1st ‘Engage Dallas’ Summit to Tackle City’s Issues

The summit involving the Mayor's Star Council will engage emerging leaders in a day of discussions about issues ranging from fighting poverty to building educational excellence.

The Mayor’s Star Council created about six years ago by Mayor Mike Rawlings and Trey Bowles, co-founder of The Dallas Entrepreneur Center, will hold its first citywide leadership summit next month to engage emerging leaders in a day of discussions about issues ranging from fighting poverty to building educational excellence.

“We [mayor and Bowles] believe that young professionals are a key part to the future of Dallas,” Bowles wrote in an email. “We started the Mayor’s Star Council to bring together culturally diverse and civically minded group of young professionals that want to embrace and engage the city of Dallas today.”

The “Engage Dallas” summit will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., March 2 at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St., featuring six hours of panel discussions and meetings to seek  “solutions into current issues facing our city,” according to the event announcement. 

“The organization is in its fifth year of existence and so we really felt like it was our time to engage with the city.”
DIANA EINSTEIN

Rawlings and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will participate in what is billed as a “lively” lunch-time conversation to discuss leadership, “challenges they’ve faced and their constant support of Dallas.”  

The Star Council was formed by Rawlings to enlist young leaders aged 25-40 into community engagement, predominately in southern Dallas, often through mentoring students and working with volunteer organizations. 

The participants, who have changed from year to year,  represent varied backgrounds, including art, business, education, tourism, government, and other categories. The current 2016-17 class, composed of 37 members, is the largest in the council’s history. Earlier groups have ranged from  25 to 30 members.

Diana Einstein, the council’s executive director, said the upcoming forum is the council’s inaugural summit.

“The organization is in its fifth year of existence, and so we really felt like it was our time to engage with the city,” she said.

The goal, she said, is to convene “emerging leaders from all different areas of life in the city” to both acquaint them with various aspects of the city as well as draw their recommendations on tackling the city’s problems.

THE SUMMIT

The event is targeted is an opportunity for young professionals to do more than just recognize the challenges and opportunities that the city faces, Bowles said. It’s an opportunity to create collaborative solutions and implement them across Dallas.

“Engage Dallas is a must-attend event for young professionals in the community that want to be a part of awareness meeting action.”
TREY BOWLES

“Engage Dallas is a must-attend event for young professionals in the community that want to be a part of awareness meeting action,” Bowles said. “During the event, we will learn from amazing impact-driven organizations that will share ways for attendees to identify opportunities to engage in the areas where they are most passionate.”

The opening panel will provide a civics lesson on the structure, management, and finances of city government. The panel, called “Our City,” will be moderated by Susy Solis, founder and president of Solis Media Strategies.

The second panel, moderated by Catherine Cuellar, director of Partnerships, RefillWise, is titled “Our Responsibility” and will focus on how leaders in business, nonprofits, and the media “collaboratively” serve the city from their differing vantage points.  

During afternoon sessions, conference attendees will choose three topics of interest and will be partnered with a specific organization. 

The topics and participants are:

  • Making Urban Revitalization Manageable, Jubilee Park and Community Center;
  • Improving Health in Dallas County Together, Parkland Health & Hospital System;
  • Community Impact through Advocacy and Public Policy, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas;
  • Educational Excellence and Equity for all Students, Leadership ISD; 
  • Focus on Food Deserts, American Heart Association;
  • Fighting Poverty through Service, Advocacy, and Friendship, CitySquare;
  • Growing the Region’s Business Economy by Connecting and Developing Strong Leaders, Dallas Regional Chamber;
  • Uniting Commerce and Culture in North Texas, Business Council for the Arts;
  • Systemic Racism/Racial Reconciliation, Urban League Young Professionals Dallas;
  • Using Collective Impact to meet your goals more effectively, the Budd Center at SMU.

MISSION OF THE STAR COUNCIL

As the council’s inaugural summit, Engage Dallas will introduce the Star Council and its mission to a citywide audience. Rawlings formed the group to enlist assistance in advancing key initiatives. Members are charged with a fundamental commitment of being “civically engaged in the challenges the city faces rather than inheriting them in the future.”  

“We also believe that in order for young professionals make the most impact to the city we need to learn from current leadership and understand how the city works, connect to current leadership and other passionate people in the community and also serve the needs of all of the citizens of Dallas,” Bowles said. “It is essential that young people recognize that this is our city and therefore our responsibility to make sure it has the brightest future possible.”

“It gives you an opportunity to understand someone else’s path and someone else’s story.”
ADRIAN KILLEBREW

Adrian Killebrew, 34, business development executive for Axxess, a healthcare technology company, was one of the 25 participants in the fourth Star Council class in 2015-2016, serving in a group that included law partners, senior executives, educators, and others. The group would meet monthly to hear speakers and then engage in community activities, often working with young people. 

“It gives you an opportunity to understand someone else’s path and someone else’s story,” Killebrew said.  Although Killebrew is no longer on the council, he is still involved as a mentor to members of the current 2016-2017 class.

PROGRAM SUPPORTS GROWSOUTH EFFORTS

One major focus of the council is GrowSouth, a continuing program to support and enhance southern Dallas. The efforts include the Mayor’s Rising Star Council leadership academy at five participating high schools in Southern Dallas – Adams, Lincoln, Roosevelt, South Oak Cliff and Madison. 

Council members hosted a fundraiser in April to provide scholarships for college-bound students from the schools. Council members and students also have teamed to brainstorm activities such as clothes drives, volunteering at animal shelters, feeding the homeless, and making cards for the elderly in nursing homes.

In 2015, council members teamed up with Union Coffee, Common Desk and Lover’s Lane United Methodist Church to operate a cape-making factory to put capes on the backs of children in pediatric hospitals.  The activity was designed to send a message that “heroes wear capes” and empower children with chronic illnesses to “defeat villains” such as cancer and heart disease, organizers said.

Engage Dallas invitation and agenda available at:  http://www.mayorstarcouncil.org/engagedallas/


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