It's hard to overshadow Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay, but Dallas Women's Foundation managed to do just that during its sold-out 33rd annual luncheon with a major announcement.
The group, which unlocks resources to advance women's economic security and women's leadership through research, grant-making, and advocacy, revealed that it is now Texas Women's Foundation. One of the largest women's foundations in the world, the organization uses its more than $35 million in assets to underwrite its groundbreaking statewide research on issues affecting women and girls, providing decision-makers and lawmakers with critical data to inform policies, practices, and programs in the state.
But that wasn't all. The 1,570 influential business, community, and philanthropic leaders who packed the Hilton Anatole's Chantilly Ballroom dug deep and made the luncheon the most successful in the group's history, bringing in $1.5 million. Guests also helped finish out the $50 million "Unlocking Leadership" fundraising campaign, which was originally launched in 2013.
Co-chaired by community leaders and philanthropists Lael Brodsky and Tricia Miller, with honorary co-chairs Matrice Ellis-Kirk and Ambassador Ron Kirk, the event began with an inspiring a capella performance of Alicia Key's "Girl on Fire" by the University of North Texas Green Tones.
After remarks from Roslyn Dawson Thompson, the president and CEO of the now-Texas Women's Foundation, journalist and host of NPR's All Things Considered Michele Norris sat down for an entertaining chat with DuVernay. Not only did the filmmaker reveal her next project (a documentary about musical icon Prince), but she revealed some of her career setbacks, including being rejected from the Sundance Film Festival seven times and turning down the chance to direct the superhero blockbuster Black Panther.
A few of her pearl of wisdom included the rhyming "there are riches in the niches" and the stay-true-to-yourself "when you're in your own lane, there is no traffic."
It was following this entertaining conversation that Dawson Thompson, outgoing board chair Caren Lock, and incoming board chair Shonn Brown announced the transformation of Dallas Women's Foundation into Texas Women's Foundation, much to the delight of the crowd, which included Laysha Ward, Shawn Wills, Laura Nieto, Rachel Vinson, Jane Rose Hurst, Muffin Lemak, Paige Flink, Emily Madene, Laura Baldwin, and Courtney Radcliffe.
"We have a bold mandate and an exciting and positive future," Dawson Thompson said. "Together, we will transform Texas for women and girls."