Strauss immersed herself in volunteer work in the Dallas community, serving on the boards of countless educational, arts, healthcare, and social services organizations. At first she worked on behalf of the Dallas Symphony, then for the Crystal Charity Ball, Southern Methodist University, the United Way, United Jewish Appeal, the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Baylor University Medical Center, and dozens of other groups. She estimated that she raised more than $9 million for various groups.
It was only natural that Mrs. Strauss should seek a seat in the political arena after all her years of successful networking in both business and fundraising. In 1983, she ran for and won an at-large seat in the Dallas City Council. She became deputy mayor pro tem and then mayor pro tem in 1984. In 1987, with a campaign promise to be mayor for all the people, Strauss summed up by her 42 years work for the city, and Dallas' old guard awoke to a new mayor who was Jewish, a woman, and a Democrat with 56% of the vote. Strauss was known for her ability to build consensus across economic and political strata. Annette Strauss left her mayoral duties behind in 1991 and became a public relations consultant for Levenson, Levenson & Hill of Irving. Subsequently, she was appointed Ambassador-at-Large for the city of Dallas, a position she held until her death on December 14, 1998.