Connection Point: Education & Workforce Department Builds ‘Cradle to Career’ Path with Schools, Employers

Drexell Owusu, Senior Vice President, Education & Workforce

Education matters to business.

That’s why the Dallas Regional Chamber is deeply invested in strengthening the North Texas region’s business community and the local talent pipeline for all students from pre-K through post-secondary and into the workforce.

Our education pipeline and the talent needs of our business community are inextricably linked: improving educational outcomes for local students creates better career options for them – and a sustainable, highly trained workforce for regional businesses in the future. Through the DRC’s committed work to drive improvements in our education system, we are focused on strengthening the education pipeline “from cradle to career” to ensure that students are not only graduating at higher rates, but are prepared with the relevant skills and training they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.

The DRC’s Education & Workforce Council, comprised of more than 40 members, develops and directs the education and workforce plan of the DRC. The council Chair is Michelle Vopni, Dallas Office Managing Partner of EY.

As Senior Vice President, I lead our team of four full-time education and policy experts, which includes Vice President Lanet Greenhaw, directing our early education and public education initiatives, Managing Director Elizabeth Caudill, directing our higher education and workforce initiatives, and Program Coordinator Barrett Cole, supporting the entire team.

Our key areas of work involve implementing initiatives, programs, and events to serve as the business voice throughout the education pipeline. Those include our signature State of Public Education and State of Higher Education events, and a thought leadership Education to Employment Outlook Series – all aimed at briefing the business community on current issues impacting education and workforce while highlighting national and regional best practices and key education leaders.

We bring together business and industry leaders to:

  • serve as Principals for a Day in Dallas ISD schools;
  • support Dallas ISD P-TECH early college high schools as industry partners;
  • mentor Dallas County Promise students in post-secondary work;
  • bring workforce readiness skills to high schools students in our annual Future Focus Camp; and
  • launch industry coalitions focused on providing ongoing and industry-led groups to address economic and workforce issues.

We also organize and participate in key regional and state partnerships, such as the statewide Texas Student Success Council and the Texas Pathways to Technology (P-TECH) Advisory Council, and regionally the Commit PartnershipEarly Matters Dallas, the After the Bell AllianceDallas County Promise, and Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas. Our team serves on more than 35 regional and statewide boards and commissions.

The DRC constantly advocates for regional and statewide public education, higher education and workforce policy priorities that impact our strategic work, and the North Texas and state education and workforce pipeline. Our 2019 policy efforts will focus heavily on advocating on behalf of the DRC business community for four key priority areas:

  1. a well-funded pre-k – 12 school finance system;
  2. student progress and post-secondary readiness with academic rigor and accountability;
  3. Texas higher education 60x30TX goals; and
  4. industry and workforce needs.

We are extremely proud of our leadership this past fall on the Dallas ISD Tax Ratification Election, when voters approved bringing $126 million new local tax dollars to Dallas ISD.

Education matters to business. Please join our Education & Workforce efforts, as we work to ensure that business also matters to education.