Photo Credit: Thomas Garza Photography
Tall, slender and stunning, Carmen Surgent looks more like Hollywood’s next leading lady than one of Dallas’ most hardworking philanthropist. Growing up in Wichita, Kansas her family moved to Dallas, where she attended Texas Christian University. It wasn’t long before modeling scouts discovered her and she was whisked away to Miami to fulfill a two year contract. In 2000, she met her husband, Tom Surgent and moved to London. After living abroad for two years, they moved to West Palm Beach and then to Dallas, where they are raising their two daughters Lauren, aged 10 and Riley, aged 9.
Well known for her gracious and fun-loving character, she is a formidable force in the philanthropic community. Serving on the board of Dallas Children’s Theater, The Family Place and The Cresent Court Club, she tirelessly devotes her time in supporting local nonprofits and charities. 2016 will be a busy and exciting year for her, as she will be serving on some of Dallas’ most notable Host Committees including Ally’s Wish, LLS St. Valentine Luncheon, Trailblazer, SPCA, Mad Hatters, Heroes and Handbags and The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas Women of Distinction Luncheon, co-chairing with her husband, Tom the Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational on May 6-7 and Perot Museum’s Night at the Museum on November 12, and co-chairing Art From The Heart Celebrity Art Auction and Gala benefitting Dallas Challenge on April 29.
Although giving back to her community is serious business, Carmen understands that it’s just as important to have a little fun along the way. With her statuesque height and fabulous sense of style, Carmen was recently nominated as a Fashion Star For A Cause and appointed DIFFA’s Style Council Ambassador.
With a full calendar of yearly obligations, Carmen’s beleif in leading a well-balanced life and being a good mother is what keeps her grounded. In her spare time she volunteers weekly at Bradfield Elementary, her daughters’ school and stays fit by playing and competing in tennis.
Is there any chance, this lady will slow down anytime soon? Most of those that know her would say, certainly not! Haute Living sat down with Carmen to discover what’s behind her passion for giving, and what are some of her favorites around the city of Dallas.
When you and your husband are deciding which philanthropic endeavors to support, what drives your decision to support one charity over another? One example would be Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities and Team22. Tom and I already knew what exceptional people Pat & Emmitt are but when we bought the New York trip at the auction and spent a week with the Smith’s and Team 22 we realized what a great cause Team 22 is and what an impact it had on the kid’s lives. We are now co chairing the Pat & Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational on May 6-7 and will always support them.
Do you encourage your children to be involved in their community and if so, what benefits do you think that they will gain from the experience? I have taught my children to give to others in need. We have donated toys, clothes and food. It is important to me for my daughters to be thankful for what they have and to give back to the community. Just this week we collected change for Change is Good benefitting Community Partners of Dallas.
Why is being so active in the community so important to you and what has influenced you? These charitable causes could not survive without private support and I strongly believe in not only contributing but also inspiring others to do so.
Where were you born: Dallas, TX
How long have lived in Dallas: 1998-2002, 2007-present
Neighborhood: Highland Park
Occupation: Homemaker, Civic and Arts Supporter
Favorite Restaurant: Bistro 31
Best Sushi: Uchi
Best Italian: Nonna
Best dessert: Café Pacific’s Pecan Ball
Best Sunday brunch: Meddlesome Moth
Best place for a power business meeting: Crescent Club
If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? Rosewood Crescent Hotel
Favorite shopping venue/boutique: My favorite venue is Highland Park Village and my favorite boutique is Roberto Cavalli at Northpark.
Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: Eiseman Jewels
Best Spa: ESPA at the Joule
Favorite Cultural Event: The State Fair
Best Steakhouse: Nick & Sam’s
Best Pizza: Grimaldi’s
Best Lunch: Bistro 31
Best Gym/Athletic Facility: Equinox
Best Limousine/Driving Service: Carey Limousine
Best Museum/Exhibit: The Perot Museum
Describe your city in three words: Big, Bold, Beautiful
Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore: The dinosaur exhibit at the Perot Museum
Best Aspect of Dallas: The people!
How do you spend your downtime? Traveling
What Dallas social event do you look forward to all year? DIFFA
What’s your dream event? Victoria Secret’s Fashion Show
Biggest Accomplishment: My two daughters. Lauren and Riley are by far by biggest and best accomplishments.