left to right, Erich Bergen, Jessi Cruickshank, Dana Goldberg, Kay Wilkinson

From Staff Reports

Black Tie Dinner officials announced on Sept. 20 that senatorial candidate and Congressman Beto O’Rourke will be the opening speaker for this year’s dinner, coming up Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. And local activist Kay Wilkinson was announced earlier this year as the 2018 Kuchling Humanitarian Award winner.

This week, on Thursday, Oct. 4, dinner officials announced the rest of this year’s dinner line-up.

Actor Erich Burgen will receive the Media Award, and actress Jessi Cruickshank will receive the Ally for Equality Award.

And comedian Dana Goldberg returns this year luxury auctioneer.

BTD Co-chair David Robinson said the BTD board is excited to have both Bergen and Cruickshank attending the dinner and accepting awards. He praised Bergen’s contributions “through stage, song and film to raise positive awareness of LGBTQ issues.”

Both Bergen and Cruickshank, he said “personify what it means to live your life visible as your authentic self.”

BTD officials said they are also excited to have O’Rourke, the young Democrat from El Paso who is challenging anti-LGBT Republican incumbent Ted Cruz for one of Texas’ two seats in the U.S. Senate. Some of the latest polls show O’Rourke with a slim lead over Cruz.

BTD Co-Chair Nate Robbins noted, “During his time in Congress, Beto O’Rourke has consistently been an advocate for the LGBTQ community. His message of equality and his willingness to bring visibility to all of the issues facing our community makes him an ideal person to open this year’s Dinner.”

Erich Bergen
Bergen currently stars as Blake Moran on the CBS television drama, Madam Secretary, now in its fifth season. Hhis character recently came out as bisexual, making him one of the few bisexual male characters on TV.

Bergen made his Broadway debut this summer, starring opposite Katharine McPhee in the hit musical Waitress. He also starred in the Clint Eastwood film Jersey Boys, reprising his performance as Bob Gaudio from the Tony Award-winning stage production of the Jersey Boys musical. He has appeared in Gossip Girl, Roundabout Theatre Company’s national tour of Anything Goes and the 2018 film, Humor Me.

Bergen performs as a singer in concert venues all over the world, and his albums are available wherever music is sold.

Jessi Cruickshank
Cruickshank is the Canadian Screen Award-winning host of the daytime talk show The Goods and the prime-time game show Canada’s Smartest Person on CBC. She broke into comedy as the only girl in an all-male improv comedy troupe alongside Seth Rogen and soon became a household name as the face of MTV Canada, hosting the daily show MTV LIVE and smash hit The Hills After Show, the first series in Canadian television history to be live-simulcast to the U.S.
Cruickshank re-located to Los Angeles to host Live from E!, Oh Sit!, Fashion Fail and Jerseylicious, and recently wrapped up her sixth season as the L.A. host of eTalk. Her digital shorts have more than 13 million views, and her most recent video, Kids on Pride, became a viral sensation, generating discussion and sparking controversy.
She is now a guest-anchor on E!’s Daily Pop and recently became a mom to identical twin boys.

Dana Goldberg
Goldberg is returning this year to add her own brand of topical humor to the evening and to once again conduct the live luxury auction from the BTD stage.

She has been seen on TBS, ABC and Last Comic Standing, as well as at the San Francisco International Comedy Competition, The Comedy Festival produced by TBS and HBO, and the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her quick wit and playful stage presence have earned her loyal fans across the country and abroad and is one of the most sought-after entertainers on the circuit. She was voted one of the “Top Five Funniest Lesbians in America” by Curve magazine and one of the top three LGBT comedians in the nation by Advocate.com.

Goldberg has performed at and emceed dozens of high-profile events and has helped raise more than $20 million for nonprofits around the country.

Kay Wilkinson
Wilkinson is a long-time volunteer who says her upringing as a Presbyterian preacher’s kid instilled a life-long commitment to giving back to her community. She has a passion for helping at-risk children, working with literacy programs and inner city schools and ensuring that every child has the tools to excel. She strongly believes that early childhood education makes the difference.

Wilkinson has been active in myriad LGBTQ organizations and is an advocate of equality for all. She has volunteered with and served on the boards of many community organizations, including AIDS Services of Dallas, the Dallas Way, the Turtle Creek Chorale, the Women’s Chorus of Dallas, the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas, the Human Rights Campaign and the Dallas-Fort Worth Federal Club. She has been an advocate for women since the early 1970s, fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment, Title IX, and a Woman’s Right to Choose. She has also been a strong political activist, working with numerous campaigns and on a number of “Get Out the Vote” initiatives.

In her professional life, Wilkinson is the regional vice president for Caliber Home Loans, leading mortgage teams in Texas and Oklahoma. She has more than 30 years working in residential lending, and has been active in many professional associations, receiving the coveted Affiliate of the Year Award by MetroTex Realtor Association.