Resource Center CEO will receive the Hero of Hope award during the church’s morning services on Sunday
Inside the Cathedral of Hope, there is an area they call the Hall of Heroes. Therein hang more than 25 portraits of men and women who have, through the years, been leaders in Dallas’ LGBTQ community. They are, explained the Rev. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas, the men and women who have been chosen by the church as “Heroes of Hope.”
On Sunday, July 24, during the Cathedral’s morning worship services, Cece Cox’s name will be added to that list, her portrait added to that Hall of Heroes.
“Every year, we select someone from the larger world to receive our Hero of Hope Award. Many people are nominated each year, and then we go through the process of narrowing down that list of nominations until we find the one we think deserves to be that year’s Hero of Hope,” Cazares-Thomas said. “This year, that person is Cece Cox,” chief executive officer of Resource Center.
Cathedral of Hope presents only one award each year — the Hero of Hope award — and so it represents something very special to the church, its staff and its congregation, Cazares-Thomas said.
The people in those photos in the Hall of Heroes “serve as inspirational leaders,” he said. “People come to Cathedral of Hope looking for inspiration, especially the people who self-identify as LGBTQ and who have grown up and lived in a world that tells them they aren’t worthy, that they’ll never be anything. They see the photos in our Hall of Heroes, and they see inspiration that their lives do matter. They are inspired to achieve great things, inspired to greatness and to leadership.
“Now Cece’s portrait will be on that wall, too.”
Cazares-Thomas said Cox was chosen as this year’s Hero of Hope recipient in recognition of her years of “pioneering work around inclusion and her leadership here in Dallas,” and her leadership in the “the achievement of the dream of the new Resource Center, which is now up and open and doing good work.”
Noting that the vision to fund and build a new Resource Center began before Cox took over as CEO, Cazares-Thomas lauded her for seeing that vision through to fruition. “To come into an organization as its leader and then to fulfill the vision of those who came before, that takes great humility and great passion,” he said. “And we also are honoring Cece as a voice of faith as we continue to speak up and speak out against religious intolerance and in our ongoing partnership” between the Cathedral and Resource Center.
Cox, for her part, said this week she is greatly honored to receive the Hero of Hope award. “The Cathedral is a very important institution in our community,” she said.
“Awards are awkward for me,” Cox admitted, but it makes it easier to think she is receiving the award on behalf of Resource Center and its staff, as a whole.
“As CEO of Resource Center, I am the designated leader. But there is an amazing team behind me there that allows me the opportunity to do the things I am able to do,” she said. “So to the extent that this award is honoring my work with Resource Center, I am really mindful of that team, of the board and of the 32 years of history behind us. This award is a recognition of all that.”
Cox that said 2016 has, so far, been “a very productive year in which we [at Resource Center] have served the community well,” with the highlight being the grand opening in May of the Center’s new facility on Cedar Springs Road at Inwood Road, just a stone’s throw from the Cathedral of Hope campus.
“It’s been amazing really, when I think of it,” she said. “I usually don’t think of it, really. I just keep going, putting one foot in front of the other and getting things done. But when you really stop and think about it, it’s pretty mind-boggling.”
Cox earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and then worked as professional photographer, eventually co-authoring a photo book chronicling the 1993 March on Washington for gay and lesbian rights. She later returned to school to earn a law degree from Southern Methodist Universtiy, and is a member of the State Bar of Texas.
Cox has a long list of awards and recognitions on her resume. She has received the Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award, SMU Women’s Symposium’s Profiles in Leadership Award and the LGBT Law Section of the State Bar of Texas’ Judge Norman W. Black Award. She has been recognized as a distinguished alumni by SMU’s Dedman School of Law for her outstanding public service, and was twice named Best Local LGBT Role Model in Dallas Voice’s Readers Voice Awards.
Cox has more than 30 years experience as an activist and leader in the LGBT community, and played instrumental roles in the passage of the city of Dallas’ LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policy, and Dallas Independent School District’s first anti-harassment policy and the district’s subsequent anti-bullying policy.
She has worked or volunteered with Turtle Creek Chorale, Legal Hospice of Texas, Youth First Texas and the regional offices of Lambda Legal, and she has been appointed to a both a city board and a city task force. She is a member of the executive committee for SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, a board member of
Dallas Women’s Foundation, a past president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a former co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation/Dallas and past officer of the LGBT Section of the State Bar of Texas.
Cox, who has also practiced commercial law and provided pro bono legal services to individuals with HIV, is also an alumna of both Leadership Dallas and Leadership Lambda.
She became associate executive of Resource Center in 2007 and CEO in July 2010. She has led the Center in expanding programs, expanding staffing and expanding its impact in the community.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.