Mirages, Mind Tricks, ‘Intrigue’ And Sticky Fingers Marked The Perot’s Annual Night At the Museum Fundraiser

Tania Boughton, the Texas legislative chair for Childhood Obesity Prevention, said someone advised her to attend “Intrigue,” the Perot Museum’s Night at the Museum fundraiser on Saturday, November 11, because she would see some “very important people” there. She’s glad she did, Tania said, because in no time at all she was meeting and chatting with guests like Diane and Hal Brierley.

Tania Boughton and Hal and Diane Brierley

Like Karen Katz and others, Hal was suffering from a case of “sticky fingers” at the annual gala for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. No, he wasn’t spotted lifting rocks from the Lyda Hill gem room. Instead, he’d just come from the VIP party, where guests including Margot and Ross Perot, Lyda herself, Thomas Surgent, Gail and Jim Spann, Nina and Trevor Tollett, Linda and Ken Wimberly and Sally and Forrest Hoglund were offered “printed photo cocktails” (it was the cocktails that gave rise to the sticky fingers) from the SipMi’ company.

Sally and Forrest Hoglund

To make these special drinks, photographers “shot” the guest, then sent his or her image electronically to the SipMi’ team, which printed out the image on SipMi’s trademark foam, which was then placed on top of the guest’s cocktail. The image stayed perfectly intact, even while the drink was being sipped.

As many as 1,000 partygoers showed up for Intrigue, which showcased “an evening of illusion, magic and mystery,” as per the amazing SipMi’ drinks.

Mirrored performers

The fun had begun outside on the plaza, where guests like Lynn McBee (hubby Allan was indisposed that night), Katherine and Eric Reeves, Russell Holloway, Lee Jamison, and Amy and Michael Meadows entered the museum through a human maze amid music, lights, and models dressed in mirror-covered body suits.

Once inside, they could sample the likes of “Confidentiality” (you had to see the Poirot Crime Lab to believe it) on Level 2, “Natural Curiosities” such as Chemical Caviar and Baffling Botany on Level 3, and the Art of Deception (think 3D holograms and optical illusions) on Level 4.

As they navigated the various floors, the guests enjoyed such fare as a “squid ink” pasta station, mirror-glazed cake bites, “cassoulet” on grilled focaccia with duck confit, and a gravity-separated centrifuge station featuring carbonated mission fig “beer” with lime.

Heather Sauber and Julie Burns

Spotted enjoying the unique fare were Heather Sauber and Julie Burns, who were excitedly checking everything out—for good reason. In April, they’ll be co-producing a gala for Trammell S. Crow‘s Earthx Expo at the Perot, complete with a “green carpet.”

To wrap up The Night at the Museum fundraiser, the Taylor Pace Orchestra played for the after-party, where women traded in their stilettos for more comfortable flats at a shoe check-in.

Hernan J.F. Saenz III and Linda Abraham-Silver

Chairs for Intrigue were Sylvia E. Cespedes, Hernan J.F. Saenz III, and Meredith and Mark Plunkett, while Sharon and Kip Tindell were the honorary co-chairs.

Pausing for a moment between greeting guests at the VIP pre- festivities in the Moody Family Children’s Museum, Saenz—who’s also the museum’s board chair—and Dr. Linda Abraham-Silver, the Perot’s CEO, described their new effort to “redefine what a museum means in the 21st century.” Among their tentative plans for the Perot: more investment in gems and minerals, a new lecture series, and a more aggressive outreach to children in south and east Dallas. All very intriguing, just like the party.  

Dallas Women’s Foundation Luncheon Features A STEM Pioneer—And A Surprise

Leave it to the Dallas Women’s Foundation to host a great annual luncheon—even when things don’t go exactly according to plan. That was the case on Friday, October 20, when the nonprofit presented its 32nd Annual Luncheon, titled “She Who Dares,” at the Hilton Anatole. The keynote speaker was Dr. Hope Jahren, a famous geobiologist whose research focuses on plants and who uses her platform to address the issue of gender bias in the STEM field.

As guests including Margaret Keliher, Mary Martha Pickens, Lyda Hill, and Thear Suzuki packed the Anatole ballroom, luncheon Co-Chairs A. Shonn Brown and Lisa Singleton welcomed them, declaring that “the ballroom is completely sold out!” They also announced that Lyda, who “loves supporting women in science,” had made a generous gift enabling Hope’s keynote talk to be live-streamed to 10,000 girls and young women at 20 different schools across Texas.

Following a video about three women in fields where females are under-represented—they were Jennifer Stimpson, an educator and scientist; Dr. Lucy Gildea, a chief science officer; and Dr. Amy Ho, an emergency physician—NexBank CEO John Holt revealed that the bank would match, dollar for dollar, all donations made during the luncheon, up to $100,000. The number to text was shown on the big screens, and by 11:51 the foundation had already raked in nearly $50,000.

Following an excellent lunch—butternut squash soup, roasted chicken breast, and two desserts—Foundation President and CEO Roslyn Dawson Thompson described the little packets of STEM Trading Cards (each one featured a woman blazing trails in STEM) that were being handed out, and noted that the tote board was rapidly approaching $72,000. Ros then introduced Hope, whom Ros said had written a memoir (“Lab Girl”) that “made me cry and made me laugh.”

With that, it was time for Hope’s much-anticipated keynote. Mixing humor about her Minnesota roots (“If you come to a place where they sell maple syrup and night crawlers—out of the same cooler—you’ve gone to Canada. Turn around and go back”) with a touching vulnerability (describing the lessons she learned from her late father), the unassuming scientist did not disappoint. She also talked about her study of, and love for, plants, which she said do all the things other living things do—except they can’t move.

Hope then described building a laboratory, with materials from Home Depot and Radio Shack, where she studies plants in plexiglass boxes, and how she’s used a $1,000 video camera to document how plants grow. In fact, she went on, she took a photograph of certain plants every 10 minutes for four days straight, aiming to document exactly how “alive” they really are. And, lucky us, we were about to see the result of her photographic efforts up on the giant screen.

Except, we really weren’t. It seems that, for whatever reason, Hope’s laptop screen had frozen, preventing the further projection of any images at all. “Let’s try the next slide,” she called out, to no avail. A technician rushed onstage and fiddled with a few things, but he had no luck, either. “I’m going to go forward and read from the book,” Hope said coolly, “and I’m sure that the powers-that-be will look at this” in the meantime.

Alas, that wasn’t to be, either. Proving the value of a good A/V person, if nothing else.

Amid A Ballroom Of Orange, 2017 Linz Awardee Lyda Hill Graciously Accepted The Accolades And Inspired All Present To Get Involved

With the predictions of a major event collision, the Omni Dallas was ground zero on Wednesday, March 8. Perhaps it was to squeeze in one more fundraiser before North Texas emptied out for spring break. Or maybe it was just the “oops” ingredient for the fundraising recipe.

The problem was the schedule of two behemoth events for lunch — the Planned Parenthood fundraiser with Marcia Clark and the 88th Linz Award Luncheon on the same day. 

In the meantime, the Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Lunch fundraiser was across town at the Belo.

But the gods of planning smiled on the scheduling. Thanks to the Junior League of Dallas commandos, they had scheduled everything down to the second not to collide with the Planned Parenthooders.

Timing was imperative.

From the left: Tom Dunning, Ron Steinhart, Ruth Altshuler, Sheila Grant, John Scovell, Lyda Hill, Dolores Barzune, Walt Humann, Lindalyn Adams, Jody Grant, Debbie Branson, Forrest Hoglund, Bob Thornton and Bill Solomon

The Linz group’s past awardees (Lindalyn Adams, Bill SolomonSheila and Jody Grant, Debbie Branson, Ruth Altshuler, Forrest Hoglund, John Scovell, Ron Steinhart, Tom Dunning, Dolores Barzune, Bob Thornton and Walt Humann) gathered in a side room for a photo with the 2017 Linz Awardee Lyda Hill with the Dallas skyline in the background by 11:10. Then they were led to the VIP Reception outside the Trinity Ballroom.

With the timing of a prima ballerina, the Linz group was cloistered in the Trinity’s reception area just as the Planned Parenthood guests arrived for check-in at the Dallas Ballroom’s lobby.

In the meantime, men and women in blue stood watch. One Linzer wonder why all the security. It wasn’t because of the Linz Award. Rather, the recent protests at the Fort Worth Planned Parenthood had put the local first responders on alert.

When Lyda was complimented about how great she looked, the lady responded, “Take a good look, because it’s gonna be the last you’ll see me like this.”

Orange tableclothes

Despite the protests, Lyda did look great and, of course, was wearing an orange jacket. In fact that was the password color of the day. In the ballroom filled with hundreds of guests, everything from BBFs (Lynn McBee, Millie Cooper, Bobby Sue Williams, Diane Brierley, etc.) to table centerpieces honored Lyda’s love of orange.

Mike Rawlings and Lyda Hill

A couple of fellas like Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Don Glendenning sheepishly admitted that their borderline reddish, yellowish ties were as close as they could get to the color of the day.

Speaking of the good mayor, Mike reported that son Gunnar Rawlings’ wedding to Gabby Gutierrez had gone off without a hitch in Mexico, except for the bridegroom’s limp. Seems Gunnar had fractured his leg and hobbled to the altar. However, Mike admitted that it was a beautiful occasion with the weather behaving marvelously.

While some guests hopped between the Linz Luncheon and the Planned Parenthood Luncheon, 2016 Linz Awardee Debbie Branson got things going in the Dallas Ballroom. No sooner had she gotten the attention of the group than Junior League of Dallas Sustainer President Kitty Peeler thanked The Dallas Morning News and Zales and welcomed Rev. Stephen Swann to provide the invocation.

Planned Parenthood check-in

Following official introductions and recognitions, guests lunched.

Following the lunch, it was time for the salutes and a couple of shots across the bow. Mayor Mike kicked it off welcoming all to the city-owned hotel. He then told how in reviewing the list of Linz Award recipients, he was surprised that only 10 women had received it.

Mike recalled that when the Ebola outbreak and the July 7 shootings took place, Lyda was one of the first to step forward offering help. He pointed out other endeavors in which Lyda was a rock: VNA, North Texas Food Bank, Perot Museum, etc. He finished up by describing Lyda as a “rock of our city and a wonderful gem.”

Jim Moroney

Across the stage in a chair, Linz Award Co-Sponsor Dallas Morning News Publisher/CEO Jim Moroney didn’t look all that happy at the comment about the Linz recipients. Following Mike, Jim said, “Mayor, on behalf of the two sponsors of the Linz Award, I would say that we are not proud of the number of women that have received this award—but I think we’re doing better than the mayors of Dallas… Just saying.” That “shade throwing” got a mix of laughter and hoots from the audiences.

Then Jim got on his bully pulpit, bringing up the problems making headlines — homelessness, police and firemen’s pension fund, renegade dogs in South Dallas, etc. 

Nicole Small

After Mike’s and Jim’s exchange, Linz Award Co-Sponsor Signet Chief Retail Insights and Strategy Officer George Murray along with Lyda Hill Foundation CEO Nicole Small lassoed the group back to the topic du jour — Lyda. Nicole went on and on providing insight about the woman, who prefers to provide for others rather than promote herself. A telling moment came when Nicole asked Lyda to stand. Then Nicole asked all who had known or been friends with Lyda for more than 30 years to stand. More than a third of the room stood. Nicole then asked for a board member or executive director of an organization that Lyda had spent her time with to stand. Another third of the room stood. Her next request was for anyone whose organization had received funding from Lyda to stand. Almost the rest of the room stood. Nicole’s final request was for anyone who just wanted to know Lyda to stand. That allowed the handful of folks who were left to stand. 

The rest of Nicole’s talk was a valentine for Lyda, including the revealing of her love for dark chocolate and her hidden stash in the upper left hand drawer of her desk.

At one point Nicole told how Lyda would clear the trail of branches to make it easier for those who follow. Throughout her various endeavors, that is what Lyda has done — cleared the way for those who follow.

Lyda Hill

Being called to the stage, Lyda started off in typical Lyda form, “I think I’d be smart if I turned around and left right now…. Nicole, you didn’t have to tell which drawer the candy’s in.”

Lyda admitted that she had “born into privilege and have been privileged all my life to live in a great city with generations of community-minded citizens. But I feel far more privileged today to be able to have an impact on the city that I love.”

Despite only knowing her childhood surroundings, she attributed the Junior League’s provisional program for showing her what needed to be done and how to do it.

She recalled that she has lived half of her life following her breast cancer diagnosis. “I’m trying to make the best that I can with my borrowed time.”

Ten years ago when the economy went down, Lyda made the largest grant that she has ever made. The result? “Nothing is more gratifying than being able to experience helping the abused, the homeless and the hungry.”

She pointed out that in reviewing the previous Linz Award recipients, three traits stood out:

  1. They looked ahead to what was coming.
  2. They were entrepreneurs with a can-do spirit.
  3. Collaborations allowed the winners to bring groups together to solve issues.

With the enthusiasm of a child on Christmas Eve, Lyda talked about what the future held.

She encouraged the audience to in turn encourage family and friends to get involved. Within her own family, Lyda not only takes her nieces and nephews on her Meals on Wheels deliveries. She has also established the “Aunt Lyda Grant.” When her nieces, nephews and grand nieces and nephews turn seven, she sends them a letter “offering to make charitable contribution to the charity of their choice for $50 times their age. As they get older, the charities get happier. But most important I asked them why they want that charity, to get them thinking about it. Then I have the charities send the newsletters directly to them. I have also taken all my nieces and nephews and most of my grands to deliver Meals on Wheels. Because I want them to be exposed at how much fun it is to be there and help people and see what it feels like when you’re helping people.”

She closed by saying, “We are lucky to live in Dallas. Spread this luck in your own way. Most people vote every four years, but donors and volunteers daily vote for the kind of action for the world they want to be through their actions. That same kind of world is available to all of us. A world that is full of hope and inspiration for the future.”

For more photos, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 88th Annual Linz Award

With a ballroom decked out with orange tablecloths and many guests in equally orange attire, the Omni ballroom looked a bit like a Longhorn feast around noon on Wednesday, March 8. But, no! It was the 88th Annual Linz Award honoring that orange-loving entrepreneur and philanthropist Lyda Hill.

Mike Rawlings and Lyda Hill

Diane Brierley

Bobbie Sue Williams

Millie Cooper

Lynn McBee

While the post is being prepared, there’s a whole lot of orange over at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

2017 Great Adventure Hunt Provided Brainbusting Puzzles Throughout The Perot From Mother Goose To Fencing For ChildCareGroup

While the black-tie-optional Catholic Charities group was filling the Omni’s Dallas Ballroom on Saturday, January 28, nearly 320 more casual types were on the other side of downtown Dallas at the Perot Museum.

Tori Mannes and Bart Showalter

Joe Mannes and Michael Newman

The occasion was the Great Adventure Hunt benefiting ChidCareGroup and chaired by Erin Nealy Cox and Trey Cox and Nicole and Justin Small and presented by
Data Alliance
. According to CCG President/CEO Tori Mannes, last year’s GAH wizard-behind-the-scenes/journalist Tom Shroder had begged off  this year, due to his writing two books. To seek a replacement puzzle strategist, Tori killed two birds with one stone. She asked past champ team members John Harris, Joe Mannes, Tom Nynas, Kemp Sawers and Elizabeth and Bart Showalter to create the puzzles for the night. Not only did she come up with some real insiders creating the evening’s challenges, she also allowed for a new team to score the top prize.

Wendy Moore Oglesby,, Peggy Allison, Edward Oglesby Gladys Kolenovsky and Lyda Hill

Rena Pederson

One of those vying for the trophy was the infamous Lyda Hill team (Peggy Allison, Gladys Kolenovsky, Wendy Moore Oglesby, Edward Oglesby and Rena Pederson), whose captain, Lyda, has played in every GAH except the very first one. In preparation for the evening, Lyda reported her team had met twice to strategize and to allow each of their strengths to shine. Lyda recalled that her team had won the competition “several times in a row, but not recently. We have to let others win!” she joked.

When asked about her upcoming Linz Award, Lyda admitted that she was truly taken by surprise. She was told about the honor over the phone while she was driving, and was caught totally speechless.

Doug Murray

On another subject, Lyda was asked why time and time again people think her middle name is “Hunt.” While her brother (Al Galatyn Hill Jr.) and sister (Alinda Hunt Hill Wikert) both have middle names, Lyda doesn’t. But she recalled that years ago, everyone was into monogramming. Since a great monogram had three letters, young Lyda gave herself a temporary “H” to fill the bill.

While the cocktail reception carried on in the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall on the third level, production coordinator Doug Murray was preparing the acoustics for the dinner on the first level. Some guests didn’t recognize Doug. The reason? He’s lost 50 pounds—going from a 17 1/2 shirt-neck size to a 15 1/2—by exercising and eliminating soft drinks and breads from his diet. However, he admitted that on Sundays he may cheat and have a pizza. His goal is to lose 15 more pounds.


As for the competition, the puzzlemasters proved their worth.The very first challenge took place at the dinner tables with a round of Bingo, Then they were off and running with “puzzles featuring unique items such as edible clues, Mother Goose, a fencing match, ‘The Hokey Pokey’ and Twister. Some team solved the puzzles with ease, and other chose to receive extra hints.”

Tori Mannes, John Matthews, Kat Kunze, Suzanne Smith, Ben Mackey, Melanie Ferguson and Evgeniy Gentchev*

After the final team “crossed the finish line” and made it back to their tables for dessert and the results, it was team Matthews Southwest (John Matthews, Kat Kunze, Suzanne Smith, Ben Mackey, Melanie Ferguson and Evgeniy Gentchev) that not only took home the prize but also proved to have the distance in their effort. Boss John Matthews had flown in from Canada just to participate in the Hunt.

Other winners included the following:

From the left: (back row) Kathy Touchstone, Jenny Murphey and Jason Arneson; (front row) Kathryn Treece, Alyson Trout and Andrea English*

  • Second place — Kick-Off Party Sponsor Pegasus Bank and Bright and Bright LLP (Kathy Touchstone, Jenny Murphey, Jason Arneson, Kathryn Treece, Alyson Trout and Andrea English.
  • Third place — Meredith and Scott Wallace team
  • Rookie team — Meredith and Scott Wallace team
  • Best Team Name — Valet sponsor Roach Howard Smith and Barton for “Can’7 5OLV3 TH15”
* Photo provided by ChildCareGroup


Oops Alert!: Three-Way Luncheon Collision Scheduled For Wednesday, March 8

Dallas fundraising is less than two months into the 2017 marathon for local nonprofits and there’s already a major collision in sight. It takes place on Wednesday, March 8. Despite Monday, March 6, and Thursday, March 7, being pretty vacant of noontime goings-on, three groups honed in on that Wednesday for their luncheon moneymakers.

And to make matters worse, two of ‘em are taking place at the same venue. Here’s the rundown:

Lyda Hill (File photo)

Steve Mansfield (File photo)

Now, if you’re swift of feet and have plenty of buying power, you might try to hit all three. On the other hand, it’s too bad that the three couldn’t have been spread through the week, so a Solomon-like choice will have to be made.

“Serial Entrepreneur”/Philanthropist Extraordinaire Lyda Hill To Receive 2017 Linz Award

Lyda Hill (File photo)

Lyda Hill (File photo)

Orange-loving philanthropist Lyda Hill has been selected to receive the 88th Annual Linz Award*.

Even before taking Warren Buffett‘s My Philanthropy Pledge, Lyda was hands-on in philanthropy as well as entrepreneurship. She doesn’t just write a check; she gets out there and gets involved.

According to Junior League of Dallas sages, when their Inwood Road headquarters was just in the hope-it-happens stage, Lyda went door-to-door visiting with neighbors to explain how the new facility would fit in with their lives.

Lyda will accept the award at the annual Linz Award Luncheon on Wednesday, March 8, at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Benefiting the Junior League of Dallas, the event is presented by The Dallas Morning News and Zales.

* Please note that in the original Dallas Morning News write-up

  • the date of the luncheon was mistakenly reported as Monday, March 6. It is actually Wednesday, March 8. However, if you would like to show up a couple of days early at the Omni, the staff will be glad to accommodate you.
  • Lyda’s “legendary oilman grandfather” was described as “H.L. Hill.” It is believed they meant “H.L Hunt.” 

Hopefully, the misinformation has been corrected.

JUST IN: Lyda Hill Receives Association Of Junior Leagues International’s Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award

When it rains, it pours. No, this post isn’t about the weather. It’s about Lyda Hill. Back on Thursday, April 2, she received the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from the Cary Maguire Center of Ethics. Today she just received the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc.’s 2015 Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award.

Lyda Hill*

Lyda Hill*

Considered “the most prestigious award given by the League each year,” it is present to “an esteemed woman who embodies the same sense of social responsibility and volunteerism as the Junior League founder herself Mary Harriman.”

Past recipients have included former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former Texas Senator Florence Shapiro, Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support CEO Jan Langbein and community volunteer and philanthropist Ruth Altshuler.

According to Junior League of Dallas President Julie Bagley, “We could not think of a more deserving recipient of this award than Lyda Hill, knowing the purpose is to honor those who are committed to life-long philanthropic efforts in the community. Her incredible and successful efforts to fund medical, scientific and educational communities in Dallas are unparalleled. It is an absolute privilege to have her as a member of the Junior League of Dallas, and it is only fitting for her to receive such a high honor.”

Among just a smidgen of her accomplishments are her chairing or serving as president of “many charities including: Crystal Charity Ball, the Dallas and Texas chapters of the American Heart Association, the Visiting Nurse Association, the Dallas Easter Seal Society and the Women’s Texas Golf Association.

“In 2011, the JLD presented Hill with its Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given every five years to recognize an outstanding sustaining member, at the Leagues’ 90th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon. She was the fourth recipient to receive the award, joining Ruth Sharp Altshuler, Lindalyn Adams and Linda Pitts Custard, who were previous recipients of this prestigious award.”

* Photo provided by the Junior League of Dallas

Clad In—What Else?—Orange, Lyda Hill Receives The J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award

The roster of past winners of the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award is an impressive one, including such names as Curtis W. Meadows Jr. (1997), Stanley Marcus (’99) and Mike Boone (’08). That high-powered lineup—and the prestige that goes with the award—were both on the mind of Bobby B. Lyle when he addressed the 2015 Jonsson awards luncheon at The Pavilion at the Belo Mansion.

Bobby Lyle and Rita Kirk*

Bobby Lyle and Rita Kirk*

Lyle was chairman of the April 2 event, which is presented annually by SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility to recognize “those who exemplify moral leadership and public virtue.” In his remarks to the big crowd, which included previous winners Gail Thomas (2014) and Roger Staubach (’06), Lyle disclosed that several of the past awardees had been honored at a private dinner at McGuire’s house the night before. At that dinner, Lyle recalled Staubach remarking about the Jonsson award: “This is better than the Heisman Trophy!”

Nicole Small and Gail Turner*

Nicole Small and Gail Turner*

This year’s Jonsson award went to Dallas native Lyda Hill, as anyone who looked around the room might have guessed. The color orange—which famously is Lyda’s favorite—was everywhere, from the cloths on the tables and the roses in the centerpieces to the smart jackets worn by Hill and Nicole Small, CEO of LH Holdings, Lyda’s real estate, tourism and venture investment firm. Hill also is the eponym of the Lyda Hill Foundation, which is dedicated to making “transformational advances” in nature and science research and improving local communities.

In her remarks introducing Hill, Small recalled that when she applied for the chief executive position at LH Holdings, her wardrobe consisted entirely of blacks, greys, and browns, and she drove a white car. Small, a quick study, said she “convinced myself that orange is the new black,” and proceeded to go out and buy the orange jacket she was wearing at the luncheon “so that I could keep this job!” She went on to call Lyda fun and adventurous, with a penchant for world travel (she’s been to 180 countries) and dark chocolate.

Cary Maguire and Gerald Turner*

Cary Maguire and Gerald Turner*

Hill herself then took the podium and soon had the audience—it included the likes of Gerald Turner, Jennifer Sampson, Cary Maguire, Forrest Hoglund, Caroline Rose Hunt and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings—alternately laughing and applauding. “My name and Erik Jonsson’s in the same sentence,” Hill began. “Whoa!” She then recalled having volunteered years ago with the Junior League of Dallas for the opening of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, a signature accomplishment of then-Dallas Mayor Jonsson.

According to philanthropist Peter O’Donnell, Lyda continued, Jonsson’s two most memorable attributes were, “He had vision—and he had money.” Well, Lyda said, referring to her father, Al Hill Sr.: “My dad had vision, and my grandfather [H.L. Hunt] kind of passed down the money sense, too.” H.L. used to play gin rummy with Eric Jonsson, Lyda went on, and H.L. invariably won because he had a photographic memory. “It really helps with gambling,” Hill added. “And probably also with oil deals, too.”

Lyda Hill*

Lyda Hill*

After beating breast cancer in the late 1970s—the doctors gave her a 50 percent chance then of lasting five years—Lyda has gone on to become a world-class entrepreneur and philanthropist, investing in early-stage life sciences and supporting a variety of environmental and community-oriented causes. “Hockaday educated me, and the Junior League opened my eyes to the needs” of the less fortunate, Hill summed up. “And I’ve always been proud to be from Dallas. This city is on a high. … But, no great city is ever finished. Eric Jonsson said, ‘The past is interesting, but the future is what’s important.’ We have an obligation to make Dallas better. If we do it, this can-do city can keep on doing.”

Putting an exclamation mark on the thunderous ovation for Hill that followed, Bobby Lyle had the last word. “Thank you for what you are going to do, Lyda,” he said. “That’s what we can’t wait to see.”

* Photos provided by SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public 

Center For BrainHealth’s Legacy Award Dinner Salutes The Warriors’ Heroine Lyda Hill With Accolades And Hugs

Despite the arrival of the season’s first bone-chilling temperatures, Veterans Day activities were not to be deterred. Throughout Tuesday, November 11, parades, lunches and the showing of Travis: A Soldier’s Story at the Majestic saluted past and present veterans.

Over at the Joule Hotel, the BrainHealth Center’s Legacy Dinner got underway with a very special tip of the hat to the veterans and Legacy Awardee Lyda Hill.

Sandi Chapman

Sandi Chapman

April Box Chamberlain

April Box Chamberlain

Nicole Small

Nicole Small

Dianne Cash

Dianne Cash

John Hart

John Hart

Allie Beth Allman

Allie Beth Allman

Lucy Billingsley

Lucy Billingsley

Patrick Walsh

Patrick Walsh

Marti Carlin

Marti Carlin

But before all the hoop-la started, a reception took place in the Fortnight Ballroom with a pretty impressive crowd of 240 including Ellen and John McStay, Sue and Brett Ringle, Lucy and Henry Billingsley, Debbie and Jim Francis, Caroline Rose Hunt and Del Frnka, Kay Hammond, Patrick Walsh, Allie Beth and Pierce Allman, Tincy Miller, Patsy Donosky, Pat and Charles McEvoy, Jody Grant (Sheila was in New York City), Toni and Boone Pickens, Margot and Ross Perot, Barbara and Steve Durham, Nicole Small, Bobby Lyle and Lottye Brodsky, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones and Ka and LL Cotter.

Following a minute by minute schedule, everything was right on target as the group adjourned to the Mosaic Ballroom for dinner and the program.

Coley and Jennifer Clark and Lynn and Allan McBee

Coley and Jennifer Clark and Lynn and Allan McBee

Dinner Chair Lynn McBee on stage with an American flag covering the wall behind her welcomed guests, pointed out key people and revealed a “housekeeping” tip about the valet POA. Guests were to text the number on the valet ticket and then type in the assigned number on the stub when they wanted their car. In turn the valets would text them when their cars were at the curb. Seemed to be very simple. But a wave of whispers went through the room. It was a new-age way of car pickup. Hey, technology has been making its way into fundraising in recent years. After all, iPads and cellphones were becoming the way to bid in and monitor silent auctions. More about valet texting later.

Center for BrainHealth’s Brain Performance Institute Executive Director Eric Bennett recognized “The Warriors,” adding “I’d never had a calling life until two years ago. It was inspirational for me to take this opportunity.”

Jacob Fuller and Jake Schick

Jacob Fuller and Jake Schick

Retired Marine Corps Corp. Jake Schick, who is the Warrior Relations Specialist with the Brain Performance Institute, told how he had been injured head to toe 10 years ago and of the stress of being under fire. Looking directly at Lyda across the room as if there was no one else in the room, he said, “Lyda, you are the epitome of a force multiplier…There’s only one woman stronger than you, probably — my wife. Brownie points, check!…We will not rest until we get where we want to be. As we all know, complacency kills. We won’t get complacent.”

Following the invocation by Navy SEAL vet Jacob Fuller, dinner (market lettuce salad followed by beef tenderloin and snapper served with risotto-style butternut square barley, sautéed spinach and read wine sauce) was served. That was when the schedule went off kilter. The original plan called for the rest of the program to continue after dessert (banana wafer trifle) was served. But the first two courses evidently took a bit longer than organizers allowed. So, the trifle was put on hold and the program proceeded.

Lyda Hill and Jake Schick

Lyda Hill and Jake Schick

During dinner, Lyda, who usually shies away from being photographed, asked for a snap with Jake.

Debbie Francis and Kimber Hartmann

Debbie Francis and Kimber Hartmann

At 9 p.m., BrainHealth Advisory Board Chair Debbie Francis recognized the warriors and the previous Legacy Award recipients (Dianne Cash, Boone Pickens, James Huffines and Jane and Bud Smith). She then talked about the “soon-to-be” Brain Performance Institute: “With Lyda, one can expect the unexpected. She is tough, but always kind. Smart, yet always eager to learn. When Lyda makes a gift, she makes a true difference.”

A video followed showing how Lyda’s gift had made everything possible including the ability to reach 500+ warriors so far in 2014.

Sandi Chapman and the Warriors

Sandi Chapman and the Warriors

With warriors standing on stage, Dr. Sandi Chapman then told the group of the “two sister problems coming out of the war: PTSD and Traumatic Brain Disorder.” But thanks to Lyda’s “initial capstone gift,” positive results were taking place.

Sandi Chapman, Lyda Hill, Jacob Fuller, Mike Rials and KeeShaun Coffey

Sandi Chapman, Lyda Hill, Jacob Fuller, Mike Rials and KeeShaun Coffey

Upon accepting the Legacy Award, Lyda told the group that it was her nephew Michael Wisenbaker, who “kept bugging her” to do something about the returning vets and their problems. In conclusion, she said, “I’m overwhelmed and honored to receive this.” Then she added that she was accepting the award on behalf of all Americans.

Banana wafer trifle

Banana wafer trifle

As the guests started texting for their cars and heading for the elevators, servers entered the ballroom with desserts in hand.

Alas, the scene at the curb wasn’t quite as glorious as the evening’s program. It was more a Marx Brothers throwback. Corporate CEO’s and community leaders followed the texting instructions and looked like school children who have presented their homework perfectly. For their efforts, they almost immediately received the following text: “The Joule has received your request for ticket 127769. We will notify you when your vehicle will be ready.”

Guests looked relieved that the hi-tech valet program was working so seamlessly.

But those feelings changed when a second text was received — “Unfortunately, no valets are available to retrieve your vehicle at this time. Please try again in 10 minutes or present your ticket to the valet stand.”

Nobody was waiting. Guests hit the valet stand en masse proving the old-fashion way of retrieving cars still worked.

The good news is that it provided a subject for conversation on the ride home or as one guest laughed, “We don’t need those desserts. I’ve got my Baskin-Robbins on the way home!”

As for the Joule, it was back-to-the-tech drawing board to rethink the cool way to retrieve a car.

And as for the vets, they blew it off. It was such a non-big deal after all they had faced and are facing.

Center For BrainHealth’s Legacy Award Dinner To Have Lynn McBee Chair And Lyda Hill Honored

Debbie Francis (File photo)

Debbie Francis (File photo)

Dr. Sandra Chapman (File photo)

Dr. Sandra Chapman (File photo)

Ran into brain trust sweetheart Debbie Francis, who reported that Sandi Chapman and the brainiacs at Center for BrainHealth have managed to snag a couple of local top gals for the 2014 Legacy Award dinner.

Lynn McBee (File photo)

Lynn McBee (File photo)

Lyda Hill (File photo)

Lyda Hill (File photo)

To chair the Tuesday, November 11 dinner, they’ve recruited Lynn “Energizer Fundraiser” McBee.

And to receive the 2014 award, they’ve landed Lyda Hill (aka Santa Claus’s Dallas counterpart). Besides sharing her fortune with so many like Hockaday and M.D. Anderson, Lyda has “furthered our work with pediatric brain injury, healthy aging and military service members. Lyda’s most recent gift has ignited the creation of a mobile Warrior Training Team that delivers scientifically proven programs to military service members nationwide through our translational arm, the Brain Performance Institute.”

FYI: If you’re fearful this dinner is only for valedictorians or Mensa members, rethink. They don’t use ginormous words nor talk over anybody’s head. And you just know if Lynn and Lyda are involved, it’s going to be a fun evening.

It’s a fascinating evening, where development in improving brain power is the center of attention. So, why not spoil that cute noggin of yours and take it out to support its future health. As soon as tickets are available, MSC will let you know.

Lyda Hill Pledges $50M To University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program

Well, she’s gone and done it again. Lyda Hill just pledged $50 million to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program.

Lyda Hill (File photo)

Lyda Hill (File photo)

“We’re astounded by Lyda Hill’s incredible generosity and humbled by her commitment to cancer patients and their families through this truly transformative gift,” said Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “Its broad application across the cancer care continuum of prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship will play a significant role in the success of the entire Moon Shots Program, especially in the areas of early detection, risk assessment and the development of more effective treatments for multiple cancer types.”

What are “Moon Shots”? No, they’re not a new cocktail nor a video game. It’s “an unprecedented, comprehensive assault on cancer.”

The program is made up of six teams of MD Anderson professionals with the focus on the following eight cancers:

  • acute myeloid leukemia (AML)/myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS),
  • chronic lymphocytic leukemia,
  • melanoma,
  • lung cancer,
  • prostate cancer, and
  • triple-negative breast and high-grade serous ovarian cancers.

Lyda’s gift will “support high-priority flagship projects including:

  • the lung cancer team’s efforts to develop mire reliable, low-cost screenings that can be available in community clinics, including blood-based biomarkers to detect the disease at its earliest stages and
  • the breast/ovarian cancer team’s integrated program to screen patients for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations and to prescribe new personalized therapies.

“I’m excited about the Moon Shots Program,” said Hill. “It represents a different direction for research that crosses disciplines and offers new hope for breaking cancer’s codes. I’m pleased to offer my support to this historic effort.”

In honor of Lyda’s generosity, “the institution will name the Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center.”

The Moon Shots Program will cost $3 billion in the first 10 years.

Santa Claus had better watch out. Lyda is giving him a run for his money when it comes to being the #1 gift giver.

JUST IN: Lyda Hill Does It Again!

Lyda Hill

Lyda Hill is known for being partial to orange, but she should be wearing Santa Claus red and white since she’s becoming the gift giver of Dallas.

It was just announced that Lyda’s foundation has given $1 million to KERA for the expansion of its regional news coverage.

It was just last year that she provided funding for “news reporting, coverage and programs about health and science on KERA. That gift supported the weekly Health Checkup segment with Sam Baker. . . [and] two KERA-FM special series on cutting-edge research, Going Green: The Practical Payoffs and the award-winning Engineering Hope.”

Lyda explained, “As a KERA viewer, listener and donor, I recognized the importance of funding such a vital community resource. This gift is also meant to inspire others to support the kind of local news stories and reporting not found anywhere else in North Texas.”

MySweetCharity Is In Heady Company When It Comes To “Oops!”

Linda Custard and Lyda Hill (File photo)

Back in April, MySweetCharity reported Lyda Hunt Hill‘s $20M gift to Hockaday. A few days after reporting the good news, word made its way to MSC headquarters that Lyda did not have a middle name. She was simply “Lyda Hill.” Yes, she was the granddaughter of the late Lyda and H.L. Hunt, but she had no middle name.

The information was branded forever in our data file.

Ah, but it seems that MySweetCharity wasn’t the only one to err about Lyda’s name. Next time you’re at the Junior League of Dallas, check the name over the entrance of the auditorium. Or, if you have an official list of past Idlewild débutantes, check the group in 1964.

The good news is that Lyda has a great sense of humor and is forgiving.