As the Junior League of Dallas is praised for one hundred years of service to the region, we take a look at its past and present accomplishments, as well as its upcoming Milestones Luncheon and Centennial Gala.


By Jake Gaines     Photography courtesy of Junior League of Dallas

The Junior League of Dallas (JLD) has significantly influenced the lives it has supported throughout its hundred years of meritorious service to the city. Marking this momentous threshold is the upcoming Milestones Luncheon on April 21, and its Centennial Gala on April 23, 2022, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel. The annual fundraisers benefit the Junior League of Dallas Community Service Fund. The events serve as a platform to raise awareness for the programs and issues supported by the JLD and recognize its volunteers’ impact and achievements. Proceeds from the luncheon allow the JLD to grant approximately $1 million annually to the Dallas area.


In fact, the esteemed organization cultivates leaders who collectively address the critical needs of the community. Founded in 1922, the JLD is one of the largest Junior Leagues in the world, as well as the largest and oldest training organization for women in Dallas. Active members range in age from 22 to 49, with approximately 85% percent of women employed outside the home. The JLD provides leadership opportunities to nearly 5,000 women each year through more than 26,000 cumulative hours of experiential and formal training. Uniquely member-run, the JLD offers over 130,000 hours in volunteer service to area nonprofits each year.


With the luncheon and gala being such a vital part of the organization’s fundraising efforts, the bar has been raised with American media businesswoman, writer, and TV personality Martha Stewart as the featured speaker this year for the luncheon. The Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Former First Lady Laura Bush and the Sustainer of the Year, Veletta Forsythe Lill, will also be honored. Co-chairing the luncheon are Lydia Novakov and Isabell Novakov Higginbotham, while Andrea Cheek and Margo Goodwin serve as the gala’s co-chairs.


As we all know, it takes a village to organize a fundraising event that raises significant funds, especially with so many women who make it happen. The sponsors of the luncheon include the Kohl Foundation, presenting sponsor; Sewell Automotive Companies, speaker sponsor; and Origin Bank, the VIP reception sponsor. For the gala, Sewell Automotive Companies is the presenting sponsor; Dallas Southwest Osteopathic Physicians (DSWOP) is the entertainment sponsor; and Tolleson Wealth Management is the VIP reception sponsor. For information on attending the Centennial events, visit JLD.net.

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Dr. Edward Burger, President and CEO of the St. David’s Foundation, based in Austin, recently shared his insight with our Lance Avery Morgan on the many nuances of the philanthropic spirit and how it can positively affect so many.

Lance Avery Morgan: Dr. Burger, can you tell us about St. David’s Foundation and the organization’s vision for our Central Texas community?

Dr. Edward Burger: St. David’s Foundation is one of the largest health foundations in the United States, funding $80 million annually in a five-county area surrounding Austin, Texas. Through a unique partnership with St. David’s HealthCare, the Foundation reinvests proceeds from the hospital system back into the community, with a goal of advancing health equity and improving the health and well-being of our most underserved Central Texas neighbors. St. David’s Foundation also operates the largest mobile dental program providing charity care in the country and offers the largest healthcare scholarship program in Texas.


LAM: St. David’s Foundation is a part of the philanthropic and social web of the communityto what does it owe that success?

EB: As stewards of our community dollars, we have worked over the last 25 years to foster longstanding, collaborative relationships. From our outstanding Board members, volunteers, and event chairs to our grantees and partners on the ground, I believe we share a commitment to improving health outcomes for our Central Texas neighbors.


LAM: The Foundation began its Toast of the Town events a few decades back in 1984why do you think it was initially so successfuland still so successful? It has a huge following… 

EB: The concept of Toast of the Town is truly unique and built on a model that speaks from the heart—opening one’s home to host intimate gatherings. It quickly became a suite of favorite annual philanthropic social events for our many supporters. The soirees and programming change every year, offering something special for every taste and interest. Part of the secret to Toast’s ongoing success is that it continues to evolve right along with Central Texas.


LAM: The Toast of the Town annual events each spring provide philanthropic support and awareness for the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship—how does it benefit students pursuing their educations in health-related fields?

EB: Our scholarship program is truly transformational in nature. Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college, so our scholarship community provides academic and emotional support in addition to financial assistance. Each scholar is also matched with a healthcare professional who mentors them for a minimum of four years. The guidance of these mentors is vital to encouraging our scholars along their unique journeys and has become a key, distinguishing element of our program’s success.     


LAM: It’s so great when many of the scholarship recipients share their personal stories at the Toast events. All proceeds from Toast of the Town sponsorships and tickets, with a two-to-one match by St. David’s Foundation, are dedicated to the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship program. What kind of impact do you see that philanthropy having?

EB: Looking ahead, it’s essential that we foster the next generation of physicians, nurses, dentists, lab technicians and others to provide quality care to the communities served by these future healthcare professionals. We are reminded now, more than ever, of the vital importance of a strong healthcare workforce for the health and well-being of our Central Texas neighbors.


LAM: Beyond the Toast events, please share some of your insight on the Foundation’s grant-making initiatives.

EB: We are guided by a commitment to achieving health equity both today and tomorrow. Our work is based on our belief that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve optimal health, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or zip code. And while access to high-quality medical care is essential, health is about much more than a visit to the doctor. In fact, the most influential drivers of health outcomes are factors that exist outside of the healthcare system, such as poverty, unemployment, housing status, and education level. Our strategic initiatives throughout Central Texas range from support of safety net clinics and mobile charity dental care to initiatives that promote healthy environments for young children to increase their odds of succeeding in school, to critical support for older adults and their caregivers to allow aging in place.


LAM: Thanks so much for your time and looking ahead, what are your thoughts on philanthropy in this region and opportunities that exist for our community within the philanthropic sector?

EB: We stand in a pivotal moment. We continue to see a rapid increase in our population, along with tremendous growth in wealth, access, and innovation. Central Texas, in particular, has the opportunity to foster a stronger philanthropic environment that is more on par with other major cities with mature cultures of community giving. I believe through collective collaboration and contribution, we have the potential to truly transform Austin and Central Texas for generations to come. This aspiration holds the promise to be one of our greatest collective legacies.

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