gala to Sunday, and the Equest team, Gala committee, and event planner Katy Sky Group produced the unthinkable: a beautiful fundraising gala for 450 guests complete with all the bells and whistles. The 36th annual Equest Gala was another example of Equest’s can-do spirit.

Jocelyn White and Jody Dean*

Finely dressed in their equestrian best, guests perused the magnificently decorated Equest barns and arena at Texas Horse Park. Ray Johnston performed an acoustic set during the reception – providing the perfect soundtrack to the blue skies and cool temperature. Sipping on signature “Field of Dreams” margaritas and sampling the Bourbon and Biscuits Bar, guests cozied up with the lipstick-wearing Equest Mini-Ambassadors Cisco and Dare at the Mini Kissing Booth. Just as festive was the Tequila with Taco station where delighted guests enjoyed Milagro tequila and a photo with Equest’s famous donkey, Taco.  One of the best parts of the night was seeing the proud smiles worn by the Equest riders during Horse and Rider demonstrations.

Andy Steingasser*

Guests enjoyed a family-style southern gourmet dinner from Farm to Market Catering, while Emcees Jocelyn White of Designing Texas and Jody Dean of KLUV 98.7 FM introduced Equest CEO Lili Kellogg, Equest Chairman of the Board Andy Steingasser, and Equest Gala Co-Chairs Kathy and Jeromy Fielder, among others.

Kathy Fielder, Bella Fielder and Jeromy Fielder*

Cary Pierce*

A compelling video touched charitable hearts before the start of the live auction. Over $50,000 was raised during the fund-a-mission and five Equest therapy horses were sponsored by generous donors. Other guests bid on stellar live auction items including a four-night vacation in Breckenridge, a Napa Valley Getaway, a live painting by Dace Lucia Kidd, and a Belize Dream at the Las Terrazas Resort. Guests also had the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind silent auction items, and purchase a key for $100 that the lucky winner could use to unlock a $2,500 Neiman Marcus gift card.

An equestrian chic gala – especially one located in a barn – would not be considered a success without two-stepping. Dancers from Arthur Murray Dance Studio opened the dance floor, quickly followed by guests’ cowboy boots shuffling to the musical lead of Cary Pierce, and surprise musical guests Crystal Yates and Jon Christopher Davis.

Phyllis Comu and Susan Schwartz*

Darin and Margot Ruebel*

Additional attendees included: Equest Co-Founder Susan Schwartz, Bill and Lezlie Noble, Monique and Reed Williams, Margot and Darin Ruebel, Phyllis and CJ Comu, Phyllis Glazer, Bridget and Tom Black, Jessica and Michael Barnett, Ricky Callahan and Jennie Healy, Connie Sigel, Mimi and Rich Sterling, Patrick and Kristy Sands, Carolyn and Romy Anderson, and Alanna Smith of WFAA Good Morning Texas, among others.

* Photo credit: Thomas Garza

Attention, Campers: Ark-Building Activities Are Underway In North Texas

Why did Thursday seem like a dress rehearsal for this afternoon’s tsunami? According to WFAA weather guy Pete Delkus, North Texas is out of the drought condition that was in place on May 31. He also said that his normal 20-minute drive to work took about an hour and half.

Another hit-and-run victim of the thunder, lightning and waves of wet stuff was Fair Park Sparks! The official word was, “Flooding and power outages have now prompted cancellation of Fair Park Sparks. We’re sorry!”

Fair Park Sparks!*

Not to worry. When the rains are dismissed by the solar heat, there will be plenty of activities over at Fair Park.

In the meantime, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League didn’t let the damp stuff prevent the reveal of the 2018 debs from taking place over at Stanley Korshak.

An unofficial statement from Mother Nature was just received: “You complained about a drought. I gave you rain. Now, you’re griping about the rain. Gee, are you people ever happy?”

This weekend the accessories du jour will be Better Brellas and water wings.

* Graphic courtesy of Friends of Fair Park

The Stewpot Alliance Crowd Gathers At Margie And Ray Francis’ Home For Soup’s On! Check Presentation And To Hear About 2018 Lunch Move

Margie and Ray Francis*

On Thursday, April 27, Soup’s On! Luncheon Honorary Co-Chairs Margie and Ray Francis opened their home for guests like Hank and Barbara Schlachter, Stewpot Alliance board members Zac Evans and Kristine Schwope, Susan and Rob Dillard, Eric and Carla Moore and Carol Adams to hear about the past Stewpot Alliance fundraiser and the upcoming one.

Hank and Barbara Schlachter, Zac Evans and Susan and Rob Dillard*

It was such a perfect evening that folks enjoyed the terrace overlooking Turtle Creek.

Carla and Eric Moore and Carol Adams*

First on the agenda was the presentation of the check by Alliance President Julie Marshall and 2017 Luncheon Chair Heather Sauber to Stewpot Alliance Executive Director Rev. Dr. Bruce Buchanan in the amount of $230,000!

It was then time to reveal plans for next year’s luncheon. The 2018 co-chairs will be Mary and Mike Terry Family Foundation Executive Director Allison Salas and US Trust Philanthropic Relationship Manager Kelly Donohue.  

Kelly Donohue and Allison Salas*

The ladies announced that the fundraiser is shifting direction in locations for the Soup’s On! tenth anniversary. It will be held at The Statler on Monday, January 29.

Both gals have another special event in their future. They’re planning September weddings. Allison is marrying Christopher Fasy and Kelly is getting hitched to Grant Garlock.

In the meantime, why not check out Brad Oldham‘s and Christy Coltrin‘s Sculpture Wall at The Stewpot’s Encore Park. It’s free for the viewing.

* Photo credit: John 
Strange

JUST IN: Annual Downtown Holiday Parade Is Looking For A New Host

UPDATE: The Adolphus Hotel that was one of the original sponsors of the mega-holiday festivities has signed up for the 2017 parade. Don’t you just know that Santa will have plush digs the night before.

The annual parade that marches through downtown Dallas in early December has had some “adjustments.” In recent year’s Children’s Health has hosted the parade. Out of the past five years, it’s had to be canceled twice (2013 and 2016) due to inclement weather. Describing it as “inclement” is like saying the summer is North Texas is warmish.

Children’s Health Holiday Parade (File photo)

It was just announced that Children’s Health would not be the official host of the event. According to Children’s Health spokesperson Scott Summerall, “After hosting the parade for nearly three decades, we have decided to move forward with other new and meaningful ways to bring cheer to families in our community this holiday season. We are considering ways to celebrate and honor the parade’s history in its 30th year, but are still ironing out details of a potential event. We will continue hosting the other treasured holiday events across our system, including the annual Holiday Tree Lighting at our Dallas and Plano campuses, Breakfast with Santa with the Women’s Auxiliary, and our Holiday Patient Party for families in the hospital. These events are beloved by our patients, families and team members, and are an important component of fulfilling our mission to make life better for children.”

But don’t go thinking that the parade is a goner. According to a report on WFAA at noon, THE Dance Director Jeffrey Giles and former Parade Director Cassie Collins “have filed a permit with the City of Dallas to host the parade, and will be reaching out to sponsors soon.”

BTW, over the years the parade has had such corporations as Southwest Airlines, Neiman Marcus and the Adolphus Hotel provide major support.

George Washington Will Be Subbing In For “Hamilton’s” Sister-In-Law At Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon

There was a chance of kicking off the three-day Memorial Day weekend with some disappointing news. However, it turned out to be good news.

Let’s get the bad stuff over with first: The Attorneys Serving the Community Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on Friday, June 23, was to have Renée Elise Goldsberry, who played Alexander Hamilton’s sis-in-law from “Hamilton.” Yup, you read it — “was.”

According to Luncheon Co-Chair Kara Altenbaumer-Price, “We learned yesterday that an unavoidable scheduling conflict had arisen for Ms. Goldsberry and she is no longer able to serve as the 2017 ASC Luncheon Speaker.”

Well, double darn it. But, wait! Here comes the good news.

Christopher Jackson*

Kara reports, “While a change at this late date is not what we would have wished for, we are excited to announce that Christopher Jackson, who originated the role of George Washington in the Broadway production of ‘Hamilton,’ has graciously agreed to step into the role of luncheon speaker on short notice. Mr. Jackson was awarded a Grammy and nominated for a Tony for his role in ‘Hamilton.’  He won a Drama Desk Award for his role in ‘Hamilton’-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s last show, In ‘The Heights,’ as Benny.”

How did they manage to land Christopher? Luncheon Co-Chair Beth Bedell reported, “Rather than simply cancelling when it became clear that her current project would not wrap on time, Renée took responsibility and personally secured Christopher as her replacement.”

In addition to appearing in “The Lion King,” “Memphis,” “After Midnight” and “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” Christopher has also been seen on “The Good Wife,” “Bull” and “Oz,” as well as being “nominated for three Emmy Awards for composing music and lyrics for television and winning the ‘Outstanding Original Song’ Emmy Award in 2011 for his lyrics to ‘What I Am,’ which he co-wrote for ‘Sesame Street’ with Bill Sherman.”

So, keep Friday, June 23, inked in, because instead of a sister, a father of this country is going to be speaking to benefit the Junior Players.

* Photo provided by Attorneys Serving the Community

WFAA’s Sonia Azad To Fill In At yCPD Field Day For KDFW’s Jen Myers

Well, darn it! KDFW‘s Jen Myers isn’t gonna be handling the emcee duties at Saturday’s yCPD Field Day. Ah, shoot! She’s always so much fun. But the red, curled meteorologist has a note from her doctor ’splaining why. Her planned cataract surgery was moved up a week. So, she’s definitely good for the excuse.

Jennifer Myers (File photo)

Jenny Anchondo (File photo)

Normally, Jen would have her besty morning pal/KDFW anchor Jenny Anchondo fill in for her. Not so. She has a doctor’s excuse, too. Jenny is due to deliver her first-ever munchkin any day now.

Booty Shaking (File photo)

Not to worry. The Community Partners of Dallas crew has gone across the channels and will have WFAA medical reporter Sonia Azad doing the play-by-play at The Rustic. Hope someone has warned her that the event is a combination of the Olympics and the pie fight in “The Great Race.”

Doesn’t matter. It’s more fun than having Six Flags all to your own and still helps the kids in need through CPD. Festivities start at 2 p.m. and, if you can’t pull a team together, why not just show up and watch the fun!

JUST IN: Equest Gala Moved To Sunday

Equest Gala change of plans*

With all the threats of Saturday night’s stormy weather ramping up, area organizers are kicking in back-up plans. Word just arrived that the Equest Gala at Texas Horse Park has been postponed 24 hours to Sunday. Here is the official word from the horse’s mouth:

Due to weather beyond our control, we have made the decision to postpone the Equest 2017 Field of Dreams Gala to Sunday, April 30. The new Gala start time is 5 p.m. with shuttles running from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and returning at 7:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The reason is simple — safety for two- and four-legged critters. Very good move on Equest Gala Co-Chairs Kathy and Jeromy Fielder‘s part.

Just think. If you weren’t able to attend the original Saturday night, you’re in luck to see the horses Sunday and can make it happen by checking in here. On the other hand, if you can’t make it Sunday night, why not show your Equest support and consider your ticket purchase as a donation and let Amanda Fastle know, so they can adjust plans. However, if the household budget is tight and you really need that money, then check with Christine Volkmer about a refund.

* Graphic courtesy of Equest

 

JUST IN: Crystal Charity Ball’s 2017 Ten Best Dressed, Hall Of Fame Honoree And A Change Of Fashion Show/Luncheon Location Revealed

This morning the Crystal Charity Ball’s 2017 Ten Best Dressed were announced at Neiman Marcus Downtown. Fashionable drum roll, please.

This year’s collection of clothes-loving and community-supporting ladies include: Anita Arnold, Delilah Boyd, Katherine Coker, Janie Condon, Lisa Cooley, Tucker Enthoven, Pat Harloe, Julie Hawes, Amy Hegi and Piper Wyatt.

Amy Hegi, Piper Wyatt, Julie Hawes, Pat Harloe, Janie Condon, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Tucker Enthoven, Katherine Coker, Delilah Boyd, Anita Arnold and Lisa Cooley

Also making the runway on Friday, September 15, for the annual Fashion Show and Luncheon, will be Hall of Fame Honoree Charlotte Jones Anderson, daughter of 2012 Hall of Fame Honoree Gene Jones. It was the first time in the TBD history that a mother and daughter were in the TBD Hall of Fame.

Charlotte Jones Anderson and Gene Jones

And speaking of the catwalk, it won’t be in a tent. Nope! After three years of camping out in the adjacent parking lot, the Neiman Marcus crew is bringing it back inside the NM Downtown mother ship complete with designer Zac Posen and his Resort 2017 collection.

CCB Chair Pam Perella and Fashion Show and Luncheon Chair Christi Urschel reported that tickets to the fundraiser will go on sale later this month. Stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted on when they’ll be available.

But you’d better be swift turning those checks in, because this one usually sells out within minutes. And remember — the bigger the check, the bigger the perks. The Platinum Circle donors will be treated to a seated dinner sponsored by Comerica Bank on Tuesday, September 5, and Platinum Patrons will be invited to a cocktail buffet sponsored by J.P. Morgan the night before the fashion show and luncheon.

This year’s plan calls for $5.8M to be raised and provided for seven beneficiaries — Autism Treatment Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children’s Medical Center Foundation, Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance, Hunger Busters, Presbyterian Communities and Services Foundation, Rainbow Days and Santa Clare of Assisi Catholic Academy.

JUST IN: Annual TACA Lexus Party On The Green Is Relocating From The Mansion To AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Sammons Park

Don’t plan on heading to the Mansion for the annual TACA Lexus Party On The Green, because it’s moving to the Sammons Park in the AT&T Performing Arts Center on Friday, May 12, with former Cattle Baron’s Chairs Katherine Wynne and Tia Wynne as the co-chairs.

Katherine Wynne (File photo)

Tia Wynne (File photo)

Is it because of the Mansion’s mega-renovations? According to TACA Carlson President/ Executive Director Wolford McCue, “TACA’s mission is to support the performing arts community, so not only is the AT&T Performing Arts Center the perfect backdrop for TACA Party on the Green, it also provides us more space to showcase several of our beneficiaries. Tia and Katherine have planned an incredible evening with local celebrity chefs and performances by TACA supported arts organizations, all with the goal to raise critical funding for the local arts.” 

Party on the Green (File photo)

It will have the traditional wine cork pull, music and silent auction. As of today, the participating chefs will include: Chef Dean Fearing of Fearings Restaurant, Chef John Gilbert of G Texas Custom Catering, Chef Jeffrey Kollinger of Tillman’s Roadhouse, Chef Sader Matheis of Salum Restaurant, Chef Sonny Pache of Ocean Prime and Rosewood Ranches Waygu Beef, Chef Tom Parlo of Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Chef Janice Provost of Parigi, Chef Daniele Puelo of CiboDivino, Chef Gianni Santin and Chef Tida Pichakron of Haute Sweets Patisserie, Chef Andrew Swanson of Wolfgang Puck and Chef John Tesar of Knife at The Highland Dallas.

Presented by Highland Park Village, the event tickets are on sale. VIP tickets (translation: early-bird entry of 6:30 p.m.) are $500 and general admission for the 7:30 p.m. start at $375.

JUST IN: Like Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher Dumped New Friends New Life 14th Annual Luncheon For Personal Reasons

Let’s get the bad news over with. Any plans on seeing Ashton Kutcher at the 14th Annual New Friends New Life (NFNL) Luncheon on Wednesday, May 10, at the Omni can be scratched. Ashton bailed because of “personal reasons.”

Ashton Kutcher*

Joe Ehrmann*

The good news is that Joe Ehrmann will be the featured speaker.

That’s what NFNL Executive Director Kelly Cruse announced tonight at the luncheon kickoff.

Joe is not some hottie on a reality show, nor is he a child whose mother was used in the corrupt business of sex trafficking. He’s a former Baltimore Colts football player who has become recognized nationally for his advocacy of boys becoming men. Evidently, the last time he spoke in Dallas was in 2010, when he was the featured speaker at The Family Place’s Texas Trailblazer Luncheon, where he made quite an impression. 

Tickets are available here.

* Photo provided by New Friends New Life

North Texas Food Bank Makes Changes In Its Annual Food Raising Event With Cowboys And Chefs

Change is in the air. The North Texas Food Bank has made changes for its fundraising “Taste of the NFL.” First, the name has readjusted. It’s now known as “Taste of the Cowboys.” And they don’t mean rodeo types.

Taste Of The Cowboys*

Second, the location has been moved from AT&T Stadium (the home turf for the Dallas Cowboys) to The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco (aka the new home base for the Dallas Cowboys).  

But what stays the same is the involvement of past and present Dallas Cowboys, entertainment (Reckless Kelly) and top-area restaurants and chefs participating Shinsei, The Capital Grill Plano, Seasons 52, Asador, Lockhart Smokehouse, Texas de Brazil, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Bistro 31, Kent Rathbun, Taverna, Toulouse, The Common Table, Perry’s Steakhouse And Grille, Cane Rosso, Howard Wang’s China Grill, il Calabrese Ristorante And Bar, Yucatan Taco Stand, Mayfield Ice Cream, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen And Bar, Legends Hospitality, Cowboys Club, Off the Bone Barbeque, Frosted Art, Omni Frisco Hotel/Neighborhood Services, Rye. Craft Food And Drink, La Duni and Mi Cocina.

Reckless Kelly*

The shindig takes place on Sunday, May 7, with the Main Event taking place from 6 to  10 p.m. For a few bucks more, the VIP Event (5 to 6 p.m.) is available.  Tickets are online now!

Presented by Caliber Collision, all proceeds from the tasty event will benefit NTFB’s child programs.

* Graphic and photo provided by North Texas Food Bank

La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Moms Celebrated The Gala’s French Flair At Chanel Dallas Boutique With Sips And Lipsticks

Making the rounds Thursday, February 23, was a killer. As awards were being handed out by Rainbow Days at the Bush Center, it was a scamper to Highland Park Village’s Chanel, where Chanel Dallas Boutique Director Pilar Bleakley hosted a reception for the mothers of the 2017 La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas duchess and escorts.

Nancy Monning, Pilar Bleakley and Rebecca Gregory

Can you say, “Blow out!”? La Fiesta Co-Chair Nancy Monning admitted that it was a true honor to have had Chanel hold the event that was being chaired by last year’s La Fiesta Co-Chairs Eloise Meachum and Missy Rothwell. And evidently all the moms agreed with their presence.

Missy Rothwell, Maria Constantine and Eloise Meachum

But the 80 or so ladies didn’t just succumb to being honored, they just loved the video with designer Karl Lagerfeld, the timeless Chanel designs, getting to know each other and shopping. Of course, the hottest item was lipstick, with Nancy laughing that “we’ll have La Fiesta Lips by Chanel.”

As for the refreshments, they were donated by Two Sisters Catering’s Connie Chantilis, who just so happens to be the sister of Rosanne Beck, who creates the custom La Fiesta invitations.

This year’s theme for the Saturday, June 10th fundraiser will be French, in honor of the French connection with Texas. So having the moms’ reception at the French couture Chanel boutique was a natural.

But Nancy and her La Fiesta Co-Chair Rebecca Gregory have proved their flexibility on another event. It seems that the La Fiesta “Tips and Tidbits” was scheduled on Wednesday, May 10. Oops! After it was announced that the New Friends New Life Luncheon with Ashton Kutcher would be taking place at the same time, Nancy and her La Fiesta Co-Chair simply “moved our event until 1:00 the same day, so we can attend both.”

Another change of plans was the location of the presentation gala itself. Despite being originally scheduled to hold the fundraiser gala at the Anatole, the hotel had to pull back due to a pharmaceutical convention. No problem. A couple of phone calls by Nancy, Rebecca and Presentation Gala Co-Chairs Anne Besser and Michelle Johnson resulted in the gala returning to French-owned Fairmont Hotel. Ooh-la-la.

News 8 Daybreak’s Alexa Conomos May Be Leaving WFAA And News 8 Daybreak But Not The Nonprofits

Alexa Conomos (File photo)

For those nonprofits who worried their botoxed brows about word that WFAA’s News 8 Daybreak’s Alexa Conomos was leaving WFAA’s morning show, take a chill pill.

It was 16 or so years ago that Alexa’s journey from California brought her to North Texas and TXCN. Then, as TXCN went bye-bye in 2002, Alexa transitioned to co-anchoring with Ron Corning to wake folks up from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Over the years, Alexa personally went from adorable single girl to glowing married lady to multi-tasking mama of three. In recent months, Alexa realized that her priorities needed a revisit and that making breakfast for her kidlets and having date nights with her hubby Bradley trumped all.

Luckily knowing Alexa, her support of the North Texas nonprofit world will continue beyond her days at the conclusion of her contract with WFAA in June.

JUST IN: Equest To Sell Wylie Property, Add Al Hill Jr. Family Arena At Texas Horse Park Facility With Completion Slated For Fall 2017

Equest just revealed a big reduction and expansion of its physical operation. The reduction is the putting up for sale its Wylie property. Despite the “For Sale” sign, it will continue operating from Friday, January 27, thru Saturday, May 13. Handling the sale will be Dave Perry-Miller and Associates’ Andy Steingasser, who is also Equest’s chairman of the board. Just to keep this above board, Andy is donating 100% of his commission to Equest.

Heather Washburne, Al Hill Jr. and Elisa Summers (File photo)

On the other hand, Equest’s expansion will be the addition of a new state-of-the-art arena at its Texas Horse Park facility. Named Al Hill Jr. Family Arena, the new arena will allow the organization to be “a closer step to Equest’s vision to be a model of excellence for worldwide therapeutic riding center. The beautiful energy-efficient clearspan steel covered arena will feature wooden kick boards, a blended equestrian-specific footage, large industrial fans, high-tech audio capabilities, and a platform for announcers and judges. It will increase opportunities for Equest to serve more clients and amplify outreach programming with the Dallas Independent School District, as well as additional audiences and organizations.”

According to Andy, “Al Hill Jr. is a Dallas businessman whom [sic] has had an interest in horses all of his life. Having an involvement using equestrian programs which benefits military veterans and especially handicapped children is a perfect combination of his personal interest. Having a distinguished arena that has multi-use functionality and accessibility will not only impact Equest but also the City of Dallas. We look forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks.”

Plans presently call for a March groundbreaking with completion slated for this fall.

TACA Grant Awards Celebration Distributes $1.3M Again, But Opts Not To Reveal Individual Funding For 49 Performing Art Groups

Transparency. That is the sweet spot of all organizations nowadays, especially nonprofits. Whether it’s ‘fessing up the actual net figure or announcing the distribution of dollars to nonprofits, transparency is the key to over-the-top respect.

Perhaps that why it was surprising that, tonight, TACA shifted gears at its annual Grant Awards Celebration at the Wyly. In years past, the organization used the occasion to announce the exact amounts going to the nonprofits and formally present the thrilled representatives with a check, to the applause of an audience full of fellow nonprofits and TACA board members.

This year, though, there were no individual amounts revealed; nor was there a formal presentation. Instead it was announced that TACA had once again provided $1.3M in grants for area performing art programs. The reason for withholding announcement of the amounts, according to a source, was that they did not want “to hurt feelings.”

Ah, shoot! Feelings, schmeelings.

According to organizers, the determination of funding is made by TACA volunteers spending “many hours during the last 12 months attending performances, as well as evaluating grant applications. The distribution decisions are based on three primary criteria: artistic excellence, administrative and fiscal responsibility and community engagement.”

After being asked about the change of plans, organizers provided the following breakdown of ranges for the 49 organizations:

$5,000-$10,000

  • African-American Repertory Theater
  • Arts District Chorale
  • AT&T Performing Arts Center
  • Blue Candlelight Music Series
  • Chamber Music International
  • Chamberlain Ballet
  • Cry Havoc Theater Company
  • Dallas Bach Society
  • Dallas Chamber Music Society
  • Dark Circles Contemporary Dance
  • Echo Theatre
  • Nasher Sculpture Center
  • Plano Civic Chorus
  • Soul Rep Theatre Company
  • Teatro Hispano de Dallas
  • Voices of Change

$10,001-$20,000

  • Avant Chamber Ballet
  • Big Thought
  • Bruce Wood Dance Project
  • Cara Mia Theatre
  • Dallas Chamber Symphony
  • Lone Star Wind Orchestra
  • Orchestra of New Spain
  • Orpheus Chamber Singers
  • Plano Symphony Orchestra
  • Sammons Center for the Arts
  • Texas Winds Musical Outreach
  • Theatre Three
  • Turtle Creek Chorale
  • WaterTower Theatre

$20,001-$50,000

  • Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas
  • Dallas Winds
  • Fine Arts Chamber Players
  • Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
  • Junior Players Guild
  • Kitchen Dog Theater Company
  • Lyric Stage
  • Second Thought Theatre
  • Shakespeare Dallas
  • The Black Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Undermain Theatre
  • Uptown Players

$50,001-$95,000

  • Dallas Black Dance Theatre
  • Dallas Children’s Theater
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra
  • Dallas Theater Center
  • Texas Ballet Theater
  • The Dallas Opera
  • TITAS

An additional $200,00 will be distributed via The TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund and the TACA Bowdon and Embrey Family Foundation’s Artist Residency Fund.

Instead of the usual check presentation, the evening included “a tribute to Becky Young, TACA’s leader retiring after 18 years, as well as students from the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts performing a scene from Magnolia, written by special guest artist Regina Taylor.”

Becky Young (File photo)

Wanda Gierhart (File photo)

Oak Cliff native Regina then told of how the arts had led her into a career of acting and moderated a panel with Dallas Symphony Orchestra Principal Horn David Cooper, Dallas Black Dance Theatre Encore! Artistic Director Nycole Ray and Bruce Wood Dance Project Artistic Director Kimi Nikaidoh.

The evening also marked the kick-off of TACA’ 50th anniversary year with Wanda Gierhart spearheading the plans. With the former Neiman’s exec/Chef Dean Fearing‘s bride-to-be Wanda at the helm, it’s gonna be a jaw-dropping year.

MySweetWishList Series Ramps Up In Hopes Of Local Santas Coming Through

Santa (File photo)

With Christmas just days away, the wishes have been flooding in for the MySweetWishList series. There’s a request for volunteers. There’s one asking for $25 for a new pair of shoes for a child. And there’s another one that hopes for a Christmas tree for a family.

So to try to get the wishes known before Sunday; we’ll be doubling and tripling up on ’em. Why not take the opportunity to check them out. Who knows? You may just find a wish that you can help Santa grant.

JUST IN: The Trinity Trust’s Dr. Gail Thomas To Retire At The End Of The Year

When a mama bird has hatched her eggs and raised her chicks to venture out on their own, she gently kicks them out of the nest to grow and fly on their own.

Gail Thomas (File photo)

Well, for Dallas’ Trinity River Corridor Project, mother hen Dr. Gail Thomas has been leading the effort for 20 years to create the long-envisioned project. During her tenure at The Trinity Trust, more than $105M has been raised, helping create the Dallas CityDesign Studio, the two Santiago Calatrava-designed bridges — Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and Margaret McDermott Bridge — as well as the Continental Bridge’s transformation into a pedestrian/bicycle bridge. To accomplish these feats required assembling a stellar group of community leaders to join the effort, hand-holding of philanthropists, negotiating the tight wire of government and politico types and working with a countless variety of organizations.

Back in October it was announced that Annette Simmons had gifted $50M for the Trinity River Park.

Gail’s “chick” is headed to fulfilling her “life-long vision — a central park for Dallas.”

But instead of kicking the chick out of the nest, The Trinity Trust CEO/President Gail is leaving the nest herself at the end of the year.

Deedie Rose (File photo)

It was just announced that she is retiring at the end of December “to focus on the next chapter of her life by completing and publishing her fifth book and spending long weekends at her East Texas home with her large family.”

According to The Trinity Trust Board of Directors Chair Deedie Rose, “When a park is finally realized within the Trinity River basin, it will be due in large measure because of the persistence and careful nurturing by Gail Thomas of a dream held by so many people for decades. Gail believes absolutely in the idea that people from all parts of the city can be connected through nature, through a park, with a river running through it.”

As for the future of The Trinity Trust, it will “move into its next stage, to be guided by a new director and to be renamed the Trinity Park Conservancy.”

For the official press release about the announcement, just follow the jump! [Read more…]