Meet Our Team: Dena Miller, Dallas City Editor
Name: Dena Miller
Occupation: PR/Marketing/Events at Prestonwood Polo Club
Education: Aladdin Cosmetology School
Twitter Handle: @BRTDena
What are three words that best describe you? Involved, Compassionate, Plugged- in-Parent
How did you learn about Miss A? I reached out to the then editor of Dallas Ask Miss A to be a media sponsor of my most fabulous polo annual polo event. In my event presentation I had included the articles I’d written for national polo and equestrian magazines. My meeting quickly turned from being about my event to my joining the Miss A Dallas Team.
What motivated you to get involved? I am very involved in philanthropy on many levels and being able to write about all the wonderful causes and the inspiring people that do so much to help them was a very exciting prospect.
Why do you like writing for Miss A? Besides as I mentioned, giving charities and philanthropic people a venue to promote their causes and get credit for their hard work, I’ve been working on a couple of books and writing regularly helps me with my skills.
How has writing for Miss A benefited you?
Writing for Miss A has given me a forum to promote causes that are important to me and to my community as well as lots of sharpening of my writing skills for my forthcoming books.
Could you describe your business?
While I spent my years as a single mom as a hair dresser, corrective color specialist and make up artist, after retiring to have three more children I went to work for our family business after my husband realized my knack for creating events and promoting our passion for the sport of Polo.
My husband and I own the Prestonwood Polo and Country Club in Oak Point, Texas. During Polo Season (Spring-May and June, Fall –September, October and half November) we have Saturday evening polo events open to the public and host charity, social and private events. We run a Polo school where my husband coaches our sons USPA Championship Interscholastic Team, the Texas Christian University’s Women’s Polo Team and gives private lessons all year long.
What is your role, where are you based and what inspires you most about your work? Our polo club is a family run business where all of our children have grown up working the gate, scoreboard and even the little one was given the job of manning the bounce house. While my husband organizes the polo matches and plays in them, I create and produce events that make each Saturday a unique experience. Polo is where my family interacts together and with our community, bringing something very special. The sport of polo has given me a venue to give back to the many worthy causes that have touched my life such as domestic violence, family homelessness, children with serious medical needs and much more.
Was there anything in your past that pointed you in the direction you’ve taken? While I have been very blessed and live in a very nice community, home and have nice things now, my childhood was a struggle with poverty and abuse and after an 11 year relationship I found myself a single mother, so having had the experiences that I have I am extremely appreciative and feel that it is my duty to give back to those that are suffering in the same ways that I have.
What experience in your career are you most proud of? Through polo, my Ladies Polo Auxiliary group that I founded in 2005, we have helped to raise about a half million dollars and growing for women’s and children’s causes. I’m very proud of that, as well as bringing world class polo events to Dallas, like this Septembers match I recently booked that has the Morocco Royal Guard Polo Team playing US Military Polo Team.
What advice would you share with those still in school? Education is the key to escaping poverty. All aren’t college bound, a trade school after graduating high school is quite sufficient. Everyone needs a plumber, a hair dresser, an auto mechanic, etc. Many high schools offer classes in these and even culinary skills and i highly suggest taking them there when available. There is great money to be had for anyone that works hard in any position.
Why is giving back important to you? I believe that everyone has a responsibility to do what they can. Some can write a check, some can give of their time, whatever your greatest resource is, there is something everyone can do to help those less fortunate than themselves. And when you think your situation is the worst, trust me, someone out there does have it worse off than you. I’ve known poverty, hunger and abuse. For me to be so blessed by the grace of God and not give back, remembering where I’ve been and what I’ve been through, would be a disgrace.
How has giving back helped you? True story. The brain is an amazing organ and can block out a lot of past painful memories. In the best of times these will come back, for seemingly no reason at all. Therapists say that when a woman becomes a mother quite often this will happen and its because subconsciously she is worried about protecting her children like perhaps she hadn’t been protected. At a time in my life when all was perfect, I began having nightmares and flashbacks. I saw a therapist who recommended writing and I fell in love with writing, found a passion and talent for it that I’d forgotten I’d had in school. (LOVED doing book reports! ) Also, when I did my first charity polo event for a domestic violence agency and found out how much we raised I was addicted and I swear, as long as I’ve been doing charity work my nightmares have not come back. Philanthropy is my therapy now.
How do you incorporate giving back into your life? Besides Polo being a huge part of my family’s life and incorporating polo charity events in that, my son and I are members of our chapter Young Men’s Service League. My second son will join us next year. YMSL is a four year( high school) commitment that has moms and sons serving philanthropy hours in our community. It’s a great time to spend giving back with your kids and teaching them the importance of doing so. Another way is through pageantry. I began competing in the Mrs.Texas pageants in 2012 and I’ve won the Ambassador Award 2012 for being the contestant doing the most charity and the Mrs. Texas Fabulous Face 2014 Award that earned me the monies from this peoples choice portion of the pageant that I was able to donate to the Just Say Yes Foundation. As Mrs. Park Cities I am currently spearheading an effort with my publicist Allyson Aynesworth to collect donations of clothing, toys and necessities for the 2000 immigrant children that are coming to Dallas to be housed. I am rallying all of my sister title holders in the state to do the same in their communities and our plan is to have these items waiting at the sites when the children arrive.
Which charities are near and dear to you and why? There are so many that are but I’ll name Family Place, Genesis and Hopes Door because domestic violence happened in my life growing up and caused me to leave home in my most crucial teenage years. I greatly appreciate these safe houses.
When it comes to your own philanthropic efforts, what do you look back and feel made the largest impact on those that you set out to help? I’ve done so much fundraising and I hope that every dollar raised made a great impact for the cause, though time spent in the trenches can sometimes make a greater impact and when serving the homeless with Soupmobile my son and I agree, is the best feeling for us, ever. More than just give them food, we’re not afraid to hold conversations with them, shake their hand, compliment and hug them. These are the people that feel invisible, as most people walk right past them and try to pretend they aren’t there. Every one of them is a person, with a story. I can honestly say that of all the volunteerism I’ve done, spending time putting smiles on homeless peoples faces has made the biggest Impact on ME.
What are some of the most creative fundraising idea you’ve come across? I come up with some doozies! This October 25 we’re going to dunk local celebrities and soccialites in a dunking booth for dollars at the Ladies Polo Auxiliary’s tenth annual Polo on the Midway event for Boys and Girls Club. As a Board member at Dallas Summer Musicals and on the development committee its my job to help think of ways to raise funds and I gave the idea of a sing for your supper event where locals that fancy themselves talented can be fed for the price of a song while others, like myself, that sing badly can pay double, lol!! I’d still like to produce the idea I presented when I was on the board of Dress for Success for an UnDress for Success Burlesque show event…..I don”t think I was taken seriously:)
What are some must-attend charity events for you? Polo on the Lawn a Kentucky Derby Day event that has benefited Family Place, Family Gateway, Wipe Out Kids Cancer and Project Transformation in the 13 years it’s been going on is by far my most favorite event all year. Dress for Success’ Light the Runway is a great cause and such a fun time. It’s the only Father/Daughter fashion show that i know of and I think its precious to see the dads walk with their girls, of all ages. DSM Curtain Call as well as their annual Announcement party are both divine and have some fabulous surprise entertainment. My family are big fans of live musical theater, so those are great.
What brands do you wear most often? You’ll laugh, but for casual mom running around I love Juicy Couture, lol! Yes, I’m laughing too. My daughters and I love our matching Juicy track suits. For dressing up I have a hard to fit off the rack size and Nicole Miller and Abi Ferrin work for me and I love them. Abi Ferrin has designed some one of a kind matching dresses for my daughter and I and a ball gown for me. For business my favorite suit is Armani, Ellie Tahari is nice, too. Shoes- Christian Laboutin and Stuart Weitzman. I’m a huge fan of fab sunglasses and Jimmy Choo is my favorite.
What is your favorite beauty product? I’m a skin care fanatic and cut no corners when it comes to great products. I’m a huge fan of Natura Bisse’s Diamond Extreme Cream and used it for years but discovered Kimberly Parry Organics about 6 months ago and have switched. Both are amazing and I get compliments on my skin most every day. At almost 50 years old I never mind revealing my age because I know that the care I’ve taken of my skin at any cost has paid off.
How would you describe your home décor? For years it’s been child friendly! I did break down and buy a new sofa and its white, so I’m a nervous wreck when the kids are in the living room!
What is your secret for hosting a great party? I’m a fan of Signature cocktail. My friend Joanne Taylor is an amazing mixologist and when I’m having a party I’ll tell her the theme or what I’m serving and she’ll come up with a unique cocktail for it. She gets really intense with it and will muddle jalapenos or infuse with fresh peaches and such.
Favorite food: Dean Fearings (@ Ritz Carlton) southern fried lobster is my most favorite meal, hands down. When I saw it on the menu I questioned frying lobster, but Dean himself came to my table and recommended it. After the first bite I knew it would be the best thing I’d ever put in my mouth! Favorite cocktail: Mi Cocina’s Skinny Margarita. They use NO agave, which is still just another sugar, just from a different source and all sugar turns to fat no matter where it came from, so skip it. Just the tequila and fresh squeezed lime with maybe a splash of Cointreau is perfection. I recreate these at home.
Favorite restaurant: Since Dean Fearing has my favorite meal, I guess it would have to be Fearrings. But there are so many wonderful restaurants in Dallas! Love Javiers, Mr. Mesero…..
If you could host a dinner party for 8, who would you invite living or dead? Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Lenny Kravitz, John Lennon, Thressa Anderson, Ariel Nevitt, my husband and I!
Favorite vacation spot: Cabo San Lucas
Do you have any tips for parents? Toddlers are much easier than teenagers. It’s the hardest time of your life. I wouldn’t want to be a teenager again! YMSL had an amazing speaker that explained to us that when kids hit teenage years their brains are like a computer and a “reset” button is pushed. That explains everything, lol!Teenagers lie and the person they lie to the most is you. Don’t take it personally. And don’t make the mistake of thinking you have THE ONE that doesn’t. Eyes and heart open at all times.
Favorite TV show: Loving Black Box and have a girl crush on Kelly Reilly.
Favorite movie: African Queen. I love old movies and actors from the Studio Era but this one has special memories of watching it alone with my Grandparents.
Favorite song:All We Are Saying ( Give Peace A Chance) John Lennon or Let Love Rule-Lenny Kravitz
Favorite book: “The Power of Positive Thinking” was given to me by a special person at a crucial time in my life. It enforced everything I believe about my Spirituality.
Favorite apps: I’m not big into apps and am completely techtarded. My kids load apps onto my phone and I ask them why I need this?
IPhone or Android: Iphone
Favorite workout: Walking the Katy Trail and Pilates.
Where do you get your news? My husband and I have a morning ritual of reading the Dallas Morning News over coffee together every morning. I couldn’t imagine a day without it!