Leadership Dallas Alumna Reflects on “Impactful” Service Project at Jubilee Park

By Jessica Gonzalez, Director of Automotive, Informed.IQ

In fall 2021, 52 strangers met at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Leadership Dallas Class of 2022 retreat with little idea how impactful our journey together would be.

Our initial tasks weren’t crazy — give back to your community, be a better leader, and support your peers. Everything you’d expect from a leadership program.

We felt the true mission of DRC’s signature leadership program — make a lasting impact — when we started our community service project, transforming Jubilee Park and Community Center’s food pantry. The Jubilee community is in one of Dallas’ “food deserts” with little to no access to fresh produce and certain household goods.

By May 21, 2022 — after countless phone calls and late-night planning sessions — we held the ribbon-cutting for the project. We redesigned and renovated the pantry, added storage, added refrigeration for fresh produce, and implemented a long-term sustainability plan for the pantry. Dallas City council members Adam Bazaldua and Jesse Moreno also attended the ribbon-cutting event.

“Run out of a spare room and entirely reliant on individual food donations, our makeshift pantry has transformed into a full-service pantry that will provide access to healthy, culturally relevant foods and fresh fruit and vegetables,” said Marissa Castro Mikoy, Jubilee Park President and CEO. “The 2022 Leadership Dallas Class can feel proud knowing they have helped restore choice and dignity to our most vulnerable families.”

The Leadership Dallas Class of 2022 raised $200,000 for the food pantry project and sustainability plan, more than any other Leadership Dallas class in the program’s history.

Through valuable community investment, Jubilee Park is revitalizing Dallas in our vital Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. We must continue this important work in Southern Dallas.

We did this project together — as a Leadership Dallas class, as a community, and as a family. We laughed, cried, and learned. We grew together.

I can’t wait for the next adventures with my Leadership Dallas 2022 classmates and the Leadership Dallas Alumni. And to the future executives in Leadership Dallas, your service project will change your life. It did mine.

Jessica Gonzalez is the Director of Automotive at Informed.IQ, which transforms qualitative and quantitative data into simple actionable solutions for potential clients. Jessica has built a powerful voice for the Hispanic culture in the workplace and beyond as a board member for Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) DFW, a nonprofit developing Latino men and women into impactful leaders in every sector of the global economy. Leadership Dallas was founded in 1975 by the DRC. The Leadership Dallas Class of 2022 is presented by Grant Thornton.