• Arctic animal ornaments at Pottery Barn holiday 2012
    Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn
  • Vintage ornaments on a tree stump in a feed-store bucket
    Photo courtesy of D'Ette Cole
  • Newsprint star, holiday decorations
    Photo courtesy of D'Ette Cole
  • West Elm mercury glass vases holiday 2012
    Photo courtesy of West Elm

The holidays can be as stressful — or stress-free — as you make them. We know the routine too well: shopping, waiting in line, sitting in traffic, eating, drinking, watching the shipping charges load onto your bill, cleaning, entertaining, cooking, making a Starbucks run, more shopping.

The one place that should feel relaxing is your home. But before you deck your halls with the same tired tannenbaum, tinsel and twinkle lights, we urge you to breathe deeply, set your inner grinch free and take a fresh approach to decorating this season. Honestly, must we always put out mother’s miniature crystal Christmas tree?

To find out how to dress the house for the season, we asked a few Texas experts to share their thoughts on the latest trends. Here’s to simplicity, comfort, style, a little sparkle and good cheer.

D’Ette Cole, designer, Red

Mix organic materials with simple yet elegant accents
Sophisticated holidays emerge from just a few simple touches in elemental, organic materials. Black ink and ecru, repeated in elegant paper ornaments, create a crisp and timeless color palette. Glittering garlands perfectly trim a tabletop, and well-appointed lighting brings luxury, warmth and radiance.

Play with the written word
Celebrate the modern with graphic, amply scaled holiday decor, sparsely appointed and grouped for effect. Newsprint stars and gift wrap create a smart, savvy graphic edge, while vintage letters, even initials, provide shapely symbols. Set with tinsel trees, which beget holiday cheer and light the way through the season with minimal hassle and maximum effect.

Add bursts of color spots
Bring spunk to a winter wonderland with colorful, one-of-a-kind, vintage ornaments. A white-washed stump or a glittered tree branch set in a feed-store bucket create an inspired twist on a holiday favorite.

Jeff Moss, Buyer, Breed &Co.

Let there be light
Battery-powered lights are big. A set of batteries can last as much as a week or more on LED lights, because they hardly use any power at all. Plus they are very bright.

Use skinny trees in all the right places
Put them on tables, stick them on mantels, place them on your dresser. Some look like something that Dr. Seuss would have, others are more traditional, and some are wrapped in burlap and covered in kind of a sugared frost. Any place that you’ve got space needs a tiny, skinny tree.

Wrap it up right
You can go anyplace and find cheap ribbon for Christmas but not the real stuff — the wired stuff that is made of velvet. Do deep-red velvet and gold. A nice ribbon holds it shape. Try and find one that is shiny red on one side and gold on the other side, so it is reversible.

Annie Downing, interior designer and owner, perusehome.com

Add glamour, glitter and shine
Anything that sparkles is a must for holiday decor this season. Glittery ornaments, mercury glass candlesticks, pine cones covered in glitter, glittery houses — they convey that feeling of a winter wonderland.

Go retro and vintage
Mix felt garlands and wreaths with your current holiday pieces. It’s fun to jumble the old with the new.

Get back to nature
Bring the outdoors in. Evergreen, twigs, branches, mushrooms and animal ornaments (bears, deer, owls) are inspired by the season. Bottle brush trees are fantastic as well. Magnolia wreaths and garlands never go out of style.

  • Dallas interior designer Erin Sander of Erin Sander Design.
    Photo courtesy of Erin Sander Design
  • Sander creates airy, elegant and clean spaces, like this master bedroom from arecent project.
    Photo courtesy of Erin Sander Design
  • Sander likes to use dynamic tiles as a focal point in a bathroom or kitchen —like these mosaic tiles from New Ravenna, which have the graphic and ethnicqualities of ikat.
    Photo courtesy of New Ravenna
  • A kitchen from a recent home project from Erin Sander Design. Sander takestraditional shapes and architectural elements and adds a modern twist.
    photo courtesy of Erin Sander Design
  • Sander likes to hang interesting mirrors along tile walls in her bathroomprojects for a contemporary edge.
    photo courtesy of Erin Sander Design

New traditionalist Erin Sander digs modern design with a twist

Designer Spotlight

Dallas interior designer Erin Sander learned the power of great design at a very young age. Her family moved quite a bit, but they had a knack for creating beautiful and comfortable spaces everywhere they went.

“My mother took great pride in making each new home we settled in unique and all our own,” Sander says. “I was able to see firsthand what potential there was within each new space and fell in love with what beautiful design can add to a family’s life.”

Sander opened her business, Erin Sander Design three years ago in Dallas. She appreciates the city’s willingness to embrace trends despite its traditional tendencies.

“Dallas is constantly experimenting with new design trends all the while managing to stay firmly planted in its traditional roots,” Sander says.

“Dallas design stands out because it is constantly experimenting with new design trends all the while managing to stay firmly planted in its traditional roots,” Sander says. “The blend of the old and the new creates an identity that is uniquely Dallas.”

She describes her style as simple and tailored, with a focus on integrating the interior architecture of a space with balanced and well-appointed furnishings. “I love adding a freshness and energy to my designs through a modern interpretation of traditional forms and unexpected accents,” she says.

Sander’s designs weave together clean, modern and traditional elements — often with pops of color and surprising shapes or patterns. In fact, one of her favorite trends at the moment is using dynamic tiles to create a focal point in a bath or kitchen.

New Ravenna has a gorgeous new ikat mosaic that blends the graphic and ethnic qualities of ikat into a tile design,” she says.

Sander admits her favorite room to design is the kitchen, which she believes can be the style hub of the house. “When designed well, [kitchens] can be a place for the family to relax, entertain and enjoy life together,” she says. “It can also be a space that defines the style of the home through the materials used, architectural elements incorporated and colors selected.”

“Inspiration for my projects is most often found during the collaborations with my clients,” Sander says.

As for inspiration, Sander looks to interior designers Barbara Barry, for the simplicity and restraint of her designs; Kelly Wearstler, for her ability to transform raw materials into dynamic parts of her interiors; and Bobby McAlpine, for his vision and commitment to creating the inheritable house. But she is also influenced by a much closer source.

“Inspiration for my projects is most often found during the collaborations with my clients,” she says. “Truly learning about their needs and what moves them inspires me to create a home that will perfectly complement their lives.”

With the holidays upon us, Sander has a few ideas about how to ready your home for the season.

“Choose a holiday style and color palette that complements your interior, stick with it and build upon your look each year,” Sander says. “In a pinch: fresh white flowers, natural winter elements, mercury glass, and candlelight can create a festive and current holiday table.”

  • Designer Kimberly McDonald wearing her own designs.
    Photo by Bo Joplin
  • Kimberly McDonald sterling silver bezel-set agate book ends with diamonds.
    Photo courtesy of Forty Five Ten
  • Kimberly McDonald champagne saver available at Forty FIve Ten.
    Photo courtesy of Forty Five Ten
  • Kimberly McDonald napkin rings.
    Photo courtesy of Forty Five Ten
  • Kimberly McDonald lucite and geode paper weights.
    Photo courtesy of Forty Five Ten

Kimberly McDonald brings the bling to Forty Five Ten with exclusive homecollection

Bling it on

Designer Kimberly McDonald always loved natural stones. But the North Carolina native never imagined her creations — dazzling yet earthy hand-crafted jewelry — would catch the eye of stars such as Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and even First Lady Michelle Obama.

Just last month, she opened her first freestanding Kimberly McDonald boutique on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. But more exciting for us, McDonald launched an exclusive home accessories line at Forty Five Ten in Dallas that mirrors the aesthetic of her iconic jewelry.

Both her jewelry and home collections are crafted from materials such as agate, geode, and untreated materials like recycled diamonds, reclaimed wood, gold and raw gemstones. We caught up with one of Hollywood’s favorite jewelry designers to find out why she chose Dallas to launch her chic new collection, which ranges from a bedazzled Champagne saver to sterling silver bezel-set agate book ends accented with diamonds.

“I am so into the mixture of textures and materials and how the things that we surround ourselves with subliminally affect our mood and energy,” McDonald says.

CultureMap: How long have you been designing jewelry?

Kimberly McDonald: Since 2007. Prior to my own line, I worked as a curator of personal jewelry collections.

CM: Did you always know you wanted to be a jewelry designer?

KM: Not at all. I did know that I always loved rocks. I collected them as a child and had an affinity for agates. I also loved jewelry and was known to sneak into my mother or grandmother’s jewelry box and pile on whatever I could find. I guess that is where I cultivated my love of mixing materials and textures.

While I was working with clients to curate their private jewelry collections, I had occasion to design one-of-a-kind pieces for their heirloom stones or interesting stones that we would acquire. Over time, a couple of my clients would just ask me from the onset to design pieces for their respective collections.

It was not long after this started happening that my closest friend and now business partner, Trish McKeon, turned to me and said “You know, you should start your own line.” I had never considered it until that moment, but once she said it, it became as natural an idea as breathing.

CM: When did you the idea first occur to you to launch items for the home?

KM: Branching my collection into home was an organic extension. I have always loved home décor. I am so into the mixture of textures and materials and how the things that we surround ourselves with subliminally affect our mood and energy.

“I chose to launch exclusively in Dallas at Forty Five Ten because they have a very sophisticated clientele, and I knew that they would give me excellent feedback,” McDonald says.

Because I believe my jewelry has an amazing and distinctive energy, I figured why not bring that earthen goodness to people’s home? Plus a certain clever client once told me that she loved her long geode chain so much that whenever she was not wearing it she would lay it across her dressing table just so she could look at it every day.

We launched the vintage collection first because I really love the idea of repurposing pieces and outfitting them with the unique, natural materials that I use in my jewelry collection. I chose to launch exclusively in Dallas at Forty Five Ten because they have a very sophisticated clientele, and I knew that they would give me excellent feedback — and they did! The first shipment [of the vintage collection] they received last December sold out as it was being unpacked.

CM: What do you believe makes your designs so distinctive?

KM: Well, for the fine jewelry collection, I was probably the first to really establish a brand that is based off of natural materials in their original, unfinished shape, combined with fine materials like diamond and 18-karat (in my case recycled) gold, with very fine hand-made mountings that are created in the United States. Same goes for our signature irregular bezels.

The same very fine handmade feeling comes through with the home products. It is the pairing of natural elements and fine quality that really sets us apart.

CM: Is there an item you are most excited about when it comes to your new home accessories?

KM: A very difficult question. Each piece, for one reason or another is a favorite, but at the top might be the Lucite box topped with amethyst. But, honestly, I love them all. Oh and the vintage tea trays are to-die-for.

“Dallas is a wonderful market, which has always gotten my design point of view and the DNA of the brand,” McDonald says.

CM: What was the greatest challenge in launching your home accessories line?

KM: The greatest challenge is manufacturing, always. To create pieces that are one-of-a-kind is the way old-school luxury operates, and I consider our method for bringing the finest products to our clientele very old-school.

Everything is laid out by me and designed by hand and made by hand. So that process itself is more of a challenge than mass producing the same item over and over.

CM: What made you decide to launch your home accessories line exclusively in Dallas? What makes the store so special to you?

KM: Dallas is a wonderful market, which has always “gotten” my design point of view and the DNA of the brand. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate place to see the collection debut. This is a community of art lovers and fashionistas.

And Forty Five Ten? What can I say that has not been said of this amazing retail operation? Brian is one of my close friends, and the dialogue between us is always open.

I remember the day I told him I was going to introduce a home collection and he said, “We are in.” I said, “You haven’t seen it yet.” And he replied, “I know your taste, I know your work and I believe in your vision.” So you can understand why an exclusive launch at Forty Five Ten was a no-brainer for me.

CM: Why do you believe your home accessories line will resonate with Dallas women and men?

KM: Dallas men and women do things right. They dress, they entertain, they’re beautiful. The KMD Home collection is ideal for the lifestyle of our Dallas clients.

The style election: Vote on Dallas Design Duel's fab home makeovers

Interior Design Showdown

Two lucky Dallas homeowners are getting a semi-extreme home makeover, compliments of local design superstars Breck Woolsey, of Breckinridge Taylor, and Carolina V. Gentry, of Pulp Design Studios.

Redesign recipients were winners in the Dallas-area Habitat for Humanity Design Duel, an annual competition that pits local designers against each other to transform the living and dining rooms in each lucky winner’s house.

The designers had $3,000 and three weeks to design the spaces with items from Dallas ReStores, which sell new and gently used home decor and home improvement wares at deep discounts. The challenge for the designers: creatively redo the rooms with a limited budget and timeline.

Habitat for Humanity reviewed the applications and whittled down the pool of contestants to five semi-finalists. Then the public chose homeowners Ayla Hawley and Royeni Tjoa, who were matched up with a designer.

And now you can help decide which designer wins the competition. Cast your vote for your favorite makeover November 6-12 on the Design Duel website.

Then the panel of judgesLauren Przybyl, of Good Day Dallas; interior designer Barbara Gilbert; Peggy Levinson of D Home; 2011 Design Duel winner Sarah Pickard; Britney Ratto, of RSVP Event Studio; and Linda Harty, of the Art Institute of Dallas — will weigh in to crown a Design Duel champ. The winner of the public votes gets an additional 20 points tacked on to his or her score.

Good to know: All proceeds from Dallas ReStores fund the Dallas Habitat mission. So next time you need cabinetry, lighting fixtures, flooring or ceramic tile for an upcoming home-improvement project, you know where to shop.

  • You want your house to shine, and it will sparkle much brighter if you dustlight bulbs and clean light covers, says interior designer Janus Lazaris.
    Photo by Adrienne Breaux
  • A clean home is a welcoming home. Finally set down — and stick to — a cleaningschedule this fall, suggests Apartment Therapy's Adrienne Breaux.
    Photo by Adrienne Breaux
  • Flowers bring life to a room, says Texas Monthly writer-at-large Kristie RamirezHoitsma.
    Photo by Adrienne Breaux
  • Set up the guest room weeks before your company arrives, suggests Janus Lazaris.
    Photo by Adrienne Breaux

Make your house a home with these easy-to-implement tips from Texas designexperts

the art of living

You've signed the papers, you've got the keys and now you're staring at a whole lot of blank walls. You've spent the past decade moving from place to place, city to city, focusing on your career. Now you're ready to make a true home — but you haven't the slightest idea how.

That's the position in which many ambitious young professionals find themselves. They may have seen the world, but they can't see how to turn a house into a home.

To help conjure up the courage to create a comfortable abode — and invite company over — we called in the experts. Some of the state's reigning interior designers, bloggers and editors have come to our aid with tips they learned the hard way for creating a warm, welcoming sanctuary and entertaining space.

Adrienne Breaux, editor at Apartment Therapy

1. Get it clean — and keep it clean

Home feels like home when it's filled with friends and family, and you're more likely to invite folks over when you're not worried they'll spot your dust bunnies or stumble on the pile of laundry that springs up in that one corner of your bedroom. Finally set down — and stick to — a cleaning schedule this fall.

2. Go ahead and buy yourself confidence

Your home doesn't have to be perfect to enjoy it, but give yourself permission to start the process of making your dream home. Buy yourself a few needed (or wanted) pieces that will give you confidence to entertain.

3. Focus, experiment, breathe — and then enjoy

Focus your time, energy and brilliance on DIY projects, new home items or furniture layout rearrangements that work for you. (And don't be afraid to experiment until you strike just the right note.) But if you're still worried, remember: Low lighting and lots of bourbon can make any space look design magazine-worthy.

Kristie Ramirez Hoitsma, Texas Monthly writer-at-large and editor of Texas Style & Substance

1) Always have a good mix of music

Even if just one person is coming over, create some background noise with something other than your television. A neutral mix of Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson and Van Morrison never offends.

2) A few flowers go a long way

They add life to a room. You don't have to go nuts with $12 stems of peonies. Orchids or succulents are big-impact, inexpensive and long-lasting.

3) Stock the pantry with good snacks

This is easy but something that people often forget. Always have wasabi almonds, crackers and a block of cheese. All of these things are affordable and keep forever, plus they are a good balance of textures and flavors. You're more likely to have friends over when you know you don't have to run out to the grocery to sate even the smallest appetite.

Janus Lazaris, owner and interior designer at JanusDesign

1) The "giving home" is always ready for company

Give yourself enough time to plan, organize and create. Start early by setting up the guest room weeks before your company arrives. Think about menus, events and schedules before the doorbell rings. A simple game plan will work wonders in eliminating stress.

2) Now that autumn nights begin early, turn on the lights

Your home will sparkle much brighter if you dust light bulbs and clean light covers. This is also a good time to polish glass, silver and other shiny surfaces so they reflect light better.

3) Keep warm and cozy

Don't forget rugs, wraps, pillows and blankets! November is the time to layer your home in warm and cozy textures. Drape a distinctive blanket over the back of the sofa. Add inviting pillows and a rug, and place firewood so it is ready for a cold night.

Put these ideas in motion, and next time a friend unexpectedly rings your doorbell, you won't have to hide behind the couch.

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Dallas business summit to feature college students in Shark Tank pitch

Pitch Party

A new business summit launching in Dallas is being hailed as a dream event for entrepreneurs.

It's called "Changing The World For Good - The 2023 SMU & GSV Mission Summit," and it's a three-day event from May 22-24 with big names and big ideas.

Leading businesses, investors, educational innovators, and entrepreneurs will convene for an inspiring three days of panel discussions, creative huddles, and company presentations designed to bring business + ideas + financing together.

The event was created by GSV and builds on the tradition of an annual summit that GSV holds with Arizona State University. "GSV" stands for “Global Silicon Valley,” an investment platform that has invested in businesses such as Facebook, Twitter, Snap, Palantir, and Spotify.

In addition to host university SMU, partners in Dallas' inaugural Mission Summit include Hoque Global and American City Business Journals.

GSV’s work in Dallas also includes a partnership with Hoque Global in the development of SoGood in Downtown Dallas and an Innovation District at its core. SoGood is a master-planned urban community adjacent to the Famers Market, Deep Ellum, the Cedars, and Fair Park just south of Interstate 30.

Student pitch
One especially inspiring element of the event is The Texas Cup, a Shark Tank-like competition in which students from Texas universities will present business ideas and compete for funding.

Students will give live pitches before a panel of judges. Finals will take place Wednesday, May 24, at the Varsity room at SMU Hughes-Trigg Student Center at 3140 Dyer St, and promise to be a one-of-a-kind live event emceed by Gina Miller, FC Dallas VP of Communications.

The pitches will come from 12 finalists among 100 students who competed statewide from pretty much every DFW college or university: Dallas College, Dallas Baptist University, Paul Quinn College, SMU, Tarrant County College, Texas A&M, TCU, TWU, University of Dallas, UNT, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas, and UT Southwestern.

Judges include executives from Goldman Sachs, Mt. Vernon Investments, Interlock Partners, CDX Advisors, Artemis Agency, and Hoque Global, who are co-hosting the event. They'll consider criteria such as the market, business model, the inspiration, and what kind of impact it'll have.

Three winning pitches will receive funding from SoGood by HG and GSV. Every participant will receive a free “pitch practice” session with the world’s top vocal coach, Roger Love, plus a free ticket to the Summit, and the chance to rub elbows with other mission-minded entrepreneurs.

“This is a dream event for entrepreneurs, to be able to see great ideas win support to become a reality,” says Hoque Global CEO Mike Hoque in a statement.

Participants leading the Summit include:

  • Clark Hunt, CEO, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Robert Kaplan, Former President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas
  • Avery Johnson, Partner, Avery Capital
  • Jennifer Chandler, Managing Director, Bank of America
  • Michael Sorrell, President, Paul Quinn College
  • Michael Moe, founder of Global Silicon Valley and
  • Co-Author of the best-selling The Mission Corporation
  • Elizabeth Loboa, Provost, Southern Methodist University
  • Mike Hoque, CEO, Hoque Global
  • Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma First Lady Sarah Stitt

Slutty Vegan vs. Earth Burger: A vegan burger faceoff in Dallas

Vegan Burger News

There was big energy in Deep Ellum on May 20 when Slutty Vegan, an internet-buzzy vegan restaurant from Atlanta, celebrated the grand opening of its first location in Dallas at 2707 Main St. #A, drawing hundreds of devotees who began forming a line around the block at the Deep Ellum-early hour of 7:30 am.

Slutty is from colorful founder Pinky Cole, who started the concept as an Instagram business, before opening her first restaurant in Atlanta in 2018. She now has 10 locations in Georgia, New York, and Birmingham, Alabama with a menu of plant-based burgers, chicken, bratwurst, vegan chili, and vegan shrimp.

Cole is an outspoken champion of the vegan lifestyle as well as a role model and entrepreneur who has made the cover of Black Enterprise magazine.

The Dallas opening felt like a party with a DJ at the entrance, dancing inside the store and out, and free Popsicles handed out to people in line. Cole was there, sporting her trademark pink braids, amiably posing for photos for anyone who asked.

For the opening event, they limited the menu to three burgers — a bacon cheeseburger, a burger with pickles, and a burger with jalapenos — plus crinkle-cut fries and drink.

There's no dining room on site, just an ordering counter and a selection of T-shirts and Slutty-themed merchandise for sale.

It's one in a wave of concepts across the U.S. trying an all-vegan version of a burger-driven fast-food joint, such as Mr. Charlie's, Honeybee, PLNT Burger, and Earth Burger, the award-winning plant-based fast food chain founded in San Antonio in 2014.

Fortuitously, Earth Burger is also now being served in Dallas at Oomi Digital Kitchen, the digital food hall at 3510 Ross Ave.

Earth Burger is known for its burgers made with plant-based patties, chik-n, and “fishless” filets. The company is embarking on a national expansion with assistance from Sinelli Concepts, the Dallas group founded by Jeff Sinelli that owns Which Wich Superior Sandwiches. As part of that expansion, Oomi now has a selection of Earth Burger items for delivery or pickup.

Oomi is not so far away from Slutty, affording one the opportunity to do a vegan burger face-off.

The two concepts have things in common: They both use Beyond Meat, the big plant-based meat company (Earth Burger also has a quinoa patty option but not available in Dallas), and they both do crinkle-cut fries.

To the burgers:

Slutty Vegan's One Night Stand: Plant-based patty with vegan bacon, vegan cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and Slut Sauce on a vegan Hawaiian bun.

Slutty Vegan has a "naughty" theme in its branding and profile, but there's also something decadent about the food. The One Night Stand was soft and sloppy-in-a-good-way: a spongy soft bun (vegan Hawaiian rolls are not common), lots of good fresh chopped lettuce and tomato, and an overall juiciness from the combination of vegan cheese and slut sauce (vegan mayo with spices and a hint of dill pickle).

The burger was a big half-pound patty, cooked medium rare, with a texture and flavor that were a ringer for beef. It came topped with All Vegetarian bacon, one of the better vegan bacon products on the market. The bacon, too, was soft, maybe a little too soft; it's nice to have a little crackly from the bacon.

It was $19 but it was a meal of a burger and came with a side of Slutty fries.

Earth Burger's The Ranchero: Plant-based patty with cheese, fried pickled onion haystack, pickles and BBQ ranch.

This burger was less, how do you say, slutty: More controlled, more precise, maybe even a touch austere. It was a smaller, standard-fast-food-size quarter-pound patty, cooked to a "medium" doneness, with a firmer texture and more defined shape that resulted in some tasty crispy edges.

The fried onions were doled out with a measured hand, nothing sloppy here, but the combination of the onions and the BBQ ranch added sweet and sassy flavor.

The bun was "substantial" adding another separate element to the burger experience, yet remaining light and airy; it also had an appealing shiny glossy top.

It was $13.50.

These two burgers were not identical and therefore not an apples-to-apples comparison. But both were great experiences that would satisfy the urge for a beef burger, and surely fool an unsuspecting carnivore, especially in the case of Slutty Vegan.

[And to answer the obligatory question that people (mostly male people) like to ask about faux burgers — "why do people want a fake burger?" — it's because humans grow attached to the foods they grew up with, and many people, including vegans, grow up eating burgers. Vegans choose a vegan diet to avoid inflicting cruelty on animals, but still have nostalgic cravings, which a faux burger can deliver. Faux burgers are not "health" food, although "real" burgers are not healthy, either.]

Jenna Bush Hager drops into Dallas to celebrate 7 trailblazing Texas women

Don't mess with Texas women

What: Texas Women’s Foundation 2023 Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration

Texas Women's Foundation Forum 2023

Photo by Kim Leeson

Madeline Burillo-Hopkins, Jenna Bush Hager, Ann Sheu, Bee Nance

Where: Omni Dallas Hotel

The 411: Dallas native, former first daughter, and NBC Today co-host Jenna Bush Hager came home to Texas to help honor some of the state's most accomplished women on April 27. More than 650 attendees filled the Omni hotel downtown for the Texas Women's Foundation's annual forum and awards party.

Unlike many other nonprofit events, this was more than just a luncheon or a fancy soiree. The day started with a half-day empowerment program for 200 middle and high school girls dubbed #BESTSELF.

Then, Leadership Forums saw the 2023 Maura Women Helping Women and Young Leader award recipients discuss their journey.

Finally, the Awards Celebration and Dinner featured a presentation in which Hager interviewed the honorees in two different panel discussions on stage.

Also a fundraiser, the day's events and celebrations raised $572,000 to further the foundation's mission to advance economic security and leadership for Texas women and girls through groundbreaking research, advocacy, grants and programs.

Who: Brenda Jackson, selection co-chair, and Wendy Bridges of sponsor Comerica Bank presented awards to the following (with descriptions provided by the foundation):

Froswá Booker-Drew, Ph.D. (Dallas), the CEO of Soulstice Consultancy, LLC providing DEI, leadership training, community engagement strategies and philanthropic/partnership guidance for institutions.

Mary Pat Higgins (Dallas), President and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, where she leads its mission to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference.

Jill Louis (Dallas), Managing Partner of Perkins Coie’s Dallas office, a member of the firm’s Corporate & Securities practice, and co-chair of the Infrastructure Development practice. She is also the host of "RelevantNow," an environmental, social and corporate governance-focused podcast.

Madeline Burillo-Hopkins, Ed.D. (Houston), Vice Chancellor Workforce Instruction for the Houston Community College System and College President, where she has been an advocate for workforce education, diversity, and equity.

Aimee Cunningham (Austin), President and CEO of The Boone Family Foundation and a highly experienced principal in the progressive movement.

The Young Leader Award (recognizing breakthrough leadership y a trailblazer under the age of 40) went to:

Ann Sheu (Dallas), the founder of Mpowered Families, a training and coaching company with a unique approach to empowering individuals with tools to have a family life filled with purpose, alignment and connection.

Professor “Bee” Nance (Katy), the COO of Generation Teach, a multi-million-dollar educational non-profit whose vision is to end racial injustice and inequity in education.