Outgoing Black Tie co-chair Laurie Foley gets ready to wind up her final year on the organization’s board
When Laurie Foley takes the stage on Saturday night, Oct. 2, as the senior co-chair for Black Tie Dinner, it will be the culmination of a journey that began eight years ago.
Foley began volunteering with Black Tie Dinner in 2001 after Deiadra Burns encouraged her to get involved on the silent auction committee. By 2002, Foley was elected to the Black Tie board, and in 2008 she became co-chair for the event.
Foley’s stint on the board ends this year, and she will transition to the organization’s advisory board. She explained this week that an individual can serve on the advisory board for the same number of years he or she was on the active board.
“I don’t know that I will do the whole seven years on the advisory board that I am eligible for, but it’s pretty likely,” she said.
Serving on the board and, for the past two years, as board co-chair of the largest event of its kind in the country has been “a huge honor,” Foley said.
“It’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s a lot of hard work. But it’s also a lot of fun,” she continued. “I have been very fortunate. My first year as co-chair, I served with Randy Ray. This year as senior co-chair, I have one of my dearest friends, Ron Guillard, as my co-chair, which has been great.
“The thing is, this Black Tie board is a true working board. Everybody pulls their own weight, and that makes the job of co-chair a whole lot easier,” Foley said.
Foley is a native of Opp, Ala., “a very small town in the southern part of the state” whose major advantage, she said, was being only 85 miles north of Fort Walton Beach in Florida. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Huntingdon College and worked for awhile in advertising before enrolling in the School of Social Work at Louisiana State University where she earned her master’s degree in 1987.
In the years since, Foley has held positions in the clinical, administrative and business development areas of the health care field. She and her business partner opened a consulting firm in 2001.
Foley moved to the Dallas area in 1989 and, she said, “it became quickly apparent that this was a unique community, especially as it relates to the GLBT community. Our community has evolved from a group of passionate individuals that worked hand-in-hand to break so many barriers that exist in other communities.
“This is not a community of exclusiveness, but rather inclusiveness,” she said. “It is a community where we support each other, where we have the added support of many straight allies and where we do not back down in the face of adversity, but rather we take on fights and causes, intelligently and strategically, to ensure our rights as individuals, couples and families.”
Although her work with Black Tie has taken up much of her time in recent years, it isn’t Foley’s only outlet for volunteerism. She and her partner of nine years, litigation attorney Linda Moore, say that volunteerism is a big part of their relationship.
“We both believe it is important to be active in supporting causes we believe in, as well as supporting organizations that are out there fighting for our rights,” Foley said.
But at least for this weekend, as Foley and the other Black Tie board members and volunteers scramble to take care of all those last-minute details, it is the 28th annual Black Tie Dinner that is dominating her time.
“I don’t know that there is any one piece of the program that I am looking forward to more than the others. I am excited about it all,” Foley said. “You know, it is the mission of Black Tie to provide education, empowerment and entertainment to the community. This year, we have coined the term ‘edu-power-tainment’ to incorporate all three. And I think what we have this year, programmatically, truly lives up to the idea of ‘edu-power-tainment.'”
She added, “I consider it a privilege to work with Black Tie’s outstanding board members and volunteers. It is very rewarding to watch how everything comes together throughout the year, then to watch the faces of the beneficiaries as they receive their checks, and finally to see those dollars at work in our community.” •
Black Tie Dinner will be held Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. For more information, see story on Page 22.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 2, 2009.