Volunteer Spotlight

Grafton Ifill III and Jacob Jones on a Sell-Out Year for 'DocStars'

Longtime members of The Cary Council share the success behind the organization’s annual fundraising event

Billed as “An Evening with DocStars,” The Cary Council’s annual event continues to be a highlight for Dallas professionals interested in supporting research at UT Southwestern Medical Center. While the 2021 event shifted to a drive-through experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last November, event Co-Chairs Amber and Grafton Ifill III and Barrell and Jacob Jones kicked things into overdrive.

Jacob and Barrell Jones with Amber and Grafton Ifill III
Jacob and Barrell Jones pose for a photo with Amber and Grafton Ifill III at “An Evening with Docstars” on November 3, 2022, at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Ren Morrison/​Southwestern Medical Foundation

Together, the two couples orchestrated a sell-out crowd for The Cary Council’s hallmark event, helping to raise close to $300,000 for the Medical Center. A partnership between the Medical Center and Southwestern Medical Foundation, The Cary Council has awarded 15 grants to accelerate the work of early-career investigators since 2017, resulting in more than $9.4 million in additional scientific research funding awarded to UT Southwestern. Members refer to the grant recipients as "DocStars."

Mr. Ifill is an Executive Director and Market Team Lead at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. Born and raised in Nassau, the Bahamas, Mr. Ifill was one of the top junior sprinters in the world when, as a 16-year-old, he beat future Jamaican Olympic champion Usain Bolt in a 200-meter race. In addition to volunteering with The Cary Council, Mr. Ifill serves on UT Southwestern’s President’s Advisory Board, an organization that provides UT Southwestern’s President Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., and the institution’s leadership with guidance on opportunities and challenges facing the Medical Center.

Mr. Jones co-manages the assets and operations of The Albany Group, a family office based in Dallas and Albany, Texas, focused on oil and gas partnerships, direct private investments, and a diversified portfolio of public and private managed accounts. In addition, he is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Altrus Capital, a Dallas private equity firm. He serves on Southwestern Medical Foundation’s Investment Committee and is a member of UT Southwestern’s President’s Advisory Board.

Highlights from the 2022 “An Evening with Docstars” hosted by The Cary Council. Southwestern Medical Foundation

Looking back, Mr. Ifill and Mr. Jones share why volunteering with UT Southwestern and Southwestern Medical Foundation is important to their families and why they feel “An Evening with Docstars” continues to draw people to the medical and scientific research underway at UT Southwestern.

How has UT Southwestern impacted you and your family?

Mr. Ifill: Growing up, I had a very close family friend named Kameron Rahming, who lost his battle to cancer in his early 20s. For many years I have looked for ways to honor his life and keep his memory alive. Shortly after moving to Dallas, I was invited to an event organized by The Cary Council, and I immediately realized how becoming part of this organization could be very rewarding in many different ways.

What distinguishes this institution as a leader in academic medicine?

Mr. Jones: In addition to top tier rankings at the national level, you can see the success and reputation on display by the quality of talent and leadership UT Southwestern continues to attract and retain. There is a national shortage of talent in clinical care and research. Because of UT Southwestern’s successes, it continues to be a leader in attracting top physicians, researchers, and health care professionals who are advancing our understanding of science and medicine.

“The Cary Council creates greater awareness of UT Southwestern’s impact across our community."

How does The Cary Council make a difference for UT Southwestern?

Mr. Jones: The Cary Council creates greater awareness of UT Southwestern’s impact across our community and provides support for early-stage research. We have cultivated an amazing membership base of up-and-coming leaders in the community, but even more exciting is the success of the faculty recipients of our early-stage research grants.”

What makes “An Evening with DocStars" special?

Mr. Ifill: “An Evening with DocStars” is a fun and engaging social event where attendees have an opportunity to support and learn more about the mission of The Cary Council and, by extension, the work of Southwestern Medical Foundation and UT Southwestern. What sets the event apart is the large interactive component that gives attendees the chance to experiment with medical equipment and meet the talented researchers, doctors, and medical leaders behind amazing research projects underway at UT Southwestern.

What has been most memorable about your time volunteering with UT Southwestern?

Mr. Jones: Through leadership at The Cary Council, committee responsibilities at Southwestern Medical Foundation, and serving as Co-Chair of “An Evening with DocStars,” I have witnessed leading-edge research on cancer, brain diseases, and many other areas where UT Southwestern is advancing our understanding of science and medicine. When you see what is happening, you get excited about becoming more involved.

Mr. Ifill: My experiences with The Cary Council have been second to none. I’ve learned so much from the one-on-one conversations I’ve had with researchers, doctors, and medical leaders – incredible men and women who should be as celebrated as the top business leaders, artists, and athletes of our generation.

  • Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.