nonprofits_3 Diane and Hal Brierley with their dogs KC (left) and Charlie at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. photography by Holt Haynsworth

DIANE AND HAL BRIERLEY: “Giving … Can Be Addictive”

In 1987, relative newlyweds Diane and Hal Brierley were preoccupied with growing Brierley + Partners and “really had not gotten that involved with the community,” according to Diane. But then an especially creative invitation to the Dallas Theater Center’s Dickens of a Christmas was the carrot that got the Northeastern-born couple to attend the DTC’s black-tie dinner. The night of the event Diane approached one of the volunteers about getting involved. “They handed [Diane] a pen and said, ‘Could you please help with the auction?’ ” Hal says with a chuckle. “Diane went to work that night.” What really impressed the Brierleys, though, was the next day, when someone from the DTC called to follow up. After that call, the Brierleys were hooked. A relationship grew that’s resulted in their contributing well more than $1 million to the center over time.

“This is the easiest city in the country to quickly become a part of the community if you become philanthropically involved,” Hal says. “You have to get involved with either time or money.”

Diane, a former travel agent, and her Harvard MBA husband are well-known for being generous not just financially but personally. Their main endeavors have been the arts (AT&T Performing Arts Center, Shakespeare Dallas, The Dallas Opera, Dallas Symphony Association, TACA), animals (the Dallas Zoo and the SPCA), healthcare (American Cancer Society, Baylor Medical Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center), education (Harvard, Regis College, the University of Maryland), and promoting North Texas (Super Bowl XLV).

“There is a characteristic to giving that can be addictive in two ways,” says Hal, the third son of Depression-era parents. “One, the organizations that you give to quickly become dependent. And it’s very hard once you start giving to decide you’re not going to give to a cause anymore, and you have to be very unhappy with them to decide to stop. The people who have discovered the joys of giving find it as satisfying as consuming.” Adds Diane: “You know you’re making a difference for others.”