Downtown Dallas Inc. Taps City of Dallas Arts and Culture Director as New CEO

Jennifer Scripps will helm the 100-employee nonprofit organization starting in April.

Dallas native and civic leader Jennifer Scripps will become the next president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc.

The nonprofit placemaking, advocacy, and economic development group today announced the hiring of Scripps, who is the current director of the City of Dallas Office of Arts & Culture.

The announcement comes after a national search.

Scripps has held her current City Hall post since 2016, where she elevated the arts throughout Dallas through a series of significant initiatives including the city’s 2018 Cultural Plan.

Prior to her time at City Hall, the Dallasite was recruited to lay the groundwork for a hands-on educational museum in Uptown Dallas in 2008—a museum now known as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. There she served in multiple roles, including overseeing the construction and business planning of the museum.

‘A history of transformational leadership’

Scripps has “a history of transformational leadership over more than 20 years working in Dallas,” said Mattia J. Flabiano, DDI’s Chairman of the Board, in a statement. “She’s a visionary, a collaborator, and a person of action. Downtown Dallas is thriving, and DDI is blessed with incredible talent on our staff. Jennifer is well positioned to guide our team on a path that ensures the vitality of the City Center for the next generation.”

Scripps will take the helm in April, as Downtown Dallas experiences historic growth, DDI says. That includes “more than $4 billion in planned or ongoing development, thousands of new residents, and a string of high-profile corporate relocations.”

The nonprofit’s progress has long been guided by DDI’s 360 Plan, twice endorsed by the Dallas City Council. It’s a plan that’s organized around the creation of a complete and connected City Center for residents, workers, and visitors. The plan includes three transformative strategies to advance urban mobility, build complete neighborhoods, and promote great placemaking.

“I could not be more honored and excited to lead an organization with a nearly 65-year history of success advocating for the heartbeat of our city,” Scripps said. “The DDI team is full of some of the most knowledgeable, creative, hard-working men and women in our city and I am looking forward to doing great work together to advance Downtown.”

Guiding transformation

Downtown Dallas’ progress has long been guided by DDI’s 360 Plan—a plan that’s been twice endorsed by the Dallas City Council, the organization notes. Its plan is organized around the creation of a connected City Center for residents, workers, and visitors that includes three transformative strategies: to advance urban mobility, build complete neighborhoods, and promote great placemaking.

“DDI must continue to be the convener and the champion for one of the most vibrant downtowns in the country,” said Scripps, who will put immediate focus on working with key stakeholders to ensure the continued evolution of the 360 Plan.

The 100-employee organization recently launched a national economic development campaign called Downtown Dallas Now that touts the central business district as a destination for business.

DDI points to significant downtown projects that are expected to be underway in the coming years, including: the Field Street District on the north, Newpark Dallas to the south, and a $2 billion redevelopment of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas. Connectivity and mobility projects are also a focus, such as projects to reimagine Interstates 345 and 30, as well as a second light rail line through downtown Dallas, DART’s D2.

Oversight and funding

In her City Hall position, Scripps currently manages a budget of some $22 million, which includes the oversight of 19 cultural facilities, as well as grant programs that support more than 200 arts organizations and artists. Scripps also guided the department through the pandemic, DDI said, where she secured over $4 million in federal funds and launched a microgrant program for African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) artists.

Early on, Scripps worked closely with then-Mayor Mike Rawlings’ team on arts initiatives, such as expanding Dallas Arts Week to Dallas Arts Month, an annual city-wide celebration of the arts held in April.

Scripps, who graduated from Ursuline Academy of Dallas in 1995, has a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

“Dallas has long been my home and the Downtown area has long been a focal point of my life and career,” said Scripps in a statement. “DDI embodies the spirit of collaboration and hard work that is a key to progress in our city. That will continue as long as I am with the organization.”

DDI Chief Operating Officer Amy Tharp has served as interim president and CEO during the search, after former DDI president & CEO Kourtny Garrett left the nonprofit in 2021 to lead the Downtown Denver Partnership. 

Flabiano calls Tharp a dynamic leader in Dallas: “She stepped up in a major way in recent months to guide the DDI team, and she will continue to be an essential part of the leadership team.”

Get on the list.
Dallas Innovates, every day.

Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.

One quick signup, and you’re done.
View previous emails.

R E A D   N E X T