Jennifer Fox is the first heterosexual person elected to the board of Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. She grew up in South Texas, where she says she developed a fondness for water and tennis. After high school, she moved to Columbia, Mo., to attend Stephens College, where she studied fashion marketing and management. She moved to Dallas to work in retail, and later entered the nonprofit sector. Fox started her career in the marketing department of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, but now works in the programs department. She resides in Dallas with her husband, Tony Guthrie, three dogs the couple rescued and two cats.
How does it feel to be the first straight person on the Black Tie Dinner board?
It is quite an honor. I work with incredible people on the board, and I feel like I am making a difference in my community. My uncle Bill was gay and I lost my dear friend, Plaz, to AIDS, and I want to make a difference in people’s lives. While Bill and Plaz inspired me to get involved, it’s the people I continue to meet and work with that keep me engaged.
How did you get involved in BTD?
Community service is a part of my life. I have been involved with AIDS organizations since high school. I was fortunate to know Toni Miller, a fellow Black Tie Dinner board member, who brought me to the organization as a volunteer. I volunteered at the dinner in 2006 and 2007. My first year on the board was 2008.
What experiences do you hope to bring to the BTD board?
Besides my skills as a marketing professional, I want to share the same feeling I got at my first dinner. Black Tie Dinner is a real experience where you get a sense of empowerment. I feel that I can make a difference along with 3,000 committed dinner guests.
As a national program manager at Mothers Against Drunk Driving, what does your job entail?
MADD’s mission is to stop drunk driving, support victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking. As a program manager for MADD’s national office, I work with our field offices and national partnerships to prevent underage drinking. With evidence-based approaches, I develop programs for our field to implement along with our partners for both adult and youth audiences.
In three dinners, which speaker did you find most inspiring and why?
My favorite speaker was Bishop V. Gene Robinson. He was the recipient of the Elizabeth Birch Equality award. He is genuine, and he has such a strong message. He courageously embraces diversity while remaining in a challenging environment. I think what he has to say is so important for everyone to hear, especially if we want to see change in our culture. I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet him and learn from him.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 13, 2009