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

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

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

Christopher Jackson and Hady Mawajdeh

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

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

Christopher Jackson and Kathleen LaValle

Michael Holmes, Sophia Holmes and Cathleen Holmes

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

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

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

Jeremy Coca in vest surrounded by Junior Players

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

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

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

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

Beth Bedell, Catherine New and Kara Altenbaumer-Price

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

Lisette Sandoval

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christopher Jackson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christopher Jackson*

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

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

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

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

* Photo provided by Attorneys Serving the Community

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

Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon Provided Food For Thought Thanks To Speakers Steve Pemberton And Cynt Marshall

There were a lot of lawyers MIA on Friday, June 10. Nearly a thousand to be exact. The cause for non-billing hours was the Attorneys Serving the Community annual luncheon at the Hilton Anatole benefiting Dallas CASA. It was a remarkable gathering thanks especially to keynote speaker Steve Pemberton, who not only understood the need for Dallas CASA but rose above his childhood of neglect to become vice president of Walgreens and an author. Evidently Half-Price Books brought 100 of Steve’s books to sell. Evidently they wished they had brought more. The line to get Steve’s autograph lasted more than an hour after the luncheon.

Another moving talk was provided by Honorary Chair/Dallas CASA Board Member Cynt Marshall. Here is a report from the field, and remember that Dallas CASA is on a campaign for volunteers:

Walgreens VP Steve Pemberton told attendees at Attorneys Serving the Community (ASC) luncheon benefiting Dallas CASA on Friday, June 10, that despite his childhood of abuse, neglect and deprivation, he always knew he had the power in him to rise above. He just needed one person to believe in him.

“If the headlines bother you, give from wherever you are with whatever you have,” Steve said. “I’m one small example of what’s possible when you give somebody a chance in the world.”

Held at the Hilton Anatole Dallas with 900 seats, the luncheon was the culminating event of a year of fundraising by ASC for Dallas CASA. The group had raised more than $300,000 for Dallas CASA, which recruits, trains and supervises community volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children.

Steve PEmberton*

Steve Pemberton*

Steve’s official title is Vice-President, Diversity and Inclusion and Global Chief Diversity Officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global pharmacy-led, health and well-being enterprise in the world, employing 370,000 people in 25 countries. Now a father of three, Steve admitted that finding a place for an African-American boy with no home, blue eyes, a blonde Afro and a Polish last name in working class Boston was a challenge. He named his autobiography “A Chance in the World” after a social service workers’ note in his file that “this child doesn’t have a chance in the world.” Ultimately, Steve created his own chances, finding success despite his circumstances.

“I inherited a tragedy I didn’t ask for or create, but nobody could stop me from changing it,” Steve said. “I was always looking out for that someone who would not see me as dumb, ugly or broken beyond repair. I was told ‘No’ a lot, but ultimately I was told ‘Yes’ more.”

For many abused and neglected children, a CASA volunteer is the one caring, constant adult who can make a critical difference in their lives and says “Yes.”

Gloria Campos, Kathleen LaValle and Cortland Kelly Grynwald*

Gloria Campos, Kathleen LaValle and Cortland Kelly Grynwald*

ASC annually chooses a beneficiary for a year of fundraising support. Events during the year include a silent auction and a 5K race, with the luncheon serving as the final event. ASC Chairs for 2015-16 were Cortland Kelly Grynwald and Kara Altenbaumer-Price. Mistress of ceremonies was Gloria Campos, and the ASC Friend of the Community Award was given to The Margulies Group. Honorary chair was AT&T Senior VP and a Dallas CASA Board Member Cynt Marshall, who shared with the crowd her own experience with children living in foster care.

Cynt told the crowd about a nine-month-old baby abandoned with his nine-year-old brother for two months. With only a toaster oven to keep them warm, the older boy foraged for food and kept his baby brother alive for two months. She also told about a 12-year-old girl forced to eat peanut butter and jelly alone in the pantry while the brothers in her birth family enjoyed turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving day. And she told about a baby girl, born premature, with medical needs and weighing less than two pounds, abandoned by her mother in the hospital.

Kara Altenbaumer-Price and Cynt Marshall*

Kara Altenbaumer-Price and Cynt Marshall*

“These are now my own children. We were blessed to adopt them with the help of lawyers, judges and… yes, CASA volunteers,” Cynt told the cheering crowd as she introduced her youngest daughter, who was left at San Francisco General Hospital and is a junior in college today. “These honeys were kept as safe as possible because of people like you.”

ACS events raised more than $300,000 in critically-needed funds to recruit and train volunteer advocates who gather information to help judges decide where abused and neglected children can live safely and permanently. On an average day in Dallas, more than 2,000 abused and neglected children live in foster care because they cannot safely live at home. Only about three out of five of those children have a Dallas CASA volunteer who can speak for them, but funds from ASC will allow Dallas CASA to recruit, train and supervise more volunteers to serve more children.

“Children in foster care are thrust into a bewildering world of strangers. CASA volunteers help them navigate this very grown-up process,” Cynt said. “Good things can always come out of bad things. Being a CASA is simply a matter of opening your heart.”

Individuals, retailers and manufacturers provided in-kind donations included Cornerstone BTI, D CEO Magazine, Half Price Books, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Judy Norsdeth Photograph, The Margulies Group, Mary Kay, McShan Florist Inc., Michaels Stores Inc., Platinum, TXU Energy and Texas Lawyer.

The following sponsors are underwriters:

  • Presenting ($25,000) — The Members of Attorneys Serving the Community
  • Crystal ($10,000) — Anonymous, Baron and Budd and Texas Lawyer
  • Platinum ($5,000) — D CEO Magazine, Locke Lord LLP, The Marketing Connection, McKool Smith, ORIX Foundation, Sidley Austin LLP and TIER REIT
  • Gold ($2,500) — Amy Stewart PC, AT&T, Baker Botts LLP, Cinemark Theatres, Farrow-Gillepsie and Heath LLP, Gray Reed and McGraw PC, Husch Blackwell, Jackson Walker LLP, JMO Firm PLLC, Khirallah PLLC, Lynn Pinker Cox and Hurst LLP, The McClure Law Group, Norton Rose Fullbright, Perkins Coie, Scheef and Stone LLP, Thompson and Knight Foundation and Winstead PC
  • Silver ($2,000) — Andrews and Bath, PC/Angela Maverick, The BVA Group LLC, Carrington, Coleman, Sloman and Blumenthal, LLP, Counsel on Call, Dallas CASA Board Members, Dallas Women Lawyers Association, Haynes and Boone LLP, Holland and Knight LLP, HSSK, Littler Mendelson PC, Powell Coleman and Arndol LLP, Schwob Building Company LTD and Vinson and Elkins LLP
  • Bronze ($1,750) — Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP, Bell Nunnally and Martin LLP, Bracewell LLP, Capital Financial Partners/Patte Lee, Cooper and Scully PC, Deloitte, DTI, Energy Future Holdings, Gibson Dunn, Hartline Dacus Barger Dreyer LLP, Jackson Lewis PC, K and L Gates, Kilgore and Kilgore PLLC, LeBoeuf Law, PLLC/Spencer Scott PLLC, Legalpeople LLC – A LegalPartners Company, Lennox International, Marsh and McLennan Agency LLC/MHB, Munsch Hardt Kopf and Harr PC, Powell Coleman and Arnold LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Quilling Selander Lownds Winslett and Moser PC, Republic Title, Strasburger and Price LLP, UNT Dallas College of Law and Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelamn and Dicker LLP/Allied World
* Photos provided by Dallas CASA

Attorneys Serving The Community’s Dena DeNooyer Stroh Makes A Shout-Out For Beneficiary Applications

Attorneys Serving the Community*

Attorneys Serving the Community*

Last year’s Attorneys Serving the Community Chair Dena DeNooyer Stroh just sent great news. She’s now heading up the ASC’s Charity Selection Committee (CSC). That’s not only good news for Dena and ASC, but it’s also a boon for area nonprofits that benefit women, children and families.

You see Dena is reaching out for nonprofits to submit for the ASC’s 2015-2016 beneficiary.

Interested? Sure! It’s simple. Just fill out the Beneficiary Application Form.

According to Dena, “The CSC will review all applications received and determine which organizations should receive site visits by CSC members. The CSC will select three finalists that make a presentation to ASC members at the charity selection meeting (usually in July), which concludes with ASC members selecting the next beneficiary.  The ASC membership tends to select nonprofits that ASC can take to the next level (like a non-profit incubator, in the words of one ASC member).”

Past recipients have included The Nurse-Family Partnership Program of the YWCA, AVANCE-Dallas, Trinity River Mission, Hope’s Door, The Foundation for the Education of Young Women (n/k/a Young Women Preparatory Network and Helping Restore Ability.

Dena added that “Recently, ASC has netted around $200,000 for the selected beneficiary through networking events, ASC’s Heart and Sole 5k and fun run (this year’s on February 14!), a silent auction and the annual luncheon.”

The catch? There’s a “strict application deadline of [Friday] February 13, 2015, by 4:00 p.m.” And you know, attorneys are sticklers for deadlines. So, get hustling.

* Graphic courtesy of Attorneys Serving the Community

Attorneys Serving The Community Guests Were Wowed By Award-Winning Actress Viola Davis And A 2040 U.S. Presidential Contender

Law firms’ billing hours came to a grinding halt on Friday, June 20. The reason? Around a thousand attorneys, especially of the female variety, took a long, productive lunch at the Hilton Anatole for Attorneys Serving the Community’s 28th Annual ASC Luncheon.

Viola Davis

Viola Davis

It started for VIP’s,’ and practically everyone was, in the Peacock Room where featured speaker/award-winning actress Viola Davis posed for photos with guests. With her longer than a stretch limousine false eyelashes, she genuinely greeted each and moved the line along quickly, so no one was disappointed.

At 11:30 the doors to the Chantilly Ballroom opened and the crowd started moving in. Former WFAA anchor Gloria Campos sat on stage at the head table reviewing her notes. Since her “retirement” from the anchor desk, she’s become the go-to-gal for emceeing lunches. But on this day, she was hobbling a bit. Seems that she had tried out some new shoes while checking out the newly opened Continental pedestrian bridge. The shoes had a reputation for being comfy. Wrong! They resulted in a painful blister perfectly positioned at the Achilles heel. Gloria reported that as soon as the luncheon was over, she saw a flip-flop weekend in her future. In the meantime, a bandage cushioned her wound and the shoe.

Speaking of ladies of retirement, Sr. Margaret Ann Moser looked spectacular. But like Gloria, her retirement has not resulted in staying home watching “Golden Girls.” She’s still working with Ursuline 20 hours a week. BTW, construction is underway on Ursuline’s new athletic field that was named the Sister Margaret Ann Moser, O.S.U. Athletic Field earlier this year. Completion is scheduled for this fall.

Gloria Campos and Lynn McBee

Gloria Campos and Lynn McBee

By 11:55 Viola took her place at the head table. Someone in the growing crowd in the room applauded. Since the luncheon was benefiting Foundation for the Education of Young Women specifically the Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, FEYW CEO Lynn McBee was one of the guests at the head table. She was just back from the AFI salute for Jane Fonda. “I was over statted. They had me next to Meryl Streep.” Was the Academy Award winning actress a diva? “No, one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people. So were Morgan Freeman and Sally Fields.” A few of the others were “more distant.” But Lynn was officially mum on who they were.

At 12:13 Gloria recognized various judges in the audience and caught the audience up on her life after WFAA — she had sat next to 43 at a Rangers game, was grand marshal at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, prom queen at Promise House, etc.

Kelli Hinson, Dena DeNooyer Stroh and Beverly Goulet

Kelli Hinson, Dena DeNooyer Stroh and Beverly Goulet

At 12:16 ASC Co-Chair Dena DeNooyer Stroh explained what the 400-member group’s purpose and how it’s raised more than $3.9M over the years for area nonprofits. She then told this year’s recipient, Irma Lerma Rangel School.

ASC Co-Chair Kelli Hinson joined Dena in presenting American Airlines with the “Friend of the Community Award” to AA Chief Integration Officer Beverly Goulet.

Kim Askew

Kim Askew

Honorary Chair/ASC Founding Member Kim Askew admitted that when ASC started, she never envisioned such growth. She was especially pleased that the day’s luncheon was benefiting the Irma Rangel School and “expected many of them (Irma Rangel students) to be sitting in this room one day or rooms like it.”

Vivian Taylor

Vivian Taylor

At 12:29 p.m. Lynn McBee how the school came about and recognized longtime Principal Vivian Taylor. Following a video on Irma Rangel, Gloria introduced a recent school graduate — Karla Guadalupe Garcia Ricos. If the adult speakers up to this point had been excellent, Karla blew them all out of the water. With a killer smile, positive attitude and no notes, she told of how Irma Rangel had been a life-changing experience. She was the first high-school graduate in her family. Her parents emigrated from Mexico and her mother often reminded the almost 18-year-old that if they had stayed in Mexico, Karla would probably “have been someone’s housekeeper and I would probably have two children by now.” Instead she was the first high school graduate in her family and had received a dozen scholarships to attend college.

Karla Guadalupe Garcia Rico and Viola Davis

Karla Guadalupe Garcia Rico and Viola Davis

Then she dropped an ironic note. When her father left Mexico at the age of 16 with nothing and no family, his first job was working at the power plant at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She then revealed, “Now 33 years later, through his sacrifice, through my mother’s, through my family, through the FEYW, through all the support and nourishment that I received, I will be coming back not as a laborer but a student.”

After that, she left no doubt that a presidential run in 2040.

At 12:52 p.m. Viola told how she was raised in abject poverty. At the age of five, she was told that the way out was education. Her father beat her mother constantly and Viola knew that she didn’t want to be her mother. As a child, she squelched her shame, insecurity and fear by overachieving. To prove that point, she told how by the age of 14, she received a scholarship from the Daughters of the American Revolution. Still inside she felt she was not good enough. Viola would gravitate toward competition.

Then at 28, she hit the wall. She recalled that when she was nine, her father was trying to break her mother’s legs. She ran into the bathroom and prayed to God that she by the time she counted to 10, she would disappear. When she hit 10 and was still there, she said, “I knew you didn’t exist.”

Years later at Julliard and she felt like “crap.” She won a Tony nomination and yet was depressed. Professionally and educationally, she wasn’t her mother’s daughter. But personally she was. Recognizing the situation needing fixing, she went to therapy. Two years ago when she was nominated for an Academy Award, she realized that she had a purpose — to be a voice of women of color in a male dominated industry.

That little girl, who had been so fearful in that bathroom, had overcome her fear. Then as an aside, she admitted, “I think I was low balling it when I gave God 10 seconds.”

Her advice to the room — “You’ve got to release the fear. It’s okay to be scared, but keep it moving.”

In closing, she told how she had a sister “who didn’t make it out.” Then out loud she wished an organization like this had existed for her sister.

At 1:15 Viola received a stand ovation. And who knows? She may have met a future U.S. President.

Award-Winning Viola Davis To Headline Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon On June 20

Since being nominated for the Academy Award, Viola Davis has been a very busy woman. Recently her agenda has only ramped up. ABC just announced that she’ll star in a new series — How To Get Away With Murder — this fall.

Viola Davis*

Viola Davis*

But even before that announcement was made, the Tony-winner will be the keynote speaker for the 28th annual Attorneys Serving the Community luncheon on Friday, June 20, at the Anatole.

Benefiting the Foundation for the Education of Young Women, Davis is the ideal choice for the luncheon. She understands the hunger for education. Born on her grandmother’s farm in South Carolina, she grew up in Rhode Island, where her father worked at racetracks as a horse groomer. While in high school, she discovered the joy of acting. But to perfect her craft, she realized more education was needed following college. Through hard work and determination, she “earned a full scholarship to the Young People’s School of the Performing Arts,” which led to her attending Juilliard School.

The work paid off with her making her Broadway debut in 1996. Since then, the world of acting has been her ZIP Code. In addition to her success on the stage, she has earned major kudos on television (City of Angeles, Law & Order, etc.) and the big screen (Doubt, The Help, Beautiful Creatures, Eat, Pray, Love, etc.).

While most will immediately recall her performance in The Help, her role as the mother confronting Meryl Streep in Doubt was brief and a showstopper resulting in her first Academy Award nomination.

The fundraising lunch that is being chaired by Dena DeNooyer Stroh and Kelli Hinson should be fascinating thanks to this multi-talented actress, who like the ASC recognizes the importance of education and encourages young women to strive for it.

With tickets starting at $100, the money raised at the luncheon will “support an internship program at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, the first FEYW network school in Dallas, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.”

* Photo provided by Attorneys Serving the Community