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The Winners of D CEO’s Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards 2019

Bolstered by deep corporate support, Dallas-Fort Worth has one of the most powerful nonprofit communities in the nation.


In-Kind Services Supporter

Corporate Citizenship Award

The innovative sit-stand desk company, VARIDESK, has reimagined the way employees engage with their work space. Last year, it helped reshape the operations of North Texas Food Bank  by transforming the organization’s volunteer and distribution center and donating 150 workstations—an investment that would have cost the food nonprofit more than $250,000.

Finalists: Brass Tacks Collective; Fidelity Investments; FOX Sports Southwest, The Dallas Mavericks; LabCorp


Michael Tregoning with Laree Hulshoff
Headington Companies’ Michael Tregoning spearheads a partnership with the Aging Mind Foundation, founded by Laree Hulshoff.

Headington Companies

Corporate Partner of the Year

Corporate Citizenship Award

For the past five years, Headington Companies has partnered with Aging Mind Foundation to raise money for scientific research, specifically for Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. Spearheaded by Headington President Michael Tregoning, the support has allowed the organization to fund more than $2.1 million in medical research projects at UT Southwestern, Baylor, and Center for Vital Longevity. The group has kept its fundraising costs below 20 percent, the gold standard in charity fundraising, ensuring that the majority of donations go straight to the cause. The partnership has also helped the group spread awareness about Alzheimer’s and other dementias and compel other North Texans to get involved with their mission. “To put it simply, Aging Mind Foundation would not exist without the Headington Companies partnership,” says Laree Hulshoff, the organization’s founder. “They are an incredible partner and give generously not only with their in-kind support, but also in ideas, attendance, and time.”

Finalists: Accenture, The Beck Group, Capital One, McKesson Corp.

AT&T, Goldman Sachs, and Pioneer Natural Resources

Collaboration of the Year

Corporate Citizenship Award

Many local nonprofits host charity golf tournaments, but the Dallas CASA Classic stands out. Co-sponsored by AT&T, Goldman Sachs, and Pioneer Natural Resources, it’s the largest single-day, non-PGA-sponsored golf tournament in the country. Since 1998, it has raised $19.7 million for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), which represents the interests of neglected and abused children in court in Dallas County. When the event was launched 22 years ago, Dallas CASA provided a trained advocate for 407 Dallas County children; last year, it provided advocates for 3,332 children. “Dallas CASA’s ability to reach more children each year is the direct result of the unique corporate partnership of AT&T, Goldman Sachs, and Pioneer,” says Kathleen LaValle, the organization’s president and CEO. “The tournament has given us the courage and confidence to know we can grow.

Finalists: Norma’s Café, Texas Instruments

Frito-Lay North America

Innovative Collaboration

Corporate Citizenship Award

Determined to make a difference in a key area of the North Texas region, Frito-Lay North America last year launched Southern Dallas Thrives, in partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. A bit more about the program:

Frito-Lay’s longtime presence in South Dallas
A subsidiary of PepsiCo., Frito-Lay has been in Dallas for 85 years. About 25 percent of its local employees live in South Dallas or work in one of its plants or warehouses there.

“What we are hoping is that we are just the catalyst. We’re hoping other companies in Dallas will join us.”

Steven Williams, CEO, PepsiCo Foods North America

Focusing on “Performance With Purpose”
The initiative was inspired by former  CEO Indra Nooyi. The idea is to strike a balance between short-term and long-term priorities, and the level and duration of returns.

A Comprehensive, Results-Driven Plan
Southern Dallas Thrives focuses on preschool education, meals, educational support, and employment opportunities for families in the southern sector.

Aggressive Goals for the $2 million Program
Within five years, the progam aims to serve 1 million meals, increase kindergarten readiness, help 200 mothers find jobs, and provide tutoring to South Oak Cliff H.S. students.

Widespread Corporate Support
As part of its ongoing volunteer goals, Frito-Lay enables its associates to participate in monthly “Thrives Thursdays,” from mentoring to playground cleanup.

Finalists: DPR Construction; Lockheed Martin; Vizient


Debra Brennan Tagg encourages clients at Brennan Financial Services to make philanthropy a part of their investment portfolios.

Debra Brennan Tagg, Brennan Financial Services

Corporate Leadership Excellence

Corporate Citizenship Award

Financial planners are tasked with helping clients preserve their wealth. So, it may seem counterintuitive that Debra Brennan Tagg encourages those she advises to give their money away. It’s a philosophy that was cultivated by her father, Dave Brennan, who founded Brennan Financial Services in 1983. Growing up in the business, Brennan Tagg was often told, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” She took the helm of the company in 2017 and now manages $500 million in assets, with her brother, Darren. Over the years, thousands of clients have been encouraged to build philanthropy into their investment portfolios, creating a ripple effect across the community. Brennan Tagg also lends her financial expertise and leadership skills to countless organizations. Corporate citizenship, she says, means “understanding your responsibility to the whole community—in the employees you hire, the services and products you offer, the policies you put in place, and the way you improve the world around you.”

Finalists: Jennifer Chandler of Bank of America; Jack Fraker and Phil Puckett of CBRE; and Patrick Law of Fiserv Collaboration of the Year Corporate Citizenship Award AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Pioneer Natural Resources

Celanese Corp.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Citizenship Award

Celanese Corp. established a foundation six years ago. In 2017, it contributed $1 million to more than 100 nonprofits in the DFW region, including Big Brothers and Sisters, Resource Center, and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

Celanese encourages employees to take on leadership roles in philanthropic activities. Beyond community impact, it’s intended to foster a sense of inclusion, by involving numerous employee resource groups.

Employees receive $10 for every hour of volunteer service on a “cause card.” Upon reaching $1,000, employees may donate their earnings to the charities of their choice—causes that are personal and close to their hearts.

A matching gifts program provides a way for employees to double their impact. Contributions they make to qualifying nonprofit organizations are matched by Celanese, up to $1,500 per employee per year.

Finalists: Daymark Living, Granite Properties, Wright Connatser

Site Team at Urban Teachers

Nonprofit Team of the Year, Large

Nonprofit Award

Few  jobs are more challenging—and more important—than educating the next generation. Urban Teachers helps by providing one-on-one mentoring, job placement, advocacy, and relocation support. Led by Executive Director Emily Garcia, the group’s mission is to “improve educational and life outcomes of children in urban schools by preparing culturally competent, effective career teachers.” The organization’s site team has been described as the glue that holds the program together. Says nominator Lanet Greenhaw, vice president of education and workforce for the Dallas Regional Chamber: “Urban Teachers is able to retain the best and the brightest teachers, which students in Dallas deserve.”

Finalists: The Birthday Party Project, The Concilio, Jubilee Park & Community Center

Larry Dolan

Volunteer of the Year

Nonprofit Award

As Dallas CASA’s  longest-serving volunteer, Larry Dolan has worked with 132 children in 23 years. “Kids recognize you because you are the one constant in their life that keeps showing up,” he says.

Finalists: Gerald Cornelius of The Perot Museum of Nature and Science; Melora Leiser of Big Thought; Shannon Reed of Family Gateway


AT&T executive Jason Dyke founded Carson’s Village after the death of his 11-year-old son.

Carson’s Village

Organization of the Year, Small

Nonprofit Award

In April 2017, Jason Dyke’s 11-year-old son, Carson, committed suicide. Dyke and his wife had no idea how to cope, let alone take care of things like planning a funeral. A “village” of friends and members of the community stepped in to help. Dyke realized there was no formal organization to support others in a similar situation, so he formed a nonprofit in his son’s name. A marketing executive at AT&T, Dyke leveraged his expertise and past experience as an entrepreneur to assemble a board of business and civic leaders. Since January 2018, Carson’s Village has helped more than 170 families in 14 states. “When a family faces the sudden death of a loved one, they must scavenge resources, including how to find a funeral home, determine appropriate costs, find financial resources, and manage insurance, all while they are experiencing the height of mental anguish and stress,” Dyke says. “I am honored to do this in Carson’s name. I think he would be proud.”

Finalists: Ally’s Wish, Foundation For C.H.O.I.C.E., Mayor’s Star Council

Warrior Spirit Project

Nonprofit Team of the Year, Micro

Nonprofit Award

Reaching beyond the tangible and practical needs of military veterans and first responders, Warrior Spirit Project focuses on healing from the inside out, supporting a transition from isolation to meaningful community engagement.

Participants connect with nature and restore their spiritual well-being by working in and creating community gardens and selling produce at farmers markets.

Temperament-tested pit bulls are paired with veterans and first responders, providing a lasting companion for those with post-traumatic stress or a traumatic brain injury.

Through its “steady warriors” program, WSP provides trauma-informed yoga and iRest meditation to encourage mental centering that supports health and healing.

Finalists: Community For Permanent Supported Housing, Dare to Dream Children’s Foundation, Queen Esther’s Outreach, WERE Community

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Social Enterprise

Nonprofit Award

“We do more than raise money. We identify gaps in existing local services and build new programs to fill them.”

Jennifer Sampson, CEO, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

For nearly a century, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has supported initiatives in North Texas focused on education, income, and health. Its impact was enhanced six years ago, when it launched a social innovation accelerator, which provides resources and seed funding for entrepreneurs focused on bettering the community. So far, 35 organizations have completed the program and received more than $2.7 million in funding. “We do more than raise money,” says CEO Jennifer Sampson. “We identify gaps in existing local services and build new programs to fill them. We partner with local nonprofits, companies, volunteers, and community members to create lasting change. Together, we are solving our biggest problems for today, tomorrow, and forever.”

Finalists: Paper for Water, Ranch Hand Rescue, Vickery Trading Co.


Mary Pat Higgins championed a drive to build the new Dallas Holocaust Museum in the West End.

Mary Pat Higgins, Dallas Holocaust Museum

Leadership Excellence

Nonprofit Award

After serving as a board director and treasurer, Mary Pat Higgins was named president and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance in 2013. Since then, she has grown the operating budget from $1.5 million to $5 million and its staff from a handful of employees to 33. Higgins also championed a $77.7 million fundraising campaign that will culminate with the opening of the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum in the West End this fall. About 200,000 people are expected to visit annually. Six years ago, Higgins launched a fund to help low-income students experience the museum; the program provides more than 18,000 scholarships a year to students across a four-state region. Since taking the helm of the nonprofit, Higgins has significantly diversified its board and community of supporters to help achieve the organization’s mission of combatting prejudice, indifference, and the kind of unchecked hatred that led to the Holocaust.

Finalists: Pierce Bush of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star, Lenita Dunlap of Heart House, Jan Langbein of Genesis Women’s Shelter

Vogel Alcove

Organization of the Year, Large

Nonprofit Award

More than 3,000 children in Dallas go to sleep each night without a home of their own. Vogel Alcove, led by President and CEO Karen Hughes, helps them overcome the lasting and traumatic effects. Without intervention, youngsters are at risk of lifelong social, emotional, and educational struggles. Since 1987, Vogel Alcove has helped more than 16,000 homeless children.

Finalists: All Stars Project of Dallas, Café Momentum, Klyde Warren Park, My Possibilities, Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation


Nonprofit Team of the Year, Small

Nonprofit Award

Dr. HaeSung Han was working as a clinical director at the Dallas County Juvenile Department and Jennifer Tinker was in marketing and advertising when the two met at a nonprofit that serves adult victims of sex trafficking. They realized the need for a program that focused solely on young girls who were victims of sex trafficking and exploitation in the Dallas region. They joined forces to create and launch POETIC, which aims to fill that void. Here, they discuss how:

HaeSung Han: “POETIC is unique to Dallas. We knew the community didn’t need another therapy or case management program; we wanted to look at the system, which clearly wasn’t working. I was heartbroken by all of the girls we were losing to exploitation and trafficking; it really wasn’t their fault. If you give them structure and support, they thrive. POETIC began as an aftercare program for girls leaving the juvenile justice system.”
Jennifer Tinker: “We started with a clear vision, a PowerPoint presentation, and zero dollars in the bank. We were crazy. But the community really stepped up and supported us. We signed a lease on a completely dilapidated space, but it was in the perfect location. TriArch and The Beck Group have provided massive pro bono renovations. In our early days, the No. 1 thing we heard from our girls was that they wanted POETIC opened 24/7. It’s a testament to our team, who started with limited resources but created something really special—a family. ”
Han: “All of our girls have been sexually abused. That early childhood sexual abuse changed the path of their lives and their sense of self, and their ability to dream about a life they ought to live. We built an on-site school, and we often hear from our girls that without POETIC school, they would be on the streets and not getting an education, because they don’t believe they can do it and there isn’t that accountability and push for them to go to school. This past June, we had six girls walk across the stage at our first graduation, and they received their high school diplomas. It really shows that if you give them the opportunity, they will rise to it.
Tinker: “We’re truly telling the real story of what it looks like for our girls, and these aren’t girls in another country, these are girls growing up right here in North Texas. We’re not talking about a third-world country.”
Han: “We’re talking about life and death, and it doesn’t look pretty. We provide services for girls coming from Dallas County Juvenile. We have a segment of girls currently still in detention and some enrolled in comprehensive services. That means that they’re enrolled in our school, therapy, case management, paid internships, and then we have some girls that go to their public school but come to us after school for therapy, case management, and paid internships. So, it really is based on the needs of that girl.”
Tinker: “The University of Texas did research in 2017, and they used the victimization rate to estimate how many adults and youth could be impacted. Based on that research, there would be an estimated 19,000 youth impacted by trafficking just in Dallas-Fort Worth. People don’t realize the scope and the scale of the issue when it comes to our community.”
Han: “It cuts across socioeconomic status. It doesn’t matter how much money your parents have or how big their 401(k) is. If you have a history of complex trauma and you have access to a smart phone, you are vulnerable to be exploited and trafficked. That’s a simple fact. Even though our program is in Dallas and we provide services for Dallas girls, we do have girls coming from Frisco and McKinney, so it really doesn’t matter how big your house is, vulnerability is vulnerability, and there are people in this world, especially in Dallas, that are looking to purchase girls for sex, and it ultimately comes down to the objectification of girls.”
Tinker: “When we look up at the future and what that looks like, five or 10 years from now, we see this as a national movement. You’ll frequently see us use the hashtag “until every girl is equally valued,” and that’s truly what we stand for. I think there are a lot of pieces to us truly realizing that in our lifetime—and realizing that not just in Dallas, but beyond.”

Finalists: Cane Rosso Rescue, Defenders of Freedom, Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Foundation, In My Shoes

Rosa es Rojo

Organization of the Year, Micro

Nonprofit Award

The Dallas population has rapidly changed over the past several decades, with the Hispanic community accounting for 40 percent of the city’s growth last year. Health providers have been challenged to adapt to the change, but Rosa es Rojo works to make relevant wellness and cancer prevention information available for Latina women in a language they can understand. Partnering with others, the group provides training on nutrition, physical activity, and emotional health to target this high-risk cancer population in North Texas.

Finalists: Abide Women’s Health Services, Mentors Care

Groundwork Dallas

Organization of the Year, Midsize

Nonprofit Award

Groundwork Dallas champions the city’s urban wilderness, focusing on areas in West Dallas, rehabilitating neglected parks and creating new trails and wildlife areas.

The nonprofit encourages youth to connect with nature through recreation, service, and STEM-related activities that develop skills they can leverage as they pursue employment or education.

Groundwork Dallas worked with the city to clean up illegal dumping on the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, which led to the opening of the 116-acre Frasier Dam Recreation Area.

Says Richard Buckley, executive director: “The impact we are always driving toward is to make a difference in young lives … to show them that there are opportunities out there for them.”

Finalists: Agape Clinic, Cara Mía Theatre Co., United to Learn

Texans Can Academies

Organization of the Year, Mega

Nonprofit Award

Led by Richard Marquez, Texas Can Academies works to ensure a quality education for all students.

Texans Can Academies focus on student-centered decision-making and a rigorous curriculum, with the goal of breaking the cycles of poverty. The school targets students at risk of dropping out and provides a route to economic independence.

Initially founded in 1976, Dallas Can Academy was established in the 1980s to provide services to high school dropouts and juvenille offenders. It expanded in the 1990s and became Texans Can Academies, with 14 schools and 5,000 students today.

Literacy is an economic, social, and public health issue; the schools provide structure and nurturing guidance to help students toward graduation. The schools provide career and military readiness, as well as college and dual-credit options.

Personal responsibility, integrity, and passion are a part of the curriculum; students are taught to be contributing members of their families, while receiving their high school diploma, eventual employment, and fostering an intrinsic love of learning.

The “Whole Student” program features dental, vision, and medical care, mental health, and access to a 24/7 hotline. A “Learning from Leaders” program partners business leaders with students to provide guidance into the workforce.

Finalists: ChildCareGroup, SPCA of Texas, Teach for America

Dallas Pets Alive!

Most Successful Fundraising or Awareness Campaign

Nonprofit Award

“SpotyPlay helped us to concentrate on the matching process, so that the adoption is for life.”

Leslie Sans, Executive Director, Dallas Pets Alive!

Since its launch in 2012, Dallas Pets Alive! has helped drastically decrease the number of shelter pets lost to euthanizing in North Texas. Using innovative ways to market adoptable pets to increase their chance of finding their forever homes, the organization has saved more than 4,000 pets in the last seven years. It really stepped up its game with the Spotify Channel “SpotyPlay” that featured individualized playlists showcasing each adoptable dog’s personality, allowing the organization to reach a national audience. Each of the 168 playlists uploaded on the channel were built off of personality profiles formulated from reports from foster parents, staff, and insights of what made each breed unique. SpotyPlay resulted in 114 adoptions and counting, zero dogs returned, and a 69 percent increase in monthly pet adoptions. “Dallas Pets Alive! has always liked to think outside the box when it comes to rescue,” says Leslie Sans, executive director.

Finalists: College Football Playoff Foundation, RAICES, Texas Women’s Foundation


Jody and Sheila Grant take regular strolls through the $110 million park they helped make a reality.

Jody and Sheila Grant, Klyde Warren Park

Lifetime Achievement

Nonprofit Award

Klyde Warren Park may not bear Jody and Sheila Grant’s family name, but make no mistake, the 6-acre green space that connects Uptown with downtown Dallas is their baby. The couple worked tirelessly for years to convince others to support the effort. And it was their money that got the ball rolling; they provided $1 million in seed funding and Texas Capital Bank, founded by Jody Grant, matched it.

He was driven by a desire to do something that would provide an economic boost to the central core of Dallas, which was still in the doldrums following the banking and real estate crash of the 1980s. “I’ve always been in a business where your success is derived from the community,” he says. “Whatever we do for the community, we are going to get that back many times over. Business people need to get that message.” For Sheila, it was more about culture and the arts. Every great city has a signature park, she says. It’s where people come together and where traditions are established and memories are made.

Led by the Grants, supporters raised a total of $110 million, including city, state, federal funds, and private donations topped by a $10 million gift from oil magnate Kelcy Warren. After three years of construction, the park opened in 2012. It was expected to attract about 50,000 visitors a year. In the first year, it brought in more than a million. Beyond that, it sparked a development boom in Uptown and a resurgence downtown. Its economic impact to date exceeds $2 billion.

Klyde Warren Park may be the Grants’ biggest and most visible project, but it caps a lifetime of giving back. Two years ago, the couple gave $1.5 million to help fund a new aquatic center at Southern Methodist University (where they met, and where Jody was a swimmer). Jody has held leadership roles in countless civic and nonprofit organizations. Sheila has had immeasurable influence in the ballet world, and currently serves on the chairman’s advisory council for the American Ballet Theatre. 

The Grants are now spearheading a $76 million second phase of Klyde Warren Park, which will add 1.2 acres west of St. Paul Street. It will allow for an expansion of the children’s play area and provide covered event space, which has the added benefit of generating revenue to fund park activities.

The couple takes regular strolls through the park and are on a first-name basis with those who frequent it and work there. They’re constantly looking for ways to improve it. You could call it on-the-ground research. “It’s all about connectivity,” Jody says. “And knitting the community together.”

More than 30 markets across the country are seeking to duplicate the success of Klyde Warren Park. Sheila says she is overcome with joy at the impact it’s having. “I don’t recall ever seeing anyone with a frown at the park,” she says. “It’s a happy place.” 

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