A dedicated leader and dynamic volunteer, Jennifer Burr Altabef brings heart and vision to her community involvement. She chairs the boards of the Dallas Theater Center and KERA, and previously chaired the boards of the Dallas Zoological Society and the Thanks-Giving Foundation. She currently serves on the boards of Big Thought and the Global Fund for Children. Altabef co-chaired Zoo to Do at the Dallas Zoo as well as the 2019 TACA Silver Cup Awards Luncheon, and is an ordained elder of the Presbyterian Church USA. She previously served on the St. Mark’s Parents’ Association board and the advisory board of the Dallas Children’s Theater.
Altabef earned a B.F.A. in journalism, cum laude, from Meadows School of the Arts and a J.D. from Dedman School of Law. She continues her generous SMU engagement as chair of the Meadows School of the Arts Executive Board and has been instrumental in the school’s Owen Arts Center renovation fundraising efforts. Her SMU leadership also has included co-chairing Meadows at the Winspear and chairing the SMU Libraries Executive Board. During The Second Century Campaign, she was a member of the Meadows School Campaign Steering Committee. In addition, she has served on the Meadows Alumni Advisory Council and the Class of 1978 Reunion Committee. Altabef also helped shepherd formation of the National Center of Arts Research at SMU, now known as SMU DataArts, as an advisor.
She describes the scholarships she received as a student as “life-changing.” That experience has inspired the support she and her husband, Peter, have provided for numerous SMU scholarships, including the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series Endowed President’s Scholars Fund, Meadows Scholars, the Donna Wilhelm Endowed Scholarship, the Caren H. Prothro Endowed Meadows Scholars Fund and the Diane and Hal Brierley Endowed Scholarship. In 2013, they established the Journalism Excellence Fund in honor of SMU historian and Professor Emeritus Darwin Payne ’68.
After a 28-year legal career in Dallas, she retired as partner from Carrington, Coleman, Sloman and Blumenthal, LLP in 2009, where she specialized in employment law. She was regularly named among the “Best Lawyers in America,” Texas Monthly’s Texas Super Lawyers and the Best Lawyers in Dallas by D Magazine.