Bethenny “Skinnygirl” Frankel Served Up One Of The Season’s Most Talked-About Presentations At The Annual Chick Lit Luncheon

On Friday, April 21, the annual Chick Lit Luncheon became the scene of two social earthquakes that split the Anatole’s Grand Ballroom. But more about that later. First, let’s set the scene.

Cristal Champagne

To kick off the Community Partners of Dallas fundraiser, the VIP reception was held in the Plum Blossom Room and, thanks to hosts Nancy and Richard Rogers, guests celebrated with Cristal Champagne. At the opening there were grand silver punch bowls filled with the elite champagne bottles chilling in ice. By the time the chimes called the guests to the luncheon, only a trio of partially filled bottles remained.

Tricia George, Paige McDaniel, Gail Fischer and Mary Martha Pickens

Lara Tafel

Nancy Rogers and Bethenny Frankel

Alas, keynote speaker Bethenny Frankel didn’t enjoy the bubbly, thanks to a non-stop of step-and-repeat photo session with folks like Co-Chairs Tricia George and Mary Martha Pickens, Presenting Co-Sponsor Lara Tafel, Honorary Chair Gail Fischer and daughter Elizabeth Fischer, Lisa Cooley with daughter Ciara Cooley and soon-to-be daughter-in-law Bela Pjetrovic and her sister Sabina Pjetrovic, Dee Simmons and daughter D’Andra Simmons Lock, Elizabeth Gambrell, Margo Goodwin, Cheryl Joyner, Tiffany Divis, Claire Emanuelson, Christie Carter and Cindy Turner.

Tiffany Divis and Bela Pjetrovic

D’Andra Simmons Lock and Dee Simmons

Elizabeth Gambrell, Margo Goodwin and Cheryl Joyner

As the guests literally filled the grand ballroom, Bethenny was whisked off to a private spot for some quiet time. But little did anyone know that in the hour and a half to come, the grand ballroom would be the scene of two distinctly different attitudes.

Some claimed it was a generational separation. One guest snorted, “It’s those millennials!” Another declared the other side of the great divide to be behind the times. It was just that “the times they are a-changin‘” for the decade-old luncheon featuring authors.

The old days of the Chick Lit at Brook Hollow with pecan crusted chicken and G-rated speakers like Stacey Ballis, Julia Reed, Gigi Levangie, Allison Winn Scotch, Emily Giffin and Jen Lancaster were in the rear-view mirror.

Last year’s move to the Anatole with Tim Gunn charming one and all in an on-stage chat had shifted the program to a new level. It was like moving from grade school to high school, from Shirley Temples to Cosmopolitans or from Boy Scouts Camp to Quantico.

But when the announcement of Bethenny’s being the keynoter came, lovers of reality TV were ecstatic. For them, it was like having the Pope serve mass at the local parish. For those who only considered the word “Bravo” to be what was said after a stellar performance, Bethenny was a rather unknown commodity. Didn’t matter. The Chick Lit Luncheon had always been fun and a fundraiser for a good cause.

Still, there were warnings that Bethenny might raise some eyebrows and that the uneducated might need to be forewarned and study up on the Skinnygirl.

Despite warnings that Bethenny was not your same-old, same-old, CPD loyalists signed on. In the meantime, new world reality TV lovers bought in with hopes of a “tell-it-like-it-is” presentation.   

So, what happened? Well, the first “earthquake” took place before Bethenny ever arrived on stage.

Mary Martha Pickens, Mary Ella Bitzer and Tricia George

To kick things off, CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel presented the 2017 Partners for Children Award to Mary Ella Bitzer representing The Bitzer and Needleman Families and Peacock Alley. Unfortunately, whether it was due to poor acoustics or to all the chatter in the room, the presentation seemed to take place without much fanfare.

Faith Johnson

When Dallas District Attorney Faith Johnson provided the invocation, she was heard throughout, thanks to the lack of talking. But the chitchat kicked back in once Paige returned to the podium, and the first of the divides created a Grand Canyon among the guests. Looking like unhappy emojis, some strained to hear Paige, while others held steroid conversation to such a point that even those frowny-faced guests close to the stage had to rely on lip reading to “hear” Paige talk about the importance of the organization’s annual Christmas toy drive and how Peacock Alley had supported it. Some tried to silence the chatterboxes by clanging their silverware on their glassware, but even that couldn’t be heard above the racket. Perhaps the talkative guests had never attended a fundraiser before?

What made it more obvious was how the room went into a vacuum state of silence after Community Partners of Dallas Board Member Greg Nieberding introduced Bethenny and she arrived on stage. How quiet? At one point in her talk, a cell phone in the room rang and Bethenny interrupted her talk saying, “Somebody need to take a call?”

The svelte brunette, who had risen to fame thanks to reality TV and her “Skinnygirl” business empire, was both charming and disarming. On one hand, she couldn’t have been more upbeat and complimentary about North Texas women and the CPD. She even did a shout-out to “my friend Fancy Nancy Rogers” at a front row table with pals Dallas Snadon, Leisa Street, Michael Flores, Cindy Rachofsky and Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner.

Dallas Snadon

Lori Jones, Nancy Rogers and Cindy Rachofsky

Leisa Street and Michael Flores

Shelby Wagner and Niven Morgan

On the other, she raised even the most heavily Botoxed brows with comments about “guano” (she didn’t use that word) and describing rich Dallas women as having Texas tea flowing from a particular body part (she put it much more colorfully). If you don’t get it, ask one of the thousand-plus who were there. They’re bound to recall the exact words.  

Some of the highlights of Bethenny’s talk included:

Bethenny Frankel

  • After having a rough childhood, she focused on “breaking the chain” in raising her daughter. She was not going to be “chained” to what others thought or what she had experienced as a child.
  • Finding balance in her life being a mother and a businesswoman.
  • Everyone has a great idea, but it’s the execution that matters, she said. Too often they get bogged down with the business plan or other aspects. “I would have never gotten into the liquor business had I known.”
  • Stay focused on your goals and don’t “look at the other lanes… I do my own thing.”
  • “25 years ago I was a bartender and had no idea I’d end up being an alcoholic… just kidding… I would end up founding a liquor company.”
  • She has founded an organization called “B Strong” to help women in crisis. “As women, we make a lot of decisions out of fear.”
  • “You can’t be pretty, tan, have sex, rich and sleep…I’m not tan, I don’t have sex and I’m  rich, but not like Dallas rich…. What the hell was I talking about?”
  • The night before on “Real Housewives of New York,” Bethenny had been confronted by another housewife over how she was dealing with her 6-year-old daughter about the fact that Bethenny had done a nude scene 27 years ago. “I just sat there and just took it and just said, I have no shame in my game. This is who I am. This is my past and I was an actress and I needed the money and I’ve done so many things in my life that got me to where I am, so I think that’s part of my owning it.” She went on, saying how “crazy it was for women trying to tear each other down.”

    Bethenny Frankel

  • “The least favorite element [of being on a reality show] is you get mired in something that you don’t even care about…You can’t believe that people can be so nasty and malicious. I think it’s a comedy. I see it as a satire. You can’t believe how fake people are. It’s amazing. You look around and any five people. You believe they are totally normal. ‘She’s so down to earth; she’s  so normal.’ She’s ‘guano‘ crazy!”
  • “I want to give you one tip. It’s changed my life. At night before you go to bed, for like five to 15 minutes, put in as much hot water as you possibly can in your bathtub and just your feet—not your whole body—in Epsom salts. It’s like a drunk. I don’t know what happens. I used to take something to sleep, but this knocks you out. It’s like detoxing and it’s crazy and it’s the simplest and oldest thing and has changed my life.”
  • Being an entrepreneur “is really hard. You’ve got to be out there. But it’s good. It’s like the ocean. It keeps changing and moving all the time.”
  • “I’m really a homebody. I like being with my daughter.”
  • When asked what the one thing she keeps in her refrigerator to make a meal, Bethenny responded, “I’m a big fan of the freezer. I travel so much that when I get home there’s always a frozen organic broccoli.”
  • Kale — “You can’t walk on the street without being assaulted by kale. I want to meet the kale publicist. What’s so great?”
  • The future for Bethenny — “I’m focused on this charity [B Strong]. I’m able to help women. Now that I’m not struggling and white-knuckling it anymore, I want to inspire women.”

Bethenny lived up to her honest, no-holds barred comments about her life, both past and present. She was true to herself. Some loved her words; some were perturbed by her presentation. Hey, when you go to a Mexican food restaurant, you can’t expect meat loaf to be the featured item on the menu.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Chick Lit Luncheon

Nancy Rogers and Bethenny Frankel

After waiting for what seemed like eons, reality TV and Chick Lit fans gathered at the Hilton Anatole on Thursday, April 20, to hear from that lightning rod personality/author/business woman Bethenny Frankel.

Mary Martha Pickens, Mary Ella Bitzer and Tricia George

From the Cristal served at the VIP pre-luncheon meet-and-greet to the chatter during the presentation of the Community Partners of Dallas’ 2017 Partners for Children Award, the CPD fundraiser ran the gamut from class to crass. And then there were a couple of Bethenny comments that earned giggles and grumbles.

While this post is being finalized, check out the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for the peeps who were part of one of the most talked-about luncheons this season.

Grovel Alert: 2nd Annual Rising Stars Luncheon

Dak Prescott (AP Photo)

Ben Lange (File photo)

Unlike former Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott hasn’t exactly been making the speaking rounds.  Perhaps that’s why Wednesday’s “2nd Annual Rising Stars Luncheon” benefiting After-School All-Stars North Texas is nearing SRO status at the Dallas Country Club.

According to ASAS North Texas Board Chair Ben Lange, the fundraiser that will have Brad “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Sham interviewing the football wunderkind is within one or two tables of selling out.

Nancy Rogers and Gina Betts (File photo)

Chaired by Gina Betts, the fund raiser is being presented by Nancy C. and Richard Rogers.

One of the surprises for organizers has been the number of papa and mama bears who are bringing their kids to the luncheon. Seems that the recent show of munchkins attending The Jonathan’s Place’s “A Chance to Soar” with featured speaker Simone Biles has caught on. Makes sense. Such events provide an excellent opportunity to expose youngsters to role models.

Consider this news to be a “last call” shout-out, so get one of those last spots now by emailing  Liz Arrington or calling her at 469.330.4970.

Grovel Alert: Genesis Annual Luncheon

Bianca Jackson (File photo)

As the May countdown for fundraising gets underway before the area is evacuated for the summer, the Genesis Annual Luncheon is leading the pack with its Monday, May 15th fundraiser at the Hilton Anatole.

According to Genesis Women’s Shelter And Support Senior Director of Fun and Community Development Bianca Jackson, the event with keynoter Arianna Huffington and the Junior League of Dallas and David Brown being honored with the Jane Doe and HeROs awards, respectively, tickets are getting as scarce as eight-track tapes.

But don’t hesitate and don’t let your stingy factor rule. Patron level not earns a nifty seat at the luncheon and an invite to the pre-luncheon meet-and-greet, but it also includes a super patron party at a very cool mansion.

Check here for ticket availability, but make it quick!

Sold-Out Alert: No More Room For Dec My Room’s Room To Grow Luncheon And Fashion Show

Dec My Room’s “Room To Grow”*

And the announcements keep pouring in. The first ever Dec My Room’s Room To Grow luncheon and fashion show at NorthPark’s Neiman Marcus on Tuesday is sold out. Co-chaired by Sue Fair, Diana Hamilton and Andrea Nayfa along with NorthPark’s Kristen Gibbins, the event will featured a presentation by NorthPark Ambassadors Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Moll Anderson on Neiman Marcus’ Level Two.      

Dec My Room was established ten years ago and “helps to create a healing place” for children who are being admitted into a hospital for a prolonged amount of time. 

* Graphic provided by Dec My Room

Inspirational Talk by Oak Cliff Native, Award to Jewish Women’s Group Highlight Dallas CASA’s 10th Annual Cherish the Children Luncheon

The big event benefiting Dallas CASA, held August 5 at The Fairmont Dallas, was billed as the group’s 10th annual Cherish the Children Luncheon. But one of the groups honored at the event reinforced the message that Dallas CASA (short for Court Appointed Special Advocates) has been helping abused and neglected children a lot longer than that.

Joyce Rosenfield and Mark Berg*

The group, the Greater Dallas Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, received Dallas CASA’s newly named Caroline Rose Hunt Cherish the Children Award. That the award was presented to the group by Mark S. Berg, a past chair of the Dallas CASA board of directors, had a special significance. Mark’s late mother, Rose Marion Berg, was a member of the NCJW and one of the founders of Dallas CASA nearly 40 years ago.

Said Berg: “CASA is about a group of mothers who could not stand to see children mistreated. Dallas CASA is now within reach of achieving what was unthinkable a few years ago—serving every child in need. We’ve all stood on the shoulders of those dedicated mothers.”

Gail Cook, Bunny Williams, Caroline Rose Hunt, Pat McCall and Lynn Sheldon*

The 10th annual luncheon, a sold-out affair attended by about 430, was chaired by Shonn Brown. Guests included Ruth Altshuler, Cheryl Lee Shannon, Evelyn Henry Miller, Lisa Cooley, Harriet Miers, Lynn McBee, Paul Coggins, Tanya Foster, Tiffany Divis, Elba Garcia, Gail Cook, Bunny Williams, Caroline Rose Hunt, Pat McCall, Lynn Sheldon  and Sarah Losinger.

Cheryl Lee Shannon, Shonn Evans Brown, Elba Garcia, Kathleen LaValle and Evelyn Henry Miller*

Following an excellent lunch of tortilla soup and chicken salad and brief remarks by Kathleen LaValle, Dallas CASA’s executive director and president, attendees heard from guest speaker Casey Gerald. He’s a 30-year-old Oak Cliff native who’s achieved national prominence as a writer, business leader and motivational speaker.

A co-founder and CEO of a group called MBAs Across America, which aims to bring community support to entrepreneurs, Casey recalled being abandoned by his mother at age 12, while his father struggled with drug addiction. After the community intervened to help him, he said, he was able to make his way from South Oak Cliff to Yale University and later to Harvard Business School.

Casey Gerald*

Even so, Casey told the crowd, he should not be held up as a particular example of “triumph over adversity,” because it’s more important to address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. “No degree makes up for being unwanted,” he said. “No amount of money can make you fight hunger pangs. Meeting no president makes up for not having your mother. Not a single kid leaves behind those wounds of childhood.”

Casey wrapped up his talk by saying, about CASA, “This is an organization that’s dedicated to keeping kids alive. So I thank you! … [But,] how do we put ourselves out of business? What if we didn’t make the best CASA—but made a country where we don’t need CASA?”

With a target of raising $15,000 during the luncheon, which included a silent auction of children’s furniture, it was announced at 12:40 p.m. that $7,261 had been raised toward the goal so far. When all was said and done, Dallas CASA says, the 10th annual luncheon raised a total net amount of $170,000.

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

“Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts Shared Her 3Ds At The Sold-Out 2nd Annual Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon

There were those who swore on their iPads that the Interfaith Family Services could not possibly top last year’s inaugural Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon with “Today Show’s” Hoda Kotb at the Dallas Country Club. But on Friday, March 31, the 2nd Annual Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon returned to the DCC with “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts for another sold-out event and home run. Here’s a report from the field:

Anna Moss, Molly Thomas and Megan Filgo*

Interfaith Family Services held a successful and sold-out luncheon to fight family homelessness in Dallas. The 2nd Annual Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon took place on Friday, March 31, at the Dallas Country Club with Megan Filgo, Anna Moss and Molly Thomas as the event co-chairs and Francie Moody-Dahlberg serving as the honorary chair. The luncheon was able to net $109,183.34 to help families and children escape the cycle of poverty.

Missy Leon, Francie Moody Dahlberg and Ashley Rupp*

Kimberly Williams and Whitney Tolliver*

The keynote speaker for the afternoon was Robin Roberts of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Roberts took the podium after Whitney Tolliver, an Interfaith graduate who shared her testimonial. The entire room was teary-eyed as Tolliver told her story of becoming homeless with her 1-year-old son after she lost her home in the 2016 tornadoes, then lost her job the following month. On the day of the luncheon, Whitney was moving in to her own apartment, having graduated from Interfaith that week and ready to continue her journey towards self-sufficiency.

Robin Roberts*

As Roberts approached the stage, she thanked Whitney for her strength and courage to tell her story. She then began to lighten up the mood with words of encouragement. Roberts showed her humorous side when she opened her speech by sharing the 3 D’s she lives by: Discipline, Determination and “Da Lord.”

Roberts emphasized trusting God to lead you to the right path. She also spoke about how her initial dream of becoming a sports broadcaster took a detour and how she learned the importance of trusting her journey.

Roberts gave both a heartfelt and thought-provoking speech of the life lessons she continues to learn through her struggles with illness and adversity. When Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer, she remembered what her mother told her: “Make your mess your message.” Roberts carried that motto throughout her recovery and decided to publicly share her story in order to save others.

By calling attention to dreaming big but focusing small, Roberts was able to leave the audience with the key message “Everybody’s Got Something.”

Proceeds from the luncheon supported Interfaith’s Hope and Horizons Children’s Program as well as Interfaith’s Home and Hope Transitional Housing Program that provides housing and support services for nearly 100 families in crisis each year.

Sponsors included:

  • Give Families Hope ($15,000) — Katy and Kyle Miller, Robyn and Don Conlon and The Hegi Family
  • Give Families Hope For A Home ($10,000) — Anna and Ryan Moss, Benchmark Bank and Benchmark Title, Nancy Carter and The David B. Miller Family Foundation
  • Give Families Hope For A Hand Up ($7,500) — Kamela and Kenneth Aboussie and Mrs. Wilson Johnson
  • Give Families Hope For Stability ($5,000) — Lincoln Property Company, Melinda and Jim Johnson, Nancy and Neil West, Prairie Creek Partners, Southwest Kia, Susie and John Adams and The Moody Foundation

For almost 30 years, Interfaith Family Services (Interfaith) has been a leading resource for working poor families and a haven for homeless children who long for stability and hope. Today, we are even more committed to our mission to empower families in crisis and break the cycle of poverty.  At the core of our work is a simple yet effective program formula: Stability + Self-Worth + Skills = Self-Sufficiency. First, we stabilize about 100 homeless families (nearly 90% of them female-led) each year by providing them with fully-furnished housing for up to a year in one of the 26 units that we own debt-free, and we offer daily children’s programs tailored to the unique needs of homeless children. Next, we increase their self- worth through on-site counseling for parents and play therapy for children. Finally, we develop their skills via career coaching, financial coaching, and life-skills classes for parents and daily homework assistance and individualized tutoring for children. These comprehensive holistic services lay the foundation for the families’ long-term self-sufficiency. Our outcomes prove that our model works.

Interfaith families earn more ($13.51/hour), save more ($1,631 on average), reduce more debt ($1,167 on average), and remain self-sufficient longer than the members of any other transitional housing providers that report their outcomes publicly.

For more information on Interfaith Family Services or to discover other ways you can support Interfaith’s work, please contact Marketing and Media Coordinator Destiny DeJesus or visit www.interfaithdallas.org.

* Photo credit: Michelle Oesterricher

JUST IN: Former Dallas Police Chief David Brown To Keynote The Salvation Army’s “Annual Doing The Most Good Luncheon”

David Brown (File photo)

That David Brown has been a very busy retiree. Well, actually the former Dallas Police Chief isn’t retired. He’s just changed careers. In addition to working for ABC News, he’s been collecting awards and swamped with speaking engagements. The latest one was just announced. He will be the keynoter for The Salvation Army’s “Annual Doing The Most Good Luncheon” at the Anatole on Thursday, November 16, the week before Thanksgiving.

Bobby Lyle (File photo)

Michal Powell (File photo)

Luncheon Honorary Chair Bobby Lyle will be joined by Luncheon Chair Michal Powell, who is an old hand at planning, promoting and producing a mega fundraiser. She nearly busted the bank when she chaired the 2015 Crystal Charity Ball.

Thanks to the funds raised at the luncheon, The Salvation Army will be able to continue its “compassionate services within Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton and Ellis counties. Last year, the organization provided shelter for 7,932 individuals, served 1,076,280 meals, distributed 36,175 bags of groceries, and provided Christmas gifts for 49,258 children and special care adults.”

Dallas Film Society’s 2017 Art Of Film Was A Double Header With Honoree Robert Benton And Dallas Star Awardee Faye Dunaway

Hayley Hamilton Cogill, Paul Coggins and Regina Montoya

Gary Cogill declared that Robert Benton was one of the nicest people in the film business. This claim took place on Wednesday, March 29, as guests like Co-Chairs Regina Montoya and Paul Coggins, Stacy Girard, and Haley Hamilton Cogill gathered at Sixty Five Hundred for the Dallas Film Society’s Art of Film honoring Benton for his multiple accomplishments in the film industry. Interestingly, the occasion coincided with the 50th anniversary of “Bonnie And Clyde,” which Robert co-wrote.

James Faust

As DFS Artistic Director James Faust talked film with others, DFS President/CEO Lee Papert said that “she and Robert are due at 7, but they may be running late.”

There was a way that Lee said “she” that made one realize the female in question was not your typical Kmart shopper.

Moments later, the red carpet was abuzz of activities with high-caliber photographers and cell photographers snapping away, for Faye Dunaway had arrived. That was the “she” in question.

Dunaway, who would be receiving the Dallas Star award the next day at the opening of the Dallas International Film Festival, was on the scene because of her fondness and admiration for Benton. The two had worked together 50 years ago on the making of “Bonnie And Clyde.”

As mics were thrust in front of Dunaway, the night’s interviewer Gary looked downright gleeful about his chat on stage with Benton.

Faye Dunaway

As Faye shaded her eyes from the bright lights and accommodated the reporters with mics in hand, Benton was nowhere in sight.

After the last interview was a done deal, Faye found herself in a one-on-one conversation with film Critic Joe Layden.  

The two found themselves sipping soft drinks on a nearby couch. Cogill noted, “That’s a Thomas Crown scene on the couch.” If you squinched your eyes, you could sorta think that despite the lack of a chess board.

Robert Benton

As photographers tried for shots of the two, Faye had had enough. Her initial wave-off didn’t dissuade the flashing photographers. A stronger wave and an unhappy face got the message across.

In the meantime, a car pulled up and a group stepped out with the last one being a man with a cane. It was the man-of-the-hour — Robert Benton.

When someone teased him that he was going to have to behave, a friend laughed, “Oh, don’t tell him that.”

Benton smiled and chuckled with a twinkle in his eye.

As he headed to the ramp leading to the festivities, Cogill’s description of Benton seemed more true than ever.

JUST IN: 2017 Tablescapes Co-Chairs Beth Dike And Mary Hubbard Announce Plans For Kappa Kappa Gamma Fundraiser

2017 Kappa Kappa Gamma Tablescapes Co-Chairs Mary Hubbard and Beth Dike just made it official. The annual fundraiser will return to the Dallas Country Club with Tablescapes by Candlelight on Monday, October 16, and Tablescapes Luncheon on Tuesday, October 17, with Central Market as the presenting sponsor. This year’s theme will be “Forever Blue and Beautiful.”

Mary Hubbard, Lori Martin and Beth Dike

This year’s keynote speaker will be Brownwood, Texas, native Mark D. Sikes, known locally for his Draper James fame. On the more worldly front, his friends/fans/followers include actress Reese Witherspoon and director Nancy “Something’s Gotta Give” Meyer. In fact Nancy wrote the intro for his most recent book “Beautiful, All American Decorating and Timeless Style.” And, of course, wouldn’t you know he’s known for his love of blue.

As for the table designers, Mary and Beth suggested that they were in the final stages of signing up talent. Interested? Go ahead! You just know your grandmother’s Lenox Blue Tree china would be picture perfect decked out on that heirloom tablecloth alongside your best friend’s Baccarat stemware. Or, if you’re a professional, why not spiff up your brand by showcasing it in front of a pretty nifty crowd?

It’s time to put those creative juices to work and to raise funds for this year’s beneficiaries including Akola Project, Camp Summit, Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Genesis Women’s Shelter And Support. Seniors’ Pet Assistance Network, Town North YMCA, Visiting Nurse Association (Meals on Wheels) and Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation.

Sunshine Returns To The Area With Southern Charmer James Farmer For The Park Cities Historic And Preservation Society Luncheon

Despite North Texas taking a thunderous beating the night before, sunshine and friendly temperatures were on hand Wednesday, March 29, for the Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society Luncheon at the Dallas Country Club.

And what else would one expect with author/gardener/floral and interior designer/cook/garden-to-table lifestyle expert James Farmer as the keynote speaker. Sunshine just seems to be his calling card.

James Farmer and Kendall Jennings

Since his appearance in 2013 for the Kappa Kappa Gamma’s Tablescapes, James flashed the same All-American smile, but there was less of him. He told Honorary Co-Chair Libby Hunt it was due to his giving one of his kidneys to his sister, Meredith. Libby asked if the transplant had caused him to be ill and lose the weight. No, he had been put on steroids the year before and the year after the surgery, resulting in his looking heavier when he spoke at Tablescapes. Now, he was back to his normal weight.

To get things going, PCHPS President Kendall Jennings welcomed the group and asked Pierce Allman to provide the invocation. With his arm in a sling as a result of rotator cuff surgery, Pierce’s presentation was poetic. So much so, that as emcee Scott Murray took his place on stage, he admitted that it was remarkable. When asked if he had been working on the invocation for some time or if it was something that had been handed down from generation to generation, Pierce smiled and said he had just put it together that morning.

 

David and Libby Hunt, Leeanne Hunt, Herbert Hunt, Libby Hunt Allred and Barbara Hunt Crow

Mike and Marla Boone

As guests like James’ buddy Caren Kline, Debbie and Jim Francis, Heather Furniss, sisters Libby Hunt Allred and Barbara Hunt Crow, Herbert Hunt, Cynthia Beaird, Marla Boone, Lindalyn Adams, Kay Weeks and Lucy Wrubel with mother Jennie Reeves had lunch, they caught up with Melinda Obenchain receiving rave reviews for “B Magazine,” which she just produced for Briggs-Freeman…La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas 2017 Co-Chair Rebecca Gregory reporting that La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas would be returning to the Hilton Anatole in 2018.

Debbie Francis

Melinda Obenchain

Just past noon, emcee Scott told the guests how both Honorary Co-Chairs Libby’s and David Hunt’s childhood homes in the Park Cities were still standing. While that may not seem important to many, to this group of preservationist it was, with the recent demolishing of the Trammell Crow and Penson homes. He then had Pierce introduce James. Pierce, who had been tableside with James, described James as covering “everything from dirt to dessert.”

James Farmer

Some of the highlights of James’ talk included:

  • “Dallas still has a small-town feel. Had dinner last night at Café Pacific and knew people at the other tables.”
  • Having grown up in Perry, Georgia, “If you needed something made, you had it made there. If you wanted something from a foreign land, you went to Atlanta.”
  • As a five-year-old he was playing T-ball and was assigned left field. There he spied a colony of ziggy holes. In South Georgia, ziggy worms are grub  worms. “I knew instinctively that if I dug out a ziggy or two and put them in my pocket and took them home and threw them in our pond, I would catch catfish. And my Mimi, my grandmother, would fry that catfish and we would eat that catfish on my Aunt Irene’s Limoges plates. There’s a connection. Y’all can go to a nice restaurant and pay $30 for that fish now and it’s called ‘Pond To Plate.’ But I understood as a child that something from the ground could get to our table.” On this day in left field, he decided that he had found the “honey hole of ziggy worms.” He dug them up and put them in his pocket. “A kid from the opposing team had the nerve to hit a ball my way. I had to do what came natural to me, so I protected my ziggy colony.” The coach informed James’ father that his son was not an athlete. To this Dr. Farmer responded, “Yes, but he knows the Latin name for every blade of grass out in the field.” It would be 13 years later that James would receive a scholarship from a garden club for Auburn, and the kid who hit that ball received a scholarship to play baseball at Georgia. “So, you see we were both playing on the same field, but ended up where we were supposed to.”
  • Frank McCall influenced James with his “full service architect” firm that drew on a southern lifestyle and “helped my parents create their home.” McCall told James’ mother, “Every Southern lady needs a beautiful home. Every Southern lady needs fine silk. Every southerner needs a damn good chest.” She suddenly realized, “He wasn’t talking about Aunt Irene’s chest.” In the future, James would realize that McCall was talking about being confident and proud of what  you have.
  • It was while attending Auburn that James threw his first “dinner party.” It was in the dormitory kitchen. “I had a hankering for fried chicken and I knew how to fry chicken because you know every 18-year-old goes off to college with an iron skillet. Do you know how many friends you can make in college by making fried chicken? I never missed a sorority ball. Those girls were hungry, too. Those girls were off getting engagement rings and thinking, ‘Oh, my, I gotta learn how to cook.’ That was my ‘fried chicken moment.’”
  • “The pearly gates will smell like Lady Peas.”
  • “I love to teach the generations what the generations before had.”
  • “My grandfather was a Baptist minister and because of that I am a recovering Baptist. Thankfully, the Episcopal Church has a program for us. What the Episcopal Church does is they tell you to come to church and bring a bottle of wine.” On his first field trip with the Episcopalians, they went to the liquor store and he was told to “make eye contact with people, you address them by their first name, and bring that drink to the church and drink it.”
  • Each year his grandmother Mimi made her famous fruit cake. It called for rum. His grandfather wanted a piece with the rum: “It’s not drinking it if you’re eating it.” Being a good Baptist, his grandmother had a Methodist friend buy the alcohol at a liquor store. When the friend died, Mimi “put on some attire that the sheik of some Arab country would wear,” so no one would recognize her. When James confronted her, asking, “Did King Abdulla die?,” she proudly stated that no one had recognized her being incognito. But her grandson countered with, “But you drive the biggest Buick in town. If they saw it whipping around the liquor store…” She responded, “But I parked it at the Winn-Dixie.”
  • James’ first job was redecorating on his grandmother’s Baptist Sunday classroom. He soon learned that everything in the Baptist Church is done by committee, “which I believe is a version of eternal damnation. I would rather work for a dictator than a Baptist committee.”
  • Regarding his first book, he heard a dozen “Nos” from New York publishing houses. “They were No York.” But a Salt Lake publishing house agreed to take a meeting with him, where they wore football jerseys and jeans and James was “dressed like Astor’s pony.” The Salt Lake group agreed to publish 500 copies of “A Time To Plant.” His response was, “That’s sweet, but y’all know I’ll sell 500 copies in the Winn-Dixie parking lot from the back of my Suburban.” He ended up ordering all 500 copies himself and told them that he had some book signings coming up and friends like Caren and Peter Kline in Dallas who were going to support him with book signing events. Some friends in New York City arranged for him to prepare a dinner party for them and have a book signing afterwards. “I ran out of books. I had a conference call the next day with my publisher and I told them, ‘Y’all, I’m out of books.'” They said, “That’s what we want to talk to you about. Barnes and Noble just ordered 2,500 copies.” And it wasn’t just Barnes and Noble. Other stores were placing huge orders. The publisher asked, “What are you doing?” James responded, “Well, last night I cooked a dinner party for some friends of mine. Do you know Al Roker and Deborah Roberts?” They said, “No, but we know you’re not talking about the ‘Today’ host and the ABC reporter.” James trumped them by saying, “Yes, I am. Al and Deborah are very good friends of mine.” The publisher asked how James knew Al. “I know Al through Deborah, who’s from Perry.” They asked if he had other similar events planned. James said that he was headed down to Washington where a friend was going to host another event. “Is the President coming?” James said, “He was invited, because he’s, you know, busy. But they’re gonna take some books to the White House.” The publisher was curious, “Who do you know in Washington?” James asked, “Do you know Senator Sam Nunn? He’s from Perry.”
  • His latest book, “A Time To Celebrate,” started out focusing on big parties and deb balls. During the year that he was creating it, both his mother and grandmother died. “The word ‘celebrate’ took on a new meaning.’ It was Sunday night at home having scrambled eggs and watching ‘Downton Abbey’ with Mama.”
  • In writing “A Time To Celebrate,” he took Jenna Bush Hager up on the offer to “do anything for him.” He wanted her to write the forward. She admitted that she just didn’t know how to do it. James then told her, “You saw your mama and grandma entertain in the White House. I saw my mama and grandma entertain in a white house.” The common denominator was the fact that whether it was the president of a foreign country or the local minister, the way people come together is over food.
  • One of his favorite stories is about his mother, when they hired an Atlanta decorator. Previously, they had used a local decorator, who wore denim on denim — an “I only shop at Kmart look. She would use red latex magnolias dipped in gold glitter for Christmas.” The Atlanta decorator arrived in a black Mercedes and wearing Chanel. At one point, his mother said, “I love ‘Carl.’ I just have to tell you that ‘Carl’ makes me happy. . .  And ‘Carl’ makes me smile a lot.” When the decorator finally said she didn’t understand, because “Your husband is Ted,” Mother Farmer said, “I’m talking about the color.” Translation: coral.
  • In summary, James said, “Keep it real. That’s what the South is about.”

James talked about Al Roker, Deborah Roberts, Jenna Bush and Sam Nunn in such a way that it didn’t feel like name dropping, but rather they were just James’ friends and real.

If you weren’t able to make the luncheon, get one of James’ books and you’ll find a brand-new BFF.

Carolyn P. Horchow Women’s Health Symposium Drew Women From Around The Country To Learn About Healthcare Lifesaving Lessons

Despite her death in 2009, Carolyn Horchow‘s legacy has not only continued, it has provided inspiration for family, friends and even strangers to learn about the incredible developments in healthcare thru the Carolyn P. Horchow Women’s Health Symposium. With Horchow daughters Regen Horchow Fearon and Lizzie Horchow Routman on board, mother/daughter-in-law Sydney Huffines and Patty Huffines hosted the symposium with five leading medical experts providing the information. While Sidney was unable to be present, the symposium provided video coverage of the five-minute presentations.

The reviews were across the board stellar — “Love the UT Southwestern team approach to care and proactive trends,” “It’s nice to have access to faculty during lunch,” and Congratulations to the team on the great research! Presentations were great, easy to follow and the graphics really helped!” Here’s a report from the field:

Bright and early on the morning of Tuesday, March 28, guests arrived from across the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, up from Austin, and as far away as New York City for UT Southwestern Medical Center’s signature educational event for women, the Carolyn P. Horchow Women’s Health Symposium.

Mother- and daughter-in-law, Sydney Huffines and Patty Huffines, served as event co-chairs.

Carol Podolsky, Patty Huffines and Carol Croft**

Patty opened the half-day program with a warm welcome. She took the opportunity to recognize several special guests in attendance: Georgeann McRaven, wife of University of Texas System’s Chancellor William H. McRaven; Patricia Patterson, co-founder of the Symposium; Margot Perot, 2016 co-chair; and several other past co-chairs, including Regen Horchow Fearon and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Horchow Routman, daughters of Carolyn P. Horchow for whom the event is named.

Margot Keyes, Pat Patterson and Cynthia Gary**

Regen Horchow Fearon and Margot Perot**

“I’ve been coming to the Horchow Women’s Health Symposium for years, and each time I learn something new that has prepared me for health issues I’ve faced personally or with my loved ones. It is a true honor to co-chair this important event alongside my mother-in-law, Sydney,” said Patty. “If we take care of ourselves, we can take better care of our families. This rings true for women in Dallas, the surrounding communities, and beyond.”

Presented by five UT Southwestern experts, this year’s program, “Trials And Jubilations: New Discoveries to Restore Your Health,” featured topics ranging from scientific research to preventive and restorative health care measures:

Stephanie Savory, Carlos Bagley, Deborah Friedman, Steve Kliewer and Salahuddin Kazi*

  • “Crushing the Cravings: Drawing Science Into the Battle Against Addictive Behaviors” —Steven Kliewer*, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Molecular Biology
  • “Migraine: Arresting the Time Thief” — Deborah Friedman, D., M.P.H., FAAN, Professor, Department of Neurology & Neurotherapeutics
  • “Skin Care Confidential: Truths and Myths Revealed” — Stephanie Savory, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology
  • “My Aching Back: Solving the Back Pain Puzzle” — Carlos Bagley, M.D., M.B.A., FAANS, Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery
  • “Arthritis: Understanding What Your Joints Are Saying” — Salahuddin Kazi, M.D., Internal Medicine Vice Chair of Education, Professor of Internal Medicine

Demonstrating keen interest, audience members of diverse ages and backgrounds gave the presenters ample questions to field during each Q&A session. The lively conversation carried over into the dining room of UT Southwestern’s T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Building, where more than 25 distinguished faculty members hosted luncheon roundtables.

If you were unable to attend the seminar, the Carolyn P. Horchow Women’s Health Symposium has provided video of the day’s share of information.

It’s truly amazing the North Texas area is flourishing with information and developments in health care. And like other healthcare providers, UT Southwestern is making that information available.

About Carolyn P. Horchow Women’s Health Symposium — The Women’s Health Symposium was established in 1999 by longtime friends Carolyn Horchow and Patricia Patterson. These two civic leaders felt strongly that Dallas-Fort Worth should have a health event to provide current medical information tailored to women and afford access to leading researchers and clinicians at UT Southwestern Medical Center. In the year following her passing in June of 2009, the event was renamed the Carolyn P. Horchow Women’s Health Symposium to honor her and the contributions she made to UT Southwestern and the greater Dallas community.

About UT Southwestern Medical CenterUT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. The faculty of almost 2,800 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.

* Dr. Kliewer is holder of the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Distinguished 
Chair in Basic Cancer Research 
** Photos provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center

Art In Bloom’s Seasons Of Love Was Busting With Beauty Thanks To René Van Rems Creating Floral Artworks And St. John Fashions

When Art in Bloom Luncheon Chair Sarah Jo Hardin decided on the event’s theme “Seasons of Love,” she must have had international floral mastermind René van Rems in mind. For his presentation at the Dallas Museum of Art on Monday, March 27, he did a fabulous job at interpreting eight pieces of art into floral arrangements. He even shared a hint on how to give any creation an extra boost. Think hydrangea. Here’s a report from the field:

Sarah Jo Hardin and Jill Goldberg*

Luncheon Chairman Sarah Jo Hardin, with Honorary Chairman Jill Goldberg and the Dallas Museum of Art League President Sheila Durante were joined by over 350 guests at “Art in Bloom: Seasons of Love” on Monday, March 27. Proceeds from the 18th annual fundraiser hosted by the Dallas Museum of Art League supports the DMA’s exhibition and education programs and the DMA League’s Floral Endowment Fund.

It began at 9:30 a.m. with a reception in the Hamon Atrium. Highland Park High School’s Highlander Strings quartet played as guests bid on items in the silent auction and purchased raffle tickets for the chance to win one of four prizes including: a $1,000 gift certificate from Eiseman Jewels NorthPark Center, a pair of Roberto Coin earrings, a luxury overnight stay for two at the Hotel Crescent Court, and a $500 gift certificate from Jacksons Home And Garden.  

Cynthia Mitchell, Becky Bright, Mary Lois Leonard and Beverly Freeman*

Attendees like Cynthia Miller, Becky Bright, Mary Lois Leonard, Beverly Freeman, Delilah Boyd, Megan Meyercord, Deborah Patterson, Marena Gault and Sherwood Wagner were then directed to the Horchow Auditorium for featured speaker René van Rems’ floral demonstration.

Megan Meyercord, Deborah Patterson, Ola Fojtasek and Heather Furniss*

Sheila opened the symposium by welcoming all and thanking the League’s loyal supporters and its corporate sponsors whose support of “Art in Bloom” helps underwrite the DMA’s education programs and the League’s Floral Fund. She introduced Jill thanking her for graciously lending her considerable expertise and leadership to the event. Sheila then invited Sarah Jo to the podium, and paid tribute to her creativity as well as her leadership talents.

Sarah Jo thanked all the attendees before introducing the Park Version choral group from Highland Park High School, who performed a capella “God Only Knows What I’d Do Without You” from the Beach Boys as a tribute to the many “Art in Bloom” volunteers, followed by “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical “Rent,” in honor of this year’s theme.

René van Rems*

A world-renowned ambassador of the floral industry, René took the stage to begin his demonstration of eight designs inspired by works in the Dallas Museum of Art’s permanent collection.  As he began work on the first design, inspired by Gustave Courbet’s painting “A Fox in the Snow,” van Rems warmed up the crowd immediately by sharing a tip: “For those new to floral design; when in doubt add a hydrangea,” he said, as he added white hydrangeas to the arrangement. He then went on to create seven diverse designs, from traditional to contemporary, as he thoroughly entertained the crowd with his wit and wisdom on all things floral.

Attendees returned to the Museum’s concourse to continue perusing the silent auction, which included the designs just created by René, while sipping specialty spring-inspired cocktails by Duckworth Vodka.  René also took time to sign copies of his book, “Rene’s Bouquets: A Guide to Euro-Style Hand-Tied Bouquets.”

Patrons progressed to the Atrium for a seated lunch with tables dressed in cornflower blue and watermelon, with floral centerpieces from Judy Blackman of Blumengarten. At each place setting was a white porcelain birdhouse vase with pink roses from Forestwood Fine Flowers and a $250 gift card from St. John.

Fashions by St. John*

Guests enjoyed a delicious lunch, with each course inspired by a season and featuring locally or Texas-sourced ingredients, including a summer-inspired first course of watermelon, prosciutto, and sliced brie salad with Texas balsamic and micro basil; followed by a fall entrée of jalapeno and corn stuffed semi-boneless Lockhart quail with wilted Uvalde curly spinach, glazed root vegetables and flower thyme jus. As winter’s assiette of chocolate desserts was served, Sarah Jo came to the podium to introduce St. John’s Highland Park Village Store Director Randi Schwartz, who quickly got the day’s style show going with models walking the runway dressed in selections from St. John’s gorgeous spring collection. 

Live Blooming Art Exhibition*

The floral extravaganza continued after the symposium with the first-ever “Live Blooming Art Exhibition” featuring a unique display of floral arrangements created by local floral designers and inspired by works of art from the Museum’s permanent collection. Participating designers were Judy Blackman of Blumengarten, Metka Terselich of Metka Floral Designs, Caroline Hansen of Forestwood Florals, Dan Pierce of Wild about Flowers, Doan Do of Cebolla Fine Flowers, Sarah Hobbs of Park Cities Petals, Juan Gomar of Apples to Zinnias, Lucy Diaz-Flores of Bella Flora and David Kimmel of David Kimmel Design. The exhibition remained on view to all DMA visitors the following two days in the Museum’s Level 2 European galleries. 

Sheila Durante, Marena Gault and Sherwood Wagner*

“Art in Bloom International” attendees included  The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art Agustin Arteaga, Margaret McDermott, Mary McDermott Cook, Peggy Sewell, Beverly Freeman, Holly Huffines, Susan Fisk, Nancy Cates, Barbara Bigham, Sherwood Wagner, Stacey McCord, Diane Byrd, Ola Fojtasek, Heather Furniss, Rusty Duvall, Beverly Nichols, Faye Briggs, Cyrena Nolan, Linda Burk, Angela Paulos, Emily Maduro and Julia Fuqua.

* Photo credit: Tamytha Cameron Smith

SOLD-OUT ALERT: A Chance To Soar

Simone Biles*

Yup, those ten seats that were still unfilled yesterday for Jonathan’s Place‘s A Chance To Soar Luncheon Tuesday are gone. Translation: Simone Biles will be facing a sold-out crowd at the Anatole.

* Photo provided by Jonathan's Place

Grovel Alert: A Chance To Soar Luncheon

Just heard from Jonathan’s Place CEO Allicia Graham Frye that as of noon today, there were just 10 tickets left for Tuesday’s “A Chance To Soar Luncheon” at the Hilton Anatole.

Trevor and Jan Rees-Jones (File photo)

No wonder! Just some of the VIP types in attendance will be enough to have cell-photos being taken nonstop. Co-Chairs Julie Bagley and Rachel Stephens have arranged to have Tiffany Cuban, Jessica and Dirk Nowitzki, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Meredith Land and Dillard’s Corporate Beauty VP Gary Borofsky tableside.

Simone Biles*

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the darling of the 2016 Olympics Simone Biles will be the keynote speaker. Her life story reflects Jonathan’s Place’s mission to provide a safe, loving home and specialized services to children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected.” Let’s hope that she doesn’t get eliminated on Monday night’s “Dancing With The Stars.” That would mean her taking the red-eye to NYC for Tuesday morning’s “Good Morning America.” But the money’s on Simone remaining as part of the cast and overnight flying to North Texas. And who knows? Maybe her dancing partner Sasha Farber will be with her at the lunch.

Remember, just 10 seats are left, so get that reservation in now.

* Photo provided by Jonathan's Place

Grovel Alert: 2017 Chick Lit Luncheon

Let’s hope the Anatole Grand Ballroom has its Spanx on for Friday’s Chick Lit Luncheon. The annual Community Partners of Dallas fundraiser is busting with folks to hear Bethenny Frankel at the podium.

Bethenny Frankel*

According to insiders, there are just a couple seats left. Hurry and get one or two of those last places because ya just know that Bethenny is gonna be quotable and memorable.

And don’t worry about setting Bethenny up on a dating apps blind date. According to her chat with People Magazine, “I wouldn’t have enough time to date online. I thought about it, but I haven’t actually done it because I wouldn’t have the time.”

“If it gets there and it’s a dry country, maybe I’ll think about it — but it hasn’t gotten to that point,” Frankel adds. “At my age I got game, who knew?”

But that was a couple of weeks ago. Who knows? Perhaps Bethenny has changed her mind about online dating.

BTW, ticket sales close Thursday at 5 p.m. Hustle, hustle, hustle!

JUST IN: Dallas CASA’s Cherish The Children Luncheon Nets $170,000

What a perfectly wonderful way to kick off Easter weekend. The Dallas CASA bean counters have been adding and subtracting the numbers from the Cherish the Children Luncheon held on Wednesday, April 5, at The Fairmont.

Cheryl Lee Shannon, Shonn Evans Brown, Elba Garcia, Kathleen M. LaValle, Evelyn Henry Miller and Casey Gerald*

In addition to ticket sales, sponsorships and the auctioning of children’s furniture, Luncheon Chair Shonn Brown arranged for keynote speaker Casey Gerald and the National Council of Jewish Women receiving the First Caroline Rose Hunt Cherish the Children Award. The results was a gangbuster $170,000 netted for the nonprofit that “trains and supervises volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected Dallas County children living in protective care.”

According to Dallas CASA Board Member Mark Berg, who mother was a member of NCJW and one of Dallas CASA’s founders, ““CASA is about a group of mothers who could not stand to see children mistreated. Dallas CASA is now within reach of achieving what was unthinkable a few years ago – serving every child in need. We’ve all stood on the shoulders of those dedicated mothers.”

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

JUST IN: Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon To Benefit Junior Players With “Hamilton”‘s Renée Elise Goldsberry As Keynote Speaker

Cancel any and all plans for summer vacation. Well, at least, plan on being in town on Friday, June 23. Attorneys Serving the Community have such a reason for staying put on that Friday for lunch.

They’ve really tied things together for the 31st Attorneys Serving the Community Luncheon fundraiser at the Hilton Anatole. First, this year’s beneficiary is the award-winning Junior Players, which is the oldest non-profit children’s theater organization in Dallas. Originally offering “traditional children’s theater productions performed entirely by children and teenagers,” it changed its direction in 1989 by “providing free programming accessible to all the children of North Texas.”

Attorneys Serving the Community beneficiary Junior Players*

According to Dallas Morning News theater expert Nancy Churnin, Junior Players is “not just the play that’s the thing at Junior Players. It’s the way the company puts kids first by making quality lessons and performances free for 4,000 kids a year.”

Great pick, but who would be the on-target speaker for such an event benefiting young theatrical types by legal experts? Hold on to your petticoats and breeches. Luncheon Co-Chairs Beth Bedell and Kara Altenbaumer-Price managed to land Tony Award-winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, who originated the role of Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler Church in “Hamilton: The Revolution.” Just this past fall, she took leave of the Linn-Manuel Miranda hit.

Renée Elise Goldsberry*

But don’t think Renee is a one-note actress. This multi-talented and gorgeous gal is a perfect role model for young, aspiring performers. In addition to Broadway successes (“The Lion King,” “The Color Purple” and “Rent”) and numerous flat screen appearances, (“Ally McBeal,” “One Life To Live,” “Law And Order: Special Victims Unit,” “The Good Wife,” etc.), she’s now headed to the 25th century for Netflix’s 10-episode sci-fi drama “Altered Carbon” as Quellcrist Falconer.  In addition to theatrical and screen productions, she’s even been in the Super Bowl, where she and her Broadway sister updated “America the Beautiful.”

Outside of the theater and studio, Renee has a real life with attorney-husband Alexis Johnson and her two kiddos Benjamin and Brielle.

Trivia: The luncheon will have a tinge of irony. It will be a get-together for onstage Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law (aka Renée) with U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr’s descendant Jennifer Burr Altabef. If you skipped American History 101, Hamilton was killed in a duel with Burr nearly 213 years ago.

According to Jennifer, who along with her husband, Peter Altabef, are serving as luncheon honorary co-chairs, “Peter and I are thrilled to be honorary chairs for this event benefiting Junior Players, a vital arts resource for young people and a treasure in our community. We are looking forward to the event featuring Renée Elise Goldsberry, whose electrifying performance in ‘Hamilton’ brought to life the incredible story of the birth of our country. Aaron Burr was a part of that story, and in ‘Hamilton,’ the audience learns so much about him and his complex relationship with Alexander Hamilton.”

Mark Friday, June 23, as a “must-stay-in-Dallas” to see and hear from this lady, who “kicked failure’s ass.”

Sponsorships and tables are available here. Individual tickets, if there are any, will be up for grabs in May.

* Graphic and photo provided by Attorneys Serving the Community

JUST IN: Girl Scouts Of Northeast Texas Announces Sara Martineau And Nina Vaca Women Of Distinction And Todd Williams Man Enough

Susan Glassmoyer and Laura Downing (File photo)

For those emerging from Samoa and Thin Mints rehab and in need of a Girl Scout fix, there’s great news. The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas have just announced plans for their annual Women of Distinction Luncheon. It’s already been announced that Dr. Mae Jemison will be the keynote speaker, thanks to Luncheon Co-Chairs Laura Downing and Susan Glassmoyer.

But now comes word that the fundraiser on Friday, November 3, at the Omni will honor Sara Martineau and Nina Vaca on stage receiving the Woman of Distinction Award.

Sara Martineau (File photo)

Nina Vaca (File photo)

According to Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas CEO Jennifer Bartkowski, “It is an honor to recognize Nina, Sara and Todd for their exemplary leadership and lifelong commitment to serving our Dallas community. Empowering and supporting girls is the key to our future, because they are the innovators, leaders and change-makers of tomorrow. It comes down to a simple truth – when we invest in the advancement of girls, we are not only helping them reach their fullest potential, we are also investing in the future success of our businesses and communities. We are incredibly thankful that each honoree recognizes the importance and value of empowering girls.”

Todd Williams*

As for the second male to be recognized by the Girl Scouts for his understanding and support of the Girl Scouts’ mission, Todd Williams will be presented with the Man Enough to be a Girl Scout Award.

Regarding the Young Woman of Distinction, stay tuned. It will be announced “late summer.”

BTW, last year’s luncheon impressed vet munchers with the fact that it ran right on schedule.

Tickets are available here, but no, there will be no cookies as incentives.

For the full-blown release, follow the jump:

*  Photo provided by Girl Scouts 
of Northeast Texas

[Read more…]

Just Say Yes’ “Building Bridges” Will Celebrate With Romos, Brown And Chances For Gragg Gems, Royal Dining, Grelle Artwork And More

Tony and Candice Romo*

David Brown*

As if having former Dallas Police Chief David Brown as the keynote speaker and Honorary Co-Chairs Candice and Tony Romo weren’t enough for the 7th Annual Just Say Yes (Youth Equipped to Succeed) Celebration’s Building Bridges,” organizers have put together quite a line up for the Wednesday, April 19th raffle and live auction fundraiser at Belo Pavilion.

Sue Gragg necklace*

For the raffle, it will be “a custom-made diamond necklace by jewelry designer extraordinaire” Sue Gragg. The winner will be able to select their choice of an 18-karat white, yellow or rose-gold necklace. And to add that personalized touch, they’ll have “their name, or a word of their choice, encrusted with diamonds.” If your chance ticket is picked, you’ve got your Mother’s Day gift locked down! The value of the necklace is $1,400 with raffle tickets going for $25 each or 5 for $100. The raffle winner does not need to be present to win, and there is no limit to ticket purchase. Raffle tickets are available here.

There’s an added incentive to buy those raffle tickets online. There will be a drawing prior to the event to have a VIP meet-and-greet photo opp with keynote speaker Brown.  The Photo-Opp winner must be present to win. Each raffle ticket purchase serves as one entry into the contest.

In addition to a silent auction, there will be a live auction including:

Darren McGrady (File photo)

  • A Royal Dinner Party by Eating Royally Owner/Chef Darren McGrady (Value: $5,000) — Chef Darren will prepared a three-course dinner for ten at your home, just like he did for Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana. After dinner, he’ll regale guests with stories about the good old days at the palace.
  • A Week in Kauai, Hawaii (Value $3,000) — With plenty of time to plan, four guests will enjoy the luxury lifestyle at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club’s oceanfront digs from April 14 thru 21, 2018. Whether it’s just taking it easy lounging on the beach or checking out the sites where major Hollywood films have been made, Kauai has everything.
  • Western Artist/Member of Cowboy Artists of America Martin Grelle Artwork — Two pieces of art by the renowned Western art master will be up for bid.
    • The first piece is a 13” by 10” original drawing in custom frame of a Native American on horseback. (Value $3,800)
    • The second is a 33” by 38” giclée of “Prayers of the Pipe Carrier,” which Grelle created a few years ago.  It is an artist personal proof, No. 4 of 5. BTW, the original won the Buyers Choice Award at the 46th Annual Cowboy Artists of America exhibit in 2011. (Value: $1,750)
  • Two-Night Hunting Trip at Giesecke Ranch (Value: $2,500) — For the hunter, the Giesecke Ranch outside of Llano is the perfect place to hunt deer, turkey and wild boar. In addition to having the use of a crew cab pickup, the winner will have ranch owner Dick Giesecke himself assist in finding the spots to explore.

(This offer expires December 31, 2018, and does not include Thanksgiving, Christmas or opening weekend of hunting season.)

Building Bridges*

Regarding this year’s theme — “Building Bridges —  Just Say Yes Development Director Marissa Leach explained, “Just Say Yes is ‘Building Bridges’ this year because we recognize the need for connection. Our youth can set the stage for a stronger connection with each other, their families and ultimately our community. With your support, we can further the Just Say Yes cause by building connection in our youth, ultimately creating long-lasting connectedness within our community.”

While individual tickets are $250, $1,000 will get two tickets plus the photo opp with David B.

* Photo provided by Just Say Yes

TACA’s 2017 Silver Cup Luncheon Had Some Hits And Misses, But Recipients Nancy Nasher And Walter Elcock Were The Best Of The Best

As TACA approached its 50th anniversary, major changes were underway. Retired was Executive Director Becky Young and in her place was Wolford McCue. The first fundraising occasion showcasing the transition from the past to the future was the 2017 Silver Cup Luncheon on Tuesday, March 7, at the Anatole.

Early on, the question had been raised why the celebration of Dallas art leadership had been moved from the Anatole’s Grand Ballroom (max. capacity: 1,600) to the Chantilly Ballroom (max. capacity: 2,600). Evidently, when the reservation was made last year, it was thought that due to TACA’s 50th Anniversary, extra room would be necessary. More about that later.

David Haemisegger

Caroline Rose Hunt and Barbara Womble

Lee Cullum and Katherine Wynne

Nancy Carlson and Lynn McBee

Wolford McCue, Carol Glendenning, Nelda Cain Pickens, Don Glendenning and Donna Wilhelm

At 11 a.m. the VIP reception took place in the Wedgwood Room with folks like Luncheon Co-Chairs Nancy Carlson and Lynn McBee, Laura Elcock with daughter Hilah Elock Schutt, Jonathan Martin, Michelle Burns, Erin Mathews, Daylon Pereira, Carol Glendenning, Nelda Cain Pickens, Katherine Wynne, Barbara Womble, Capera Ryan and Susan Collins.

Nancy Nasher

Nancy Nasher and Walter Elcock

Just a few minutes past the timeline, 2017 Silver Cup recipients Nancy Nasher and Walter Elcock opened the big silver gift boxes on the center table. Nancy immediately spotted the logo on the top of the box and showed it to the Neiman Marcus crowd in attendance (Kevin Hurst, Ginger Reeder, Jerry Marcus Smith, Allison V. Smith).

Then Nancy, Walter and the rest of the previous TACA Silver Cup recipients (Ruben Esquivel, John Eagle, James Wiley Jr., Lucilo Peña, Don Glendenning, Brad Todd, Kern Wildenthal, Elaine Agather, Caroline Rose Hunt, Joyce Mitchell and Rebecca Enloe Fletcher) were herded to a couch at the far end of the room. The only hold-up was Luncheon emcee Lee Cullum button-holding Nancy.

From the left: (standing) Ruben Esquivel, John Eagle, James Wiley Jr., Lucilo Peña, Don Glendenning, Brad Todd and Kern Wildenthal; (seated) Elaine Agather, Caroline Rose Hunt, Nancy Nasher, Walter Elcock, Joyce Mitchell and Rebecca Fletcher

Eventually, the photo took place with Nancy and Walter holding their shiny cups.

In the meantime, guests were checking in at the registration tables at the Chantilly entry. Unlike other events, where guests amble on down to the ballroom lobby, the multitude seemed all too happy just to stay put.

But once the doors opened, the hundreds headed into the ballroom. Interestingly, while the tables were seat-to-seat together fronting the stage and head table, there were more than a dozen feet separating the back-row tables from the room’s back wall.

Pam Perella and Leslie Diers

Jeff Byron and Malcolm Reuben

As guests (Peggy Sewell, Diane and Hal Brierley, Mary McDermott Cook, Pam Perella, Leslie Diers, Christie Carter, Claire Emanuelson, Jeff Bryon and Malcolm Reuben) entered the ballroom, voices were overhead commenting, as though they were TMZ-ing a red carpet. One guest looked a little bewildered saying, “Did someone have an open mic?” Nope. It was a new add to the event. Alas, with guests vying for their tables in the cozy placement of tables and trying to be heard over the “open mic” audio, an itty-bitty moment of frustration resulted.

Kate Levin and Elaine Agather

Nancy Kasten

Luckily, the head table guests (Rabbi Nancy Kasten, Ginger Reeder, Rebecca Enloe, Water Elcock, Lee Cullum, Donna Wilhelm, Nancy Nasher, James Wiley Jr., Elaine Agather and Kate Levin) had no problems finding their places.

Uptown Players

It wasn’t until the Uptown Players took their places on the stage that the “open mic” situation resulted in an “Aha” realization. However, as emcee Lee tried to take command of the program, one of the actors told her to hold off. They were going to announce that an award was to be presented to … “La La Land.” Unfortunately, the attempt at humor may have looked good on paper, but it resulted in a couple of hand claps surrounded by silence.

Lee finally took charge of the program and provided an abbreviated state-of-the-arts address.

After a first course (roasted red pepper hummus, spring pea dip, baba ganoush, crudité and pita chips), second course (chicken salad in bibb with pimento cheese quiche and quinoa salad with diced vegetables) and dessert (chocolate truffle, mini-lemon curd blueberry tartlet and macaroon) with TACA grant recipients Fine Arts Chamber Players’ Quinlan Facey and Blue Candlelight Music Series’ Baya Kakouberi playing at baby grand pianos on stages at opposite ends of the ballroom, JP Morgan Chase’s Elaine Agather and TACA Board of Directors Chair Donna Wilhelm welcomed the group.

Ndumiso Nyoka

It was then time for NM’s Ginger Reeder. She had been concerned about correctly pronouncing the name of featured performer 2017 SMU Meadows School of the Arts’ tenor Ndumiso Nyoka’s name. (“He sent me the phonetic pronunciation.”) She pulled it off and looked relieved as he sang “La Donna e mobile” with Brian Bentley accompanying him on a grand piano on the stage in front of the head table. Unlike the “open mic,” Ndumiso’s performance scored a resounding wave of applause.

Following introductions by last year’s Silver Cup recipients Rebecca Enloe Fletcher and James Wiley Jr. and Jeremy Strick and John Eagle via video, Nancy and Walter raised the bar on acceptance speeches.

With a voice exuding calm, strength and elegance, Nancy recalled her parents inspiring her “passion for the arts” and how she considered NorthPark to be a “shopping museum.” Looking at her husband David Haemisegger, the very private Nancy said, “David, you have been my steadfast partner in all that we have created. None of this would have been possible without your counsel, your wisdom and unwavering support.”

Then looking at her children Sarah Haemisegger, Isabell Haemisegger and David Haemisegger, she said, “Thank you for being such wonderful sports as your father and I tried to persistently instill in you our love and passion for the arts. I believe that you too will further develop your own unique passion for the arts and make your own mark on our great city. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for each of you.” Her speech received a resounding standing ovation.

Walter admitted that following Nancy was a daunting task. Still, the retired banker/former Dallas Museum of Art Interim Director rose to the occasion. He broke the ice by saying, “I’m just like you — a fiscally conservative art lover, card-carrying ACLU democratic gun lover.”

Unlike Nancy, Walter admitted how the arts had not been paramount in his life. That changed when he “tried to get a blind date” with an art major. “I didn’t know that at that moment I had found the two great loves of my life. For better or for worse, and God knows for richer or poorer, all the credit for that goes to my muse Laura.” As members of the audience sighed, Walter mimicked them.

As much as he loved working with the people during his tenure as interim director of the DMA,  he admitted that turning in the key to “greatest basement in town was painful.”

Walter closed with a quote from Angela Davis, “I am no longer accepting the things that I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” He, too, was rewarded with a standing ovation.

Both Nancy and Walter emphasized the importance of the arts in the future of North Texas. Only they did it with such eloquence that even past recipients were in awe. It was the perfect way to end the occasion.

But there was one final speaker — Bloomberg Associates Cultural Asset Management Principal Kate Levin, who lauded the North Texas leadership’s involvement in the arts. While providing food for thought regarding that future of arts, it transformed the room from the magic of Nancy’s and Walter’s acceptance to a classroom of information. One guest remarked that just as Kate’s talk was getting a little too professorial, she would inject a bit of humor to lighten things up. Still another guest associated with a major arts group seemed a little miffed when Kate suggested that tourism was not all that important or beneficial for the arts.

As TACA enters its 50th year, change is afoot and, like other great undertakings, it’s a work in progress.

For more pixs, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: TACA’s 2017 Silver Cup Luncheon

The performing-art lovers gathered for TACA’s 39th Annual Silver Cup Luncheon honoring Nancy Nasher and Walter Elcock.

Nancy Nasher and Walter Elcock

As part of TACA’s own 50th anniversary celebration, the luncheon was ramped up with a bigger venue at the Hilton Anatole and some additions to the program. Some worked. Some struck out. Some were base hits. But the recipients pulled off home runs flawlessly.

Uptown Players

While the post is being prepared, check out the people at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

JUST IN: 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon Speaker Will Be Multi-Talented Jamie Lee Curtis (aka Lady Haden-Guest)

Ola Fojtasek and Tucker Enthoven (File photo)

After weeks of begging, threatening, cajoling and downright nagging, the 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon Chair Tucker Enthoven and her Underwriting Chair Ola Fojtasek finally fessed up who would be the featured speaker at Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s 18th annual fundraiser to fight breast cancer.

Tucker and Ola have arranged to have a member of a legendary Hollywood family to be on stage at the Hilton Anatole on Thursday, October 26 — Jamie Lee Curtis. The daughter of the late Janet Leigh and the late Tony Curtis and the wife of “This Is Spinal Tap”’s and “Best In Show”’s Christopher Guest for the past 32 years, she has earned her stripes in acting, writing, inventing, and facing the reality of breast cancer.

Jamie Lee Curtis*

In the film world, she made her debut at the age of 20 in John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and instantly became known as the “scream queen” by following that up with “The Fog,” “Prom Night” and “Terror Train” in 1980 and “Halloween II” and “Roadgames” in 1981. But she spread her acting talents beyond the horror genre by appearing in “Trading Places” in 1983, “A Fish Called Wanda” in 1988, “Blue Steel in 1989, “True Lies” in 1994 and “Freaky Friday” in 2003.

But Jamie Lee’s talents weren’t limited to the big and little screens. With two adopted children (Annie Guest and Thomas Guest), she has written a number of children’s books starting in 1993 with “When I was Little: A Four-Year Old’s Memoir of Her Youth.”

Thanks to motherhood, she was spurred into becoming an inventor. Realizing the challenges of “cleaning up,” she invented “a modification of a diaper with a moisture-proof pocket containing wipes that can be taken out and used with one hand. Curtis refused to allow her invention to be marketed until companies started selling biodegradable diaplors.”

And there’s still more. For instance, she may be known to most folks as Jamie Lee Curtis, but she became Lady Haden-Guest when her husband inherited the Barony of Haden-Guest in 1996.

Rita Wilson (File photo)

However, everything hasn’t been picture perfect. In addition to being the child of divorced parents, having a variety of step-parents and recovering from opiate addiction, she revealed in 2010, “I had my own personal moment of truth 10 years ago when I had a biopsy done on a small, questionable lump in my breast. It was scary… Everything turned out fine, but it brought me very close to understanding how lucky I am to have access to all these resources and great doctors.”

BTW, Jamie Lee is known for being smart, speaking her mind and having a great sense of humor. Translation: This luncheon has all the earmarks of being a perfect follow-up to Rita Wilson’s all-star appearance at last year’s fundraiser. So check out the sponsorship opportunities and tickets availabilities ASAP.

* Photo provided by Baylor Health Care System Foundation

Momentous Institute And The Lynn Lectures Offer Solutions For A Less Stressful Life Tuesday Night At McFarlin Auditorium

Love And Wisdom In A Time Of Stress — The Art And Science Of Mindfulness From The Cellular To The Planetary, By Way Of The Body And The Mind*

With all that hail and stormy weather last night and the fussing going on in Washington, stress seems to be the call of the day and that’s downright unhealthy. To help address the issue of stress, Momentous Institute and The Lynn Lectures have partnered up to present “Love And Wisdom In A Time Of Stress — The Art And Science Of Mindfulness From The Cellular To The Planetary, By Way Of The Body And The Mind.”

 

The presentation will take place Tuesday at McFarlin Auditorium on SMU campus at 7 p.m. with Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Dr. Elissa Epel addressing “the art and science of mindfulness and living younger, including the telomere/life-enhancing effects of nutrition, exercise and meditation at any age.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn and Elissa Epel*

While Jon will “discuss the psychological, physiological and immune-enhancing effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and its remarkable effects on daily life’s challenges, as well as enhancing well-being,” Elissa will talk about “her groundbreaking results studying the effects of psychological stress and lifestyle on biological aging and how they can be modulated and possibly reversed by regular mindfulness practice, nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle practices.”

The $50- and $100-seats are already sold out, but there are still tickets available for $25 and that’s not too stressful.

* Graphic and photos courtesy of Momentous Institute