Couple pledges $2M to RCD

Donation tagged to help pay for construction of center’s new facilities

CeCe Cox
Cece Cox

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

In what has been described as the second-largest gift ever given to an LGBT organization by a living donor, Dallas couple Eric V. Culbertson and David W. Carlson have pledged $2 million to Resource Center Dallas, officials announced this week.

RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox said the donation would be used to help pay for construction of a new building that will consolidate programs and double the agency’s available space. Property has been purchased for the new building on the corner of Cedar Springs and Inwood roads.

Cox said that the center has already hit the 30 percent mark in its effort to raise the $12 million needed for the new facility.

“We’re aiming to break ground in 2014 and move in 2015,” she said.

Cox said that the donation was a result of building a strong relationship but the money was pledged after the couple took a tour of the center’s facilities.

She said they told her, “We had no idea you did all this.”

Culbertson is the owner of Salon Three-Thirty located in Uptown at 2510 Cedar Springs Road. For the past several months he has offered yoga classes at Resource Center Dallas through his new non-profit group, Strength Through Yoga, which takes “the empowering aspects of yoga to organizations and individuals who can use it to heal and strengthen the mind, body and soul.”

Carlson is the founding chief financial officer of GameStop. The Grapevine-based video game and entertainment software retailer has more than 6,500 stores worldwide and is ranked 255th on the Fortune 500. GameStop has been the presenting sponsor of Black Tie Dinner for several years.

Carlson retired from GameStop recently and is now co-owner of Uptown Energy Fitness in West Village.

The couple declined to be interviewed for this story but released comments in a statement.

“The driving force for our donation was the center’s staff,” Culbertson said. “They make [the center] what it is, working so hard and doing so much.”

“After touring all the facilities, and understanding the full scope of services, we knew that the center needed to have a new building, and very soon,” Carlson said.

Cox said she wanted others in the community who are not familiar with Resource Center Dallas to come tour the facilities.

“I want people to come meet our staff. They’re so passionate and so great at what they do,” Cox said. “We are the only organization who does what we do. We started in this community and are still in this community.”

She said that in Dallas two-thirds of new HIV infections are in the LGBT community, higher than the national average.

“People are living longer so we’re caring for them longer. And our dental program is one of only two in Dallas,”  that is providing care to people with HIV who cannot access care elsewhere, Cox said.

Although the Nelson Tebedo Clinic recently added a new dental room, the new building will allow the agency to increase services.

In addition to HIV services, RCD runs a number of programs for the LGBT community, Cox said, adding, “There’s more and more demand for our cultural competency training.”

The center recently completed sensitivity training for 700 Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission employees statewide, and Communications and Programs Manager Rafael McDonnell, who has participated in most of the TABC training classes, said that the last class included TABC Administrator Alan Steen.

Cox said that the state agency recently signed a new contract with Resource Center to continue services. She also pointed out the counseling program RCD provides in conjunction with Southern Methodist University.

David Chard, dean of the SMU School of Education that administers the program, said that when he began the program he was told that no one would want to participate in it. He said there has been a waiting list of counseling students who want to work at RCD.

Cox said that the program is currently limited by lack of space. She said that the lunch program is one of the center’s great successes. United Way representatives told her that they saw a real sense of community among those who participated.

“They could go elsewhere for a meal,” Cox said, but they come to the Resource Center where they are welcomed.

To expand programs, Cox said RCD needs its new building. She is looking to develop more relationships like that with Culbertson and Carlson.

“Donors are relationships,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 5, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Jesuit students help out with No Tie Dinner

One of the perks of living in the area known as Greenway Crest — even if it’s just a guesthouse — is that I receive the Park Cities version of The Dallas Morning News’ Neighbors Go section. Needless to say, there’s rarely LGBT-related stuff in there, but last week was an exception. Neighbors Go featured a nice story, which was later reprinted in the actual DMN, about Jesuit College Preparatory School students who are helping out with the annual No Tie Dinner benefiting AIDS Services of Dallas, which is coming up on Saturday:

The students will be picking up desserts, hanging banners and setting up tables and auction items in preparation for the 2,000 guests expected to attend.

“These kids get it,” O’Conner said. “It’s not just required community service.”

In addition to AIDS Services’ annual fundraiser, Jesuit students also collect about 2,000 bottles of laundry detergent for the residents in an annnual drive. A handful of seniors volunteer every Wednesday to clean, paint, and even play bingo with the residents.

Once a month, the school’s clubs shop and cook for the residents and eat a meal with them, said Rich Perry, Jesuit director of community service.

For the students, it’s a life lesson.

“It puts things in perspective in life,” said senior Walker Mangin, a Wednesday volunteer. “You think more about what’s really important.”

For information on the No Tie Dinner, go here.


—  John Wright

Black Tie 2011 set to ‘Shine’

Nan Arnold and Chris Kouvelis

Co-chairs announce theme for this year’s event, say more changes will be unveiled soon

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Black Tie co-chairs Nan Arnold and Chris Kouvelis this week announced the theme for the 30th annual Black Tie Dinner, set for Nov. 12 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. This year’s theme is short and sweet: “Shine.”

“Even though it is our 30th year, instead of focusing on this as an anniversary and looking back at where we’ve been, we want to focus on this being a celebration of where we are headed for the future,” said Arnold.

“We are really excited about this theme, about the idea of ‘shining’ a light on our future. And we think our creative team can do a lot with this theme,” she said.

Kouvelis added, “This theme will also be shining a light on our beneficiaries, too, and all the great work that they do in our community.”

Arnold and Kouvelis said that members of the Black Tie Dinner board are currently reviewing the more than 20 beneficiary applications the organization received this year.

Board members will then meet on Saturday, March 20, to choose the organizations that will share in the proceeds from this year’s fundraising dinner, and the names of those selected will be announced Thursday, March 31, during Black Tie’s annual Tarrant County reception, being held this year at American Airlines’ C.R. Smith Museum, 4601 Hwy. 360.

The co-chairs said planning for the 30th annual dinner is moving along smoothly, and that the board is reaching certain planning goals even earlier than usual. By early February, the board had already finalized deals for GameStop to once again be presenting sponsor for the dinner, and for Park Place Motorcars Dallas to sponsor the vehicle — a new Mercedes C 300 S coupe — for the dinner’s annual car raffle.

This week, Arnold and Kouvelis said that Diamond Jacks Casino in Shreveport/Bossier City has also already agreed to return as a sponsor.

“We just found out that they will come back this year at least at that same level, and they are going to sponsor our table captain dinner again this year,” Arnold said. “Diamond Jacks may also be helping us out with a couple of other things. They have been just wonderful to work with.”

Sales for the raffle tickets for the Mercedes C 300 S coupe are moving along at a brisk pace, and the co-chairs said having the dinner’s online system up and running has made raffle ticket sales — and other processes so much easier.

“You can buy those raffle tickets online art BlackTie.org. In fact, our online system is up and running for everything this year,” Arnold said. “This is really the first year that you can do everything you need to do for Black Tie online. ”

Black Tie has gone high-tech in other areas, too, the co-chairs said, including the silent auction, which will be “a little different this year. People can really expect the auction to be more interactive this year,” Arnold said.

Kouvelis said he is working on partnering with “a couple of our sponsors” to increase Black Tie’s marketing, especially in the area of incorporating social media into the process.

“We are really excited about the opportunities with see in this area,” he said. “This will give us the chance to increase participation and even change the demographic of who attends Black Tie. That’s what we have to do to keep the event growing.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Donald Trump comes out against same-sex marriage in possible step toward presidential bid

Nene Leakes

Is the first step in entering a national race on the Republican side to show how homophobic you are?

Donald Trump announced this week that he is against same-sex marriage and isn’t sure partners should receive even receive “medical or civil benefits.” Trump has not announced whether he’s running for president but did indicate an interest in the office when he appeared at a conservative conference last week.

Trump said he’ll make an announcement about his intentions in June. One serious matter stands between him and the presidency — the fourth season of Celebrity Apprentice. The NBC show begins on March 6.

The network has a rule against stars of its shows running for public office. So Trump said he would wait until the end of the season in June to make his decision.

At least he has his priorities straight. Homophobia first. TV show second. Country third.

Last week, before announcing his run for U.S. Senate, former Mayor Tom Leppert sent out a homophobic tweet. Leppert hasn’t explained the message, but it was probably sent to distance himself from his Pride parade and Black Tie Dinner appearances, as well as his openly gay former chief of staff.

Oh, and Nene Leakes, who was one of the stars of Real Housewives of Atlanta, is one of Trump’s new season of celebrity apprentices. No word on her position on same-sex marriage, but it probably matters about as much as Trump’s.

—  David Taffet

Leppert’s DOMA comment was a slap in the face

Lorie Burch

LORIE BURCH  |  Chairwoman, North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce

As chairwoman of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, I am disappointed with Mayor Tom Leppert’s recent statements denouncing the Obama Administration’s statement that it will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government and certain states from honoring same-sex marriages in other states and jurisdictions.

Mr. Leppert has purported to be an advocate of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community through his tenure as Dallas mayor. He’s been an honored guest at many of our community’s most prestigious events like the North Texas Chamber’s Anniversary Dinner and the Black Tie Dinner. He has been part of the International GLBT Press Tour, and helped to sell Dallas as a preferred destination for important GLBT conferences.

In light of his recent resignation as mayor, presumably to pursue Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Senate seat, such a reversal is politicking at its worst and is a slap in the face to the North Texas GLBT community who have shown him its support.

It is time to expect more from our leaders. No longer should we tolerate this “back of the bus” argument that the GLBT community can have some rights, but not all rights. You cannot qualify equality and we deserve leaders who will stand up for us and be our voice and not cow-tow to their political base. Equality is not a political platform; it is the foundation of our country. Civil rights are not a matter of public opinion; they are a guarantee to us under our Constitution. It is, simply, our way of life.

—  admin

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

Drawing Dallas

Who’s going to the Super Bowl in style? Packers fans Evan, Mavis May

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Mavis May, 44

Occupation: Bartender, insurance agent and basketball coach

Spotted: Bartending at Sue Ellen’s

Setting the bar: An 18-year veteran of Caven, this outgoing Pisces worked at Moby’s for four years, but has spent the majority of her career behind the counter at Sue Ellen’s. A Texas native, Mavis was born in St. Joe on St. Patrick’s Day, and spent some of her years in Santa Fe, N.M., before migrating to Dallas.

The love you take is equal to the love you make: Mavis is active in the community with a long list of volunteer work including 10 years with Resource Center Dallas’ Outreach Prevention/Education program, case management in the women’s program and logistics manager for the Lone Star Ride. She has also been a table captain for the Black Tie Dinner. But her pride and joy is 8-year-old Evan, her son with ex-partner (and birth mother), Diana. His blended family includes a transgender aunt and numerous gay and lesbian aunts and uncles.

Bowl bound: Evan is all about sports, and Mavis coaches his basketball and soccer teams (the latter with his mom Diana’s partner Jennifer). Evan was the proud captain of Sue Ellen’s baseball team. If Evan thought that Mavis and his mother “knocked it out of the ballpark” by taking him to Cowboys Stadium for the Cowboys/Saints game last Thanksgiving, Mavis has even bigger plans in the works. A fortuitous turn of events dropped two 20th row seats in the end zone in her lap. You can guess who she’s going to take

Her philosophy: “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s about the experience.”

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

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

Northaven UMC’s members tell First Baptist to chill (and have a happy holiday)

I love when an article starts conversations. The Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas story in the Spirituality section of this week’s Dallas Voice about First Baptist Church’s GrinchAlert.com seems to have done just that.

Last week after I spoke to Eric Folkerth, the pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church, he posted something on his Facebook page about it.

He received dozens of comments.

On GrinchAlert, you can rebuke, reprimand, belittle, berate and spew your general hate for working people, many of them minimum wage, who don’t quite greet you the way you want on their busiest working days of the year. After all, what exemplifies Christmas better than trying to get someone fired.

I called Folkerth for my article because Northaven is a mainstream church and is a beneficiary of Black Tie Dinner.

He obviously has no love for First Baptist’s pastor.

One of my favorite comments on his Facebook page came from Jim Lovell, a member of Northaven who is an elementary school music teacher in Plano. Here’s his comment that is one of the most beautiful descriptions of the holiday season that I’ve seen in a long time.

“All this reminds me how much I love my job,” Lovell wrote. “Today, a 6-year old Muslim boy was so proud to give me a Christmas cookie that his mother (who wears a hijab) bought. His beaming face just made my day! Other Muslim children are sporting Santa hats. Some of the favorite songs of our Christian and Hindu children are about dreydls. Everyone is getting along and having a good time. Happy Holidays, one and all! Whatever it is that you’re mad about, give it up!”

Here were some of the other comments.

“Interesting that they are using the secular Grinch to illustrate their religious celebration,” said one.

Interesting indeed. Not just that the Grinch is a secular character, but that the character was created by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

Geisel began his career as a cartoonist. Before World War II, he warned of discrimination against Japanese-Americans, African-Americans and Jews. I think Dr. Seuss would be horrified at using one of his characters to spew the hatred coming from First Baptist Church.

Other comment’s on the Facebook page of Northaven’s pastor commented on how little the narrow-minded members of First Baptist actually apply the lessons of their religion.

“Don’t they have something more important to spend time and resources on? Cause if they cant think of any, they surely aren’t listening to the world around them,” said one commenter.

But that’s the point of GrinchAlert.com. You need to celebrate Christmas my way.

—  David Taffet