Dallas Icons Jan Strimple and Tom Addis Shared Highlights of Their Careers at The Stephens College Alumnae Club of Dallas Annual Texas Fundraising Luncheon

(Featured image: Tom Addis, Honoree; Susan Schmidt, President, The Stephens College Alumnae Club of Dallas; Jeanette Korab, Luncheon Chair; Jan Strimple, Honoree.)*

These two extraordinarily creative individuals shared  highlights of their careers and how their lives were graced with a lifetime of achievements.

The Stephens College Alumnae Club of Dallas Annual Texas Fundraising Luncheon featured two Dallas icons, Jan Strimple and Tom Addis, who shared a thoroughly entertaining and insightful retrospective of highlights of their careers as the keynote speakers at this year’s event at the Dallas Country Club.

The club’s main hall held a special treat – costumes and gowns, from avant-guard to elegant, showcasing a few of Jan’s fashionable productions, were exhibited on mannequins, which we would later learn were created in Jan’s form.

Guests arrived and enjoyed bidding in the silent auction while catching up with friends and families, some sharing a two-generation or more history as Stephens College alums.

The room was beautifully set with luncheon tables swathed in fuschia silks and luscious floral arrangements of hydrangea and roses, all by Garden Gate Florist.

Spotted in the crowd were Elizabeth Anderson, April Bosworth, Linda Ivy, Carolyn Keeble, Suzanne Palmlund, Rosemary Redmond, Donna Arp Weitzman and many more.

Emcee Scott Murray welcomed the crowd and as the lights dimmed, introduced the Stephens College video, which his Murray Media had produced, to a round of applause. He said Stephens is the second oldest women’s college in the country, having been founded almost 200 years ago.

Monica P. McMurry, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Design, gave a brief history and introduced Jan and Tom, who were seated on stage flanked by two huge video screens and the stories and slideshow began. Tom shared reflections about his mother’s time at Stephens, saying interior design was her passion and she flourished at the college.

His own career began early on as a young boy playing little Patrick in a stage production of MAME in Dallas, then Burt Reynolds’ little brother in the White Lightning movie, then touring with Sandy Duncan as part of a Disney Studios production. Tom is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and is now celebrating his 24th year designing and producing Dallas’ premier children’s gala, The Crystal Charity Ball. He has also received accolades for his work on national events such as the reopening Celebration of the National Library of Congress and the State Dinner hosted by the Secretary of State and international events, such as Young President’s Organization University events in Budapest, Hungary, Rome, Italy and Cape Town, South Africa. His work has been featured in publications ranging from PaperCity Magazine to Town & Country. He said how thankful he was that he and Jan first met at DIFFA and started their design collaboration, bringing the vision of the events they share to life.

Jan began her presentation with photos of herself with her mother, both quite fashionable even at Jan’s young age and now, Jan is an internationally renowned couture fashion model and a premier event and fashion show producer in Dallas and Fort Worth. She shared behind-the-scenes slides of her shows which have rocked the runways from New York’s Fashion Week to Dallas/Fort Worth’s most high profile fashion luncheons and award shows. Known for her creative theatrical productions, she equally relishes opportunities to showcase collections of emerging designers in a straightforward but edgy style. She credits her recognized sense of style to her years working closely with Yves Saint Laurent and Bob Mackie. She has been recognized worldwide for her unique career.

Both Jan and Tom received the Stephens College Alumnae Club’s Lifetime Achievement Awards presented by luncheon chair Jeanette Korab and Susan Schmidt, president of the Alumnae Club of Dallas.

The invocation was presented by Susan Ingram, followed by a delicious luncheon and a spirited live auction, including a pair of customized bespoke smoking slippers from Hadleigh’s, a trip to Broadleaf Farm, a Mazatlan Retreat and a Ladies Day Out.

“Both Jan and Tom inspire others as they have shared their unique stories and paths to success,” Susan said. “Our mission is to promote the interests of Stephens College and to maintain among the graduates and former students a spirit of fellowship and service through educational and social programs. Learn. Grow. Lead.”

For more information visit the Club’s website at http://www.stephenstexasalums.com.

  • Photos by Dana Driensky.

Dallas Alumnae Club

The Stephens College Alumnae Club of Dallas was founded in 1935 by Mrs. Opal Love.  Since then, the club has had approximately 63 presidents, all carrying the tradition held in the “Stephens 10 Ideals” of service, support, respect, responsibility, courage, creativity, belief, intelligence, independence and leadership through the years.  Club goals are to broaden fundraising to include all of the wonderful Texas alums and to create a social media presence so Texas alums can connect, interact and become more active with supporting one another and their college.  The Alumnae Club is a sisterhood that shares the amazing experience of attending Stephens College.


College Vision Statement: Inspired by its tradition as an undergraduate women’s college, Stephens College engages lifelong learners in an educational experience characterized by intellectual rigor, creative expression, and professional practice, supported by accomplished faculty, talented staff, and engaged alumnae/alumni. Graduates of Stephens College are educated in the liberal arts, informed by diverse perspectives, and committed to lives of leadership, integrity and service.  https://www.stephens.edu


History:  Stephens College

Stephens College was founded in 1833 in Columbia, MO making the school 184 years old to date.  It is the second oldest women’s college in the country. The college was housed in a single building where the first 25 girls studied English grammar, moral philosophy, algebra and celestial geography among other subjects.


In 1856, David Hickman, businessman, financier and legislator, led citizens in reshaping the academics into a full-scale college. More than a decade later, James Stephens endowed the college with $20,000 and the institution was renamed The Stephens Female College.


Throughout its long history, Stephens College has developed a tradition of innovative educational programs in which change has paralleled that of a changing nation. Under the leadership of James Madison Wood from 1912 to 1947, Stephens became one of the first institutions to provide women with an educational program designed specifically to meet their needs.  In 1900, Stephens had three academic departments: music, art, and commercial, which taught shorthand and typing.


By the mid-1910s, Stephens was gaining in reputation as a national institution. It was for this reason that the college decided to accept the responsibility of assisting students with their travel arrangements. At first, transporting the young women was simple as long as they lived in Missouri and Oklahoma. The young women were accompanied by chaperones who took care of them when they left their parents, loved ones, and boyfriends at the station. In 1914, trains were carrying young women all the way from New Mexico and Washington.


By the mid-1920s, Stephens was widely acclaimed, and the “Stephens Special” train had to be expanded.  Eventually, the college began recruiting coast to coast. Representatives from the college waited at 15 stops across the country to escort the young women to Columbia. These stops varied from year to year depending on the enrollment. Since the distance between most of the 15 points was considerable, Pullman cars were provided so the train could continue on into Columbia without delays or changes. The same train accommodations were provided for the women at Christmas and commencement. Special trains went to St. Louis and Kansas City throughout the school year. The “Stephens Special” provided transportation for young women coming to Stephens well into the 1950s. It is an important part of the history and tradition of the college.


In 1920, Dr. Charters built the strongest curriculum found in any woman’s college in the world. He developed a curriculum, which included seven areas of study: social problems, philosophy of living, communications, physical health, mental health, consumption and humanities. The humanities program, which today continues to serve as a national model for higher education institutions, was created as an integrated program to embrace all the major fields including art, literature, music, sculpture and painting.  The American actress Maude Adams (1872-1953) performed and taught at Stephens College, contributing greatly to the creation of a Performing Arts program.


In 1921, under President Wood, a new philosophy was founded at Stephens:  the Ten Ideals. Originally, the Ten Ideals served as a distinguishing characteristic of the Stephens woman; not only were Stephens women to be well-versed in academics, but they were also to embrace these 10 elements of character. The original ideals were appreciation of beauty, cheerfulness, courtesy, forcefulness, honesty, health, love of scholarship, self-discipline, service, and reverence toward the spiritual.


Stephens College not only broke barriers in curriculum development, but it also set new limits for the roles of women in society.  In 1945, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt visited Stephens, and in keeping step with the times, Stephens (1944) inaugurated the first course ever offered for the training of women in aviation. Stephens provided the first aviation program open to women in the country, training them to fly and to help in the World War II effort.  In 1958, Wallie Funk, an alumna who graduated from the aviation school, scored higher than Neil Armstrong on the entrance exam for space flight.


In 1946, Jeane Kirkpatrick enters Stephens with hopes of one day becoming a teacher. Kirkpatrick later became the first U.S. woman to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations.


Other advancements in the college’s curriculum have included the establishment of a nationally recognized fashion program and a philosophy, law and rhetoric program, one of two of its kind in the nation, which focuses on enhancing students critical thinking, dynamic writing and value analysis skills through a closely integrated sequence of liberal art courses. In 1958, each classroom was equipped with the technology to host amplified telephone interviews.


Stephens realigned its academic programs into four schools to more clearly convey its mission as a comprehensive college. They are the School of Design, School of Health Sciences, School of Interdisciplinary Studies and the School of the Performing Arts. The school has 23 majors and 19 minors.


Today, the School of Design houses Stephens Fashion Dept., which is ranked #14th best fashion program in the world, according to Business of Fashion, London.  The fashion program also tied for #2 in the world for both learning experience and long-term value across B.A. programs.  Stephens is also recognized as #12 Private Fashion Design College in the nation by Fashion-Schools.org. 


In the School of Performing Arts, students studying musical theatre learn from experienced faculty and professionals. Our theatre program is ranked #6 in the country by The Princeton Review.  A big bonus is that at Stephens one can finish their Performing Arts degree in three years!


In the School of Health Sciences, students receive a solid foundation for pursuing a wide range of careers in the rapidly expanding healthcare industry. Health Sciences include:  Pre-Physician Assistant, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Occupational Therapy, Pre-Chiropractic; Healthcare Management, Fitness and Wellness, and Pre-Med and Pre-Vet. One can get a degree in Exercise Science, Health Information Administration (100% online) and obtain a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (PA).  Stephens has Sampson Hall, which is the state-of-the-art building for their PA program.

In the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, our students are changing the world as filmmakers and writers, inspiring future generations as educators, and pursuing their goals in diverse fields including equestrian studies and psychology. Stephens was one of the first schools to offer women’s studies, one of the first schools to implement an advising/counseling program, first school to develop conceptual studies, a precursor to interdisciplinary programs, and one of the seven original schools to offer an external degree program, or College Without Walls, to older students. Also, first to offer a cohesive humanities program begun by Louise Dudley, who wrote the first Humanities textbook, a definitive source that continues to be used across the nation to this day.

A few examples of the colleges state-of-excellence is found in 3-year degree option in Education, Writers on the Edge series brings esteemed speakers to campus, Harbinger literary magazine has consistently been named Outstanding Literary Journal, nationally recognized Citizen Jane Film Festival, the nation’s oldest continuously active riding club, on-campus lab school serving preschool through fifth grade and professional faculty committed to our student’s success.

The college’s graduate studies are impressive as well.  Graduate degrees include: Master in Strategic Leadership (100% online program), Master of Education in Counseling, Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting (Low-residency program), and Master of Physician Assistant Studies.


While a great deal at the college has changed in 184 years, one thing has remained consistent, its purpose. Stephens College is and will continue to be committed to educating women.


  • Photos by Dana Driensky.
  • Sharon Adams, Adams Communications Public Relations, is honored to represent the Stephens College  Alumnae Club of Dallas for this event.


Principal of Philanthropy Lifestyles (formerly SocialWhirl.com), the award-winning eBuzzNewsletter and Adams Communications Public Relations, a boutique PR firm specializing in media and community relations for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Sharon is also a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Dallas Business Journal, Katy Trail Weekly, People Newspapers (Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People/North Dallas People), Preston Hollow Life magazine, The Park Cities News, White Rock Lake Weekly, numerous blogs and websites and more.