Solutions Through Collaboration: Dallas Funders Tackle Workforce and Business Challenges with New Program

Communities Foundation of Texas, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas have partnered to create an academy focused on local collaborations. Check out the first class of fellows, featuring 24 local leaders.

The Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy announced its inaugural 2019-2020 class of 24 fellows representing community-based organizations, businesses, post-secondary educational institutions, and government agencies.

The program is a combined effort of Communities Foundation of Texas, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Its goal is to improve local economic opportunity and mobility efforts, as well as create innovative solutions to business challenges. The Academy launched this week and ends June 9, 2020, with a collaborative capstone project presentation.

“Collaboration grows at the speed of trust, and today’s workforce development leaders are increasingly being asked to create solutions through collaboration,” Sheila Maguire, a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and director of the local network of Workforce Leadership Academies, said in a statement. “This Academy is a rare opportunity for these local leaders to step back with colleagues from Dallas, reflect on their own organizational challenges, hear from leading practitioners from around the country, and develop the network and trust so essential for success.”

The inaugural Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy Fellows include:

  • Ralph Adams, Director of Workforce Development, Regional Black Contractors Association
  • Rachael Berhe, Program Director, Wilkinson Center
  • Richard Brindley, Managing Director, Amplio Recruiting
  • Elizabeth Caudill, Managing Director, Higher Education & Workforce Dallas Regional Chamber
  • Sharon Davis, Vice President of Business Services, Mountain View College
  • Maya Fernandez, Program Manager, Cedar Valley College
  • Thomas Foley, Founder and Director, The Study USA
  • Genesis Gavino, Deputy Resilience Officer, City of Dallas
  • Adan Gonzalez, Executive Director, Puede Network
  • Matt Houston, Principal, MLH Enterprises
  • Heather Lepeska, Manager III, City of Dallas
  • Ben Magill, Executive Director, Labor Market Intelligence Center, Dallas County Community College District
  • Sheila Marks, Chief Executive Officer, Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders, Inc
  • Linda Munoz, Director, Finance and Career, WiNGS
  • Sheridan Nixon, Director of Parent Promise/Project Lead of Partner Relations, Dallas County Community College District
  • Rick Ortiz, President and CEO, Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Symone Redwine, Attorney and Founder, My Record is Clean
  • Wana Sekander, Director of Employment Services, Goodwill Dallas Industries
  • Amber Sims, Director of Regional Impact, Leadership for Educational Equity
  • Dottie Smith, President, The Commit Partnership
  • Ken Smith, President, Revitalize South Dallas Coalition
  • Dana Townsend, Associate Director of Partner Relations, Year Up
  • Bernadette Trail, HR Generalist, Methodist Health System
  • Maiya Winston, Inclusive Diversity Consultant, Allstate Insurance Company


The Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy joins a number of Workforce Leadership Academies across the U.S. and Canada. The fellowship program was jointly developed by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and Corporation for a Skilled Workforce with Leung Consulting LLC joining the founding organizations in leading the Dallas program.

Workforce Leadership Academies was developed to improve local networks of non-profit, government, academic, and business leaders via retreats and workshops that teach the fellows with new economic opportunity tools and strategies. The fellows become part of a peer-learning community of economic opportunity and workforce leaders and work with leading practitioners around the U.S.

“As Dallas continues to grow and change, we want to equip even more local leaders with tools they can use to advance economic opportunity for all,” Sarah Cotton Nelson, chief philanthropy officer of Communities Foundation of Texas, said in a statement. “We’re excited to be able to offer, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, professional development through the Academy to help leaders learn and think critically about economic challenges and develop sustainable solutions to address those.”

Along with the inaugural fellow class, the program also announced its Advisory Council, which includes:

  • Bryan Carter, Concord Church
  • Cynthia Yung, Boone Family Foundation
  • Dena Jackson, Dallas Women’s Foundation
  • Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew, State Fair of Texas
  • Dr. Myriam Igoufe, Dallas Housing Authority
  • Drexell Owusu, Dallas Regional Chamber
  • Eric Ban, Dallas County Promise
  • George Tang, Educate Texas
  • Greg Mangum, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
  • Jason Liekart, AT&T
  • Jerry Hawkins, Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation
  • Dr. John Siburt, CitySquare
  • Kathy Alfano, Frito-Lay/ Pepsico
  • Linda McMahan, TREC
  • Mark Porter, Harmony CDC
  • Michelle Thomas, JPMorgan Chase
  • Roy Lopez, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
  • Sarah Cotton Nelson, Communities Foundation of Texas
  • Susan Hoff, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
  • Suzanne Smith, Social Impact Architects
  • Tori Mannes, Childcare Group
  • Wende Burton, Communities Foundation of Texas


“Making meaningful progress on an issue as critical as improving economic opportunity and mobility requires non-traditional approaches and a lot of non-traditional thinking. That’s why bringing this class together is so important. I am confident these 24 talented Fellows will make a lasting impact on our community,” Anne Motsenbocker, a market leader and head of Middle Market Banking for JPMorgan Chase in Texas, said in a statement.

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