Friday, September 26, 2014

Dallas Dweller: Carmaleta Whiteley

Dallas is full of colorful characters. There are those you see monthly in the society pages, whose stories are legendary in this town. But, this feature is inspired by the people that I think you should know more about because of their fabulous style, interesting back-story or amazing accomplishments. Dallas Dweller seeks to introduce you to these fabulous faces. Today, I'd like for you to meet Carmaleta Whiteley, the Fairy Godmother of the Dallas charity scene:

Carmaleta Whitely is proud to be a sixth generation Texas, born in Ft Worth. Her parents moved to Odessa when she was six or seven and her father opened a machine shop that catered to the oil business. "That machine shop is still in business today and is owned and managed by my sister and her husband," says Whiteley proudly.

"Growing up I always wanted to be like my mother. She was very pretty and dressed like a model. I loved her clothes and accessories and often flew with her to Dallas to shop at Neiman Marcus. I moved to Dallas to go to college and stayed most of my adult life. I worked in commercial real estate leasing high rise buildings. However, leasing has its up and downs so when our Texas economy fell, I followed the money and moved to Los Angeles. I worked for the largest west coast developer managing a 2.6 million square foot office complex in downtown LA. I loved my job but after seven years I was ready to move back to my family and home state of Texas.

Many on the social scene know Whiteley from her years of tireless fundraising for the causes she holds dear. Whiteley is looking to take her years of marketing experience and decades of philanthropic work and combining them into a brilliant publication that aims to become the standard program at charitable events, devoted to supporting Dallas-area charitable organizations. Her latest venture is called Charity Dallas and will launch in early 2015.

Dallas Charity Prototype
At no cost to charities, Charity Dallas will create luxury-quality event programs for up to 48 charitable fundraising events during its first year. Charity Dallas will underwrite the cost of an event photographer and offer each charity up to 6 pages of advertising space, the proceeds of which go entirely to the charity. 

“Our mission is to help charities lower their cost of event fundraising so more funds are returned to their beneficiaries. This arrangement can positively impact an event’s bottom line.” Only 23 advertisers will be highlighted in the 48-page publication, which will feature a monthly cover story by Dallas writer and author Sally Blanton, a charity profile, volunteer spotlight and photos from recent events.

Media and events veteran Philip Wier, editor-in-chief for Dallas Charity says, “This is a win-win for everyone. Charities save expenses and get a beautifully printed program that enhances their event, and advertisers get to connect with a highly targeted and loyal market.”

Have no fear, Carmaleta is not retiring completely from the charitable scene. She has agreed to be the Advisory Chair the 2015 St. Valentine's Day Luncheon and Fashion Show working alongside Honorary Chair Lynn McBee.


OSC:  You've worked with so many charities over the years. What are a couple of events that stand out to you as particularly memorable and why?

CW:  As a child our parents taught us to give back. I saw my mother volunteer in nonprofits and knew that I wanted to travel in her path. My first event to chair in Dallas was the AWARE LUNCHEON with over 1,100 attendees. We paid tribute to Robert Folsom; who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Folsom was a beloved mayor. It was an outstanding event with the city fathers and his followers attending. The luncheon raised over $2 million. I also chaired AWARE a second time, paying tribute to Juanita and Henry S. Miller, a cherished couple that loved Dallas and founded the symphony and opera. I have also chaired The Kidney Texas Luncheon and Style Show twice, The Dallas Children’s Theater, The Mad Hatter’s Tea and many more.

Dee Simmons, Caramleta Whiteley, LeeAnne Locken, Tiffany Hendra at the 2014 Leukemia
& Lymphoma Society Saint Valentine Day Luncheon (photo: LLS on Facebook)

OSC:  What does it take to be a successful event chair?

CW:  An event chair has to be dedicated to the cause with a deep commitment and inspired to help others. Fundraising is about relationships. You have to believe in what you are doing and gather an audience that believes in the cause you are working to enrich. But I must confess that I have 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.

OSC:  What are your favorite Dallas restaurants?

CW:  All my business lunches are in Highland Park Village. You will find me in Bistro 31 or Café Pacific almost any day. I love the Sole Almandine at Café Pacific. Dinner takes me to Stephen Pyle’s Stampede 66. I am a cowgirl and love Stephen’s honey fried chicken. Plus Stephen keeps a stash of Miller Lite behind the bar just for me.

OSC:  Where do you love to shop?

CW:  For my glamour, it is always Neiman Marcus. For high fashion trends and my big jewelry, I love Betty Reiter. Betty once saw a large porcelain glass bead necklace in Paris that she knew was my style. She carried it back on the plane in her lap to ensure that it would not get broken. For my fun I love anything that I can find. I love to walk stores and make my own style.

Mad Hatters 2013 (photo: Shana Anderson)
OSC:  What's your favorite Dallas festival or event?

CW:  My favorite event is The Mad Hatter’s Tea. How can you describe wearing a huge hat that weighs over ten pounds that hurts your neck and head but having so much fun that you can’t stop laughing? I won the Botanical Category for four years. My hat designer is Todd Fiscus, the famous event planner. My hats are all fresh florals, very heavy, but beautiful. Come rain or shine, you will find me at The Dallas Arboretum on Mat Hatter’s Tea day. And there have been some rainy cold days.

OSC:  Tell me something about you that most people don't know.

CW:  I am a real Texas Cowgirl. My family owned horses and at the age of 4 days old I was in my dad’s arms riding for the first time. I grew up loving horses and riding in rodeos. At age eleven I began earning spending money breaking horses. My sister and I both rode cutting horses but I even rode a couple of bulls! I loved fashion even while riding horses. All my riding clothes had to have matching custom hats and boots! I also played polo and belonged to a horseback square dance team.

OSC:  What do you think makes Dallas such a great place to live, work and raise a family?

CW:   Dallas is a city of small neighborhoods and friendly people. I love Dallas and all of the people. I know the names of all the employees at my grocer, shoe repair and cleaners. And my best friends are the valet attendants. How could you not love a city of big smiles and friendly eyes? And of course cowboy boots and big hair.