By Elizabeth Lenart | Contributor 

Over 400 volunteers, nonprofits, donors, business, and community leaders filled the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Dallas to celebrate some of Dallas’ finest who give selflessly in support of numerous worthy causes.  The 34th Annual National Philanthropy Day Luncheon hosted by the Greater Dallas Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals recognized six award recipients at the “Stars of Texas” themed luncheon. Luncheon sponsors included AFP Chapter Sponsor Texas Capital Bank; Philanthropy Sponsors Southwestern Medical Foundation, and UT Southwestern Medical Center; Community Sponsors Texas Health Resources Foundation, World Affairs Council, and KERA.

Luncheon Chair Janet Sherlip and Greater Dallas Chapter AFP President Jan Murfield kicked off the luncheon with the history of National Philanthropy Day celebrations. This was followed by a tribute given by Carole Rylander to two “larger than life” Texas Philanthropy Legends with energetic “let’s make things happen” attitudes:  T. Boone Pickens and H. Ross Perot. Both had previously been honored locally by the Association of Fundraising Professionals as outstanding philanthropists as well as on the national level. 

Longtime emcee Scott Murray introduced the award recipients, who addressed the audience in a video acceptance speech prior to accepting their awards on stage. 

Cindy Scott, CFRE, recipient of the Outstanding Fundraising Executive, nominated by Parkland Foundation, has over 30 years of fundraising experience, benefiting the people of Dallas and beyond.  Scott thanked her mentors, family, and friends who have made such an impact on her life.

“If there’s one phrase that defines my fundraising/leadership career in Dallas, it’s the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek,” said Scott. “I have seldom entered a cave without an inspirational mentor either beckoning me to come in or in some cases on the outside giving me a push. If all of us in this room of incredibly accomplished individuals find a cave to enter, imagine the good that will come from it in our community.” She added, “You can always overcome fear if you stand on the side of love.”

Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Michal Powell, a passionate fundraiser for faith-based, medical, and humanitarian causes, commended the work of The Salvation Army who nominated her for this honor 

“While I am grateful for their nomination, it is The Salvation Army that is the shining star,” said Powell. “There is no better example of caring for and improving the lives of men, women, and children than The Salvation Army.

Highlighting the example set by her parents, she continued that while growing up in a small West Texas Town, she was blessed with parents deeply committed to faith, family, and community. She accepted the award on behalf of them, her husband Loyd, and the nonprofits, which have been her privilege to serve. 

Outstanding Corporation Texas Capital Bank was nominated by Parkland Foundation for its dedication to helping communities prosper by investing time, talent, and resources while making long-term strategic investments within three areas: education, health/wellness, and community revitalization. Since the inception of its charitable giving program, Texas Capital Bank has supported more than 100 charitable nonprofits throughout Texas.

Texas Capital Bank CEO Keith Cargill accepted the award on behalf of his colleagues, recognizing honorees that have gone before them and fellow honorees this year. “Our world needs individuals and companies to step up and do the right thing, to serve their communities and make a positive difference,” added Cargill. “We don’t do it for the accolades. We do it because we believe in the power of providing a hand up in our communities, empowering others, and forming lasting relationships.”

Debra Phares, philanthropic specialist with Bank of America and trustee to the Harry S. Moss Trust, accepted the Outstanding Foundation Award for the Harry S. Moss Trust. Nominated by UT Southwestern Medical Center, the Harry S. Moss Trust supports the prevention and cure of heart disease in Texas, particularly in Dallas. When the late Harry S. Moss—founder and president of Moss Petroleum and Dallas civic leader for 45 years—survived a heart attack in the 1960s, he made a commitment to support medical research. The first grant to UT Southwestern in 1973 created the Harry S. Moss Heart Center, for healing, innovation, discovery, and educating the next generation of cardiovascular providers and investigators. The Trust has contributed more than $41 million to UT Southwestern in support of endowed faculty chairs, funding for equipment, and special projects.

“Harry S. Moss and his wife Florence had great foresight but could not have known the explosion of medical knowledge made possible through their generosity,” said Phares. “Today, 50 years later, this single act has become both locally and globally impactful, making a difference in the lives of many.”

Outstanding Philanthropist Donna Wilhelm inspired the audience with her words of wisdom and her unique personal journey that has led to the publishing of her memoir A Life of My Own, launching in December. All net profits will help build capacity of underserved women, girls, and youth education. Wilhelm believes everyone has three fundamental questions that underlie every decision we make, and she addresses those questions, discovering a path to a meaningful life: Who Am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Her quest took 10 years of self-examination and writing stories to address those questions, resulting in the discovery of a path to a meaningful life. 

“My philanthropic passion is to achieve positive change by working together,” said Wilhelm. “Collaborative trust empowers our basic human instinct to help one another. Even the most challenging community needs can be met when three enlightened forces come together: collective wisdom, collaboration across cultures, and dedication to the greater good.”

Wilhelm, nominated by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, is a mission-driven philanthropist who has contributed more than $10 million to local, national, and international organizations, supporting direct capacity building and targeting strategic innovation. With a focus on arts, culture, and education, she has directed significant investments to KERA, TACA, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, The SMU Meadows School of Arts, and the World Affairs Council.

As is with tradition of this annual luncheon, the final recipient is the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy. Ashlyn Duy, nominated by Children’s Medical Center Foundation, is a former patient and loyal supporter of Children’s Health who has raised a total of $31,170 in four Red Balloon Children Helping Children Tennis Tournaments, benefiting pediatric cancer research and programs. For Duy, it was meant to be. Months before being asked to participate, he had received lifesaving heart surgery at Children’s for tachycardia, an abnormally high heartbeat that comes on without warning. Since his surgery, his goal was to maximize his impact on children’s lives. Duy is now a freshman at University of Colorado Boulder studying engineering.

Scott Murray asked Duy what was it that inspired him to give back. Duy shared that his mom had been speaking with a family during his surgery who had been in the hospital for a month with their child. 

“I was one of the lucky ones, who healed quickly,” said Duy. “I understood why I had to endure what happened to me, and I wanted to give back.”

When Murray asked him what his message would be to the audience, Duy responded, “We are all here today because it was meant to be. We are doing what our life purpose is—to give back.” He concluded, “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

The Greater Dallas Chapter of AFP was among the first to begin celebrating National Philanthropy Day in 1981. AFP Chapters involve more than 28,000 individuals celebrating philanthropy each year.

afpchapteroffice@afpdallas.org   Photo credits: Kristina Bowman

2019 National Philanthropy Day Award Recipients- (front) Michal Powell (Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser); Cindy Scott (Outstanding Fundraising Executive); Donna Wilhelm (Outstanding Philanthropist); Debra Phares (Outstanding Foundation – Harry S. Moss Trust); Jan Murfield, President, AFP Greater Dallas Chapter; (back) Keith Cargill (Outstanding Corporation – Texas Capital Bank); Janet Sherlip, luncheon chair; Ashlyn Duy (Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy)


Laura Harrison, Donna Wilhelm, Terrell Falk, Jim Falk


Janet Sherlip, Michelle George, Jan Murfield


David Diehl, Michelle George, Effie Dennison, Keith Cargill, Paula Knight, J.J. Ponce


Debra Phares, Kelly Garlock


Lynn Vogt, Deborah Montonen, Carole Rylander


Cindy Scott, Scott Murray


Brian Luallen, Veletta Forsythe Lill, Terry Loftis


Ollie Chandhok, Marianne Neville, Shelby Benton, Cheryl Hood