Society / Profiles

Powerhouse Philanthropist Cate Ford Opens Up About Daily Life, and How She Continues Charity Work During Covid-19

Fashion, Art, and Family Play a Big Role in This NorthPark Ambassador's World

BY // 07.29.20
photography Ana Hop

In its fourth year, NorthPark Center’s Ambassador program boldly merges the worlds of fashion, art and philanthropy. The Ambassadors ― a masterful idea brought to life by Nancy A. Nasher and Kimberly Schlegel Whitman ― shines the spotlight on Dallas’ top influencers and the nonprofits they support.

Hand-selected for their philanthropic contributions, each year-long ambassadorship offers the opportunity to partner with NorthPark Center and its retailers for various events and initiatives to benefit their respective charitable organization. This year’s Ambassadors possess and unswerving commitment to the community, and are unshakably tethered to fashion, art and stylish philanthropy.

Today, we catch up with Cate Ford, who is no stranger to a best-dressed list. But, Ford uses her gifts for the good of her community, volunteering and leading on many notable boards and causes throughout Dallas.

One of her long-time devotions is to Ronald McDonald House Dallas. The program was built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on healing their child ― not where they can afford to stay or where they will get their next meal. Ronald McDonald House Dallas keeps families together, inspires strength, and gives love and support to those whose children are receiving essential medical care.

PaperCity: Why are you passionate about this charitable organization? 

Ford: I’ve always believed that nothing matters more than family. The Ronald McDonald House Dallas provides a place for families to call home, so they can stay close to their hospitalized child at little to no cost. When a child is hospitalized, the love and support of their family is as powerful as the strongest medicine.

With social distancing, how are you staying engaged with your friends and community? 

Lots of phone calls, texts, Instagram, and FaceTime. On the few occasions we’ve seen friends, we enjoy time outside. I’m trying to embrace the unpredictability, be present and stay positive!

NorthPark is at the center of both fashion and art. Describe your own fashion and art interests: 

My closet is pretty edited ― bright colors, bold prints and I love a great embellished dress.

I was an art history major in New York City, where it was impossible not to absorb the culture and art in everyday life ― so a trip to NorthPark reminds me of that time in my life where I’d pass fabulous galleries and museums, just walking the streets. I’m drawn to works by Frank Stella, James Terrel, Kusama, Sol LeWitt, Warhol, Anish Kapoor, Claire Tabouter and Liam Gillick.  I love how art boosts the energy of a space and those in it.

When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I’d walk through NorthPark early in the mornings before it opened, to exercise and take in the art. So, ten years later, watching her class sing Christmas carols next to Mark di Suvero’s almost 50-foot tall “Ad Astra” sculpture will be one of my happiest memories and reminders of how quickly time flies.

What little luxuries, hobbies or rituals are keeping you sane these days? 

Staying connected to my faith with daily prayer. Plenty of wine, daily walks and fresh air, a few puzzles, listening to a lot of music, watching Yellowstone and Jimmy Fallon with my husband ― who thankfully also keeps me laughing daily.

Describe Cate Ford’s ideal day:

An ideal day would be one where we finally have a COVID-19 vaccine. However, these past few months have certainly caused me to slow down and reflect on how we spend our time, and what I’m truly grateful for.

I would begin the day by enjoying morning coffee ― preferably sitting outside with my husband, our kids, and dogs. We’d all spend the day on a sunny beach or discover a new hike high in the mountains. Then I’d make a big family-style dinner to indulge in with loved ones ― there would be margaritas, great music and plenty of laughter.

What is your chosen charity doing in times of COVID-19 to continue its mission and cause?

The Ronald McDonald House Dallas has continued serving families with seriously ill or injured children throughout the pandemic. Heart disease, cancer and other illnesses don’t just stop because there’s a pandemic ― and a clean, safe place to rest is more essential than ever.  RMHD has had to suspend their volunteer program, but they’ve found new ways to serve meals, provide in-room activities for kids and safe transportation to and from hospitals.

Any creative fundraising or virtual fundraisers planned?

Like many nonprofits, RMHD has had to cancel in-person events.  In place of the Under the Moonlight gala, they’ll still have a virtual paddle raise to help generate much needed funds for families.

RMHD is also the sole beneficiary of the Addison Rotary Golf Tournament scheduled for Monday, September 14 at Gleneagles Country Club.

Lastly, The beloved Trains at NorthPark event is gearing up for the holiday season. There will be some new safety protocols of course, but guests of all ages will be welcome for this fabulous holiday event. The Trains at NorthPark opens November 14 and runs through January 3.

People can get involved in other ways as well. RMHD is in need of catered meals for families staying at the House since they’re not able to host their usual volunteer cooking groups right now. The House also needs various “wish list” items such as paper towels, bottled water, snacks, and in-room toys and activities for kids and parents.

For more information on how you can help, please visit

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