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Society / Profiles

Dallas Food Bank Crusader Believes in Powerful Female Role Models and Giving Back

Kathryn Hall Opens Up on What Drives and Inspires Her

BY Caroline Lidl // 07.22.19
photography Ana Hop

In its third year, NorthPark Center’s Luxury Ambassador program boldly merges the worlds of fashion, art, and philanthropy, by way of celebrating Dallas’ top influencers and the nonprofits they support. NorthPark’s chosen few embody a rare-air kind of style — a group that contains equal parts fashion sense, civic leadership, and larger-than-life personality.

Here, we catch up with Kathryn Hall and learn about her passion for the North Texas Food Bank. Hall is big backer of Canstruction, the annual design/build competition at NorthPark, which benefits the North Texas Food Bank.

Cansculptures are created out of canned food, then displayed at NorthPark from September 7 to 22. After the contest, all the food is donated to the North Texas Food Bank. During the span of Canstruction’s 21 year Dallas run, the event has donated more than 1.2 million cans of food to people in need.

Hall knows how vital this is. Here she talks about her food bank passion — and more — in her own words.

Why the North Texas Food Bank.

The North Texas Food Bank has been a part of my life since almost my first days in Dallas. Friends and I founded this wonderful organization in 1981, perhaps naively thinking we could solve the problem of hunger in North Texas in a few years.

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Sadly, the problem is far deeper than we knew, but over the years the Food Bank has risen to the challenge, serving over 72 million meals per year to kids, seniors and families in need.

A benevolent memory.

One of my most important memories occurred a few years ago when we were dedicating a new wing of the Food Bank. As I left, I spoke with a couple who told me they had been volunteers for years, helping distribute food to those who needed it.

That day, they attended as clients and recipients of the Food Bank. It was a poignant reminder for me of how closely we all live to the edge of need, and thus how important it is for us to help each other.

Philanthropic influencers. 

Giving back is key to the American spirit in general, but I think this attitude is especially strong in Texas. I don’t know anyone who is not involved in helping others through their church or a community organization — just look at all the fundraising events going on throughout Dallas.

You would be hard pressed to find similar widespread commitment to philanthropy in Europe or Asia, for example. Giving back is simply part of who we are as Americans.

Role models.

Three women who come quickly to mind are Lucy Billingsley, who runs one of Dallas’ most important companies, is a great mother and wife, reads voraciously, and still finds time to support other women in business; my friend Barbara Cottrell, who has more inner strength than anyone I know; and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They allow themselves to be vulnerable, work hard, and fight for what they think is right.

My husband is also a role model for me.

NorthPark Center is at the center of combining art and fashion. Describe your own art and fashion interests. 

The art I enjoy most are works that make my heart sing and put a smile on my face. I am always attracted to any work about a mother and child. Art should become more intriguing the more you experience it, making you see or feel something in a new way.

Fashion is art. It should be visually interesting, but above all it must be flattering.

Fashion also needs to respond to my mood. Some days I prioritize comfort and chose what I wear for the fabric rather than the shape. If I am feeling down, I go for brighter colors. When I go to political events, I’m most often in whites and grays.

When I am selling wine, I find something black or navy. No matter how careful I try to be, I always seem to spill a little on myself while working.

The perfect day.

My perfect day starts with an hour run when the sun is bright and the air is crisp. During the morning I’ll work, then have lunch with one of my children, and spend an hour or two playing with one of my grandchildren.

Before the day’s end I’ll read some of my current book, meditate, and do some yoga. Then, I’ll share a great wine with Craig. After dinner, we’ll watch a movie and eat heavily salted popcorn. We won’t talk about  business all evening.

Your day job. 

I work for our HALL, WALT, and BACA Wineries either in Napa Valley, Texas, on the road around the U.S., or overseas. As vintner, I am involved in pretty much everything from planning, to production, to marketing, to sales.

We are a business, but winemaking is also an art. My world is full of interesting, creative people. My father grew grapes for wineries. I am doing what he did, but on a larger scale. Today the grapes go not to other wineries, but to ourselves, and we get to make the wine. It is a dream come true.

Looking forward.

I am looking forward to our annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff in April, benefitting a wide range of Northern California charities; to having the Kathryn Hall Release Parties around the country in September to bring out the new vintage of our flagship wine; and for Craig and I to be the honorary chairs of the Dallas Symphony Gala in September.

NorthPark memory. 

We have spent so many joyous hours as a family at NorthPark over the years. Craig and I looking for wedding rings for each other, walking through the mall with the children and marveling at Christmas decorations, longing to take home a puppy from the group of rescue pups, and being awed by seeing a colored Joel Shapiro sculpture.

All I had seen of his work before then was in bronze. To our family, NorthPark is much more than a place to shop.

Advice to your younger self. 

You will be able to handle the trials that come your way, and you will have more joy than you can imagine. Enjoy every minute of this amazing gift of life.

On the horizon…

I hope to continue to do exactly what I have been doing, only more efficiently. Working with community organizations I love, supporting women’s causes, working at the wineries, finding new art for our collection, finishing my new book, and playing with my husband, our family, and our friends. Oh, and I have resolved to eat healthier!

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