By Catie George, Manager, Communications & Storytelling
More than 1,200 business leaders and elected officials attended the Dallas Regional Chamber’s (DRC) biggest event of the year Wednesday, Jan. 17. The 2024 Annual Meeting, presented by the Dallas Mavericks, celebrated the DRC’s progress over the last year and looked ahead to opportunities for the business community.
“This is our chance. This is our once-in-a-lifetime chance to work together to make real progress against our biggest challenges and change the future for many in our community for generations to come. Let’s use this sweet moment in time to make things better,” said DRC President and CEO Dale Petroskey, speaking to the Dallas Region’s record economic prosperity evidenced by 55 corporate locations and expansions in 2023 alone and Dallas leading the nation in job growth.
The 2023 DRC Board Chair Rafael Lizardi, CFO of Texas Instruments, showed attendees a video featuring top DRC members recapping key successes of the past three years as he closed out his tenure. The Annual Meeting featured a keynote conversation with retired U.S. Navy four-star Admiral and five-time New York Times bestselling author William H. McRaven, who discussed his philosophies and lessons about leadership and service in a conversation with Bob Pragada, CEO of Jacobs and 2022 DRC Board Chair.
“When in command, command. When you’re in charge, you have to make tough decisions,” shared McRaven. “You have to take in all the best information you can, you have to assess things, but at the end of the day, as a leader, it’s your decision. You can’t be constrained by too much fear.”
McRaven shared stories about the military operation he led to eliminate Osama bin Laden, his career as the Chancellor of the University of Texas System, and how business leaders might draw lessons from his career.
“One thing you learn in the military, and I know it’s true in corporate America as well, is you find the best people you can and surround yourself with them,” McRaven said. “Whenever I was in a tough situation, somebody had always been in that situation before. Go find that person who has that experience. Bring them in, listen to them, talk to them. All the books and all the training in the world, nothing wrong with that, but there’s nothing quite like experience.”
Veterans in the audience were honored via a special shoutout by DRC COO & CFO Angela Farley.
“In honor of Admiral McRaven, we are using today’s event to recognize and celebrate the impact of our country’s active-duty reservists, veterans, and their families. We know many of you have served your country, and we so appreciate your service and all you do to make the business community stronger every day,” said Farley.
Combined Arms, NextOp, and the University of Texas at Arlington’s Veteran Business Outreach Center exhibited at the event to help the business community understand how they can hire and meaningfully engage veterans.
In addition to the keynote conversation between McRaven and Pragada, the new 2024 DRC Board Chair Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, shared her charge for the coming year.
“We harness our power and seize the moment to create a blueprint for building a prosperous future for all,” Marshall said. “So, in the spirit of positivity and optimism, my call to action is to seize the moment. Now is our time. Now is the time to close the chapter on the tale of two cities and create one Dallas.”
Marshall’s call to action included focuses on education, narrowing Dallas’ wealth gap and health disparities, corporate social responsibility, and a goal to make the Dallas Region the “most inclusive place in the country.”
Both Marshall and Petroskey spoke to the issue of opportunity gaps that exist within companies, communities, and educational institutions.
“We won’t be the kind of community we should be or can be until everyone has the same opportunities,” Petroskey said before introducing the DRC’s 2024-2026 strategic plan called “Building Tomorrow Together,” the roadmap to improving the quality of life for all people in the Dallas Region.
“One thing we’ve learned being in Dallas is that when we want to take on an opportunity or a challenge, nothing can stand in our way,” said Petroskey.
Watch this video to learn about the 2024-2026 strategic plan in the words of DRC leaders or visit our Priorities pages. Read blogs by DRC senior vice presidents to learn about significant achievements of 2023 and their priorities for 2024: Prosperity & Economic Development; Public Policy; Education, Talent & Workforce; and Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement.
The 2024 Annual Meeting was presented by the Dallas Mavericks. The speaker sponsor was Hillwood. Platinum sponsors were American Airlines; Jacobs; and McKesson. VIP reception sponsor was KPMG. Happy hour sponsor was PwC. Gold sponsors were Axxess; Deloitte; EY; Texas Instruments; and Thompson Reuters. Silver sponsors were Amazon; Capital One Bank; FORVIS LLP; Haynes and Boone; LLP; JBJ Management; The Men and Women of Hunt Consolidated, Inc.; Oncor; Southwest Airlines; Toyota Motor North America; The University of Texas at Arlington; and Wells Fargo. Bronze sponsors were Amegy Bank of Texas; Arcosa; Bank of America; DHD Films; Grant Thornton LLP; Locke Lord LLP; Texas Capital Bank; The University of Texas at Dallas; and Verizon.