Texas Trailblazer Keynote Speaker Gretchen Carlson Connects The Dots Between Domestic Violence And Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Since being a little girl in Minnesota with a love of playing the violin, Gretchen Carlson has made the rounds. From being embarrassed … no, make that humiliated … when a sales clerk announced, “We need the biggest little girl bra for the chubby girl,” to taking on one of the country’s mega-media powerhouses, she’s not only rounded the track, she’s landed in the winner’s circle.

That was the feel for the Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon crowd on Friday, October 6, at the Anatole.

But first, the backstory. Gretchen, who had landed in Dallas back in the late 1990s as a reporter and anchor at KXAS, was the keynote speaker for The Family Place‘s annual fundraising luncheon that celebrated Elizabeth Grandell and Lamisa Mustafa as the 2017 Verizon Scholarship Recipients, TexProtects as Advocacy Awardee, and Lynn McBee as Trailblazer of the Year, who received a standing ovation.

Initially the day was sort low-key with the VIP meet-and-greet in the Peacock Terrace. Unlike last year’s line around the room for the grip-and-grin with Ronan Farrow, this year started off a bit slow. One guest, who arrived 10 minutes into the by-invitation event, had a touch of a shock in his/her voice, “Where are all the people?” This answer was, they were chatting it up in the opposite side of the room.

Cindy Stager, Lynn McBee, Gretchen Carlson and KJ Sanger

But Co-Chairs Kristen “KJ” Sanger and Cindy Stager and Lynn McBee as well as Nancy Gopez were on hand as well as Jan Miller in a new haircut and a touch of tear in her eye. It seems that the legendary Miller-Rich household beagle Schumacher had suffered a stroke a couple of weeks before and crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Jan Miller and Gretchen Carlson

In the meantime, the Chantilly Ballroom was being set up with an open feeling. As one person pointed out, there were generous aisles between the tables. Still, the count of 680 was down from the jam-packed TFP luncheon of 2016 with Ronan. On the screen were names of sponsors including Trammel (sic) S. Crow. That second “l” in Trammell is a tricky one.

At 11:46 a.m., a big voice announced that the program was going to start. He was a man of his word. The lights dimmed and a video was shown followed by Co-Chairs KJ and Cindy welcoming the group and Rev. Susan Robb providing the invocation.

Before Gretchen talked to the crowd including Connie O’Neill, Claire Emanuelson, Joanna Clarke, Paige Flink, Jill Tananbaum, Travis Hollman, Carol Seay, The Family Place CEO Paige Flink told of “Naomi,” who just the day before had met with her for a one-on-one. It seems that Naomi’s abusive situation had driven her to the breaking point. Her suicide note was written; she was going to take her five kids to the fire station and then she was going to a bridge from which to jump. After talking with Paige and understanding that the newly opened Ann Moody Place would provide shelter for her family, Naomi and Paige finished their chat, tearing up the suicide note.   

Paige added that had it not been for Ann Moody Place, Naomi might have become part of the statistics like the 194,000 violent acts and 158 murdered last year. That latter number was an increase over the year before. On a light noted she announced that the facility had received its first dog, Buddy, with his family. She finished her report on a positive note, saying that thanks to The Family Place, more than one-half million people had been saved thanks to the community’s support.

In addition to Paige’s celebrating her 26th anniversary with The Family Place, she had another 26-year Family Place vet, Betty Regard, join her on stage. Betty issued a $25,000 match challenge at 11:58 a.m. By 12:20 p.m., the challenge had already hauled in $15,948.

At 12:38 p.m., Gretchen arrived at the podium and showed her Stanford education smarts by telling the group of her days at KXAS back in 1998 when she did a 30-part series on domestic violence. While she admitted that a lot has changed, it hasn’t been enough.

Seamlessly, she transitioned into the eye-opening connection between domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace that she knew all too well from her 20s, when a man accosted her, to her headline-making split with the Fox News network. Both domestic violence and sexual harassment continue due to fear, embarrassment, and a lack of support, she said.

Highlights of her talk included:

  • Her mother suggested that she enter the Miss America pageant. Gretchen told her mother there was no way she would win because she was short, played a violin and “Minnesota is not a pageant state.” She entered anyway and won, despite pageant judge William Goldman’s describing her as Miss Piggy and admitting that he hated the violin.
  • After winning Miss America, she was interviewed by a reporter [Editor’s note: New York reporter Penny Crone], who quizzed her with such questions as which presidents were on the $5 and $20 bills. Ten years later, Gretchen spotted the reporter and asked if she recalled her when she was Miss America. Then Gretchen gave it to her, saying, “When I was Miss American, you tried to take me down. I just want you to know I’m a correspondent for CBS and you’re not.”
  • She was stalked for four years.
  • Her first encounter with sexual harassment was when she was in her 20s, when a TV cameraman asked her if she liked it when he put her mic on her breast.
  • 70% of women never report sexual harassment.
  • Misconceptions about sexual harassment include: women can just leave; women bring it on themselves; women make it up; women who do report it are after money or fame.
  • She has become an advocate about sexual harassment because of her children — “It’s all about the next generation.”
  • All proceeds from her book — “Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back,” which was coming out the following week, will go her “Gift of Courage” effort.
  • She pointed out three things that were needed to end such treatment:
    • Bystander support
    • Education
    • Government legislation

In closing, Gretchen made a surprise announcement: she was giving $10,000 to The Family Place.

But Gretchen isn’t gone. Come November, she’ll return to the area as part of the across-the-nation launch of workshops to empower women.

BTW, Gretchen didn’t talk about her headline-making situation with the late Roger Ailes. But just a few days later, women in the entertainment industry started following Gretchen’s lead, according to an article by Ronan about Harvey Weinstein‘s sexual harassment. They, like Gretchen, were not going to be silenced.

Due To Bernadette Peter’s Signing Up For NYC’s “Hello, Dolly!,” Brian Stokes Mitchell And Sutton Foster Are On Their Musical Way To Save The Days

The busiest person in the entertainment business is songbird Bernadette Peter’s agent. In New York, s/he is celebrating Bernadette’s taking over Broadway in “Hello, Dolly!” in January. In North Texas, it’s another story. S/he is breaking hearts.

Seems that the signing of Bernadette for the iconic role meant she had to cancel her appearances locally. As a result, there have been a lot of calls made for replacements.

Due to rehearsals, Bernadette won’t even be able to headline the Dallas Summer Musical Gala on Saturday, November 4. Yipes! That’s less than three weeks away. But Co-Chairs Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld have signed up Tony Award-winning Brian Stokes Mitchell for the fundraiser at Fair Park’s Music Hall with a special performance by Katharine McPhee.   

Brian Stokes Mitchell*

Sutton Foster**

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra had planned on Bernadette for their April 6-8 concerts. They’ve just announced that they arranged for another Tony Award winner to appear — singer/dancer/actress Sutton Foster.

While Bernadette’s absence is a heartbreaker for her fans, it’s the opportunity to see and hear talents that have also made their Tony mark in the Big Apple. Who knows? They just might mend those broken hearts.

* Photo courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals 
** Photo courtesy of Dallas Symphony Orchestra

 

Leukemia Texas’ Concert For A Cure At The Rustic Features Reckless Kelly—And Great Results For Fighting Leukemia

As more than 400 people streamed into The Rustic’s outdoor patio Thursday, September 28, for Leukemia Texas‘ fifth annual Concert for a Cure, the group’s CEO, Mandy O’Neill, sat in a “cabana” at the back of the property reviewing notes with the chairs before taking off to supervise the festivities.

Below her, guests like JB Hayes, Natalie Solis, Angela Nash with Billy Martin Jr., Roger Hendren, and Amanda and Lloyd Ward were catching up with friends and eagerly awaiting the appearance of the evening’s headliner, Reckless Kelly. Mandy, meantime, was expressing her hope that the evening’s take would at least match last year’s total of $125,000.

Jenny Anchondo, Marco Rivera, Stephanie Hollman and Mandy O’Neill*

The aim seemed do-able, if the crowd’s enthusiasm was any indication. Up on the raised stage, Sybil Summers and Nathan Fast from AMP 103.7-FM—followed by event Co-Chairs Jenny Anchondo and Stephanie Hollman—spent time revving up the partygoers. Jenny sits on the Leukemia Texas board, the audience was told, while Stephanie successfully underwent a bone-marrow donation in May in Oklahoma City.

Sybil Summers and Nathan Fast**

After introducing “Natalie,” a young woman who was having various medical problems, the chairs brought out  former NFL guard Marco Rivera, who played two years (in 2005 and ’06) with the Dallas Cowboys. Marco asked the crowd to bid on tickets to the ‘Boys’ upcoming game with the Green Bay Packers, saying, “I promise you, the Dallas Cowboys will not kneel!” After Marco started the bidding at $500, the ducats went for $1,100.

Natatlie’s mother Vivian, Natalie and Marco Rivera**

Then it was time for Reckless Kelly, the much-lauded, Austin-based Americana band. The group played generously for more than an hour, sprinkling their hits with a few cover songs by Merle Haggard (“Mama Tried”) and Bob Dylan (“Subterranean Homesick Blues”). As they did, a few “swing” dancers showed off their fancy steps down in front of the stage.

Reckless Kelly’s Willy Braun**

They weren’t the only ones strutting their stuff. When all was said and done, Mandy reported that “it looks like we will be exceeding our event goal.” After accounting for expenses—they were roughly 8 percent of the total take—Concert for a Cure was on track to net $110,000.       

* Photo provided by Mandy O'Neill 
** Photo credit: Brian Maschino

Sold-Out Alert!: Kappa Kappa Gamma Tablescapes 2017

Mary Hubbard, Lori Martin and Beth Dike (File photo)

A couple of MySweetCharity favorite words were just reported — Sold out! And they were just reported by Kappa Kappa Gamma Tablescapes 2017 Co-Chair Mary Hubbard. The Tuesday, October 17th luncheon and talk at the Dallas County Club by the incredible Mark D. Sikes is at total capacity.

However, Mary has good news for anyone who is sick and tired of Monday night TV watching that, “We don’t really have a max attendance for [Tablescapes by] Candlelight, our evening event on Monday…at least not yet! We have sold far more tickets for that than in recent years…”

In other words, if you want to graze- and gaze-around the killer tables decorated by professionals and very-talented-should-bes, get your ticket for Monday night’s festivities here!

BTW, this year’s fundraiser benefits Akola Project, Camp Summit, Cristo Red Dallas College Prep, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support, Seniors Pet Assistance Network, Town North YMCA, Visiting Nurses Association/Meals on Wheels and Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation.

Word has it that another cold front will be in town Monday, so it will be ideal weather to inspire planning for holiday entertaining.

Susan G. Komen’s 35th Anniversary Luncheon Celebrated The Lives Saved Thanks To A Deathbed Promise

In 1977 33-year-old Suzy Goodman Komen learned she had breast cancer. At that time those two words were verboten in polite company. Too often patients diagnosed with the disease shared the news, their fears and their struggle with the immediate family and perhaps extremely close friends. It was almost treated like a scandal. Susie undertook the treatments with her kid sister Nancy Goodman Leitstein (Brinker) at her side. But due to lack of funding, research and treatments, Susie died at the age of 36 in 1980.

As she lay dying, 34-year-old Nancy, who was divorced and the mother of a son, made a promise that changed her life and those of millions of others. She told Suzy that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. War was declared.

From that promise sprang the annual Race for the Cure and a Komen luncheon that for years required boxes of tissues as breast cancer patients shared their journeys. Eventually, the effort to grow funds and awareness spread throughout the world. What didn’t survive was the luncheon. For whatever reason, it ended.  

Mary Lessmann, Gigi Hill Lancaster and Meredith Land

However, on Wednesday, September 27, the Komen Foundation of Dallas celebrated its 35th anniversary with a luncheon fundraiser at Belo Mansion. Chairing Susan G. Komen’s 35th Anniversary Luncheon was Gigi Hill Lancaster, who had lost her mother, the vibrant Gigi Griffiths Hill, to breast cancer at the age of 39 in 1984 when Lancaster was just 14.

Elizabeth Robertson, Jim and Alinda Wikert and Sharon McCutchin

Jill Smith, Lindalyn Adams and Randi Halsell

At 11:30 the VIP reception was already in full gear with Honorary Co-Chairs Linda Custard and Ruth Altshuler (Co-Chair Gene Jones had to be out of town), luncheon emcee Meredith Land, Diane Brierley, Nancy Halbreich, Janie McGarr and keynote speaker/breast cancer survivor Giuliana Rancic. In the ballroom were Komen past luncheon chair Randi Halsell, Lindalyn Adams and original chair Sharon McCutchins, Jill Smith, Elizabeth Robertson, Alinda and Jim Wikert and Brill Garrett. Komen Dallas Board President Connie O’Neill with two of her three daughters (Amanda Cacheris and Isabel O’Neill) was thrilled that so many young women were attending.

Connie O’Neill, Giuliana Rancic, Amanda Cacheris and Isabel O’Neill

Promptly at noon the luncheon crowd including Sara Martineau, Carol Huckin, Katy Bock, Cara French, Daffan Nettle and Vicki Howland took their places and from the podium Gigi thanked the honorary chairs, Alinda Wikert and her underwriting chair Rebecca Fletcher for having brought in $555,000. Gigi told how she was wearing waterproof mascara. Her mother had wished that she had worn waterproof mascara when she addressed the Komen luncheon just weeks before her death.

Gigi turned the podium over to St. Michael’s and All Angel’s/breast cancer survivor Rev. Mary Lessmann for the invocation.

Carlos Arteaga

Following a video, Connie was at the podium reporting that one billion dollars had been provided by Komen for research and two billion dollars dedicated for treatment for women in 30 countries. Their goal was to reduce breast cancer 50% by 2060.

She then introduced newly arrived in Dallas Dr. Carlos Arteaga, who had only recently relocated from Vanderbilt University Medical Center to head up the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern.

It was then time for Giuliana to tell her story in 25 minutes, but she immediately admitted that it was going to be tough to do it. Born in Italy at the age of six, she only spoke Italian. So, how did she learn English? She would watch TV, especially the evening news. Her initial plans to be a TV journalist changed to concentrating on fashion and entertainment, which led to her moving to LA.

Giuliana Rancic

There she ended up with her dream job of being a reporter for E News. While there she heard the assignments editor mentioning the name “Bill Rancic,” who had just won the first “The Apprentice.” She asked for the interview and got it only to google Bill Rancic romance, where it said that he was dating someone. When she got to the interview, she impressed Bill by looking “bored and distant.” Needless to say, she had lost interest in him but carried on with the interview. Her final question was, “Are you going to settle down?” He responded, “Actually we broke up three weeks ago.”

According to Bill, an “immaculate transformation took place.” Eight months later they were engaged with a wedding taking place six months after that.”

The couple was approached about their doing a reality show. They agreed only if it could be positive. During this time they tried to conceive, and eventually sought help from fertility experts. But they miscarried and tried again with no luck. Giuliana was sad, angry and depressed — “Why did this happen?”

They sought help from another fertility specialist. In filling out the questionnaire, the last quest on the check list was “Have you had a mammogram?” Giuliana hadn’t and wanted to skip it. After all, she’d had no family history; she was in her 30s; she was in great health. But the nurse insisted, so she agreed.

Then she got a call to come to the clinic. As she waited to learn the results, she got an eerie feeling and ran to the elevator. The nurse came after her and brought her back. The doctor said that she did have breast cancer. Her reaction? “Your life just changes. I felt like I was falling.”

She shared her story on the show to help other young women to get a mammogram. Initially she thought the lumpectomy would be the answer. It didn’t work. She and Bill talked about it. Her concern was that a mastectomy would make her unattractive. Bill’s response: “I don’t care what you look like. I just want you around for the next 50 years.”

Those words made her mind up to go through with the mastectomy. In the meantime, the couple decided to check into having a gestational carrier. She admitted that after the months of disappointment and cancer, she needed some good news. That came two weeks after her surgery in December when they found out that the carrier was pregnant. On August 29, Edward Duke Rancic was born.

Within one year, Giuliana had had the worst day of her life and the most amazing.  She also realized that had she gotten pregnant, she probably wouldn’t be here.

Since then she has made fertility and breast cancer her rallying points.

Then Giuliana recalled a year ago meeting Klarissa, who in her 20s was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Giuliana had just gotten an update that Klarissa was fighting for her life. Giuliana started to read a post from Klarissa’s Instagram the day before, but couldn’t go on. She asked Gigi to come to the podium and read: “…. I can’t help but wonder what memories I will leave behind.”

Giuliana summed up her talk saying, “You don’t have to travel 2,000 miles to climb a mountain to find your purpose. Your purpose is right here in this room.”

Just past 1 p.m., the luncheon was over. The next day Julia Louis-Dreyfuss announced, “One in eight women get breast cancer; today I’m the one.” But thanks to a sister’s promise made in 1980, Giuliana, Julia and millions of others will have their lives saved.  

Sold-Out Alert!: Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 32nd Annual Luncheon

Dallas Women’s Foundation*

So sorry if you held off on getting your ticket for the Dallas Women’s Foundation fundraising luncheon on Friday, October 20, at the Hilton Anatole. Luncheon Co-Chairs Shonn Brown and Lisa Singleton just reported that the 32nd Annual Luncheon featuring Dr. Hope Jahren is sold out.

BTW, if you didn’t get your reservation in, there’s always the hefty check that just might a spot available. In the meantime, the following sponsors have their place setting locked down:

  • Platinum sponsors — U.S. Trust and Lyda Hill
  • Speaker sponsors — Suzanne Ahn, M.D. Speaker Endowment Fund at Dallas Women’s Foundation and Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt
  • Crystal sponsors — American Airlines, The Men and Women of Hunt Consolidated Inc., Texas Instruments and Young Women’s Preparatory Network
  • Diamond sponsors — EY, FedEx, Freeman, Jones Day and Kimberly-Clark
  • Emerald sponsors — AT&T Inc., Ellenore and Kirk Baker/Carter Financial Mgmt., Barings Multifamily Capital LLC, Lucy and Henry Billingsley, Cecilia G. Boone, Chatham Hill Investment Partnership, Toni Muñoz-Hunt and Dan Hunt, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Paula and Ron Parker, Service King Collision Repair, Betty and Steve Suellentrop and Toyota
  • Gold sponsors — AdvoCare International LP, Sindley Austin, Bank of Texas, Baron and Blue Foundation, Ann M. Berger, Phyllis F. Bernstein, Brunswick Group, Nancy P. Carlson, Serena Simmons Connelly, Roslyn Dawson Thompson and Rex W. Thompson, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Cindy Engles/Dodee Crockett, The Episcopal School of Dallas, Patricia W. Fagadau, Amy L. Fikes, Frost Bank, Kay Winzenried and Sheila Gallagher, Greenhill School, The Hart Group Inc., Haynes and Boone LLP, Al G. Hill Jr., The Hockaday School, Jane and Michael Hurst, JLL, Locke Lord, Lottye and Bobby Lyle, Lynn Pinker Cox and Hurst, Marty Marks, Alice and Erle Nye, Parish Episcopal School, PepsiCo, Julia Simon/Mary Kay, Southwest Airlines, Tolleson Wealth Management, Trinity Industries Inc. and Donna M. Wilhelm
  • Silver sponsors — Aetna, Bank of America Plaza, Angie Bain, Julie Bleicher and Gail Griswold, Lael Brodsky, Shonn Brown, Veree Brown, CBRE, Capital One Bank, Children’s Health, Communities Foundation of Texas, Ka Cotter and Sidney Hicks, Cristo Rey Dallas, Kaleta A. Doolin, The Enrico Foundation, FedEx Office, Melissa Fetter, Marion T. Flores and Margaret Keliher, Michelle Frymire, Sidney Hicks, HilltopSecurities Inc., Hind for Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, HudsonLake, Insperity, JP Morgan Chase, Jackson Walker L.L.P., Brenda L. Jackson, Junior League of Dallas Inc., KIPP Dallas – Fort Worth, Kristi Kastl, Margaret Keliher, Katherine Glaze Lyle and Sharon Lyle, McKinsey and Company, Methodist Health System Foundation, Neiman Marcus, Ava Norris, Cecilia and Tim Norwood, Lori Reisenbichler, Karen J. Simon, The Sister Fund, Solis Mammography, Debby Hay Spradley, Gail Warrior-Suchy and Colleen Affeldt, Texas Woman’s University, Thompson and Knight, TIAA, UT Southwestern, UTA University Crossroads, The University of Texas at Dallas, Vinson and Elkins LLP, Katrina Watland, Westwood Management and Williams Family Foundation
* Graphic courtesy of Dallas Women's Foundation

Dirk Receives Some Ribbing—And The H. Neil Mallon Award—At World Affairs Council Dinner

The H. Neil Mallon Award, the signature annual honor bestowed by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, has had some pretty impressive recipients over the years, from Vice President Richard Cheney and President George H.W. Bush to Ray Hunt, Randall Stephenson and Rex Tillerson. But it’s safe to say it’s never had a taller—or a more gracious—recipient than it did Friday, September 22, when Dirk Nowitzki was presented with the WAC’s 34th annual award during a dinner event at the Hilton Anatole.

Dirk Nowitzki*

Guests including Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger, Brent Christopher, Allie Beth and Pierce Allman, Keven Ann Willey and Georges Badoux, Christopher Durovich, Tanya Roberts, Carolina Beltran, Consul General Francisco De La Torre, Jan Miller and Jeff Rich, James Waters, Maurizio La Noce, Regina Montoya and Paul Coggins, Kay and Rob Harrell and Mary and Bob Potter turned out to honor Dirk, the legendary, 7-feet-tall power forward for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Besides holding many league and team records, the German-born hoopster is a much-honored philanthropist, serving as a guidepost with his wife, Jessica, for The Dirk Nowitzki Foundation.

Marjorie Adams*

After being welcomed by Dinner Chair Marjorie A. Adams, who also chairs the WAC board, as well as WAC President and CEO Jim Falk, the guests enjoyed a dinner of baby spinach and frisee salad, peppercorn crusted beef filet and jumbo shrimp, and an apple streudel dessert. Then they  heard from His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States.

Bret Baier and Yousef Al Otaiba*

Otaiba had flown in from Abu Dhabi and New York to introduce the evening’s guest speaker, FOX News Channel anchor Bret Baier, but he couldn’t resist some gentle ribbing of Dirk. “Please keep working on that jump shot,” he advised the Mallon honoree, “because you only shot 38 percent last year. It’s not like anyone’s going to block your shot …”

Baier picked up the joke from there, branding Otaiba’s 38 percent statistic “fake news.” Corrected Bret, deadpan: “I think it’s at least 42 percent.” Baier recounted a little about his show, “Special Report with Bret Baier,” and said that in the D.C. news business this year, “every day is like drinking from a firehose.” The FOX star, who’s an accomplished golfer, recalled playing golf with President Trump—”he is all about winning, and he doesn’t really care how he does it”—before lauding Dirk for his under-the-radar visits to young patients at Children’s Health in Dallas.

Following a video tribute to Nowitzki featuring the likes of Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings took the stage, clad in a tuxedo, and said of Dirk, “He represents Dallas like no other, because he represents excellence.” The man of the hour then accepted the Mallon Award from Rawlings and Adams and, with characteristic good humor, leaned down into the mic to rebut Otaiba’s allegation about his poor jump shot: “Mr. Ambassador, I’m not sure where you’re lookin’ at your stats … but I’ll try to do better next year!”

With that, the 39-year-old star sat down for a casual, on-stage chat with Mark Followill, the Mavs’ TV play-by-play announcer. Here are a couple of Dirk’s observations from the talk on:

  • Coming from Germany to Dallas: “My parents watched the TV show ‘Dallas’ once in a while, but it was not my thing. I was into MTV and sports. [Once I got to] Dallas, it was almost like they wanted me to succeed here from Day One.”
  • What he’s been doing recently: “I’ve just been traveling for about six-and-a-half weeks with [the Nowitzkis’] three little kids. It was … what’s the word? … great! [Lots of laughter.] Challenging!”
  • His future plans: “When I retire from basketball, I’m sure Cubes will give me a job, hopefully. But hopefully I’ll do it another year or two, then let the young guys take over.”
* Photo credit: Steve Foxall

 

Dallas Museum Of Art’s Decorative Arts Symposium Featured Three Renowned Experts On Furnishings, Gardening And Palettes

Attendees for the Dallas Museum of Art’s Decorative Arts Symposium expanded their understanding of art on Thursday, September 21. Thanks to Symposium Chair Beverly Nichols assembling John Hays, Ann Pailthorp and P. Allen Smith, the event showcased how art is not limited to canvases and sculptures. Here’s a report from the field:

The Dallas Museum of Art‘s Decorative Arts Symposium Chair Beverly Nichols, welcomed attendees to the Symposium on Thursday, September 21, at the Dallas Museum of Art. 

Melissa Fetter and Ann Hobson*

Penny Hardie and Mollie Crow*

Janet Evans and Debbie Raynor*

Cara French and Prissy Gravely*

Guests like DMA Board of Trustees Chair Melissa Fetter, Ann Hobson, Cara French and her mother Prissy Gravely, Janet Evans, Debbie Raynor, Penny Hardie and Mollie Crow arrived and enjoyed coffee and light breakfast bites outside the Horchow Auditorium.  On view in a vitrine were two pieces from the Museum’s decorative arts collection which had served as the event’s signature pieces: a Free form shape bowl with Tropicana pattern decoration (designers Frank Irwin and Helen McIntosh), (maker Metlox Potteries), c. 1955, earthenware, Dallas Museum of Art, 20th-Century Design Fund, 1996.111) and a silk brocade (maker and date unknown, silk, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Hart Miller, 1947.21.23). 

Once seated inside the auditorium, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director Agustín Arteaga welcomed everyone and thanked them for attending the second annual event which supports the DMA’s Decorative Arts Acquisition Endowment Fund.  

Agustin Arteaga*

Beverly followed to introduce the esteemed line-up of symposium speakers, which included award-winning garden designer, acclaimed author, television host and conservationist P. Allen Smith; John Hays, deputy chairman of Christie’s America and specialist in American Furniture and Decorative Arts; and Ann Pailthorp, Farrow and Ball’s leader of the North American Colour Consultancy Program for British craftsmen in paint and paper.    

John Hays, Ann Pailthorp, Beverly Nichols and P. Allen Smith*

Hays took the podium first and under the theme, Commander in Chief: A Few War Stories from John Hays’ Travels, he shared stories of extraordinary pieces he has found across the United States, which were sold at auction by Christie’s. Pailthorp followed with details about Farrow and Ball’s unmatched collection of paint and wallpaper, including details on what makes their colors and finishes distinctive. Smith, who designed the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens’ new edible garden, closed by sharing a virtual tour of Moss Mountain Farm, his American Greek Rival style-home, which included his stunning organic flower and vegetable garden “rooms,” orchards, farm animals and his heritage poultry breeds.   

The event concluded with an opportunity for audience members to ask questions of the panel. Immediately following, P. Allen Smith’s book, “Seasonal Recipes from the Garden,” and Farrow and Ball’s “How to Decorate,” were available for sale and for signatures by Smith and Pailthorp. 

As guests departed, they received a Farrow and Ball favor bag with a coveted fan deck featuring all 132 Farrow and Ball colours and an Autumn and Winter Inspiration guide.  

* Photo credit: Tamytha Cameron Smith

Veteran Celebs And Babes In Arm Took The Runway At Tootsies For The 8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show

As the swallows return to Capistrano in March, so the season’s fashions were hitting the North Texas catwalks in September. On the heels of the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show with its dozens and dozens of professional models, The Elisa Project‘s 8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show also had fashions on the Tootsies runway on Saturday, September 16. But these models were volunteers ranging in age from infant to AARP. Here’s a report from the field:

Rhonda Marcus, Emmy Marcus and Whitney Kutch*

Event Chair Whitney Kutch, with Honorary C0-Chairs Rhonda Marcus and daughter Emmy, were joined by nearly 160 attendees for the 8th annual Esteem Fashion Show presented by Lisa Cooley, on Saturday, September 16, which benefited The Elisa Project (TEP).

Partygoers arrived at Tootsies and mingled while enjoying mimosas while perusing Tootsies collections. With 10% of all purchases benefiting TEP, patrons shopped the latest fall fashions, as DJ Blake Ward provided the vibe. Raffle tickets were available for sale featuring fabulous prizes including, a $100 gift card to Tootsies; an Elizabeth Showers Soleil station 18 karat gold chain in hand-carved white quartz over Kingman Mine turquoise; an Amanda Sterrett jewelry suite; hair and makeup services from The Makeup Zone; an original watercolor painting by Sherri Jones; and Chili’s restaurant gift cards.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Kim Stephens-Olusanya, Holly Davis and Landry Davis*

At 11:00 a.m., patrons gathered upstairs for the much-anticipated fashion show. Whitney took the podium and thanked everyone in attendance for their support of The Elisa Project and this year’s event. TEP’s board President Dr. Stephanie Setliff followed by adding her thanks and recognized Whitney for her hard work as event chair, as well as those in the room who had made the day possible including Executive Director Kimberly Martinez, TEP staff and board of directors, and Esteem founder, event coordinator, and board member, Rhonda Sargent Chambers. She then shared details about some of the work The Elisa Project is doing in the community through advocacy, education and support, which touches the lives of more than 31,000 individuals suffering from eating disorders each year.

2017 Esteem models

Emcee Courtney Kerr, founder and editor-in-chief of KERRently.com, took the podium and got right to the fashion show, which featured notable community members wearing the latest looks from Tootsies with children’s fashions provided by KidBiz/The Biz.

Jenny Anchondo and Brighton Valentina*

Courtney Kerr and Kellie Rasberry*

2017 models were: FOX4-TV’s Emmy-award winning news anchor Jenny Anchondo with 15-week old daughter Brighton Valentina; Carlotta Lennox, Kim Dawson model and entrepreneur; Landry Davis with friends Aubrey and Gracie O’Banion; community volunteer Yvonne Crum with granddaughter Samantha; designer and creator of BAHZ jewelry Britt Harless; host of nationally syndicated morning show, Eye Opener, blogger and fashion expert Hilary Kennedy; Jane McGarry, host of WFAA-TV’s “Good Morning Texas;” Sabrina Harrison, co-owner and interior designer Mint Dentistry and founder of Equipped by Faith Ministries, with children Christian and Camila; Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Scott Murray; Melissa Rountree, owner of activewear brand Level 3 Active and board member of The Elisa Project; licensed professional counselor and CEO of Park Cities Counseling, Elizabeth Scrivner with daughter Katherine; Catherine Lowe, owner of local luxury stationary company LoweCo, with son Samuel; host of “Kidd Kraddick in the Morning,” Kellie Rasberry; honorary co-chairs Rhonda Marcus, and daughter Emmy; and event chair and TEP board member Whitney Kutch.

Carlotta Lenox and Courtney Kerr*

Melissa Rountree*

As the show came to a close, Kimberly Martinez announced the lucky winners of the raffle prizes before encouraging all in attendance to continue shopping in support of The Elisa Project. Before departing, patrons grabbed their swag bags which included goodies from Tootsies and stationary from LoweCo.

Esteem is a celebration of body image and self-Esteem. In its 8th year, Esteem helps increase awareness about eating disorders and the importance of positive body image, Esteem encourages people to love themselves while striving to be healthy. Proceeds support The Elisa Project (TEP) and the important programs dedicated to fighting eating disorder illnesses through awareness, education, support and advocacy.

* Photo credits: Bob Manzano and Thomas Garza

 

Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show And Neiman Marcus Scored A Home Run Bringing The Fundraiser Back To “The Store” With Posen And Pearls

Thomas Wolfe once declared, “You can never go home again.” Leave it to Neiman Marcus and Crystal Charity Ball to prove that old adage is so off base. On Friday, September 15, the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show and Luncheon was a love fest bringing the more-than-popular children’s fundraiser back home to the Neiman Marcus Downtown flagship.

Unlike the past couple or three years when the CCB Fashion Show took place in the store and an OMG tented venue in the adjoining parking lot, it was decided to move the whole package into the building’s various floors.

Sixth floor

Entrance to Michael Flores Salon

While regular shoppers and visiting tourists were surprised at the hundreds of top-tier fashionables filling the first floor for the official reception, one gent was gently turned away from dining in the sixth floor Zodiac. It wasn’t due to his natty Bermuda shorts. Rather, the restaurant was closed for the day due to the CCB, as well as Nancy C. Roger’s reception in the Michael Flores Salon celebrating the 10 Best Dressed (Anita Arnold, Delilah Boyd, Katherine Coker, Janie Condon, Lisa Cooley, Tucker Enthoven, Pat Harloe, Julie Hawes, Amy Hegi, Piper Wyatt) and Hall of Famer Charlotte Jones Anderson.  Before the elegant 11 arrived for the Cristal doings after their run through of the show on the second floor, NM Downtown PR Marjon Henderson admonished them that they were to be back on the second floor no later than 11:15 a.m.

For first timers, it was a shock-and-awe moment when they saw how Fancy Nancy, Michael F. and her go-to-Gro designer Nathan Johnson had turned the entry into a whimsical tunnel of greenery, white flowers and rose petals strewn along the way and highlighted by chandeliers. Nathan admitted that he and his crew had worked around the clock to create and install the masterpiece that would be history by noon.

Michael Flores and Nancy Rogers

Pam Perella, Robyn Conlon and Claire Emanuelson

And, of course, the flutes on the silver trays screamed Cristal. You were expecting Kool-Aid? BTW, the “C” in Nancy C. Rogers does not stand for Cristal.

Just past 10:30 a.m., the hostess arrived to greet guests like 2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella, 2018 CCB Chair Claire Emanuelson, 2014 CCB Chair Robyn Conlon, Dallas Snadon, Gina Betts, Vicky Lattner, Di Johnston, Nancy Carter, Angie Kadesky, Mike Wyatt, Vin Perella with daughter Lauren Perella, Ryan Wilson, Debbie Breard, Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner, Joan Eleazer, Bela Cooley, Sue Gragg, Becky Bowen, Dixey Thornton, Ginger Auer, Tanya Foster, Alicia Wood, Leisa Street, Lynn McBee, Nancy Carlson, Capera Ryan, Sam Boyd, Beth Layton, Muffin Lemak, Ann Dyer, Shelle Sills and DeeDee Lee.

Vin Perella, Lauren Perella and Ryan Wilson

Vicky Lattner, Di Johnston, Nancy Carter and Angie Kadesky

Second floor

In the meantime, the rest of the store was buzzing. As NM special events mastermind Sandy Marple was finishing up with the dress rehearsal, fashion show featured designer Zac Posen arrived with Celine Mariton on the second floor that had been turned into a red carpeted showroom cloaked in black and as narrow as an arrow’s shaft.

Sandy Marple, Zac Posen and Celine Mariton

On three sides were tiers of gold chairs with comfy red, purple and taupe cushions. Down the middle of the room was a back-to-back row of the chairs. At one end of the room was Zac Posen spelled out in gold on both sides of the runway entrance. Zac was blown away by the reconfiguration of the couture salon that he knew so well. Whipping out his cellphone he took a shot of the room.

Fourth floor

Luncheon table

Just two floors up,tables were in the final stages of being set up for the seated luncheon. Table hosts’ assistants were making sure that place cards were in the right spots. Even fashion show featured designer Zac Posen’s team had provided mementos for the guests. Some were gifted with Zac-designed scarves and others received Zac sunglasses.

Back to the second floor

Then the bewitching minute arrived with the 10 Best Dressed and Charlotte scurrying down to the second floor for the presentation. Eventually the guests from both the first-floor reception and Nancy’s party made their way to the second floor with elevators and escalators moving nonstop.

As the sold-out crowd of more than 500 started filling the gold chairs, CCB Reservations Co-Chair Paige Slates looked over the setup and smiled. She and Tiffany Divis had been in charge of reservations and admitted that until all the derrières were in place, they weren’t going to be satisfied.

Laura Bush and Lee Ann White

Nancy Dedman and Joan Schnitzer

Sarah and Ross Perot and Lisa Troutt

Kelli Ford

Mary Clare Finney

As guests finally settled down, a voice announced NM Fashion guru Ken Downing, who arrived from backstage to the podium set up midway across the aisle from Annette Simmons, Nancy Dedman, Joan Schnitzer Levy, Lee Ann White, former first lady Laura Bush, Sarah and Ross Perot and Lisa Troutt. Like a fashion version of a Texas A&M yell leader, Ken extolled his love and support of Zac — “My mother has pictures of Zac all over the house. There’s not a picture of me anywhere.” According to Ken, one of Zac’s first ventures outside NYC was Neiman’s in Dallas and he fell in love with “his girls.” Upon learning that he would be the featured designer for the CCB event, Zac texted Ken and asked him to put the show together for “our girls.” Ken continued saying the show wasn’t “just a fashion show. The show is a gift from my heart and from Zac’s heart to all of you.”

Karen Katz

He then introduced NM President/CEO Karen Katz who welcomed the group and said it was only right to bring the fashion show back to “our house” for the company’s 110th anniversary year. Karen was followed by 2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella and Fashion Show Chair Christi Urschel, who thanked all for supporting the organization providing millions of dollars for Dallas children’s charities.

Julie Hawes

Charlotte Jones Anderson

With that Ken returned to the podium to present the 10 Best Dressed and Hall of Famer. It came off without a hitch. Ken provided the commentary with touches of ad libbing. Blonde Julie Hawes dropped her red fur jacket midway and dragging it the last lap.

Zac Posen fashion

Zac Posen fashion

Zac Posen gown

Zac Posen gown

Then Ken stepped aside, the podium was removed and the models took their turn in Zac fashions — adorable frocks for cocktail parties, black short shorts and billowing ball gowns. One or two appeared to channel Scarlett O’Hara’s curtain dress.

Margot McKinney

Margot McKinney jewelry with Zac Posen gown

Highlighting the outfits were necklaces, earrings, bracelets and all sorts of exquisite bling provided by fourth-generation Australian jeweler Margot McKinney, who made headlines when she bought a harvest of 85,000 baroque pearls.

Zac Posen

For the finale, it was a standing ovation with Zac doing a victory lap.

Back to the fourth floor

As the fashionable guests made their way to the fourth floor for lunch, the 10 Besties and Charlotte took their places for group photos with Zac, Margot, Ken, Pam and Christi.

From the left: (standing) Katherine Coker, Anita Arnold, Delilah Boyd, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Pat Harloe, Lisa Cooley, Tucker Enthoven and Julie Hawes; (seated) Janie Condon, Christi Urschel, Pam Perella, Amy Hegi and Piper Wyatt

From the left: (standing) Katherine Coker, Anita Arnold, Delilah Boyd, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Pat Harloe, Lisa Cooley, Tucker Enthoven and Julie Hawes; (seated) Janie Condon, Margot McKinney, Ken Downing, Zac Posen, Amy Hegi and Piper Wyatt

Then they joined the others for the meal “inspired by” Zac’s new cook book, “Cooking With Zac” due out in October. Guests donned their new found sunglasses for photos. Fancy Nancy sent bottles of Cristal to the10 BD tables. Ken and Zac shouldered it up. Karen joined up with three generations of Jones girls (Gene, Charlotte and Haley Anderson)…Christi celebrated with her mom Linda Carter, husband Hal Urschel and BFF Sarah Perot.

Haley Anderson, Charlote Jones Anderson, Karen Katz and Gene Jones

Linda Carter

Elsa Norwood, Susan Palma, Patty Leyendecker and Tiffany Divis

As the guests dined on the fourth floor, a truck parked along South Ervay was being loaded with the gold chairs, the black showroom was being disassembled and the couture salon was back in business.

For more than 85 pictures, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show and Luncheon

Crystal Charity Ball’s Fashion Show and Luncheon is the mother-of-all charity fashion extravaganzas in these parts. Thanks to being orchestrated by Neiman Marcus’ team, it’s a quick sellout each year with the cheap seats going for $1,000.

From the left: (standing) Katherine Coker, Anita Arnold, Delilah Boyd, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Pat Harloe, Lisa Cooley, Tucker Enthoven and Julies Hawes; (seated) Janie Condon, Christi Urschel, Pam Perella, Amy Hegi and Piper Wyatt

The 10 Best Dressed Class of 2017 (Anita Arnold, Delilah Boyd, Katherine Coker, Janie Condon, Lisa Cooley, Tucker Enthoven, Pat Harloe, Julie Hawes, Amy Hegi, Piper Wyatt) and Hall of Famer Charlotte Jones Anderson were heady enough, but this year’s featured designer 37-year-old Zac Posen created a youthful feel for the store that was celebrating its 110th anniversary. He scored major points by making BFFs forever by presenting guests with everything from his sunglasses to scarves. No chintzy perfume samples for Zaco.

Zac Posen

Too bad he was so busy preparing the models backstage that he didn’t get to check out the pre-program festivities on the store’s first and sixth floor. Ah, but more about all of that later. Just settle back and check out the two pages of more than 80 photos of the fashions and faces at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Self-Made Millionaire/”Shark Tank”‘s Barbara Corcoran To Be Guest Speaker For The Legacy Senior Communities Yes! Event In November

Barbara Corcoran*

Barbara Corcoran is a very busy, busy gal nowadays. Well, she always has been with all her real estate deals that transformed her from waitress to “self-made millionaire.” Then there’s a little TV show, called “Shark Tank,” where she has held her own with the likes of Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary and Daymond John

She’s had so many balls to juggle, it’s no wonder that the 68-year-old’s gig on “Dancing With The Stars” was just one too many, resulting in her being eliminated this past week. However, she proved her spunk and class by accepting her elimination with humor.

But leave it to the The Legacy Senior Communities Yes! Event to snag her as the guest speaker for the annual fundraising luncheon at the Meyerson on Thursday, November 2. But then what else would you expect from a committee including Carol Aaron, Dawn Aaron, Sandy Donsky, Linda Garner, Zona Pidgeon, Jody Stein and Karla Steinberg?

The plan calls for her to “share her personal story, as well as insight into what motivates her today.”

Benefiting The Legacy Senior Communities Financial Assistance Fund, the event will provide support for The Legacy Midtown Park’s rental continuing care retirement community currently under development in Dallas, to help supplement the cost of their care and provide the extra amenities that enrich the quality of their life.”

According to Carol, “A community is judged by the way it cares for its elders, and I feel it is our collective responsibility to provide a wonderful lifestyle and exemplary care to seniors in Greater Dallas. We encourage everyone to step up and help us continue to not just meet but exceed the needs of seniors and their families now and in the future.”

In addition to Barbara, The Carmen Miller Michael – Legacy Senior Communities Award will be presented to “pay tribute to a member of the Greater Dallas community who displays the special qualities which Carmen Miller Michael possessed: a pioneering spirit and an unshakeable sense of justice and compassion.”

The Legacy Senior Community Board of Trustees Chair Marc R. Stanley said, “We will honor a truly inspirational individual and trailblazer who shares our commitment to serving others, and we will hear from a motivational entrepreneur during this captivating event. We are thankful to all of our donors whose support assists us in providing thriving communities and high-quality care. We find it truly rewarding to provide seniors with dynamic and enriched lives.”

Single tickets are $200 with various levels of sponsorship available.

* Photo credit: ABC/Patrick Ecclesine

Crystal Charity Ball Cocktail Buffet Was A Feast Of Fashion With Designer Zac Posen And The 10 Best Dressed Plus Hall Of Famer

As the statue overlooking Turtle Creek was being removed on Thursday, September 14, JP Morgan/Chase was hosting the Crystal Charity Ball cocktail buffet at Shirley and Bill McIntyre’s estate in North Dallas.

Shirley and Bill McIntyre’s estate

In this case there was another creek, but it was much smaller and there was a bit of maneuvering. It seems that the turn into the McIntyre’s circular driveway required a sharp turn. One driver ended up slightly dipping into the landscaped terrain. And speaking of the vehicles, they ranged from posh Bentleys to decked-out pick-up trucks.

Muffin Lemak and Dwight and Claire Emanuelson

Gene Jones and Charlotte Jones Anderson

Libby and Al Allred

After turning their cars over to the valets, the guests strolled over a narrow foot bridge to the fabulous mansion with its towering glass windows and stone walls. At one point the parade of pretties came to a traffic jam stop like Stemmons Freeway during rush hour. Sara Lee Gardner had just crossed the bridge with husband Stan Gardner and Shelle and Michael Sills, when she turned and walked halfway back on the bridge to talk with Muffin Lemak and Claire and Dwight Emanuelson. The result? The strolling flow of guests across the narrow bridge came to a standstill, with no HOV lane in sight.  Needless to say, a traffic cop was not required. Just a couple of throat clearings by a bystander literally got the guests on their way.

They were greeted by petite JPMorgan Chase banker Elaine Agather, who was getting her workout opening the heavy front door. The blonde in red revealed that she had been less visible on the fundraising scene due to an expansion of her territory that now ranged from the far north of the U.S. to practically the space station. By the way, while Elaine is a well-known gal who is just as comfortable in a boardroom as she is on a saddle, has managed to combine a firm handshake with soft hands. She must have been loyal to wearing gloves when reining her ponies.

Don and Carmen Godwin and Margot McKinney and Peter Kedwell

Tucker and Rich Enthoven

Jim Lee and Vin Perella

Tom Swiley and Patti Flowers and Annette Simmons and Jerry Fronterhouse

As for entertainment, there was a pianist, but the real draw were the people. Annette Simmons and Jerry Fronterhouse had to duck out early due to a dinner date…Carmen and Don Godwin were with Australian jeweler Margot McKinney and Peter Kedwell. Margot’s goodies highlighted by mega-pearl necklaces (thanks to Margot, Carmen was wearing literally the world’s largest strand of baroque pearls) would be the accessory du jour for the 10 Best Dressed the next day… Rich Enthoven told how he nearly parted ways with his vintage Corvette. No matter how he tried, it just wasn’t reliable. Then Daryl Johnston, upon spotting the car and hearing of Rich’s frustration, told him about the “Corvette Whisperer.” Rich took a chance and it worked.  Both Rich and his eye-catching Corvette now are happy campers… Tom Addis reported that Garry Cox, who had just recently undergone a liver transplant, was doing very well and already home…Pete Foster reported on the pros and cons of the just-announced Apple iPhones 8, 8 Plus and X… Solo appearances included Ralph Babb (wife Barbara Babb was recovering from a cold) and Joanna Clarke (her boss Paige McDaniel was under the weather)… On the other hand, designer Zac Posen arrived with his posse (Amelia Gibson, Jillian Sinel and Celine Mariton). Earlier in the day, Zac had been named Rosewood Hotels Ambassador for Dallas.

Alas, even at the best affairs, there is a guest or two who didn’t listen to their mama on good table manners. In this case, a couple of folks were seen pulling a George Costanza. The shocked catering maven, upon seeing the double dipping, promptly withdrew the bowl from the table.

Jillian Sinel, Elaine Agather, Zac Posen, Celine Mariton and Amelia Gibson

But it was an early night, because ccB Chair Pam Perella and 10 Best Dressed Chair Christi Urschel and the 10 Besties had an early call the next morning, and everyone needed their beauty sleep.  

DeeDee Lee, Pam Perella and Christi Urschel

Check out more faces at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Cocktail Buffet

Like serving up an appetizer before a fabulous feast, the Crystal Charity Ball committee held a cocktail buffet on Thursday, September 14, the eve of the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show And Luncheon. Thanks to Shirley and Bill McIntyre’s breathtaking estate nestled in the lush grounds, the setting was simply perfect to impress oldtimers and newcomers like featured designer Zac Posen.

Jillian Sinel, Elaine Agather, Zac Posen, Celine Mariton and Amelia Gibson

Welcoming guests as they crossed the footbridge over the property’s creek was JP Morgan/Chase Executive Elaine Agather, who got a real workout opening the heavier-than-an-18-wheeler door.

But once inside they discovered a blonde decked out in the most beautiful gems. She turned out to be fourth-generation Australian jewelry designer Margot McKinney and her husband Peter Kedwell.   

Don and Carmen Godwin and Margot McKinney and Peter Kedwell

Ah, but more about all of that in the post that’s being prepared. In the meantime, check out the folks in attendance at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon Celebrated The Close Of Family Gateway’s 30th Anniversary Year With Laura Bush Recalling A Little Boy Left Behind

Family Gateway’s CEO Ellen Magnis had a real challenge on her hands. Last year’s Gateway To Opportunity kicking off the 30th anniversary of the organization had really been a hit with Jenna Bush Hager on stage in a chat with WFAA’s Ron Corning in the Trinity Ballroom. The blonde former first twin had also scored points at the meet-and-greet in the Fair Park Room, where she even offered to do selfies with VIPs.

Betty Schultz, Laura Bush and Paula Miltenberger

But this year’s luncheon was to be the grand finale for  the 30th anniversary year of the organization for homeless families established by the late, former Mayor Annette Strauss. Ellen with Co-Chairs Paula Miltenberger and Betty Schultz came up with quite a recipe for success. The speaker would be former first lady Laura Bush and the honorary co-chairs would be Annette’s daughters, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr. Was it a success? Evidently so, judging by the turnout that doubled the crowd from the last year and necessitating the move from the 15,418-square-foot Trinity Ballroom to the 31,733-square-foot Dallas Ballroom.

Janie McGarr, Nancy Halbreich, Penny Tower Cook, Laura Bush, Jeanne Tower Cox, Jeanne Whitman Bobbitt and Christine Schuepbach

All was set for the Thursday, September 7th luncheon with a couple of unforeseen oop’s. But what’s an event without a little challenge. For the meet-and-greet, the floorplan diagram had been created like an architectural work of art. No detail had been left out. Only problem arose when the organizers arrived to find that the Omni crew had done their own interpretation that was nowhere near the diagram. After requests to follow the original POA, Omni managers sheepishly arrived to say they didn’t have enough poles and curtains to satisfy the requirements. Seems there were two other events going on and they just ran out. Quickly, the Gateway team and the Bush folks redesigned the plan to achieve their goal with the limited resources.

Rachael Dedman and Vicki Chapman

Lee Ann White, Michael Faircloth and Gene Jones

Despite starting a few minutes later that planned, the meet-and-greet went so smoothly that it finished on time with all being photographed with Laura including Jeanne Cox, Rachael Dedman, Michael Faircloth, Gina Betts, Alison Malone, Tracy Lange, the Tower sisters (Jeanne Tower Cox and Penny Tower Cook), Jeanne Whitman Bobbitt, Christine Schuepbach, Lynn McBee, Becky Bowen and Underwriting Co-Chairs Lisa Cooley and daughter Ciara Cooley. The only one who wasn’t photographed with the former first lady was Ellen. Seems that she was in the lobby helping the check-in staff that had been flooded by the number of guests like Gail and Gerald Turner, Vicki Chapman, Gunnar Rawlings, Lee Ann White and Gene Jones checking in. But that situation was resolved, too.

Gerald and Gail Turner, Alison Malone, Ciara Cooley, Lisa Cooley and Becky Bowen

Promptly at noon, following KDFW’s Clarice Tinsley‘s welcome and Highland Park United Methodist Church Rev. Paul Rasmussem’s invocation, Ellen briefly told of Gateway’s partnering with Matthews Southwest in the creation of a complex in Hutchins with 336 units for families seeking affordable housing. When a client first works with Gateway, their case manager’s first goal is get them in housing and then to work with them on education completion, job training, financial literacy, parenting education and self-care. But she added that part of their mission was to learn and apply new strategies.

Following a video, Paula told how she had gotten involved with Gateway. It was three years ago and her plan had been to keep her boys occupied. Instead she learned the need for solutions. The boys, on the other hand, suggested that they just have the homeless move in with them.

Robert Munoz and Deanna Reyna Munoz

Deanna Reyna Munoz then provided a testimonial, telling how her mother was 16 when Deanna was born. Her father was incarcerated. That’s when they found Family Gateway and for the first time she had her own room, bed and closet. The Gateway staff then helped her mother change into a responsible person resulting in her having her own home. Deanna became the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. She got a job at the Dallas Cowboys and “bought her own home with a pool and married her boyfriend (Robert Munoz) of 10 years. My success stems from the tools provided by Family Gateway.”

That powerful presentation was followed by auctioneer Wendy Lambert’s shout out for funds with a goal to match $225,000. This awkward segment tends to cast an aura of guilt in the room among those who don’t rise to occasion. In this case, the results hauled in $154,000. Or so folks thought as they finished up their meal. But post-event checks and online donations, the challenge was met!

It was now time for the main act with Presenting Sponsor MetroPCS District Manager Brad Pott’s introducing Laura.

  • She started off by thanking all for supporting Family Gateway and provided an update on the Bushes. When Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coat, Barbara and George H.W. Bush were safe and sound in Maine, where Barb is no longer walking the shores with her dogs. Instead she’s rolling around in a golf cart with the pooches following.
  • George W. Bush’s painting has resulted in 98 wounded warriors being subjects, a book “Portraits in Courage” and displayed at the Bush Center.
  • Laura and George W.’s names as grandparents — “It’s like choosing a name for a cat.” George suggested that his grandchild just call him, “Sir.”
  • Laura Bush bobble head doll — A friend gave it to her and reported that “It was on the clearance shelf.”
  • Tabloids — “My daughters were getting engaged to persons I had never heard of.”
  • 9/11 — She was sitting in Ted Kennedy’s office.

Then she tied her talk back to the subject of the day — early childhood care can change the cycle of poverty. Among the 400 families served by Family Gateway last year, there were 900 children.

Laura recalled that long before her husband was governor of Texas or president, she had worked at an inner-city school in Houston and discovered a remarkable level of poverty. Such conditions result in one in three young people dropping out of high school each year, with single-parent families becoming the norm and one or both parents in jail.

When she had completed her work at the school, she decided to take some of her students to AstroWorld. In picking them up, she arrived at one house where the student came to the door in his underwear. His mother never came to the door to provide permission for him to join the group. Before Laura left, she gave the tyke a long hug.

As Laura concluded her talk at 1:04 p.m., she admitted that she often wondered what happened to the youngster. Was he still alive? Did he have a family? What had happened to him over the past decades? She said the challenge is not to forget that little boy or any of the children in need of compassion and assistance.  

A Writer’s Garden Plans Announced With A Taste Of “Authentic Texas”

There’s a mistaken belief that the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden’s only claim to fame is its annual Mad Hatter’s Tea in the spring. Not so. For 35 years, the organization has been responsible for A Woman’s Garden’s development, maintenance and endowment and that takes more funding than a tea party can provide.

That’s why they established “A Writer’s Garden” Literary Symposium and Luncheon 11 years ago. It provides the opportunity for authors and speakers to share their “rich histories about gardens, architecture and art and illuminating stores of extraordinary individuals and events.”

Kay Weeks, Nancy Bierman and Susan Adzick*

On Monday, August 28, Symposium Co-Chairs Susan Adzick and Kay Weeks held a kick-off party at Ginger and Rod Sager‘s home to announce 2017 Symposium plans to a crowd including Women’s Council President Melissa LewisMichelle Mew, Lisa Laughlin, Ramona Jones, Sharon Barbee, Cynthia Beaird, Linda Huffines, Judy Birchfield and Barbara and Bob Bigham.

Dorothea Meltzer and Melissa Lewis*

Barbara and Bob Bigham*

In addition to Nancy Bierman’s serving as honorary chair, this year’s theme will be “Authentic Texas… Food and Gardens” to coincide with the opening of the Arboretum’s new “A Tasteful Place.” To support the theme, Susan, Kay and Program Chair Dorothea Meltzer have arranged for a pretty heady lineup of speakers, who will “showcase the cultural influences that shaped the distinct styles of Texas food, heartfelt stories about the farming and ranching families that are in the forefront of the organic food movement, and personal experiences that celebrate the value of using native plants and flowers in the planned landscape.”

The presentations and luncheon will take place on Thursday, November 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Arboretum’s Rosine Hall, the following speakers will be on the program:

  • Jessica Dupuy of Austin is a native Texan who writes about wine, spirits, food, and travel. In her latest book, “United Tastes of Texas: Authentic: Recipes from All Corners of the Lone Star State,” she shares her rich knowledge of the cultural and regional diversity of the state and how it has impacted the Texas culinary experience. Jessica is a contributing columnist for Texas Monthly magazine and has written other cookbooks including “The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family and Love, “Uchi: The Cookbook” and “Jack Allen’s Kitchen Cookbook.”
  • Pamela Walker of Santa Fe local farm and food activist, and author of “Growing Good Things to Eat” in Texas, has spent years researching the farming and ranching families who have been a driving force in the organic and sustainable farming food revival in Texas. Pam is a retired Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Cultures at Rice University, Houston and a former academic librarian and college English teacher.
  • Andrea DeLong-Amaya of Austin is Director of Horticulture at The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, garden columnist and teacher. She teaches classes in native plant horticulture and has contributed to many magazines, including Taunton’s Fine Gardening, Rodale’s Organic Gardening, Neil Sperry’s Gardens magazine as well as the American Public Gardens Association’s Public Garden.

Individual tickets start at $125, but consider upgrading to the patron level or a sponsorship, because there will be a sponsors/patron party earlier in the week and you know your gene pool is the patron level.

* Photo credit: Deborah Brown

2017 Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala Decorations Revealed Reflecting Maestro Jaap Van Zweden’s Farewell Celebration Season

Todd Fiscus and Adele Ichilian

Event guru Todd Fiscus had just returned from a break in Mexico. The weeks earlier had had him in Sonoma, Calif., and a ranch in Wyoming and everywhere but Mars. But thanks to NDA (non-disclosure agreements), all he could show for his handiwork was a tan.

Before presenting the sneak preview of the 2017 Dallas Symphony Gala lookey-lookey on Tuesday, August 15, at the Meyerson Symphony Center, he did fess up to Culinaire Catering Director Adele Ichilian about the newest event trend — cellphone check-ins. Seems that folks who are hosting big-time weddings, birthdays, whatevers don’t want to be in the swamp of social media. As Todd put it, social media has become the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat.

To solve the problem, Todd has created cellphone cubbyholes like yesteryear’s hotel key cubicles. Guests hand over their phones before entering the event, receive a receipt for the phone, and pick it up when leaving the occasion. While the guest is partying, Todd has arranged for the cellphones to be charged up.

Made sense. Example: For wedding photographers trying to capture the “money shot” of the newlyweds having that first kiss, the main aisle has been filled with guests’ arms stretching out with cellphones to also capture the moment.

Jana Etheridge and Clay and Lisa Cooley

Michelle Miller Burns and Randy Wilhoit

But on this night, Todd was laid back in shorts at the Meyerson for the DSO Gala décor presentation for guests including Jana Etheridge, Randall Wilhoit and Katherine and Key Coker.

According to Todd, DSO interim CEO Michelle Miller Burns and  DSO Gala Co-Chairs Lisa and Clay Cooley, there were “still a few tables available” for the Saturday, September 16, Gala, which will launch Farewell Celebration Season for departing  DSO Music Director Jaap Van Zweden, who’s decamping to lead the New York Philharmonic.

Therefore the Gala at the Meyerson will have a sort of “grand finale” look and feel, Todd said, with cool emerald greens (from the table linens to the Elephant ears from Brazil!) and malachite reflected throughout.

2017 Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala table setting

Joining Jaap and the DSO musicians will be the world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who is always a North Texas music lover’s favorite.

The concert will be preceded by a cocktail reception and seated dinner in the Renaissance Foyer with Honorary Chair Margaret McDermott.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala After-Party seating

As for the much-anticipated after-party, by contrast, it will be a “fun, sexy version of an after-party,” all aquas and hot pinks with a DJ providing the music.  

Tickets for the season’s first formal gala range from concert-and-after-party tickets to full-blown Gala packages.

 

‘Draft Day’ Celebrates Cristo Rey-North Texas Business Work Study Partnership

Bishop Edward J. Burns of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas gave the invocation. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings served as emcee for a while. Mike’s son, Gunnar Rawlings, executive director of the Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program, also helped out. Sports personality Michael “Grubes” Gruber and Erin Hartigan, Fox Sports Southwest host, provided commentary. Even Rachel Lindsay, star of TV’s “The Bachelorette” series, put in an appearance.

Kelby Woodard, Rachel Lindsay, Edward Burns and Mike Rawlings*

The occasion: Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep‘s third annual, NFL-style “Draft Day,” presented by Frost Bank. The event, attended by more than 500 guests, was held at the school on July 28 to match the school’s 148 incoming freshmen and sophomores with their corporate work assignments for the 2017-2018 school year. The students earn more than 60% of their tuition by working one day each week at such iconic North Texas companies as Mary Kay, AT&T, Hunt Oil, Deloitte and Jackson Walker.

Mike “Grubes” Gruber, Erin Hartigan, Mike Rawlings and Gunnar Rawlings*

CEOs or senior leaders from these and more than 100 other companies turned up for the event at Cristo Rey, which is one of 32 Catholic prep schools in the Cristo Rey network. Under the work study program, the school’s economically challenged students receive work experience as well as leadership training.

David Leach and Melanie Duarte*

Noah Barron, Scott Moore and Daisy Garcia*

With top business luminaries in the audience including Greyhound CEO David Leach, PWC Managing Partners Scott Moore and CBRE Vice Chair Jack Fraker, the students were called to the stage one by one to meet their new employers. As they did so they exchanged high-fives and hugs and checked out a variety of “swag” items from their new companies, including logo t-shirts and ball caps.

“This year we are welcoming more than 35 new partners to the Corporate Work Study Program, with job teams now working in Downtown, Uptown, Richardson, North Dallas and beyond,” said Kelby Woodard, Cristo Rey Dallas’s president. “In addition to contributing more than $3 million toward the cost of tuition, the Corporate Work Study Program provides students with hands-on work experience in a real-world setting and a chance to develop leadership skills that will last a lifetime.”

BlueCross Blue Shield of Texas at Cristo Rey Draft Day*

Other companies participating in the school’s Draft Day program included HKS, BlueCross BlueShield of Texas and Tenet Healthcare.

* Photo credit: Tamytha Cameron Smith

JUST IN: Jordan Spieth Gifts Children’s Pauline Allen Gill Center For Cancer And Blood Disorders Due To Friends Battling Cancer

After being war-torn by all the weather woes from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, local golf wunderkind Jordan Spieth has provided some very uplifting news… and it’s not a hole-in-one. It’s so much better.

His Jordan Spieth Family Foundation has just presented its largest single gift to Children’s Medical Center Foundation to benefit two specific programs at Children’s Health Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders:

  • Child Life Program that “will support services like music, art and pet therapy that are not covered by insurance but are essential for helping children cope with the social and emotional challenges of illness.”
  • Experimental Therapeutics Program in childhood cancer that “will help up to 10 children and their families each year travel to Dallas to take part in clinical trials not offered elsewhere.”

Originally, his foundation’s focus was based on three pillars — special-needs youth, junior golf and military families. But he recently added a fourth area of support — children battling cancer.

Eric Leyendecker, Jordan Spieth, Chris Durovich and Patty Leyendecker*

The reason for the addition was “watching a lifelong friend [Jordan’s childhood friend and former Children’s Health patient Eric Leydendecker] take on a recurring battle with cancer.”

According to Jordan, “Investing this gift in my hometown pediatric hospital, one of the best in the country, is a really special moment for me. There are thousands of children treated for cancer every year at Children’s Health. I have personally lost a friend to it. Recently watching my best friend as he went through treatments inspired us to make this an official pillar of the Foundation. We are eager to help wherever we can.”

Brent Christopher (File photo)

The area of pediatric cancer research has resulted in a survival rate of 58% in the mid-1970s, rising to more than 80% today, thanks to funded research and treatments.

Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher reported, “It is impossible to measure the impact that Jordan Spieth’s generosity will have on children now and into the future. We are so grateful for his commitment to help children battling cancer, as well as his trust in Children’s Health. Jordan’s support will help us deliver the very best care and continue our relentless pursuit of better treatments – and, hopefully, cures – so that one day no child will be faced with cancer.”

* Photo provided by Children's Medical Center Foundation

TACA Custom Auction Gala Item #6 — An Unforgettable Evening With The Dallas Cowboys And Dean Fearing

TACA Custom Auction Gala Co-Chair Wanda Gierhart has connections and great taste, don’t you know. She’s managed to get one of country’s best known culinary kings to come on board as part of this auction item. And adding some muscle to it, she’s scored some additional heavyweights for this delicious package that will be auctioned off by auctioneer Louis Murad on Friday, September 8, at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.

An Unforgettable Evening With The Dallas Cowboys And Dean Fearing* (Value: Priceless)

Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhart (File photo)

Troy Aikman (File photo)

Daryl Johnston (File photo)

Emmitt Smith (File photo)

He’s known for many things. Dean Fearing has been cowboy boot-wearing chef at both the Mansion and now The Ritz Carlton. He’s part of “The Lost Coyote Band. He’s given loads of time and talent to countless area nonprofits. He’s TACA Custom Auction Gala co-chair. And he just happens to be engaged to his Co-Chair Wanda. Told you that Wanda had “connections and great taste.”

The winner of the sweet deal will have Dean having the time of his life creating a three-course Southwestern dinner in the winner’s home-sweet-home for a dozen folks.

As for those serving up the courses, Wanda and Dean tapped a trio of cowboys… well, former cowboys like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Daryl Johnston. But don’t get your hopes up for a speedy meal. After all, selfies do slow things down when “the help” is this crew. Just imagine Troy throwing a platter to Daryl to hands off to Emmitt. Oops! Better keep the good china locked up in the pantry.

BTW, since the meal is based on the foursome’s availability, football season is likely to be out of the question.

*Courtesy of Dean Fearing, Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnston and Emmitt Smith

TACA Custom Auction Gala Item #5 — Private Photoshoot In NYC With Internationally Celebrated Portrait Photographer Ruven Afanador

While others may share their selfies on Facebook, the winner of this TACA Custom Auction Gala package will be the social media envy. And this one that will up for bidding on Friday, September 8, will not only make the winner a timeless beaut but will be fun recalling the experience.

Private Photoshoot in NYC With Internationally Celebrated Portrait Photographer Ruven Afanador* (Value: Priceless)

Think of this auction item as the extreme opposite of a passport photo. The winner and a guest will be flown up to the Big Apple via American Airlines for an experience that the likes of Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Barak Obama, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, Warren Beatty, Richard Branson, Jessica Lange, Bill Murray, Barbra Streisand and Julianne Moore have had — a portrait by world-renowned photographer Ruven Afanador. And the winner of this package can be among the stars of the universe in his collection!

Ruven Afanador photo**

Ruven Afanador photo**

Like other great photographic artists like Francesco Scavullo, Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon, Ruven’s unique style has set him at the top of the profession.

But before the first snap of the camera, the winner will be dolled up thanks to professional stylists to suit the lights and staging. Suggestion: Have the guest take a cellphone snap the winner with Ruven and the team to send back home.

Afterwards, there so much to see and do in NYC, but make time for dinner at Adella before heading for a two-night stay at Hotel Pierre. On the way home flight, decide the best place for the portrait to be displayed.

* Courtesy of Ruven Afanador, American Airlines, The Pierre Hotel and Adella 
**Photos provided TACA

Attorneys Serving The Community’s 31st Annual Luncheon Scored A Summer Hit With Junior Players And “Hamilton”‘s Christopher Jackson

Inside the Hilton Anatole’s Carpenter Ballroom, organizers and VIP guests were starting to arrive before 11 a.m. on Friday, June 23. Even the most “been-there, done-that” boldfacer had a look of anticipation. In an adjacent room, fewer than a handful of chairs were set up for an interview with the keynote speaker for the Attorneys Serving the Community’s 31st Annual Luncheon benefiting Junior Players.

KERA reporter Hady Mawajdeh had all his equipment set up as Tony Award-nominated and Grammy Award-winning Christopher Jackson arrived. It was obvious from his height and demeanor why he had scored a Tony nomination for his portrayal of George Washington in “Hamilton.” As Chris settled back in the chair, he proved even more so with his articulate responses to Hady’s questions. Highlights included:

Christopher Jackson and Hady Mawajdeh

  • Junior Players — “They (children) have the distinct perspective of seeing the world as it should be perhaps and as is. Who better to hold up that mirror than the children, especially organizations like the Junior Players, where you’ve got kids from all over the economic spectrum and who are learning what it means to communicate with and express themselves? It’s an organization that can provide a palette for that. There is no higher pursuit in our society than giving kids the opportunity to experience something like that.”
  • The first role —“I grew up with middle-child syndrome. So, acting was pretty much my only way to garner any kind of attention in the house… I participated in every Sunday service every week. So getting up in front of people was never really something I had a hard time with. Pretty much I was the ham. [Laughter]”
  • Career — “A career in the arts is not for everyone. But I would say that 90% of what I get to do is to have fun with my friends. Who doesn’t want to do that for a living? But the same could be said about someone who works in social sciences or teachers or engineers or astronomers. Once you find that passion and a way to it, that’s it right there… For me, it’s as much the pursuit of what I don’t know as it is seeing the finished product on the show or in the song.”
  • Hip Hop — “Hip Hop rap is probably the best form of modern-day storytelling and maybe the latest great, pure American art form… But it depends on what part of the country you come from. Hip hop is very regionalized and that happened very, very quickly toward the end of the ’90s, where every market, every group wanted to have their own sound and created their own sound. The same could be said for rock; the same could be said for gospel music. It’s a testament to how big our country is. And it’s a testament to the different kinds of cultures within our society and there’s room for all of that.”
  • Hamilton — “You’d be amazed how many people have come up to me said, ‘I’m a little nervous about the rap.’ But it’s much like Shakespeare. If you’ve ever seen a Shakespeare play, the first five minutes you have no idea of what’s going on. You don’t know what anybody is saying. You’re not accustomed to people speaking in iambic pentameter. And yet in that first five minutes your ear gets attuned to it and off you go.”
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda — “Lin has been regarded as a modern-day Shakespeare in the way he uses verse to communicate the story and I honestly believe that it certainly descends from that.”
  • Sesame Street — “The idea of writing for ‘Sesame Street’ was a dream come true.”

Peter Altabef, Kara Altenbaumer-Price, Christopher Jackson, Jennifer Altabef, Rosaura Cruz Webb and Beth Bedell

Christopher Jackson and Kathleen LaValle

Michael Holmes, Sophia Holmes and Cathleen Holmes

With that the interview ended at 11:10 a.m., as one of the organizers said, “He’s got a long line out there.” They were speaking of the people lined up along the Carpenter Ballroom wall for the meet-and-greet. Without hesitation, Chris posed for a photo with Hady and headed straight to the sponsor backdrop. Chris accommodated one and all including Co-Chairs Beth Bedell and Kara Altenbaumer-Price, Honorary Co-Chairs Jennifer and Peter Altabef, Junior Players Executive Director Rosaura Cruz Webb, and Kathleen LaValle with autographs, cellphone snaps and chats. Ten-year-old Sophia Holmes’ twin sister, Addison Holmes, couldn’t attend, but Sophia had brought along a “Hamilton” book for Chris to sign. After seeing, “Hamilton” in NYC, Sophia fessed up that Chris’ George Washington was her favorite character.

At 11:30 the doors to the Grand Ballroom opened for nearly 1,000 guests including Ellen Magnis, Joanna Clark, Angie Kadesky. Shelly Slater arrived to be prepped for the onstage chat. Had she met him? No, but she had seen him on YouTube.

The Junior Players arrived and approached the production platform rapping, “Hamilton.”

Jeremy Coca in vest surrounded by Junior Players

, who had been in the first Junior Players musical production three years before when he was attending Booker T. Washington, reported that he had seen Chris in “The Heights.”

Rosaura Cruz-Webb told how the night before, when they were setting up for the luncheon, Chris had come down from his room and chatted and charmed them all.

As the guests started to take their seats, Junior Players one at a time popped up throughout the room performing. Seamlessly, they grabbed everyone’s attention that the program was underway. Chris watched with a smile of admiration at the young performers pulling off a perfect launch for the day’s affair.

At 12:06 Shelly welcomed the group and introduced Kara, who was joined by Beth in presenting the ASC Friend of the Community Award to the Hilton Anatole Senior Catering Sales Manager Catherine New, who has orchestrated many of the area’s major fundraisers.

Beth Bedell, Catherine New and Kara Altenbaumer-Price

Following Rosaura’s telling how Junior Players had turned around her life as a young person, a video was shown with the audio ramped up and the house lights so dim that one guest had to use her cellphone flashlight to find her way out of the ballroom.

Lisette Sandoval

As the video ended, a young woman who had been seated at the far end of the head table took her place at the podium. Her name was Lisette Sandoval and she told how it hadn’t been that long ago that she had felt her destiny was to get pregnant by 15 and drop out of school. Instead her brother directed her to Junior Players, where her life took a different road. Lisette admitted that at one point suicide had been an option. What dashed that thought was news that she had been picked for the cast of “Taming of the Shrew.” She is now going to college on a scholarship.

Lisette was followed by Honorary Co-Chair Peter Altabef and a video of Renee Elise Goldsberry, who had originally been slated to be the keynote speaker. When she had to pull out due to scheduling, Renee arranged for Chris to sub in.

Chris started off by admitting, “Good afternoon, my name is Christopher Jackson and I am not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. I don’t know any lawyer jokes. None of that would surprise or astound you…. I am an artist. A profession that is historically a few rungs lower than a garbage collector, but if all the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players, I beg your patience and indulgence today. I want to sincerely thank ASC for having me here today. Thank you very much. The fact that I have been sweating since I sat down here might be an indication that I am more than a little intimidated being in a room full of people who are clearly smarter than I am.”

Using his own journey from his childhood in Cairo, Illinois, he told of the turning point in his childhood when a teacher handed him a text from “The Crucible,” and invited him to join the speech team. “I don’t what it was that made me said yes, except that perhaps I was so desperate to distinguish myself in some way or the other. I quickly realized that this acting thing was different. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t concerned with what didn’t work. I wasn’t consumed with what I didn’t have. I began to see the world from a character’s perspective and that helped me to develop my own perspective. It was terrifying and exhilarating and it changed my life forever.”

At the age of 17, he moved to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. In 1997, he was hired to be the understudy for Simba in “The Lion King,” just an hour before the first rehearsal.   

He claimed that if it hadn’t been for that “key”—when he received “The Crucible”—he’d probably be selling caskets in Cairo. Chris was serious. “True story. My family owns a funeral home.”

Chris then praised and encouraged support for the Junior Players for their 55 years of providing a key for thousands and thousands of children “to emerge from utter darkness and seeing an entire galaxy.”

Christopher Jackson

Leaving the podium, he was joined in chairs on stage with Shelly to discuss

  • Getting the role of George Washington — “Lin allowed his imagination to run wild and he saw these characters (in “Hamilton”) in a different way. Lin is one of my best friends in the whole world. I knew very early on that he was on to something because I thought he was crazy. The story is that we were doing a performance of ‘In the Heights,’ and during one of the numbers… he had just come back from vacation and he kinda looked over at me and said, ‘Got the next thing.’ Okay, great! I said, ‘What is it?’ (He said,) ‘It’s about the treasury secretary.’ A few days later, our director Tommy Kail approached me and said, G-dubs!’ I asked, ‘What does that mean?’ ‘George Washington… GW’ I thought, ‘Oh, great! We have shorthand. What does that mean?’ He said I was going to be George Washington. I said, ‘Great! I don’t know anything about George Washington. ‘
  • “Hamilton”’s first preview — “’Hamilton literally began at the White House. Lin was asked to perform a song about the American experience at the Evening of Poetry, Music and Spoken Word. This was in 2009 and he didn’t want to do something from ‘In the Heights.” He was just getting an idea of what ‘Hamilton’ was going to be, so he wrote what would become our opening number and he performed it. Everybody including President Obama looked at him like, ‘What is wrong with him?’”
  • Bro-hug with the President — It was years later when the cast of “Hamilton” was invited to perform at the White House that following the performance, President Obama gave Christopher a “bro hug.” As Christopher recalled, “Moments like that aren’t supposed to happen to a young boy from Cairo. My grandmother, who marched and was a union organizer and civil rights organizer and a black entrepreneur when it was definitely hard to be that in the South, raised me to understand that nothing was impossible… Always be aware of limitations so you can know how to get past them. She raised me to that moment, but she didn’t dream that moment for me.”
  • As a parent — “I’m really at the point where I’m trying to get my kids to pick their shoes up. I’m trying to get them to handle some light chores. I mean, I don’t want them to live like ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ but they can take the trash once in a while and wash their hair. My kids are Neanderthals. I can’t show them how to feel…but I can show them about justice. And I can teach them about inequality and equality. And I can teach them about respect — all the things that I was given and we were all given when it comes to just wake up in the morning, put your shoes, look people in the eye, be honest, look out for someone who has less than you, take up for the kid who is being bullied, stand up for the weaker one of us. It is all of those principles that I was given and try to live by….”

While summer heat may shoo locals to cooler places, the ASC’s 31st Annual luncheon made staying in North Texas seem like the coolest place in the world, thanks to Chris and the Junior Players.

The Rustic Is Gonna Be Rocking In September For Voices For A Cause And The 5th Annual Concert For A Cure, But Not At The Same Time

September may be known as the start of Friday night lights, the kickoff of the State Fair and the first hints of fall in the air. But this year it’s gonna be full of singing for nonprofits. Two concerts are being held to raise funds and they’re both gonna be at The Rustic, but not at the same time!

Voices For A Cause*

First will be Dallas CASA’s Voices for A Cause with Signed Out getting things started and followed by country artist Brandon Rhyder as the evening’s headliner starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 14. The benefit concert is being hosted by Dallas CASA Young Profession, whose “mission is to increase awareness for Dallas CASA while providing charitable and social opportunities for people ages 21 to 40.” Co-Chairs Kelcey Hamilton, Reasha Hedke and Dana Swann have arranged for the $25 ticket to include the concert, two drinks and appetizers.

2017 Concert For A Cure**

Two weeks later Leukemia Texas is holding its 5th Annual Concert for A Cure with Honorary Chair/former Dallas Cowboy Marco Rivera and Event Co-Chairs Jenny “New Mom” Anchondo and reality personality/marrow donor Stephanie Hollman. On the performing stage will be Grammy-Award winning Reckless Kelly. Individual tickets start at $75 and include a private VIP reception starting at 7 p.m., hors d’ oeuvres, two drink tickets, open seating and valet parking. But as you know, underwriting brings perks like additional seats with better views, recognition in signage and collateral materials and boasting rights.  

Can’t decide which one? No problemo. Attend both! The attire will be comfortable casual. The throngs of folks will be your type — generous and fun to be with. The causes are both life-changing.

Jewelry Designer Taylor Miller Has Created A Trio Of Bracelets To Benefit Jubilee Park And Community Center’s 20th Anniversary

Jubilee Park and Community Center is celebrating 20 years of providing members of a 62-block area in southeast Dallas with “education, affordable housing, public health, public safety and economic development.” And what better way to celebrate an anniversary than with jewelry and friends.

Dallas-based jewelry designer Taylor Miller of Hazen Jewelry has created three handmade bracelets made of “natural materials, including wood and chyrsophase beads and a customer brass ‘Jubilee’ charm.”  

Jubilee Park Commemorative 20th Anniversary bracelets*

According to Jubilee Park 20th Anniversary Host/Jewelry Committee Member Marilyn Harbison, “This little trio of bracelets is so versatile and stylish. Our tagline for the 20th is ‘Celebrate, Love, Dream’ and I like to think these represent each of those words. We hope people will get their holiday shopping done early, and support this great cause.”

But before heading to one of your favorite bling-bling businesses for the bracelets, put on the brakes. These little gems are going to be available for purchase at St. Michael’s Woman’s Exchange in Highland Park Village. If you’re a member of St. Michael’s, you can also purchase the bracelets every Sunday until October 29.

And if you’re worrying about using up gas, you can always order online here!

Jubilee Park Commemorative 20th Anniversary bracelets*

With 100% of proceeds benefiting “Jubilee Park’s 20th anniversary initiative to provide educational enrichment to love-income children with special learning needs,” the bracelets cost $50 each and $125 for the trio.

Jubilee Park 20th Anniversary Chair Lydia Addy said, “Jubilee’s impact over the last 20 years has been astounding to watch, and a joy to be part of. We want more people to be a part of the celebration through these custom bracelets. With each purchase, children who struggle with special learning needs will have the chance to thrive in Jubilee’s award-winning afterschool and summer program. Plus they go with everything — a win-win!”

* Photos provided by Jubilee Park and Community Center