Photograph by Bret Redman

Philanthropy & Nonprofits

Jessica Nowitzki Talks Nonprofits, Hygge, and Dirk’s Favorite Children’s Book

If you haven't checked your email, it's North Texas Giving Day!

It’s North Texas Giving Day, so I spent a few minutes chatting with Jessica Nowitzki about the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, starting with how the Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Tournament went on Sunday with Luka Doncic’s first appearance.

D: How did Luka do?

Jessica: He did good! I hadn’t seen him play before the event, but I was happily surprised. And he looked like he enjoyed it, too.

D: So you originally met Dirk at a charity event for the Sports for Education and Economic Development Project (SEED) back in 2010. How did your interest in nonprofits get started?

Jessica: I used to work for Kenny Goss and George Michael and was in the art world for many years. They did a lot of charitable work, and they always made sure there was an open door if we wanted to be part of any of their endeavors. I always tried to be involved as much as I could with some of the organizations that spoke to me. I got involved in a couple of organizations in terms of just sort of assisting and volunteering. I was part of the host committee for SEED. And, yeah, the evening of the event, Dirk and I have some mutual friends. We got introduced, and that was that.

D: So what’s happening with the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation for the upcoming year?

Jessica: So, you know, the foundation has been around for quite some time. We as a board take in grants from children’s organizations in North Texas and throughout the country, and even outside the United States. In fact, the deadline for this year is coming up September 30 for grant applications. So then we review those grants and narrow them down and decide which programs and projects we want to support for the year.

D: I noticed all of the board members are women except for Dirk.

Jessica: Oh yeah, I hadn’t actually thought about that. That wasn’t on purpose, but I guess that’s good, right? We have a solid foundation, I think.

D: I was on the website and it looks like you’ve done some new things with it. Is the FortyOne magazine something new?

Jessica: It is new. As you may know, Dirk has a foundation here in Dallas, of course. And there’s one in Germany that his sister runs. We’re trying to streamline so we’re all on the same page and have the same look. FortyOne just gives you a little bit more of an in-depth, kind of behind-the-scenes look at the foundation and community work that Dirk has going on.

D: I have a Swedish friend who practices hygge, the Scandinavian sort of philosophy of living a life of contentment and well-being by enjoying the simpler things in life. How do you find that happiness and balance in your life while juggling the foundation, your kids, and Dirk?

Jessica: I think the foundation for us is kind of the catalyst for getting everybody on the same page as far as being happy and living a peaceful life. Because, you know, you’re giving back and at the same time you’re involved with these organizations on a one-on-one basis where you actually get that instant feedback and you can see the change. To me, that’s the most valuable thing. And it transfers back to our children and becomes a part of our family. I don’t really call it work–it’s just part of our lives.

D: OK, time for the speed round. Ad side or deuce side?

Jessica: Ad side.

D: Wham or George Michael?

Jessica: I have to say George.

D: Kenyan pilau or Swedish rice pudding?

Jessica: Oh my gosh. Kenyan pilau any day.

D: What is your kids’ favorite bedtime story?

Jessica: Right now it’s I Want Monsters, I Need My Monster I think it’s called? There’s a Monster Under My Bed? [laughs] The Friendly Monsters?

D: What’s Dirk’s favorite bedtime story to read?

Jessica: I don’t know, that’s a good question. He does read a lot. It was The Kissing Hand.

D: Soccer, tennis, or basketball?

Jessica: Tennis.

D: Are you playing on a team? I’m always recruiting.

Jessica: It’s funny, I feel like I get recruited every week. It’s a big commitment to be on a team, and I feel like I have enough commitments as it is. I enjoy drills, so I actually like those hard sessions and getting a good workout in. That’s perfect.

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