JUST IN: Rick Van Hooser Named LaunchAbility’s New Executive Director

After months of interviewing and vetting, the LaunchAbility Board of Trustees have named Rick Van Hooser as the organization’s new executive director.

Rick Van Hooser*

Rick Van Hooser*

According to LaunchAbility Board President Karen Wald, “As our client population continues to grow as quickly as the corporate interest in hiring adults with diverse abilities, Rick Van Hooser’s leadership couldn’t come at a more exciting and necessary time for LaunchAbility. Rick brings with him deep experience with large nonprofit organizations as well as an ability to work hand-in-hand with corporate partners. Our entire board agrees that under Rick’s leadership LaunchAbility will continue to serve our clients optimally and grow so that we can impact even more adults with diverse abilities.”

Rick’s experience within the non-profit sector includes Big Thought, the United Way of Tarrant County, American Heart Association, Autism Speaks and Muscular Dystrophy Association.

In assuming the leadership of the organization that assists adults with disabilities and their families, Rick said, “I would like to thank the LaunchAbility Board of Trustees and staff for welcoming me to this incredible organization. With a history that spans over five decades, LaunchAbility is at a critical point in both opportunities and challenges. I look forward to working with our employees, clients, donors and corporate partners as we continue LaunchAbility’s vision to deliver much needed services that help bridge a path to independence.”

* Photo provided by LaunchAbility

Outstanding Non-Profits Have Posted “Help Wanted” Signs

The Dallas non-profits are looking for a few good folks to head up their organizations. In recent weeks the following nonnies have put out the “Help Wanted” signs for leadership of their organizations:

  • Baylor Scott And White Health
  • Dallas Historical Society
  • Dallas Museum of Art
  • Dallas Summer Musicals
  • Family Gateway
  • LaunchAbility
  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science

While many are preparing for the summer sojourn, search committees are in overdrive to have new leaders in place, hopefully by the fall fundraising season.

The good thing is that these organization will not make their decisions based on a “OMG, we’ve gotta fill this position ASAP.” Rather they put the priority on finding the right person for the right position even if the clock is ticking.

Can’t wait to report about the new leaders-on-the-block!

JUST IN: LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons Turns In Her Resignation

It was just three weeks ago that LaunchAbility had its annual fundraiser, “A Special Evening With …” at the Meyerson with comedian Martin Short on stage to the delight of hundreds. Now word arrives that LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons has turned in her resignation that will become effective on Tuesday, May 31.

Having joined LaunchAbility in 2010, she led the organization’s “Supported Employment Services and launch[ed] the innovative Academy program.” It was in 2013 that she was made CEO.

Kathryn Parsons (File photo)

Kathryn Parsons (File photo)

According to LaunchAbility Board President Karen Wald, “Kathryn’s decision to leave reflects her personal wishes to pursue new professional endeavors. She left the agency through the evolution that focused on expanding services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Board sincerely thanks Kathryn for her hard work and tireless dedication in serving clients and other valuable stakeholders of LaunchAbility. We wish her the very best.”

In the past two years under Kathryn’s leadership, the organization has

  • Increased the number of adults placed in jobs. Each adult placed in full-time employment saves taxpayers $47,000 annually in reduced social services and contribution back to the community.
  • Grown the Academy program as employers like Novitex, Aramark and Office Depot see the advantage of onsite training, suited specifically to their workforce needs. Since inception the program has helped double the number of successful annual hires. Additionally the program has grown to partner with local school districts to prepare youth ages 18-22 in special education in high school to transition into the workforce.
  • Initiated programs to expand opportunities for people with Autism in technology (IT) careers. In March, LaunchAbility led “The 5000: a Global Summit on Autism in IT” and announced a pilot program with AT&T to train people with autism in software testing. Modeled after our highly successful Academy, the pilot will include best practices and experience gained by our specialty in Autism. The model is one that can successfully be replicated in other companies and other cities across the nation.

It was also during her tenure that the Bill Cosby “situation” blew up just days after announcing that the comedian would be the headliner at the annual gala. Kathryn orchestrated the cancellation of the Cosby appearance and replaced him with Dana Carvey.

Dr. Bill Behrendt has undertaken the search for Kathryn’s replacement.

Suzanne And Bill Murray Hosted The LaunchAbility Patron Party Preparing For A Special Evening With Martin Short

There’s just something absolutely charming about neighborhoods with homes set back from curb-less streets. It conjures up visions of communities like Loudoun, Greenwich, and Westchester with gargantuan homes with backyards bigger than some counties.

Linus and Joyce Wright

Linus and Joyce Wright

Well, one of those residences was just settling into its home-sweet-home state for Suzanne and Bill Murray, when they hosted the LaunchAbility’s “A Special Evening With Martin Short” patron party on Thursday, March 3.

It was also a post-birthday according to honoree Linus Wright, who had just turned 89 on Tuesday, March 1. According to his way-too-adorable wife Joyce Wright, their story was just too good to be true. Seems they had both attended the same grade school. He was a grade ahead of her. Over the years, they went their separate ways marrying others. But, then single, they attended their high school reunion.

Rebecca Pendergrass, Emily Pendergrass and Roy Pendergrass

Rebecca Pendergrass, Emily Pendergrass and Roy Pendergrass

Joyce claims that Linus swears they spotted each other across the room, came together and kissed. The petite Joyce laughed and admitted, “Everyone was kissing!”

Another family attending the reception was the Pendergrass clan including Rebecca and Roy Pendergrass with daughter Emily Pendergrass. When asked who picked out Emily’s light lavender knit top, the trio all agreed, “Mom!”

Reed and Steve Gendler

Reed and Steve Gendler

Across the way LaunchAbility Volunteer of the Year Steve Gendler and wife Reed Gendler were receiving congratulations. It was so very appropriate for Steve, who has been on the board for more than 20 years. It was back in 1995 when he was president of the LaunchAbility board and longtime organization advocate Milton Levy announced his retirement from the board. To honor Milton, the board not only created the Outstanding Volunteer Award and presented it to him, they named it after Milton. And it was Steve who presented the first award.

On Tuesday, April 5, at the fundraising gala chaired by Hilda and Mike Galvan, Steve will be presented the Milton Levy Outstanding Volunteer Award that has been created by artist Brad Oldham.

BTW, if you’ve ever attended a Martin Short performance, you know it’s gonna be a great time at the Meyerson.

JUST IN: Joyce And Linus Wright To Serve As Honorary Co-Chairs For LaunchAbility’s “A Special Evening With Martin Short”

LaunchAbility Co-Chairs Hilda and Mike Galvan just revealed the honorary co-chairs for the Tuesday, April 5thA Special Evening With Martin Short.” Drum roll, please. The twosome will be Joyce and Linus Wright, who have time and time again been at the forefront of education and helping young people with learning challenges.

Linus Wright (File photo)

Linus Wright (File photo)

If you’re brand new to the hood, then a little info might help. Linus was the Dallas Independent School District superintendent who “helped integrate special education into the district after the landmark law IDEA mandated that all children deserved a free and appropriate education.” In addition to working with the business community to “place special education graduates in jobs,” he “was also instrumental in helping Dallas navigate racial integration.”

Joyce also has led the way for youngsters with learning disabilities. She “was a counselor in Highland Park when learning disabilities were just beginning to be understood.”

Together Joyce and Linus along with David Munson and Sandra Estess co-founded Educational First Steps.

And that’s just the tip of the Wright iceberg of accomplishments.

According to Hilda, “Mike and I are so excited to have the Wrights work with us as honorary chairs for this event, and we are looking forward to making it a very special anniversary celebration. We are looking forward to celebrating the extraordinary work of LaunchAbility and 15 years of this event.”

And add Martin Short on stage at the Meyerson? This one is gonna be a very “special evening.”

Round Robin 10/21: Scripps Society, Junior League Of Dallas Reception, KIPP DFW And LaunchAbility Kick-Offs

The weather play nicely for fundraising on Wednesday, October 21, and the nonprofits were taking full advantage of it all over town.

Scripps Society

Mary McDermott Cook’s Dump Top has become the hot showplace for nonprofits to wine, fundraise and gaze at the Dallas skyline complete with the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge and the soon-to-be-completed Margaret McDermott Bridge.

Why just days before, around 1,100 people toured the multi-level, Bill Booziotis-designed home as part of the Oak Cliff Home Tour.

Scripps Society table

Scripps Society table

Scripps Society table

Scripps Society table

But it had never been the scene of a seated supper for more than a handful of Mary’s pals. That was until the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute’s Scripps Society. This elite group, including Spring Wen, Woo-ping Ge, Bob Chereck, Alan and Randy Engstrom, Christina and Chris Durovich and Marnie and Kern Wildenthal, that believes and supports the Children’s programs to the tune of $1M or more were the first to have place cards at dining table in the outdoor terraces, in the living room and the in the dining room, as well as the enclosed terraces.

Bob Chereck, Christina and Chris Durovich and Mary McDermott Cook

Bob Chereck, Christina and Chris Durovich and Mary McDermott Cook

Randy and Alan Engstrom

Randy and Alan Engstrom

Spring Wen and Woo-ping Ge

Spring Wen and Woo-ping Ge

IMG_1045 Jennifer and Andy Scripps

The treetops views alone were spectacular, as was the Cassandra meal that included a first course (baby greens salad, butternut squash ribbons, pomegranate arils, shaved manchego cheese, pumpkin seeds and sage vinaigrette), a second course (pan-roasted loup de mer, petit zucchini, fava bean-artichoke salsa, shaved carrots and com foam) and dessert (raspberry lemon mousse tower, tuile cookie raspberry compote and exotic fruit coulis).

But such privileges come with restrictions. As guests arrived, the ladies were asked to check in their purses. Parting with her handbag, one guests inquired, “What if I need my lipstick?” The Children’s staff was Johnny-on-the-spot assuring her not to worry. They would have her purse delivered pronto.

Junior League Past Leadership Reception

Over at Debbie and Nickey Oates’ handsome home, meantime, about 65 guests gathered for the Junior League of Dallas’ Past Presidents and Past Ball Chairs Reception. Attendees including Christie Carter, Pam Perella, Lydia Novakov, Isabell Novakov, and Paige Nash enjoyed the Wolfgang Puck canapés and caught up before the traditional presidents’ and chairs’ photos were taken. At one point they all gathered in the living room to hear the latest Junior League news, including a report about the upcoming annual Ball.

“Tonight is all about celebrating you,” said Meredith Mosley, the league’s current president. She talked about one of her favorite expressions—“I learned it in the league!”—and told how important it was for all members to attend league events, such as the upcoming Milestones Luncheon on November 12. Soon Mosley gave way to Ashley Allen, who’s chairing the league’s James Bond-themed, 54th annual “To Dallas With Love” Ball at the Hilton Anatole on February 20.

“It reminds me, looking around here tonight, that we have big shoes to fill,” Ashley began. So far, she said, the league has raised more than $700,000 for the annual ball, but “there’s a lot of work left to do” to reach the fundraising goal. “As I told the development committee,” Ashley quipped, “it’s like losing that last five pounds!” She then introduced Debbie Oates, who’s serving as the event’s honorary chair. “Dallas is a lot more competitive now,” Debbie advised the guests. “We need to be on top of our games. Not only do we support the [beneficiary agencies financially,] but we send them our volunteers. No one else does that!”

KIPPster Kick Off

The night was beyond perfection. So, the guests for the “Are You Smarter Than A KIPPster?” kick-off party handed over their cars at Lexington and Lakes. Then they strolled across the bridge over the Turtle Creek Dam past the Teddy Bear statues to the Pumphouse to hear plans for the Thursday, April 28, fundraiserfor KIPP DFW at the Frontiers of Flight Museum.

And, of course, The Starlight Singers (aka KIPP Destiny Elementary’s show choir) will return!

According to KIPPster Co-Chairs Barbie Cobb and Sarah Weinberg, the adult know-it-alls will include Texas State Representative Rafael Anchia, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas President/CEO Jennifer Sampson, Editor-in-Chief of Modern Luxury Dallas Kristie Ramirez. Byron Sanders will serve as emcee. And they reported that it will be a tad bit more interactive with the guest participation.

Barbie Cobb and Sarah Weinburg

Barbie Cobb and Sarah Weinburg

Dawne Tribolet

Dawne Tribolet

Lael Brodsky

Lael Brodsky

Jennifer and Tom Karol

Jennifer and Tom Karol


The host committee so far includes Lydia and Bill AddyJennifer and Peter AltabefLindsay and George BillingsleyLael and Peter Brodsky, Barbie and Steve CobbMacey and Steve DavisKoshi and Arun DhingraBerkeley and Jason DownieKristine and Mike DozierBetsy and Richard EisemanNatalie and Rick FielderRebecca and Barron FletcherCassidy and Ben HummelLibby and David HuntAmy and Andrew JentJennifer and Tom KarolJen and Kevin LavelleFay and Brian Lidji, Michelle and Bill LockhartJanie and Cappy McGarrPhyllis and Steve McKnightNicole MusselmanSharon Lyle and Mark MutschinkSusan and Steve O’BrienKaren and Richard PollockKate PorterStephanie and John RobertsCatherine and Will RoseAbigail and Andrew SinwellDawne and Pat TriboletCarol and Ben VigAngela and Brian WalshNicole and John Weeldreyer, Sarah and Russell Weinberg and Michelle and Peery Wood.

This event is one of the really, absolutely, truly fun events. It’s also the fundraiser that makes most adults realize they’re not quite as smart as they thought they were.

LaunchAbility Reveal

Over at the Brad Oldham studios off Ross Avenue, about 65 guests gathered to hear LaunchAbility announce the performer at its annual Special Evening With bash April 5 at the Meyerson Symphony Center. The answer, it was soon disclosed: Martin Short, the Canadian comedian who’s starred in movies (“Three Amigos”) and on TV’s “Saturday Night Live.”

Launchability CEO Kathryn Parsons said that the event would be chaired by Hilda and Mike Galvin—they were hand-picked by last year’s chairs Regina Montoya and Paul Coggins, Kathryn revealed—and that guests would “fill the house,” which seats 1,800. Tickets will go on sale in January.

The selection of Short was sort of a natural, Kathryn added, since comic Dana Carvey was such a smash hit at the LaunchAbility fundraiser last year.

The reveal party also gave attendees an excuse to quaff Dynasty Spirits’ Nue Vodka and visit the studio and retail shop of Oldham, who creates the LaunchAbility awards. Brad and his wife Christy Coltrin have been in the 10,000-square-foot space for about a year.

JUST IN: LaunchAbility’s Special Evening Will Be With Martin Short

There are certain peeps that you just look forward to seeing, hearing and being in their presence. One of them is comedian/actor Martin Short. If the guy has an ego, he’s put it in storage somewhere. Somehow, he’s managed to figure out how to make folks laugh without blushing. Okay, so there may be a wee bit of blushing, but it’s not the type that would shock your Aunt Fan.

Martin Short (File photo)

Martin Short (File photo)

The great news is that the LaunchAbility folks gathered some heady types at Brad Oldham’s studio for the announcement by Co-Chairs Hilda and Mike Galvin of plans for the 2016 Special Evening With….

And, yes, the announcement was that Martin is going to be on stage with his crazy socks and great sense of humor and timing.

According to LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons, “Last year’s event with Dana Carvey was such a huge success, we weren’t sure if we could top it. But, Martin Short might do just that. He is a legend of legends. We look forward to seeing what he will bring to the stage in April.”

The date will be Tuesday, April 5, and the location will be Meyerson. As more news develops, start deciding if you want to be a guest or a sponsor. Tickets go on sale in January.

Now, seriously. Don’t we all need a little laughter?

LaunchAbility Clients And Friends Kick Off “Dance And Donate” Video On Labor Day

Today is Labor Day when the nation honors “the social and economic achievements of American workers.” Some folks have understood this to be muscle-bulging laborers, but it actually means anyone who has held a job, earned an honest living and contributed to their family and society. But there is a segment in society that is too often overlooked when it comes to holding a job, bringing home a paycheck and being a vital party of the community — people with disabilities.

In a report conducted by Control Data Corporation, the research reveals that “If we convert one person into a contributing member of society through a full-time job, it provides a stimulus of $128,000 to the American economy every year. That’s $1.28M per decade. (1982, adjusted for inflation in 2014).”

Luckily, Dallas’ own LaunchAbility has adopted the attitude of “We acknowledge disabilities. But emphasize possibilities.” To achieve this goal, the nonprofit “finds that hidden ability in a client and aligns it with an employer to create a perfect symbiotic work relationship.”

LaunchAbility client*

LaunchAbility client*

In addition to being a responsible member of a company’s workforce, there’s also the human element. According to Alliance Data’s Rodney Swift, “Managing my LaunchAbility clients has made me a better supervisor. I dare say, even a better man.”

LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parson acknowledges Rodney’s comments by adding, “One of the most inspiring quality of our clients is their loyalty to their employer and commitment to doing a good job — despite overcoming challenges and struggles on a daily basis. Our clients are proud to be a part of the businesses that hire them. They are happy and grateful for the employment opportunity. And, that helps make everyone around them feel the same.”

So, it is only right that today LaunchAbility is launching a video — Dance and Donate — promoting its challenge grant from The Meadows Foundation to prepare those with disabilities to join the work force.

Kathryn explained, “This video was so much fun to make – a labor of love. And, we need to remember why we did it. Alliance Data and LaunchAbility want all of our supporters, friends, families and sponsors to take our challenge. Dance and Donate. Show the world what our clients say: ‘You Can’t Hold Us!’ And, what better time than in celebration of North Texas Giving Day on September 17.”

LaunchAbility’s incoming President Sharon Herrin added, “As our funding from the government continues to get cut, we are challenging our supporters to Dance and Donate and help us meet the Meadows Foundation $25,000 matching grant so that the great work of this agency will continue for another 50 years.”

* Photo provided by LaunchAbility

JUST IN: The Meadows Foundation Comes Through With A Grant For LaunchAbility

The stock market and oil prices are creating migraines. So, let’s have some good news. Of course, it comes from the ever-loving Meadows Foundation. It was just revealed that the Foundation has “awarded a grant to LaunchAbility to fill a gap in critical funding.”

Yup, you read it. How much? It’s up to $75K of which $25K is a dollar-for-dollar matching opportunity.

According to Meadow Foundation Senior VP for Strategic Initiatives and Grants Bruce Esterline, “The Meadows Foundation is very pleased to support Launchability’s focus on job training, education and support for adults with disabilities.  We hope many others will assist their efforts to enhance employment services for all who seek to improve their lives.”

This funding will help area folks “with disabilities and the families who care for them” in a variety of ways. It will allow LaunchAbility to jump start some new programs like:

  • Transition Services – expanding fee-for-service offerings to support stronger transition from high school to post-secondary education, training and employment
  • Direct Hire – initiating feasibility studies on building employment opportunities to direct hire 100’s of people with disabilities as well as veterans
  • Technology Skill-building for Autism – bringing a global technology training program for adults with Autism who excel at pattern recognition, are detail-minded and have super-focus abilities.
Kathryn Parsons (File photo)

Kathryn Parsons (File photo)

LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parson admits, “The timing on this grant is perfect for us as we are joining other non-profits throughout the community for North Texas Giving Day on September 17th. We are looking forward to challenging our donors with the $25,000 matching grant. As government funding continues to get cut, The Meadows Foundation is a leader not only in Texas but is a model nationally who proves the incredibly powerful force philanthropy has in impacting lives of people in our community.”

This announcement is grand all the way around. When fundraisers are feeling queasy about the international economy, the Meadows Foundation is continuing to support programs that make a difference for those who probably don’t have an oil well or have a stockbroker on speed dial. So, if you were planning on donating some dough on North Texas Giving Day, LaunchAbility would appreciate a consideration to achievement that matching goal.

Dana Carvey’s A Hit At ‘Special Evening’ Event Hosted By Alliance Data Benefiting LaunchAbility

You can score two smash hits in a row now for the annual “Special Evening” series hosted by Alliance Data benefiting LaunchAbility at the Meyerson Symphony Center. The latest success in the series, “A Special Evening with Dana Carvey,” was presented on April 2. It followed last year’s outstanding “Special Evening with Smokey Robinson,” which had been chaired by Piper and Mike Wyatt.

While both fundraisers were enthusiastically received, the Carvey performance drew a whopping 1,400 guests and generated more sponsorship dollars. How come? “In part it was because of Dana Carvey,” said Karen Wald, president of the LaunchAbility board of trustees. “But it was really because of the donations of the [sponsor] companies and the commitment they have to care.”

Wald was chatting at the pre-show reception—a noisy, crowded affair where LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons was greeting guests such as Kara and Randall Goss, Anne and Steve Stodghill, Holly Reed, Harry Hunsicker, Ellen and Don Winspear, and Kathryn and Craig Hall (they were the evening’s honorary chairs). Over at a table by himself, Jody Dean of KLUV-FM 98.7, the evening’s emcee, was poring intently over some papers. “I’ve got to read the script at least once,” he joked, scarcely looking up.

Soon, it was time for Dean to stride onstage and start the show. Wald told the packed hall that this was the 14th annual “Special Evening” and that, over those 14 years, $5 million had been raised for LaunchAbility, a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities find and maintain meaningful employment. Then, with the help of Parsons and Regina Montoya and Paul Coggins, who were the evening’s chairs, some Brad Oldham-designed awards were given out. PwC received the 2015 Alliance Data Corporate Champion award, while the Milton P. Levy Jr. Outstanding Volunteer of the Year awards went to Laura and Ellison Hurt and Stacey and Nicholas McCord.

Dana Carvey*

Dana Carvey*

Then, it was Carvey time—and the veteran actor and stand-up comedian didn’t disappoint. Reprising many of his hilarious, spot-on impressions from TV’s Saturday Night Live show—he was a regular cast member from 1986 to 1993—Carvey spoofed George H.W. Bush (“…wouldn’t be prudent”) and H. Ross Perot (“You can’t put a porcupine in a bar and light it on fire and expect it to make licorice”).

He said the characters Hans and Franz were based on former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Arnold was always “ruthlessly positive,” Carvey said), and asked, at one point, “Are we near where Dick Cheney shot that guy in the face?!” Other targets of the comic’s pointed, rat-a-tat barbs were John Kerry (“Some feel I look like the trees from the Wizard of Oz,” he intoned in Kerry’s slow, deep voice) and even the Meyerson itself (“I told the promoters I want the ceiling to be 300 feet high. That’s real good for comedy. You always want to be able to fit an aircraft carrier inside the room”).

Following the show Carvey showed up for a meet-and-greet, chatting amiably with guests and sponsors and posing with them for photos.

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

LaunchAbility’s 2015 Milton P. Levy Jr. Outstanding Volunteer Awardees Toasted At Anne And Steve Stodghill’s

Steve Stodghill had had a long day on Monday, March 2. The attorney had cooled his heels in the jury pool all day with the results being he was to return the next day.

Steve and Anne Stodghill and Brad Oldham

Steve and Anne Stodghill and Brad Oldham

So, when he returned home, he faced a house full of people. Instead of heading for a safe room, he snapped into host mode immediately. No complaints because the occasion was for the LaunchAbility Toast. Besides wife Anne had everything under control.

Piper Wyatt and Randall Goss

Piper Wyatt and Randall Goss

Before the presentation took place on the staircase, guests caught up. Randall Goss was solo because wife Kara with daughter Kate PetersonPiper and Mike Wyatt were on hand but with signs of dried tears. They had lost their dear, elderly Labrador Godiva. It was a heartbreaker on the heels of recently losing their Lab Toby…The Stodghill were also dog lacking with the demise of Labrador Zeus. Word has it that they shifting directions and considering a Samoyed rescue. Son Dash was also interested in an orange tabby.

Longtime LaunchAbility supporter Sharon Herrin took her place on the stairway and welcomed guests gathered in the entry hall. LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons told a brief history of LaunchAbility and told how the “A Special Evening with Dana Carvey” was going to be something.

Ellison and Laura Hurt and Stacey and Nicholas McCord

Ellison and Laura Hurt and Stacey and Nicholas McCord

But on this evening, the focus was on the toasting of the 2015 Milton P. Levy Jr. Outstanding Volunteer Awardees Laura and Ellison Hurt and Stacey and Nicholas McCord, who have been longtime supporters and launched the original “A Special Evening…” event back in 2002. In acknowledging their being named as the recipient, both Laura and Stacey attributed the success of the event’s first event to the Stodghills. Of course, Steve couldn’t let that slide by without a follow up, “It didn’t hurt to have Tony Bennett on stage.”

Regina Montoya

Regina Montoya

Artist Brad Oldham, who created the award was without wife Christy Coltrin, explaining that she was touring colleges with one of their kiddos.

After accepting the award, Special Evening Co-Chairs Regina Montoya and Paul Coggins thanked the crowd and told of the raffle items including a last minute add involving Honorary Co-Chairs Kathryn and Craig Hall.

JUST IN: LaunchAbility Announces Dana Carvey Will Replace Bill Cosby For “A Special Evening”

It was just a week ago Thursday that the LaunchAbility team announced that comedian Bill Cosby would be the headliner for its fundraising A Special Evening. Since then, Cosby has been slammed in the media with accusations of rape by women.

While the 77-year-old comedian has refrained from comment and has never been charged with a crime, he has been the center of controversy resulting in the cancellation of an NBC series and the postponement of a NetFlix special.

Due to the situation, LaunchAbility’s CEO Kathryn Parson was contacted about Cosby’s April 2nd appearance. The following statement was just received from Kathryn:

LaunchAbility® announced today that Emmy-award winning comedian, Dana Carvey will be performing at the organization’s annual fundraiser, A Special Evening, scheduled for April 2, 2015. The agency is excited to have an entertainer of Carvey’s caliber to perform in place of Bill Cosby who was previously scheduled.

Carvey was a regular on “Saturday Night Live” for seven seasons and well-known for his characters, The Church Lady, Hans (from the duo Hans and Franz), and the Grumpy Old Man. He is also known as Garth, the ‘most excellent’ co-host to Mike Meyers immensely popular Wayne’s World. His uncanny comedic impersonations of political figures such as George and George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, H. Ross Perot, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, as well as Johnny Carson, Andy Rooney, and Regis Philbin continue to add to his comedic legend.

“We are delighted that Dana Carvey is available to share his humorous personality as our entertainer for LaunchAbility’s 14th annual Special Evening Event on Thursday, April 2, 2015,” Kathryn Parsons, CEO of LaunchAbility® said. “We look forward to welcoming him as our host this year.”

Over the past 14 years, A Special Evening has garnered approximately 2,000 sponsors and raised more than $2 million. All of the proceeds from A Special Evening directly benefit LaunchAbility® and have allowed LaunchAbility® to continually expand its programs and grow each year.

Past entertainers of A Special Evening include the following: Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, k.d. Lang, Tom Jones, The Doobie Brothers, Dionne Warwick, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Bonnie Raitt, The Pointer Sisters, Willie Nelson, Kenny Loggins, Vince Gill and Smokey Robinson.

The 2015 A Special Evening Event Co-Chairs are Regina Montoya and Paul Coggins, and this year’s Honorary Event Co-Chairs are Ambassador Kathryn and Craig Hall. Past honorary chairs are Margot & Ross Perot, Ruth & Kenneth Altshuler, Linda & Bill Custard, Caren Prothro, Georgia & Doug Smith with Jessica Smith, Anne & Steve Stodghill, Sara & Glen Agritelley, Marinelle & Kip Sowden, Ebby Halliday, Laura & Ellison Hurt, Stacey & Nicholas McCord, Brill & Jason Garrett, Marianne & Roger Staubach, Beth & Steve McGaw, and Caroline Rose Hunt.

Past event chairs include Anne & Steve Stodghill, Kate Rose Murphy Marquez, Laura & Ellison Hurt, Stacey & Nicholas McCord, Jenny Wolf & Jay Fox, Kristi & Jody Bare, Nicole Kapioltas & Angie Hubach, Leigh Anne Haugh & Kristen Johnston, Diana Hamilton & Lauren Maggard, Elizabeth & Eric Gambrell, Laura Johnson & Wendy Messmann, Susan & George Kelly, Cecily & Scott Gooch, and Piper & Mike Wyatt.

Sponsorships for A Special Evening with Dana Carvey hosted by Alliance Data, begin at $750 for individual sponsorships and $2,500 for corporate sponsorships.  For more information, please contact Karen Cooper at (972) 991-6777 ext. 7120 or [email protected], or please visit www.LaunchAbility.org.


For more than 50 years, LaunchAbility® has been expanding worlds for people with disabilities by providing services to help them reach their maximum potential. LaunchAbility is dedicated to helping employers build diverse cultures through disability hiring while supporting our clients, who are adults with diverse abilities, in leading independent lives. To do this, LaunchAbility’s team helps adults find and maintain meaningful employment, supporting employers throughout the employment relationship. Our services range from career development/coaching, resume/interview preparation, job identification, and on-the-job coaching for clients, to disability etiquette training and consulting for employers. Please visit our website at www.LaunchAbility.org to learn more.

JUST IN: Bill Cosby To Headline LaunchAbility’s A Special Evening

Bill Cosby (File photo)

Bill Cosby (File photo)

And the news can’t stop coming in.

Each year LaunchAbility has a major headliner on stage for it’s A Special Evening hosted by Alliance Data. Wednesday night at a kick-off party at Event Co-Chairs Regina Montoya’s and Paul Coggins’ home, it was revealed that comedian Bill Cosby will  be in the spotlight at the Meyerson Symphony Center on Thursday, April 2.

Cathy Packard Named Family Gateway’s Executive Director

The Family Gateway folks have just sent word that they have an old, new executive director. And what does “old, new” mean? Well, when Executive Director Rob Alberts resigned in June, a search got underway to find his replacement.

Cathy Packard (File photo)

Cathy Packard (File photo)

It was during Rob’s tenure that Family Gateway held a dinner at the Mansion honoring the late Ted Strauss and the organization declared that it was targeting 2017 for Dallas to be homeless-free for children.

Rob also hired Cathy Packard, who had headed up LaunchAbility, as The Family Gateway’s development director.

After numerous interviews, The Family Gateway decision makers decided that they needed to look no farther for an executive director. They already had Cathy. So, The Family Gateway’s new executive director is a Family Gateway old-timer.

Ah, now it all makes sense.

BTW, one of the first “must-do’s” on Cathy’s list is the Gateway to Opportunity Luncheon on Friday, November 7, at the Ritz-Carlton featuring Andre Norman. It’s being co-chaired by Beth and Ron Hall with Ana and Don Carty serving as honorary co-chairs.

Smokey Robinson is ‘Hella Good’ at LaunchAbility Fundraiser

Smokey Robinson*

Smokey Robinson*

The annual fundraising concert put on by LaunchAbility has featured some pretty big names in its 13 years. Names like Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Bonnie Raitt and Willie Nelson. But few performers or performances have topped Monday, March 31st’s “A Special Evening With Smokey Robinson hosted by Alliance Data, Benefiting LaunchAbility,” which starred R&B legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Smokey Robinson.

Mike and Piper Wyatt

Mike and Piper Wyatt*

Under the direction of event chairs Piper and Mike Wyatt, with Caroline Rose Hunt as honorary chair, the sold-out event attracted more than 1,800 people to the Meyerson Symphony Center in support of LaunchAbility, a nonprofit that helps people with developmental disabilities. Many of the guests enjoyed mingling during a pre-show reception in the Meyerson lobby, where the libations were flowing freely and the heavy hors d’oeuvres—grilled lamb chops, cheesy macaroni, tostadas—were first-rate.

Deborah Montonen, Jody Dean and Kathryn Parsons*

Deborah Montonen, Jody Dean and Kathryn Parsons*

Ebby Halliday and Cody Baker*

Ebby Halliday and Cody Baker*

Among the minglers were … Debra Nelson and John Baer, who’ve known each other since 1985 but only recently reconnected. (Debra, by the way, persuaded her pal Linda Gray to participate in one of the silent-auction packages.) … LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons, who was showing off a Jerry-Szor-made black-diamond necklace, one of the evening’s raffle prizes. … Blaine Nelson, who was chatting it up with Brad Beaird and Holly Reed of AT&T, whose company was slated to receive the evening’s Alliance Data Corporate Champion Award. … KLUV-FM personality Jody Dean, the event’s emcee, who revealed that he’d asked radio legend Ron Chapman to do something really, really big this coming September—and Ron had said, “Yes!”. … Meantime, Piper Wyatt—who disclosed that the event had sold out as of the day before—was showing off her mother Dixie, who’d come all the way over from Louisiana. … Others spotted at the reception included Ebby Halliday (looking spiffy in a sporty wheelchair), Matthew Simon, State Sen. Royce West (sitting at an AT&T table), Nancy Gopez and Shelle and Dr. Michael Sills.

Inside the main concert hall a little later, Jody welcomed everyone with the words, “I am the new starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers.” (The local nine had been battered a few hours earlier in the season opener.) And then: “Sometime in the next eight hours you’ll find yourself saying, ‘Ooo, baby, baby.’ Hopefully, you’ll be saying it to someone else.”

 Karen Wald, Sharon Herrin and Roy Pendergrass Jr.*

Karen Wald, Sharon Herrin and Roy Pendergrass*

After the presentation of LaunchAbility’s Milton P. Levy Jr. Outstanding Volunteer Award—for the first time it went to co-recipients, Sharon Herrin and Roy Pendergrass—Smokey Robinson took the stage with backup singers and a cooking, six-piece band. Resplendent in a white suit, the 74-year-old icon performed like a 44-year-old as he worked through many of the hits from his incredible career.

He started with one of his best, “Being With You,” from the early 1980s, then followed it with “I Second That Emotion,” “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” and “Quiet Storm.” He brought the house down with a super-soulful “Ooo Baby Baby,” then later nearly topped himself with a suggestive newer song called “That Place.” Also worked in were such classics as “My Girl,” “Tears of a Clown,” “Just to See You” and “Tracks of My Tears.”

And, the audience couldn’t get enough. After a thunderous ovation for his version of “Ooo Baby Baby,” Smokey cracked, “We should have played that first!” Out in the orchestra seats, audience member Rebekah Feather turned to a reporter and said, “I hope that you write that he’s hella good. He’s still got it!”

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman


Sold-Out Alert: LaunchAbility’s “A Special Evening With Smokey Robinson”

LaunchAbility just sent word that if you were planning on listening to Smokey Robinson at the Meyerson on Monday, March 31 — Forget it!

"A Special Evening With Smokey Robinson"*

“A Special Evening With Smokey Robinson”*

Well, okay. So “A Special Evening With Smokey Robinson” is a sold-out affair, but you know as well as anyone who knows how to eat with a knife and a fork. . . for a hefty check, a seat or two or whatever can be found.

Love those “Sold Out!” announcements. They’re as pleasing to the eye as Smokey’s R&B-ing is to the ears.

* Graphic courtesy of LaunchAbility

Round Robin February 27: LaunchAbility Sponsors Party, Habitat For Humanity Builder’s Circle And Fashion Stars For A Cause Patron Party

As the countdown for spring break neared, the non-profits were in high gear to squeeze everything in on Thursday, February 27. Communities Foundation of Texas was hosting One Crisis Away at City Performance Hall. The Salesmanship Club of Dallas was hosting cocktails and conversation with Dr. Tina Payne Bryson at the Nurses Quarters in the Old Parkland Campus. Amy Simmons was being honored at Orphan Outreach Children’s Hope Award Dinner at the Hilton Anatole.  Told ya it was a busy evening. Here are some brief recaps of three other fund- and awareness-raising events:

LaunchAbility Sponsors Party

Piper Wyatt and Lynn McBee

Piper Wyatt and Lynn McBee

Piper and Mike Wyatt’s three chocolate labs were held captive in the Wyatts’ bedroom. But don’t feel too sorry for them. Each (Godiva, Toby and Newton) had his/her own monogrammed cushy bed. Still, the party animals wanted out. Even Toby, who was going through bone-cancer treatment. wanted to squeeze through the door to visit with the LaunchAbility guests. Unfortunately, the house was filled with sponsors for the upcoming “A Special Evening 2014 with Smokey Robinson” on Monday, March 31, at the Meyerson.

With Smokey Radio playing in the background, Piper reported that the event was perfectly timed, what with the Motown sound having a resurgence recently. As proof, she pointed out that “Motown the Musical” was coming to the AT&T Performing Arts Center as part of the 2014/2015 Broadway Series.

As for ticket sales for the fundraiser concert, LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons said sales were “way ahead of our week-to-week goals.”

Blending Preston Hollow charm with marvelous antiques and framed photos of friends and family, the home was perfect for partying. Why, the moment one entered the door, they were told, “Head to the left where the kitchen and bar are. That’s where everyone is.”

Unfortunately, some like Lynn McBee didn’t make it farther than the library, due to having to rush off to other commitments like the reopening of Traffic LA.

Builder’s Circle Celebration

Just a few blocks south, the Habitat for Humanity Builder’s Circle was setting things on fire, despite a fire warning alert. But not to fear. There was a definite need for burning “the things.”

Velma Mitchell

Velma Mitchell

So, what was so important to burn on this evening? How about the names of those who had paid off their mortgages thanks to HfH?

According to HfH CEO Bill Hall, the evening at lawyer Andy Sommerman’s brand-spanking new home was a celebration for families that have purchased HfH homes and paid them off.

HfH client Velma Miller said, “I thank God for having a house. . . I think I was Bill’s first client. He put up with me. Bill is a godly man. Most of all I appreciate and thank God, because he cares and I don’t have a mortgage! Now when people say, ‘Do you own your home?’ I can say ‘Yes!’” Not only does Velma own her home, she is now the president of her homeowners association.

Juan Mercado

Juan Mercado

Another HfH client, Juan Mercado, told the guests, “I thank God, too. . . I’m just blessed.” Having been born in Florida, he was left with nothing after Hurricane Andrew. Then he and his family moved to Dallas. “We just trusted God.” But Juan got sick and depressed. He continued, “No income or credit, but we had God.. . . Sometimes we think that nobody cares, but Habitat cares!” A pastor with bilingual services, Juan summed his talk up saying, “My message to you is, don’t give up, because our reward is in heaven.”

Sarah Losinger

Sarah Losinger

Before heading outdoors to burn the names and addresses of homes that had been paid off in a portable fire pit, Builder’s Circle founding Co-Chair Sarah Losinger was presented with flowers. Her Co-Chair Kate Rose Marquez arrived just minutes later.

As the slips of papers became cinders, an HfH representative explained that HfH provides interest-free mortgages that usually take 20 to 25 years to pay off. But Velma and Juan had managed to accomplish this pay-off in just 10 years.

Fashion Stars For A Cause Reception

As the weather was cratering throughout the day back on Thursday, February 6th, Fashion Stars For A Cause Founder Yvonne Crum and Diamond Doctor’s David Blank made the gut-wrenching decision to postpone the champagne toast reception for the safety of the guests. No sooner had that decision been made and communicated than a new date was picked — February 27.

Luckily, this time around, Mother Nature cooperated and the guests filled the Diamond Doctor like carats were being handed out as favors.

As designer Darin Prejean, Tiffany Divis and Connie Miles were headed out for other commitments, Yvonne was extolling all who had helped her launch Fashion Stars for a Cause for Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas. Among the folks included were Diamond Doctor David and his lovely bride Stacy, “Beverly Drive”’s Carolyn Tillery, SCCNT’s Margie Wright, Sevy’s for providing the food and cocktails and FSFC’s Honorary Co-Chairs Melody and Rick Rogers. That last one — Melody and Rick — got a champagne toast from the crowd plus a whoop-and-a-holler.

Yvonne Crum*

Yvonne Crum*

The reception glittered with gems in the display cases and the glamorama guests in attendance. Unfortunately it was so crowded that you either huddled around Yvonne or settled back in comfy chairs along the wall, like Carolyn Lupton and John Clutts.

Carolyn Lupton and John Clutts

Carolyn Lupton and John Clutts

What was learned was the inaugural event is nearing “Sold-Out” status, but Yvonne was begging Dallas Country Club management to add just a couple more tables to accommodate late ticket buyers. She also hinted that some SCCNT supporters were “reselling some tables” since they were extending their spring breaks and not returning in time for the March 21 fundraiser.

Despite the official party-ending time being 8, by 8:30 Yvonne was like a mother flashing the porch light for errant teenagers parked in the driveway. But let’s face it, when you’re having a good time, who wants to call it a night?

* Photo provided by Fashion Stars For A Cause

MySweet2014Goals: Kathryn Parsons

Kathryn Parsons*

Kathryn Parsons*

According to LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons,

“When I first learned of the opportunity to list LaunchAbility goals for 2014, my thoughts went to the usual: budget, staffing, metrics. Then I also considered listing our strategic plan. While we are a metric-driven agency, somehow it never seemed right. So, I held my draft.

“Then, Christmas night, it struck me what was missing in my original submission.

“No matter what specific goals we set for the quarter, for the year, for the 5 year plan, there is one baseline that must be met, and continually challenged, and that standard is our people and our personal commitment.

“Our goal for 2014 is that every person in our organization knows his or her value and importance to the agency, makes a personal statement of commitment and accountability, and we each hold ourselves, our peers and our team to that individual and collective accountability.

“At the close of our 50th year, we have been through six years of growth and survived four years of economic recession. Most recently, we have survived two years of fundamental changes to our business model and managed a merger that quadrupled our size. But, it is not enough for us to survive. For ourselves, our babies and adults with disabilities, our families and our community–we must thrive.

“And, thriving only happens through Team.”

* Photo provided by LaunchAbility

LaunchAbility And The Wilkinson Center Kick-Off “Smokey” And Shaken, Not Stirred Fundraiser Events

October 1 started the month off with a couple of kick-off parties for future major fundraisers.

LaunchAbility Kick-Off

Doug and Holly Deason

Doug and Holly Deason

In Preston Hollow the vehicles were lined up in front of Holly and Doug Deason’s home. The occasion was the kick-off of LaunchAbility’s “A Special Evening Hosted by Alliance Data” and it attracted a crowd that included Anne and Steve Stodghill, Billy Gannon and Brian Demma.

Even though the concert at the Meyerson doesn’t take place until Monday, March 31, plans were already set.

Mike and Piper Wyatt

Mike and Piper Wyatt

Co-Chairs Piper and Mike Wyatt had arranged for Caroline Rose Hunt to be honorary chair.

As for the entertainment, it will be Smokey Robinson. When asked how they decided on Smokey, Piper didn’t hesitate — “I’ve always love Motown and always loved Smokey. Mike and I love ‘The Voice’ TV show, and Smokey did a duet on the show with Nicholas David. Smokey was wearing chunky jewelry, leather pants and I thought, ‘He’s still got it!’”

Across the way, Doug told how Holly’s daughter was going to be one of the 2014 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League debs. He laughed that he felt sorry for Holly’s ex [Lawrence Bock] because of the cost of having a deb daughter. Then he got a double dose of reality. Holly reminded him that they were going to have to buy a table at the ball, and Doug’s own daughter was starting to show signs of wanting to debut in the future.

A dad’s life is a tough one.

Shaken Not Stirred Kick-Off

Across town in the West Village, it was an entirely different story. Instead of a calm residential street, the bustling retail center’s parking was as scarce as cactus in Antarctica. As people dined nearby at Taco Diner’s patio, Kendra Scott’s doors were wide open and with good reason — the crowd, including Craig Innes, Tiffany Divis, Kathy Coons, Adrienne O’Connor, Pam Karlos, Carlin Morris and Al Tatum, kept pouring into the shop. The reason? The Friends of Wilkinson Center was hosting its kick-off for the “Shaken, Not Stirred” gala.

Al Tatum and Anne Reeder

Al Tatum and Anne Reeder*

Pam Karlos, Craig Innes and Carlin Morris*

Pam Karlos, Craig Innes and Carlin Morris*

Slated for Friday, October 25, at the Adolphus Hotel, the James Bond-themed event is being presented by the Orix Foundation. In addition to a traditional dinner, silent and live auctions, casino royale, photo booth, wine pull, open bar and after-party starting at 9 p.m., DJ Red Sean will be orchestrating the music.

Instead of Daniel Craig, they’re having Dallas’ own Mr. Cool — Mayor Mike Rawlings — and his equally cool bride Micki as honorary co-chairs.

To keep guests blinged up for the gala, the Kendra Scott staff not only provided a 10% discount to guests, they also donated 10% of the evening’s profits to Wilkinson. Not to be outdone, Deep Eddy donated their Ruby Red cocktails  and Union Bear offered two specialty drinks with 15% of proceeds going to Wilkinson

Now, that’s the kind of kick-off that gets things shaking, not just stirred.

* Photos provided by the Wilkinson Center

LaunchAbility Patrons Learn The Humor In Personal Boundaries Homework And Plans For 50th Anniversary

Looking and listening to the speaker

Looking and listening to the speaker

Once again the staircase in the entry hall of Anne and Steve Stodghill’s mansion became a speakers corner for a nonprofit pep rally. Last Wednesday the LaunchAbility patrons were mingling and gathering at the base of the stairway to hear about plans for “A Special Evening 2013.” Event Co-chairs Cecily and Scott Gooch reported that LaunchAbility’s 50th anniversary celebration would feature Vince Gill on the evening of April 2 at the Meyerson. Since it’s going to be the organization’s golden anniversary, Cecily wore a gold tunic top. How appropriate.

Hannah Wilkerson

Hannah Wilkerson

They also heard from Hannah Wilkerson, who is a LaunchAbility client working part time at Blue Cross Blue Shield. In her talk, Hannah told of a lesson about personal boundaries that she learned at LaunchAbility. She decided to practice at home on her mom, who was sitting on the couch. Hannah got very close to her mom. “My mom said, ‘Do you have a problem?'” Hannah responded, “Am I making you uncomfortable?” Her mom said, “Yes.” Hannah’s response? — “Check. Homework done!”

LaunchAbility CEO Cathy Packard was next up on the staircase and opened with, “No way I can top Hannah!” However, she did a fine job in trying by reporting that they’re expecting 2,000 guests at the 50th anniversary celebration.

Dr. Richard Adams

Dr. Richard Adams

Another person receiving recognition on the stairway was Dr. Richard Adams. The medical director of pediatric Developmental Disabilities at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children was awarded the Milton P. Levy Jr. Outstanding Volunteer Award.

Stodghill saddle

Stodghill saddle

BTW, next time you luck into visiting  the Stodghills’ home, check out the saddle in the library. It belonged to Steve’s paternal grandfather, who, along with his wife, would ride in parades atop white stallions. Steve got this one and his sister got the grandmother’s saddle.


Pitch Your Nonprofit: LaunchAbility

According to LaunchAbility Trustee Steve Stodghill,



“The mission of LaunchAbility is to help children and adults with developmental delays and disabilities achieve their maximum potential and lead fulfilling lives within our community.

“Last year, LaunchAbility served more than 2,600 people in North Texas.

“The result of LaunchAbility’s work, increasing the opportunity for clients to become productive members of society and reducing need for social services, is a tax payer’s dream:

  • “For every $1 spent on LaunchAbility’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program, $17 is returned to the community. ECI provides therapies and other services to babies and toddlers, birth to age three, who exhibit delays or disabilities such as autism, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, impaired vision, speech difficulties, fine motor skill delays, and hearing difficulties.
  • “Every adult placed in a full-time job through LaunchAbility’s Supported Employment or Academy job skills training programs saves the federal government up to $47,000 per year. These programs help adults with cognitive disabilities, such as Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and traumatic brain injury, train for, obtain, and keep good jobs with good pay, consistent with their abilities and interests.

“To learn more about LaunchAbility, please visit their website at www.LaunchAbility.org.”

-Steve Stodghill

Graphic provided by LaunchAbility 

Scott Ginsburg, Dee Lincoln And Phil “The Man” Romano Provided Tasty Fodder At “Expanding World Luncheon”

Phil Romano makes no bones about it. He doesn’t listen to others. While he claimed that made him an ideal entrepreneur, he also was a memory-maker at Wednesday’s “Expanding Worlds” luncheon at the Hilton Anatole benefiting LaunchAbility.

Jay Hull and Maggie Cooke Kipp

Co-chaired by Jay Hull and Maggie Cooke Kipp, this year’s on-stage chat trio included Phil and fellow entrepreneurs Dee Lincoln and Scott Ginsburg with emcee Scott Murray. And that maverick spirit was the common thread of the three, as was their all having been in the restaurant business and in customer service.

But on this occasion there was no doubt that Phil was the godfather of entrepreneurship and he was not going to be corralled by time restraints.

A perfect example was when emcee Scott was winding things down and announced they were going to have a lightning round of questions requiring “only a one- or two-word answer.”

First question: “As a kid growing up, everybody wanted to be fireman or a policeman or a cheerleader, whatever it was; what did you want to be?”

Dee Lincoln and Phil Romano

Dee: “Airline stewardess.”

Phil: A two-minute monologue about how from childhood he had wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Scott Ginsburg

As emcee Scott tried to lasso Phil to conclusion, Dee asked, “Did you say two minutes?” and Scott G interjected, “This is starting to feel like a presidential debate.” [Laughter]

Phil continued. Long story made short, he wanted to survive and be the best at whatever he did. He feared failure.

Another question raised, brought another Phil-ism. He recalled that after working for a while with the late legendary restaurateur Norman Brinker, Phil was advised to cut his ponytail. On this suggestion, Phil must have listened to his inner man and realized Norman’s wisdom. The ponytail vanished.

Once again LaunchAbility brought together three totally different Dallas personalities to fascinate hundreds for the good of “children and adults with developmental disabilities in achieving their maximum potential and leading fulfilling lives.”

Can’t wait to see which three Dallasites will be talking next year!

Scott Ginsburg, Dee Lincoln And Phil Romano Will Be “Expanding Worlds” For LaunchAbility Wednesday

Scott Ginsburg, Dee Lincoln and Phil Romano

The Expanding Worlds Luncheon has gained quite a reputation for bringing three high-profilers from different walks of life together for a conversation moderated by Scott Murray. This year’s event on Wednesday at the Hilton Anatole’s Stemmons Ballroom is going to keep the momentum rolling with the lineup of Scott Ginsburg, Dee Lincoln and Phil Romano. Talk about three totally different personalities with tales to tell.

Event Co-chairs Jay Hull and Maggie Cooke Kipp have also arranged for 101-year-old Honorary Chair Emeritus Ebby Halliday to be joined by nearly 90-year-old Caroline Rose Hunt as Honorary Chair.

Funds from the 6th Annual Expanding Worlds Luncheon will once again benefit LaunchAbility, which raises awareness about efforts to inspire hope, confidence and independence for adults and children with disabilities.

Graphics provided by LaunchAbility

Share-A-Date: 11th Annual “A Special Evening With Kenny Loggins”

Anne and Steve Stodghill

Monday, April 2: The LaunchAbility organizers have just announced this year’s 11th Annual Special Evening will be with . . . Kenny Loggins! Hosted by Alliance Data at the Meyerson, the concert will also see the presentation of the Milton P. Levy Outstanding Volunteer Award to Anne and Steve Stodghill. The Brad Oldham sculpture award is presented “to someone who has shown leadership in the community in support of LaunchAbility’s mission to build independence for children and adults with disabilities.”

“Anne and Steve epitomize the spirit of the Milton P. Levy Jr Outstanding Volunteer Award by balancing extraordinarily successful careers with tremendous passion and dedication to helping people with disabilities achieve independent lives that in turn benefits the community at large. Additionally they are fabulous parents, loyal friends and dedicated advisors to LaunchAbility,” LaunchAbility CEO Cathy Packard said. “They have helped us grow and shape this organization over the years through their own philanthropy and by inspiring their friends’ philanthropy. Not to mention their priceless contribution in guidance and support.”

Susan and George Kelly are the event chairs with Brill and Jason Garrett and Marianne and Roger Staubach as honorary chairs. 

Photo provided by LaunchAbility