In memory of
Serena Simmons Connelly
In memory of
Serena Simmons Connelly
CONNELLY, Serena Simmons Serena Simmons Connelly, beloved wife, mother, daughter, and sister, died on April 22, 2020 in Dallas, Tx at the age of 50. Serena was born on Jan 18, 1970 in Houston, Tx and was raised in Dallas, the youngest of 4 girls. She graduated as valedictorian from Greenhill School, received a bachelor's degree from Brown University in Classical Studies, and later earned her Master's in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1995. Serena wanted to change the world and she took every opportunity to do that. A quiet, gentle soul, she had incredible compassion for others and determination to get things done. Her earliest work was serving HIV/AIDS patients in Dallas. This was a crash course in inequity that would shape her life's work. Serena got to know Dallas and its institutions by struggling to guide people through them. She got to know the city's refugee community and began working with torture survivors. When an agency serving those survivors faced closure, Serena set about establishing the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas. Now in its 20th year, the agency serves immigrant survivors of human rights abuses. At her insistence, the legal services always work hand in hand with social services, never losing sight of clients' dignity and humanity. In 1999, Serena joined the Harold Simmons Foundation, where she worked with her family to help those in greatest need. Serena believed in the power of philanthropy to drive systemic change. Her passion for early childhood learning, criminal justice reform, including abolishing the death penalty, gender equity, and quality medical and mental health care for all, shaped much of the Foundation's work over the years. She was a strong and vocal advocate for immigrant rights, Montessori education, trauma-informed therapy, and raising the voice of those living in poverty. Through the Foundation, and personally, she was a proud supporter of Parkland Hospital, Lumin Education, Educational First Steps, Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU, Equal Justice USA, Physicians for Human Rights, among many others. Over the years she served on numerous boards and advisory boards, including Texas Women's Foundation, the Dallas Zoo, the Texas Muslim Women's Foundation, and the North Texas Regional Board of USA for UNICEF. She received the Social Worker of the Year award from the NASW Texas Chapter, Dallas Unit in 2001 and the Distinguished Alumni award from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2014. Serena is preceded in death by her father, Harold C. Simmons. She is survived by her husband, Tom Connelly, and their two children, her mother Sandra Simmons, stepmother Annette Simmons, sisters Lisa Simmons, Scheryle Simmons, Andrea Swanson, her stepsister Amy Simmons, stepbrother Andy Fleck and their respective families. She is also survived by a loving family of uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews too numerous to name. Serena leaves a legacy of many good friends and colleagues who adored her. There will be a reception to celebrate Serena's life at a later date. The family requests that anyone who chooses to make a donation in her memory, direct them to Human Rights Initiative of North Texas at www.hrionline.org or Early Matters Fund at the Dallas Foundation at https://www.dallasfoundation.org
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opt312: Original
In memory of
Serena Simmons Connelly
CONNELLY, Serena Simmons Serena Simmons Connelly, beloved wife, mother, daughter, and sister, died on April 22, 2020 in Dallas, Tx at the age of 50. Serena was born on Jan 18, 1970 in Houston, Tx and was raised in Dallas, the youngest of 4 girls. She graduated as valedictorian from Greenhill School, received a bachelor's degree from Brown University in Classical Studies, and later earned her Master's in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1995. Serena wanted to change the world and she took every opportunity to do that. A quiet, gentle soul, she had incredible compassion for others and determination to get things done. Her earliest work was serving HIV/AIDS patients in Dallas. This was a crash course in inequity that would shape her life's work. Serena got to know Dallas and its institutions by struggling to guide people through them. She got to know the city's refugee community and began working with torture survivors. When an agency serving those survivors faced closure, Serena set about establishing the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas. Now in its 20th year, the agency serves immigrant survivors of human rights abuses. At her insistence, the legal services always work hand in hand with social services, never losing sight of clients' dignity and humanity. In 1999, Serena joined the Harold Simmons Foundation, where she worked with her family to help those in greatest need. Serena believed in the power of philanthropy to drive systemic change. Her passion for early childhood learning, criminal justice reform, including abolishing the death penalty, gender equity, and quality medical and mental health care for all, shaped much of the Foundation's work over the years. She was a strong and vocal advocate for immigrant rights, Montessori education, trauma-informed therapy, and raising the voice of those living in poverty. Through the Foundation, and personally, she was a proud supporter of Parkland Hospital, Lumin Education, Educational First Steps, Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU, Equal Justice USA, Physicians for Human Rights, among many others. Over the years she served on numerous boards and advisory boards, including Texas Women's Foundation, the Dallas Zoo, the Texas Muslim Women's Foundation, and the North Texas Regional Board of USA for UNICEF. She received the Social Worker of the Year award from the NASW Texas Chapter, Dallas Unit in 2001 and the Distinguished Alumni award from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2014. Serena is preceded in death by her father, Harold C. Simmons. She is survived by her husband, Tom Connelly, and their two children, her mother Sandra Simmons, stepmother Annette Simmons, sisters Lisa Simmons, Scheryle Simmons, Andrea Swanson, her stepsister Amy Simmons, stepbrother Andy Fleck and their respective families. She is also survived by a loving family of uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews too numerous to name. Serena leaves a legacy of many good friends and colleagues who adored her. There will be a reception to celebrate Serena's life at a later date. The family requests that anyone who chooses to make a donation in her memory, direct them to Human Rights Initiative of North Texas at www.hrionline.org or Early Matters Fund at the Dallas Foundation at https://www.dallasfoundation.org
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