Dallas takes top awards at meeting

Posted on 23 Mar 2006 at 8:21pm
By Tammye Nash – Staff Writer


Susanne Salkind


Dallas Steering Committee, Federal Club take top honors at annual meeting

A contingent of Dallas activists traveled to Washington at the first of this month for the Human Rights Campaign’s annual board meetings, and came home with a handful of awards recognizing their outstanding commitments and achievements.

Dallasites received awards for “Exceptional Work on a Ballot Measure Campaign” for local activists’ work to defeat the Texas anti-gay marriage amendment; the Federal Club of the Year award and recognition for the North Texas area’s Major Donor program; the Outstanding Female Federal Club Co-Chair award for Stephanie Carreon; a Special Recognition Award for the Dallas/Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner; and the “Best HRC Community in the Southern Region” award.

Susanne Salkind, managing director of the Human Rights Campaign, said the awards were well-deserved.

“The Dallas group contributes at every level for us. They are a huge membership base and are active at every level.” Salkind said. “Dallas is an outstanding model in terms of the level of activity and structure they have for HRC.”

Salkind said the awards reception is held each year during the weekend of the organization’s board meetings. The awards are designed to recognize out-
Clubs “in all facets of their work, from lobbying to holding town halls and community events, to dinners and other fundraising efforts,” Salkind said.

Federal Clubs are local organizations in which members commit to donate at least $1,200 a year to the Human Rights Campaign. The steering committees operate as the local arms of the national organization in advocacy and leadership, Salkind said.

“These steering committees and Federal Clubs are our people in the field. They are the workhorses of HRC, and we are blessed with an incredible number of volunteers who commit their time, money and effort to our organization.”

Steve Atkinson, a Dallas resident on the Human Rights Campaign’s board of governors, said this week that each of the awards the North Texas contingent won were “a pretty big deal.”

Local Federal Clubs are part of the Human Rights Campaign’s major donor program, and the Dallas/Fort Worth Federal Club is one of the most successful in the country, Atkinson said.

“We recently went over 100 people here in Dallas who are major donors, which means they give $5,000 or more a year to HRC. No other city has that many major donors,” Atkinson said.

“There are a large number of federal clubs around the country. Some of them are smaller, younger groups. But there are quite a few that are very large and very successful and have been around a long time,” he said.

“But the Dallas/Fort Worth club consistently has the most members, raises the most money and is the most successful overall,” Atkinson said.

Human Rights Campaign officials “really made a big deal” over the club in presenting the “Federal Club of the Year” award to the Dallas/Fort Worth group, he said.

The club’s continued success helped Stephanie Carreon win “Female Federal Club Co-Chair of the Year” honors, he said.

Even though the anti-gay-marriage amendment passed by an overwhelming margin last November, local efforts to defeat it, headed up by Patti Fink, impressed the organization’s national leaders so much they recognized those efforts with an award, Atkinson said.

The annual Dallas/Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner which received a special recognition award from the Human Rights Campaign was the first event of its kind and is the largest in the country, Atkinson said.

The Dallas/Fort Worth dinner is its own entity, with a special formula that distributes half the proceeds locally and donates the other half to the Human Rights Campaign, Atkinson said

“What is remarkable is, despite the fact that we only send half the proceeds to HRC, and despite the fact that there are large HRC dinners all over the country, we still give the most each year,” Atkinson said.

All of those things together added up to an award as “Best HRC Community in the Region” for the Dallas/Fort Worth group, Atkinson said.

“There are other cities that get more than one award each year. But Dallas is such a shining star in the whole HRC picture that we usually wind up getting several awards, and usually we win more than any other city,” he said.

Atkinson said about 25 people from the Dallas area attended the board meetings, lobby day and training sessions this year.

Atkinson said he is co-chair for a national board of governors task force created to beef up the organization’s twice-a-year lobby day events,

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 24, 2006.

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