DI People: Southwest Airlines, RAVE Restaurant Group, Antuit.ai, Uplift Education Make Moves

In this week's roundup of hires and promotions in North Texas, you'll also find news from Oaxaca Interests, Campbell Travel, UNT, BizCom, the Dallas Foundation,Adolfson & Peterson Construction, BenefitMall, 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.

Don’t miss a move: Get Dallas Innovates Every Day. Have a move? Let us know.

Southwest Airlines names a CEO-in-waiting

Bob Jordan

Dallas-headquartered Southwest Airlines has named Robert Jordan, a 33-year company veteran, to lead the airline beginning in February 2022.

Known for his dedication in the aviation industry, Jordan has played key roles at Southwest since joining the company in 1988. Starting as a programmer analyst, Jordan has worn multiple hats and has worked as the director of revenue accounting (1994), corporate controller (1997), vice president of purchasing (2001), and vice president and chief commercial officer (2011- 2017). In addition, he spearheaded the development of the Southwest.com e-commerce platform, the Rapid Rewards loyalty program, and the company’s enhanced boarding process. In his new role, Jordan will take over a company with more than 56,000 employees and is determined to create a smooth leadership transition as the airline comes out of the pandemic. 

“He’s just that wonderful kind of person and he’s successful wherever he goes,” Kelly said of the company’s executive vice president of corporate services. “He’s coming into this job with far more years of experience than I had and is just the right person to take us over the next 50 years.”

Oaxaca Interests hires a new CFO

Chris Aaron

Oaxaca Interests, a Dallas-based real estate operator, developer, and investment firm has appointed Chris Aaron to serve as its chief financial officer.

Most recently, Aaron worked at Mill Creek Residential, where he served as VP of Corporate Finance. His experience also includes The Howard Hughes Corporation and PricewaterhouseCoopers. In his new role, Aaron will spearhead the company’s financial strategy, commercial portfolio, and residential projects, including mixed-use development Sylvan | Thirty, 660 Fort Worth Avenue and The Haciendas, a collection of stylish single-family, newly-constructed residences in West Dallas.

“Chris joins Oaxaca Interests as we continue to strategically manage our growing portfolio in West Dallas, as well as identify opportunities within high-growth urban cores throughout Texas. His real estate and financial experience, paired with strong leadership skills and a solid focus on results, will greatly benefit our organization and its investors,” said Brent Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of Oaxaca Interests.

Campbell Travel promotes several team members 

Known for its high-touch services, Campbell Travel, the Dallas-based travel agency with more than 35 years of experience, has recently made several staffing moves to expand its workforce lodging and leisure travel divisions, including the promotion of Teri Goins to President.

Goins, who has served as president and CEO of the agency off and on for over three decades, will take over the role of president from Founder Bob Campbell. Goins has 30 years of experience in sales, client services, and operations, joining Campbell Travel as VP of Business Development in February 2019. In her new role, Goins will be responsible for overseeing all three of the agency’s branded business units: Campbell Lodging, its workforce lodging division; TravelDesigns by Campbell, its leisure travel division; and Campbell Travel, its corporate travel agency division.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Teri stepping into this more robust leadership position,” said founder and CEO Bob Campbell. “It’s been a tough time for agencies coming out of COVID-19, but Teri’s tremendous drive and ambition, as well as her true appreciation and support of the culture we’ve built up at Campbell over the past three decades, have helped us get through it and emerge on really strong footing to grow rapidly in the years ahead.” 

Campbell Travel has also promoted Fernanda Nielsen to Vice President of TravelDesigns by Campbell; Hahna Weddle to Director of Operations; Angel Monsivais to Director of Account Management and Product Support; and Marc DuFrene to Director, Campbell Lodging. The company also hired Keel O’Neill as National Sales Manager earlier this year. 

UNT appoints new dean to College of Science

Pamela Padilla

The University of North Texas has selected Pamela Padilla, associate vice president for research and innovation, to be the dean of the College of Science. Padilla will succeed the founding dean, Su Gao, who stepped down June 15 to take care of family.

A professor of biological sciences, Padilla joined UNT in 2002 and has since focused on research while simultaneously holding various leadership positions. Supported by either the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation, Padilla’s award-winning research primarily focuses on how environmental and dietary stressors affect living organisms at the cellular, genetic and molecular levels as a means to model human health issues such as ischemia and diabetes. She also has previously worked as associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Science and was permanently appointed UNT’s associate vice president for research and innovation in October 2019 after serving one year as interim. 

“Dr. Padilla brings a wealth of experience in leadership, research, teaching and advancing diversity and inclusion,” Cowley said. “I know that with her expertise and deep understanding of our university, she will guide the College of Science through this transition and on to even greater success in the years to come.”

BizCom Associates makes new hires and promotions

BizCom, Dallas-Fort Worth PR and marketing communications agency, has welcomed new team members and made two promotions to support the firm’s rapidly growing client roster.

Joining the BizCom team are:

 • Avery Barizza, a new media relations coordinator, where she will help generate high-level publicity across BizCom’s full roster of clients.
• Sarah Gill, digital account manager, who will be responsible for monitoring client social media and implementing strategies to promote thought leadership for client executives.
• Ellie Marcum, assistant account manager, who will work on strategy development and execution for clients such as Edible Brands, Gold’s Gym, Intelivideo, Little Caesars and Neighborly.


In addition to the new team members, BizCom promoted Elise Patterson to digital account manager/designer where she will work to transform client messages into engaging and interactive images. Madeline Rockey has been promoted to assistant account manager where she will provide strategy development and implementation support for clients.

The Dallas Foundation elects a new VP of Finance 

Torrey Littleton

The Dallas Foundation, the first community foundation in Texas, has appointed Torrey Littleton to the role of VP of Finance.

Littleton previously served nine years at the Foundation as its senior director of Finance and controller, where he worked to build deep relationships with many of the organization’s donors and community partners. Apart from his work at The Dallas Foundation, Littleton has over 15 years of experience in accounting and finance across several industries, including: healthcare, chemical engineering and manufacturing. In his new role, he will manage financial resources and investment returns, assure compliance with all audit and tax requirements, and maintain the Foundation’s long-term fiscal health.

“The Dallas Foundation is proud that Torrey Littleton will step into this leadership position,” Matthew Randazzo, president and CEO of The Dallas Foundation, said. “Serving the Foundation for nearly a decade, Torrey is perfectly poised to assume this important role in the Foundation’s stewardship of over $420 million in philanthropic assets.”

Adolfson & Peterson Construction appoints president of AP Gulf States

Will Pender

Known as one of the nation’s top construction management firms, Adolfson & Peterson Construction (AP) has welcomed Will Pender, a Dallas-based industry veteran, as president of its Gulf States region.

Having more than a decade of construction leadership under his belt, Pender most recently served as regional vice president for TEAL System—a cloud-based, vertical hot water solution that reduces construction and operational costs in multifamily developments—where he grew revenue in Texas and the surrounding states. He has worked on several major metropolitan projects, including the Arlington ISD Fine Arts Center and Athletics Complex, and several education facilities for the University of Texas and Fort Worth ISD. In his new role, Pender will leverage his extensive experience to drive strategic business operations in Texas with several high-profile projects such as the new PGA of America headquarters in Frisco.

“Thriving in the construction industry, especially in an expanding market like Texas, takes strong leadership, and we have found that leader in Will Pender,” said Jeff Hansen, CEO of AP. “Will’s business development skills and deep knowledge of the Texas marketplace, along with his strong operations experience, will be integral to keeping AP at the forefront of the construction industry. I am thrilled to have this caliber of leader at the helm of our Gulf States region.”

Uplift Education Board names a new president

Dr. Remy L. Washington

Uplift Education—a nonprofit dedicated to changing the lives of teachers, families, and, most importantly, students—has appointed Dr. Remy L. Washington as its new president. 

A company veteran, Dr. Washington brings a unique perspective to her new role, having recently served as Uplift’s chief academic officer. Joining the Uplift team eight years ago, Dr. Washington has also worked as managing director for Uplift High School and the campus director for Uplift Peak High School, in which she was able to build strong teams and showcase her leadership skills. As president, Dr. Washington will continue to report to Yasmin Bhatia, Uplift’s CEO, and will collaborate on an aligned vision, goals, and strategy for instructional teams. 

The Uplift board and CEO believe the benefits of this will be felt by its teachers and school leaders and will positively impact outcomes for scholars.    

BenefitMall welcomes a new market director

Joyce James

Headquartered in Dallas, BenefitMall, a leading provider of next-generation broker services, has announced Joyce James as the company’s new South Florida Market Director.

With over 25 years of experience, James has worked extensively with brokers, general agents, and clients focusing specifically on profitable growth and retention. Prior to joining BenefitMall, she held various sales and account manager roles at United Healthcare, Aetna, AvMed, and Humana. Given her portfolio as a health industry professional, James has extensive knowledge of the South Florida marketplace and broker community. In her new role, she will report directly to Rolando Alfonso, the Southeast regional vice president.

RAVE Restaurant Group Promotes its VP of Finance to CFO

Clint Fendley

Dallas’ RAVE Restaurant Group, Inc, the parent company of Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza, is promoting its VP of Finance Clint Fendley to chief financial officer, effective July 5.

Fendley was hired at RAVE in January 2020 as the company’s VP of Finance. In this role, he spearheaded the finance team and focused on cost control and cash management in order to help guide the company during the pandemic. In addition, Fendley led the company’s successful efforts to regain compliance with NASDAQ listing criteria, on-boarded new auditors, and strengthened the company’s finance and analytical capabilities. Prior to joining RAVE, Fendley worked for 7-Eleven’s finance and data analytics teams. He also has worked as an auditor for Price Waterhouse LLP and as a senior research analyst at Davenport & Company.

“As CFO my main objective will be to drive value for our franchisees and shareholders, while helping my team learn and thrive in this dynamic industry,” Fendley said. “My time at RAVE has been nothing short of extraordinary. Despite the many obstacles we encountered during the Covid-19 pandemic, our team demonstrated innovation, resilience, and commitment to RAVE’s long-term success. I’m excited to continue growing the financial performance of Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza in this new role.” 

Antuit.ai creates co-chief executive officer position

Sivakumar Lakshmanan and Yogesh Kulkarni

Dallas-based antuit.ai, a leader in AI-powered demand forecasting and shaping cloud solutions for retail and consumer goods companies, has named Sivakumar Lakshmanan and Yogesh Kulkarni as its co-chief executive officer. 

Prior to antuit.ai, Lakshmanan worked as a client supply chain analytics leader for IBM Global Consulting Group, where he was responsible for solution sales and implementing enterprise supply chain planning, network design, inventory optimization, and visibility solutions. In 2013, he joined antuit.ai as a partner and lead for developing new business in Asia. Two years later, he took the role of global practice leader for the Digital Supply Chain business unit. As co-chief executive officer and head of AI Forecasting and Supply Chain, Lakshmanan will be responsible for driving revenue growth, client success, and thought leadership.

Throughout his career, Kulkarni has had extensive experience in managing large analytical programs for retailers and consumer brands focusing on merchandising, pricing, inventory management, and marketing. In 2007, he co-founded Prognos, a boutique retail and consumer focused advanced analytics firm, where he served big-name brands like PepsiCo, MillerCoors, Nike, Adidas, and Sobeys. In 2015, antuit.ai acquired Prognos, and Yogesh worked as executive vice president.

The Greater Fort Worth Association of REALTORS names a new director of Advocacy and Community Affairs

Maribel Gallardo

The Greater Fort Worth Association of REALTORS (GFWAR) has welcomed Maribel Gallardo as the new director of Advocacy and Community Affairs. 

Gallardo launched her career at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce as an advocacy specialist and has continued to sharpen her skills in Mayor Betsy Price’s office as an aide. During her tenure with Mayor Price, Gallardo worked closely with the mayor on speech writing, event planning, and more. Apart from her work at GFWAR, Gallardo is active in the community and serves as a member of SteerFW and the Center for Transforming Lives Advocacy Committee. In her new role, she will focus on managing legislative, political, and community affairs on behalf of GFWAR and its members.

“Maribel is an exceptional advocacy professional, and we’re thrilled to add her to the team,” said Robert Gleason, CEO of GFWAR. “Through her work, she will ensure the voices of Fort Worth REALTORS® are heard by key lawmakers at the local, state and federal level.”

Neiman Marcus creates new fashion and lifestyle director role

Lisa Aiken

Neiman Marcus has appointed Lisa Aiken as Neiman Marcus’ new Fashion and Lifestyle Director.

With an impressive tenure in luxury fashion, Aiken most recently was a fashion and buying director at Moda Operandi. In addition, she has worked for Net-a-Porter and MyTheresa, where she was highly regarded for bringing a modernized approach to luxury brands and fashion e-tailers. Starting August 9, Aiken will leverage her experience serving as a fashion-forward expert to identify emerging brands, discover new trends and services across the fashion and lifestyle space, and inspire Neiman Marcus’ loyal luxury customer base. She also be responsible for collaborating with brand partners in order to expand the company’s exclusive partnerships such as the recent Prada Outdoor immersive ‘Coast’ experience and Loewe Paula’s Ibiza installations.

“Working alongside a group of the most talented leaders in retail, Lisa will bring a unique forward-leaning and inspirational point of view helping Neiman Marcus curate magic for our customers,” President and Chief Merchandising Officer Lana Todorovich said. “With Lisa joining our company, I have the utmost confidence in the people we have in place to continue our exciting transformation.”


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