The Dallas Dozen

Our annual salute to the most important players in town. Not that they want to be noticed.

The words “publicity hound” don’t come near the 2014 Dallas Dozen. Some of them would rather walk the other way than take their place in the limelight. But when it comes to undertaking a Herculean task, they’re like bargain shoppers at The Container Store the day after Christmas.

They have their reasons for avoiding attention. One, who hangs out with George Clooney and Johnny Depp, shuns media queries for the sake of his privacy. Another, despite being married into one of Dallas’ big-name families for more than four decades, is just downright shy.   

When one fellow was announced as the 2014 TACA Silver Cup Award recipient at a private reception, a number of guests asked, “Who’s he?”

Perhaps the least known but most feared name here is only familiar to the former first family, fundraisers, and the media. She’s known by her  first name—Caroline—and for her ability to nicely but firmly squelch any event coverage of W. For example: organizers of a recent mega-fundraising luncheon weren’t even allowed to promote 43 as the headliner.


1. Jeremy Halbreich 
After toiling for 24 years at the Dallas Morning News, the former DMN president went on to direct the Chicago Sun-Times through bankruptcy and then to head up a conglomerate of community papers in south Texas. But many local higher-ups know he’s still the man to know. 

2. Rev. Dr. Joe Clifford
As senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church, which includes Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings in its congregation, Clifford has overseen the church’s Stewpot Alliance purchase and renovation of historic downtown properties for Encore Park. 

3. John Phifer Marrs 
Some may mistake the red-haired interior designer as just a member of divorcée Simona Beal’s posse. But those in the know can easily rattle off his accomplishments—Old Parkland, Harlan Crow’s library—that reflect his “New Southern” style. 

4 Lucilo Peña 
Whether it’s serving as Billingsley Development Company president, sitting on numerous Dallas arts boards, or championing LGBT causes, he brings people together to do great things. When announcing him as the 2014 TACA Silver Cup Award recipient, John Eagle described him as “a bridge builder.”

5 Dr. Kern Wildenthal 
His thrashing in the DMN only endeared him to those who financially supported his fundraising over the decades. Evidently the news coverage didn’t hurt his professional standing. He’s now president emeritus at UT Southwestern Medical Center and president of Children’s Medical Center Foundation.

6 Crayton Webb 
Since his days as a political reporter, he has been Mayor Laura Miller’s chief of staff and most recently turned pink as Mary Kay’s director of communications and corporate social responsibility. The connections he’s made have been priceless. Many wonder if a political future lies ahead.

7 Barry Andrews
Don’t dismiss this good ol’ boy as a simple brewmeister. He’s grown his Andrews Distributing beer empire from its start in Corpus Christi with just seven employees to more than 1,100 “team members” headquartered in Dallas. 

8 Karen Katz 
Neiman Marcus’ first-ever female president/CEO tends to let others like Ken Downing be the point person, while she takes care of business behind the scenes. Still, she isn’t timid in dealing with retail royalty. She even calls Vogue’s Anna Wintour a friend. 

9 Tim Headington 
He has become known as the Howard Hughes of Dallas for his stealth profile, movie productions (Argo), oil empire, celeb friends (Clooney, Depp), and hotel dealings (The Joule). One reporter complained that his publication could only find one photo of Headington—and it was fuzzy.

10. Carol Aaron
Get past her razzle-dazzle Elizabeth Taylor looks, and her passion for Jewish causes and senior-care assistance becomes obvious. Supporting her efforts are the family’s deep pockets and top-tier connections. 

11. Claire Emanuelson 
Even when she is photographed, Emanuelson appears to look a bit amused at being part of “the scene.” Still, this Louisiana transplant has a black book that CEOs would kill for. Her secret? No matter what the occasion, if she’s involved, it’s gonna be fun and profitable.  

12. Nancy Ann Hunt 
She may be a part of the legendary Hunt family, but Ray’s wife is renowned for being painfully shy. The diminutive philanthropist has been the driving force for countless projects dealing with women’s issues and abuse. Her children are also carrying on her give-back-to-the-community philosophy.

13. Caroline Nugent 
(not pictured) The mere mention of “Caroline” causes anxiety among fundraisers and the media. As the go-to gal for George W. Bush’s nonprofit fundraiser appearances, the blond gatekeeper puts the kibosh on any media coverage of W’s attendance at events like the Genesis Women’s Shelter and the Salvation Army’s luncheons.    


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