By Ben Swanger
D CEO recently presented awards in 21 categories at its third annual Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship Awards program, broadcast live from our headquarters in downtown Dallas. Here’s a look at the individuals honored in the Leadership Excellence, Large Organizations category.
Winner: Paige Flink, The Family Place
Since joining the board of directors of The Family Place in 1989, Paige Flink has worked to provide a safe haven for people escaping from domestic violence and build new lives for themselves and their children. She joined the staff of the organization in 1991 as director of community organization then became director of development before taking the helm in 1997. Under her guidance, The Family Place has become nationally recognized for the service it provides and the results it achieves. Even before she joined the organization, she founded a young professionals auxiliary that helped it grow its constituency. She also created the group’s ReuNite program and its hugely successful The Family Place Partners Card program, which raises $1 million annually. By example, she leads 200 staff members and 500 volunteers, plus a board of directors that supports the organization both financially and through in-kind service. The Family Place has gone from having an emergency shelter with 50 beds and one counseling office to having three shelters providing 177 beds, including the only shelter for men and children in the state, and three counseling offices in Dallas and Collin counties. Beyond supporting victims, it has helped nearly 20,000 batterers learn how to change their abusive behavior.
Finalist: Jeff Fehlis, American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society’s South region serves families, caregivers, and cancer patients in Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Jeff Fehlis, a former airlines executive with more than three decades in the industry, has led the operation since the December 2017. He joined after losing his mother to cancer. Through his leadership, the organization has helped engage volunteers to support community programs, erase barriers for cancer patients and their families, encourage companies to provide a healthy workplace, and increase the use of cancer screening tests and cancer prevention strategies. Fehlis, his staff, and volunteer team have raised more than $60 million annually. A highlight from the past year is constructing a Hope Lodge facility in Dallas, located on property donated by Baylor Scott & White Health.
Finalist: Ken Novice, Dallas Summer Musicals
For the past 75 years, Dallas Summer Musicals has been the premier presenter of Broadway musicals for the North Texas area. In spring 2017, DSM recruited president Ken Novice, a highly sought professional with more than 30 years of experience, from Los Angeles. Within two years, he negotiated an unprecedented partnership between AT&T Performing Arts Center and DSM, which allowing the organizations to jointly promote Broadway theater in Dallas and, for the first time, have DSM present shows at the Winspear Opera House. Novice also increased the number of DSM subscribers to over 30,000, the highest number ever. Beyond that, he worked to promote accessibility to performances for the neighbors living around Fair Park. His leadership has been particularly evident in the time of the coronavirus, which shut down performances nationwide.
Finalist: Russell A. Smith, LMSW Refugee Services of Texas
Russell Smith left his CEO position at Austin Child Guidance Center in 2018 to become the CEO of the Refugee Service of Texas, the largest resettlement agency in the state of Texas. It serves all categories of displaced persons, including refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, and survivors of human trafficking. Striving to be an active leader, Smith has hosted breakfasts at RST sites to meet donors, volunteers, and community partners, picked up refugees from the airport, and traveled to RST resettlement sites in Texas. In Smith’s first year as CEO, fundraising revenue increased 35 percent, and 2020’s funds are expected to exceed that amount. Smith also worked to increase diversity on the board. When he first became CEO, there were only six members on the board. Currently, the board has Black, Hispanic, White, and Asian members, is led by a female chair, and includes three former refugees.
To read more about the honorees in our 2020 program, visit this page.