Connection Point: Member Engagement Team Maximizes DRC Membership

Jennifer Schmiel, Senior Vice President, Member Engagement


“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” – naturalist and author Izaak Walton

When embarking on any journey, it’s best to have a goal, a map, and a guide. This is exactly what the DRC’s Member Engagement team provides members. Understanding the region’s business community and all the DRC has to offer, the team works with member companies to set goals and develop plans for maximizing memberships.

Collectively, our team of five has 21 years of experience working at the DRC. We are all passionate about what we do, and while we work hard, we play hard, too. When we achieve our goals, you will find us celebrating success with a team lunch or a field trip to a DRC member business.

Our number-one priority is taking care of our members and providing excellence in member service. No two membership experiences are alike, and often the reasons members join the DRC are not the same reasons they renew their memberships. As companies and the business community grow and change, so do the expectations they have of the DRC.

It’s enjoyable working directly with our members and rewarding to serve as a conduit for connections. Each of us has stories about how we helped companies and people connect, which resulted in business growth, visibility, or recognition. One recent example is the Mobile Food Mart started by UNT Dallas, Toyota, and DART in Southern Dallas. Duane Dankesreiter, SVP of Research and Innovation at the DRC, took members of the Toyota Foundation team on a bus tour of Southern Dallas. On the tour, the group stopped at University of North Texas at Dallas and met with University President Bob Mong. This connection led to the creation of a Mobile Food Mart in Southern Dallas. If you’ve made a connection through the DRC, please share it with us. We enjoy hearing and promoting these stories.

The 2019 goals of the Member Engagement team are to:

  • Connect members to the DRC mission;
  • Engage in meaningful dialogue with members; and
  • Increase member engagement.

Each individual on the Member Engagement team is dedicated to serving specific members, to ensure companies have a direct line into the DRC.

  • Jennifer Schmiel, Senior Vice President, oversees the Member Engagement program of work and serves as the direct contact for Strategy and Catalyst members. I also work with company leaders who are interested in developing an annual investment plan, which includes membership, sponsorships, and the Tomorrow Fund.
  • Diana Rivas-Smith, Vice President, directs all sponsorship activities in addition to being the connection point for our Board of Advisors and Advocate members.
  • Katie Summerfield, Managing Director of Investor and Board Relations, serves as the direct contact for all board member companies and Tomorrow Fund Investors. She also directs the programming for each group.
  • Annie Trice, Manager, is the contact for DRC members at the On the Rise, Market Mover, and Lead levels of membership. She also develops value-based programming, such as Chamber Live and Member Happy Hour, for members.
  • Alex Garcia, Coordinator, ensures the member experience is strong by coordinating a broad range of services to help our members connect and engage with the DRC.

A secret to our success is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Our talents, which really aren’t so “hidden,” include baking, singing, and mentoring. And one way to win us over… TACOS! We have our favorite taco spots and are always open to trying new places. Suggestions anyone? Please email me.