Barbara Daseke, Chair, Woman of the Year gala
Sharon Ballew, 2017 President, Les Femmes du Monde
Les Femmes du Monde supporter and longtime community leader Carmaleta Whiteley Felton was celebrated as the Les Femmes du Monde 2017 Woman of the Year at the gala dinner held at the Dallas Country Club, chaired by Barbara Daseke.
Les Femmes du Monde president Sharon Ballew welcomed guests and gave 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. 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.
Barbara said she was honored to chair such a wonderful event and shared that she and Carmaleta have been friends for years saying, “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.”
Emcee Ron Corning, WFAA Channel 8 Daybreak anchor, talked about his friendship with Carmaleta and praised her for her tireless dedication to the community, her involvement as a volunteer and the strength and integrity she brings to everything she is involved in.
Otis Felton, Carmaleta’s husband, gve the invocation, follwed by a most delicious dinner of a panzanella salad, an entrée of braised short ribs and roasted chicken breast with gouda gristmill grits, buttered haricot verts with cabernet pan gravy and delectible desserts of variety of small cakes garnished with strawberries and raspberry sauce.
Skip Hollandsworth, always a most entertaining keynote speaker, shared a story he had written as an executive editor of Texas Monthly, titled The Man Who Love Cat Burgling, which had most of the guests nodding and remembering the circumstances of the events.
After a lovely tribute video showcasing many of Dallas’ top business and community leaders, Sharon presented Carmaleta with the Woman of the Year Award
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.” She also noted she was carrying one of her mother’s purses, saying she has followed in her mother’s footsteps, deeply committed and she always inspired others.
Whitney Reilly, VP Development and Partnerships, along with Amy Miller, Director of Education, representing the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth and one of the beneficiaries, spoke about the Young Leaders Program sponsored by the council and supported by Les Femmes du Monde. 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."
Brent Christopher, president and CEO of Children’s Health, spoke about the Child Life Program at Children’s Health, one of the beneficiaries, thanking everyone for their support and said the 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.
Les Femmes du Monde’s first celebration of Woman of the Year began 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.
Membership in Les Femmes du Monde is open to the public and has many benefits, including events at private homes. Join through the website at www.lesfemmesdumonde.org
Photos by Dana Driensky.