YFT restructures its staff

Development will become a board function, with programming handled by a professional staff member

YFT-GaylaProm-006

PROM NIGHT | Youth attending a previous Gayla Prom stop dancing long enough to smile for the camera. Previously presented at SMU by Resource Center Dallas, the prom now comes under the purview of Youth First Texas.

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Officials with Youth First Texas have created the new part-time position of youth program coordinator, and the board hopes to fill the job before the end of January.

The new hire will be responsible for program development, implementation and evaluation.

The agency, which serves LGBT youth up to age 22, currently has no employees.

Sam Wilkes had served as director of development and administration, but that position has been eliminated.

In announcing the change, the YFT board called the staff restructuring a reflection of its stronger commitment to core programs.

“We really found that even though we have a program committee, we need a dedicated person,” said YFT Board Co-Chair Chris-James Cognetta.

He said the agency is looking for someone who has experience in youth work, preferably with the LGBTQA community. Other preferences include someone with an education or programming background and who is bilingual.

“We’ve had an influx of LGBTQA Hispanic youth,” Cognetta said.

Most of the Hispanic youth who attend are fluent English speakers, but their parents primarily speak Spanish. He said that it is important to welcome parents having trouble accepting their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity and to answer questions they may have.

“It makes a huge difference when we have a bilingual staff member,” he said.

Development will be taken over by a committee chaired by the treasurer, currently Kevin Mackenroth, and will include two other board members.

“The plan is to launch a sustained giving program from individuals and corporations, and include estate planning,” Cognetta said. He said this was the first time the agency has tried this approach.

Cognetta also said that YFT is in good shape financially.

“We’re going into the first quarter with 30 percent more income than we expected,” he said. “We’re putting more money into programming in 2012 than ever.”

Cognetta said that the core programs will continue. Education instruction includes health and nutrition classes as well as helping youth obtain GEDs or get into college. One of the agency’s recent success stories is a student who applied to Southern Methodist University with the help of YFT, and who is now a pre-law and pre-med student there.

Other YFT programs include the big group on Thursday nights, the gender identity group, self-defense class and Friday night family dinner.

The center maintains a food pantry for emergency situations for youth living on their own.

“We move them over to the SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] food stamp program,” Cognetta said. “But we fill the gap until we can get them into that.”

YFT is also trying to take over planning and organizing for the annual GAYLA prom, which has been held at SMU in May in recent years. Cognetta said the new programming director would take over handling the project, which was dropped by Resource Center Dallas.

“We’re looking for volunteers to pull it together,” Cognetta said.

Also, Cognetta said he hopes the new staff member will do more outreach to schools and gay-straight alliances and do “gap analysis” to determine who and what areas are underserved.

“I want to see the center open every evening at 4 and every Saturday night,” Cognetta said.

Currently, YFT is open Tuesday through Friday at 6 p.m., Thursday at 5 p.m. and every other Saturday evening. Cognetta said that many youth go home after school and don’t get out again. Opening earlier would serve more people, he said.

“Finding volunteers who will be there at 4 is a challenge,” Cognetta acknowledged. He said finding a group of people to each devote one Saturday a month to opening the center will likely be easier.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Black Tie Dinner hands out $1.142M

Lemons stepping up as 2012-13 co-chair; Duncan joins staff as development director

BTD-Page-6-photo

COMMEMORATIVE GIFT | BTD Co-chair Chris Kouvelis shows off the plate presented to each beneficiary along with a check. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Officials with the 2011 Black Tie Dinner on Thursday night, Dec. 15, distributed a total of $1.142 million to 17 local beneficiary organizations and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Although the overall total was down a bit from 2010’s total of $1.15 million, some local beneficiaries received higher individual amounts this year since the number of local beneficiaries dropped from 18 to 17 after AIDS Services of Rural Texas closed its doors in late spring.

As is traditional, half the total proceeds this year — or $571,000 — went to the Human Rights Campaign Fund. Resource Center Dallas was the local organization receiving the largest sum — $63,868.

RCD also received the largest donation to a local beneficiary last year, but that total, at $48,504, was significantly lower than this year.

The percentage of the total proceeds that each local beneficiary receives from Black Tie Dinner each year is determined by a formula based on how many tables and how many raffle tickets each organization sells for the dinner, how many volunteer hours each organization contributes to the dinner and other factors.

Chris Kouvelis, 2011-12 BTD co-chair, said in a statement released Thursday that he and other board members were pleased with the amount given to beneficiaries.

“It’s a thrill and an honor for Black Tie Dinner to be able to distribute these funds,” Kouvelis said. “It is with distribution that the reason for all the hard work done by this wonderful board is realized.”

Kouvelis served his first year as co-chair with Nan Arnold, who stepped down from the post during the check distribution event after two years as co-chair.

Arnold told Dallas Voice this week she was proud to know that during the last two years,“ we were able to increase distribution [to beneficiaries] substantially from the previous three to four years. Being able to give more to our beneficiaries is always a wonderful thing, and of course, that is our No. 1 mission.”

She said she is also very proud of how successful the 2011 dinner was.

“We really changed a lot of things this year. We had a great lineup and we sold out by August,” Arnold said. “We’ve heard a lot of good remarks about the dinner this year, and of course, we always love hearing good things.”

Black Tie officials on Thursday introduced Mitzi Lemons as co-chair for the 2012 and 2013 dinners, and they introduced Margaret Byrne Duncan as the new development director for the dinner.

BTD-Jump-page-photo

PASSING THE TORCH | Outgoing Co-chair Nan Arnold, left, and incoming Co-chair Mitzi Lemons at the Black Tie Dinner check presentation party at the Dallas Museum of Art on Thursday, Dec. 15. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

“I am leaving the board in excellent hands,” Arnold said of Lemons’ selection as the new co-chair. “Chris has been a great co-chair partner and is more than ready to take the reins [as senior co-chair]. And Mitzi has shown remarkable leadership as chair of our business operations committee.”

Arnold continued, “She [Lemons] is the first person to have the opportunity to have served [during the last year] as co-chair elect, so Chris and I have been able to work with her and mentor her all year. There is no doubt they are a terrific team and will lead the board to great things.”

Arnold steps down as co-chair after eight years on the BTD board, saying it has been “an honor and a privilege” to serve.

“I am just humbled to be a small part of a really great community in Dallas and I appreciate the opportunity to do my part to help in any way I can,” she said.

Looking back on her eight years on the board, Arnold said there have been many special moments and memories, but one in particular that stands out in her mind was being able to hand over a “substantial” donation to first-time beneficiary Home for the Holidays following the 2010 dinner.

“They were so excited; there were tears and yells of joy and appreciation,” Arnold recalled. “There were hugs all around. It was wonderful.”

Home for the Holidays, a nonprofit that helps people with HIV/AIDS travel home to be with family, received $24,375 in 2010, an amount that Home for the Holidays President Rodd Gray said earlier this year was a fortune for an organization in which board members often used their own credit cards and bank accounts to cover expenses until they could raise enough money to get reimbursed.

Home for the Holidays did not apply to be a Black Tie beneficiary this year, Gray said, explaining that the 2010 donation was enough to tide them over for some time. “We don’t need the money right now, and we didn’t want to possibly take away money from some other organization that needs it more,” Gray explained.

For Lemons, stepping into the role of Black Tie Dinner co-chair is an exciting opportunity.

“It is an honor I never dreamed I would have the privilege of experiencing, and I know it will be a time in my life that I will always cherish,” Lemons said. “To lead such a remarkable organization that impacts the LGBT community in the way that we do is almost daunting, to say the least. But I know I have the support of my co-chair [Kouvelis] and a truly amazing board and advisory board.”

Lemons has been a Black Tie board member for four years, and worked as a volunteer with the organization for two years before joining the board. She said that she was on the board at Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth when the church first applied and was selected as a Black Tie beneficiary.

When the church was selected as a beneficiary, Lemons said, “I began volunteering with Black Tie and became more and more interested in how the organization works and how it helps so many people.”

Lemons said that during her first year as Black Tie co-chair, she intends to “continue our efforts to educate not only the LGBT community about the mission of Black Tie Dinnner to help our beneficiaries, but also to educate the general public and our sponsors. There are still many opportunities in the North Texas area, and we will work hard to expand our reach.

“Although the 2011 dinner will be a hard act to follow, we are already in full swing working on an amazing 2012 dinner,” she added.

Lemons has been in law firm management for more than 25 years and currently works as a law firm administrator. She and her partner, Dr. Sarah Hardy, have been together for 15 years, and Lemons said Hardy is also “very much a part of Black Tie with her never-ending support of my role on the board and her belief in the Black Tie mission.

“The many hours of work we do as board members to produce the dinner each year would never happen without the devotion of our spouses to what we believe in,” Lemons said.
Duncan said this week that the transition to her new position as development director for Black Tie Dinner has already begun, even though she does not officially take over the position until Jan. 1.

“I am honored to be part of the nation’s largest, most successful single-event LGBT fundraiser,” Duncan said. “That success would not be possible without our extremely dedicated volunteer board of directors.”

Duncan said she became familiar with Black Tie while working for five years with AIDS Arms, one of the dinner’s beneficiary organizations. Because of that, Duncan said, “I have firsthand knowledge of how important Black Tie’s funding is to the LGBT-supportive organizations serving North Texas.”

Duncan said her goal for 2012 is to continue building on the organization’s current success and to find ways to increase the donations Black Tie gives back to its beneficiaries.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Lucky ticket


AND THE WINNER IS  |  Paul Van de Vyver, who bought the winning ticket for the two-door 2012 C250 Mercedes Coupe at this year’s Black Tie Dinner, picks up his new car on Friday, Nov. 18 at Park Place Mercedes on Lemmon Avenue. Pictured, from left, are Black Tie Dinner board member Kevin Terrell, Van de Vyver and BTD Co-Chair Chris Kouvelis. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

New routes means higher visibility for 2011 LSRFA

Even though Event Manager Jerry Calumn was told routing riders through Dallas and Fort Worth wasn’t possible, he refused to take ‘can’t’ for an answer

Calumn.Jerry
Jerry Calumn

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

When he took over as the new event manager of Lone Star RideFighting AIDS, Jerry Calumn started hearing about a number of things he “couldn’t do.”

For instance, LSRFA cyclists said they wanted people to come out and cheer them on. But the route the last few years has been mostly rural, and getting groups out was something Calumn “couldn’t do,” he was told.

Riders told him they wanted to ride where people would see them.

“Riders felt disconnected from the cities we serve,” Rider Retention

Co-Chair Michael Wilkesen said.

But changing the route was something Calumn was told he “couldn’t do,” because permits and other obstacles would make it too expensive and logistics would make it too hard.

But Calumn wasn’t willing to settle for “couldn’t do.” So through the summer, he worked quietly with Wilkesen, mapping out a new route and making plans to get people out to cheer on the riders.

The ride begins and ends again this year at the American Airlines

Training and Conference Center in North Arlington, as it has for the past few years. The difference this year is that instead of making loops northwest of the center on Saturday and southeast on Sunday through suburban and rural terrain, this year’s routes move through Fort Worth on Saturday and Dallas on Sunday.

“And you know what it cost us?” Calumn said. “Nothing. Not one damn penny.”

Calumn encouraged the community to come and cheer for riders and suggested some of the best times and places to do that.

The routes

Pit stops and lunch stops for the riders are great places for supporters to gather and cheer them on.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, Pit Stop 2 will be at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth. Riders are expected through there between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Pit 3 is the lunch stop. That takes place at the Pour House on 7th Street between downtown Fort Worth and the Cultural District. Riders attempting the 100-mile “century” route to Eagle Mountain Lake must leave lunch by 11:30 a.m. Other riders may linger here until 2:30 p.m.

One of the highlights of the Fort Worth route will be 22 miles along the Trinity Trail. That scenic system of trails follows the Trinity River as it winds through the city. Riders will pick up the trail near Texas Christian University after the Rainbow Lounge pit stop, detour off the trail for about a mile for the lunch stop and then pick it back up for the ride around the Fort Worth Stockyards.

Wilkesen said that unfortunately the ride cannot go through the Stockyards because of the bike-unfriendly cobblestones in the area.

Day 2 takes riders through Irving to Dallas, then back to the American Airlines training center for closing ceremonies.

The first stop is the new Irving Convention Center.

“It’s an architectural gem sitting in the middle of Las Colinas,” Calumn said.

He said that Irving was excited about the ride coming through the city and was very helpful. Riders travel through Irving both in the morning and afternoon.

A highlight of the Sunday route will be riding through Oak Lawn. This will be the first time the ride has traveled down Cedar Springs Road.

Pit Stop 2 will be at Station 4. Most bike riders will pass Cathedral of Hope between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The church promised a cheering section as riders pass.

From there the route turns north on Turtle Creek Boulevard and crosses Highland Park before heading north to Webb Chapel Park.

The ride through Irving will be on the Campion Trail. “Irving invested well in its park system and it shows,” Calumn said.

He called the highlight of the afternoon the stop in North Lake Ranch Park, located on one of the highest points in north Dallas County and with a panoramic view of the area. Of course, for riders, that’s a mixed blessing: To get to the highest point means riding up hill. And the uphill ride comes in the afternoon after they have already pedalled more than 40 miles.

But once there, the ride back to base camp for closing ceremonies is mostly down hill.

Both Calumn and Wilkeson said they believe that the higher visibility of the routes this year will help with organizers’ ongoing efforts to grow the ride.

“With more visibility, we’ll get more riders,” Wilkesen said.

In a battle of Dallas vs. Fort Worth, Wilkesen suggested Irving wins as the city most aggressively interested in bringing the ride through town. He said the city even mapped a safe and scenic route for him, saving him a lot of time.

Calumn said Fort Worth has the most sophisticated plan to host groups like this. In Dallas he met with police, parks and events separately. He complimented each department for its cooperation.

But, he said, Fort Worth held one meeting with him that also included the health department.

“That way, police can talk to streets,” he said. “It’s very helpful.”

Closing ceremonies take place at the AATCC at 5 p.m. The Riderless Bike leads the procession as riders return and complete a year of fundraising that is expected to bring the total raised in event history to more than $2 million.

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS closing ceremonies, American Airlines Training and Conference Center, 4501 Highway 360 South, Fort Worth (just south of DFW Airport). 5 p.m. Everyone welcome.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Democratic Party chairman in San Antonio calls gays ‘termites,’ likens Stonewall to Nazi Party

Dan Ramos sought Stoneawll Democrats’ endorsement during his campaign for chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party in 2010. But now he thinks Stonewall is “the equivalent of the fuckin’ Nazi Party.” (QSanAntonio)

It isn’t overly surprising to hear that a county party chairperson in Texas called gays “termites” and likened the Stonewall Democrats to Nazis. But it is a little surprising that it came from a county chairperson in the Democratic Party. Dan Ramos, the embattled chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party, made the statements Friday in an interview with the San Antonio Current:

While the LGBT community has long found support within the national Democratic Party in its search for equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgendered individuals, Ramos called the gay-rights movement a “very sinister movement” that is out of touch with San Antonio’s values.

In an interview with the Current today, Ramos blamed homosexuals in the party for both undermining his authority and for the poor election results in Bexar County in 2010. “They are all connected to the gay Democratic Party, the so-called Stonewall Democrats. Just like termites they managed to get some of their people in key positions,” he said.

The party faithful has been largely divided over Ramos since he was elected to office in May, 2010, but his chief detractors are all homosexuals, Ramos said.

Ramos said he opposes homosexuality on religious grounds and doesn’t believe gay-friendly Democrats like Stonewall reflect the values of Bexar County voters. “I liken them to the Tea Party — the Tea Party and the fucking Nazi Party — because they’re 90 percent white, blue-eyed, and Anglo, and I don’t give a fuck who knows that. Just like the blacks … they’re American, but you can’t get your way just because you’re black.”

The LGBT news website QSanAntonio reports that Eduardo Juarez, co-chair of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, issued a statement today to the group’s Board of Directors in response to Ramos’ remarks.

“Mr. Ramos’ alleged comments blaming and condemning LGBT Democrats are so plainly ludicrous and divisive, they do not even merit a response,” Juarez said. “We Democrats are too busy right now working on real and important tasks at hand, including the task of uniting our party.”

QSanAntonio also reports that Ramos’ statements are especially surprising given that he sought the Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement in January 2010 when he ran for the position (photo above).

The Bexar County Democratic Party has been rocked by scandal in recent years, with its former treasurer awaiting trial on charges that he embezzled $200,000. The party was unable to fund a campaign in 2010, and Ramos reportedly has been a divisive figure ever since he took over as chair. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, has filed legislation that would allow state parties in Texas to remove county chairs for “incompetency or official misconduct.” The bill reportedly is aimed at getting rid of Ramos.

UPDATE: Boyd Richie, chair of the Texas Democraticy Party, issued the following statement calling for Ramos’ resignation late Saturday.

“From virtually the first day he took office, Dan Ramos has kept the Bexar County Democratic Party in a constant state of turmoil. He has consistently refused to follow the Bexar County Democratic Party Rules and the Texas Democratic Party Rules, failed to call or attend meetings required by the local Rules, failed to recognize properly established local committees and officers, refused to elect Precinct Chairs in the manner required by the Rules and the Texas Election Code, and failed to assist Democratic candidates seeking office.

“I will not dignify Mr. Ramos’ most recent outburst by restating it, but I will make it clear that the bigoted attitudes he expressed are totally contrary to the Beliefs and Declarations of the Texas Democratic Party. I am shocked and outraged that an individual who claims to be an officer of the Democratic Party would hold such positions and I’m appalled that he would make such absurd statements.

“For many months, Democratic Party officials and activists have petitioned the State Party to intercede in the Bexar County situation. Until recently I resisted those requests because I believed that the best remedy would be one crafted and agreed to by Democrats inside Bexar County. Just yesterday I sent a letter to Mr. Ramos and other concerned individuals inviting them to a sit-down to discuss the problem. I no longer believe that such a meeting would be useful or have any purpose. What is necessary is for Dan Ramos to immediately resign and allow the Bexar County Democratic Party to move forward with new, more unifying leadership.”

Also, Daniel Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, sent over an open letter to Ramos that we’ve posted after the jump.

—  John Wright

Walking to remember

FAMILY BUSINESS | One reason Kelly Smith works at the Tommy’s Hamburgers on Camp Bowie, owned by her parents, is that her job there gives her plenty of time to volunteer with AIDS Outreach Center. (Tammye Nash/DallasVoice)

For Kelly Smith, volunteering at AOC and participating in the AIDS Walk is a family affair — in more ways than 1

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

When she was growing up, Kelly Smith always thought of her uncle, Brad, as more of a brother and friend than an uncle.

“He was my dad’s only brother. He was a chef, a great cook, and when my parents opened up Tommy’s Hamburgers, he helped them out a lot,” Smith said. “He was only 10 years older than me, and I grew up hanging out with him and his friends.”

But then AIDS struck, Kelly said, “and I lost Brad. I’ve lost his partner, and I’ve lost all of his friends but one. It was devastating.”

But before he died in 1994, Brad Smith introduced his niece to Tarrant County’s AIDS Outreach Center and the agency’s annual AIDS Walk. In the years since, the bond between Kelly and that agency has grown ever stronger, giving her an opportunity, she said, to honor the memories of her uncle and friends by helping those still living with HIV.

“I did the AIDS Walk with Brad in 1992 and 1993 before he died in 1994. Then by the mid-90s, I started getting more involved. I became a team captain and started getting other people to walk with me.”

But Kelly didn’t limit her involvement to the AIDS Walk: She joined the center’s board of directors three years ago and is now vice president of the board.

Still, the AIDS Walk holds a special place in her heart.

“It’s my passion. It’s my calling. I truly love it,” she said. “This year is my fourth year to be co-chair of the walk, and it’s going to be the best one ever.

READY, SET WALK | Participants in the 2011 AIDS Outreach Center AIDS Walk get ready to set out from the Fort Worth Community Arts Center on the 5K course. This year, the walk moves back to its roots in Trinity Park. This is Kelly Smith’s fourth year as AIDS Walk co-chair.

“My partner, Holly Edwards, works for Luke’s Locker, and now Luke’s has come on as a walk sponsor. It’s always so much fun to be part of the walk, but it’s even better now because this is something that we do together,” Kelly said.

Supporting the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities has always been something of a family affair for the Smiths, starting with her parents, who own Tommy’s Hamburgers.

They first opened the restaurant in 1983 in an old Texaco station in Lake Worth. The second location opened 19 years ago on Green Oaks, and nine years ago the third location on Camp Bowie — where Kelly usually works — opened its doors.

Tommy’s has long been a meeting place for LGBT community groups, like Stonewall Democrats of Tarrant County, and a sponsor for events like AIDS Walk.

That support obviously grew out of the family’s love and support for Brad and Kelly, but it may have been kick-started by some people’s response to news of Brad’s HIV-positive status.

“We had a lot of people back then calling and saying things like, ‘Do all of you have AIDS?’ People were so confused about AIDS, about what it was and how it was spread,” Kelly recalled.

Kelly went to college first at Texas Wesleyan then graduated from Texas Christian University. She taught school for a few years, but then decided what she really wanted to do was return to the family business. And now she is in charge of marketing and buying for Tommy’s Hamburgers.

“It’s certainly never boring around here,” Kelly said. “I love working with my family and meeting the customers. But what I really love about this job is that it gives me the time to do volunteer work at AIDS Outreach Center.”

And that volunteer work is really about family, too: “There’s a great group of people at AIDS Outreach, like a family,” Kelly said. “It’s a group of people all coming together with one goal — to get services to the people who need them.”

Right now, that group is all coming together to kick off the agency’s 25th anniversary year with a successful 19th annual AIDS Walk. And although the walk accounts for only a relatively small percentage of AIDS Outreach Center’s overall budget, Kelly said it is one of the agency’s most popular annual events.

“This is the one fundraiser we do that everyone can participate in. You can bring your children. You can bring your pets. It’s just a lot of fun for everyone,” she said.

Kelly is getting close to her own 20th anniversary with AIDS Outreach, and that’s a long time to work or volunteer in the world of AIDS — burnout is often an issue.

But not for Kelly Smith.

“Things have changed over the years,” she said. “People are more receptive to donating to the cause and being involved. But at the same time, some things haven’t changed. People are still getting infected.

“Just recently, I reconnected with an old friend I hadn’t seen in awhile,” she continued. “He told me he is positive. On the one hand, it made me feel good that he felt comfortable enough with me, that he trusted me enough to tell me something so personal. But on the other hand, it was very hard to hear that someone else I know, a friend who is such a wonderful guy, has HIV.

“I was feeling safe again, I guess. And then my friend tells me he is infected. It just drives me more, makes me want to do more and work harder,” Kelly said. “I won’t stop. I can’t stop. Until there’s a cure, I’ll never stop.”

The 19th annual AIDS Outreach Center AIDS Walk will be held Sunday, April 3, beginning at the pavilion near 7th Street in Fort Worth’s Trinity Park. The event begins at 1 p.m., and the walk steps off at 2:30 p.m. Pre-registration is $25, available online at AOC.org. Registration the day of the walk is $30 and starts at 12:30 p.m. at Luke’s Locker, 2600 W. 7th St.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Black Tie Dinner co-chairs announce sponsor, raffle car

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Nan Arnold and Chris Couvelis, co-chairs for the 30th annual Black Tie Dinner in November, this week announced that GameStop has once again signed on as presenting sponsor for the annual fundraising event, and that Park Place Motorcars Dallas has agreed to donate a new Mercedes C300 S coupe to be raffled off at the dinner.

“This is really good news,” said Arnold, this year’s senior co-chair, adding that both deals were finalized earlier than usual this year.

“Chris and I and Maggie McQuown, our director of development, met with the people from GameStop back in mid-January, and they confirmed right then that they wanted to come back as our presenting sponsor,” Arnold said, explaining that being presenting sponsor means giving the Black Tie board $100,000 in cash to use to pay expenses in staging the dinner.

“That’s really good news for our beneficiaries, too. Because that means that’s $100,000 more that will be returned to the beneficiaries,” Arnold said.

GameStop has been presenting sponsor for Black Tie for three consecutive years, and has donated to the event long than that.

Officials with Park Place also committed to providing a car for the annual raffle earlier than usual this year, too, Couvelis said.

“It’s not just a brand new car, it’s a brand new Mercedes model,” he said. “It will be the 2012 model, and it is so new we haven’t even seen any photos of it yet. It’s all still under wraps. It won’t even be available to buy until October.”

Black Tie board members, volunteers and beneficiaries sell a limited number of tickets, for $100 each, for the car raffle each year to help boost the dinner’s income. Arnold said that tickets for this year’s raffle for the new Mercedes model are already available.

Each year, proceeds from Black Tie dinner are divided between the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and as many as 20 local LGBT or HIV/AIDS organizations and agencies. Beneficiary applications for the 2011 dinner are available on the Black Tie Dinner website (BlackTie.org), and the application deadline is Feb. 25. The list of this year’s designated beneficiaries will be announced March 30.

But Arnold said the board will likely be making another announcement — the theme for the annual fundraiser — even sooner than that.

“This will be our 30th year, and we are working hard to make it really special,” said Arnold, as first-year co-chair Couvelis added he is “thrilled” to have the chance to head up the board that organizes the dinner, giving credit to Arnold for her hard work and leadership as the board’s second-year co-chair.

But Arnold was quick to spread the credit around: “It’s a team effort. Chris is doing a great job, and we have a wonderful board that is already working hard to make this year’s dinner a success.”

The 2011 Black Tie Dinner will be held Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Sheraton Dallas hotel.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Cox named to board of Women’s Foundation

Cece Cox

From Staff Reports
editor@dallasvoice.com

Cece Cox, executive director of Resource Center Dallas, has been named to a three-year term on the board of directors of the Dallas Women’s Foundation.

The appointment is effective Feb. 1.

The foundation, established in 1985, focuses on women’s philanthropy, grant making and gender-specific research. It has given more than $13 million to more than 950 organizations, with a net impact on more than a quarter-million women and girls primarily in Dallas, Denton and Collin counties.

The foundation is part of a global network of 145 womens’ foundations on six continents.

Cox became executive director of RCD in July, 2010, after about three years as the center’s associate executive director for GLBT community services. As associated executive director, Cox was directly responsible for creating and maintaining programs at the center.

She has also worked with and/or supported the Turtle Creek Chorale, Legal Hospice of Texas, Youth First Texas and the regional office of Lambda Legal.

Cox is a former president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and a former co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation/Dallas. She serves on the advisory board for both the Black Tie Dinner and SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. In 1999, Cox received the Kuchling Humanitarian Award from the Black Tie Dinner.

Cox is an alumna of both Leadership Dallas and Leadership Lambda, a former board member of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Issues Law Section for the State Bar of Texas, and an attorney licensed in the state of Texas. Prior to joining RCD, Cox was an attorney focused on commercial litigation, bankruptcy, municipal law and commercial transactions. She is a volunteer attorney for Legal Hospice of Texas.

Cox earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a law degree from SMU. She is the mother of a 12-year-old son and the partner of Judge Barbara J. Houser.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Black Tie hands out $1.15 million

Kouvelis named as 2011 co-chair as board begins preparations for 30th annual fundraiser in November

Tammye Nash and David Taffet | nash@dallasvoice.com

HANDING OUT THE CHECKS | 2010 Black Tie Dinner Co-chairs, above left, Nan Arnold and Ron Guillard talk about their year heading up the Black Tie board. Incoming 2011 Black Tie Co-Chair Chris Kouvelis, right center, presents a check to representatives of Home for the Holidays. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Officials with Black Tie Dinner on Thursday, Dec. 9, distributed grants to 20 beneficiaries totaling $1.15 million — up from the 2009 total of $1.04 million.
The funds, representing proceeds from the 29th annual Black Tie Dinner held in November, were distributed at a reception at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, host hotel for the annual fundraising dinner.

Ron Guillard, completing the second year of his two-year term as Black Tie Dinner co-chair, offered special recognition to the sponsors, table captains, dinner guests and volunteers who helped make this year’s sold-out dinner so successful.

CATCHING UP | AIDS Services of Dallas President and CEO Don Maison, left, talks with former Resource Center Dallas board chair Bill Brosius during the Black Tie Dinner check distribution party Thursday. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

“My last official act couldn’t be more exciting than to distribute checks,” Guillard said. “It’s fantastic to be in the room with all the people who do so much work with Black Tie Dinner assuring its success.”

Nan Faith Arnold, who began the second half of her two-year term as co-chair at the distribution party, said, “I’m having a blast. It’s a great night. Each of our beneficiaries stands strong for the people they serve.”

“Stand strong” was the theme of this year’s event.

Chris Kouvelis, who will be Arnold’s dinner co-chair in 2011, was introduced.

“The check distribution event is the culmination of what we work for all year,” Kouvelis said. “It’s the most exciting thing to do. I’m honored to be in this position and am looking forward to a fantastic year.”

As in previous years, about half of the proceeds from the 2010 dinner — $577,500 — went to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The Dallas-Fort Worth dinner is the largest fundraiser of its kind each year for the foundation.

HRC Development Director Chris Speron attended the check distribution event. Executive Director Joe Solmonese was scheduled to attend but remained in Washington because of the “don’t ask, don’t tell vote.”

“The Dallas LGBT community is one of the most generous communities anywhere,” Speron said. “And the Black Tie Dinner is unmatched anywhere in the country. We are so privileged to work with the people involved in Black Tie Dinner and benefit from their amazing work.”

The remaining funds were divided between 19 local organizations providing services to the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities. Resource Center

EXPRESSING THANKS | Board members for Equality Texas, along with Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman, right, accept the organization’s check from Black Tie Dinner. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Dallas received the largest local grant, getting a check for $48,504 from Black Tie.

RCD Executive Director Cece Cox said, “We are again delighted and thankful to be a beneficiary of Black Tie Dinner. This is unrestricted money that allows us to provide more services and reach more people.”

Groups were acknowledged for their participation. Turtle Creek Chorale sold the most raffle tickets. White Rock Friends contributed the most volunteer hours and the chorale was recognized for 682 hours of rehearsal time for the Black Tie Dinner performance. Resource Center Dallas sold the most tables with 22.

Black Tie Dinner is the largest formal seated dinner of its kind in the country in terms of both attendance and charitable contributions. This year, 3,000 guests attended the event, which featured keynote speaker Tammy Baldwin, U.S. congresswoman from Wisconsin, Media Award recipient Chely Wright, Elizabeth Birch Equality Award recipient American Airlines and Kuchling Humanitarian Award recipient the Rev. Carol West.

Arnold and Kouvelis said the Black Tie Dinner board is already working on the 30th Anniversary dinner, scheduled for  Nov, 12, 2011, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. The 2011 beneficiary application will be available online in February at BlackTie.org.

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•2010 Black Tie Dinner Beneficiaries

Human Rights Campaign Foundation $577,500
AIDS Arms $38,029
AIDS Interfaith Network $24,464
AIDS Outreach Center $28,245
AIDS Resources of Rural Texas $25,622
AIDS Services of Dallas $34,896
Celebration Community Church $40,043
Congregation Beth El Binah $26,157
Equality Texas Foundation $25,219
Health Services of North Texas $23,600
Home for the Holidays
$24,375
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
$38,764
Legacy Counseling Center $24,449
Legal Hospice of Texas $25,844
Northaven United Methodist Church $38,559
Resource Center of Dallas $48,504
Turtle Creek Chorale $32,494
White Rock Friends $21,055
The Women’s Chorus of Dallas $22,532
Youth First Texas $34,640

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Have a Holly Jolly Ball at the Mansion on Turtle Creek

“Now, more than ever we need to focus on the future success of the GLBT youth in our community,” says J.T. Williams. “The responsibility of empowering young GLBT leaders is on all of our shoulders, and events like this help send that message.”

Williams serves as co-chair for tonight’s inaugural Texas Instruments Holly Jolly Ball at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, to benefit the GLBT Leadership Education and Advocacy Program, or LEAP.

LEAP was created by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce to support youth and nurture the development of leaders. LEAP awards educational scholarships to undergraduate students who exhibit leadership potential, demonstrate strong academic abilities, and are actively involved in school and community organizations.

The Holly Jolly Ball will include complimentary appetizers and beverages, as well as silent and live auctions, with proceeds going directly to LEAP. Tickets are $50 for individuals, and sponsorships are available.

DEETS: The Mansion on Turtle Creek Conservatory and Wine Cellar, 3535 Gillespie, Dallas. 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. HollyJollyBall.org.

—  John Wright