‘Tis the season of giving, so it’s fitting that a pair of longtime Park Cities residents were honored recently for their numerous local philanthropic efforts.
On Nov. 18, in honor of National Philanthropy Day, the Greater Dallas chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals hosted its 31st annual luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, where they presented their Outstanding Philanthropist award to Mike A. Myers and their Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser award to Holly Mayer.
Mike A. Myers
If Myers’ name seems familiar, that’s probably because it is emblazoned on Parkland Memorial Hospital’s glass-enclosed sky bridge that spans Harry Hines Boulevard.
The sky bridge was dedicated in his honor last year after he made a $5 million donation to the “I Stand for Parkland” capital campaign, which helped construct the hospital’s new facility that opened in August 2015.
He said a stint during the 1980s on Parkland’s board of directors “opened my eyes to what goes on in healthcare that I wouldn’t have ever known if I hadn’t gotten involved. … It’s changed my attitude about that whole area.”
While the bridge is one of the most visible examples of Myers’ charitable efforts (the stadium and soccer field at his alma mater, the University of Texas, also bear his name), he has also donated millions of dollars over the years to other healthcare and education foundations and to institutions across the state, including a $1 million donation for the construction of an ambulatory surgery center at Parkland and another $1 million donation to the Southwestern Medical Foundation for medical research.
Carole Rylander, co-chair of AFP’s luncheon committee, said Myers is “a very important and stalwart member of the philanthropic community.”
Myers, whose late mother Audrey was a schoolteacher, has also established several education scholarships and serves as president of the Texas Longhorn Education Foundation at the University of Texas.
“She’d not only talk the talk but she walked the walk, and her example of giving back totally inspired me to do what I’ve done,” he said. “I’m still convinced today that education is the solution to a high percentage of [society’s] problems.”
Mayer has served on the Dallas Opera’s board of directors for 26 years. During the nation’s economic downturn in 2008, she helped the Opera achieve a 50 percent increase in annual-giving donations over a two-year period.
“During transformative times, it really is a puzzle about how to keep [performing arts] companies going,” Mayer said. In order for Dallas to be “a really thriving metropolitan area,” she said, “high-quality performing arts are absolutely crucial to the city.”
Now chairman of the board, Mayer began lending her time to the Opera’s educational outreach program, Opera Action, in 1981. “I was so passionate about music and art, and the opera is where I believe theater and music come together.”
Mayer is behind more than $6 million in funds raised to build administrative offices and move to the Winspear Opera House, as well more than $23 million for the Opera’s endowment fund and 50th anniversary celebrations.
An ambassador with the OPERA America organization and a member of Texas Women for the Arts, Mayer was presented with the prestigious 2014 Silver Cup award by The Arts Community Alliance organization for her outstanding volunteer leadership and contributions to the North Texas arts scene.
“Holly is a force,” Rylander said. “She works very hard for the organizations that she cares deeply about and makes things happen. She’s just amazing.”
Mayer has also fundraised for and made personal financial contributions to the opera’s Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors, which works to further the careers of female conductors in the largely male-dominated field.
“I really like to set an example,” Mayers explained of her volunteerism. “I really like to encourage everyone else to have as much fun as I am being a part of this dynamic arts district.”