For some arriving at the Mansion restaurant lobby on Monday, April 11, it was disappointing to see a sign in the doorway reporting the venue was closed for a private event.
But not for others. After taking a hiatus last year, Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger were kicking off NorthPark Center‘s 2022 Ambassadors program with a cocktail reception in the Mansion dining room and a seated dinner along the enclosed veranda overlooking the hotel’s grounds. This evening would officially mark a year in which NorthPark and its merchants would hold opportunities for the Ambassadors’ non-profits to benefit.
Before the guests arrived, guitarist Kirk Thurmond seemed to dominate the room of staffers preparing for the night. But he was soon tempered as the crowd of Ambassadors (Jennifer Dix representing Dallas CASA, Nancy Gopez and Kris Johnson representing Cattle Baron’s Ball, Susan Farris representing Crystal Charity Ball, Gunjan and Anurag Jain representing North Texas Food Bank, Babe Laufenberg representing the Luke Laufenberg’s “Fight” Scholarship Fund at the University of Texas El Paso, Nimesh Patel subbing in for his out-of-town wife Bina Palnitkar Patel representing Methodist Health System Foundation, Janelle Pinnell representing Vogel Alcove, Quincy Roberts representing Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman representing Children’s Health, Jan Showers representing Dwell with Dignity, Amanda Shufeldt representing Children’s Cancer Fund and Michelle and Jason Witten representing The Salvation Army) and non-profit representatives including Jennifer Arthur, Brent Christopher, Calvert Collins-Bratton, Trisha Cunningham, Kathleen LaValle, Kim Noltemy and Ashley Sharp, began to gather.
The occasion was a rare opportunity for North Texas non-profits to compare notes and to place faces with organizations. However, it wasn’t all philanthropic topics, thanks to spouses and NorthPark notables like First Couple Nancy in Dolce & Gabanna and David, Kristen Gibbins, Kristin Casner, Meredith Hays, Shelby Foster and Paula Acosta, plus Dolce & Gabbana VP Sanjay Hathiramani, who had been part of the 2022 Crystal Charity Ball’s Ten Best Dressed Women of Dallas announcement the week before.
Susan reported that husband John Farris had made it back from their East Texas ranch after supervising three downed trees from recent storms.
In the doorway, 6’3” Babe seemed to tower in the entrance — until the arrival of 6’6” Jason, with diminutive Michelle.
Evening host David admitted that the pandemic had not created a lull in his life. Instead of attending meetings in-person, he was Zooming throughout the day, in meetings regarding business and boards.
When someone mentioned the recent explosion of activities like Wrestlemania, Kimberly reported that husband Justin Whitman and son J.R. had attended the events with the (Gene and Jerry) Jones gents. That ignited memories of some Dallas old-timers, who recalled the Sportatorium and when the Fritz Von Eric family were the area’s Kardashians of wrestling. One guest sadly admitted that the family’s story didn’t end happily due to suicide and their use of drugs.
As Jan chatted with guests, husband Jim Showers settled back in a nearby chair, saying, “It’s been a long day.” That feeling of returning to the hustle and bustle ran throughout the crowd. While all were glad to be in-person, they were feeling a bit out of shape after two years of stay-in-place work.
At 7 the group adjourned to their assigned seats for dinner and a year of extra fundraising activities for their respective non-profits, thanks to NorthPark and its merchants.
For looks of the evening, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.