Parks, people, politics: What’s next for Calvert Collins-Bratton?

2018’s Five Fierce Females of Preston Hollow

As a former broadcast reporter and current assistant vice president of strategic events and relationships at Methodist Health System Foundation, Calvert Collins-Bratton is living up to her historical name. Named after her grandmother Calvert, the first woman on the Dallas City Council in 1957, Collins-Bratton believes in making a difference in the community. She serves on the Dallas Park and Recreation board for Council District 13, is president of Safer Dallas, Better Dallas and works on the North Texas advisory board of Children at Risk. She is the mother of three girls, a 4-year-old and 20-month-old twins, who attend the Jewish Community Center. The University of Missouri graduate lives with her husband, Vince Bratton, and children on Heatherbrook behind Jesuit.

About her namesake: My grandmother was appointed by then mayor R.L. Thornton. She went to a neighborhood meeting about paving Turtle Creek, the road. She took a tongue lashing from neighbors who didn’t want it to be paved. I appreciate those kinds of decisions. It doesn’t make you the most popular person at a dinner party, but you have an impact on your city.

Why the park board: My mom was on the park board when she was pregnant with me. I knew Jennifer Gates just through being a reporter and we were Twitter buddies. When I left TV, I reached out to her. I started in October.

Her role on Safer Dallas, Better Dallas: Mostly we’ve been supportive of the Dallas Police Department, but in recent years it’s expanded. We raised $18 million dollars mostly from the Caruth Foundations and through the Communities Foundation of Texas. We helped create the Caruth Police Institute and the animal cruelty unit. We held a youth summit last January after the July 7, 2016, police shootings. We helped launch the SANE initiative — sexual assault nurse examiner. These are specially trained emergency-room nurses who use forensic-like rape kits to provide the evidence for police. It’s important to support our police officers. It’s a hard, often thankless, job.

Most proud career accomplishment: As a journalist, I’m proud I got to market five at KDFW-FOX 4 and worked in my hometown on a station that I grew up watching. It’s been an honor to tell good stories at Methodist. This hospital has been here for 90 years.

Her biggest challenge: I had a less than preferred exit at my first job in Omaha. It was a humbling experience. I was 24, and it tested my will. Am I meant to stay in television? Can I overcome this? Will anybody hire me again? That was 15 years ago. It makes you dig deep and say, “I’m going to overcome this.” I think it made me fiercer.

Overcoming gender discrimination: My name is unique. Sometimes I would set up an interview over email and then I’d walk in and hear, “Oh, I was expecting a man.” Television is a ruthless business. Your looks are constantly criticized. You learn to get a thick skin and try to look as professional as you can so that it’s a non-issue.

Television is a ruthless business. Your looks are constantly criticized. You learn to get a thick skin and try to look as professional as you can so that it’s a non-issue.

On work-life balance: I have an amazing husband. It is a total team effort. I’ll wake up at 5 a.m. so I can work out and then he’ll go at 6 a.m. We take turns. He might get the twins dressed and load them in the car while I’m finishing my makeup and Vivian is brushing her teeth. I mean it is all hands-on deck. 

Life in Preston Hollow: We run on the W.T. White High School track, and we go to church at the Grove across the street. We load our kids in the Radio Flyer wagon. You don’t have the hustle and bustle of a big city. We walk a lot to the shops at Inwood and Willow to eat. Vivian will ride her scooter, and I’ll push the twins. I love the walkability.

Political aspirations: I’ve been asked that a lot. Not yet. I’m just trying to get into elementary school with the kids. I’m getting enough education on the Park Board in city politics. If I ever were interested, it would be at the local level. I like seeing the impact in my backyard.


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