DI People: Brinker International, Neiman Marcus Group, Texas Oncology, and More Make Moves

In this weekly roundup of executive moves in North Texas, you'll also find news from Trinity Park Conservancy, RKD Group, Taysha Gene Therapies, Freese and Nichols, NuVinAir, and Skybox Datacenters, among others.

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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Brinker appoints a VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Tammy Jones-Still

Dallas-headquartered Brinker International, a multinational casual dining restaurant company that owns Chili’s and Maggiano’s Little Italy, has promoted Tammy Jones-Still from senior director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) to vice president of DE&I.

Jones-Still has 24 years of experience at Brinker, previously overseeing multiple accounting functions before moving to DE&I. In her new role, she will work to elevate and strengthen the company’s diversity and inclusion strategies to achieve meaningful results, while continuing to develop a welcoming environment for all team members and restaurant guests.

“Tammy has a professional and personal passion for diversity and inclusion, and has always been a strong advocate for change,” CEO and President Wyman Roberts said in a statement. “She plays a vital role and continues to demonstrate her ability to lead the charge and fuel our culture by furthering our commitment to a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce. Her progress has been impressive, and I know she’ll continue to drive impactful transformation throughout our organization working closely with our leadership team to develop and drive DE&I initiatives, programs and strategies.”

Texas Oncology combines CFO and COO

Jason Shook

Dallas-based Texas Oncology has promoted its Chief Financial Officer Jason Shook to an expanded operation role that now also include chief operating officer.

As both CFO and COO, Shook will oversee operational and administrative needs while also maintaining responsibility for overall financial management. That includes financial planning and analysis, tax, treasury, accounting, and reporting. He has been with Texas Oncology as CFO since 2018 after previously serving as VP and CFO for The US Oncology Network and Practice Management business within McKesson.

Former COO and Managing Director J. Ernest Sims will maintain his position as managing director.

“As the practice experiences significant growth, we will look to proven leaders like Jason and Ernie to apply their considerable management expertise to guide us,” Steven Paulson, M.D., president and chairman of the Board at Texas Oncology, said in a statement. “We are strengthening our organization for a dynamic and challenging future in healthcare and oncology care with a leadership structure that supports and fosters our focus on providing leading-edge care to patients.”

Neiman Marcus Group makes key hires

Dallas-headquartered Neiman Marcus Group, the luxury department store chain, is investing in talent, merchandising, technology, and supply chain to “reshape the Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman customer experience.”

With the new strategic investments, NMG aims to strengthen its business, adopt new ways of working, invest in technology and data analytics, and redeploy resources, according to a news release. That includes an $85 million gross investment in supply chain innovation.

Bob Kupbens

“Neiman Marcus Group is a customer and brand relationship business, powered by a strong digital ecosystem,” CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck said in a statement. “Today we are announcing additional moves to accelerate our transformation reflecting our renewed financial flexibility and desire to invest in areas that are a source of unique competitive advantage and create shareholder value.”

On the people side, NMG is grouping technology, digital products, and advanced analytics under one leader and distorting capital to these areas.

Paolo Riva

Bob Kupbens is joining the company as executive vice president, chief product and technology officer, effective Feb. 1. Kupbens brings expertise in elevating customer experiences from his time at Apple, eBay, Delta, and ADT. He will be tasked with collaborating to develop new digital products and capabilities that enhance store, online, and omni-channel experiences at NMG and Bergdorf Goodman.

NMG also appointed Paolo Riva to the newly created role of general manager of Brand Partnerships & Merchandising. Riva will bring his extensive experience in brand and P&L from serving in luxury senior global roles, like CEO at Victoria Beckham and supporting senior global roles at Valentino, Diane von Furstenberg, Ferragamo, and Tory Burch.

Trinity Park Conservancy names a new president and CEO

Tony Moore

Trinity Park Conservancy, a local nonprofit dedicated to building Harold Simmons Park and transforming the Trinity River into the natural gathering place for Dallas, has appointed Tony Moore as its new president and CEO, effective April 5.

Most recently, Moore was executive director and CEO of Gathering Place, Tulsa’s Riverfront Park. Since it opened in 2018, Gathering Place has taken more than 70 acres of riverfront and turned it into a dynamic, interactive gathering place for diverse communities across Tulsa. In Moore’s 30-year career, he has also held senior leadership roles at SeaWorld, Universal Studios, Discovery Cove, and Aquatica Water Park.

When Moore moves into his role at the Conservancy, he will assist in planning for Harold Simmons Park, which includes more than 200 acres of land in the Trinity River Floodway. According to a release, the campaign to fund the Park has so far raised more than $110 million of its $200 million goal.

RKD Group names a CFO

Rebekah Cooksey

Dallas’ RKD Group, a fundraising, marketing, and data services provider to nonprofit organizations, has added Rebekah Cooksey to its team as chief financial officer.

Cooksey joins RKD with more than 25 years of experience, previously working at global companies like Frito-Lay/PepsiCo and The Boston Consulting Group. She will be tasked with providing high-level strategic leadership s RKD Group expands its services in omnichannel fundraising, marketing, data, and analytics.

“Rebekah has that RKDian spirit that is noticeable from the moment you meet her,” CEO Tim Kersten said in a statement. “We’re excited to have her on board and are confident that she will serve as a guiding force as we continue to find new ways to support our nonprofit partners.”

Taysha Gene Therapies expands its leadership team

Timothy J. Douros

Dallas’ Taysha Gene Therapies, which works to develop and commercialize AAV-based gene therapies to treat monogenic diseases of the central nervous system, has appointed Timothy J. Douros as its chief legal officer and corporate secretary and Tracy Porter as chief people officer.

In his new role, Douros will lead all aspects of the company’s legal organization. He has more than 25 years of legal experience in biotech, most recently serving as SVP and general counsel at Bluebird Bio. His specialties include intellectual property, strategic licensing and contracting, litigation and dispute resolution, and international and healthcare compliance.

Tracy Porter

Porter joins Taysha from Audentes Therapeutics, where she was VP and head of human resources. She has some three decades of HR experience, previously guiding organizations from the startup and early stage biotech stage to product launch. She has provided HR support through manufacturing expansion, acquisitions, divestitures, strategic business reorganizations, and integrations. 

“Tim brings significant gene therapy experience from Bluebird Bio where he led a global team, in cross functional collaboration with all corporate functions,” RA Session II, president, founder, and CEO of Taysha, said in a statement. “Tracy will be instrumental in helping us continue to build a successful organization, scale thoughtfully and maintain our culture. Importantly, both Tim and Tracy’s experiences working in companies at various stages of the biotech life cycle will be essential to our future growth strategy.”

Freese and Nichols names executive vice presidents

Jeff Payne

Fort Worth-based professional consulting firm Freese and Nichols has promoted Jeff Payne and Tricia Hatley to executive vice president roles to prepare for succession changes.

Payne will now oversee South Central operations while Hatley focuses on North Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida.

A former military engineer, Payne has two decades of active duty and reserves service, which includes three tours in the Middle East. When he retired, he was a lieutenant colonel.

Tricia Hatley

He also has 24 years of experience in infrastructure operations designing and leading urban and rural water transmission and wastewater conveyance projects.

While also managing Freese and Nichols’ continuing Southeast expansion, Hatley will will retain her role as Oklahoma division manager. She has some three decades of experience, specifically in transportation planning and design, drainage analysis, and capital improvement planning.

She has experience working with the firm’s offices in Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa.

Huffines Communities promotes senior employees

Mark Edgren

Huffines Communities, a Dallas-based multifaceted real estate company that develops master-planned communities, has promoted Mark Edgren to vice president of Huffines Communities and Sue Blankenship to senior vice president in charge of single-family development.

Edgren has more than three decades of experience in the master-planned community industry, and has worked at Huffines since 2014. In his new role, he will manage a team of engineers, contractors, and governmental agencies from inception to completion.

Sue Blankenship

Blankenship also has more than three decades of experience and is a veteran of the real estate industry. In her new role, she will manage internal operations for all single-family projects and coordinate with engineers, architects, contractors, and government agencies.

“Mark and Sue have both been invaluable members of our team for years,” Donald Huffines, co-owner at Huffines Communities, said in a statement. “Their dedication to our vision of developing thoughtfully-designed, award-winning communities has brought tremendous success to Huffines and our residents over the years.”

NuVinAir names new chief administrative officer

Marty Fritz

Dallas-based NuVinAir Global, a provider of vehicle-cleanliness solutions and hygienic consulting for U.S. automotive businesses, has appointed automotive industry veteran Marty Fritz to its chief administrative officer.

Fritz formerly spent two decades at CarMax, where he led project launches and training facilitations. He will provide leadership and vision for developing processes that support franchisee and national store business in his new role at NuVinAir. He will also oversee training, fulfillment, customer support, vendor relations, compliance, and daily operations, according to a news release.

“As we continue to ramp up efforts in this promising new year ahead, growing our leadership team with the best automotive talent will be critical to our success,” CEO and Founder Kyle Bailey said in a statement. “Marty’s unique background as a transformational automotive executive in creating a results-driven vision is exactly what we need for rounding out our best-in-class C-suite.”

Skybox Datacenters adds a chief development officer to its team

Haynes Strader

Dallas-based Skybox Datacenters, a leading-edge data center developer, owner, and operator, has added Haynes Strader to its team in the newly created role of chief development officer.

In his new role, Strader will be tasked with investigating new markets, site selection, and working through initial phases of new developments across the U.S. He previously was the vice president of Data Center Solutions at CBRE, and has experience in tenant representation, site selection, and capital markets. A press release states that Strader has completed more than 200 transactions totaling more than $1 billion in overall value.

“Haynes is an exceptional leader and great at his craft. He is knowledgeable, thinks around corners, and is always optimizing the solution,” CEO Rob Morris said in a statement. “He has the global expertise and extensive experience that really rounds out our powerhouse team. His reputation for developing high quality, actionable research blends well with his strong network of trusted clients, investors and friends in the data center industry.”

Centennial names new president and COO

Whitney Livingston

Dallas real estate investment firm Centennial has promoted Whitney Livingston to president and COO to prepare for additional growth in 2021.

In her expanded role, Livingston will be responsible for managing business operations, near- and long-term planning, and working closely with CEO and Founder Steven Levin. She will also collaborate with executive and property teams to develop and execute operating, repositioning, and redevelopment plans.

“Whitney Livingston has made a significant impact on this firm since she joined us in 2018,” Levin said in a statement. “Her superior ability to connect with people and to build and maintain meaningful relationships at every level makes her a leader people want to follow and do business with; these qualities combined with her strong business acumen and innovative foresight for Centennial’s future uniquely qualify her for her new role as president and COO.”

JPI names divisional president

Irving-based JPI, a national developer, builder, and investment manager, has promoted Payton Mayes from executive vice president and central region managing partner to divisional president and managing partner.

In his new role, Mayes will lead all components of JPI’s multifamily regional operations and its new presence in the affordable housing market. He first joined the firm in 2019, and before that was the chief investment officer at DHIC Communities, a D.R. Horton company. Mayes also previously founded Cephas Partners, in which he co-invested with Blackstone to acquire a portfolio from Bank of America Merrill Lynch with a total enterprise value of underlying assets of $4 billion, according to a press release.

“Payton is one of JPI’s finest leaders, and this well-deserved promotion speaks to his leadership skills and his commitment to excellence,” CEO Brad Taylor said in a statement. “Payton truly embodies JPI’s core values and principles by demonstrating servant leadership, team loyalty and a commitment to our culture. We could not be more confident in his abilities to lead JPI to even more success in this new role.”

Landry Commercial expands its leadership team

Shannon Johnston

Dallas-based Landry Commercial Real Estate Services, which offers brokerage services for office, industrial, retail, and land, has added Shannon Johnston to its brokerage team and Sanober Syed to its leadership team.

In her new role, Johnston will be responsible for representing industrial tenants and owners and growing the industrial division to further strengthen the company’s position within the industry across Dallas.

Most recently, she was a senior associate within Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Occupier Advisory Group, a role in which she focused on identifying and delivering industrial tenant representation services to multi-market corporate clients.

Sanober Syed

Syed will lead Landry Commercial Medical, the new healthcare division that aims to help clients secure spaces that will provide welcoming spaces for patients and employees and be at the forefront of healthcare delivery advances. She will also represent landlords, tenants, and investors in sales and commercial lease transactions in the healthcare arena. 

Previously, Syed was a principal at KOA Brokerage and SVP at Hudson Peters Commercial.


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