Annual Nonprofit Symposium Set for May 3

Sherman Texas | April 22,2017

The second annual Texoma-area Nonprofit Symposium will be held Wednesday, May 3, from 11 a.m. to noon at Austin College in Wright Campus Center Room 254, featuring a panel discussion on effective partnerships, “Collaboration, Community, and Commitment.” The session, jointly sponsored by Austin College, United Way of Grayson County, and Texoma Women Get Connected, is free and open to the public.

That session will be immediately followed by a noon luncheon featuring a keynote presentation by Kourtny Garrett, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc. The luncheon also includes Austin College’s presentation of the ATHENA Leadership Award and ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award. Cost of the luncheon is $25 per person, and online registration is required by May 1 at The luncheon address and awards program are scheduled from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Wright Campus Center’s Mabee Hall. For more information, call 903.813.2041.


Aliah HenryThe morning panel discussion will feature Aliah Henry, CEO of Dallas Furniture Bank, and Teresa Jackson, CEO and executive director of Sharing Life in Mesquite, Texas.

Dallas Furniture Bank (DFB) provides furniture to families transitioning from homelessness, with a goal to restore normalcy and independence for clients. Since its establishment is in 2003, the nonprofit organization has provided furniture for over 3,269 families and has touched the lives of over 13,000 individuals. Henry manages a $780,000 operating budget and leads a team of five employees and two consultants and partners with a 17-member board of directors and more than 150 volunteers. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Morris College and is an Executive MBA candidate at Texas Christian University. She is a past Board Member of Literacy Instruction for Texas, the CEO Nonprofit Council, and Bryan’s House; a volunteer at Girls Inc. of Tarrant County, and has participated in events with Susan G. Komen 3-Day, Junior League, and March of Dimes.

Teresa JacksonSharing Life exists to demonstrate compassion by effectively and efficiently providing dignified, benevolent services to families in need in Mesquite and Southeastern Dallas County. says CEO and executive director Teresa Jackson.

Jackson said the nonprofit, benevolent organization’s primary goal is to come alongside individuals and families who need help obtaining the basic necessities of life. The organization provides a food pantry, clothes closet, utility assistance, assistance getting gasoline to search for a job or get to work, holiday and back-to-school programs to provide needed items, and educational programs that include job skills, interview skills, parenting classes, senior citizen outreach,  an addiction program, and a mentoring program for young, single mothers. Most importantly, she said, the services are delivered with not only compassion, but with a commitment to excellence using best practices to ensure the clients receive the best possible care.

Kourtney GarrettGarrett has been a member of the leadership team of Downtown Dallas, Inc., (DDI) since September 2002. She served as executive vice president from 2012 to 2016 when she took on the role of president of the economic development group, with the CEO position to begin in January 2017. In her work, Garrett’s goal is to transform downtown Dallas from a space that can be driven to and from, to a place where citizens and visitors can find community. A Dallas Morning News article called her “downtown Dallas’ biggest economic evangelist” and she’s determined to move the city forward. She serves on many Dallas-area boards, is a 2009 Leadership Dallas graduate, and has been included on the Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under Forty” list. “Downtown Dallas has re-positioned itself in recent years as not just the largest employment center in North Texas, but also as a premier destination to live, dine, shop, and be entertained,” she said. “New retailers, restaurants and cultural spots are opening at a more aggressive pace than ever, and with the adoption of expanded downtown boundaries, a new downtown has emerged.”

Recognized for her innovative leadership, Garrett is a champion for the development of livable communities and building public-private partnerships. She also leads the Downtown Dallas 360 plan and DDI’s education agenda. A 2000 graduate of Austin College, Garrett holds a master’s degree in urban affairs from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Athena InternationalATHENA AWARDS

The 2017 ATHENA Leadership Award honorees are Michelle Castle, branch manager of Guild Mortgage Company; Janis Fletcher, certified court clerk II with the Sherman Police Department; and Leigh Ann Sims, commercial loan officer at Legend Bank.

The Young Professional Award honorees are Trish Bridges, director of critical care services at WNJ Regional Medical Center, and Mikayla Stocks, volunteer coordinator/case worker/grant writer for Grayson County Shelter.

One recipient of each award will be announced during the luncheon

The ATHENA Leadership Award® is presented to individuals who have attained and embody the highest level of professional excellence in their business or profession, devote time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential. The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership nominees are emerging women leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession; provide valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in their community; and clearly serve as role models for young women both personally and professionally.

Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.