Black Tie Dinner hands out $1.142M

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

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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.

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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

FAMILY LIFE: HRC Family Project offers resources

LGBT parents in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex have a large number of resources available to them, from attorneys who specialize in LGBT family law issues, to support groups that give them the chance to meet and socialize with other families like theirs.

One of the newer — and perhaps lesser known — of these resources is the local HRC Family Project program.

The HRC Family Project is a program of the national Human Rights Campaign Foundation, but local leader Robb Puckett said HRC’s DFW Steering Committee wanted to find a way to “try and localize those efforts, to create something that is a real tool and a resource for LGBT families.”

Puckett said, “We’ve been trying to reach out and engage the LGBT families with children by creating opportunities for them to get together and build an even stronger community here in North Texas.”

One of the program’s most recent efforts, Puckett said, was the highly-successful LGBT Family Day at the Dallas Zoo, and the HRC Steering Committee has even added a second session of bowling to its annual Fruit Bowl to have a time especially dedicated to families with children.

He said that children are welcome to participate in both sessions of this year’s Fruit Bowl, coming up Aug. 7 at 300 Dallas, 3805 Beltline Road in Addison, but that the early session, from noon to 3 p.m., will be especially geared toward family activities.

“We also want to raise awareness of all the other resources that already exist here for families in our community,” Puckett said, and to that end, the program uses the websites TwoDaddiesOneLove.com and TwoMommiesOneLove.com as a resource for promoting events and opportunities.

For more information, go online to DallasFW.HRC.org, or on the committee’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/dfwhrc.

—Tammye Nash

—  John Wright

Black Tie announces 2011 beneficiaries

From Staff Reports

The board of the Black Tie Dinner this week announced that 18 local organizations and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation have been named as beneficiaries of the 2011 Black Tie Dinner, set for Nov. 12 at Sheraton Dallas hotel.

This will be the 30th anniversary of the fundraising event.

The 18 local beneficiaries are:

• AIDS Arms
• AIDS Interfaith Network
• AIDS Outreach Center
• AIDS Resources Rural Texas
• AIDS Services Dallas
• Celebration Community Church
• Congregation Beth El Binah
• Equality Texas Foundation
• Health Services North Texas
• Lambda Legal
• Legacy Counseling
• Legal Hospice
• Northaven UMC
• Resource Center Dallas
• The Women’s Chorus
• Turtle Creek Chorale
• White Rock Friends
• Youth First Texas

In a statement released Thursday, Black Tie Co-Chair Nan Arnold said Black Tie is “thrilled” to be able to help support the beneficiary organizations, adding that “thanks to the … great work that they do, men and women are living longer, healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives.”

Arnold explained that beneficiary applications are reviewed by the 24 active members of the Black Tie board and advisory members. They validate services each applicant organization provides, along with the organization’s stability and strategic plan.

Ron Hill, chair of the Black Tie Community Relations Committee said the process is “enlightening,” allowing board members to “understand the purpose of these vital organizations. It’s interesting to see the short and long-term goals they have established to sustain and increase the services they provide.”

Since it began in 1982, Black Tie Dinner has distributed more than $15 million to local beneficiaries and the Human Rights Campaign Fund. For more information go online to BlackTie.org or call 972-865-2239.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 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

BTD beneficiary applications begin Feb. 1

30TH ANNIVERSARY | Nan Arnold and Ron Guillard chaired the 2010 Black Tie Dinner that distributed more than $1 million to 20 beneficiaries.

Organizers promise more announcements are coming soon about 30th annual dinner

From Staff Reports
editor@dallasvoice.com

Officials with Black Tie Dinner this week announced that the organization will begin accepting applications Feb. 1 from potential beneficiaries of the 30th annual event, set for Nov. 12 at Sheraton Dallas hotel.

Each year, money raised by the dinner is divided between the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and local beneficiary organizations. As many as 20 local beneficiaries are chosen each year.

Beneficiary applications will be available on the BTD website on Feb. 1, and the deadline for submitting applications is. Feb. 25.

The names of those organizations chosen as beneficiaries will be announced March 30.

Eligible groups must have tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status with the IRS and must demonstrate service to the LGBT community, using a majority of their funds for direct programs and services.

Officials also said this week that other announcements about plans for the 30th annual Black Tie Dinner can be expected in the next week.

The dinner began in 1982 when organizers donated about $6,000 to HRCF and has grown into the largest LGBT fundraising dinner of its kind in the country. More than $15 million has been distributed to beneficiaries since then.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin was the headliner of the 2010 Black Tie Dinner. Others that have appeared include Gov. Ann Richards, Maya Angelou, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Gavin Newsom.

The dinner committee honors individuals and corporations that have made contributions to the fight for LGBT rights both locally and nationally. Rev. Carol West and singer Chely Wright were 2010 recipients. Others have included Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Shepard and Bishop Gene Robinson.

Chris Kouvelis and Nan Arnold are this year’s Black Tie Dinner chairs.

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.

……………………….

•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