As American Airlines’ director of Workforce Giving and Volunteerism, Sam Santiago makes a career out of charitable work — a mission he continues as chair of "A Night of Light," the annual fundraiser for the Center for Non-Profit Management, which comes to the Hilton Anatole on Nov. 14. Santiago lives in Turtle Creek with his partner of 11 years, Alvian. For more information about the Night of Light, visit CNMDallas.org.
1 What does the Center for Nonprofit Management do?
The center’s mission is to build a stronger community by increasing the performance and impact of nonprofit organizations. I’ve been associated with it since 2006. A few weeks after I moved into my position at AA, I got a call from my boss telling me I had to present an award at the event. I dusted off my tux and showed up for rehearsal a few hours before the event. The following year I returned as a judge for one of the awards, and this year they asked me to come back as chairman. Once they get you, you can’t get away.
2 Describe "A Night of Light."
The event is the annual celebration of nonprofit excellence in North Texas. We have winners in several different categories, representing the best of the best in the areas of programming, leadership, innovation and others — both as organizations and individuals. The winners are selected by a panel of judges that carefully review the applications. The winners, however, are not announced until the night of the event. It’s nail-biting!
3 Having a gay man in charge has to mean something fabulous — what’s in store?
This is the eighth year and we’re putting together another fantastic evening. We’re thrilled to have a new entertainment element performed by the Turtle Creek Chorale’s Encore. We also have a fabulous dessert — all I can say now is that it will incorporate our theme, which I can’t talk about, prepared by pastry chef Henri Mahler.
4 Can you explain your devotion to volunteerism, and what others can do to get involved?
From an early age, I was interested in global social issues, which explains how I got my first volunteer experience working with the hearing-impaired community in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands close to 20 years ago. "A Night of Light" is a beacon of elegance and a beautiful opportunity for client entertainment, support for non-profits community or simply an enjoyable night out with your favorite person. If you haven’t been associated with the center before, this is your chance.
5 How did you meet your partner?
I met him in 2006 when I first got involved with "A Night of Light." He’s been the M.C. for a few years now, and he always injects his special kind of humor.
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