Dallas Regional Chamber Forms Permanent Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council; Will Hire a Senior Vice President for DEI

The Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) today announced the formation of a permanent Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council, and the creation of a new Senior Vice President position for DEI.

The new council will focus on four core pillars: Diversity in Leadership; Education and Workforce; Community Investment in Underserved Areas; and Policing & Criminal Justice Policies. It will be co-chaired by DRC 2020 Board Chair John Olajide, Founder and CEO of Axxess, and 2021 Board Chair Michelle Vopni, Dallas Office Managing Partner at Ernst & Young. It will be the only DRC council made up exclusively of members of the DRC Board of Directors.

“I am so proud of my fellow Board members for this historic action, which will ensure that these issues will be front and center every day forevermore,” Olajide, the Founder and CEO of Axxess, said. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion will be woven into the fabric of everything that we do, everything that we touch.”

The new council of the DRC Board will study and recommend action on diversity, equity, and inclusion matters tied to the four core pillars, including:

      • Diversity in leadership at corporations, among entrepreneurs, and at nonprofit organizations.
      • Executive training and development, workforce development, and access to quality education.
      • Wrap-around services, internet access for all, and proximity to living-wage jobs.
      • Reimagining policing, including training and development, offender re-entry practices, and bail reform.

“It is inspiring to see the DRC moving so quickly in recent weeks to make meaningful changes that will remain in place for decades to come,” Vopni said. “The DRC is proud to help lead as we all work to build a more inclusive community.”

The new Senior Vice President position will report to DRC President and CEO Dale Petroskey and is expected to be filled in the coming months following an extensive search.

“This will be a key senior position for us moving forward,” Petroskey said. “Both our staff and our Board Members are in agreement that we all must share in the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all that we do to improve the Dallas Region every day.”

The council formation was finalized by the Board of Directors today, following a special meeting of the DRC Executive Committee on Tuesday, June 23. Among the speakers at that meeting were Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall, Pastor Richie Butler, also a DRC Board Member, Bishop T.D. Jakes, investor and criminal justice reformer Doug Deason, and Pastor Bryan Carter.

The DRC also recently updated its mission statement, adding the phrase “for all people” to highlight the importance of making the Dallas Region “the best place in the United States for all people to live, work, and do business.” In addition, the DRC amended its style guide earlier this month to capitalize Black when it is used as a racial description.

Also in June, nearly 100 DRC Board Members and other executives signed “A Commitment from Dallas Business Leaders,” a detailed pledge to work every day in every way to build a more inclusive community. It was published as a full-page advertisement in The Dallas Morning News.

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