Thursday, January 27, 2022

Highland Village couple named United Way Humanitarian awardees

The United Way of Denton County announced Friday that Michelle and Brian Cree of Highland Village will receive the 2021 Dr. Bettye Myers Humanitarian Award.

The prestigious award will be presented at the organization’s 10th annual UNITED Tribute gala celebration on Jan. 15, 2022.

Since their Denton County arrival from Dallas in 1997, Michelle and Brian Cree have left an indelible mark, individually and collectively, on Denton County, according to a UWDC news release. Most notably, the couple was instrumental in brokering a landmark partnership between United Way of Denton County and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas to better serve the needs of a growing Denton County. The collaboration gave United Way of Denton County permission to expand its fundraising reach into Southern Denton County where it was already engaged with nonprofits, governments and businesses to address county-wide challenges like homelessness and mental health.

“Brian and Michelle’s leadership in uniting all of Denton County proved advantageous in numerous ways,” said Gary Henderson, President and CEO of United Way of Denton County. “Not only did it expand our fundraising footprint into Carrollton, The Colony, Flower Mound, Highland Village and Lewisville, but it positioned us to work county-wide with government and nonprofits to respond to the unprecedented impact of the pandemic.”

In addition, the Crees recently pledged $50,000 toward the “Michelle & Brian Cree SWX Global Design & Production Leadership Giving Circle” designed to increase individual leadership gifts of $1,000 or more to benefit United Way of Denton County.

A native of Amarillo, Michelle graduated from Southwest Texas State (now Texas State University) with a Social Work degree and began her career with Dallas County MHMR where she worked with adults with intellectual disabilities for 13 years. Her philanthropic resume since moving to Denton County includes leadership roles with the Lewisville Education Foundation, United Way of Denton County, The Salvation Army of North Texas, Metrocrest Community Services and 100 Women of Influence. In addition, Michelle has been active in the PTA with LISD elementary and middle schools earning her the PTA Lifetime Achievement Award.

A multi-generational Dallas native, Brian’s philanthropy was encouraged at a young age by his grandparents and parents. His mother, Mary Anne Cree, continued the family legacy giving to many Dallas-based charities, including United Way of Metropolitan Dallas whose headquarters are named in her honor. Brian holds the Chairman and/or CEO title of several companies including Cree Visual Marketing Company, SWX Global Design & Production, SWX Global Container Conversions, and Cree Strategic Investments. Brian has also served as Chairman of the Jim Collin/Steve Allen Memorial Golf Event, which has raised more than $250,000 since 2017 for Denton County student scholarships.

Brian and Michelle’s philanthropic efforts include United Way of Denton County, LEF, DPSF, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and The Salvation Army of North Texas. The Crees give generously to projects providing a lasting impact such as a community industrial kitchen at The Salvation Army in Lewisville, a gift towards rebuilding the Kids Kastle playground in Highland Village, and over $1.5 million in college scholarships.

“The Crees’ legacy of giving speaks for itself,” said United Way of Denton County Board Chair Micah Tannery. “From United Way of Denton County to The Salvation Army to LEF, when the Crees get involved that organization is stronger for it. Their passion for Denton County makes them the perfect recipients of this year’s Humanitarian Award.”

Named after the Denton County icon whose community involvement was unparalleled, the Dr. Bettye Myers Humanitarian Award was established by the United Way of Denton County board of directors in 2014 to recognize the highest level of community leadership and philanthropy with time and resources. Recipients of the prestigious award are purposeful in promoting human welfare and have demonstrated active engagement in the community. Previous Dr. Bettye Myers Humanitarian awardees include its namesake, Dr. Bettye Myers, Janet and Joe Mulroy, Stan Morton, Debbie and Mark Merki, Bill Patterson, the Honorable Bobbie Mitchell, Ellen M. Painter, Judge Andy Eads and Chris Watts.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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