DRC Black History Month Series: Joli Robinson, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance

As CEO of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA), Joli Robinson works in partnership with more than 90 public, private, and nonprofit institutions to make homelessness in Dallas and Collin Counties rare, brief, and nonrecurring.

Joli Robinson, CEO

She believes affordable housing is at the heart of most every societal challenge.

Robinson, who also serves on the DRC Board of Directors, talks career and the biggest challenges facing African Americans in the DRC’s on-going Q&A series for Black History Month.

What African American figures have had a major influence on your life?

My family has had a major influence on my life. My mother, father, brother, and extended family have been a big support for me throughout the years. They’ve taught me about our family’s history, which can be traced to a plantation in Georgia, and about the hard work of our ancestors that has allowed us to enjoy present-day blessings.

Influential figures outside my family include Michelle Obama. Her grace and intelligence set her apart, and Oprah and the heights she’s achieved from her humble roots make her one of the Top 3 living people I’d love to meet. Many other African American figures I look up to are great community advocates and individuals who not only fight for the rights of Black people, but for people that identify as LGBTQ+ as well.

What are the biggest challenges facing the current generation of African American leaders?

There have been huge strides made in the fight for equality, but there is still room for improvement in the fight for equity. Equity in our healthcare, housing, criminal justice system, and education system are areas where African Americans continue to experience some of the worst disparate impacts.

As a business leader, how do you have effective conversations on race?

As a leader of a nonprofit, I work to infuse race into conversations without making the topic and discussions taboo in any way. There’s a way to honor others and their experiences, and room to celebrate our individual heritage, history, and legacies.

What is the best piece of advice you received on life and building a successful career?

The best piece of advice I received about life and building a successful career is to focus on alignment — aligning my head, heart, and passion to do true legacy work. There’s no concern for personal accolades. Although it’s nice to receive your flowers while you’re still here, I’m focused on how to make this place and space just a tad bit better.