Former First Twin/Author/”Today” Show Jenna Bush Hager Brought The Importance Of Family To Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon

Despite a presidential debate taking place the night before, former First Twin Jenna Bush Hager had nary a question about politics at the meet-and-greet for Family Gateway’s “Gateway to Opportunity” on Tuesday, September 27, at the Omni Dallas Hotel.

One guest at the meet-and-greet in Fair Park II Suite brought a a copy of Jenna’s “Our Great Big Backyard” that she had co-authored with her mom/former First Lady Laura Bush. Another guest also brought her daughter….well, sorta. Seems her daughter wanted to attend but couldn’t. So mom had a head cutout on a stick made of her daughter and held it proudly when she  had their picture taken with Jenna.

As folks lined up to be photographer with the “Today” contributing correspondent, someone noticed that co-author Laura Bush had arrived. Still Jenna was the Bush of the hour.

One event planner admitted amazement how accommodating Jenna was posing for cellphone selfies and flashing a homecoming queen smile for each shot.

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Bay Miltenberger

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Bay Miltenberger

And since Family Gateway is dedicated to help families, it was a family driven event. Co-Chair Paula Miltenberger managed to get shots of her boys (Bo Miltenberger and Brady Miltenberger), her mom (Dianne Bosler) and hubby (Bay Miltenberger) with Jenna. Co-Chair Tracy Lange also had photos taken of husband (Ben Lange), daughter (Livia Lange) and son (Luke Lange) with Jenna.

Jenna Bush Hager, Livia Lange and Tracy Lange

Jenna Bush Hager, Livia Lange and Tracy Lange

Luke Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Luke Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Ben Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Ben Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

It was touching to have sisters Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr at the luncheon. Their mother, the late Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss, founded Family Gateway to provide “supportive housing, access to early childhood development, after-school tutoring and mentoring” 30 years ago.

Ruth Altshuler, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr

Ruth Altshuler, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr

No sooner was there a last call for a photo with Jenna made, then she left to join the crowd in the Trinity Ballroom. As the guests began to leave the room, some mighty big and fine checks showed up from Matthews Southwest and Sammons Enterprises much to the delight of Family Gateway Executive Director Ellen Magnis.

Lisa Troutt and Michael Faircloth

Lisa Troutt and Michael Faircloth

Tracy and Kent Rathbun

Tracy and Kent Rathbun

Inside the Dallas Ballroom, the guests (Honorary Co-Chairs Tracy and Kent Rathbun, Underwriting Co-Chairs Ciara Cooley and Lisa Cooley, Bela Piertrovic, Bianco Filio, Anne Davidson, Ana Carty, Ruth Altshuler, Lisa Troutt, Michael Faircloth, D’Andra Simmons, Gene Jones, Angie Kadesky, Missy Falchi, Jeanne Cox, Christie Carter, Claire Emanuelson, Jack Matthews, Scott Galbraith and Gina Betts with her longtime associate Joan Rose, who is retiring) were taking their places.

Emcee/WFAA co-anchor Ron Corning welcomed the crowd and had Highland Park United Methodist Church Rev. Susan Robb provide the invocation.

Anne Johnson

Anne Johnson

Following lunch, Ron introduce Family Gateway Chairman of the Board Anne Johnson, who told of a client, who was juggling a job, running a household and raising children. When Anne asked her how she was handling it all, the woman responded, “I’m doing great. I have a plan. At Family Gateway they treat me like an adult with respect. My kids see that and I feel for the first time that like I can do this.”

Ellen told how during the first 25 years, Family Gateway served approximately 55 families annually. Last year, it provided safe housing and services to almost 500 families. Of the families help, most are single mom situations. One of the differences of Family Gateway is that they have all types of families. Some have grandparents, single fathers with children and married couples with children. It will also accept boys of a certain age that most shelters will not take in resulting in the youths to be sent to a men’s shelter.

Ellen admitted that one of the frustrations facing Family Gateway is affordable housing for clients. However, she was pleased…no, more than pleased to announce a partnership with Matthews Southwest to develop such housing providing 336 units near the International Inland Port of Dallas in Hutchins.

Shanjula Harris

Shanjula Harris

As proof of their efforts, Tracy and Paula introduced former client/mother of three Shanjula Harris, who told how she rose from the darkest depths of her life as a mother unable to provide for her children thanks to the volunteers and staff at Family Gateway. She admitted that the hardest part was being scared alone. Thanks to Family Gateway, she was freed of that fear and was no longer alone. Today she has a place for her family, a job that she looks forward to and wants to make a difference in the world. “I hope I am living proof that you have made a difference. For those of you who have been a member of Family Gateway family, thank you for believing in me.”

Following a call to offer financial assistance, MetroPCS Director Ethan Stubbs reported that in addition to be the 2016 presenting sponsor, it had signed up for 2017. In addition to financial support for Family Gateway, they were also rolling up their sleeves to provide hands-on involvement on events throughout the year. He then introduced Jenna and went off script saying that he had put her most recent book — “Our Great Big Backyard” — to the test with his six children ranging from 18 months to 13 years. “We read the book and they stayed engaged the entire time which is not an easy thing to do.”

From the left: (seated) Peter Slater, Ethan Stubbs, Barry Carlson, Steve Seay and Luis Reynoso; (standing) Suzy Kelley, Mike Loverde and Christy Harris

From the left: (seated) Peter Slater, Ethan Stubbs, Barry Carlson, Steve Seay and Luis Reynoso; (standing) Suzy Kelley, Mike Loverde and Christy Harris

Before starting Jenna admitted that she cries at the drop of a hat. Throughout her talk, she teared up whether it was talking about her children, recognizing Shanjula for her testimonial, acknowledging Annette for creating Family Gateway and thanking those who have followed her lead.

But her message was one of how important the family was and the lessons that are handed down from generation to generation. Just as her grandfather, former President George “Gampy” H.W. Bush had learned about giving back from his mother. “He wrote about it in a letter in 1997, “Early on my mom gave us profound advice. It sounds simple now, but when I became President I knew just how sound it was — “Be honest; tell the truth; be kind.”

This message of compassion and giving back had really hit home with her since the birth of her two daughters — Mila Hager and Poppy Hager. As she recalled how fortunate her own daughters were to have been born with a home, loving parents and grandparents, with warm water for baths and rooms full of books, her voice choked. Her hope was that she could “teach them the luck that they were born, so they can spread luck to other kids who live in the same circumstances.”

At this point, she decided some comic relief was needed and brought the group up to date on her family.

  • “My mom is now commanding the ex-commander-in-chief to pick up his dirty towels and underwear.”
  • “My grandparents — Gampy and Gammy — are doing very well. You may have heard that my grandfather was sick several years ago and was hospitalized. It was actually Christmas Eve and we were in Richmond, Virginia, where my husband’s family lived. If you think this has been interrupted by emotion, you should have seen that meal when my parents called” to get to Houston “to say good-bye.” In the ride to the hospital, they all agreed they were not going to cry. They were going to upbeat. But Jenna, who was six months pregnant, Gampy touched her stomach and whispered, “The circle of life. I can’t wait to meet this baby.” The entire room broke down crying. While the rest of the family was prepared for the worst, Bush matriarch Barbara Bush knew he would pull through. “She’s known as the enforcer in our family. And when she speaks, we listen. She told him about all the things he had to look forward to — two great grandchildren being born, my dad’s library opening here in Dallas — and he had no choice but to live.”
  • Her dad (former President George W. Bush) has been working on his golf game and his art. “I just can’t believe he’s an artist.” According to Jenna, there was a period when he “would only communicate through his art.” He would send a sketch of an airplane saying “Flying to Arizona.” With a twinkle in her eye, she said that “Barbara (Jenna’s twin sister) and I were actually secretly worried about him.” When they would ask what time he would be landing, he would respond with the drawing of a clock. Jenna described that time, “We were playing Pictionary every day.” His art has moved from portraits to pets to landscapes and “now world leaders. If you haven’t seen his Putin, you really should.”
  • Describing her mom, who was seated nearby, she asked if anyone else in the audience had had a librarian for a mother. When one person responded, Jenna said to the woman, “So you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes it seems like the fun would just never end.” In working with her mom on a new book about the national parks, Jenna described Laura as “a tedious editor. I don’t recommend you ever sending anything to her unless the grammar is absolutely perfect.”

Getting back to the day’s mission, she recalled how despite having earned her teaching certification, she still wasn’t prepared for 24-nine-year-olds or the poverty in inner city D.C. and west Baltimore… “No class could have taught me what to say to a child who had witnessed a stabbing on the way to school or comfort a young man who learned his father was going to jail. My kids were/are brilliant, but the odds are stacked against them like many of the kids from Family Gateway. They were hungry. Their parents were working multiple jobs to support them. And society in many ways dictates that they won’t be successful and they won’t graduate. I will say, though, that my sixth grade class from the school in Maryland not only all graduated from high school a couple of years ago, but they all 100% got into a college.”

Jenna Bush Hager and Ron Corning

Jenna Bush Hager and Ron Corning

In the fall of 2006 Jenna moved to Latin America and met Ana, a 17-year-old single mother with HIV AIDs. She, like Shanjula, talked about being alone and how supportive programs helped her. At the women’s conference, where Jenna met Ana, the young mother grabbed the microphone and said, “I want everyone to know that we are living with HIV. We are no longer dying from it. So, let’s make our lives matter. Let’s live to make a difference. Let’s make our lives count.” As a result, they met throughout Jenna’s nine months in Latin America resulting in the book, “Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope” and her job with NBC’s “Today” show.

Ron returned to chat with Jenna and opened with, “So who do you think won last night’s debate?” (Laughter) Jenna responded, “I don’t think my mic is working.”

Jenna Bush Hager with "the boys"

Jenna Bush Hager with “the boys”

  • Young volunteers — When asked what got her into this service mode, she responded that it was by her parents’ example. Jenna then pointed out impressed she was by the “little boys,” who had been helping at the luncheon.
  • Teachers — She stressed the importance of today’s teachers and how they do much, much more than fulfill the requirements. “Show the teachers in your community that their job isn’t necessarily ‘cute,’ but it’s hard and it’s really, really important.”
  • Her job on “Today” — She was originally to cover education seven years ago, but it’s evolved to all subject matters. “Tomorrow I’m interviewing Reese Witherspoon.”
  • Cellphones — “It’s not just our kids looking down. Parents need to put their phones down and listen to their kids.”

For more photos, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Oops Alert: Family Gateway’s “Gateway To Opportunity” Luncheon Is Tuesday, Not Wednesday

It’s Monday. It’s wet. It’s cool-ish. It has all the elements for an oopsie taking place. And that’s what happened. Normally, most “oopsies” at other media outlets would just be dismissed as, “So who cares?” But this one has organizers a wee bit concerned, so we’re setting the record straight.

Jenna Bush Hager*

Jenna Bush Hager*

Ron Corning (File photo)

Ron Corning (File photo)

It seems that a daily newspaper column on philanthropy reported bright and early this morning that the Family Gateway’s “Gateway To Opportunity” featuring Jenna Bush Hager at the Omni Dallas Hotel was taking place on Wednesday. So, what’s so earth-shattering about that? Jenna will indeed be at the Omni and she’ll have a chat with WFAA’s Ron Corning. And it will benefit Family Gateway for homeless families with children.

The problem is that it’s taking place tomorrow, like Tuesday, instead of Wednesday.

As of 9:30 a.m. today, the website still had the incorrect date, so please think Tuesday. Because if you show up Wednesday, you’re gonna miss out on Jenna, Ron and a whole lot of your friends.

BTW, some tickets are still available here.

* Photo provided by Family Gateway

WAIT LIST ALERT!: August 19th Media Panel For Nonprofits

MySweetCharity

MySweetCharity

Oops! That post about groveling got a response. Within minutes of the post going up, the August 19th Media Panel was filled to capacity. But…and you just knew there would be a “but”… a waiting list has been put into place. So, if someone can’t make it due to a conflict (example: your boss wants to meet with you about that raise), they’ll be replaced by folks on the waiting list.

And if you think waiting lists never work, rethink that. Thankfully, the past waiting lists have been very successful. Why? Because signed-up guests actually notify of their being unable to attend.

PlainsCapital's Mo the Buffalo

PlainsCapital’s Mo the Buffalo

So, if you’ve signed up, congrats! Remember to get there early (preferably before 8:45 a.m.). There will be friendly people in the PlainsCapital Bank headquarters lobby to direct you to the site of the panel. It’s a very cool room that overlooks Victory. Remember to bring along your questions, whether they’re in your mind to ask or on a piece of paper for the bowl. You’re gonna be in mighty fine company. Yes, the panelists (Kristina Bowman, Ron Corning, Jane Rozelle and Jeanne Prejean) are interesting, but your fellow guests come from all walks of nonprofiting. Please consider making time before and after the panel to meet others in your industry. The collection of professionals is a wealth of experience and knowledge.

And if for any reason you can’t make it, send your regrets here. And while we’ll miss you a ton, we won’t ask for a written excuse from your boss or doctor.

On the other hand, if you haven’t signed up, don’t give up. Register for the wait list and keep those manicured fingers crossed.

BTW, we tried to get PlainsCapital’s Mo the Buffalo to make a personal appearance at the panel, but he has this thing about elevators and thought it best to take a pass.

Grovel Alert: August 19th Media Panel For Nonprofits

MySweetCharity

MySweetCharity

Well, shoot! You did it again. Despite the late notice, the Media Panel For Nonprofits on Friday, August 19, at PlainsCapital Bank headquarters is within a whisper of being filled to capacity. Translation? Don’t put off signing up any longer.

In fact the response has been so overwhelming that the PlainsCapital folks are reporting that gratis parking is going to be as tight as enamel on teeth. But never fear. They don’t want panel guests to be worried, so they’ve provided a couple of suggestions:

  1. Check-in starts at 8:30, but try to get there no later than 8:45 a.m. There will be plenty of coffee on hand.
  2. If you have an associate also attending, think about carpooling.

Word has it that even adorable panelist WFAA’s Ron Corning is going to hike on over from the station’s Victory studio, just to allow an extra parking space.

PlainsCapital Bank*

PlainsCapital Bank*

If you’re already signed up, start thinking about the questions that you’re going to pose to the panelists that include Ron, PaperCity’s Jane Rozelle, photographer Kristina Bowman and MySweetCharity’s Jeanne Prejean. And if you’re shy about asking a question in person, write it down and put it in the bowl at the check-in table.

It’s gonna be fun, informative and a great way to start the weekend.

* Graphic provided by PlainsCapital Bank

JUST IN: Media Panel For Nonprofits Is Nearing Done-Deal Status

MySweetCharity

MySweetCharity

Oh, dear! With such short notice, the prediction for the nonprofits’ media panel on Friday, August 19, was that perhaps a baker’s dozen would sign up. But, oh, no! So very wrong.

Understand that the sign-ins are coming in nonstop. Guess word has gotten out that PaperCity’s Jane Rozelle is gonna have all the scoop about the new format that the monthly publication will be introducing in September. Or, maybe it’s WFAA’s Ron Corning’s additional duties as commentator and doing lengthier interviews with the likes of Tyler Perry. Or, perhaps it’s photographer Kristina Bowman’s fessing up on how to work with photographers and what types of photos to submit.  Everyone is hoping that MySweetCharity’s Jeanne Prejean will take her friendly medication and explain the easiest way to get coverage on MSC and answer any questions about the lifestyle of elves.

Since one of the most popular parts of the past panels has been the Q&A, it will be nicely in place and open to all questions. One surprising development that took place at the last panel was the nonprofit representatives networking and exchanging ideas with each other afterwards.

The conversation will once again be an honest effort to help those working with nonprofits to get their message across to both established and potential fans.

One nonprofit marketing staffer is even bringing along her CEO to help her boss better understand why their stories aren’t on CNN. Another PR firm that doesn’t normally deal with nonprofits is sending a couple of their associates to learn the unique issues facing nonprofit media pitching.

PlainsCapital Bank*

PlainsCapital Bank*

And, thanks to PlainsCapital Bank, the whole morning of chatting is free. They’re even gonna provide a great view of Victory plus a continental breakfast!

But there is a catch. You’ve got to register here and do it pronto. All you have to do is provide your name, the nonprofit that you work with and a phone number. (BTW, your information will NOT be used for any solicitation by anyone or any group.) Then mark down August 19 for an 8:30 check-in at PlainsCapitals headquarters. After the panel, go have a leisurely lunch and take a nap with visions of headlines promoting your nonprofit!

* Graphic provided by PlainsCapital

PlainsCapital To Host A Free Media Panel With The “Four Hoarsemen” For Nonprofits

MySweetCharity

MySweetCharity

It ain’t easy being in charge of a nonprofit marketing. That’s especially true when it comes to dealing with the press. Those media types seem downright cranky at times and they are so persnickety. They make all types of demands like

  • the release should have been sent a year in advance,
  • the type should be in a certain font
  • a release should be sent in PDF format
  • a release should not be sent in PDF format
  • a TV crew won’t cover a shoe drive for centipedes
  • the photo has to be in some kind of resolution

Gee! Talk about difficult people.

For this reason, a media panel was held twice this past year for nonprofits to hear the good, the bad and the ugly from four media veterans. Not only were the sessions filled to capacity, but another open forum has been demanded.

And once again, it’s free! Thanks to PlainsCapital, the gathering will take place on Friday, August 19. Check-in will start at 9 a.m. and guests will be out just in time for lunch or to dash off for the weekend.

Returning to face the nonprofits will be the original “four hoarsemen” (photographer Kristina Bowman, WFAA anchor Ron Corning, MySweetCharity’s Jeanne Prejean and PaperCity’s Dallas Social Editor Jane Rozelle).

It’s open to anyone who deals with area nonprofits and the media. Yes, even veteran PR folks who have a nonprofit client are invited to attend.

The only caveat is that it’s first-come, first-registered. So, send in your registration here. You’ll need to provide your name (duh), the nonprofit that you work with and a phone number, just in case the event is cancelled due to snow. Once you register, you will be provided with directions and parking instructions.

And, if you haven’t attended a previous “chat,” you’ll want to leave your “this-is-so-boring” expression at home. There is no telling what is gonna be said or what insider info will be shared. The one thing for sure is that it’s informative and fun.

Warm Up Your Nominating Brain Cells For CNM Connect’s “A Night Of Light” Awards

It used to be known as The Center for Nonprofit Management, but that seemed like an awful long name. So, a couple of years ago it had a “name lift” and became CNM Connect. Despite the name tightening, its mission stayed right on course — “to strengthen community by connecting and engaging nonprofits and other stakeholders through leadership, management expertise and outcomes technology.  In addition to providing executive recruiting, seminars, certificate programs and consulting services, CNM is expanding its offerings to meet the needs of today’s nonprofit.”

CNM Connect*

CNM Connect*

One of the annual highlights for local nonprofits is CNM Connect’s “A Night Of Light Awards,” at which time individuals and organizations serving North Texas nonprofits are recognized and awarded. This year’s by-invitation-only event presented by Atmos Energy will take place on Thursday, November 17, at the George W. Bush Presidential Center with WFAA’s Ron Corning emceeing.

A Night of Light*

A Night of Light*

Now, it’s just about time for  nominations to be submitted for the five following categories

  • Nonprofit of the Year,
  • Nonprofit CEO of the Year,
  • Nonprofit Board Leader of the Year,
  • Robert Miller Nonprofit Communicator of the Year and
  • Partner of the Year.

After submitting the nomination form, “an independent panel of judges” review the candidates and select three finalists in each category in September.

All the finalists receive a $2,500-scholarship toward CNM services such as education training or consulting. But each of the category’s winners is also presented with a $5,000 cash award. Nice!

According to CNM President/CEO Tina Weinfurther, “We all have an interest in strong communities. Corporations, foundations, and other stakeholders provide generous support with time and resources while nonprofits are on the front lines working to address growing community needs. A Night of Light recognizes those nonprofits focused on outcomes and best practices to drive even greater impact and positive change to North Texas. We are truly grateful for all that they do.”

Since its first presentation in 2001, more than $425,000 in cash awards have been presented to 85 organizations.

Nominations forms will be available Monday, and have to be received by Friday, August 19. So, get those thinking caps on and figure out who and what you’re gonna nominate.

* Graphics provided by CNM Connect

A Mother’s Day Tribute To Maxine By Her Son

Twas the Friday before Mother’s Day and more than 1,500 gathered in the Hilton Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom to learn about Maxine Perry at the Genesis Annual Luncheon.

Her 46-year-old son towered on stage recalling how at the age of 17, she had married a man who had built their relationship on lies. The Cadillac he had when visiting her family on the weekends “from his ranch” was a loaner. And there was no ranch. She didn’t discover the truth until the newlyweds were in New Orleans.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

The man-boy told of years of love for his mother, his witnessing her being the recipient of abuse and her children’s suffering emotional and physical cruelty.

There were the beatings by this “husband” upon his wife, the sexual abuse of the boy’s pre-teen girlfriend and his own abuse by the “man of the family.” Maxine had tried to escape, but was helpless and returned to a lifetime of domestic violence.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

As much as he reflected on the love for his mother, the young man never mentioned the name of the abuser. In fact, at the age of 16, the young man, whose birth name was the abuser’s with “Junior” tacked on, had legally changed his name to Tyler Perry.

But Tyler did not follow either of his parents’ footsteps. He was not to be a victim nor a tormentor. The billionaire entrepreneur told how he had emerged from the years of degradation thanks to his own will and a discussion on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” in which it was suggested that the act of writing was cathartic. He did just that with the result being a musical that had a less-than-great reception. However, he persisted and developed a following that turned into an entertainment empire.

Guests comforting each other

Guests comforting each other

Men and women in the audience were truly moved hearing of the childhood that Tyler had suffered, as they wiped away tears, comforted each other by holding hands and were amazed at the delivery and story. Maxine would have loved this ode. But Maxine died on December 8, 2009, at the age of 64.

Following Tyler’s testimonial and a standing ovation, he was joined on stage by WFAA’s Ron Corning for a conversation.

Ron had the tricky job of transitioning from Tyler’s very moving talk to an informal chat. He did that by asking, “Let’s lighten the mood for a moment. Can we talk about how much money you have?” That brought a smile to Tyler and laughter from the group.

The two then talked about how Tyler’s original goal of taking care of Maxine had been expanded to motivating and inspiring others. He told how his first theatrical production with only 30 people in attendance had cost him his life savings ($12,000). Still, there were people who told him that they understood and related to the performance. In considering the two-decade journey from that first effort to his present situation, he described it as “staggering, staggering.”

Tyler Perry and Ron Corning

Tyler Perry and Ron Corning

Ron asked about Tyler’s 18-month-old son, Aman Tyler Perry, whom Tyler described as his “hero.” He told how when he looked at Aman, he saw himself as a child and “an opportunity to give all the love that I ever had to myself.” Instead of beatings, he shares butterfly kisses with his less-than-two-year-old son.

Ron then raised the question of how Tyler would raise Aman to appreciate having a life with little wants, unlike Tyler’s. Tyler’s response: “Well, he [Aman] was born broke.” That brought laughter from the ballroom of guests. After the laughter died down, Tyler went on to say, “I will not give him everything… I will be there to support him to win his goals, but he has to earn.”

Then Tyler told how Aman’s mother, model/activist Gelila Bekele, is the coach of the family. He gave an example: At Christmas he gave her a yellow diamond earrings. Upon receiving the jewelry, she said they were beautiful, but Tyler sensed something was up and asked if there was a problem. She said while they were beautiful, could they be returned and the money used to help others? A bit dumbstruck, Tyler said, “It doesn’t have to be a choice. We can do both.”

Ron shifted gears and asked about Tyler’s relationship with Oprah on their project “The Haves and The Have Nots” on her OWN network. When she first received his script, she said, “This is too much.” Then she went on to say, “I brought you here to do what you do, so I wanted you to know what I feel.” He stayed the course and the ratings went through the roof.

Returning to the subject of inspiring others, Ron brought up John Schneider, who had starred in the 1980s’ TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Both Tyler and Ron had talked backstage about watching “The Dukes” on Friday nights as young men. Fast-forward to the present day. Tyler not only had cast John in “The Haves and The Have Nots,” but the Louisiana native’s Atlanta-based film production company had inspired former Atlanta-resident John to build his own studio in Louisiana.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

Touching on a recent death, Ron asked Tyler about his relationship with Prince, who attended one of Tyler’s performances in 2004 at the Kodak Theater. On his way to the theater, Tyler got a call from Prince, who said, “I hear you’re doing a bit of ‘Purple Rain’ in your show. Do it again and I’m going to sue you… and I need 10 tickets and I’ll be there tonight.” Looking out in the audience that night, Tyler spotted Prince, who was enjoying the show. Struck by a brainstorm, Tyler had a mic taken to Prince, who started singing “Purple Rain.” As Tyler put it, “Worst mistake I ever made. He started singing ‘Purple Rain’ in the middle of MY show. I couldn’t get the audience back. He taught me a royal lesson — never give your microphone to a superstar.”

In closing, Ron asked about Tyler’s future plans. His response was embracing his fears or stepping out of his comfort zone. His next frontier is a recently purchased former Army base [Fort McPherson] in Atlanta. The 33 acres will be the site of the new Tyler Perry Studios with more people being employed. Ron wondered whether the responsibility for so many people was worrisome. Tyler told how “on a prayer table outside one of my rooms are photos of all the children whose parents work for me. Some are newborns, some are in college. So every day when I walk past that table I am reminded that you can’t be selfish at this moment… It is important to me that all those people and all those faces are supported in their dreams … Given this responsibility and given this level of success, there comes this tremendous sense of responsibility that I didn’t necessarily ask for, but that for some reason I’ve been chosen to carry, and what I won’t do is [carry it] selfishly.”

With that, Tyler was whisked out the room. But his inspiration of supporting abused women in search of their dreams remained. Maxine would have been proud.

For photos of the meet-and-greet and luncheon, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

JUST IN: Nancy And Richard Rogers’ Million-Dollar Challenge For Genesis Women’s Shelter And Support Was Matched Today

While most folks would be crying their eyes out if they were a million dollars poorer today, ’tis not the case for Nancy and Richard Rogers. Sure, they’re out $1M, but they aren’t boo-hooing one bit.

The reason is that they challenged folks to raise money for Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support. The challenge was a million-buckaroo match for the Genesis Luncheon that Nancy was co-chairing with her legal eagle buddy Gina Betts today at the Hilton Anatole.

Nancy and Richard Rogers

Nancy and Richard Rogers

Ron Corning and Tyler Perry

Ron Corning and Tyler Perry

Last night at the underwriter party, Nancy was fretting a bit on whether the match was gonna happen.

Word just arrived that thanks to 1,500+ luncheon guests, sponsors, underwriters and friends, the challenge was indeed met. The Rogers are thrilled that they’ll be writing a million-dollar check to support Genesis’ battle against domestic violence.

BTW, Tyler Perry’s talk and conversation with WFAA’s Ron Corning on stage at the luncheon knocked it out of the park. But more about that later.

Three One-Of-A-Kind Experiences Will Go On The Aging Mind Foundation Auction Bloc Saturday

Choices, choices, choices! Bid on one or all three. That’s the dilemma facing 2016 Aging Mind Foundation Gala guests this Saturday at The Joule. As if it weren’t enough that the event benefiting the Center for BrainHealth and honoring Shirley and Bob Miller wasn’t enough, Gala Chair Barbara Daseke has put together three OMG live auction packages to get hands waving.

Here’s a rundown of the three:

Sky-high Dining In The Sky Room

Have you eaten in the best restaurants in the world and now are looking for a new, one-of-a-kind cuisine experience? This package will delights your sensory system by tantalizing your tastebuds, amazing your eyes and provide the wittiest of conversations just for your ears.

High atop Museum Tower, Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer with the help of architect Bill Booziotis and interior designer Barbara Daseke have created the Sky Room with floor-to-ceilings windows and balcony overlooking Dallas. Dedicated to personal entertaining by Hulshoff and Fischer, it will be made available to the winner of this package and seven of his/her friends.

The menu will be a five-course dinner curated by The Joule’s chef with “special vintage wines” provided by Pogo’s sommelier.

As for food for thought, WFAA’s Ron Corning will be the ringmaster of chat. And, oh, the tales he has to tell!

Gotta To Go To Togo Island*

Togo Island isn’t really an island. It’s actually a peninsula in the bend of the Mississippi River neatly tucked between Mississippi and Louisiana just down the road from Vicksburg

Because of its location and the abundance of vegetation on its 7,207.7 contiguous acres, it is ideal for wildlife to flourish. In addition to the turkey, waterfowl, small game and fish, Togo Island’s White-tailed Deer have become legendary with even the most demanding world-renowned hunters like Will Primos.

Limited to by-invitation-only membership, Lane Mitchell has made available a hunting package for two people to have a three-night stay in the lodge with meals included plus two days of guided duck and deer hunting. While the dates for this outing are to be mutually agreed upon, Lane suggested that the premium hunting time is January 1-15, 2017.

Run For The Roses Weekend*

While the actual Kentucky Derby run only last two minutes, true-blue Churchill Downs partying and celebration is a four-day affair. This Kentucky Derby package is far more than just attending the track the day of the race. It’s strictly VVIP, so if you win this package, you’d better buy some pretty new things to impress the Louisville locals.

If you can make time in your schedule to arrive early on Thursday, May 5, you’ll be able to take a tour of the Slugger Museum or the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. Take the night off and rest. You’ll need it for what’s up ahead.

Friday, May 6, you’ll have to make another Solomon’s choice between

  • A private tour of “the most famous and successful thoroughbred horses and farms in the world.” Perhaps one of the equine runners will give you a tip on which Derby entrant to bet on. And while the ponies are munching on oats, you’ll dine at Chef Ouita Michel’s Holly Hill Inn.
  • Attend Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Oaks, where you’ll have an afternoon of horse racing including the run of the two-year-old fillies.

Just think of the stories you’ll be able to share that evening at the barbecue hosted by Carolyn and Yum! CEO Greg Creed and other yummy folks.

When the big day comes on Saturday, May 7, you’ll start off with a brunch in the gardens of Whitehall, Louisville’s historic southern mansion. But don’t dawdle too long because even with your police escort you’ll need to get to Churchill Downs for the people watching and the horses breaking from the gate for the 142nd Kentucky Derby.

After collecting your winnings, head back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep because the next day it’s time to head home.

This incredible package including hotel, ground transfers to/from the airport, activities and Churchill Downs, food and beverage at all group events including Churchill Downs are provided by Yum! You’ll have to take care of the wagering and personal hotel incidentals.

But perhaps live auctions aren’t your favorite indoor sport. Thank heaven, Barbara has arranged to have a Sue Gragg ring as the galamorama raffle item with chances going for $25 per or five for $100.

* Travel to and from locations is not included in the package.

JUST IN: Nancy And Richard Rogers Just Upped The Ante For The Genesis Annual Luncheon Bigtime

Nancy Rogers and Jan Langbein (File photo)

Nancy Rogers and Jan Langbein (File photo)

At last week’s St. Valentine’s Day Fashion Show and Luncheon, blonde philanthropist Nancy Rogers was seen in a one-on-one conversation with Genesis Women’s Shelter’s platinum Jan Langbein. Were they talking about what they did over the St. Valentine’s weekend? Were they comparing notes about politics? Were they discussing the Academy Awards?

No way. It was much bigger than any of that stuff and was just revealed.

Tyler Perry*

Tyler Perry*

Nancy, who is co-chairing the annual Genesis Annual Luncheon on Friday, May 6, with her legal-eagle buddy Gina Betts, has presented Jan with a major buck-a-roo of an offer. It seems Lady Rogers and her sweetheart husband Richard Rogers will match any and all donations and underwriting up to… now, hold on to your breath… $1M. As if the Rogers do any that isn’t bigger than big!

This luncheon is gonna be a knock-out-of-the-park with Tyler Perry as the speaker and Ron Corning serving as emcee.

It’s gonna be at the Hilton Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom, but at the rate it’s going they may have guests doubling up at the tables, so get your reservations in now. And remember, big donations and underwriting do have perks.

* Photo provided by Genesis 
Women's Shelter

WAIT LIST ALERT!: Media Panel For Nonprofits

Oh, dear! The Dallas Women’s Foundation reports that the media panel conversation is filled to capacity. Luckily that’s why “wait lists” were created. And because the Foundation is so tip-top, they’ll be sending out RSVP confirmations on Monday. If there are cancellations, then the wait list will be waiting no more come Wednesday. On Thursday they’ll provide parking instructions. How organized they are!

Dallas Women's Foundation*

Dallas Women’s Foundation*

In the meantime, photographer Kristina Bowman is doing jumping jacks, WFAA Daybreak co-anchor Ron Corning got a new haircut, PaperCity‘s Jane Rozelle is increasing her sparkle factor and MySweetCharity’s Jeanne Prejean is watching reruns of “Designing Women.”

So, if you haven’t signed up, don’t be discouraged. The waiting list waits for you!

* Graphic provided by the Dallas Women's Foundation

GROVEL ALERT!: Dallas Women’s Foundation Reports Media Panel For Nonprofits Is Nearing “Done Deal” Status

Uh, oh! Talk about a plan going so very wrong. Due to the short notice, the original thought for the media panel for nonprofits was that perhaps a couple dozen would sign up. So, the free Friday, January 22nd conversation hosted by the Dallas Women’s Foundation was announced last Wednesday.

Dallas Women's Foundation*

Dallas Women’s Foundation*

But, oh, no! The Foundation just sent word that registrations went way beyond the original guesstimate. Now, the event is within a hair’s breadth of being filled to capacity at Campbell Center II!

Thank heaven, the Foundation is as flexible as a Cirque du Soleil acrobat and is making room to accommodate more folks who do the juggling work between  charities and the media.

The conversation will be honest in the hopes that it will better help those working with nonprofits communicate with the media. And, who knows? Perhaps the panelists will learn a thing or two, too.

Warning: While the conversation will be informative and fun, there will be no “bleeping” talk. After all, Ricky Gervais ain’t gonna be part of the panel. Instead it will be Kristina Bowman wearing her latest leg wear, WFAA’s Ron Corning possibly doing his “Phil Donahue” Q&A with guests, PaperCity’s too-adorable-for-words Jane Rozelle and MySweetCharity’s Jeanne Prejean channeling Murphy Brown.

The message here: Sign up now.

* Graphic provided by the Dallas Women's Foundation

JUST IN: Dallas Women’s Foundation To Host A Free Media Panel For Nonprofit PR Folks With “The Four Hoarsemen”

Remember last August when four media folks provided insider tips on how to work with the press? Okay, so it wasn’t one of those prim-and-proper events. It was sorta a cross between Jimmy Kimmel and TMZ. Well, evidently it was such a hit or nobody could believe what was said, an encore performance has been demanded.

Coming to the rescue was the Dallas Women’s Foundation that will be hosting the second “chat” by the four “hoarsemen” (photographer Kristina Bowman, WFAA anchor Ron Corning, MySweetCharity’s Jeanne Prejean and PaperCity’s Dallas Social Editor Jane Rozelle). And this time there will more time for Q&A.

Dallas Women's Foundation*

Dallas Women’s Foundation*

Thanks to the generosity of the Foundation, the entire event will be held at Campbell Centre II and is absolutely free. Yup, you read that right — no charge! But it’s limited to only those who handle media relations for nonprofits.

Now, the downside. You just didn’t think you weren’t gonna get off scot-free? The conversation is going to take place from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Friday, January 22. Whoa! That’s just days away. Translation: Do not dawdle. It’s a first-come, first-serve. And space is limited, so get your rezzies in pronto. Just sign up here!

Actually, the timing is sorta perfect. After the last question is answered, attendees can head across the pond to NorthPark for lunch or to shop. And it’s taking place just before the insanity of the spring season, leaving little time to laugh at the media.

BTW, if you attended the last one, you should sign up for this one. New tidbits will be revealed and perhaps some behind-the-scenes tales will be leaked. You just never know what’s going to happen when these four get together.

* Graphic provided by Dallas Women's Foundation

Meals For The Minds Luncheon Speaker Carrie Fisher Provided Food For Thought About Mental Health

Once again Thursdays proved to be the appetizer for the weekend ahead. While the Kappa Alpha Thetas were listening to Kira Plastinina, it was a luncheon across town that created talk for the evening fare and put WFAA’s Ron Corning’s emceeing talents to the test.

It was the Meals for the Mind lunch that created the tasty talk. In the Imperial Ballroom, formerly known as the Khymer Ballroom (and before that as the indoor tennis courts), the Metrocare Services fundraiser had all the looks of the normal luncheon with celebrity guest speaker and silent auction. But instead of taking place at Belo Mansion as in years past, it was moved to the Anatole due to the expected turnout. The reason for ramping up was keynote speaker Carrie Fisher, who was known as “Star Wars” Princess Leia, Paul Simon’s ex, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, an accomplished author and for having bipolar disorder.

Still, the Meals For the Mind organizers stayed tried-and-true to their roots by having cakes on tables for the silent auction.

As guests perused the cake collection, Carrie was kept under wraps and word was passed — her contract forbade any photos, including cellphones, or recordings.

Carrie chose not to join the table of VIP’s and continued to stay out of sight until she was introduce by Ron. She was escorted on stage by her French bulldog, Gary, that she describes as her therapy dog. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the podium, the pooch decided to relieve itself unceremoniously and then barked his unhappiness at being there.

Carrie proceeded to speak for 40 minutes. One person described the presentation as “rambling” and talking to herself.

When Carrie then opened the venue to a Q&A session, she decided to step out of her shoes and venture out among the crowd. Ron, realizing that idea might not be the best use of Carrie, approached the podium for a mic to wander the audience himself for questions. Carrie’s comment? She called Ron a pervert. He, in turn said, “Carrie, it’s so nice to meet both of you.” As he did his “Phil Donahue” wandering through the audience, organizers suggested that Ron might want to wind things up. Announcing to guests and Carrie that this was the last questions, Carrie, instead of thanking him, again called him a “pervert.”

Luncheon organizers then passed the word that the post-lunch photo shoot of sponsors and Carrie would not occur. Carrie’s assistant asked Ron to meet with Carrie privately, at which time she apologized for calling him a “pervert” (twice).

One guest, who spoke for many in the audience, sympathized with the situation, saying, “If you didn’t realize the challenges of mental health and the need to help those suffering from it, then today was a true display of why Metrocare is so needed.”

Indeed, Carrie’s behavior only put a spotlight on the issues that Metrocare Services deals with 365 days a year.

Kristina Bownman, Jane Rozelle, Ron Corning And MySweetCharity Have A Conversation On How Nonprofits Can Work With The Media

This morning PRSA Dallas, Communities Foundation of Texas and MySweetCharity partnered up to hold a workshop for nonprofits in getting their message out there.

One segment dealing with the media was a “conversation” including photographer Kristina Bowman, PaperCity‘s Jane Rozelle, WFAA’s Ron Corning and MySweetCharity’s Jeanne Prejean.

If you were there, you know there was a lot of information shared, as well a great deal of laughter. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to get to all of the questions. Perhaps there will be another one of these “conversations” in the future.

If you couldn’t make it and you have some time, here’s a recording of the session. (Please forgive the late start of the recording. All you’ll miss is the introduction describing how brilliant Kristina and Jane are.) 150828_001

A special thanks goes to Dean Foods for stepping and hosting the event at CityPlace for a sold-out crowd of incredible people, who make a difference for good in North Texas.