Pam Busbee Also Recognized as the 2023 Sustainer of the Year

Junior League of Dallas (JLD) hosted its annual Milestones Luncheon, presented by the Kohl Foundation, on Friday, April 14, 2023, at the Omni Dallas Hotel. This year’s featured speaker was award-winning actor and New York Times bestselling author Rob Lowe. During the luncheon, JLD honored Pam Busbee with the 2023 Sustainer of the Year award.

The morning kicked off with a VIP reception, where Lowe surprised attendees with funny, candid remarks, which had attendees buzzing with excitement. He referenced how nice everyone looked and commented that he loves spring events because everyone wears such beautiful colors after Easter. He also noted that his mother was a member of the Junior League in Ohio and fondly recalled her stories of volunteer service.

Following the VIP and general receptions, guests made their way into the beautifully decorated Trinity Ballroom. Milestones Luncheon Emcee Shelly Slater welcomed guests and invited The Reverend Dr. Christopher D. Girata, Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, to give the invocation. Slater then welcomed Milestones Luncheon Co-chairs Heather McNamara and Elizabeth Gambrell to the stage. The Chairs welcomed guests and recognized the companies, foundations, and individuals who have continued to support the League throughout the years, along with everyone who made this year’s Luncheon possible, including: Kohl Foundation, presenting sponsor; Sewell Automotive Companies, speaker sponsor; Origin Bank, VIP reception sponsor; and Central Market, Sustainer of the Year Sponsor. Additionally, they acknowledged League donors and members and provided special thanks to Shelly for sharing her talents as this year’s Luncheon emcee.

The Chairs then highlighted the four amazing raffle packages, of which 100 percent of raffle sales directly benefit the Junior League of Dallas’s community programs. This year’s raffle items included: an exclusive wine tasting for 10 people with a leading sommelier from 55 Seventy Wine Cellar & Tasting Room, a $5,000 PlainsCapital Debit Card, a $5,000 Central Market Gift Card, and a diamond bracelet from Bachendorf’s. The raffle ended up selling out.  

The audience also learned that at least one person at each table had a chance to “win” the beautiful flower arrangement on each table, graciously donated by McShan Florist. The individual at each table whose birthday was closest to Rob Lowe’s birthday, which is March 17, was able to take the arrangement home.

Monica Christopher (L) & Emily Somerville-Cabrera (R) with Pam Busbee, Sustainer of the Year Award Winner

Slater returned to the podium and thanked Gambrell and McNamara for their dedication to the League and welcomed Junior League of Dallas President Emily Somerville-Cabrera and Junior League of Dallas Sustainer President, Monica Christopher, to the stage to present the Sustainer of the Year award to Pam Busbee. Christopher highlighted the impact of volunteers like Pam Busbee within our community. She introduced a video featuring League Sustaining members, Alicia Frye, CEO of Jonathan’s Place, and Angela Shoup, executive director of Callier Center for Communication Disorders, sharing personal reflections of Pam and her work in the community (including the fact that she has completed an impressive 22 marathons).  Somerville-Cabrera and Christopher then presented Busbee with the 2023 Sustainer of the Year award for making great strides within the community and being widely recognized for what it truly means to be a leader.

Somerville-Cabrera then spoke on JLD’s legacy of impact in the Dallas community and the strategic changes the League embraced this year as it looks forward to a second century of service. Somerville-Cabrera shared how the League is making strategic changes to its Community Program and expanding its Signature Projects with new programs, including Mayor’s Back to School Fair and a new Park Improvement Project. Somerville-Cabrera thanked League members for their contributions and service, then paid homage to the new class of Sustaining members, called Legacy Leaders, who have been in the League for more than 50 years. 

Emily Somerville-Cabrera, JLD President

“For 101 years, our organization has brought together women in Dallas to serve the most critical needs in our community, while at the same time creating a space for these women to grow and develop personally and professionally,” said Somerville-Cabrera. “When the League was founded in 1922, some women had just been granted the right to vote and most women seldom had a voice beyond their own homes.  Fortunately, much has changed since then, but what has not changed is the League’s steadfast commitment to the development of women.  Today, that means that each year, more than 4,000 women deploy skills they learned in the League to create positive change in our community.”

Rob Lowe and Shelly Slater

While guests enjoyed the meal, Slater kicked off the conversation with featured speaker Rob Lowe with a lightning round of questions. Lowe continued to entertain the audience with candid stories about long-time friend Gwyneth Paltrow and his career-changing experience on Saturday Night Live. He also shared how meaningful it is to work on his new Netflix series Unstable alongside his youngest son. Lowe also spoke about his journey navigating 33 years of sobriety and the secret to maintaining a healthy and happy marriage with his wife of 32 years, Sheryl Lowe. Slater closed out the conversation by asking Lowe about his motivation for becoming the first ever male spokesperson for breast cancer awareness, to which he replied that his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all passed away from breast cancer. Lowe was also honored to be the first male featured speaker at a Milestones Luncheon. 



The Junior League of Dallas cultivates leaders who collectively address the critical needs of the community. Founded in 1922, JLD is one of the largest Junior Leagues in the world, as well as the largest and oldest training organization for women in Dallas. Active members range in age from 22 to 49 with approximately 85% percent of women employed outside of the home. The JLD provides leadership opportunities to nearly 4,000 women each year through more than 17,000 cumulative hours of experiential and formal training. Uniquely member-run, JLD provides approximately 100,000 hours in volunteer service and more than $1 million in funding to area nonprofits each year. For more information, please visit www.jldallas.org or Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.