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TWU announces Ann Williams and the Denton Festival Foundation, Inc. as the 2012 Founders’ Award recipients



DENTON — Texas Woman’s University Distinguished Alumna Ann Williams – founder and artistic director of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre – and the Denton Festival Foundation, Inc. – producer of the annual Denton Arts and Jazz Festival – will be honored for their exceptional service to the community and to Texas Woman’s University as the 2012 TWU Founders’ Awards recipients.

The awards will be presented at the annual TWU Founders’ Awards Scholarship Luncheon at noon Thursday, April 5, 2012, in Hubbard Hall on TWU’s Denton campus.

Seats for the event are $40 per person. Patron seats are available for $75. Benefactor tables for eight are available for $750. For information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Patrice Benfield Frisby at (940) 898-3867. Reservations are required by Friday, March 23.

Proceeds from the luncheon benefit the TWU Chancellor’s Endowed Scholarships, the most prestigious scholarships awarded by the university. Established by Chancellor Stuart and other donors in 2000, these scholarships are the largest awarded by TWU and are the only academic scholarships that offer a stipend to recipients in addition to paying tuition and fees. They are awarded to TWU students on the basis of outstanding academic achievement, leadership and service in school and community activities.

The Denton Record-Chronicle and Hester Capital Management, L.L.C. are the presenting sponsors of the TWU Founders’ Awards Scholarship Luncheon. Blackridge, PointBank and Verizon also are sponsors. As of March 16, table sponsors of the luncheon are: AccessBank Texas; Allison Engineering Group, Inc. and D&S Engineering Labs; TWU Regent Sue S. Bancroft; BBVA Compass; Chancellor and President, TWU; the City of Denton; DATCU Credit Union; DeBerry Funeral Directors; First United Bank; Meridian Bank Texas; Betty B. Myers, Ph.D.; Ramey & King Insurance; Major General Mary L. Saunders, USAF Retired; Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton; the TWU Former Students Association; the TWU Foundation and Ann Ferrell Williams.

Dr. Sheri Dragoo, TWU associate professor of fashion design, will serve as the keynote speaker for the luncheon.

Ann Williams
Ms. Williams is a graduate of Prairie View A&M University and was the first African-American student to earn a Master of Arts Degree in Dance and Related Arts from TWU. She is a TWU Distinguished Alumna, a former member of the university’s Board of Regents and the TWU Foundation, and a past president of the TWU Former Students Association.

She was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002. She also was honored at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as a part of the Masters of African-American Choreography series in 2005. TWU awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Dance in 2008. She is one of only 10 individuals to receive a TWU honorary degree in the university’s 111-year history.

She also has received awards and honors from numerous organizations, including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Phi Delta Kappa, the Dallas Dance Council, the NAACP, the Dallas Historical Society, Zeta Phi Beta’s “Woman of the Year,” the Real Estate Council’s “Dreamers, Doers and Unsung Heroes” Award and TACA (The Auction for the Cultural Arts) Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts.

For more than 35 years, Ms. Williams has led the Dallas Black Dance Theatre from what began as a community-based and semi-professional organization to a full professional dance company with an international reputation. It is the oldest continuously operating professional dance company in Dallas.

“Receiving the 2012 Founders’ Award is quite an honor, especially as I look at the list of pioneers receiving this award in previous years,” Ms. Williams said. “Serving in the various volunteer leadership roles at TWU has been a rewarding experience in my professional career, as I learned early about governance and building upon an historic foundation. TWU is very dear to my heart.”

Denton Festival Foundation, Inc.

The Denton Festival Foundation, Inc. was formed in 1980 with the goal of making available the highest quality of arts and music to the general public free of charge. The Foundation produces the annual Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, which has grown into a major regional event with more than 200,000 attendees each year.

Since its inception, the foundation has given more than $265,000 to several Denton organizations, including the Denton’s Center for the Visual Arts, the Campus Theatre renovation project, the improvement and beautification of Denton’s Quakertown Park, and several other service and charitable groups in the area, including TWU and the University of North Texas.

The foundation’s partnership with TWU began in the early 1980s with TWU supplying volunteers for the Children’s Art Tent for an event called Spring Fling. The relationship continued when Spring Fling moved to Quakertown Park in 1991 and became the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. Many TWU dance, choral and music groups have performed at the festival through the years, including the TWU International Dance Company, which has participated in the festival for 21 years.

TWU has been a major sponsor of the festival since 2008. The sponsorship enables TWU students, faculty and staff to volunteer at food booths at the festival to raise money for scholarships at the university.

“Receiving the TWU Founders’ Award means a great deal to the foundation’s Board of Trustees, members and all of the volunteers who have given so generously of their time over the past 30 years,” said Carol Short, director of the Denton Festival Foundation, Inc. “We are proud of our special partnership with TWU, which helps fund university scholarships, and appreciate the university’s support of the annual Denton Arts & Jazz Festival.”

Keynote Speaker Dr. Sheri Dragoo


Dr. Sheri Dragoo has served on the TWU faculty for 14 years. She is a member of the Fashion Group International, the Texas Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and serves as the design and aesthetics chair for the International Textiles and Apparel Association.

After receiving her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University, Dr. Dragoo taught at TWU for four years, and then left for a five-year stint as the director of fiber marketing Texas Department of Agriculture. For the past 10 years, she has taught fashion design, tailoring, illustration, event planning and promotion and computer design applications at TWU.

Dr. Dragoo has been actively involved in the State Employee Charitable Campaign on the TWU campus and serves on the board of directors for the United Way of Denton County. She also coordinates the Denton Chapter of the American Heart Association’s GO RED for Women Fashion Show and Luncheon held each February.

Founders’ Awards

The first Founders’ Awards were presented in 1998 to honor organizations and individuals who have supported TWU and exhibited leadership in the community. TWU celebrates Founders’ Day to commemorate the date the university was established by the state of Texas – April 6, 1901. TWU, the TWU Foundation and the TWU Former Students Association host the annual TWU Founders’ Awards Scholarship Luncheon.

Media Contact:

Amanda Simpson
Director of Media Relations

page updated 10/2/2014 10:59 AM