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Blake Lewis, Chairman of the Board, CISDR, Maggie Cooke Kipp, Soirée chair; Dr. Judith Allen-Bazemore, President and CEO, CISDR

Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region provided on-campus support to over 9,000 students in 2015-2016 school year!


The entrance to the Texas Discovery Gardens was covered in a beautiful shaded allée of trees welcoming the crowd to the CIS Soirée for Students benefiting Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region (CISDR) as they recently celebrated their 30th school year.

Dr. Judith Allen-Bazemore, President and CEO of CISDR welcomed guests with Blake D. Lewis III, Chairman of the Board, Soirée Chair Maggie Cooke Kipp, Honorary Chairs Katherine and Key Coker and CISDR Chief Philanthropy Officer, Lisa Loy Laughlin.

Patrons strolled and bid in the fabulous silent auction chaired by Sara and Bill Woodall while enjoying sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and a refreshing specialty cocktail, the Garden Mule, served in chilled copper cups. One insider said it was just like a Moscow mule, but with more herbs – certainly appropriate for this garden-themed event.

Spotted in the crowd catching up on news from over the summer were Anne Lindsey and Davin Hunt, chairs of the Line Drive Luncheon last spring; Caroline Rose Hunt, the 2016 Dream Achiever award honoree, presenting sponsor Alon USA, Children’s Challenge sponsor BBVA Compass, Ben Bazemore, Brice Beaird, past chairs Cynthia Beaird (2015) and Elsa Norwood (2009); Brenda and Clay Cockerell and more.

The program began with introductions by emcee, Mike Jones. Blake Lewis thanked the sponsors named above, as well as Malachite Sponsors DFW NCDA and Lewis Public Relations, Chrysalis Sponsors Serena Simmons Connelly and Turner Construction, and Benefactors Cherrise and Fredrik Cederqvist. Media Sponsors include PaperCity and Park Cities News and the Waters Family.

Blake gave special thanks to Katherine and Key Coker, relating a brief history of their business and numerous civic involvements, having most recently co-chaired the 2015 Dallas Symphony Orchestra gala and presented them with a gift of appreciation, followed by a rousing ovation.

Introducing Maggie Cooke Kipp, Blake praised her work as a community volunteer, hard-working CFO and mother of two daughters, also presenting her with a lovely gift while she received cheers and applause from the crowd.

Maggie talked about feeling very strongly about the importance of education, especially in the formative years, saying, “Many of the students CISDR works with don’t have anywhere else to turn, but CISDR has staff right on campus to be their most valuable allies,” mentioning the metaphor of CISDR being the chrysalis from which the students emerge as soaring butterflies. She urged everyone to take the opportunity to support and grow future leaders, citing that in the last 30 years, CISDR has touched the lives of nearly 250,000 students from kindergarten through graduation, surrounding them with a community of support and empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

Sara and Bill Woodall were invited on stage as Maggie related Bill’s military service in the Marine Corps, including service in Afghanistan. Both Sara and Bill work in Dallas and are very involved in the community. Maggie also revealed that Bill is a former student of Lisa Laughlin as they were brought on stage to receive a lovely gift and round of applause.

The invocation by E. Philip Bush, a CISDR board member, was followed by a hearty and delightful dinner, sweets for dessert and as a special treat, cupcakes as favors.

A moving video featured CISDR students sharing their heartfelt personal stories of struggles in family and school and achieving ultimate success, involving support from CISDR  not only in education, but also with social and behavioral intervention services.

Dr. Allen-Bazemore reminded everyone that CISDR serves families free of charge and that every penny counts. The average cost of serving one child is $500. Supporting CISDR and everything the organization accomplishes has a ripple effect, touching more lives than anyone will ever know.

A call for donations brought an enthusiastic response, followed by an energetic live auction of items such as a violin bass guitar signed by Sir Paul McCartney, a signed photo of Olympian gold medal winner Michael Phelps, a Caliber 22” Kamado High End Stainless Steel Grill, tickets to Hamilton in New York City and more.

Lisa Laughlin closed the program thanking everyone for their generosity as the DJ began his set with two popular songs, “Come Together” and “Thank You For Being a Friend.”

CISDR is a a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, founded in 1985 to address the growing number of high school dropouts in Dallas and surrounding areas. CISDR operates in 70 schools in nine school districts in Dallas, Collin, and Ellis counties, with over 78% of those students living in poverty and deemed “at-risk” of future failure by the Texas Education Agency. Among other results this school year, 96% stayed in school and CISDR high school intervention resulted in a 95% graduation rate.  

As the premier evidence/research based experts in K thru 12 academic, social and behavioral intervention services, CISDR’s professional staff provides direct services as well as connect community resources into schools in a coordinated, caring and cost-effective way. Funding serves local schools with over 80% of revenue supporting direct services to children in the community.

For more information, visit the website at, and

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