Fifth Annual Can Do! Luncheon Brought Out Stories From All Walks Of Life For The Wilkinson Center Fundraiser

The Fifth Annual Can Do! Luncheon not only ran on time, it sliced off ten minutes with guests scurrying on their way to the valet ten minutes earlier than planned at the Dallas County Club on Tuesday, May 9.

It was a sell-out crowd for The Wilkinson Center fundraiser and it was a heady crowd, thanks to Co-Honorees Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, The Real Estate Council and Wilkinson Center supporters.

Regina Montoya

Craig Innes

Sara Martineau and Nelda Cain Pickens

In the crowd filling the DCC ballroom were Nancy Ann Hunt, Carolyn and David Miller, Ros Dawson Thompson, Gail and Gerald Turner, Angie Kadesky, Marsha and Craig Innes, Kristi Francis, Ellen McStay, Pam Perella, Tucker Enthoven, Stacey Walker, Cheryl Joyner, Suzy Gekiere, Leslie Diers and Sara Albert with their mom Cynthia Melnick, Jan Langbein, Sara Martineau, Nelda Cain Pickens, Regina Montoya, Jeanne Marie Clossey and Jennifer Swift.

Ros Dawson Thompson and Nancy Ann Hunt

Jennifer Swift

Marsha Innes

In keeping with other fundraisers, there was emphasis placed on text messaging donations. Whether it was Event Chair Beth Thoele or stand-up signage on tables, the message was strong to text. The problem with the text donating is that while the younger members of the audience know how to donate via their cellphones, the older crowd and the ones with the most ka-ching shied away from the idea.

Luckily, the Wilkinson message was delivered thanks to The Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder with testimony from Bank of America’s Maria Padilla, who told of her coming to the U.S. when she was 9 years old with her mother and siblings. The purpose was to get an education. She recalled the days when she had to translate for her mother and go to McDonald’s and eat while her mother didn’t, because there just wasn’t enough money. Today her brother is an architect, her sister is a teacher and Maria has not only graduated from college but has earned a saster’s degree from SMU.

Robin Minick and Kelcey Hamilton

Following a video, the first award of the day was presented to The Real Estate Council. In accepted the award, TREC VP and Foundation Director Robin Minick spoke briefly about the similarities between The Wilkinson Center and TREC, which share a mission “to improve the lives of the people of Dallas.”

Next up were the Kleinerts. Chris started off admitting that he had been impressed by the Can Do containers with flowers on the table near the stage and had told their son to grab one after the lunch, so they could give it to Ashlee for upcoming Mother’s Day. Oops! He hadn’t realized that the containers were the awards.

Then he pointed out that the spirit of the Can Do Luncheon is about encouraging entrepreneurship and used as an example a recent news story about a youngster in Rockwall. It seems 7-year-old Kaden Newton had recognized the fact that many food pantries were in short supply when it came to healthy and kid-friendly food. So he created a program for Mac and Cheese and Pancakes to meet that need. Within the first two weeks, he had raised more than 10,000 items.

Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Beth Thoele, Anne Reeder and Monique Weber

The Wilkinson Center’s Monique Weber also received a standing ovation for her story of surviving heart-rending challenges. She told how she had lost her son to a murder in Chicago and moved to Dallas, only to find herself homeless. She turned to Wilkinson Center’s Food Pantry, where she found a family of support in its staff. They not only provided food but also helped her earn her diploma and receive a scholarship to attend a community college, where she is training to become a surgical technician.

JUST IN: Dallas Women’s Foundation’s “Unlocking Leadership Campaign” Adds A New Recognition Level — Leadership Key Club

The Dallas Women’s Foundation team announced “a new recognition level” — Leadership Key Club — in its Unlocking Leadership Campaign to reach its $50M goal. The Club is made up of people “who have contributed $100,000 or more.”

At the 2016 luncheon it was reported that the Campaign had hit the $32M mark.

According to Campaign Co-Chair Ashlee Kleinert, “Since the luncheon, we’ve raised an additional $3 million, which is absolutely wonderful. More than 4,000 generous donors have stepped up during what we consider to be the initial ‘quiet phase’ of the campaign, which is both humbling and exciting. Now that we’re past the campaign’s halfway mark, we want to motivate and inspire other community members to follow their example and help us cross the finish line in the near future.”

Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Roslyn Dawson Thompson and Paula Parker

Unlocking Leadership Campaign funds will go to the “Foundation’s primary focus areas — women’s economic security and women’s leadership.”

DWF President/CEO Roslyn Dawson Thompson explained, “An investment in this campaign is an investment to ensure that girls and women are on equal footing, which is especially important since Texas women live in poverty at a higher rate than men: only 30 percent of North Texas households are led by women, but 53 percent of all poor households are women-led. Our mission is as important today as it has ever been: Dallas Women’s Foundation invests in women and girls and empowers women’s philanthropy to build a better world. When their lives are transformed, our region and economy are transformed, and that is the ripple effect we seek to achieve.”

So far, Leadership Key Club members include Ellenore and Kirk Baker, Lucy and Henry Billingsley, Cecilia and Garrett Boone, Kalita and Ed Blessing, Erin and Bob Botsford, Jill and Jim Cochran, Serena and Tom Connelly, Ka and L.L. Cotter, Peggy Simmons Dear, Kaleta A. Doolin and Alan Govenar, Lauren Embrey, Julie and Bob England, Beverly Goulet, Trish Houck and Lyssa Jenkens, Heather L. Hunt, Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Anne Knight, Sarah and Alan Losinger, Ann E. and Fred Margolin, Janie and Cappy McGarr, Maribess and Jerry Miller, Retta Miller,Toni Muñoz-Hunt and Dan Hunt, Diane S. Paddison, Paula and Ron Parker, Betty S. Regard, Lisa and Matt Rose, Janice and Michael Sharry, Lisa K. Simmons, Sue and Paul Spellman, Betty and Stephen Suellentrop, Roslyn Dawson Thompson and Rex W. Thompson, Patricia A. Vaughan and Barbara S. Turner, Martha and Max Wells, Donna M. Wilhelm, Shawna D. Wilson and Trea and Richard Yip.

If you want to join the Club and help in the development female leadership and well-being, contact DWF Senior VP Shawn Wills at 214.525.5318.

Can Do Luncheon Patron Party Brought Out Guests In Spring Colors And Honorees Ashlee And Chris Kleinert And Texas Real Estate Council

With winds blowing skirts and leaves every which way as a norther trumpeted it the weekend nearing on Thursday, March 23, The Wilkinson Center’s Can Do Luncheon Patron Party wasn’t ruffled at all at Tootsies.

Chris and Ashlee Kleinert and Helen Hunt and Harville Hendrix

As Luncheon honorees Ashlee and Chris Kleinert received a bouquet of flowers from Ashlee’s aunt Helen Hunt and her husband Harville Hendrix, other family get-togethers were taking place.

Kristi Francis, Chris and Ashlee, Beth, Kelcey Hamilton and Anne Reeder

In another part of Tootsies, Kelcey Hamilton, who was repping honoree the The Real Estate Council, was being congratulated by Can Do Underwriting Chair Kristi Francis.

Chuck and Beth Thoele

Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele greeted husband Chuck Thoele and admitted that she was torn between going bright or black. Evidently bright won out, since she was wearing a turquoise jacket.

The Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder’s daughter Laura Reeder reported that the EarthxGlobal Gala had had a change of plans. Originally, organizers had scheduled the gala for Saturday, April 22 at the Women’s Center at Fair Park. Then they discovered that the Art Ball was taking place on that Saturday. So, they moved both the date and the location to Friday April 21, to the Texas Discovery Garden.

Laura Reeder and Dana Fay

But on this evening the Kleinerts were receiving congrats from Chela Moros, Dana Fry, Missy Quintana, Linda Secrest, Heidi Meier, Annie Wang, Kay Weil, Meridith Myers, Angela Jones, Ann Francis, Chrystie Trimmell, Melanie Myers, Darlene Ellison, Tucker Enthoven, Bianca Sterling and Dorothy Amin Modabberi.

Tickets for the luncheon honoring the “can-do” spirit on Tuesday, May 9, at the Dallas Country Club can be gotten here. This event is one that runs right on schedule and leaves guests smiling about the accomplishments of both friends and strangers who have experienced the Wilkinson Center program.

With Pumpkins And Lessons From Mom, Ashlee Kleinert Provided Theta’s Heart To Heart Luncheon Guests With Food For Thought

In the world of North Texas fundraising, experts worried their brows about the days between Wednesday, October 26 and Saturday, October 29. It was going to be a slam-bang period and it started with those kite flying Dallas Kappa Alpha Theta alumnae at Brook Hollow.

Becky Bright

Becky Bright

Mary Mencke and Kristi Hoyl

Mary Mencke and Kristi Hoyl

Robin Bagwell and Sarah Rathjen

Robin Bagwell and Sarah Rathjen

Beth Thoele

Beth Thoele

The ladies including Becky Bright, Mary Mencke, Kathy Vassallo, Susan Gordon, Sarah Rathjen, Beth Thoele, Robin Bagwell and Kristi Hoyl discovered that in addition to lunching on Brook Hollow’s fav pecan crusted chicken, they were also going to have an art class courtesy of keynote speaker/Theta Ashlee Kleinert.

Kathy Vassallo, Susan Gordon and Ashlee Kleinert

Kathy Vassallo, Susan Gordon and Ashlee Kleinert

Muffin Lemak and DeeDee Lee

Muffin Lemak and DeeDee Lee

Carol Goglia and Jane Pierce

Carol Goglia and Jane Pierce

Arriving with a tote filled with canvases, Ashlee was one of the late arrivals. Earlier DeeDee Lee explained why her recent skin cancer surgery on her wrist had prevented her from wearing her signature charm bracelet. She also revealed that she was celebrating her 31st wedding anniversary that day with husband Jim LeeMuffin Lemak’s eyes looked bright and clear after a “stint” with shines in the eye. But the luncheon wasn’t for fashion notes and catching up… And the fundraiser wasn’t limited to Thetas. Kappa Kappa Gamma alumna Carol Goglia tagged along with her Theta mom Jane Pierce.

Luncheon Chair Anne Besser and Theta Alumnae President Maury Cunningham had crafted their program perfectly blending KAT’s beneficiary Dallas CASA with the day’s program.

Anne Besser and Maury Cunningham

Anne Besser and Maury Cunningham

Kathleen LaValle

Kathleen LaValle

After Dallas CASA’s Kathleen LaValle told of the need for funds and volunteers and thanked the sorority for its support, Ashlee displayed a couple of her canvases featuring paintings of pumpkins on easels on stage. She then instructed guests that thanks to sheets of paper and markers, they were to draw pumpkins. She also added that the markers would find after life at Dallas CASA.

As the guests created pumpkins, Ashlee told a story from years ago when she was a young mother living in Tulsa with husband Chris Kleinert. Being a first-time mom, she was in need of sleep, pampering and having her mother take over the infant for a break.

Nancy Ann Hunt

Nancy Ann Hunt

Barbara Starz Nathan

Barbara Starz Nathan

Upon returning to Dallas for R&R, she woke up to find her mom (Nancy Ann Hunt) gone for a meeting. But while Ashlee missed out on the pampering, she soon learned about “The Art of Giving.” It seems that Nancy Ann had left her tired daughter and granddaughter for a meeting at the Austin Street Shelter, where she learned a tidbit.

Upon returning home, Nancy Ann told Ashlee to get in the car, so they could buy headsets. Hmm. This development raised some eyebrows in the Brook Hollow ballroom. Strange POA.

But Ashlee explained that Nancy Ann had learning in the meeting that many of the Austin Street clients suffered from schizophrenia and heard voices. Experts had found that “hearing voices” could be overshadowed by other noise…like those coming via a headset.

This experience provided Ashlee with an epiphany that introduced Ashlee to giving. Over the years, Ashlee and Chris created Ruthie’s Food Trucks, Executives in Action and spearheaded countless fundraising efforts within North Texas.

She then told how one act of giving can spread and gave an example of the Akola Project that she’s heading up. It started with Brittany Underwood’s small step years ago when she was a SMU student and went to Uganda. There she saw the poor conditions and organized women to make jewelry. It was so successful that she arranged to have 100 women in need to also join the Akola effort creating jewelry. This grassroots efforts came to the attention of Neiman Marcus, who included the line in the specialty store’s merchandise. Because of Brittany’s “small step,” women have been employed, schools have been improve and healthier conditions have been provided for those in Uganda.

After Ashlee concluded her talk, guests displayed their masterpieces and Luncheon Chair Anne took on the role of live auctioneer.

Seems Ashlee had offered the Ruthie’s food truck to be put up for bid for fundraising. The package included the truck providing meals for 50 people. The value was $1,000. Goodness! Maybe Anne should go into the auction business. Within a matter of a couple of minutes, she had the bidding up to $1,500. With a nod from the Ashlee and her team, Anne was able to offer the package twice for $1,600 each.

Interactive Artist/Activist Candy Chang Blended Art And Healing For Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 31st Luncheon

To compare last year’s Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 30th Annual Luncheon to this year’s was like comparing a trophy wife to a first wife.

Sure, the 2016 version had Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria at the podium, an A+ meet-and-greet structure, life was good and the economy was marching along. But this year’s Annual Luncheon on Friday, October 21, at the Hilton Anatole had a different set of challenges. The economy was antsy; nerves were on edge perhaps due to the political bickering; and frills of the past were toned down to satisfy the need to meet the bottom line.

Dallas Women’s Foundation President/CEO Ros Dawson admitted that they had considered a six-figure type when petite urban artist/activist Candy Chang appeared at a conference that Ros attended. With the July 7th shooting in Dallas and the luncheon Co-Chairs/art champions Joyce Goss and Selwyn Rayzor at the helm, Ros just knew they had a perfect match — their keynote speaker blending art and advocacy together … and an on-target budget.

Joyce Goss, Candy Change, Selwyn Rayzor, Ellenore Baker and Ros Dawson

Joyce Goss, Candy Change, Selwyn Rayzor, Ellenore Baker and Ros Dawson

That tightening of the budget was paramount since establishing the Unlocking Leadership Campaign goal of $50M. It was a daunting challenge to raise that type of money.  Still, thanks to sponsors like U.S. Trust, the DWF mission of investing in women and girls and empowering women’s philanthropy to build a better world forged ahead.

But the day started off with the meet-and-greet in the Anatole’s Wedgwood Room. It had all the signs of being a repeat of last year’s flawless grip-and-grin. There was a cordoned-off area for guests to have their photos taken with Candy. There were cards to be provided to guests as they arrived to hand over when their photo opp took place. There was even the metal ring on which the cards were to be placed to help identify who was in each photo. The only thing missing was the (wo)manpower to make things happen.

Candy Chang and Regina Montoya

Candy Chang and Regina Montoya

Unlike last year’s photo opp, with one person to receive the card at the line up and another to take a handbag to the exit area, there was just one person who stayed at the exit. Some guests made it to the cordoned-off area with cards filled out, but most showed up at the exit with no card. Evidently, the cards were only sporadically being handed out and some folks didn’t realize there was a meet-and-greet taking place. There were times when Candy just stood like the last gal picked at a boy-ask-girl dance. But Candy was a good sport and stayed with a smile on her lips and an artistic tattoo on her right arm.

Just outside the Chantilly Ballroom, the lobby was highlighted by large panels headlined with “A better world is …”  The panels would be put to full use after the luncheon.

In the Chantilly Ballroom, organizers admitted that the luncheon headcount was down from 2015’s 1,800—if you call 1,300 down. But the money count was ahead of plan.

Kaleta Doolin

Kaleta Doolin

Joyce and Selwyn welcomed the group including Dallas Women’s Foundation Board Chair Ellenore Baker, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Paige Flink, Nancy Ann Hunt, Rex Thompson, Robin Bagwell, Wendy Messmann, Regina Montoya and 2017 Dallas Women’s Foundation Luncheon Chair Lisa Singleton, telling them the presentation by Candy would offer hope and healing. They told of the cards at the tables that could be filled out and placed on the lobby’s panels following Candy’s talk. They added that even before the doors of the ballroom were opened, more than a million dollars had been brought in.

After they recognized Honorary Chair/artist Kaleta Doolin, a powerful video was shown about the challenges facing a single mother in need of help.

p1210391Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Paula and Ron Parker and Trea Yip were on stage to stir up the Foundation’s fundraising campaign. Over $30,793,000 had been raised, but they wanted to match the 31st anniversary by hitting the $31M mark. If folks texted to #betterworld, they could make a donation to meet the goal. Immediately cellphones were pulled out on stage and in the audience to provide the funds.

Trea Yip and Ashlee Kleinert

Trea Yip and Ashlee Kleinert

On the screen, the names of donors like Clay Jenkins and Sandra Brown were shown. And while texting may still be like hieroglyphics to some, this one caused consternation even among the savvy types. There seemed to be problem that became a topic during the luncheon.

No problem. Soon Mother Ros was on stage explaining the hiccup. It seems that some folks had put a space between “better” and “world” and heaven knows where the money was going. But not to worry. The DWF braintrust had already taken care of the misdirected funds. With a sigh of relief, the cellphones were out again and successful donations were made. Whew!

Ros Dawson

Ros Dawson

Following a film, Ros invited people to keep talking as she spoke. And that is exactly what they did. Between the chatter and the clatter of the forks on plates, the folks especially in the back of the room missed her telling of the $31K anonymous donation that had just been made in honor of the 31st anniversary, helping the texting amount to $72K at that moment. They also could hardly hear Ros describing the great need to “harness the heart of this community to address the deep divide of race, class and gender.” It was for this need to bring people together that the decision had been made to bypass a big-name celeb and go for a peaceful and thoughtful activist like Candy Chang as the keynote speaker.

As Candy took the stage, the noise level in the room had decreased thanks to the winding down of the meal. With the help of the massive screens around the room, Candy told of her journey as a community activist and artist in New Orleans and the turning point that led her to create an international movement as well as become a TED Senior Speaker. It was the death of “Joan,” who had been so influential throughout Candy’s life. Her death had been sudden and unexpected. Candy went through a period of grief and depression.  She discovered an abandoned house in her neighborhood and decided to use it as a canvas. Painting one of its walls black like a chalkboard, she wrote on it, “Before I die, I want to…” Pretty soon the wall was filled with all types of comments reflecting on the authors’ lives. The wall allowed a coming together of feelings, dreams and concerns among the people. This one wall of words caught on like wildfire throughout the world. Today there are more than 2,000 “Before I die…” walls internationally. Each wall is unique to its own community.

Speaking of her own success, she admitted that she owed it “to the generosity of others who stepped in and caught me at that critical moment when I questioned whether I had the capacity or the confidence to try something new.”

She was especially moved by the day’s program, and hoped that the audience would pay it forward in providing support and empowerment for girls and women on their journeys.

Before concluding her talk, she added that all people have mental health issues like sorrow, anxiety, stress, etc.: “These feelings easily escalate to more intense conflicts like addiction or depression or self-destruction.”  As a result, she created an interactive exhibit in which writers anonymously confessed their feelings. One such confession read: “I’m afraid I’ll die alone.”

This sense of coming together to heal led her to her latest project — Atlas of Tomorrow in Philadelphia.

It is a huge interactive mural with a 6-foot dial which people are invited to spin to possibly resolve challenges or issues facing them. The number on which the spinner stops leads them to one of 64 stories taken from I Ching, one of the world’s oldest books of wisdom. The hope is to provide “a place to pause and try and make sense of our lives together,” according to Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Executive Director Jane Golden.  

But despite the huge project in Philadelphia and the worldly influence, Candy’s message was felt on a smaller plain. As guests left the ballroom, they let it be known that they had gotten Candy’s message by filling the panels in the lobby completing the line, “A better world is…” One read, “A better world is … because of the Dallas Women’s Foundation.”  Said others: ” … full of compassion,” ” … kind,” ” … possible.”  Those panels were not just for show. Their future lay at being positioned throughout the city including at NorthPark Center, Southwest Center Mall, The Stewpot Talent Show at Encore Park and The Stewpot.  

BTW, thanks to texting and generosity, the Foundation hit its $31M mark. Now, only $19M to go!

JUST IN: Wilkinson Center’s 2017 Can Do! Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele Reveals Plans Including Awardees

Can Do! Luncheon (File photo)

Can Do! Luncheon (File photo)

One of those luncheons that always makes people feel good about their neighbors and their community is the Wilkinson Center’s Can Do! Luncheon. While only five years old, it has already gained a reputation for highlighting the accomplishments of the well-known and should-be-known types.

Beth Thoele, who will also be chairing the Equest Women’s Auxiliary’s fall luncheon, is heading up the Can Do! Luncheon on Tuesday, May 9, at the Dallas Country Club.

Beth Thoele (File photo)

Beth Thoele (File photo)

Ashlee and Chris Kleinert (File photo)

Ashlee and Chris Kleinert (File photo)

As for the awardees, who represent the entrepreneurship in philanthropy, they will include the Texas Real Estate Council, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert and “a Wilkinson Center client.”

Folsom Leadership Award Patron Party Honoring Gerald Turner Looked Like A Coming Together Of Mustangs

While Second Thoughts Theatre and Texas Trailblazer Awards patrons worked the valets, caterers and donors south of LBJ, the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award patrons gathered at Ashlee and Chris Kleinert’s home-sweet-home in Preston Trails on Monday, October 3.

Angela and Brad Cheves and Ashlee Kleinert

Angela and Brad Cheves and Ashlee Kleinert

At times it looked like a besuited SMU pep rally, with Fred Hegi, Carolyn and David Miller, Caren Prothro, Folsom kids (Debbie Jarma, Diane Frank and Steve Folsom) and Mitch Hart on the patio overlooking the golf course.

Gail Turner looked right at home seated with Jan Hegi and Lottye Lyle. On the other hand, Gail’s husband,/2016 Folsom honoree/SMU President Gerald Turner, looked like someone preparing for a root canal. As he told the group, he’s much more comfortable handing out awards than receiving them.

Gerald Turner, April Box and Chris Kleinert

Gerald Turner, April Box and Chris Kleinert

Just before remarks were made, hostess Ashlee saw a problem dropping. It seems that with the sun setting, the home’s auto-shades were setting, too. The problem? The lowering shades were blocking the glass doors leading to the patio. As Ashlee scurried to raise the situation, host Chris smoothly commented, “That’s what you get when dumb people live in a smart house.”

While getting the guests’ attention at most gatherings can be a challenge, it wasn’t at this one. There was an excellent PA system in place and a stage just high enough for the speakers to be seen by all present.

John Scovell

John Scovell

Stephen Mansfield

Stephen Mansfield

Kelli Ford

Kelli Ford

Ray Hunt

Ray Hunt

After Chris welcomed the 100 or so guests including Pat and Pete Schenkel, John Scovell, Margaret and Lee Jackson, and Methodist Health System CEO Stephen Mansfield, he introduced Methodist Health System Foundation President/CEO April Box, who reported that according to policy, the honoree could designate where the funds raised by the dinner would go. For Gerald, who will be feted on Wednesday, October 19, at the Hilton Anatole’s Grand Ballroom, it was a natural choice — the programs offered through the Methodist Dallas Medical Center Golden Cross Academic Clinic, which uses the services of medical residents and fellows to care for uninsured and under-insured patients who are in need of primary care and struggling with chronic diseases.

Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt, Lottye and Bobby Lyle, April Box, Gerald and Gail Turner and Kelli and Jerry Ford

Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt, Lottye and Bobby Lyle, April Box, Gerald and Gail Turner and Kelli and Jerry Ford

Following the remarks, Gail and Gerald gathered with April and 2016 Folsom co-chairs Kelli and Gerald “Jerry” Ford, Lottye and Bobby Lyle and Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt for a group photo.

Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt, Lottye and Bobby Lyle and Kelli and Jerry Ford

Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt, Lottye and Bobby Lyle and Kelli and Jerry Ford

After the right-official photos were done, the co-chairs cut up a bit. While Kelli and Jerry posed perfectly, Ray did a kick and newlyweds Lottye and Bobby did a kiss and hug.

JUST IN: Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 31st Annual Luncheon Helped Its Unlocking Leadership Campaign Hit The $31M Mark

Dallas Women’s Foundation bean counters have been putting in overtime since Friday’s 31st Annual Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole with keynote speaker/artist Candy Chang. The Foundation’s Unlocking Leadership Campaign leadership (Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Paula and Ron Parker and Trea Yip) just revealed over-the-top news.

With a campaign goal of $50M, they announced at the luncheon that $30.8M had been achieved.

Trea Yip, Paula and Ron Parker and Ashlee and Chris Kleinert

Trea Yip, Paula and Ron Parker and Ashlee and Chris Kleinert

But to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Foundation, they so wanted to the $31M mark. To do that, they asked that guests text “betterworld”, and donate. Only there was a slight hitch. It seems that some folks put a space between “better” and “world” preventing the funds from hitting its target.

Not to worry. Dallas Women’s Foundation CEO/President Ros Dawson smoothly explained the situation from the podium and the day was saved.

Want proof? Thanks to the corrected texting and an anonymous donation of $31,000, they hit $31M.

At Breakfast Presented By An ‘Evolving’ Executives In Action, Author Tommy Spaulding Talks About Leading From The Heart

The invitation said the 4th Annual Book And Breakfast event at the Dallas Country Club would feature a talk by Tommy Spaulding, whose latest book is titled “The Heart-Led Leader.” But those who showed up at the Executives In Action gathering on Friday, April 15, soon learned that the morning’s biggest news involved the “evolution” of EIA with the help of an online platform that could help it grow.

Founded in 2008 by Ashlee and Chris Kleinert (in partnership with Entrepreneurs for North Texas and the Center for Nonprofit Management) to match volunteer executives with local nonprofits, EIA, it seems, had reached the limits of its capabilities, having paired execs with more than 270 North Texas nonprofits over the years. Now, though, with a steady increase in grant applications and executive inquiries, EIA needed help taking its services to the next level. It found that help in Catchafire, a New York-based, skills-based online platform that utilizes a Match.com-like technology with a worldwide reach.

As explained at the breakfast by Chris and Rachael Chong, CEO and founder of Catchafire, the two groups discovered each other at a breakfast arranged by Greg McKeown, who spoke at last year’s Book & Breakfast event. “We shared the same vision,” Rachael said, as this year’s breakfast crowd tucked into their scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and pastries. “It was love at first web-site.”

With more than 15,000 nonprofits in Dallas-Fort Worth, a third of them operating on budgets of less than $500,000, Rachael said her goal—and that of the evolving EIA—would be to match 1,000 DFW charities with executives over the next 12 months at the web site called dallas.catchafire.org.

The rest of the morning’s program was handled by emcee Gary Cogill—he joked that he, Chris, and Tommy had been asked to star in a male version of “Real Housewives of Dallas”—and Spaulding, a world-renowned speaker on leadership issues. While guests including Rand Stagen and Catherine Cuellar listened raptly, Tommy recounted lessons from his new book, which talks about how authentic leaders effect transformational change by living and leading from the heart. The most important component of such leadership is humility, Tommy said, launching into a personal story that demonstrated the importance of that virtue.

After renting a house in upstate New Hampshire, he recounted, he and his wife went to a movie at the town’s small theater one day and, to their great surprise and delight, upon walking in received a standing ovation from the other patrons. “Calm down,” his wife whispered, as Tommy’s head began to swell from the recognition. Later, Spaulding said, he asked an older man who’d been in the audience whether he knew who Spaulding was. “No,” the older man replied. “Then why did you give us a standing ovation?” Tommy asked. The answer: “There were only eight people in the theater when you walked in, and they won’t start the movie until there are 10.”

Executives In Action Breakfast With Charles Duhigg Plus Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

There were Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups set out at every place-setting Thursday for Executives In Action’s “Business Smarts, Caring Hearts Book and Breakfast” fundraising event at the Fairmont Hotel.

The symbolism was simple, explained Andrea Sutcliffe, executive director of the group, which pairs up senior executives in transition with nonprofits needing leadership help. “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups” are so good because they consist of a blend of chocolate and peanut butter, Sutcliffe told the breakfast guests. Similarly, “nonprofits and executives, together, are amazing.”

Executives in Action, founded in 2009 by husband-and-wife team Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, has now matched hundreds of executives with hundreds of nonprofits seeking assistance with specific projects. Among the charitable organizations receiving help: Girls Inc., Heroes on the Water, the Dallas Children’s Theater and the North Texas Food Bank.

That EIA has struck a chord in the community was demonstrated by Thursday’s attendance. According to Chris, who’s president and CEO of Hunt Consolidated Investments, they were expecting about 150 to turn up, initially. But then they got 300 RSVPs.

Ashlee Kleinert, Charles Duhigg and Chris Kleinert

Some of those attendees, no doubt, were lured by the prospect of hearing keynote speaker Charles Duhigg, a New York Times reporter and author of the best-selling book, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business.”

Duhigg didn’t disappoint.

Introduced by former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert, who served ably as the morning’s emcee, Duhigg delivered a fascinating talk about how businesses and individuals have achieved success by transforming habits.

Whether you’re establishing a regular exercise routine or leading a billion-dollar company like Alcoa or Starbucks, the reporter explained, turning positive “willpower” into a regular habit is the key to achievement and excellence.

“Identify your keystone habits and stick a lever in to change them,” Duhigg advised. “Give the community this tool, and it will help it be a better community.”

Presenting sponsors of the “Business Smarts, Caring Hearts” breakfast were the Kleinerts and Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt, who are Ashlee’s parents.