Mayor Eric Johnson Names the Members of His Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The 15-member Task Force, dedicated to strengthening Dallas as a hub for entrepreneurs, represents a diverse, experienced group of local investors, founders, education leaders, tech experts, and major employers.

About a month after announcing he was forming a Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Dallas, Mayor Eric Johnson has released the group’s newly appointed members who will work to attract, retain, and support startups in the city.

The Task Force is dedicated to finding steps the City of Dallas can take to make it a hub for entrepreneurs and innovation. In an effort to improve the startup community here, which only continues to grow, the 15-member group will look at specific actions governmental agencies, higher education institutions, and private sector partners can implement.

The Task Force is co-chaired by Trey Bowles, the co-founder and executive chairman of the DEC Network, and Mandy Price, the CEO and co-founder of Kanarys. Along with Mayor Johnson, Bowles and Price had a hand in selecting the members, who represent a variety of Dallas’ investors, founders, education leaders, tech experts, and major employers.

“The innovation talent and potential in Dallas is tremendous. We have grown as a community that fosters startups,” Bowles said in a statement. “There is more to do to build on that work and our reputation as a ‘startup-friendly city.’ With the work of this distinguished group, I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to move our city forward for years to come.”

Up first for the team is a report of recommendations by April 30 that is to be presented to the mayor’s office and to the office of City Council Economic Development Committee Chairman Tennell Atkins.

The hope is that the Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship will mirror the Mayor’s previous Task Force on Safe Communities, which recommended strategies that could help combat violent crime in Dallas. That project is lauded as a success—the 2020–2021 fiscal year budget allocated some $4.5 million to fund the strategies.

But the new Task Force is looking at an unprecedented time that no others have faced: the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Dallas begins to distribute vaccines and start its recovery, Mayor Johnson says it needs to look toward building a better economic future for all communities. He sees that being possible with the diverse and experienced membership of the Mayor’s Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Those members are:

Kristin Battle — President/CEO, Strategic Focus, LLC, Strategic Focus Educational Services
Bryan Chambers — Vice President of Ventures, Capital Factory
Duane Dankesreiter — Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation, Dallas Regional Chamber
Michael J. De La Cruz — Senior Vice President of Business Development, Group O
Diana Flores — Immediate Past Chair, Dallas College Board of Trustees, and Vice President, Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Angie Gaylord — Deputy Chief of the Office of Transformation & Innovation, Dallas ISD
Wanda Granier — CEO, BridgeWork Partners, and Past Chairman, Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Robert C. Johnson — Venture investor and TeamSupport LLC founder
Aasem Khalil — Head of Southern Region Investment Banking, Goldman Sachs
Emily Ledet — Market Executive, Bank of America
Simon Mak — Executive Director and Professor of Practice, SMU Cox Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship
Raamel Mitchell — Director, Corporate Citizenship and Market Development, Microsoft
Sanjiv Yajnik — President of Financial Services, Capital One

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