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Carmaleta Whiteley Felton, 2017 Woman of the Year; Executive Chef Tom Parlo, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek and host; Sharon Ballew, President, Les Femmes du Monde.

Barbara Daseke, Chair, Woman of the Year gala | Sharon Ballew, President, Les Femmes du Monde 

Les Femmes du Monde president and Lake Highlands resident Sharon Ballew announced Carmaleta Whiteley Felton, Uptown resident, as the 2017 Woman of the Year at a reception hosted and sponsored by The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. The award will be presented at the Wednesday, November 1 gala at the Dallas Country Club, chaired by Addison resident Barbara Daseke.

Guests enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres from savory to sweet prepared by Executive Chef Tom Parlo, who joined the Rosewood Mansion in October 2016.  He brings a wealth of culinary expertise to the organization due to his extraordinary travels and Michelin training.  He has been the Executive Chef of the Mandarin Oriental Miami, Executive Chef at St. Regis Bal Harbour, the Director of Culinary at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables and before moving to Dallas, Chef Tom was the Executive Chef at Hotel Granduca in Austin. 


Sharon shared a brief history of Les Femmes du Monde, which was founded in 1961 as a fundraising committee on behalf of the Dallas Council on World Affairs, now the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.  In 1987, Les Femmes became its own nonprofit organization. In 1995, Children’s Medical Center (now Children’s Health) was added as a second beneficiary.

The beneficiaries shared some interesting facts: Whitney Reilly from the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth said that over 10,000 youth have been impacted by support from Les Femmes du Monde. Jim Falk is president and CEO of the organization.

Kyra Barnett from Children’s Health said that Les Femme’s support of the Child Life program has benefited over 900,000 patients and the Pet Therapy program is a tremendous success.

Since its inception in 1961 Les Femmes du Monde has given over $670,000 to Children’s Health and $2 million to the World Affairs Council.

Sharon gave a brief history of Les Femmes du Monde’s first celebration of Woman of the Year beginning in 1986. Since that time, Les Femmes has honored a woman each year for their dedication and support to the Dallas Community.  Past honorees include ladies such as Laura Bush, First Lady of Texas; Ruth Altshuler, Mary Kay Ash, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Billie Leigh Rippey, Nancy Brinker, Ebby Halliday,  Lynn McBee, and Margaret McDermott to name a few.    


Announcements continued with Sharon’s remarks, saying, “This year’s honoree is dedicated to the causes she has chaired and has a deep commitment to inspire and help others.  She has chaired over 15 events including AWARE, KidneyTexas,  Dallas Children’s Theater Gala, The Mad Hatter’s Tea, The Leukemia Society St. Valentine’s Day Luncheon, The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show and Luncheon, and most recently, she co-chaired The Pat and Emmitt Smith Gala with her husband, Otis Felton.  She has served on 15 nonprofit boards and raised millions of dollars for nonprofits.  She was on the cover of Grand Luxe Magazine in 2008.  In 2011, she was named in D Magazine’s Dallas Dozen as one of the important people in Dallas and most recently was Paper City’s Bomb Girl. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome this year’s Woman of the Year, Carmaleta Whiteley.”

After a resounding round of applause, Carmaleta said, “I am truly humbled and honored to be named the 2017 Woman of the Year and so grateful to the committee of Les Femmes du Monde. I am following in the footsteps of so many amazing women who have given so much and are truly my heroes.”   

She continued, “An event chair has to be dedicated to the cause with a deep commitment and inspired to help others. You have to believe in what you are doing and gather an audience that believes in the cause you are working to enrich.”  But Carmaleta confessed that she has never asked for money. “I like to give opportunities.  An opportunity works for everyone and gives the donor a chance to become part of the team.   It is also very important to recognize that that your goal cannot be met without committees of volunteers to ensure a successful event.  They are the backbone of all we do.”

In a written statement, Barbara Daseke said, “She is one of the kindest, nicest ladies in Dallas.  Carmaleta is always interested in others and is very caring and thoughtful.  She makes things fun and people love to work with her. She is multi-talented and a great role model.”

From a young age, Carmaleta was sure she would be successful in business and was interested in something that seemed completely out of reach - commercial real estate management and leasing.  She began her career with Trammell Crow Company and went on to work for Lincoln Property Company and then to Los Angeles for Maguire Thomas Partners, thus working for three of the largest developers in the United States.  The high-rise project she managed in Los Angeles was like managing a small city.  “We had over 100 valet parking attendants and the valets parked over 3,000 cars a day,” Carmaleta replied. Today, she consults for an office building REIT with properties in five states.

With professional women like Carmaleta bringing their business experience to their nonprofit posts, the entire world of fundraising changed dramatically. The women with business backgrounds approach it differently and the community benefits from their expertise. Gone are the days of scribbled notes on legal pads.  Whiteley prepares professional proposals to encourage sponsors to donate.   “Everyone benefits when the professional and nonprofit world come together,” Sharon said, who has worked with Carmaleta on several projects.  “Carmaleta is a results-oriented event chair.  She brought professionalism to fundraising and raised the bar. She is a very gracious lady and always gives praise to others that work with her.”

Underwriting and sponsorships will be available for the 2017 Woman of the Year gala soon! For updates visit the website at 

More about the beneficiaries:  The Child Life Program at Children’s HealthSM Children’s Medical Center and the Global Young Leaders Program of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth. 

The Child Life Program’s primary goal is to minimize the impact of illness on a child’s normal growth and emotional and cognitive development.  This involves establishing supportive relationships with patients and families and providing them with developmentally-appropriate information that helps them prepare for, understand and cope with their healthcare experiences. 

The Global Young Leaders Program at the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth seeks to educate students and teachers on how international events affect  their lives, their communities, and their country.  The goal is to empower students to become effective, active global citizens and leaders in the community.  Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2014, this program has impacted more than 1 million students and trained more than 8,000 teachers since its inception in 2004."

 Photos by Dana Driensky

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