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Newsmakers:Local leaders in philanthropy to be honored at awards luncheon

The Fort Worth Metro Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals will recognize several outstanding nonprofit benefactors and boosters at the 2016 National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon on Nov. 17 in Fort Worth.

The luncheon is part of an international celebration of philanthropy – of giving, volunteering and charitable engagement. This year’s luncheon is the 36th annual awards ceremony presented by Fort Worth Metro Chapter AFP.

Helen and Jimmy Payton are the Distinguished Philanthropists for 2016. The couple’s roots run deep in the city of Euless, where the Payton family has lived since the 19th century and where Jimmy Payton was the city’s first mayor. The Payton Family Lobby and Helen Payton Chapel at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford are monuments to their community spirit.

Father-and-son Charles and James Powell are the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser. The first father-son team to co-chair the United Way of Tarrant County Annual Campaign, the Powells aid a range of causes, including the United Way, Arts Council of Fort Worth, Texas Wesleyan University and JPS Health Network. Charles Powell is president of Ciera Bank Fort Worth Region and James Powell is an attorney serving as assistant counsel for transportation at the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Bill McLeRoy, senior principal at The Whitestone Group, receives the Outstanding Professional Fundraising Executive-The Ben Franklin Award. Since 1986, McLeRoy has raised more than $35 million to benefit local and national organizations serving the arts, human services, health care, disability and aging, conservation and preservation, and offender reentry.

Motor Home Specialist, a family business owned by Doug and Sharon O’Banion, is the Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation. Whether as presenting sponsors of the Roadhouse concert series benefiting Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth or through support of Cook Children’s Health Foundation, Meals on Wheels or Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, the O’Banions have leveraged Motor Home Specialist’s success to benefit children, seniors, the families of fallen military personnel or severely wounded military personnel and veterans.

Southlake Women’s Club is the Outstanding Philanthropic Organization. Started in 1985 with six women and a pot of coffee, the nonprofit today has more than 150 members who have raised more than $2 million for more than 50 North Texas causes through events such as Art in the Square and the club’s annual School Supply Sale.

The Miles Foundation is this year’s Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation. It honors the legacy of its founder, Ellison Miles, through support of initiatives that strengthen parents and families in the early years of children’s development. The foundation has provided more than $15.5 million in grants for programs in education, economic opportunity and leadership development since 1999.

Breanna Brietske is this year’s Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy. Brietske, a Fort Worth Country Day 2016 graduate, transformed her family’s struggle with life-threatening illness into Art for a Cause, a student art competition she created to benefit Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth. Brietske is a college-bound student, artist and volunteer for a number of causes as well as the primary caregiver for her mother, who endured serious illness throughout her daughter’s high school career.

Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations

Project Partners added Kristin Kirkpatrick as an associate. Kirkpatrick will expand the firm’s capacity to serve clients in core service areas of community relations/communications, event management, program development, fundraising and board/volunteer engagement. Kirkpatrick formerly was at Texas Christian University, where she was the assistant director of conference services for more than eight years. Prior to that position, she worked in TCU’s student affairs department. She is a 2014 graduate of Leadership Fort Worth’s Leading Edge program.


Mackenzie McHale joined Ascension Group Architects-Environments for Health, an architecture firm focused exclusively on the health care industry, as an associate partner. McHale specializes in health care facilities architecture and has more than 14 years of experience designing buildings that facilitate healing and promote wellness. Her portfolio includes work with Baylor All Saints Medical Center on its renovation and expansion of the emergency department and with Covenant Health System, for which she provided a comprehensive master plan to reconfigure its facilities to support the efficient delivery of health care. Other notable projects include Methodist Charlton Medical Center, Providence Memorial Hospital and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. Prior to re-joining AGA-E4H, McHale was vice president at HKS, where she was responsible for supporting and coordinating the efforts of the project team and consultants throughout each phase of project development.

Boards & Organizations

The Public Relations Society of America elected Kay Barkin, Margaret C. Ritsch and Robert T. Hastings Jr. into the organization’s College of Fellows, PRSA’s honorary organization of more than 350 senior practitioners and educators, each of whom has left a significant footprint on the PR profession. Barkin, a social marketer at MHMR of Tarrant County, was a charter member of the Greater Fort Worth Chapter of PRSA. She served as secretary, president-elect and president of the PRSA North Texas Chapter. Ritsch is an instructor and faculty adviser for Roxo, Texas Christian University’s student-driven agency for strategic communication. She has served in many capacities with the Greater Fort Worth chapter’s board, including conducting research and legwork in 2011 to establish the Worthy Awards, which showcase exemplary programs and tactics created by area PR professionals. Hastings is executive vice president for Bell Helicopter. He previously was assistant secretary of defense for public affairs in President George W. Bush’s administration. While he was in Washington, D.C., he served on the local chapter board.


Haltom City Assistant City Manager Chuck Barnett retired from the city effective Sept. 6. Barnett served Haltom City for a little over 10 years, and his management career has spanned more than 43 years. He came to Haltom City after 14 years with the city of Bedford, where he held public management positions including director of parks and recreation, deputy city manager and city manager as well as the interim director for the economic development, public works and finance departments.

Honors & Awards

Ramon Lopez, University of Texas at Arlington physics professor, received the 2016 Richard Carrington Education and Public Outreach Award given by the Space and Aeronomy section of the American Geophysical Union. The award is presented in recognition of significant impact on students’ and the public’s understanding of science through education and/or outreach.

Kerry Knox, a senior financial adviser at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, was recognized by industry publications Financial Times, Barron’s magazine, and WealthManagement magazine in their annual “Top 400 Financial Advisors,” “America’s Top 1,200 Advisors,” and “Top 100 Wirehouse Advisors in 2016” lists, respectively. Knox is a member of the Knox, Dennis & Martin group and has been with Merrill Lynch since 2000. He played professional baseball for 11 years before joining Merrill Lynch. He is a qualified portfolio manager in the Merrill Lynch Investment Advisory Program.

Karl von Bieberstein, a principal at design firm RVi, will be honored as an Outstanding Alumnus of the Texas A&M College of Architecture on Oct. 14 in Bryan. His designs adorn Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Arlington, corporate campuses for Federal Express and May Kay and numerous civic projects, including Dallas’ city hall and public library, Veterans Memorial Plaza in McKinney and several parks in Richardson. From 1974-1979 he was senior landscape architect for the Dallas Park Department, overseeing development of the centennial master plan for the Old City Park Heritage Museum. He led the Texas chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects in the late 1970s and early ‘80s and was a visiting evaluator with the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board in the ‘80s. He also has served on professional advisory boards for landscape architecture programs at Oklahoma State University, where he received the program’s Distinguished Service Award in 2003, UT Arlington and Texas A&M University, where he is board chairman.

Gary Thomas, president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, has been named Outstanding Public Transportation Manager of the Year by the American Public Transportation Association. Thomas’ nearly 20-year tenure with DART has been marked by several signature moments: The DART Rail system has doubled in length twice, to 90 miles; capital projects have consistently come in under budget and ahead of schedule; the last Orange Line segment to the new Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Station opened in 2014, which connected the country’s longest light rail system to one of the world’s busiest airports; DART’s bus fleet has been converted to compressed natural gas; and the electric streetcars returned to downtown Dallas in 2015.

Arlington Independent School District Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos was among five Texas public school administrators selected as finalists for the annual Superintendent of the Year award, sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards. With 17 years of administration experience, Cavazos serves about 63,000 students. He has led Arlington ISD for four years. The selection committee cited his outreach and agreements with local universities to secure automatic admission for the top 20 percent of district juniors and his emphasis on training to strengthen the leadership skills of aspiring principals and assistant principals. The award winner will be announced Sept. 23 at the TASA/TASB Convention in Houston.

The Research and Learning Center, a research and education project at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, has received the Exemplifying the Mission Award from The International Mind, Brain and Education Society. The RLC began in 2014 as a collaboration between the museum and the Southwest Center for Mind, Brain and Education at UT Arlington’s College of Education.

Send newsmakers to Betty Dillard at

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