Five questions with Mark  Stafford

Mark Stafford is a trustee of DIFFA/Dallas and is co-chairing its 20th anniversary collection. A native of London, England, he moved here four years ago. He is CEO of Dallas-based Revel Advertising. He lives in Uptown with his partner, Greg Alford.

What is DIFFA?
DIFFA stands for the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. In the 20 years of DIFFA/Dallas, they have granted more than $4 million in funds to AIDS service organizations throughout North Texas through their various fundraisers such as the annual Collection event and Dining by Design. 

How did you become involved with DIFFA?
A couple of years ago I met Greg Haynes Johnson, who was chairman of the board for DIFFA/Dallas at the time. He was passionate in his conversation and commitment about DIFFA. I was lucky enough to be invited as his guest to the Collection event that year.

It was so inspiring seeing how a community could rally and without a doubt it changed my life. The following year, I was admitted to the board and became chair of communications.

What do you do as a DIFFA/Dallas trustee?
This year I am co-chair of DIFFA/Dallas Collection 2009: Utopia. My other co-chair, life-saver, wonderful friend and all-around superhero is John Ahrens. As co-chairs we are responsible for running the whole event with a lot of help from wonderfully talented and creative people. It really does take about a year to plan and involves hundreds of people working very hard to make the event always so inspiring. This year is no exception! As well as being co-chair, as a group of trustees, we all collectively seek to find new and innovative ways to raise much-needed funds.

Why is this collection called Utopia?
Each year is a challenge to come up with another compelling theme — as they’ve all been so good! However, the 20th year celebrations made us think what it would be like in another 20 years with HIV/AIDS in our community. And for that reason, we hope that HIV/AIDS does not exist — a step toward a utopia. Utopia is a place that is free from religious, social and political discrimination and prejudice — a pretty nice place to be!

How can people become involved in the DIFFA/DALLAS celebration?
As this year is going to be the 20th anniversary, the celebrations are going to be incredible. You can still buy tickets to the Collection event for May 2 by going to, where you’ll find all the relevant information. Tickets are a really good value when you factor in all the entertainment for the evening.

Soundout is a weekly column featuring people whose jobs and interests have an impact on the daily lives of members of the LGBT community. It features those who often go unnoticed by the press and community. If you’d like to recommend someone to cover in this column,­.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 24, 2009.
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