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Maureen Kelly Cooper Maureen Kelly Cooper, executive director for Cushman & Wakefield, is a co-chair for the Texas Emerald Ball.

The Ireland Funds has named Gary Kelly, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Southwest Airlines, as the recipient of its 2020 Philanthropic Leadership Award. In addition, Enda Kenny, former prime minister of Ireland, was named the recipient of the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Both awards will be presented on Saturday, March 7th at the Texas Emerald Ball, which will be held at The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas beginning with a reception at 6:30 p.m.   


The Philanthropic Leadership Award honors an individual who has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to making a positive impact on the community through giving of time, talent and resources. The Lifetime Achievement Award honors an individual who has demonstrated outstanding civic and charitable efforts over a period of one’s life. 


This event raises funds for the support of hundreds of charities and causes across the island of Ireland and around the world. In addition, at Kelly’s request, a portion of the funds raised at this year’s Texas Emerald Ball will benefit Plano’s Emily’s Place, which works to break the cycle of violence faced by many women and their children.


The Ireland Funds’ Texas Director Darina Padian said, “We are privileged to recognize two such outstanding individuals in Gary Kelly and Enda Kenny. Gary’s accomplishments in the business world, and Enda’s in the political world, serve as shining examples of what can be accomplished when talented individuals work toward a higher calling in service to others. That they have also made a difference in the philanthropic world aligns well with The Ireland Funds’ aim to achieve ‘Progress through Philanthropy.’” 


Gary Kelly said, “Being of Irish descent, I am honored to receive this award from an organization whose mission is to support philanthropic and cultural initiatives in Ireland and among Irish communities around the world.”  


Maureen Kelly Cooper, executive director for Cushman & Wakefield, and Kathryn Cassidy, president and COO of Altair Global, are co-chairs for the Texas Emerald Ball.  Entertainment includes Ronan Tynan, an Irish tenor. After the program, guests are invited to stay for dancing with Manhattan Dance Band.


Special thanks to the following sponsors:


Texas Emerald Ball Sponsor: CFM International


Platinum Sponsor: GE Aviation


Gold Plus Sponsor: PwC


Gold Sponsor: Southwest Airlines, Shelly and Tom Codd, Dolores McCall/ McCall Oil and Gas


Silver Sponsor: Airlines for America, Altair Global, Boeing, Kevin Curley/Curley Financial Group, Cushman & Wakefield, GSD&M, H & K International


About The Ireland Funds:

The Ireland Funds is a global philanthropic network established in 1976 to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland, and Irish-related causes around the world. With chapters in 12 countries, The Ireland Funds has raised over $600 million for deserving causes in Ireland and beyond, benefiting more than 3,200 different organizations. For more information, visit


For event and sponsorship information for the March 7th event, please contact Judy Curtis, Dallas Event Coordinator, at or 469-232-9601.

About Gary Kelly:

Gary Kelly serves as the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Southwest Airlines. Under Gary’s leadership, Southwest has grown to become the nation’s largest airline in terms of originating domestic passengers carried and is a mainstay on Fortune magazine’s list of the most admired companies in the world, ranking 11th  in 2020.   


Gary is a 34-year Southwest veteran who began his career at Southwest Airlines as Controller, moving up to Chief Financial Officer and Vice President Finance, then Executive Vice President and CFO, before being promoted to CEO and Vice Chairman in July 2004. Gary assumed the roles of Chairman and President in 2008. In January 2017, Gary relinquished the title of President. Prior to joining Southwest Airlines in 1986, Gary was a CPA for Arthur Young & Company in Dallas and Controller for Systems Center, Inc.


Southwest Airlines is celebrating 47 years of consecutive profitability—a record unmatched in the commercial aviation industry. Southwest ranked as the highest Low-Cost Carrier for Customer Satisfaction in the J.D. Power North American Satisfaction Study for the third year in a row in 2019 and has been named as one of Glassdoor’s Best Places to work for the past ten consecutive years. For 24 of the last 28 years, the nation’s leading low-cost carrier has received the lowest ratio of Customer Complaints to the Department of Transportation (DOT), including the fewest number of DOT complaints in the last five years.


Gary’s biggest source of pride is the fact that Southwest Airlines has never had a single layoff in the airline’s 48-year history. Gary has pioneered the airline’s transformation through several major initiatives, including the acquisition of AirTran Airways, the repeal of the Wright Amendment, the launch of international destinations for the first time in Southwest’s history, the installment of a new reservation system, and the launch of service to Hawaii in 2019 —all while staying true to the Company’s core values and People-centric Culture.       


Gary has received numerous awards and recognitions over the years, including the 2020 Philanthropic Leadership Award by the Ireland Funds; the 2017 Wings Club Distinguished Achievement Award; he is a 2017 Junior Achievement Dallas Business Hall of Fame Laureate inductee; 2016 inductee into the Texas Business Hall of Fame; and he is the recipient of the prestigious 2016 Tony Jannus Award. Gary was twice named D CEO Magazine’s CEO of the Year; he’s been named one of the best CEOs in America by Institutional Investor magazine three times. In 2010, Gary was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas at Austin, and in 2013, Gary was inducted into the McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame at the University of Texas at Austin. Gary received the 2013 Father of the Year Award; and Gary was the recipient of the 2013 McLane Leadership in Business Award at Texas A&M University.     


Gary is a lifelong Texan and received a B.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. As a proud alumnus, Gary has served the University in a number of capacities, including on the McCombs School Advisory Council. Gary is a Certified Public Accountant and serves on the Board of Directors of the Lincoln National Corporation and Airlines for America, the airline industry advocacy group (serving as Chairman from 2012 - 2014). Gary is on the Board of Regents for the National Air and Space Museum and is a current member of the Business Council and the Southwestern Medical Foundation Board of Trustees.


About Enda Kenny:

Enda Kenny was born in Co. Mayo and attended St. Patrick’s College of Education and National University of Ireland, Galway.


In 1975 at the age of 24, he was elected to the Dáil and became its youngest member. As the longest serving current member of the Dáil, Enda has been named the “Father” of the Dáil. He is now retired.


Throughout his political career, he has held multiple leadership positions in the Irish government including serving as Minister for Education and Tourism and Trade, as well as Vice President of The European People’s Party.


In 2002, Enda became Leader of Fine Gael and led the party for 15 years, the longest period of any Fine Gael leader. Under his leadership, Fine Gael became the largest party at local, Dáil and European Parliament level, a result never achieved previously.

He became Taoiseach in March 2011 and again in May 2016, the first Fine Gael Leader to be re-elected Taoiseach in successive elections.


As Taoiseach from 2011 to 2017, Ireland became the fastest growing EU country for four successive years, unemployment reduced from 15.2% to less than 5%; interest rates on Irish borrowing fell from 15% to zero, the country’s credit rating was restored and access to financial markets was fully secured.


His tenure of office saw Ireland exit a Troika bailout, without condition, which resulted in the restoration of Ireland’s sovereignty and economic independence. He has always credited the Irish people for this outcome.


Married to Fionnuala and with three adult children, Enda splits his time between Mayo and Dublin.






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