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North Texas Area Community Health Centers Photo credit: North Texas Area Community Health Centers/Simon Luna

North Texas Area Community Health Centers (NTACHC), located in three medically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Tarrant County, have created informational videos in English and Spanish to encourage the community to get the COVID vaccine when it comes available.



With two centers in Fort Worth and one in Arlington, NTACHC has started inoculating high-risk patients who qualify based on state guidelines.  Those who are eligible for the vaccine immediately will be placed on NTACHC’s waitlist. As the centers receive more vaccine doses, they will contact those on the waiting list. NTACHC encourages people to sign up for other waitlists as well.

Dr. Patricia Rodriguez, NTACHC interim chief medical officer, said, “The COVID vaccine is the most important weapon to stop the virus’ spread. Getting the shot is the best way to keep you and your family safe.”

NTACHC was founded in 2002 as a federal qualified health center to provide high quality medical services, to serve as a safety net for the lower-income population, and to help successfully address health disparities in the community.

Dr. Rodriguez added, “Our mission is to improve health and wellness through accessible, compassionate and quality healthcare services for all. By getting the word out about the vaccine in dual languages, we’re hoping to educate more people about getting inoculated.”

In addition to giving COVID vaccines, NTACHC provides a full range of primary care services including adult care, pediatric care, women’s health and behavioral health, along with pharmacy, lab tests, diabetes management, health education and wellness. For more information or to become a patient, visit or call 817-625-4254.

About North Texas Area Community Health Centers:

A nonprofit organization, North Texas Area Community Health Centers are a community family medical practice that offers a full-range of primary and preventative healthcare services to patients throughout Tarrant County. In 2002, NTACHC was founded as a federally qualified health center to provide high quality medical services, to serve as a safety net for the lower-income population, and to help successfully address health disparities in the community. Open to all, NTACHC has three community-centered medical homes: Northside Community Health Center, Southeast Community Health Center and Arlington Community Health Center. For more information, visit or call 817-625-4254.

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In a joint venture partnership, Pillar Commercial and Hall Capital have acquired the 120,170 RSF Class A office building, One Bethany East.  The property opened in 2018 and is located in Allen, Texas immediately adjacent to the Watters Creek Convention Center and Delta Hotel by Marriott.  It is also directly across the street from the Watters Creek at Montgomery Farms mixed-use development.

“One Bethany East is a premier Class A office project with strong tenancy,” said Manny Ybarra, Founder & CEO of Pillar Commercial.  “It is representative of the City of Allen’s impressive work to grow its corporate tax base with high-quality office and mixed-use developments.”

Pillar Commercial completed the acquisition through Pillar Real Estate Fund I (PREF I), a fully-discretionary investment vehicle focused on office and industrial properties throughout the state of Texas.  One Bethany East is the fund’s fourth investment.  

Pillar Commercial plans on relocating its corporate office to One Bethany East from Preston Center in the 2nd quarter of 2021.

Hall Capital is a 100-year old family-owned private investment company headquartered in Oklahoma City that actively invests in automotive and real estate.

“This investment fits perfectly for our latest real estate fund,” said Kirk Hall, Vice Chairman of Hall Capital.  “Fund II targets stabilized office and industrial throughout the southeastern United States, Oklahoma & Texas. One Bethany East fits that criteria perfectly.”

“We have been talking to Manny about investment opportunities since we made our first office investment in Uptown Dallas years ago,” said Clay Moss, Managing Director and COO of Real Estate for Hall Capital.  “We’ve become friends and look forward to becoming partners on One Bethany East.”

One Bethany East was built by Kaizen Development Partners and is home to a number of high-profile tenants including, the Credit Union of Texas, Boss Fight and the Allen Economic Development Corporation.  The property includes a state-of-art fitness center, meeting space and tenant lounge.  There is a connected four-level parking structure with almost 600-spaces.  

“We ran a very exhaustive process to find the most responsible buyer for One Bethany East,” said Derrick Evers, Managing Director and CEO of Kaizen Development Partners.  “Our mission, if we were ever to sell one of our buildings, is to find a group of likeminded individuals to carry forward high standards for our tenants and the City of Allen.  Pillar Commercial I’m proud to say exceeded expectations” 

The city of Allen is an emerging hub for corporate relocations, and over the past ten years has become a leader within the North Texas region in terms of business base expansion, residential development, and cultural arts.  The city has experienced tremendous growth as evidenced by the doubling of the population over the past 20 years, and a 70% growth in workforce in just the last decade.

MetLife Investment Management provided senior debt financing to the Pillar/Hall partnership.  Brian Carlton and De’On Collins with JLL brokered the debt on behalf of the buyer.  Jack Crews and Parker McCormack with JLL represented the seller, Kaizen Development Partners.  

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MCHS 50th Anniversary A child explores and learns using a globe.

Located in the heart of Dallas’ Lake Highlands neighborhood, Montessori Children’s House and School (MCHS) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Since it was founded, MCHS has grown and prospered—expanding from a handful of students led by one teacher in a rented home on Blair Road, to more than 90 students in a first-class educational center on an expansive 3.5 acre property. MCHS provides an authentic and accredited Montessori education to children 3 to 6 years of age, a time when they are naturally enabled with the capacity to make substantial leaps in their academic, cognitive and social development.

According to Christa Montague, MCHS head of school and alum parent, “The Montessori approach is truly unique—with mixed ages and emphasis on individualized learning, Montessori classrooms consist of a community of learners immersed in purposeful activity. By encouraging exploration and discovery, emphasizing the importance of personal responsibility, and providing the joy of choice, our school helps students develop into lifelong learners who realize the satisfaction and confidence that can only be derived from personal accomplishment.”

Since MCHS’ founding, more than 1,000 students have attended the school and now live around the globe. These alumni continue to be “Lifelong Learners,” which is also the school’s 50th anniversary theme. In honor of its anniversary, MCHS is asking for former students to share photos and memories by submitting them online at and to post memories on a private Facebook page. 

Clint Bowers, MCHS board of directors president and MCHS alum parent, said, “Dreaming of a different kind of learning experience for their children, two Southern Methodist University alumni, Mary and Carl Schwalm, founded Montessori Children’s House and School in 1970. Under their clear vision and strategic direction, the first MCHS families planted the seeds of our legacy by supporting what has become an exceptional Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) accredited school. I see how this education set my children on the path of being lifelong learners, and we want even more children to benefit from this type of learning.”

Montague added, “Dallas is home to the Montessori Institute of North Texas (MINT), one of only a handful of training programs in the United States where adults can receive an Association Montessori International diploma. Students travel from around the country and abroad to join the intensive AMI training known for its quality and authenticity. As part of the training, teacher trainees must observe and interact with children, and MCHS partners with MINT to help create the next generation of Montessori educators.”

The Schwalms led the first MCHS board and its first families to open the fall of 1970 on Blair Road. Shortly thereafter, the group located and purchased a wooded lot at 7335 Abrams Road where MCHS currently resides. 

After a highly-anticipated one year remodel from 2008-2009, the school expanded to meet the growing local demand for quality Montessori education. While it has grown bigger, MCHS continues to guide children’s development using the same principles and methods Maria Montessori herself developed more than 100 years ago. Staying true to its mission, Montessori Children’s House and School is serving children during the pandemic by making necessary adaptations for the safety of its staff and children.

The original program and property included farm land for growing crops. Produce was grown and sold by the children at a farmers market. They also cared for a variety of livestock including a sheep that the children sheared for wool, horses to plow their fields, as well as chickens and goats.

Today MCHS boasts of similar animal friends in their care, including a pair of two-year-old goat brothers named A.J. and P.D., Jr. and a brood of chickens. The MCHS Butterfly Gardens, a recent addition, is certified by Texas Discovery Gardens. These gardens are designed to attract and sustain caterpillars and butterflies alike, supporting the local ecosystem, while providing MCHS students a hands-on experience exploring natural life cycles.  

Bowers added, “As a 50th Anniversary gift to MCHS, the Board of Directors has established a formal fund entitled The Next50 Fund to raise $150,000 to plant seeds for future generations of MCHS students in three ways:

  • Provide tuition assistance for families demonstrating a financial need;
  • Provide a safety net in times of unforeseen financial challenge;
  • Provide seed money for long-term projects such as the Experience Gardens, where we plan to further expand the MCHS Butterfly Gardens and transform our grounds into an exquisite outdoor learning environment.”

For more information about The Next50 Fund please email 

Founded in 1970, Montessori Children’s House and School is dedicated to providing a quality and AMI (Association Montessori International) Montessori education to children ages 3 to 6 years of age. The mission of MCHS is to help each child reach his or her full potential in all areas of development. This goal is accomplished by creating a prepared environment that helps foster each child’s self-reliance and confidence.  For more information about MCHS, please visit, email or call 214.348.6276.

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Joel Durbin

Seasoned nonprofit veteran Joel Durbin recently joined The Concilio as the Chief Impact Officer responsible for the organization’s programming. Durbin comes to The Concilio with more than 15 years in the nonprofit sector, specifically in education and youth development. He will oversee the organization’s culturally responsive parent engagement programs, as well as the organization’s work advocating for Latino families in the North Texas community.

Most recently, Durbin served as chief program officer at Equal Heart. He has also worked as chief operating officer at Education is Freedom and Trinity River Mission (TRM), as well as director of education impact at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, managing its Destination: Graduation program and other education initiatives. At Camp Fire USA Lone Star Council, Durbin served as director of program services and interim executive director, and he worked as a consultant for Dallas Independent School District’s afterschool enrichment program. A Dallas native, Durbin is a graduate of The University of North Texas. He has served on the board of the Mayor’s Star Council and was part of the second Class of 2013-14.

Florencia Velasco Fortner, The Concilio president and CEO, said, “With Joel’s background in education and program development, he is the perfect fit for this newly created position. Joel will help The Concilio respond to the needs in our community, collaborate with Latino families, and scale our impact across North Texas.”

The Concilio is a North Texas nonprofit that has helped Latino and other diverse families unlock their potential since 1981. The organization’s culturally responsive parent engagement programs have empowered families in 24 regional school districts, equipping 11,000 families annually to forge a path to greater academic achievement, health and fulfilled potential. A recognized leader in connecting with and advocating for North Texas Latino families, The Concilio has recently led efforts to address the impact of COVID-19 on the Hispanic community and has reached more than 76,000 Dallas County residents with information about the importance of the 2020 U.S. Census.

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Census Walk Gloria F., Alex R., Zoey B., Rose P.

While most high school students are too young to complete a household census themselves, they know that a complete census count has a strong impact on their futures, too.

As the October 31st deadline for self-reporting approaches, a group of about 50 civic-minded teenagers, led by the nonprofit organization The Concilio, partnered with Dallas County Counts to block walk on October 3rd. The teenagers fanned out across Pleasant Grove, Bachman Lake and Northeast Dallas, where self-reporting numbers remain behind local and national averages. Over the course of three hours, they knocked on more than 500 doors to spread the message about the importance of the 2020 U.S. Census.

Florencia Velasco Fortner, The Concilio president and CEO, said, “We want to make sure everyone counts, particularly in these underrepresented neighborhoods. The Census numbers determine funding for schools, roads, hospitals and services as well as congressional representation for Texans to thrive for the next decade.”

For those needing to fill out the Census, go online at or over the phone in English by dialing 844-330-2020 or in Spanish at 844-468-2020.


Dallas County Counts is Dallas County’s effort to ensure a complete and accurate count in our region. Responses to the 2020 U.S. Census questionnaire will allocate funding for everything from schools, hospitals and roads to emergency response and disaster relief. For every person that is undercounted during the 2020 Census, each city in Dallas County could potentially lose more than $15,000 in federal funding per person during a 10-year timeframe. Even a 1% undercount in Dallas County, given its current population, would result in a loss of more than $40 million a year in federal funding.


The Concilio, a nonprofit that helps parents unlock the potential in their children and communities, has been serving Latino and other diverse North Texas communities in a culturally relevant way since 1981. The organization is a Census outreach partner of Dallas County Counts, Dallas County’s effort to ensure a complete and accurate count in our region. The event is part of a larger campaign by The Concilio that also includes outreach at area food distributions and apartment complexes, as well by social media, text and phone to some of the hardest-to-count areas. More information can be found at


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The Kessler School Eliza Solender of Solender/Hall; Vanessa Ullmann, Head of School for The Kessler School; Cooper Koch, The Kessler School board chairman

The Kessler School, a pre-K through 8th grade private school in North Oak Cliff, has completed the purchase of its new campus, located at 1822 W. 10th Street in Dallas, formerly the long-time home of Calvary Baptist Church of Oak Cliff. Located in the Sunset Hill neighborhood of Oak Cliff, the new campus totals more than 60,000 square feet across two acres. The Kessler School currently leases approximately 12,000 square feet at the nearby Kessler Park United Methodist Church.

Eliza Solender of Solender/Hall, represented The Kessler School. The seller was represented by Roosevelt Broach of Church Realty, Inc., which specializes in churches and schools.

With an eye for finding unique spaces and repurposing churches, stores and warehouses for schools and nonprofits, Solender/Hall worked closely with the school to find its new campus. “The Kessler School had to be in a specific geographic area, needed more space—both indoors and outdoors—to be able to increase enrollment and expand programs. When we walked into this historic church, we knew it was the perfect place.”

The Kessler School plans restoration of the original neoclassical architecture, updates to interior spaces to better allow for personalized education and technology, repurposing the current sanctuary into a gymnasium/multi-use performance space and the addition of sports fields, playgrounds and other landscaped outdoor spaces. The school expects to begin operating at the new campus in Fall 2021.

“This new location paves the way for The Kessler School’s continued growth and supports our mission to provide high-quality, personalized education in Oak Cliff,” said Vanessa Ullmann, Head of School. “The increased square footage - more than five times what we have now - will also allow us to add more students and expand our programming significantly for future generations of TKS Owls.”

“The response we’ve received from our new neighbors in the Sunset Hill neighborhood, as well as those who have been concerned about the future of the structures themselves, has been overwhelmingly positive. We look forward to reactivating these gorgeous old buildings while continuing to grow The Kessler School as an asset and contributor to North Oak Cliff’s success,” said Cooper Koch, President of the school’s Board of Trustees.

The sanctuary was built in 1924, followed by the addition of an educational annex in 1953. In the 1960s, the sanctuary was “modernized” with the addition of a brise soleil facade to cover the neoclassical columns.

BancorpSouth and The Real Estate Council Community Fund financed the project as the school ramps up its Capital Campaign to bring the full potential of the new campus to fruition.

Since 1991, Solender/Hall has been assisting nonprofit organizations buy, sell and lease commercial real estate in the North Texas area. The firm has been highly successful in finding unique spaces, often repurposing banks, stores, warehouses, bowling alleys and churches into new nonprofit locations. Find out more at or by calling 214.265.8200.



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Teresa Lenling, CEO of Hope Cottage photo credit: Simon Luna

Hope Cottage, a nonprofit that fosters nurturing homes for North Texas children through adoption, foster care, education and parent support, has named Teresa Lenling as its new CEO, effective immediately. A proven nonprofit leader experienced in strategic management, community engagement and program design, she most recently served as vice president of school and community engagement at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.

“We believe Teresa is the ideal leader to help Hope Cottage continue building on its strong, 102-year foundation of adoption services through our expanding work in foster care, new parent support and teen education,” said Kerry Fitzgerald, chair of the Hope Cottage board of directors. “As we embark on a new strategic plan this year, she has the right mix of expertise and community connections to increase the impact and visibility of our work, ensuring children grow up in the best environments possible.”

Lenling’s experience designing and advancing education programs to reach the Perot Museum’s diverse regional audiences aligns with Hope Cottage’s work educating and supporting current and potential parents across North Texas, from young birth mothers and teens at risk for pregnancy, to those looking to foster children or grow their families through adoption.

“Every parent is on a continual learning journey on how to best nurture their child,” said Lenling. “I can think of no mission more worthy, no challenge I am more honored to take on, than helping parents of all backgrounds be educated and prepared to give children safe, loving homes that help them grow and thrive.”

At the Perot Museum, Lenling crafted the vision and operations for the museum’s education programs when it opened its new downtown Dallas location in 2012. In addition, she designed the museum’s new TECH (Tinker, Engineer, Create, Hack) Truck mobile maker initiative, launching a comprehensive outreach and engagement strategy that broke down barriers and engaged communities that do not typically visit a science museum. These and other program initiatives, such as a STEM Teacher Institute and offsite school programs, grew in part due to her collaborative work with key community organizations and leaders, as well as her contributions to sponsorship and philanthropic strategy.

Prior to her work at the Perot Museum, Lenling was the director of public engagement at the Science Center of Iowa. She is currently completing her MBA this year through Baylor University and holds bachelor of science degrees in both psychology and biology from the University of South Dakota. She has served on the Deans Advisory Council for the School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communication at University of Texas Dallas, the STEM Advisory Committee for Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and the sySTEMS Club Board for Parish Episcopal School.

Lenling succeeds Brooks Quinlan, who served as Hope Cottage CEO since 2017 and is taking a personal sabbatical to travel across North America.

Hope Cottage is a nonprofit organization that nurtures and builds families through education, parent support, foster care and adoption services. Founded in 1918, the organization is the oldest non-sectarian, nonprofit adoption center in Dallas. The organization has expanded its services to include other programming that ensures all children grow up in safe, nurturing homes, including licensing and placing children with foster families, providing one-on-one support to young mothers and bringing preventative, healthy relationship education to teens in schools. In 2019, Hope Cottage merged with Dallas-based Alley’s House and adopted its program helping pregnant and parenting young mothers achieve academic, workplace and childrearing success. For more information about Hope Cottage, visit, or connect on Facebook @HopeCottage or Instagram @Hope_Cottage.

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Thousands of North Texas families have not responded to the U.S. Census, so the nonprofit organization The Concilio continued its Census outreach through block-walking last night with 20 volunteers and staff in Bachman Lake, currently the most undercounted neighborhood in the city of Dallas. With the recent news of data collection ending a month early, The Concilio is doubling efforts to get the area counted. To date, the organization has reached almost 42,000 households in Dallas County through outreach with its families, phone banks and block-walking. Last night’s efforts reached nearly 240 households. 

On Aug. 3, the Census Bureau issued a statement stating that it “will end field data collection by September 30, 2020…self-response options will also close on that date to permit the commencement of data processing. Under this plan, the Census Bureau intends to meet a similar level of household responses as collected in prior censuses, including outreach to hard-to-count communities.”

Florencia Velasco Fortner, The Concilio president and CEO, said, “We want to encourage all families to be counted, especially as state numbers are tied to funding and representation for many of the programs, schools and services that benefit them.”

Self-Reporting Statistics as of 8/4/20:

Bachman Lake area response rates: 24.36%-29.98%

Dallas County Response Rate: 58.6%

Texas Self-Response: 57.9%

National Self-Response: 62.9%

Responses to the 2020 U.S. Census questionnaire will allocate funding for everything from schools, hospitals and roads to emergency response and disaster relief. As of July 22, only 57.9% of Lone Star residents had completed their questionnaires, making Texas 39th among the 50 states. This low response rate endangers billions of dollars in future funding and the state’s representation in Congress.

Residents can self-respond to the Census online at or over the phone in English by dialing 844-330-2020 or in Spanish at 844-468-2020.

About The Concilio: The Concilio, a nonprofit that helps parents unlock the potential in their children and communities, has been serving Latino and other diverse North Texas communities in a culturally relevant way since 1981. The event is part of a larger campaign by The Concilio that also includes census outreach at area food distributions and apartment complexes, as well by social media, text and phone to some of the hardest-to-count areas.

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Grant Halliburton Foundation Created by Grant Halliburton Foundation, the free Navigation Line is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The helpline assists individuals of all ages in finding the appropriate mental health and addiction resources, including Telehealth options. The Navigation Line will remain open during the pandemic. Spanish language assistance is also available.

With the country rolling out social distancing measures due the coronavirus (COVID-19), North Texans are facing a new reality that may prove to be stressful for some people. Fear and anxiety about the pandemic can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in children, teens and adults.


Cami Fields, LMSW, director of outreach and education at Dallas-based nonprofit Grant Halliburton Foundation, offers tips and resources for children, adolescents and adults coping with this challenging time during the shelter-in-place orders:


Tips for Coping (children and teenagers):

  • Take a break. Our society is inundated by information overload – the COVID-19 outbreak has exacerbated that. Find time in your day to put your phone down and stop consuming news and information about the virus. You need some time away from it to breathe.
  • Connect. It can be hard to nurture your relationships when you aren’t seeing your peers anymore. This is where the beauty of social media and the internet can be so wonderful! Check on your friends, have a virtual dinner date, chat about what shows you’ve been watching – don’t put your friendships on the backburner; you need each other now more than ever.
  • Find joy. During a time of so much uncertainty and stress, find small things that bring you joy. This could be going for a jog, painting, drawing, writing, singing, playing music, doing yoga, making videos, or anything else that you enjoy. These positive outlets cannot be underestimated; sometimes when you least “feel like” doing them, is when you need them the most!
  • Speak up. If you are overwhelmed and unsure of how to feel better or stop worrying, talk to a trusted adult about how you’re feeling. Oftentimes, expressing your emotions and talking about how you feel makes you feel better even when the situation or problem hasn’t changed. You don’t have to feel what you feel alone. 
  • Sleep. It can be hard to make your sleep a priority. There are countless distractions and barriers to getting good sleep, but it can be a huge factor in your mood, emotional stability, and positive thinking. Start a nighttime routine that you do every night to alert your body that you are about to go to sleep; this can include things like washing your face, drinking a glass of water, doing a 5-minute meditation, putting your phone away, or lowering the lights.


Tips for Coping (adults):

  • Create routines. So much is out of control and unpredictable right now. Strive for consistency and predictability where you can in your home.
  • Validate feelings. It is easy to try to make someone feel better by saying, “at least…” comments or trying to put a silver lining on things. Sometimes our kids need to be able to express themselves and be validated that what is going on is hard and it is okay to feel what they feel. 
  • Model healthy stress relief. Show your kids that even when times are hard, you can use positive activities to relieve your stress. Don’t try to hide your worry – be honest with them about how you are feeling but show them positive ways to manage it. More is caught than taught. 
  • Connect. During a time of social distancing and quarantine, it is more important than ever to nurture your connections and have a support system. Don’t underestimate the power of checking in on someone and letting them know you care.
  • Self-care. We all know that you must put on your own oxygen mask first before you can help someone else. Don’t expect yourself to do everything for everyone and neglect yourself. Take some “me time,” do something you enjoy, replenish your energy.

Additional North Texas Resources:


Here For Texas Mental Health Navigation Line 


Created by Grant Halliburton Foundation, the free Navigation Line is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The helpline assists individuals of all ages in finding the appropriate mental health and addiction resources, including Telehealth options. The Navigation Line will remain open during the pandemic. Spanish language assistance is also available.


Grant Halliburton Foundation’s Pandemic Resources Page

This page includes other mental health websites, helplines, information about the virus and articles on how to cope. It will be updated as the pandemic continues.


Grant Halliburton Foundation’s Resources for Teens Page

This page includes websites, podcasts, apps, and crisis lines that are all relevant and safe for teens.


Grant Halliburton Foundation was established in 2006 in memory of a Dallas teen who battled depression and bipolar disorder for several years before his suicide death at the age of 19. The Foundation that bears his name works to help families and young people recognize the signs of mental illness through a variety of avenues including education, conferences, collaboration and encouragement. Grant Halliburton Foundation works to strengthen the network of mental health resources for children, teens and young adults; promote better mental health; and help prevent suicide. The Foundation provides mental health education, training and support to more than 49,000 students, educators, parents, and professionals annually. More information can be found at      

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The Ireland Funds Texas Emerald Ball David Cronin, The Ireland Funds America president and CEO Enda Kenny, Former Prime Minister of Ireland and The Ireland Funds Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines chairman of the board and chief executive officer and The Ireland Funds’ 2020 Philanthropic Leadership Award honoree Eugene M. McQuade, The Ireland Funds America chairman Darina Padian, The Ireland Funds Texas director

From the moment guests arrived at The Adolphus Hotel on March 7 for The Ireland Funds Texas Emerald Ball, they were surrounded by all things Irish, including the décor, beverages, entertainment and honorees. The annual event raises funds for the support of hundreds of charities and causes across the island of Ireland and around the world. This year, at the request of honoree Gary Kelly, a portion of the funds raised also benefited Plano’s Emily’s Place.

Eugene M. McQuade, The Ireland Funds America chairman, welcomed special guests at the Chairman’s Reception, where they met Kelly, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Southwest Airlines; also honored was Enda Kenny, former prime minister of Ireland.

When it was time for the dinner and program, a bagpiper played and led guests to the upstairs ballroom, which was exquisitely decorated for the occasion.

To continue the festive mood and excitement, the Maguire Academy of Irish Dance performed to much clapping and fanfare.

Darina Padian, The Ireland Funds Texas director, welcomed guests. “I want to thank and recognize our amazing Emerald Ball Sponsor, CFM International, Platinum Sponsor, GE Aviation and Southwest Airlines for their incredible commitment. Thank you also to our generous table hosts and other incredible sponsors who make this all possible. This Ball would not take place without the drive and commitment of our Emerald Ball Co-Chairs, Maureen Kelly Cooper and Kathryn Cassidy, and our committee, who have worked so hard to make this evening such a success.”

Padian introduced Eugene M. McQuade, The Ireland Funds America chairman. McQuade said, “Thanks to you and your partnership with The Ireland Funds, that generosity translates every day into tangible change for those who need it most. Whether it is strengthening peace in Northern Ireland, preserving cultural treasures, offering access to education for the next generation, or strengthening communities through grassroots initiatives, The Ireland Funds is there. Your involvement makes a profound difference 365 days a year and for that, we salute you.”

He added, “Our Texas chapter has been faithful in its support and  long term commitment to the work of The Ireland Funds. In particular, I want to thank our Texas-based donors and National Board Members Dolores McCall, Thomas Codd and Kevin Curley for their time, their commitment and their care.”

To bless the evening and the dinner, Rev. Bill Shaw, director of 174 Trust from Northern Ireland, a project supported by The Ireland Funds, gave the invocation. Guests dined on a delicious dinner of charred corn and poblano soup, grilled filet mignon with roasted garlic, au gratin potatoes, zucchini and heirloom carrots. The dessert trio included Texas whiskey cake, fresh fruit tart and flourless chocolate cake.

David Cronin, The Ireland Funds America president and CEO, then introduced Enda Kenny, former prime minister of Ireland. Cronin expressed his gratitude to Kenny who he praised for his leadership stating, “The measure of his leadership was extraordinary at that time. It was truly a Celtic comeback. We also appreciate his long-standing support of The Ireland Funds.”

Kenny told stories about being the prime minister and helping Ireland during highs and lows, including an increase in business and commerce. He thanked The Ireland Funds for its leadership, support and mission, which is to harness the power of a global philanthropic network of friends of Ireland to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across the island of Ireland and among Irish communities around the world.

Cronin, along with Padian and McQuade, presented Kenny with the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors an individual who has demonstrated outstanding civic and charitable efforts over a period of one’s life. 

Next, auctioneer Morgon Hopson got the crowd excited about the live auction items, such as an Emerald Isle trip for two, a stay for 16 at the Dunkerron Manor Estate in Ireland, a Belize Adventure and a Santa Fe private home.

Thomas Codd, The Ireland Funds America board member, introduced Tom Nealon, Southwest Airlines president, who then introduced Gary Kelly. Before Kelly came to the stage, Nealon talked about Southwest Airlines’ community service and showed a video highlighting Kelly’s philanthropic leadership.

Nealon and Kenny then presented Kelly with The Ireland Funds’ 2020 Philanthropic Leadership Award, which honors an individual who has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to making a positive impact on the community through giving of time, talent and resources. Kelly, who is of Irish descent, said, “I am honored to receive this prestigious award. I am so proud to be a part of The Ireland Funds.” His personal and Southwest Airlines families were on hand to congratulate and celebrate with him.

To close the program, internationally known Irish tenor Ronan Tynan sang a few songs, closing with “God Bless America.” Guests enjoyed visiting afterwards, drinking Irish coffee and dancing to the Manhattan Dance Band’s lively popular music.

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 Thomas W. Codd, Dolores L. McCall

Silver Sponsor: Airlines for America, Altair Global, Boeing, Kevin M. Curley/Curley Financial Group, LLC, Cushman & Wakefield, Fidelity Residential Solutions, GSD&M, H+K International

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 information on The Ireland Funds Texas, please contact Judy Curtis, Dallas Event Coordinator, at or 469-232-9601.