Annual Genesis Luncheon Keynoter Arianna Huffington Made A Wake-Up Call For Digital Intervention

Some of the digitally connected folks looked a bit squeamish at the Genesis Luncheon on Monday, May 15, in the Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom. It wasn’t that keynoter Arianna Huffington created a great divide like Bethenny Frankel. Rather, the former grand dame of internet news outlet The Huffington Post was telling the crowd to cut the cord, or at least the wireless connection with their cellphones, tablets and laptops. It was like the head of Alcoholic Anonymous extolling the virtues of sobriety to the National Association of American Wineries. But more about that later.

Before the luncheon got underway, the meet-and-greet with 100 very special guests like Luncheon Co-Chairs Nikki and Crayton Webb, Gail and Gerald Turner, Pat Schenkel, Greg Nieberding, Melissa Cameron and Gail Davis got underway in the Wedgwood Room at 10:45.

Gerald Turner, Arianna Huffington, Pat Schenkel and Gail Turner

Melissa Cameron

Gail Davis

Right on schedule the doors opened to the gorgeous ballroom filled with huge arrangements of pink, white and red roses, hydrangeas and cherry blossoms, white tablecloths and pink napkins and a stage with a side backdrop of pink and red surrounding the main screen, with Genesis encircled by a heart. On the stage were two chairs in the center with a podium to the side, setting the scene for what was to come.

As guests like Ashlee Kleinert, Ken Altshuler, Nancy Best, Ros Dawson Thompson and Paige McDaniel took their seats, a man arrived who was immediately surrounded by folks wanting to have their photo taken with him. The gentleman was the man of the hour — HeRO Awardee/former Dallas Police Chief David Brown. When asked if rumors about his new book “Called To Rise” were true, that pre-release sales were skyrocketing, he smiled and said, “I hope so.”  

Crayton and Nikki Webb

Immediately signaling that the luncheon program was underway was a recitation by three Lakeview Centennial High School Young students enrolled in Young DFW Writers that was followed by Crayton telling how one in four women would face physical violence at some point in their lives. He stated that until that situation of abuse ends, “We have Genesis.” To carry on the support of Genesis, he reeled off the various raffle items available and then introduced Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson to provide the invocation.

Following lunch, Nikki and Crayton arrived on stage to introduce various dignitaries, thank the luncheon committee members and recount stories of women who’d told them just that morning of being in abusive relationships. Adding a touch of humor and “Aw,” Crayton told how Nikki had said 18 months ago that, in addition to their three sons, she’d like to have a fourth child. To this Crayton responded, “I hope you and your next husband will be very happy.” As laughter filled the room, Crayton added, “But I’m still here.” The fourth child ended up being a little girl they name Lucy, who also brought a renewed concern and determination to the couple in helping women in danger.

At 12:20 p.m. Genesis Women’s Shelter CEO Jan Langbein, whose dress matched the day’s pink, white and red floral setting, told the audience that the Junior League of Dallas had received the Jane Doe Award the week before at a private reception.

Jan Langbein, Arianna Huffington and David Brown

Then she introduced David Brown, emphasizing his support of Genesis’ mission in fighting abuse against women. As he approached the stage to officially receive the HeRO Award, the room erupted in cheers and a standing ovation. David once again proved his skill at addressing the crowd and told how as a youngster he had witnessed the devastation of drugs and violence within his community. This experience resulted in his committing himself to public service. As he explained, if you do something for other people and expect something in return, then that is a business deal. But if you do something for other people who cannot return the favor, it a true reward.    

At 12:27, Jan then introduced Arianna, telling of her many accomplishments including being the author of 15 books, the most recent being “The Sleep Revolution.”

Arianna Huffington

With a Greek accent that at times made her sound like Zsa-Zsa Gabor, Arianna recognized Jan (“What a force of nature!”), Nikki and Crayton and Genesis Senior Director of Development Bianca Jackson, before revealing that she indeed did have a Texas connection — her former husband, millionaire Michael Huffington, had been born in Dallas. She recalled how, years before, she had served on the board of Points of Light, and Genesis was one of the organizations spotlighted.

While some guests may have expected her to talk politics, they were sorely disappointed. Nary was a Republican, Democrat or Whig mentioned.

Okay, so she did recall Madeleine Albright’s saying, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support women. But I think there’s a special place in heaven for men who support women.” The first sentence caused some guests to think that it was going to be a political ride, but the follow-up sentence quickly put that idea to rest.

Instead of controversial issues dealing with politicians, she sounded like a tent preacher on the subject of improving one’s well being. Her epiphany took place in 2007 when she collapsed and passed out due to sleep deprivation.  When she regained consciousness, she found herself in a pool of blood, with a broken cheekbone and a cut over her eye. It was literally a wake-up call. She asked herself, “What is life about?” In the past it had meant 18-hour days striving for money and power. But now she was re-examining her definition of the “good life.” Her answer was to put the priority on taking care of one’s self. As an example, she recalled the age-old oxygen mask theory.

Feeling so strongly about her discovery, she left The Huffington Post this past August and launched Thrive Global to encourage people to “look up from our phones and take care of ourselves, our loved ones and our community. Otherwise we’re in serious trouble.”

Arianna Huffington

She wondered aloud how the assembled group would handle time away from their cellphones, laptops, etc. Ironically, just as Arianna was encouraging guests to take a “digital detox,” guests in the room were seen snapping shots of Arianna on their cellphones and checking their watches about appointments.

Touching on the importance of giving and connecting with the community, Arianna said that Genesis was doing just that for women and their families.

On the lighter side, Arianna recalled how God created the world in six days and “she” rested on the seventh. Her point was that rest is vital to well-being.

After her talk at the podium, she was joined on stage by WFAA’s medical reporter Sonia Azad at 12:46 p.m., where they chatted about how people could indeed take better care of themselves through meditation, yoga, fly fishing and brushing off the problems of the day in the shower. All of those activities required leaving distractions like cellphones elsewhere. “We need to disconnect from our phones.”

Arianna Huffington and Sonia Azad

To emphasize the point of ending the digital addiction, she asked how many in the audience slept with their cellphones on their nightstands. This statement resulted in a chatter at tables and hands raised throughout the room. One guest sheepishly ‘fessed up that he did, “But I use it as an alarm clock.” Without hearing the comment, Arianna had evidently heard that one before and was prepared: “You can buy an old-fashioned alarm clock.”

Arianna Huffington and Sonia Azad

Feeling so strongly about this situation, Arianna’s Thrive Global has created a “phone bed,” so the phone can recharge on top of a satin-clad mattress outside of the bedroom.

When asked by Sonia about her advice to her daughters, Arianna told how her daughters were well “aware of the dangers of becoming addicted to social media presence in our lives.” She went on to say that the main goal for countless engineers at the social media companies is to feed this addiction.

Admitting she has an Instagram account, she reported how just that morning she had received a note asking if she would like to know each time someone likes her post or follows her: “That sounds like hell.”

As the guests waited for their cars following the luncheon, one person was overheard laughing that AT&T was not a luncheon sponsor.

Genesis Annual Luncheon VIP Sponsors Celebrated The Jane Doe And HeRO Awards At Amanda And Brint Ryan’s Home-Sweet-Home

Amanda and Brint Ryan

When Amanda and Brint Ryan waved goodbye to the last of the 75 guests at the Genesis Annual Luncheon VIP Sponsors Party on Thursday, May 11, hopefully they checked all the nooks and crannies of their palatial digs. The reason? The main house and grounds were so absolutely perfect, it was good money that someone would hide out just to spend the night.

Ryan main house

Ryan doghouse

Even the Ryan’s doghouse was a mini-version of the main house. The two Ryan pooches had to watch the festivities from their fenced-in mini-estate, while the party was going on.

But the night wasn’t just for critters and palace gazing. It was to thank the Genesis major donors and to present some awards in advance of the annual luncheon on May 15.

Gerald Turner

Chuck Thoele and David Miller

When a classical string group stopped playing and the pool’s fountains closed down, it signaled that the evening’s program was getting under way, with guests in attendance like Nancy Best, Gail and Gerald Turner, Carolyn and David Miller, Beth and Chuck Thoele, Bob Mong and Steve Langbein.

First to speak was Genesis Annual Luncheon Co-Chair Nikki Webb, who thanked the Ryans for their hospitality. “I find your house so incredibly warm, and I’m sure it’s a reflection of y’all,” she said. Then, Nikki revealed for the first time that a fella that she’d dated in college had proved to be a very wrong person for a relationship. She admitted that while she feared him, her friends claimed that he was really a great guy. Luckily, Nikki rose above and out of that situation and eventually married her husband/Genesis Annual Luncheon Co-Chair Crayton Webb.  

Crayton and Nikki Webb

Next Crayton took the mic and announced that this year’s HeRO Award, which honors men who take a public stand against domestic violence, would be going to former Dallas Police Chief David Brown. The ex-chief, Crayton said, “was involved in preventing domestic violence long before” the tragic police shootings on July 7, 2016. Brown would accept the award, it was explained, at the May 15 luncheon at the Hilton Anatole.

With that, Genesis Women’s Shelter CEO Jan Langbein took over, explaining that the 2017 Jane Doe Award—which honors groups or individuals who stand strongly in support of domestic-abuse victims—would be going to the Junior League of Dallas. Jan, who was initially exposed to Genesis as a JLD volunteer and later won its highest honor, the Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award, explained that Genesis currently enjoys the services “of the most JLD volunteers of any nonprofit in Dallas.”

Nancy Best and Jan Langbein

Bonner Allen

Accepting the Jane Doe award was Bonner Allen, the league’s 2016-2017 president. While 2017-2018 President Jennifer Tobin looked on, Bonner proudly said, “I can’t tell you how much this award means to us. I couldn’t think of a better partner [for the league] than Genesis.”  

Former Dallas Police Chief David Brown Wows The Crowd At Just Say Yes’ “Building Bridges” Fundraising Dinner

Building Bridges

Tony Romo autographed football

Honorary Chairs Candice and Tony Romo weren’t going to be able to make it. But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm Wednesday, April 19, when around 350 people showed up for Just Say YesBuilding Bridges celebration dinner at Belo Mansion. The keynote speaker, after all, would be another high-wattage local celeb: former Dallas Police Chief David Brown. And the evening would be raising money for the Just Say Yes (short for Youth Equipped to Succeed) nonprofit, a good cause that aims to equip teens to succeed by educating them through classroom curriculum and inspirational student-assembly speakers.

While guests checked out the silent-auction items—including offerings from Al Biernat’s and Papa John’s Pizza, plus a Dallas Cowboys jersey and football signed by Tony—musician Emilio Mesa blasted out some cool sounds on his saxophone. Then everyone filed into the ballroom, where emcee Anna de Haro welcomed all and gave the podium over to Just Say Yes Development Director Marissa Leach. Marissa explained that “Building Bridges” would be the nonprofit’s theme this year, before presenting Just Say Yes Founder/President Dan Bailey with the “15-year award.”

Marissa Leach and Dan Bailey*

While attendees like Bill Noble and King Crow looked on, Dan reviewed the organization’s progress, citing its influence on students in 39 states, for example. It’s also reached more than 600,000 students in Dallas-Fort Worth since the early 2000s, he recalled, and is poised for still more growth in the coming months. Dan was followed by presentation of the annual Coach Avery Johnson Impact Award, which went this year to Paula and Darrell McCutcheon (though Darrell was absent due to “a root canal that didn’t go so well”).

Next came Veronica Lee, the nonprofit’s senior mentoring coordinator, who introduced a student “mentee” named Jasmine and Jasmine’s mother, Veronica. They agreed that Jasmine’s life, once troubled and unhappy, had been turned around thanks to the positive influence of Just Say Yes. “I first joined the program to get out of class,” Jasmine confessed to the crowd with a laugh. “But now we’re one big happy family!” 

Then came what everyone had been keenly anticipating: the keynote talk by Brown, who’s been working as a contributor lately to ABC News. Bespectacled as usual and dressed this evening in a dark business suit, the former Dallas police chief, who’s 56, said he wanted to focus his talk on the aftermath of the Dallas police shootings last July 7. Among the countless letters containing good wishes—and cash—that poured into the department then, Brown recalled, one letter in particular attracted his attention. It was from a fellow named Lance, whom Brown had befriended back during his days attending The University of Texas at Austin.

David Brown*

Receiving the letter set him to remembering how they’d met, when Brown—a poor African-American kid from Oak Cliff—climbed one day aboard a bus bound for Austin and UT and sat down next to the “white kid” from Missouri named Lance. Lance, Brown soon discovered, was also traveling to school at UT, and had also grown up poor. After learning as they approached Waco that Lance was hungry, Brown pulled out a bag of his great-grandmother’s fried chicken and offered some to his new pal.

In his letter to Brown last year, Lance remembered that bus trip and wrote, “My views of blacks changed because of how you treated me.” (Reading those words, Brown said, “I didn’t start crying, but my allergies started acting up.”) Then Lance wrote, “I always wondered why you sat down next to me.” That question was an interesting one, Brown said to the Just Say Yes crowd, so he would let them know why he’d done it.

David Brown*

It seems that a few years before the Austin trip, when he was just 11, the ex-chief was among the first group of local kids bused to a distant school as part of a court-ordered effort to desegregate Dallas’ schools. “No one wanted me there” at his new school, Brown said. “I didn’t want to be there. No one spoke to me for three months.”

Then, one day, Brown said, “a little white kid [named Mike] invited me home to dinner—at 3 p.m.!” Brown accepted Mike’s offer and walked with him to his home, where Mike’s mother quickly summoned her son into the kitchen and began whispering to him. “I felt like Sidney Poitier in the movie ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,’ ” Brown said. But then, after a long while, Mike’s mother came out of the kitchen carrying a couple of pot pies. “Mike and I wound up talking until 7 p.m.,” Brown said. “And, eventually, our friendship led Mike to befriend other black kids.”

A little while ago, Brown said, he reconnected with Mike and asked him, “What were you whispering with your mom about in the kitchen that afternoon?” Mike, who’s Jewish, said he’d reminded his mother that day about their family members who’d survived the Holocaust, and how their advice had always been to be kind to strangers—especially those who were “different” from them.

All three pals—Brown, Lance, and Mike—wound up attending UT Austin at the same time. “So you wonder, is the moral of this story that all we need is fried chicken and pot pies to change the world?” Brown said to the Just Say Yes group. “No! But, you can transform lives with the way you interact with young people. The moral of this story is: we all have a responsibility to one another—one life at a time.

“People ask me, what’s the ‘secret’ reason you quit” the Dallas police department? Brown went on. “There wasn’t any secret reason. I was called to the job for a purpose, and I left for a purpose. I grew up poor, in a tough, high-crime neighborhood, and adults invested in me. That’s why I said yes to Just Say Yes. The Lord can call you to do things that you don’t want to do.

“The things you do for these kids’ lives means something,” Brown said, wrapping up his talk. “I’m proud to be in the same room as you all. Now my allergies are acting up again, so I’m going to stop.”

Of course, Dallas’s former top cop got a standing ovation.

* Photos provided by Just Say Yes

 

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.”

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

JUST IN: Junior League To Receive Genesis Women’s Shelter’s Jane Doe Award And Former Police Chief David Brown Tapped For HeROs Award

As part of the 24th Annual Genesis Women’s Luncheon celebration, the announcement has just been made of the 2017 Jane Doe Award and the 2017 HeROs Award recipients.

According to Genesis Women’s Shelter And Support CEO Jan Langbein, the Jane Doe Award that “recognizes individuals, groups or organizations that display an extraordinary commitment to standing alongside women seeking freedom from domestic abuse” will be presented to the Junior League of Dallas’ President Bonner Allen, who will represent the JLD.

Junior Leaguers of Dallas*

Receiving the 2017 HeRO Award, which was established in 2013 to “honor men who use their voice and influence to take a public stand against domestic violence,” will be former Dallas Police Chief David Brown. Past recipients include Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings in 2013, Dale Hansen in 2014, Joshua Ragsdale in 2015 and Roger Staubach in 2016.

David has been a busy fella since trading in his uniform for civilian garb. In addition to having a new job with ABC News, he’s been collecting accolades like being the grand marshal for the Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 11, and receiving the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award at Belo Mansion tomorrow.

David Brown (File photo)

Jan explained, ““The Junior League of Dallas has walked hand in hand with Genesis since the very beginning.  Our Junior League volunteers bring passion and professionalism to their placements that in many ways serve as an extension of the Genesis staff.

“Long before Chief Brown was thrust into the national spotlight for his heroic efforts during the tragedy that struck our city last July, he was a hero in Dallas and a hero to Genesis. The Dallas Police Department walks in lockstep with Genesis to help create a safe community, and Chief Brown understood all along that we cannot have a safe community if we do not have safe homes.”

Nikki and Crayton Webb (File photo)

Arianna Huffington**

Luncheon Co-Chairs Nikki and Crayton Webb have arranged for the awards to be presented at the luncheon’s patron party on Thursday, May 11.

A limited number of individual tickets for the Monday, May 15th luncheon at the Hilton Anatole featuring Arianna Huffington are available. For a few dollars more, patron level is also available plus the perks of attending the patron party.

* Photo provided by the Junior League of Dallas 
** Photo provided by Genesis Women's Shelter And Support

Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon Speaker Ronan Farrow Described Domestic Violence as A Form Of Terrorism Within The Home

Noontime on Tuesday, October 4, had something for everyone. But, alas, along with the plethora of choices, decisions had to be made. For more than a thousand, the answer was The Family Place’s 2016 Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole.

After all, Luncheon Co-Chairs Lisa and Marvin Singleton had arranged for an all-star lineup — honorees Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Dallas Cowboys First Daughter Charlotte Jones Anderson and Dallas Police Chief David Brown along with Honorary Co-Chairs Pat and Emmitt Smith and keynote speaker Ronan Farrow.

With that cast of headliners, it was understandable that some didn’t make it. They had very good excuses. Pat Smith was with her dad, who was undergoing surgery, and since it was his last day as Dallas police chief David Brown was back at headquarters spending his last few hours with his comrades.

But the MIAs were hardly noticed in the VIP meet-and-greet with loads of guests including Lynn and Allan McBee (he’s been rehearsing with the Dallas Opera), Ros Dawson, Underwriting Co-Chair Carol Seay and Phyllis Comu who reported that she relieved not to be waking up in the middle of night in preparation for last month’s Fur Ball.

At 11:10 the man-of-the-hour Ronan slipped and looked like any very cool 20-something. But among this stiletto and silk skirt crowd that type of fella couldn’t make it by totally unnoticed, so word quickly made the rounds the “he” was in the room.

Sure, he had famous genes, but on his own Ronan had accomplished so much in his 28 years. Having graduated from college at the age of 15 and was accepted by Yale Law School at when he was 16. He deferred attendance “to work as special adviser to former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.” Ronan did earn his law degree before he was 24. Named a Rhodes Scholar in 2012, he was leaving after the luncheon for Oxford London to defend his dissertation on violence. And that was just a smidgen of his credentials.

Regarded by many within the national media as the spokesperson for the millennial generation, he was asked his opinion if the flood of aging baby boomers might overwhelm the millennials. Without hesitation, Ronan didn’t hesitate and responded, “We don’t have the problems that say China has. There are a lot of parts in the world where there’s going to be this massive imbalance of generations and it’s going to cause all sorts of social tension. I think we’re going to be okay in the United States.”

Marvin and Lisa Singleton, Ronan Farrow, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Emmitt Smith

Marvin and Lisa Singleton, Ronan Farrow, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Emmitt Smith

Ronan Farrow, Lisa and Marvin Singleton, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Emmitt Smith

Ronan Farrow, Lisa and Marvin Singleton, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Emmitt Smith

Then taking his place in front of The Family Place backdrop, Ronan looked a bit bewildered by the grip-and-grin setup. One photographer had the VIP type shot in front of the backdrop and a second one would have step to the far left to be shot in front of a curtain. The explanation was that a lot of the media didn’t want shots in front the sponsor board. Oh.

At times the meet-and-greet seemed a bit unorganized. Unlike other photo opps where one staffer/volunteer stood at the front of the line advising guests to place their purse on the table and move quickly, this one was a little more casual. While the lineup of guests waiting their turn for a photo with Ronan stretched the length of the room, some were a little surprised to see others standing nearby and hopping into additional photos “with friends.” Wonder if Emily Post had a section on cutting in line?

Nevertheless, Ronan showed his cool factor and good naturedly went with the flow. However, he did perk up like a kid when he saw Charlotte approach. They hugged and he congratulated her on the award. Then they posed for photos with Emmitt Smith adding to the cool factor.

Erin Young Garrett, Cindy North and Angela Batra

Erin Young Garrett, Cindy North and Angela Batra

As the photo session wound down, guests headed to the Chantilly Ballroom. Snapshots around the room: Cindy North was taking a break from being with her dad at UT Southwestern following a double lung transplant. She was lunching with her plan Erin Young Garrett and Angela Batra … 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill reported that they were focusing on the next ten days of supporting 2016 CBB Co-Chairs Cara French and Andrea Weber’s American Cancer Society fundraising on Saturday, October 15, at Gilley’s… and others including Annette Simmons, Anita Arnold, Sandy Chapman, Kimber Hartmann, Kelli and Jerry Ford, Joyce Fox, Sally Hoglund and Distinguished Co-Chair Julie Turner.

Kelli and Jerry Ford

Kelli and Jerry Ford

Annette Simmons and Anita Arnold

Annette Simmons and Anita Arnold

Sune Solomon and Anne Stodghill

Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill

Joyce Fox

Joyce Fox

The guests settled down because they had a full agenda starting off with Lisa and Marvin welcoming the guests, Rev. Abe Cooper Jr. of Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church providing the invocation and a video address by Mayor Mike Rawlings “officially welcoming” and thanking attendees for supporting The Family Place and recognizing the honorees and his hero The Family Place CEO Paige Flink.

Following the video, Paige provided a state of the union for the organization that has been on the forefront of providing assistance for victims of domestic abuse. Among the developments is the new 40,000-square-foot Ann Moody Place that is currently under construction. It has been specifically designed for victims of family violence. Among the many offerings that Paige listed, it was interesting to note that the facility’s ability to accept family pets received applause from the audience. It seems, according to Paige that there are families that will not seek help if it means leaving their pet behind.

Paige Flink, James Dondero and Sally Hoglund

Paige Flink, James Dondero and Sally Hoglund

She then reported that they were in the final $2.8M stretch of their capital campaign’s goal of $16.5M. This news was a perfect lead in for the introduction of Highland Capital Management Co-Founder/President Jim Dondero, who announced “the firm has awarded a $1-million challenge grant to help The Family Place raise the final $2.8 million for its Legacy Campaign in the next six months.”

In other words as Paige explained, Highland Capital Management was offering $1M, if The Family Place could raise $2M. Immediately, Paige told all to pull out their phones and instructed on how to submit their donation. The place looked like a Pokemon Go convention.

After lunch, Paige was back at the podium with ugly statistics about domestic abuse including 158 women killed in the state of Texas. That was an increase of almost 20% over 2015. On the screen were the names of 16 women, who were murdered in Dallas and Collin counties. None of these women had services at The Family Place.

Recent developments by The Family Place have been the opening of a counseling facility in McKinney and on Sunday, October 30, the state’s first shelter for men will be opened. In the past, The Family Place has had to put these male victims of domestic abuse in hotels which was not therapeutic nor cost effective.

In recognition of those making a difference, the awards were presented with Major Alfred Diorio of the Domestic Violence Unit standing in for Chief Brown.

Marvin Singleton, Alfred Diorio and Lisa Singleton

Marvin Singleton, Alfred Diorio and Lisa Singleton

In accepting her award as Texas Trailblazer of the Year, Charlotte eloquently told how the Cowboys and the NFL were taking the situation of domestic abuse to heart. As part of their effort, she has had Paige involved in working with the Dallas Cowboys to “face this issue together.”

It was then time for Ronan to speak to the group and that he did. He started of saying, “I am very, very nerdy.” Highlights of his talk were:

Ronan Farrow

Ronan Farrow

  • His visiting The Family Place that morning and talking with a hotline operator by the name of Maria. She told him that it is sometimes so hard to get callers to openly speak about their abusive situation. “They say they’re only being yelled at, when in fact what’s happening is brutal abuse.”
  • He came to the lunch in two respects: “As a reporter who has tried in earnest to cover this issue and also, of course, I come to you as a sibling and as a son, whose life has been profoundly shaped by family abuse. In both respects I’ve seen two things. One, how far we have come and how the conversation around this issue is changing. And, two, how much farther we still have to go.”
  • Charlotte Jones Anderson: “It is fitting that The Family Place is honoring Charlotte Jones Anderson here today. She has been at the center of the firestorm over the league [NFL]. But she has also been in the transformation of how they approach this issue. I was talking with her about it yesterday and saying that I was going to mention some of my reporting on this. And she told me that, ‘You know the media often exclusively focuses on the negative and not progress being made. I work at basic cable. This is not news to me. She’s right. There is progress.”
  • His own family experiences: “It was also two years ago in that same time frame (during the Ray Rice episode) that my sister Dylan Farrow wrote about her own experiences with domestic abuse alleging that our father Woody Allen had groomed her as a young girl with inappropriate touching and had eventually sexually assaulted her when she was seven years old. It’s a story not unlike experienced by women at the shelter I was at today. Whether you are famous or live a completely private life, whether you are rich or poor, I learned firsthand that this can happen in any family.”
  • The media’s treatment of Dylan’s story: “At the time, many newspapers refused to run my sister’s story. She tried to speak out, but the issue was just too hot and editors told me privately the alleged perpetrator was just too powerful for them to touch it. Nicholas Kristof, the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and a longtime advocate for victim’s rights, put it on his blog. Soon afterwards The Times gave her alleged attacker twice the space and a prime position in the print version of their paper. It laid bare just how differently we treat vulnerable accusers, particularly women, as opposed powerful men who stand accused. After she went public, too, my sister faced a campaign of shaming, of character assassination orchestrated by our father’s powerful PR firm. Those around her, my mother, me were tarred as well though we weren’t involved…just easy targets. This is one reason why so many families stay silent for so long. And why so many abuse survivors find themselves left all alone. At the time… I hate to admit it, but I even hesitated and kept as quiet as long outside of a single brief statement of support for my sister. And my sister had to look on as the press quickly swept her story under the rug. She was retraumatized by every lifetime achievement award, every golden profile. But in Hollywood as well something began to change. Just a few days after my sister’s story ran, Gawker used that story as their lead in reviving another set of allegations against another beloved comedy icon, Bill Cosby. What followed were two years of painful cultural re-examination about how we talk about this issue, about how we confront abuse when the alleged perpetrator is powerful. So much so that when the Hollywood Reporter ran the latest of those glowing profiles this year, people were actually angry. The tone changed. Women especially, but increasingly as often men, too. And when the Hollywood Reporter approached me asking for a follow-up assessing the issue as a reporter and as a member of that family, I finally made the tough choice to embrace speaking out about this as well.
  • Current situation: “My sister and my mother still face public shaming. My own Twitter feed is still razed by daily death threats from angry fans. But there is also an outpouring of support by thousands of people saying, ‘I have been there, too. My family has been there, too.’”
  • The future: “There is more to be done, but how far we have come. Domestic abuse is not an NFL problem. It is not a Hollywood problem. It is an American problem. It is a global problem. And it is an urgent one. As all of us in this country lived out the shock and the horror of The Pulse nightclub shootings this past summer, we learned that the murderer had beaten his wife, as had the gunman behind the fatal hostage crisis in Sydney two years ago. In fact 16% of perpetrators in mass shootings between 2009 and 2015 had previously been charged with some kind of domestic violence.
  • Terrorism: “These acts are a form of terrorism. They are the embodiment of the worst and most destructive human impotence to control others through fear and violence. And with other forms of terrorism, allowing this one to fester hurts and threatens all of us. It threatens our cultural integrity, our ability to insure all of our freedom. That’s why I felt I had that obligation to speak here today in support of my own family and to try to keep the conversation going whatever small way I can through my reporting.” But speaking is not enough. We all know that.”
  • The Family Place website: “It is so inclusive. Inclusive of the many LGBTQ youth who face abuse. Of the men who face abuse.”
  • His family: “Rewind for a moment to my childhood. I’m about 12 years old, sitting down for dinner at the family dinner table. To my left are Quincy and Isaiah, African American, both born to drug-addicted mothers in American inner cities. Across from me are Tam and Minh, both blind and adopted from Viet Nam and a teenager in mine, who has been with this family most of her life. She was adopted as a young girl. We are all having a heated debate as is usual the case at the Farrow family dinner table.  And Quincy goes, ‘Well, as a black woman…’ And Minh stops her and says, ‘Whoa, whoa, wait. Quincy is black?’ … Every night was like that. We were a mini-United Nations or, at least, a United Color. Fourteen siblings adopted from around the world and reflecting the world’s worst problems. Siblings with cerebral palsy, with polio, blind, paraplegic, learning disabled. The people I loved most in the world were the people the world left behind. Many had faced years of abuse before I ever met them or they became a part of my family. The kind of abuse that leaves scars physical and emotional that you can never outrun sometimes.”

In closing he told how Maria admitted that hardest things she has to tell a caller, “Sorry, but we’re full.” With that Ronan made one last plea for guests to support The Family Place in providing shelter. “When my mother started adopting kids in the 70s, people called her crazy. When she faced her most vicious attacks after my sister’s allegations more recently, they called our family a commune, a shelter, not a home. But my family was both a home and a shelter. And I am so deeply proud of that. I have been so grateful to have seen the value of giving someone shelter when they need it most. I cannot think of anything more powerful and precious to give someone.

A Morning Of Mourning

For baby boomers and other old-timers, the news of the sniper(s) in downtown Dallas killing people knee-jerked them back to the nightmare of November 22, 1963. They remembered the days and years of Dallas being damned as a “city of hate.” This time it was a victim of hatred.

It was hard to imagine that the spot where 800 had peacefully marched to protest shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge had become a war zone with police as the key targets. Despite the resulting chaos of civilians running for cover and an unknown number of assailants, city leaders immediately came together to resolve the situation.

For Mayor Mike Rawlings, it had been a rough week already. In addition to the torrential flooding that resulted in the loss of an off-duty officer on Tuesday, his mother-in-law, Willine Gunderson, who had lived with the Rawlings family, had died Monday. She had been more than an in-law for the mayor. At night after putting in a long day of running the city, he would go to her room and talk with her before joining the rest of the family. Just hours before the downtown ambush, he had attended her funeral in Canton. Now, just past midnight, he was mourning the loss of officers and consoling his city.

But he was also letting the world know that Dallas would not tolerate the assassinations. Backing him up was Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who was commandeering the fluid developments. Not only was the city under siege, the situation also provided a ripe opportunity for widespread vandalism. Luckily, the latter was stopped before it could take hold.

But even at this time when Dallas city and county leadership was rising to the occasion, there were some who evidently didn’t realize the gravity of the situation.

In the days ahead, there will be funerals and healing. In the weeks and months ahead, there will be revelations. In the years ahead, this nightmare will require patience, understanding and grit for Dallas and the rest of the country.