As always, the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth’s 2014 H. Neil Mallon Award Dinner, held October 24 at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, attracted an all-star cast of the region’s power elite. That was evident right from the get-go at the Patrons’ Reception, which was sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Embassy of the United Arab Emirates.
There, Trammell S. Crow could be seen jawboning with Lee Jackson. WAC president and CEO Jim Falk, Ray Hunt, Tom Leppert, and Ron Natinsky moved easily through the big crowd, as did Debra von Storch, Holly Reed, Randall Stephenson, and Lucy Billingsley. Mary Poss spotted Ron Kirk and asked him, “How you doing?” “Busy!” Kirk boomed in reply. “Traveling.” Over in one corner, meantime, Mallon honoree Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., was posing for photos with Dr. Robert M. Gates, the former secretary of defense, who would deliver the evening’s keynote address.
Then it was time to move into one of the hotel’s magnificently decorated ballrooms. There, the crowd of about 900 would enjoy a meal of salad, filet mignon and flan and celebrate Tillerson, a fiercely proud supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, like keynoter Gates and Stephenson. The latter, who delivered a brief tribute to the ExxonMobil chief executive, called Tillerson direct, honest, a clear thinker, “and just a plain leader.”
Tillerson, for his part, accepted the Mallon award graciously and said we live in a time of great challenges, pointing out that a billion people on the planet are still without access to electricity.
Gates, a former Eagle Scout like the ExxonMobil CEO, was introduced by Hunt, who called him a “born-again Aggie” who is patriotism personified. During his remarks, Gates said today’s global turmoil resembles the international environment preceding World War I, when Americans had a “tendency to avert our eyes” from overseas threats.
However, he warned, “We cannot weary of our global responsibilities.” While the United States must always be prepared to use military force, he said, not every crisis should elicit a military response. Today’s biggest problem is Washington, D.C., he concluded, where gerrymandering, wave elections, the decline of Congressional power brokers and the 24/7 electronic media have combined to make moderation and compromise less feasible.
* Photo provided by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth