DI People: AT&T, Toyota, and More Make Executive Leadership Moves

In this weekly roundup of executive moves in North Texas, you'll also find news from the City of Dallas, GridLiance, C-Hear, Sadiant Health, ThinkWhy, Freese and Nichols, and more.

Across North Texas, companies are promoting and hiring people to take on leadership positions within their organizations.

Dallas Innovates covers prominent personnel moves in Dallas-Fort Worth businesses and nonprofits—from the newest startups to well-established companies. Here are the people moves tied to innovation and technology in the region.

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AT&T CEO steps down, president and COO takes his place

John Stankey

After 13 years as chairman and CEO at Dallas-headquartered AT&T, Randall Stephenson is retiring from the position.

Since taking the helm, Stephenson has seen the telecom company through a series of massive expansions, like the $85 million Time Warner deal and satellite TV provider DirecTV. Current President and COO John Stankey will replace him effective July 1, although Stephenson will continue to serve as executive chairman of the board until January 2021

Our sister publication, D CEO, has more:

“I congratulate John, and I look forward to partnering with him as the leadership team moves forward on our strategic initiatives while navigating the difficult economic and health challenges currently facing our country and the world. John has the right experiences and skills, and the unflinching determination every CEO needs to act on his convictions,” Stephenson said in a statement. “He has a terrific leadership team onboard to ensure AT&T remains strong and continues to deliver for customers and shareholders for years to come.”

Stankey, 57, has served as president and COO since October 2019. He joined AT&T in 1985 and has more than 30 years of leadership spanning nearly every area of AT&T’s business, from corporate strategy and technology to operations and media and entertainment. He has served in a variety of roles, including CEO of WarnerMedia, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, Chief Strategy Officer; Chief Technology Officer; CEO of AT&T Operations; and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions.

“My thanks go to Randall for his vision and outstanding leadership during a period of tremendous change and investment in the core capabilities needed to position AT&T well for the years ahead,” Stankey said in a statement. “And I appreciate the Board’s confidence in me leading the company during our next chapter of growth and innovation in keeping people connected, informed, and entertained.”

Toyota North America makes executive changes

Mike Owens

Plano-headquartered Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) and Toyota Financial Services (TFS) have made executive moves that they say will further strengthen the companies’ leadership.

Holly Walters has been named chief information officer and group vice president of information systems for TMNA and TFS promoted Mike Owens to group vice president and chief risk officer.

Walters was formerly the president and CEO of Toyota Financial Savings Bank (TFSB), a Toyota division she joined in 2007.

Holly Walters

She will now oversee TMNA’s information systems, solutions, and technology, reporting directly to the chief digital officer and executive vice president of digital transformation and mobility, Zack Hicks.

Owens joined Toyota in 2002. He has more than two decades of experience in credit analysis, risk management, account management, and business development. In his new role, Owens will oversee TFS’ international affiliates in the Americas Oceania region, while continuing to serve as chairman of the board of directors for TFSB.

Gina Cavalier is named VP of entertainment strategy at C-Hear

Gina Cavalier

C-Hear, a tech company that helps visually impaired Americans “hear” images online, announced that it is “bolstering its already impressive staff.”

Gina Cavalier, a veteran of Hollywood media and former Warner Bros. employee, has joined C-Hear as the vice president of entertainment strategy.

Cavalier joins the Dallas-based company after a long career in Los Angeles. She’s worked with Netflix, Disney, Fox, Universal, and HBO, and has provided content on more than 300 films and DVDs. Her long resume includes a myriad of titles: entrepreneur, writer, illustrator, clothing designer, and philanthropist.

And, while at Warner Bros., Cavalier was known for founding the first-ever technology employee-driven group, [email protected]

“We couldn’t be happier to add a multitalented woman like Gina to our team,” C-Hear founder and CEO Adena Harmon said in a statement. “We’re so anxious to see how her experience and vision helps C-Hear broaden its brand into new and exciting arenas.” 

Casey Robertson joins Sadiant Health as CEO

Casey Robertson

Leading on-demand healthcare staffing network Sadiant Health has a new leader: Casey Robertson.

The Fort Worth company appointed Robertson to CEO, while Sarah Snetzer, a founder and former CEO, has assumed the role of president.

“Casey brings a depth of healthcare experience we want as we work to grow both our clinician and healthcare facility base,” Snetzer said in a statement. “We’ve accomplished a lot in the early stages of the company, and we know Casey will take us to the next level so we can continue to improve the lives of the clinicians, schedulers and patients we serve.”

Prior to joining Sadiant, Robertson was CEO of East Texas community hospital Longview Regional Medical Center. At the time, the hospital’s cardiac, women’s, and orthopedic service lines saw substantial growth, which came from Robertson developing partnerships in the medical community and throughout the region.

Prior to that, he was CEO of Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin, Texas.

“The Sadiant solution is just what healthcare facilities need today—on-demand staffing that is reliable and fast,” Robertson said in a statement. “We have a tremendous opportunity to improve staffing shortages, nurse morale and patient care—all with a streamlined solution that healthcare administrators crave. I am thrilled to join this talented team and look forward to expanding our clinician base and technology capabilities so we can serve even more providers across the country.”

Catherine Cuellar is the new director of communications, outreach & marketing for the City of Dallas

The City of Dallas has added Catherine Cuellar to its team as the director of communications, outreach & marketing. Although a formal announcement hasn’t been named, Cuellar has updated the position on LinkedIn.

According to her page, Cuellar has held the role since this month. She lists her tasks as:

• Lead COVID-19 crisis communications, supporting the City Council Ad Hoc Committees and working with local, state, and national stakeholders to reach the public in Dallas’ response, mitigation, and recovery efforts
• Deliver equitable communication strategies and materials reaching Dallas’ diverse populations
• Serve as the City’s official media spokesperson
• Direct the current Office of Public Affairs and Outreach transition to provide comprehensive strategic communications and mission-driven marketing and branding

ThinkWhy gets a new CIO

Jay Denton

Jay Denton has joined ThinkWhy, a Dallas-based SaaS platform that helps companies navigate the evolving labor market, as chief information officer and SVP of business intelligence.

Prior to joining ThinkWhy, Denton held a similar role at Bell Partners, a multifamily investment and management firm. He has more than 15 years of leadership experience in SaaS organizations and in product creation, client consulting, and predictive analytics. 

In his new role, Denton will lead two areas of ThinkWhy’s business: market analytics and platform development. According to ThinkWhy, he will also help champion a culture of thoughtleadership within the company.

Nancy Novak is appointed to the Infrastructure Masons Advisory council

Nancy Novak

Compass Datacenters CIO Nancy Novak has joined Infrastructure Masons’ Advisory Council, a leadership committee made up of industry experts, as an independent member.

In joining the team, Novak will assist in steering education, diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability initiatives. Each member is known to be responsible for some of the largest infrastructure portfolios in the world—Novak herself has overseen the delivery of more than r $3.5 billion in projects during her 30 years of construction experience.

“Advocating for greater diversity and inclusion in our industry has been a passion of mine for my entire career, and this new role with iMasons will allow me to work with a great team of peers to move our industry forward in these key areas,” Novak said in a statement.

Freese and Nichols adds a new geotechnical specialist to the team

Mahsa Hedayati

Fort Worth-based Freese and Nichols—a professional consulting firm that plans, designs, and manages infrastructure projects—has added Mahsa Hedayati to its water resource design team.

Hedayati, PhD, PE, is a senior geotechnical engineer with a decade of relevant experience. In joining the team, Freese and Nichols said it will better be able to provide geotechnical solutions for clients across Texas and the southeast.

Hedayati has worked on projects in Fort Worth and Colleyville, helping to conduct research on pavement systems for the Texas Department of Transportation. She’s also taught courses at UT Arlington and was a doctoral student there.

“Mahsa’s combination of experience, academic credentials and knowledge of advanced modeling tools will help us provide more efficient solutions for clients in all the regions we serve,” Victor Vasquez, Freese and Nichols’ water resource design group manager, said in a statement.

High-Tech High Heels elects seven new directors to its Texas Chapter’s board

The Texas Chapter of High-Tech High Heels has announced seven new members of its Board of Directors. The newly elected directors join a team of STEM leaders across Dallas-Fort Worth.

High-Tech High Heels is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by 30 women from TI who want to close the gender gap in STEM fields. The Texas Chapter is led by President Robin Bray, Treasurer Linda Diehl, and Secretary Christine Witzsche.

“These new board members bring passion, along with diverse skills and experience to our Board of Directors,” Bray said in a statement. “We are excited to work together to fund effective programs that improve STEM education, inspire and mentor the next generation and bring hands-on learning opportunities to girls across the entire K-12 STEM academic pipeline.”

The new directors are:

Diana Aguirre
Juanita DeLoach
Pamela Dukes
Dawn Hall
Jeryn Laengrich
Amber Nystrom
Carol Primdahl

Go here for each director’s bio.

Robert Konkos joins Infogroup as VP of its enterprise division

Robert Konkos

An ad-tech innovator as joined Infogroup to expand its footprint in the agency services market.

Dallas-headquartered Infogroup is a provider of data and data-driven intelligence solutions. The company announced that Konkos, in his new role, will create unique solutions and forge deep in-market connections for its agency arm. Konkos will be based out of Infogroup’s office in New York.

“Robert created and launched in-flight optimization,” Infogroup Chairman and CEO Michael Iaccarino said in a statement. “Timestamping offline sales data and uploading it each week was a game-changer for CPG companies, who could then use it to optimize their programs, processes, and ultimately, revenue. We can’t wait to see what Robert will do for our clients.” 

Konkos’ experience spans the range of digital media buying and selling. He has previously held leadership roles at IRI, North American Publishing Group, and eWayDirect. Infogroup said he’s driven growth throughout his entire career, mainly transforming media planning, buying, and activation for CPG, agency, and other verticals.

GridLiance makes executive promotions

GridLiance, an independent electric transmission utility company based in Irving, has made moves that intend to support its next stages of growth.

GridLiance announced that: Justin M. Campbell has been named executive vice president, chief development officer; Alison Zimlich has been named executive vice president, chief financial officer; Michael Landgraf has been named vice president, corporate development and president, GridLiance West; and Joe Loner has been named vice president, finance and treasurer.

Calvin Crowder, president and CEO of GridLiance, said the promotions recognize vital contributions that each individual has made to the organization in areas that are critical to growth and success.

Campbell will continue to oversee GridLiance’s growth initiatives, including asset acquisitions, joint development arrangements, and transmission planning. Landgraf, who succeeds Campbell, will be in charge of operational and financial performance and transmission development for GridLiance West.

Zimlich will be responsible for all enterprise risk management and compliance functions in her new expanded role. And Loner, who succeeds Zimlich, will be tasked with debt financings, tax structuring, and compliance and treasury operations.

CBRE taps Russell Ingrum to lead Texas’ office capital markets

Russell Ingrum

CBRE announced that Russell Ingrum is rejoining CBRE Capital Markets in Texas to lead office institutional investment sales. He will be based in the Dallas office.

Ingrum has a long, successful track record in the state as an office investment sales professional, CBRE said. He returns from the Bay area, where he was serving as a senior leader on CBRE’s Northern California Capital Markets team.

“We are thrilled to have Russell return to Texas where he started his career,” Michael Caffey, president of the South-Central Division & Latin America for CBRE, said in a statement. “He has extensive experience and strong relationships in these markets and he knows the investment community in Texas well, allowing him to advise our clients immediately.”

CBRE said Ingrum has closed more than 850 equity sales transactions in the U.S. That equates to 605 million square feet for a total consideration of $36 billion. He’s continually a top national producer in investment sales for the firm.

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