Five Dallas Innovators You Need To Know Right Now—and Why

Match Group, Zirtue, Cooksey Communications, Mass Luminosity, and Caliber all tapped new senior leaders this week.

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, from new startups to big-name corporations. Here are five people you need to know right now, and why they’re important.

Jennifer Zephirin, Match Group

The executive leadership team at Dallas-based online dating innovator Match Group is working to execute a commitment to racial and social equity across its global portfolio. To further develop that initiative, Match Group has brought on Jennifer Zephirin as its first-ever head of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Most recently, Zephirin was the global diversity business partner for technology at Uber, where she built an inclusive strategy for recruiting, retention, and development. She also pioneered several of the rideshare’s diversity programs, helping to implement external initiatives like the new Supplier Diversity Program and anti-racism campaign last summer.

Before Uber, Zephirin worked as a consultant to brands by helping to develop strategies and build diverse and effective teams. She also previously was Visa’s director of Diversity and Inclusion, a role in which she created its first Leadership Development program for underrepresented communities. At Match Group, Zephirin will be based in New York and report to CEO Shar Dubey.

“Our platforms create communities that welcome users from every background and demographic around the world,” Dubey said in a statement. “Jenn has a proven track record building cultures where people from all backgrounds can thrive, and she will be instrumental here at Match Group in continuing to develop a workplace culture that represents our users and understands their hopes and challenges.”

Chase Dillon, Zirtue

Zirtue, the Dallas-based startup behind the first and only relationship-based lending app, has hired fintech expert Chase Dillon as its VP of Growth. The move brings a wealth of experience to the three-year-old company—Dillon previously held stints at PayPal and Venmo.

In his new role at Zirtue, which has a mission to drive financial inclusion, Dillon will oversee revenue generation and lead the business development team. That means playing a key role in business innovation and strategy, while serving as a collaborative partner to Zirtue CEO and Co-Founder Dennis Cail. It fits his experience: Dillon was with PayPal since 2015, first serving as its global brand manager, then being promoted to manager of global brand marketing before ultimately serving as the head of partnerships for Venmo.

“Chase is the ambitious, creative, and strategic people leader we have been searching for to drive revenue and take our growth to the next level,” Cail said in a statement. “His expertise in partnership development, sales, and marketing in the Fintech industry will take Zirtue to new heights and help us drive financial inclusion one loan at a time. We are thrilled for a trusted, seasoned expert like Chase to join our rapidly growing team.”

Though it was founded in 2018, Zirtue has already processed more than $10 million in loans on its platform. The intent is to simplify loans between friends, family, and trusted relationships by turning informal promises into structured agreements and automating the repayment process. In April, the fintech received an undisclosed investment from Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, bringing its total seed round to $4 million.

Reyne Telles, Cooksey Communications

Reyne Telles, who is best known for serving the Austin Independent School District as its executive director of communications and community engagement for the past six years, is joining Dallas-based Cooksey Communications as an Austin-based vice president and Public Sector Practice leader.

At the strategic communications firm, Telles will draw on his more-than-two-decade career leading communications efforts and managing media relations in the municipal and education sectors to advise Cooksey’s public sector clients. At Austin ISD, he reported directly to the superintendent to advise on aspects of institutional planning, served on the administration’s executive cabinet, and devised district-wide communication and engagement approaches.

Before that, Telles was the director of communications for the office of Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. He joined the Mayor’s office after serving a six-year tenure as the manager of media relations for the City of Austin, where he acted as an advisor to and spokesperson for then City Manager Marc Ott.

“Reyne’s unique understanding of high-level strategic communication best practices for public sector entities, as well as his extensive experience designing and executing robust community engagement programs, makes him the perfect person to lead our highly regarded Public Sector Practice Group,” Colby Walton, president of Cooksey Communications, said in a statement. “His skillset, coupled with the relationships he has built across Texas and the U.S., will bring new expertise and a guiding hand to clients and future groups in need of critical counsel on complex issues.”

Dan Hammans, Mass Luminosity

Dallas-based Mass Luminosity, a global research and technology company, has brought network and security technologies expert Dan Hammans onto its team as the director of Network and Security Engineering. 

Hammans will focus on Beacon, Mass Luminosity’s revolutionary platform that aims to bring security, quality, and simplicity to video and voice communications. Mass Luminosity wants to boost natural communication, while ushering in a new era of simple and feature-rich communications that could be used by the entire world. (You can read more about its expected fall launch here).

In his role, Hammans will oversee all network and security implementations for Mass Luminosity. He is a proven information technology leader, having spent more than 20 years in consulting, engineering, and operations roles for service providers, content providers, telecommunications companies, sports and entertainment venues, and federal and military projects.

“Dan has a long history of working with global corporations in network and security technologies and is adept at driving strategic executive initiatives by bridging the gap between business needs and technology requirements,” Angel Munoz, founder and CEO of Mass Luminosity, said in a statement. “As we launch Beacon, our users’ privacy and security are paramount. We aim to bring the simplicity of a feature-rich communications platform to the world and eliminate spying of private communication through advanced encryption and security for all voice and video calls. Dan will be leading this charge, and we are thrilled to have him on our team.”

Sherry Vidal-Brown, Caliber

Lewisville-based Caliber—parent company of Caliber Collision, Caliber Auto Glass, Caliber Auto Care, and Protech Automotive—has appointed Sherry Vidal-Brown, an HR expert, as its new chief people officer. She will support the company’s purpose, “Restoring the Rhythm of Your Life,” and lead all facets of teammate resources.

Vidal-Brown most recently led HR strategy, business transformation, and internal communications as the chief HR and communications officer for G6 Hospitality. Prior to that, she held various human resources leadership positions and consulting roles with FedEx, American Airlines, Bain & Company, and Korn Ferry. 

At Caliber, Vidal-Brown will be tasked with professional development programs, organizational strategy, and teammate services operations. It’s a crucial leadership role, according to President and CEO Mark Sanders.

“Our teammates are the heart and soul of Caliber. I am confident Sherry will inspire them and provide creative solutions that allow all teammates to reach their full potential,” Sanders said in a statement. She brings with her a strong background of building and leading high-performance organizations. We are fortunate to add her deep experience and valuable perspective to our executive leadership team.”

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