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

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

Dirk Nowitzki*

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

Marjorie Adams*

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

Bret Baier and Yousef Al Otaiba*

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

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

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

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

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


ExxonMobil’s Rex Tillerson To Receive H. Neil Mallon Award With Dr. Robert Gates As Keynote Speaker

Rex Tillerson is Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corporation’s chairman and CEO. While he is an international kingpin, he maintains a relatively low-profile locally. However, that will change on Friday, October 24, when he receives the World Affairs Council’s most prestigious award — the H. Neil Mallon Award.



According to Council Chair Robert W. Kantner, “Rex W. Tillerson’s leadership of Exxon Mobil Corporation, the largest publicly traded petroleum and petrochemical enterprise in the world, from its headquarters here in North Texas, makes him an outstanding recipient of the World Affairs Council’s Mallon Award. The Mallon Award honors its recipient for dedication to international relationships – business and personal – that enhance the standing of North Texas around the world. The Council is pleased to honor Mr. Tillerson for keeping North Texas in the forefront of international relationships through his well-respected and tireless work in the energy field and personally as a global citizen.”

Robert Gates*

Robert Gates*

Keynote speaker at the dinner will be Dr. Robert M. Gates, who in addition to serving as the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Defense and president of Texas A&M University, is presently the national president of the Boy Scouts of America.

Each year the award recognizes “an individual who has excelled at promoting North Texas as an important international gateway for business, industry and diplomatic relations.” The award was established 31 years ago and named after the chairman of Dresser Industries, who also founded the World Affairs Council in 1951.

Previous recipients have included Stanley Marcus, Ray Hunt, President George H.W. Bush, Ross Perot Sr. and Jr., Trammell Crow and his daughter Lucy Billingsley.

Presenting sponsors for the dinner are AT&T, BNSF Railway Company, ExxonMobil, Fluor Corporation and Hunt Consolidated.

Chairing the event at the Hyatt Regency are previous Mallon Award recipients David T. Seaton and Randall L. Stephenson, along with Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt, Sarah and Ross Perot Jr. and Lisa and Matt Rose. Honorary chairs will be Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne.

This event is going to be a biggie with biggest names. Hop to it and make your reservations now.

* Photos courtesy of World Affairs Council

Round Robin October 25: Ambassadors For Hope Luncheon, H. Neil Mallon Award Dinner And Shaken Not Stirred Gala

There are times when keeping up with Mayor Mike Rawlings is tougher than hot-footing it with a roadrunner. Friday, October 25, was such a day. From lunch to two dinners, the man was in transit nonstop for nonprofits in addition to running the city of Dallas.

Ambassadors For Hope

The Vogel Alcove’s Ambassadors of Hope Awards Luncheon at the Omni on Friday, October 25, was one of the events where emotions ranged from joy to poignancy.

Vogel Alcove children singing on stage

Vogel Alcove children singing on stage

The happiness was rather overwhelming as guests watched the children of Vogel Alcove sing on stage and the honorees were recognized (Doris Budner Award for the late Sheila Chapman, Thelma Vogel Award for Mayor Mike Rawlings, Corporate Champion for Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Media Partner for Rucker & Co., Kids Helping Kids for Girl scout Troop #2996 and Volunteer Award for Regina Bruce).

Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls

Even keynote speaker Jeanette Walls managed to skillfully tell her story with humor and reality about her so perfect life that wasn’t so very perfect as a child and how it confronted her one day as she discovered her mother digging through the trash on the streets of New York City.

Jennifer Sampson

Jennifer Sampson

However, when Luncheon Co-chairs Janelle Pinell and Ricki Rabin along with Vogel Alcove CEO Karen Hughes discussed the plight of homeless children, the faces in the audience could not help but register the overwhelming concern and sorrow for the homeless children of Dallas. The reality hit home that every day there are 20-30 children hoping to get a chance for assistance by the Vogel Alcove. And then there was the video which had children providing laughter (“I want to be a rap star.”) to sadness (“I want to be happy” and “I want to go home”).

Mayor Mike Rawlings and Gunnar Rawlings

Mayor Mike Rawlings and Gunnar Rawlings

Mike Rawlings, who was accompanied by his son Gunnar, admitted that when he was the “Homeless Czar” involved with successful programs that “Vogel Alcove was at the top of the list and used its money well.”

As one person put it so succinctly, “The children of Vogel are homeless but not hopeless.”

Funds from the lunch including a $25,000 matching gift challenge were designated to go to the Vogel Alcove’s $3.2M campaign for the remodeling of City Park Elementary School “for the expansion of our programs and services.” Within the 55,000-square-foot former DSID school, “homeless children will be able to learn, play and feel safe and cared for.”

H. Neil Mallon Award Dinner

Just the VIP reception for the World Affairs Council’s 30th Annual H. Neil Mallon Dinner was packed in the Anatole’s Wedgwood Room lobby. Even a slide rule would have had problems trying to squeeze through this group of OMG impressive types like the honorary chairs (Nancy and Richard Fisher, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy and Tom Price and Micki and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings), the dinner chairs (Marjorie Adams, Barbara and Steve Durham, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Matrice Ellis-Kirk and Ron Kirk, Melinda and Mike Lafitte and Tina and Trey Morsbach) for starters. But there were a couple of good reason for the quantity and quality of guests. First the 30th H. Neil Mallon Award was being presented to Lucy Billingsley. Second, it was featuring National Geographic contributor/photographer Joel Sartore.

Looking quite proud was Lucy’s mother, Margaret, whose husband, the late F. Trammell Crow, also received the award.

In the Chantilly Ballroom with a sea of tables covered in Mediterranean blue tablecloths, the guests were welcomed by World Affairs Council Board of Directors Chair Robert Kantner and President/CEO Jim Falk welcomed the group.

Following a dinner of grilled filet of beef on wilted spinach, wild mushroom sauce, pan seated Chilean sea bass, white wine butter sauce, quinoa pilaf with dried fruits and steamed broccolini and roasted golden beets followed by dessert of a trio of Crème Brûlées (maple, chocolate and traditional), Danny Rollins of presenting sponsor Alcatel-Lucent introduced the video tribute to Lucy in which Mike Rawlings described Lucy as “a woman of the world right here in Dallas.”

As the lights came up, Marjorie Adams and Matrice and Ron Kirk introduced Lucy. Matrice said, “We’re all better off because of Lucy.” While husband Ron diplomatically followed up with, “Really the only three words a woman wants to hear come out of a man’s mouth are: ‘Honey, you’re right.’”

Lucy Billingsley hoisting the H. Neill Mallon Award

Lucy Billingsley hoisting the H. Neill Mallon Award

As the crowd rose to give Lucy a standing O, the petite red-haired business woman hoisted the award high in the air. Her acceptance was so typical of Lucy: “Matrice—Eloquence. Skip Ron!” Says, “I’m not anyone to honor. But boy do I love it! … I’m representing all of us.. . . ” “What a world … what a city … what an evening. Thank you all.”

Joe Sartore

Joe Sartore

To top of the evening, Joel gave the keynote speech. Far from being a lesson in photography and what’s the best type of camera to use, Joel showed how his life has evolved from his first camera to shooting around the world. Somehow, he smoothly wove in the importance of saving endangered species and environmental education for children. Using humor, sincerity and a collection of amazing photographs, he was the perfect way to compliment an evening honoring “a woman of the world.”

Shaken Not Stirred

It was a typical night for Mayor Mike Rawlings. He had no sooner attended the Neil Mallon Dinner at the Anatole, then he was up and rushing over to the Adolphus for the Friends of Wilkinson Center’s “Shaken Not Stirred” black tie fundraiser. Who says you can’t be in two places at the same time?

Lisa Sievers, Micki and Mike Rawlings, Vickie Thompson and Sandra Pomeroy

Lisa Sievers, Micki and Mike Rawlings, Vickie Thompson and Sandra Pomeroy*

But the Wilkinson event presented by ORIX Foundation was a must. After all Event Chair Lisa Sievers and Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder had arranged for Mike and wife Micki to be the evening’s honorary chairs. Luckily, his presence wasn’t missed in the early part of the evening due to the silent auction and the cocktail reception.

Frank Hytken and Anne Reeder

Frank Hytken and Anne Reeder

But his timing was perfect as he arrived just in time for a couple of photos and the elegant seated dinner (A salad of Poached pear with field greens, gorgonzola cheese, candied pecans with lemon dressing; entrée of duo of smothered beef short rib and herb marinated chicken, merlot demi and hickory smoked potatoes; and dessert of grand Marnier crème Brule with fresh berries and chocolate mousse cake) in the ballroom that was decked out like James Bond had ordered it. On each of the 30 tables were napkins displayed as if they were tuxedo shirts with black ties.

Shaken Not Stirred table settings

Shaken Not Stirred table settings

After dinner, the popular fundraising game of “heads and tails” was played followed by Anne’s and Mike’s emphasizing the past successes and future plans for the 31-year old organization that has evolved from a neighborhood food pantry to a multi-service program that addresses the underlying causes of poverty and helps them overcome the obstacles. This past February thanks to donations an funds raised by the annual gala, the Wilkinson Center opened a Family Education Center for the expansion of its services.

In addition to 261 dinner guests, 250 arrived later for the after party that lasted until the wee hours of Sunday. Too bad they weren’t able to join the supper and live auction in which such items were auctioned off as:

  • “In the Swing,” a once-in-a-lifetime trip for two to the Master’s Championship Golf Tournament.  Includes airfare, three-night hotel stay and two passes to the final weekend of the tournament.
  •  “No Reservations Needed,” Celebrity Chef Wendy Krispin will whip up a menu sure to please for ten in your home, ranch home or lake house (within two hours of Dallas). Savor a specially designed menu complete with wine pairings.
  •  “Off to the Races,”  a trip for two to Oaklawn in Hot Springs, AR, with airfare and a two-night stay at The Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa. Race day includes a tour of the racetrack and barns, box seats, VIP visit to announcer’s booth for a race call and presentation of the trophy at the winner’s circle.
  •  “Westward Bound,” Enjoy the Fort Worth Stock Show as never before as you and a friend look stylish in your new hand-crafted, custom-made Olsen-Stelzer cowboy boots and Resistol cowboy hats for two! After an exciting day at the Stock Show and Rodeo, relax with a stay at the Worthington.
  •  “Sports Authority,” the legendary Norm Hitzges and The Ticket Sports Radio invite four people to be their guests on the Norm Hitzges radio show. Be the first to know breaking sports news! Breakfast for four before the show included.

After the festivities, Mayor Mike headed home to rest up for another day of being everywhere.

* Photo credit: Andrew Buckley