“Farewell Founder’s Luncheon” Celebrates Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Supporters And Launches The Ann Williams Legacy Society

Back in 1996 the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Founder’s Luncheon was the brainchild of DBDT Founder Ann Williams to raise money and to honor “civic and business leaders of Dallas who have impacted Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the Dallas arts community.” Over the years, dozens and dozens of people and organizations like The Meadows Foundation, Liz Minyard, Juanita Brown, former first lady Laura Bush, Isabell Cottrell, Target, Nancy Hamon, Helen Giddings, Ruth Altshuler, JC Penney, Annette Strauss and Mary Suhm were honored.

Since Ann’s announced retirement in 2014, changes started taking place. In addition to the departure of two artistic directors, it was decided that funding for the organization should go in a different direction. Instead of the luncheon event going quietly into the night, it was decided to hold a send-off event — “Farewell Founder’s Luncheon” — at which time the new fundraising program would be revealed.

While some might have thought the luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on Wednesday, January 17, would be a boo-hoo occasion, it was full of cheers for Ann and her organization that is “the oldest, continuously operating professional dance company in Dallas.”

Michelle Thomas

The day kicked off with a VIP Reception in half of the Grand Ballroom for folks like Michelle Thomas, DBDT Executive Director Zenetta Drew, DBDT Executive Board Member Paulette Turner, past honoree Charley Pride and his wife Rozene Pride  and the day’s honorees Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd. Emcee Clarice Tinsley was juggling duties — reviewing script and accommodating requests for photos with Ann. Due to the day’s chill, guests were checking their coats at the door.

Speaking of coats, those heading to the Imperial Ballroom upstairs for the luncheon were finding the hallway brisk to say the least. It made some of the 650 guests opt to pass up the upstairs coat check.

At the back of the room, tables were set up for selling the DBDT’s 40th anniversary books. At the front of the room was a stage large enough for a performance. Down the center of the room was a 12-foot wide aisle with the head table set for 16 next to the stage.

Devrae Jefferson, Lindzay Duplessis, Kayleigh Eidson, Imani English and Chad Vaught

At 11:50 the VIP Reception was breaking up and the ballroom was starting to fill. Standing near the room’s entrance were five of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre Encore members (Devrae Jefferson, Lindzay Duplessis, Kayleigh Eidson, Imani English and Chad Vaught). When asked if they would be performing at the luncheon, they smiled and said, “No.”

Doug Curtis and Ann Williams

Clarice Tinsley and Lucy Billingsley

Zenetta Drew and Gilbert Gerst

Lelious Johnson

Right on schedule the headtable guests including Ann, Clarice, Zenetta, General Co-Chairs the Rev. Lelious Johnson and Kimberley Runnels, Honorary Co-Chairs Lucy Billingsley and Doug Curtis, DBDT Board Chair Gilbert Gest and the day’s honorees and their spouses Samara Kline, Joseph Nash and Frederick Todd were introduced as they entered the ballroom and took their places at the table.

Kicking things off DBDT Board of Directors Rev. Claude O. Maples told everyone to stand including Mary McDermott Cook, Regina Montoya, Marnie Wildenthal and Patricia Meadows. There was a slight hesitation as guests looked around a bit bewildered, but all complied. Then he instructed all to point to Ann saying, “Ann, you go, girl.” With smiles and laughter, the room full of guests joined in to the delight of Ann.

Clarice revealed that the Chilhuly-styled sculptures serving as centerpieces were available for purchase at $200 a pieces.

Dallas Black Dance Academy’s Allegro Performing Ensemble

Following lunch, the Dallas Black Dance Academy’s Allegro Performing Ensemble arrived on the stage and performed “Mandiba.”

Ann Williams and Linda Todd

Ann Williams and Herdercine Nash

Ann Williams and Andy McCarthy

Samara Kline and Kimberly Runnels

It was then time for the final presentation of the Founder’s Awards by Ann to Andy, Linda and Hercerdine followed by Zenetta’s revealing the creation of the Ann Williams Legacy Society that would be supported by benefactors listing DBDT in their will, trust, retirement plan or life insurance policy. Already on board as Charter Members were Norma and Don Stone, who in 2016 added DBDT to their will. 

Herman Houston III

To conclude the luncheon on just the right note, DBDT Encore member Herman Houston III took the stage dancing to Sam Cooke‘s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

At the conclusion of his performance, Ann Williams received a standing ovation for her vision and dedication.

For more photos of the event, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s “Farewell Founder’s Luncheon” Honorees And Supporters Celebrated Overlooking Downtown Dallas

The Dallas skyline was the backdrop and an enchantingly beautiful center-of-room Christmas tree was the centerpiece for the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Farewell Founder’s Luncheon Honoree Reception December 5. In addition to Honorary Luncheon Co-Chairs Lucy Billingsley and Doug Curtis, Co-Hosts hosts Joleen and Jim Chambers welcomed DBDT Founder Ann Williams, luncheon honorees Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd, as well as DBDT Board members Gilbert Gerst, Georgia Scaife, Mark Cooks, Petre White, Paulette Turner and JeAnna Parker. Here’s a report from the field:

From the left: (seated) Gilbert Gerst, Georgia Scaife, Ann Williams and Joleen Chambers; (seated) Mark Cooks, Petre White, Linda Todd, Paulette Turner, Herdercine Nash and JeAnna Parker**

Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) patrons gathered in the home of Joleen and Jim Chambers to be the first to honor three longtime supporters of the 41-year-old dance company. DBDT Founder Ann M. Williams announced the final Founder’s Luncheon would pay tribute to Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd, three outstanding North Texans who have substantially supported the organization. Herdercine Nash has been a DBDT board member since 1988 and helped launch the luncheon 22 years ago as a fundraiser for the organization. Andy McCarthy has been a supporter for over 25 years, serving on the Board during the 1990s and recently giving a leadership gift to support a resident choreographer. Linda Todd has been a Board member for more than two decades and supported the renovation of DBDT’s home, the Historic Moorland YMCA Building, by underwriting the elevator installation.

Christmas decorations*

Between the twinkling lights of the Dallas skyline and the Christmas tree, it was the perfect setting for the honoree reception during the holidays. A brisk northerly wind did not stop some guests from stepping out on the balcony to take in the breathtaking view of downtown Dallas and the Dallas Arts District.

Andy McCarthy, Michelle Thomas, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd*

DBDT supporters started the luncheon 22 years ago as a way to honor Founder Ann Williams, while supporting what is now the oldest continuously operating dance company in Dallas. The luncheon will highlight the legacy and extraordinary service of Ms. Williams to Dallas and the field of dance. Ms. Williams thanked attendees for the various ways they had supported Dallas Black Dance Theatre over four decades. She also thanked Michelle R. Thomas, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Community Relations for JPMorgan Chase, for the bank’s eighth consecutive year as a presenting sponsor and Gilbert Gerst, Senior Vice President of Community Development Lending and Investments for Bank of Texas, for the bank sponsorship of the honoree reception.

Doug Curtis, Lucy Billingsley and Ann Williams**

Seen chatting at the reception, longtime DBDT and facility partners Doug Curtis of AT&T Performing Arts Center and Lucy Billingsley of the Billingsley Company, who are serving as honorary co-chairs, as well as Rev. Lelious Johnson and Kimberley Runnels, the luncheon General Chairs. Fox 4 News Anchor Clarice Tinsley will preside as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Lelious Johnson and Kimberly Runnels**

Chef Carlos Whitfield served up his unique twist of hors d’oeuvres. There was the spicy Shrimp Cocktail Mazatlan that Chef Carlos describes as a fusion dish with influence from Italy, Spain and Mexico. Cucumbers complemented the combination, neutralizing the heat of chili peppers. Chef Carlos also created a decadent dish featuring roasted salmon topped with cured salmon. Herbs and veggies were folded into beef meatballs that had a holiday flavor combining cranberry glaze and barbeque sauce.

Chef Carlos Whitfield hors d’oeuvres*

If you would like more information on how to sponsor or purchase a luncheon table on Wednesday January 17, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, contact [email protected].

* Photo credit: Maegan Hoffman 
** Photo credit: Derrick Waiters

2018 Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Farewell Founder’s Award Luncheon To Honor Founder Ann Williams As Awardees Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash And Linda Todd

Back in 1996 Dallas Black Dance Theatre Founder Ann M. Williams wanted a fundraising event to support the organization’s community outreach and education programs in the area including dance classes, workshop and lecture-demonstration for students. She also wanted to recognize “civic and business leaders of Dallas who have impacted Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the Dallas arts community.” Her supporters came up with the perfect solution — the Annual Founder’s Award Luncheon

Thanks to the support of such sponsors like Presenting Sponsor Chase, the event became the major community fundraiser for the “oldest, continuously operating professional dance company in Dallas,” that was established in 1976.

But the upcoming fundraiser on Wednesday, January 17, at the Hilton Anatole has been renamed the 2018 Farewell Founder’s Award Luncheon. The reason is that it will be the last one. It’s time to launch a new “initiative.”

But the luncheon will be far from a boo-hoo occasion. It will be a celebration highlighting “the legacy and extraordinary service of Ms. Williams, to Dallas and the field of dance,”as well honoring the 2018 awardees Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd

Doug Curtis, Lucy Billingsley and Ann Williams*

Joining Event Co-Chairs Kimberley Runnels and the Rev. Lelious Johnson will be Honorary Co-Chairs Lucy Billingsley and Doug Curtis.

With this finale luncheon just a few weeks away, better lock down your reservations pronto. Plans for the fundraiser’s replacement will be revealed at the meal.

* Photo credit: Derrick Waiters

Theo Ross’ “A Cancer In The Family”‘s All-In-The-Family Genetics Hitting Home With Today’s And Tomorrow’s Generations

Every family has a problem. Perhaps it was crazy Aunt Maudie or the diabetes that has run through more than just an immediate family member. On Friday, February 5, buds Lucy Billingsley and Caren Kline spread the word that their pal Theodore “Theo” Ross had published “A Cancer In The Family” by having a hundred guests in for a book signing.

Lucy Billingsley, Theo Ross and Caren Kline

Lucy Billingsley, Theo Ross and Caren Kline

It was a topic close to both Lucy and Caren. Just that week both women had been touched by the well-being of family members.

Lucy had lost her brother Howard Crow to years of suffering from a disease that had left him in a state requiring round-the-clock assistance.

Caren had zoomed to Florida upon learning that her mother Bettye Whiteman had fallen. No sooner had Caren thought all was well than she learned that Bettye had once again been hospitalized. Luckily for Caren and Bettye, sister Dale Pinto had been able to fly Bettye back home to New York and care.

Theo’s book addresses the very issue of the mystery of genetics and how it impacts all those family members.

Jeff Rich and Jan Miller and Barbara and Steve Durham

Jeff Rich and Jan Miller and Barbara and Steve Durham

After signing mountains of books in the dining room, Theo was in the living room telling guests like Barbara and Steve Durham, Pam Busbee, Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Kathleen Gibson, Lynn and Allan McBee and Nancy Gopez how her research into the world of genetics had resulted in life-changing developments in how she handled her own life.

Pam Busbee, Roslyn Dawson Thompson and Kathleen Gibson

Pam Busbee, Roslyn Dawson Thompson and Kathleen Gibson

Pete Kline

Pete Kline

One question came from publishing agent Jan Miller, who wondered if such genetic investigation would confirm her “absolute” belief that she is African America.

Theo’s “A Cancer In the Family” has been such a hit, a sequel is already in the works. She revealed the dedication in the sequel is to Lucy and husband Henry Billingsley and Caren and husband Pete Kline.