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D CEO Award Programs

Winners Announced: D CEO‘s 2023 Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship Awards

The program honored 126 finalists at a private event at The Factory in Deep Ellum.
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D CEO revealed the winners of its 2023 Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship Awards at a private event Thursday night at The Factory in the Deep Ellum. The program, presented in partnership with Communities Foundation of Texas, celebrates DFW’s strong nonprofit community and the companies that support its efforts. 

This year’s program received a record number of nominations—a testament to the robust nonprofit community in North Texas and the philanthropic spirit ingrained in North Texas’ business community. Winners are selected by D CEO‘s editors, and all finalists are featured in the August issue of D CEO.

Be watching for a photo recap and additional reports in the coming weeks.

Nonprofit Award Honorees

Capital One Impact Award

Winner: Best Buddies International

Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The nonprofit focuses on a full cycle of inclusion, from elementary school through adulthood, and sees the success of its “buddies” in all stages of their lives. Since 2020, Best Buddies in Texas has grown from a $900,000 to a $2 million organization. This has allowed it to expand its programs and establish new relationships with employers and educate them on the benefits of hiring someone with a disability. Because of this intentionality, new corporations invested in the nonprofit’s programs and new foundations have stepped up to fund initiatives. Corporate partnerships deepened to include employee engagement through volunteer efforts in all programs—not just events. All of this has helped support the organization’s Best Buddies Job program, which has equipped the buddies to be capable and impactful members of society and has lowered the unemployment rate for people with disabilities.

Finalists: Agape Resource & Assistance Center; Family Gateway; WiNGS; Women’s Business Council Southwest

Emerging Leader of the Year

Winner: Madi Franquiz, World Literacy Foundation

As a young girl, Madi Franquiz missed the third-grade benchmark—a marker that is often indicative of a child’s ability to become fully literate as an adult. With hard work, she beat the odds. Now, she is the leader of a nonprofit that addresses literacy, is earning her PhD in international and public policy, and is the author of eight self-published children’s books. Franquiz recently represented the U.S. as a delegate at the World Literacy Summit in Oxford, England, where she personally addressed a delegation of over 600 representatives, moderated a panel on Corporate and Community partnership, met with dignitaries from around the globe, and advocated for increased literacy in Texas. More than 40,000 people watched her address.

Legacy Award

Winner: Kirk Myers-Hill, Abounding Prosperity

With Abounding Prosperity, an organization he established in 2005, Kirk Myers-Hill created a grassroots group that would address health, social, and economic disparities among the Black community with a particular emphasis on gay and bisexual men, cisgender women, transgender women, and their families. He worked to create both spaces and experiences to honor the influence of the LGBTQ+ community and is often considered “The Leader of the Diverse Workplace.” He committed more than 20 years of experience to both private and public sector activism and deeply impacted a wide variety of communities. Outside of his work with Abounding Prosperity, Myers-Hill had a major impact in South Dallas, spearheading efforts to get All Black Lives Matter crosswalks in the neighborhood. He was the president of Southern Dallas Pride and welcomed thousands of Black LGBTQ individuals for its annual celebration. In March, in honor of his achievements, he received the 2023 Outstanding Texan Award from the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.

Innovation in Education (Micro and Small)

Winner: Groundwork DFW

By applying the high-tech data and innovations of political campaigns, Groundwork DFW has been able to reach Dallas families in a way that the city has historically struggled to do—and as a result, impact historically unsolvable social issues. In the pilot year of its Grassroots Pre-K Enrollment Campaign, Groundwork DFW identified why pre-k enrollment was so low in different neighborhoods. Its outreach saw a tangible impact: a 19 percent increase in Pre-K applications and a 9 percent increase in enrollment. It has since partnered with local ISDs to implement new tactics to close the 5,000 pre-k student enrollment gap in Dallas County.

Finalists: Austen’s Autistic Adventures; Foundation for C.H.O.I.C.E; Noggin Educational Foundation

Innovation in Education (Midsize, Large, and Mega)

Winner: ScholarShot

ScholarShot provides advisors and financial support to students at risk of poverty so they can achieve their degree goals. The nonprofit has more than a 90 percent degree completion rate, and the first-year salaries of its students, or “scholars,” range from 45,000 dollars to 85,000 dollars. ScholarShot has helped 182 scholars earn first-generation degrees, which equates to more than a 1 million dollar boost in lifetime earnings per degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Finalists: Camp Fire First Texas; City Year Dallas; Dallas Symphony Association; University of North Texas

Leadership Excellence (Micro)

Winner: Tazora Moore, Hear My Cry Foundation

Tazora Moore took her personal pain and loss and turned it to purpose, impacting thousands of Dallas individuals and families through her nonprofit. Moore launched Hear My Cry Foundation in 2013, after losing her husband to suicide. The foundation aims to reduce stigma around discussing mental health and create a safe, supportive, environment to discuss anxiety, depression, self-harm, and more. Moore’s foundation now serves over 1,000 annually, providing all-encompassing resources, educating the public, and supporting prevention efforts. It also provides services to veterans in Tarrant Country through a partnership with TXServes-North Texas and works with area schools to address heightened mental health crises in North Texas youth.

Finalists: Jennifer Halley, 3FTL; Dr. Jerret Rosenborough, Manifest Your Smile; Elvia Wallace-Martinez, Debes Creer en Ti; Auntjuan Wiley, AIDS Walk South Dallas

Leadership Excellence (Small)

Winner: Dr. John M. Jospeh, Lions Clinic of Texas

Rheumatologist Dr. John Joseph launched the Lions Clinic of Texas in 2003 to provide affordable, quality healthcare for uninsured and underinsured adults in North Texas. Now operating under the moniker Primary Care Clinic of North Texas, the clinic has seen more than 195,000 patients since its inception, spurred by Dr. Joseph’s leadership. Dr. Joseph volunteers his time between the nonprofit’s three other clinics in DFW, in addition to his full-time practice at the first clinic he opened twenty years ago. Attesting to his impact, one patient said of Dr. Joseph: “It seems as if you were my angel of hope in a very bad storm. Your kindness and concern were remarkable. I will forever credit you with saving my life.”

Finalists: Bill Chinn, The DEC Network; Earl Fitzsimmons, Bring The Light Ministries; Amy Gayhart, Blue Sky Therapeutic Riding and Respite; Tracey Hardwick, Together We Thrive

Leadership Excellence (Midsize)

Winner: Monica Paul, Dallas Sports Commission

Since 2009, the Dallas Sports Commission has been responsible for a 268 percent increase in sports event production. At its helm is Monica Paul, who played a key part in North Texas scoring the 2026 FIFA World Cup—and is playing a key role in lobbying FIFA executives to bring the final match to Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. Paul also played integral parts in securing the 2030 Men’s Final Four, and the 2031 Women’s Final Four—all on the heels of the 2023 Women’s Final Four, hosted in Dallas, which was heralded as the most successful of all time. Moving forward, future event bookings captained by Paul’s Dallas Sports Commission estimate an economic impact of more than $1.3 billion and more than 2.2 million attendees.

Finalists: Dan Bailey, Youth Equipped to Succeed; Yasmin Bhatia, Uplift Education; Abigail Erickson-Torres, Bryan’s House; Jarred Howard, The National Juneteenth Museum

Leadership Excellence (Large)

Winner: Florencia Velasco Fortner, The Concilio

Selected in 2005 to lead Dallas’ The Concilio, Florencia Velasco Fortner has impacted Latino and other diverse families through her efforts to help build better lives for themselves and their children. Using her experience as a grassroots organizer, she has helped low-income families throughout North Texas as she leads her team to offer programs focused on health, education, financial stability, professional development, and cultural competency. The Concilio serves more than 20,000 individuals annually. Since taking the helm, Velasco Fortner has grown The Concilio’s annual budget from 400,000 dollars to 5.4 million dollars. Last year was particularly impactful for the organization. Velasco Fortner and The Concilio released a “State of Latinos” report, a one-of-a-kind research paper that provides insights on the Latino population’s status in areas of health, wealth, and education. The findings prompted a series of Think Tank sessions launched in 2023, with the first session completed in March.

Finalists: Adam Powell, Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region; Daniel B. Prescott, Jr., Services of Hope

Leadership Excellence (Mega)

Winner: Brian Luallen, Fair Park First

As CEO, Brian Luallen leads a diverse board tasked with cultivating the 277-acre landmark and the surrounding community. Under his leadership, the board secured a $500 million campus-wide capital investment to revitalize and enhance Fair Park as a year-round attraction. Luallen also oversees the development of an 18-acre community park inside the campus set to open in 2025 and secured funding for a Fair Park Loop extension to the Santa Fe Trail as part of Dallas’ network trail plan. The space has been home to State Fair for more than a century and served as one of the country’s largest vaccine sites during the pandemic. It also hosts many small-scale events to support South Dallas businesses and local arts. Luallen hopes to turn a portion of the park that is currently an ocean of parking that displaced Fair Park homeowners decades ago “a front porch that reintroduces the park campus to the surrounding community.”

Finalists: Trisha Cunningham, North Texas Food Bank; Andy Keller, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute; Heather Ormand, Nexus Recovery Center; Dave Woodyard, Catholic Charities of Dallas

Most Successful Fundraising or Awareness Campaign

Winner: Perot Museum of Nature and Science

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science embarked upon its 10th year with the goal of expanding education and access, embracing diversity, and conveying that museums are for everyone. As part of its fundraising efforts, the Perot, led by CEO Linda Silver, mapped out a 10-part event schedule that attempted to galvanize the community. It started by unveiling Perot’s new Speed Wall featuring Kansas City Chief and Texas native Patrick Mahomes. The event schedule concluded with the Perot’s Night at the Museum party as Dirk Nowitzki and wife Jessica Olsson announced that the Perot had raised 14 million dollars during the lead-up to the 10th-anniversary celebration. It was a record raise for the museum.

Finalists: Dwell with Dignity; Children’s Medical Center Foundation; Dallas Museum of Art; My Possibilities

Nonprofit Team of the Year (Micro, Small, and Midsize)

Winner: ACT (Advocates for Community Transformation), Impact Team

Led by their longest standing employee, Maria Pacheco, ACT’s Impact Team works with the criminal justice system to improve residential and neighborhood safety by closing drug houses and fixing crime-ridden properties. Their team is composed of attorneys, community advocates, and program administrators, all working to provide underserved communities access to a better civil justice system. It currently has 79 cases docketed, with the hope of making safe neighborhoods a sustainable reality.

Finalists: Combined Arms, The Texas Veterans Network; Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, Advocacy Team; Dental Health for Arlington, Smiles Team; Friends of the Katy Trail, Major Gifts Team

Nonprofit Team of the Year (Large and Mega)

Winner: The Senior Source, Elder Financial Safety Center

The Senior Source works to create a safe and trusted place for senior citizens to receive expert, professional, and unbiased guidance to ensure financial well-being. Its team of 12 full-time staffers and 31 volunteers execute its mission with services ranging from financial coaching and benefits assistance to insurance counseling and more. In all, The Senior Source assists more than 25,000 seniors and their families with financial guidance. Additionally, Senior Source has struck partnerships with TXU Energy, Atmos Energy, and Ambit to help its client base pay their utility bills. In 2022, The Senior Source paid $1.2 million in utility assistance for more than 2,900 clients.

Finalists: Communities in Schools of Dallas Region, Clinical Mental Health Team; Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Research and Data Analytics Team; Operation Kindness, Community Initiatives Team; State Fair of Texas, Community Team

Organization of the Year (Micro)

Winner: She Supply

Launched in Flower Mound in 2018, this nonprofit aims to end period poverty by collecting and redistributing feminine products to the more than 150,000 female-led households and 2,500 homeless women in DFW who live below the poverty line. This past January, the nonprofit distributed its one millionth product. Moving forward, She Supply aims to distribute one million products annually. It also recently hosted 225 young women from an underserved middle school to a private screening of a film meant to empower conversation, quell fears, and unite them around period poverty issues, a topic that often goes unmentioned.  

Finalists: 3to1 Foundation; Finding Independence by CPSH; Horns 4 Hope; Texas Native Cats

Organization of the Year (Small)

Winner: Bella House

Bella House has been serving Dallas’ pregnant, homeless women since 2016. Operating two residential homes that can house up to 11 mothers and their babies at one time, the organization focuses its attention on supporting mothers both during and after their pregnancies. Last year, Bella House added a Transition and Outreach program to assist clients for up to three years after they leave the home. Within the first year, the program aided more than 200 families.

Finalists: C5 Youth Foundation of Texas; Cancer Support Community North Texas; Somos Tejas; Union Coffee

Organization of the Year (Midsize)

Winner: The Loop Dallas

In 2014, a small band of business and civic leaders began working on a project that would create a 50-mile loop of hike and bike trails around Dallas. Nearly 10 years and 100 million dollars later, they’re approaching the finish line. The new system will allow riders and hikers to travel from White Rock Lake to the Trinity Forest, around to the Trinity River, and through the Design District and Victory Park—all without ever leaving a trail. The project is expected to profoundly impact Dallas and create bountiful economic development opportunities especially in southern Dallas, as two-thirds of the new trail investments are south of the city.

Finalists: Carry the Load; Mazie’s Mission; Viola’s House

Organization of the Year (Large)

Winner: Make-A-Wish-North Texas

Make-A-Wish’s North Texas platform set a goal to grant a staggering 1,200 wishes in 2023, a number it’s on track to surpass. Wish Night, its largest fundraiser of the year, is also set to pass its largest goal ever. To meet the needs of children in Dallas-Fort Worth, the organization’s staff has grown by 40 percent in the past month alone, spurred by new CEO Kim Elenez. The organization also has spread awareness about science that shows wishes improve the quality of a child’s life, which can result in fewer hospital days, shorter treatment, and increase their prognosis of survival. All of this has led to an influx of new wish requests to be granted in the future.

Finalists: Austin Street Center; Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation; Southwestern Medical Foundation

Organization of the Year (Mega)

Winner: Momentous Institute

For more than a century, the Momentous Insitute has been equipping youth with necessary services and uplifting their mental health. Annually, the nonprofit helps more than 5,500 children, educators, and family members with mental health services. To date, the nonprofit has helped more than 150,000 children with their mental health. In all, the institute has trained 45,000 professionals and implemented mental health-informed education and trauma-informed strategies in 545 classrooms across 28 states and 9 countries. Over the next 10 years, Momentous Institute plans to reach 1 million students and families worldwide. Additionally, founded by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, the Momentous Insitute is the sole beneficiary of the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson golf tournament. In 2022, the tournament produced 7.6 million dollars for the nonprofit—the largest raise in the tournament’s history.

Finalists: Metrocare Services; National Breast Cancer Foundation; Partnership With Native Americans

Outstanding Innovation

Winner: 4DWN

Founded by Mike Crum and Rob Cahill in 2015, 4DWN is a skate community with the only professional vertical ramp in the U.S. that is free to the public, giving at-risk youth in the neighborhood a space to play, do homework, and access healthy food. The skate park hosts 50 to 70 kids every day while the facility distributes thousands of pounds of food to feed hundreds of people each week. 4DWN targets underserved neighborhoods in Dallas that are also often food desserts. To fight hunger, the nonprofit’s Circular Healthy Food Hub program provides an industrial cold storage stocked by local farms and donations, while free composting and recycling services maintain its goal to serve as a regenerative and zero-waste food source.

Finalists: Dallas Zoo; OurCalling; Sharing Life Community Outreach; The Family Place; The Water Cooler at Pegasus Park

Social Enterprise

Winner: Envision Dallas

Envision Dallas employs those who are blind and visually impaired and is dedicated to improving the quality of life of their employees and removing barriers to employment for all. One hundred and twenty-seven of Envision Dallas’ employees are blind and visually impaired, and soon 200 new job opportunities will be available ensuing their Envision the Future Capital Campaign. Envision Dallas started as school for the blind and training center 90 years ago and is today one of the largest employers of people who are blind or visually impaired in the U.S., manufacturing quality American-made products such as office supplies, home and garden equipment, crafts, and much more.

Finalists: Deaf Action Center; UpSpire Social Enterprise led by Presbyterian Night Shelter; Xela Aroma by Austin Street Center

Volunteer of the Year

Winner: Dr. Laurie Berger

Since joining the board in 2011, Dr. Berger has spearheaded the establishment of two on-site medical clinics offered at The Family Place shelters. Dr. Berger volunteers as the medical director of both facilities, contributing an estimated 300 hours of service annually and serving 807 patients in the 10 years since opening. In 2022 alone, Dr. Berger treated 242 children while simultaneously managing her regular patients as a pediatrician at West Plano Pediatrics. She has received numerous awards for the quality of her care and patients aptly refer to her as “kind, gentle, and knowledgeable.”

Finalists: Laura Cobb Hayes, Head Start of Greater Dallas; Helen Danby, Paper for Water; Michael Davenport, All Community Outreach

Volunteer Impact of the Year

Winner: Cynt and Kenny Marshall

Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, and her husband Kenny have been heavily involved with Dallas Court Appointed Special Advocates since 2014, and the couple connects personally with the cause. Unable to have children, the Marshalls adopted a two-year old boy who had been left in his 9-year-old brother’s care inside an abandoned hotel, where their birth mother was arrested. Five years later, Cynt and Kenny were able to reunite the two brothers, adopting the then 14-year-old boy who had cared for his younger sibling. The couple added two girls, both from complex circumstances, to the family later on with the help of many lawyers and Dallas CASA volunteers. Cynt is chair of the Dallas CASA’s board and has spoken at many of its events, and she and Kenny heavily advocate for its causes.


Corporate Citizenship Award Honorees

Collaboration of the Year

Winner: Dallas Animal Services, SPCA of Texas, and Spay Neuter Network

In 2016, the Dallas Coalition of Spay Neuter Providers banded together to serve south-Dallas residents disproportionately affected by unaltered loose dogs. That year, an estimated 8,700 dogs daily roamed loose in the identified target area encompassing 23 ZIP codes, creating public safety concerns for area residents. The Spay Neuter Surge Project provided free spay and neuter services for 68,000 owned dogs, including vaccinations, microchips, and lifelong veterinary care and successfully enhanced public safety within the targeted area. More than 80 percent of all households were contacted through a comprehensive community outreach campaign.

Finalists: Charles Schwab and Uplift Education; Community Beer Co. and Dallas Pets Alive; ReadyToWork and Aspire; Toyota Motor North America, Dallas ISD, and Southern Methodist University

Corporate Leadership Excellence

Winner: Jennifer Chandler, Bank of America

As president of Bank of America Dallas and head of the company’s philanthropic efforts, Jennifer Chandler leads more than 14,000 employees in North Texas to connect with local businesses and nonprofits alike. Since 2018, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation has sent grants and matching gifts on behalf of employees to local nonprofits totaling $27 million. During this same time period, employees in North Texas have volunteered more than 740,000 hours as part of its annual goal of giving 2 million volunteer hours across the company. Overseeing it all is Jennifer Chandler, who has a long tradition of community service.

Finalists: Brad Alberts, Dallas Stars; Clifford Fischer, Fischer; Chandra Pemmasani, UWorld; Eliza Solender, Solender/ Hall

Corporate Partner of the Year

Winner: Santander Consumer USA and City Year and New Friends New Life

Santander has collaborated with City Year to make strides in the educational space, launching a financial literacy program for 18- to 25-year olds in City Year locations in 15 cities. As part of this, the company has committed to donating $1.5 million to City Year over the course of three years. Santander also is a key partner of New Friends New Life. The company has partnered with the organization since 2018, providing transformative financial and volunteer support to help remove the legal and economic barriers facing sex trafficking victims. It’s one more way Santander shows its commitment to supporting organizations that make a positive, measurable, and sustainable impact.

Finalists: Credit Union of Texas and Trusted World; DATCU Credit Union and Serve Denton; Fossil Group and Big Thought; Tolleson Wealth Management and Bonton Farms

Corporate Social Responsibility

Winner: JPMorgan Chase & Co.

In 2020, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced its $30 billion Racial Equity Commitment to help close the racial wealth gap and advance economic inclusion among Black, Hispanic, Latino, and underserved customers and communities in the U.S. Locally, this $30 billion has already had a profound impact in North Texas through programs that include several initiatives to help provide and preserve affordable housing and financing of community development financial institutions. The bank also is helping underserved entrepreneurs and communities with the tools they need to start, grow, and scale their businesses. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has provided $34.5 million in philanthropic contributions in North Texas in the past three years—continuing support that began more than a century ago.

Finalists: Comerica Bank; Daltile; Energy Transfer; Medical City Healthcare; MoneyGram; Park Place Dealerships

Equity Leadership Award

Winner: Virgin Hotels Dallas

Virgin Hotels is known as an equity champion due to consistently providing opportunities to historically marginalized communities, specifically at-risk and justice-involved youth as well as adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Locally, the hotel brand has partnered with nonprofit restaurant and professional training facility, Café Momentum, to provide the community’s justice-involved youth with employment opportunities in the hotel’s food and beverage services. It also recently announced their newest partnership with Unlock Potential where it will continue to hire and mentor at-risk youth.

Finalists: Alternative Wealth Partners; AT&T; Auticon U.S.

In-Kind Services Supporter

Winner: Vari

To date, Vari’s Community Giving program has donated more than $6 million in furniture and volunteer labor to local nonprofits, including the North Texas Food Bank, American Heart Association, Boys and Girls Club, and Make-A-Wish. Recently, Vari donated $500,000 in products, services, and volunteer time for Metrocrest Services’ new 48,000-square-foot building in Carrollton. The social services facility will improve the organization’s capacity to serve locals in need of financial assistance, and feature space for North Texas Food Bank operations.

Finalists: Bimbo Bakeries USA and NFI Industries; HKS; Two Roads Consulting; Weil, Gotshal & Manges

Sustainability Leadership

Winner: Southwest Airlines

Through Southwest’s global sustainability initiative, “Repurpose with Purpose,” the company has partnered with nonprofits, foundations, schools, and social enterprises—both locally and internationally—to upcycle leather aircraft seat coverings and transform them into new products. Since 2014, the initiative has kept more than 1.4 million pounds of leather out of landfills through these collaborations. In addition, Southwest has made more than $1.3 million in grants to help provide employment, skills training, and other social benefits for communities.

Finalists: Oncor Electric Delivery Co.; Twisted X; The University of Texas at Arlington

Author

Kelsey Vanderschoot

Kelsey Vanderschoot

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Kelsey J. Vanderschoot came to Dallas by way of Napa, Los Angeles, and Madrid, Spain. A former teacher, she joined…

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