Star-Studded UNICEF Gala Dallas Dazzles To Set Fundraising Record Of $1.5 Million

By Jake Gaines     Photography by Rick Kern/Getty Images

THE SETTING: Pre-COVID-19, the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dallas hosted the annual UNICEF Gala Dallas, where 430 guests were on hand for an evening of fun and, more importantly, fundraising for a very worthy cause. The evening featured VIPs from around the world, including former UNICEF President & CEO Caryl Stern, who is now the executive director of the Walton Family Foundation 

The night’s honorees were former Dallas Maverick champ and UNICEF Germany Ambassador Dirk Nowitzki, along with his wife, Jessica Nowitzki, founders of the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation. They have partnered with UNICEF to create and fund a new mental health training module to better evaluate and treat children in trauma cases, and have developed a monthly mentorship program for families, as well. Former Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings presented the Spirit of Compassion Award to the Nowitzkis.

THE STYLE: UNICEF’s adage, For Every Child, was on full throttle during the evening. The festivities began with a cocktail hour where jet setters in for the event mixed with locals to engage in lively conversation before the action began in the ballroom with the main program. After guests dined on a multi-course meal and listened to moving speeches, and a performance by the Texas Boys Choir, followed by a live auction that was full of fantastical items, went underway. The event was capped off by a performance from the band, King Calloway, whose show brought the crowd to their feet. Then, DJ Lucy Wrubel spun for the party-focused crowd. 

THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Moll Anderson and Jan Miller Rich, with Nancy C. Rogers serving as the honorary co-chair, raised a record-breaking $1.5 million for UNICEF. Advocating for the rights of children around the world to ensure their basic needs are met as well as expanding opportunities so they can reach their full potential is UNICEF’s primary mission.



Mad Hatter’s Tea Celebrates 32 years Of Fundraising For The Dallas Arboretum

By Cynthia Smoot          Photography by Dana Drienski

THE SETTING: Before COVID-19, MIcah Gilbert, owner of Empressive Earth Gallery, along with his mother, Empress Gilbert, opened the gallery’s stunning showroom to host the Mad Hatter’s Tea’s The Art of Chic Judges and Hat Categories Reveal Party. The Women’s Council President, Venise Stuart, and Patti Flowers, the Mad Hatter’s Tea chair, welcomed guests as everyone wandered through the lavish gallery, which showcased fabulous minerals, fossils and corals.

THE STYLE: Celebrating its 32nd  year, the organization’s main event was canceled due to the COVID- 19 virus shelter-in-place order. It has been an ongoing fundraising affair sponsored by the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The Mad Hatter categories are: The Art of the Garden: Botanical Beauty; The Art of Music: Sounds of the Season; The Art of Dance: Magical Movement; The Art of Fashion: Fabulously Fashionable; The Art of Chivalry: The Most Elegant of Gentlemen; The Chic Chapeau: Simply Chic: The Marilyn Hailey Award. It’s always a fan favorite and this occasion evoked the spirit of the annual garden party.

THE PURPOSE: The event was chaired by Regina Bruce and Joni Krieg, and Robin Carreker served as the honorary chair. As in the past, Tootsies continued their sponsorship of the Mad Hatter’s Tea fashion show that is produced by the Jan Strimple. The funds that were raised grow and maintain A Woman’s Garden, a nationally acclaimed garden at the Dallas Arboretum. In the spirit of the Mad Hatter’s Tea and to support A Woman’s Garden, a flashback was created, including photos and a video.



Fashion Group International Dallas Toasts Rising Style Stars

By Cynthia Smoot         Photography by Danny Campbell

THE SETTING:  Fashion Group International of Dallas (FGI Dallas) celebrated its annual Rising Stars gala at the mid-century icon, Statler Dallas Hotel. This year’s event honored the fashion makers in Texas who are achieving notoriety in their region…and beyond. The evening of glamour and excitement praised the community’s individuals and business leaders for their contributions within fashion and its related industries.


The honorees of the evening included Lela Orr of FERRAH (fashion), Barbara Kaiser Harvel and Stephanie Harvel of Kaiser Atelier (accessories), Matt Alexander, proprietor of Neighborhood Goods (retail), Marsi Hubbard of Brite Bar Beauty (beauty), Lea Fisher (art and design), and Samantha Stewart of Style of Sam  (fashion blogging).


THE STYLE:  The evening, emceed by Courtney Kerr, began with many of Dallas’ most fashionable as they mixed and mingled over cocktails and light bites. Guests also had the opportunity to support the nominees at specially created pop-up shops and enjoyed a beauty activation sponsored by Toni & Guy. During the ceremony, guests enjoyed runway shows featuring fashions from the 2020 Rising Star’s fashion nominees, produced by Jan Strimple Productions. It was the place to be to celebrate and admire the state’s thriving fashion scene.


THE PURPOSE:  Fashion Group International, Inc. provides a high-profile forum to promote the fashion business by hosting events that educate and facilitate the exchange of ideas by giving back to the community.




2020 Dallas Go Red For Women Luncheon Raises Funds To Fight Heart Disease And Stroke

By Cynthia Smoot         Photography by James Edward, Sheryl Lanzel and Scogin Mayo

THE SETTING:  The Omni Hotel in Dallas was recently filled with a ballroom of philanthropically-minded women and men who wanted to make a difference in support of  one of their favorite causes, the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women. They gathered to unite in the fight against heart disease and stroke at the annual event benefitting the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all.


THE STYLE:  More than a thousand area business leaders, philanthropists, and survivors donned red to help raise vital awareness and funds for research and education programs to fight cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in women. This year’s luncheon featured Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum as the keynote speaker who has devoted her career to the treatment of heart disease through early detection, education, and prevention. Tim Wallace, the women of Trinity Industries, and Arcosa Inc. were recognized as the Sandi Haddock Community Impact Honorees for the historical impact they have made on the organization’s lifesaving mission. In fact, for more than 11 years, Trinity Industries, led by the leadership of Wallace, has raised nearly $7.5 million for the Association..


THE PURPOSE:  The event successfully raised $1.8 million and counting. The luncheon, chaired by Judy Hendrick, was nationally sponsored by CVS Health and locally  by Texas Health Resources, Aimbridge Hospitality, Alpha Phi International Women’s Fraternity, and Republic National Distributing Company. The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. They are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, they fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century.




Clayton Dabney For Kids With Cancer Luncheon Is Medicine Of The Heart

By Leanne Raesener          Photography by Tamytha Cameron and Celeste Smith

THE SETTING:  The Dallas Country Club was the recent setting for the Clayton Dabney for Kids with Cancer’s fifth annual Love Luncheon with more than 400 of Texas’ most notable sociables and philanthropists in attendance. The event kicked off with a market-style shopping experience where guests enjoyed love-inspired cocktails. Exclusive local vendors were featured, and MiniLuxe was on hand to provide quick-dry polish changes. Guests had the opportunity to enter a raffle featuring exclusive travel packages, including a staycation at The Joule, a three-night stay at The Four Seasons Punta Mita, and two-night stays at both Sea Island and The Four Seasons Vail.



THE STYLE:  Following the shopping extravaganza, guests were invited into the ballroom where Janie Bell of Highland Park Presbyterian gave the invocation. A delectable lunch was served featuring tomato bisque and grilled chicken salad, during which Christina Kate and Shelby Dabney took the stage. Christina addressed the crowd with a heartwarming tribute to her brother, Clayton, who lost his battle with cancer in 1995 when he was just six years old.


NBC-5 Anchor Meredith Land moderated the keynote presentation which featured Global Healthcorps (GHC) co-founding CEO, Barbara Pierce Bush. GHC is an organization that mobilizes a global community of young leaders to build the movement for health equity. She discussed her family’s experiences in the White House, her current endeavors pursuing her Master’s degree at Harvard, and the work she is doing regarding global health. She brought her mother, Former First Lady Laura Bush, as her guest.


THE PURPOSE: Brittany Hunt and Chelsea Hunt chaired the luncheon, and Ann and John Delautour served as honorary co-chairs. Leslie Ficke is the executive director of Clayton Dabney for Kids with Cancer. The luncheon benefitted the “Medicine of the Heart” outreach program, which supports the agency’s mission to provide families in need who have children in the last stages of terminal cancer. It has offered everlasting memories in last wishes, gifts, special events, family travel, and financial assistance to over 4,400 families. They have distributed more than $8 million to terminally ill children and their families across the United States.



13th Annual Center for Child Protection’s Dancing with the Stars Gala Sizzles

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Jeff Loftin, Christina Murphy, Haley Plotkin and Ben Porter

THE SETTING: Against the backdrop of a picture-perfect winter evening, over a thousand of the most notable sociables and philanthropists descended on Austin’s JW Mariott Hotel for the 13th annual Dancing with the Stars. Hosted by the Center for Child Protection, the event is one of the can’t-miss social events of the season. This year’s gathering was no exception, featuring an evening full of fun and show-stopping dance routines, and a special appearance by JR Martinez, a winner of the ABC’s televised version of Dancing with the Stars.


THE STYLE: Friends and supporters of the 11 celebrity dancers donned their finest black-tie ensembles, with women choosing an eclectic mix of chic ballgowns with metallics, solid colors, and especially sequins being the most popular. Not to be outshined, the men also brought their finest eveningwear, with many sporting velvet tuxedo jackets, that helped create a festive environment.  


The evening began in the foyer of the ballroom for a breezy cocktail hour, where guests got to mingle and congratulate the celebrity dancers they were on hand to support. The action then moved to the main ballroom for the evening’s program. The event emcees, Glenn Ball and Holly Mills Gardner, effortlessly kept the audience engaged throughout the event with a mix of humor and witty banter. Following a moving video, highlighting the purpose of the Center for Child Protection, the live auction had bidders seize the opportunity to purchase an impressive array of items including luxury vacation packages to such exotic locales as Africa, Croatia and Thailand.


Then came the main event, the performances by the dancers themselves. One by one, each of the dancers strutted their stuff on the dance floor to iconic songs including Crazy in Love, Gonna Make U Sweat and I Will Survive that kept the audience on their feet throughout. After the dancing competition concluded, the audience vote was tallied with Brian Yacktman and his pro partner, Katrina Repka, were declared the winners. The evening was capped off with an after-party where partygoers danced into the wee hours of the morning to the tunes of DJ Johnny Bravo.


THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Francie Little and Jenny Mason, raised over $1.1 million for the Center for Child Protection. A nationally accredited children’s advocacy center that offers services ,including forensic interviews, counseling, and medical exams to children who are suspected victims of physical or sexual abuse as well as those who have witnessed violent crime.