Elsa Norwood Inspiring People Dallas

“No matter what happens, we have to carry on, doing whatever we are asked to do. That is God’s gift to us. Because we get one shot at this trip.” 

– Elsa Norwood


“No matter what happens, we have to carry on, doing whatever we are asked to do. That is God’s gift to us. Because we get one shot at this trip.” 

– Elsa Norwood.

“Me? You want to do this on me?” Elsa laughed. It was clear that making her talk about herself was going to be a challenge—but she thankfully accepted. Her very personality breathes “humility,” and when she greets you, she leans forward, takes your hand in hers, looks into your eyes, says your name, and makes you feel as if you are the only person in the room. When she asks “How are you?”, she really wants to know!

Such a genuinely giving spirit has made her a dynamo for many years in the Dallas fundraising world, benefiting illustrious non-profits such as the Crystal Charity Ball, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League, and Equest, the therapeutic riding center for which she just co-chaired a hugely successful gala.

What is surprising to find out is that, on top of her productive volunteerism, she is also a working woman and has been for decades. “I came to Dallas when my husband entered SMU Law School,” she said. Things did not turn out as planned, and by 1990, she found herself a single mother with children aged six, eight, and 14.

“I chose to stay in Dallas, and I went to work,” said Elsa, who began in sales at the retail specialty store Lilly Dodson – Escada. In 2002, she moved to Neiman Marcus where she is today, doing personal shopping for clients and based out of Fine Apparel.

“I noticed that most single women who went to work let their volunteerism go,” she said, “but my Grandmother said, ‘Always take advantage of every opportunity.’ I dearly loved my work with the Junior League of Dallas.” Also, she added that she had grown up watching her parents and grandparents serve and give.

Her decision to work as well as be a volunteer turned out to be “so beautiful—with Divine order.” This newcomer to Dallas actually developed a sphere of influence by working both tracks, which allowed her to meet more people. The two lines of work – professional and volunteer – have gone hand-in-hand for 30 years.


Crystal Charity Ball

Elsa was an active member of Crystal Charity for 15 years, becoming inactive 2020. “I dearly love Crystal Charity! It’s an extraordinary business, aiding so many children’s needs. It helps to integrate our city with its commitment, impact, sustainability, loyalty—bringing together so many parts of a community with its 100 active members,” she said, noting that the organization celebrates its 70th Anniversary this year.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra League (DSOL) and the Symphony Debs

I first met Elsa in 2003, when she was chairing the Debutante Presentation Ball for the DSOL. “I found I adored the essence of the debutante presentation and its traditions (yes, “traditions”),” she said. Elsa gave a slightly unorthodox spin to an event leading up to the ball. She was working at Neiman Marcus by then, and, together with management, they invited the debs to spend the night at the Downtown store in the “Glass House” in Couture. There was a stationery talk, a cosmetics presentation, a fashion presentation, and a lecture on etiquette by this writer.


When the recent Equest Gala was approaching, Executive Director Lili Kellogg called Elsa, who accepted chairing the event. Elsa then pulled in dear friends Carol and Bill Huckin, who were joined by Finley and Eric Konrade, and all five served as co-chairs. The Gala welcomed more than 500 guests and raised more than $600,000 – all to serve children, veterans, and anyone with disabilities for whom therapeutic horseback riding is a blessing. Elsa began her work with Equest in 1988 and was the recipient of the Women’s Auxiliary Community Service Award in 2018.


Space does not allow a list of many other non-profits Elsa has benefitted and plans to help in the future. She ends our talk with a statement worthy of tacking on one’s wall for daily reviewing: “No matter what happens, we have to carry on, doing whatever we are asked to do. That is God’s gift to us,” she says. “Because we get one shot at this trip.”

Linda Faulkner Johnston – The Tradition

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