Who knew Kelcy Warren was such a cut-up? The roughly 600 people who attended the 22nd Annual Junior Achievement of Dallas Business Hall of Fame dinner on Saturday, February 29, at the Omni Dallas Hotel, for starters.
Warren, one of three 2020 Laureates inducted into the Hall of Fame that night along with Melissa Reiff and John Scovell, warned the crowd that his acceptance speech would be short. “Anybody who’s heard me speak knows … that [my usual public talk] is typically weird, but it’s short,” he said.
After saying, “Gosh, what an honor,” the chairman and CEO of Energy Transfer went on, “I’d like to thank my wonderful Amy, who’s been with me all these years. I love you. I’d also like to thank my wife; she’s back there somewhere.” Then he added sheepishly: “I’ll pay for that!” At the conclusion of his brief remarks, Kelcy asked the audience to give a standing ovation to Dallas Cowboys legend Cliff Harris, who was sitting at Kelcy’s table down front. Once they did, the new Laureate cracked, “Now, I can say I got a standing ovation!”
At that emcee Scott Murray bounded onstage, still chuckling. “Good stuff,” Scott said. “If you want more, he’ll be at the Comedy Corner at 11 tonight.”
The light-hearted banter was typical of the evening — a low-key, black-tie-optional affair that was chaired by Bobby Lyle to celebrate the “extraordinary contributions and successes of Dallas’ outstanding business leaders.” The annual fundraiser for Junior Achievement of Dallas supports JA Dallas classroom programs, financial/budgetary training for middle and high school students and experiential learning that exposes youngsters in the fifth and sixth grades to local CEOs, CFOs, employees, elected officials and consumers.
The crowd that kicked off the evening by inspecting the silent-auction items — everything from a $150 “taco package” to a $1,500 NorthPark VIP Valet card — was a high-profile one. Among its members: Lee Ann and Alan White, Trammell S. Crow, Tracy Merzi, Gay Donnell, Margot and Jim Keyes and Gary Kelly. Threading his way through the throng, Bobby was beaming about 8-year-old Mason Gutierrez, who would soon be joining him at the lectern for the formal program. “He’s spiffed up, slicked up, cute as he can be,” Bobby smiled.
After being served a dinner of pear salad, beef tenderloin and salmon and an almond crumble or chocolate cake, guests heard from Jan Murfield, president and CEO of JA Dallas, and 2020 JA Student of the Year Raul Jimenez. Then it was time for the live auction; video tributes to the late Ross Perot and T. Boone Pickens, who were both JA Laureates; and a gathering onstage of all the previous Laureates in attendance. They were Kelly, Keyes, Ray Hunt, Tom Hicks, Ron Steinhart, John Goff, Doug Brooks, Walt Humann, David Miller, Kip Tindell and Jack Lowe Jr.
Accepting her award, Melissa stressed the importance of good communication as a leadership tool. “Communication and leadership are the exact same thing,” said the CEO and chairwoman of The Container Store. “To develop people, you’ve got to communicate.” She was followed by John Scovell, who’s chairman and co-founder (with Ray Hunt) of Woodbine Development Corp. John saluted Woodbine’s chief of staff (“her name is Diane”), said he wished he had the autographs of “everybody in this room” and added, “Everything in life is overrated except for grandchildren.” With that, he wrapped up his talk with a witticism he said his father taught him: “‘You stand up to be seen. You speak up to be heard. And you sit down to be appreciated.’ ”
Maybe John will be at the Comedy Corner, too.
* Photo credit: Grant Miller Photography