36th Annual DBU Leadership Gala

Jim and Sallay Nation standing on the stage at the Leadership Gala 2023

For 36 years, the DBU Leadership Gala has honored outstanding individuals whose lives are testimonies of achievements in free enterprise, service to the community, and support of Christ-centered education at Dallas Baptist University. Established in 1988, sponsorship of the DBU Leadership Gala provides funds that go toward scholarships for students seeking a transformative educational experience at DBU. This year brought in the most scholarship funds to date in the 36-year history of the program.

The DBU Leadership Gala, held on November 6 in the Chantilly Ballroom of the Hilton Anatole, honored Jim and Sally Nation as recipients of this year's Russell H. Perry Free Enterprise Award, and Bob Lilly as the recipient of the Tom Leadership Award.

Jim and Sally Nation, founders of the Nation Foundation, help to provide grants to institutions of higher education and civic organizations. Jim has served in the engineering and manufacturing sectors throughout his career. Currently, he serves as Chairman of the Board of First Co., a leader and innovator in the HVAC industry. Jim and Sally are both strong supporters of education and are long-standing friends of DBU, supporting the mission and vision through their generosity and influence. Passionate about developing servant leaders, Jim and Sally helped establish Nation Hall, which houses the Gary Cook School of Leadership at DBU. Jim and Sally have also served on the DBU Board of Trustees, and Sally has previously served as president of the DBU Women's Auxiliary Board.

Bob Lilly at the DBU Leadership Gala speaking

Bob Lilly, affectionately known by many as "Mr. Cowboy," is a beloved Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman with a 14-year career on America's team, including under the leadership of Coach Landry. In 1980, Lilly was the first Dallas Cowboy to be inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Sporting News also named Lilly as number 10 of the 100 greatest NFL players.

"Our DBU Mission is to prepare Christ-centered servant leaders for a world in desperate need," says Dr. Adam C. Wright, DBU President. "I look forward each year to have the opportunity to honor distinguished individuals who exhibit the kind of exemplary and faithful leadership we want to be true of our students and future graduates. Jim and Sally Nation and Bob Lilly are dear friends and supporters of DBU's mission, and it was a privilege this year to recognize them for their outstanding public witness as Christian leaders."

Written by University Communications