Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum Annual Meeting featured a Stirring Legacy Celebration, Heartfelt Founder’s Award, Vibrant Floral Presentation and Delicious Luncheon

(Featured Photo: Lori Routh, Chair; Lisa Loy Laughlin, 2021-2022 President; Carla Leffert, Chair)*

Lisa Loy Laughlin, 2021-2022 president of the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, had her hands full when she presided over the Women’s Council Annual Membership Meeting at a sold-out, standing-room-only celebration at A Tasteful Place at the Dallas Arboretum last May.

Chaired by Carla Leffert and Lori Routh, the glass-walled room was filled with the lush landscaping and scenery of the Dallas Arboretum. Inside, featured speaker, Junior Villanueva, owner and creative floral designer of the Garden Gate Floral Design, crafted his vignette with glorious flowers in preparation for his presentation, “Eye Appeal is Half the Meal.”

Junior Villanueva, The Garden Gate and his fabulous floral creations*

Lisa welcomed the crowd and called the meeting to order. In a very special heartfelt presentation, she invited Brett Ringle and his son, Kyle Ringle to the podium and presented them with a commemorative gift signifying one of today’s special events, the dedication of the Wind Harp Terrace in Loving Memory of Sue Ringle and her legacy of giving. Sue was a longtime member, served in many office positions and on several committees, including as a past Women’s Council president and had achieved and exceeded many goals on behalf of the Women’s Council and the Dallas Arboretum.

Lisa Loy Laughlin, 2021-2022 President; Kyle Ringle, Brett Ringle*

Claire Catrino, Mad Hatter’s Tea chair, joined Lisa on stage and announced that the 2022 event netted a record $207,000, to a rousing round of applause and sincere recognition to honorary chair, Laurie Sands Harrison. 

After committee reports, Lisa gave a brief recap of the Women’s Council’s accomplishments this past membership year: Membership grew to 573. Lisianthus Society grew to 250, the largest increase since its inception. Important Milestone: The Women’s Council completed funding of an additional $1,575,000 to the Endowment Trust for Phase II of A Woman’s Garden four years ahead of schedule. Donations are welcome through the ongoing Endowment Campaign, chaired by Sharon Ballew this past year, which continues to bring in crucial funds via the Circle of Honor naming opportunities to support the ongoing maintenance of A Woman’s Garden.

Sandy Ammons, chair of the 2021 A Writer’s Garden, received kudos for her wonderfully successful event. Grateful thanks also went to honorary chair Marilyn Weber, Patron Party hostess Susan Geyer, and the committee. Barbara Bigham, chair of A Woman’s Garden 25th Anniversary Birthday Kick-Off party, received sincere thanks, along with her committee Mari Epperson, Susan Fisk, Michelle Mew and Dorothea Meltzer.

After many more mentions of the inspiring efforts of Lisa’s entire board of directors, special event chairs, travel coordinators and membership parties’ chairs, it was time for the official awards of the year.  Mary Ellen Winborn received the Leadership Award. Lisa Meyer was the Service Award honoree. There were two Above and Beyond Award recipients: Dorothea Meltzer and Emilynn Wilson. The Legacy Leadership Award went to Carole Ann Brown.

Kathy Cothrum, Sharon Ballew, Founder’s Award Recipient; Nancy Connor, Jill Goldberg***

Kathy Cothrum took the podium and spoke about Sharon Ballew, the 2022 Founders Award Recipient.  Among her many accomplishments. Sharon has served on the DABS board and co-chaired the DABG Great Contributors Gala and Artscape Festival. She also chaired the Women’s Council Endowment Campaign and served as president and Mad Hatter’s Tea Party chairman. In addition, Sharon has served as president of many other organizations and raised millions of dollars for various community nonprofits. Established in 1996 by the Women’s Council, the Founders Award annually recognizes individuals whose dedication and volunteer contributions have made a monumental impact on the growth and prominence of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

Emilynn Wilson joined Lisa in saying that it was with great admiration and a true honor to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Patricia Cowlishaw, whose spiritual footprint is deep in the heart of A Woman’s Garden.

Concluding her remarks, Lisa gave profound and deepest, sincere gratitude to her entire board, both elected and appointed. After the slate of officers was approved, Sarah Jo Hardin, Women’s Council 2022-2023 president, presented Lisa with a gift in commemoration of her always energetic, lively, dedicated and earnest service to the Women’s Council this past membership year.

Sarah said the new year’s theme is “Growing Friendships for 40 Years” and gave exciting news about upcoming events: A Noble Celebration is the week of October 17 through 21, 2022. October 18, 2022 is A Writer’s Garden: Tales from Highclere Castle chaired by Therese Rourk and Dyann Skelton, with honorary chairs Donna and Herb Weitzman, featuring Lady Carnarvon, The Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon, appearing in person and discussing living at Highclere Castle (where Downtown Abbey is filmed) and celebrating the 25th Anniversary of A Woman’s Garden. On October 21, 2022 the Ruby Red Gala celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Women’s Council, chaired by Sharon Ballew with honorary chairs Dr. Linda Burk and Dr. John R. Gilmore. Tickets are available here.

After the delightful presentation by Junior Villanueva and a luscious luncheon, supporters made their way to the Wind Harp Terrace for the dedication In Loving Memory of Sue Ringle.

Linda Spina’s stirring remarks included some very interesting facts about Sue, including that she had met her husband, Brett, as they were both members of the UT Longhorn Band and how fitting it is that a musical instrument, the Wind Harp positioned in this terrace, which is dedicated in her name. Sue and Brett found peace and tranquility in A Woman’s Garden when she was suffering through her illness. Brett said that A Woman’s Garden is a national treasure, not just a local treasure and that Sue felt the same way. 

Learn more about the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, membership benefits and upcoming events at www.wcdabg.org  

ABOUT THE WOMEN’S COUNCIL: Celebrating its 40th Anniversary.
Since 1982 the major goal of the Women’s Council has been the design, construction, funding and endowment of A Woman’s Garden, the only public garden in the United States conceived by women, funded by the efforts of women and dedicated to the spirit of women. The support of over 500 members of the Women’s Council makes possible the continued expansion and development of A Woman’s Garden. The Women’s Council is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  www.wcdabg.org

At A Woman’s Garden: The Reflective Basin gifted by Mary Silverthorne. Joe Rosenthal’s sculpture Nude gifted by Doris Anton*****

ABOUT A WOMAN’S GARDEN: Celebrating its 25th Anniversary.
A Woman’s Garden is the only public garden in the nation conceived, constructed and maintained by the funding efforts of women. Ablaze with color in every season, A Woman’s Garden sits majestically as a living testament to the passion and vision of the Women’s Council founders and the boundless energy and devotion of its members whose commitment to creating a garden dedicated to the universal spirit of women across generations is realized in its inspired design. Our beautiful garden celebrates the power, creativity, resourcefulness, passion and unwavering commitment of the women who came before us and those entrusted with its care now, and into the future.     

*Photos by Rob Wythe/Wythe Portrait Studio

**Photos by Dana Driensky.

***Courtesy Photo

****Photo by Jin Kim

*****Photo courtesy Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

(Sharon Adams, Adams Communications Public Relations, is honored to represent the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and their special events and post this Philanthropy Lifestyles Scene.)


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.