By Catie George, Manager, Communications and Storytelling
The Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) welcomed Leadership Dallas (LD) Alumni to the Annual Leadership Luncheon on Monday, June 12, at UNT Dallas to celebrate the impact of LD on the Dallas Region and the newly graduated LD Class of 2023.
LD, the Dallas Region’s premier leadership program founded in 1975, accepts up to 55 diverse leaders each year to engage in a ten-month leadership development program to empower them to create positive change in the region. The program has seen more than 2,300 participants in its history, with alumni emerging as some of the top business and community leaders in the region. Twenty-two of the DRC’s 125 Board members, or 17.6%, are LD alumni.
Dale Petroskey, President and CEO of the DRC, remarked on the growth and prosperity of the Dallas Region and how LD alumni can lead the work still to be done.
“We are in a city of growth, in a period of growth, and we need to use this sweet moment in time to narrow the gaps between those who have a lot and those who don’t have much,” Petroskey said. “We can never rest on our laurels. We can never take our foot off the gas. I can promise you that the DRC team and I come to work every day with a sense of urgency to make the Dallas Region even better tomorrow than it is today.”
The luncheon featured Peter Brodsky, LD ’10 and the Majority Owner & Developer of the Shops at RedBird, in conversation with the DRC’s SVP of Inclusion & Community Engagement Latosha Herron Bruff. Brodsky is a civic leader and investor championing the restoration and revitalization of RedBird in Southern Dallas County, a historically under-championed community. Brodsky left a career in finance shortly after going through LD to focus on his mission-driven work.
“Every single thing I’m doing now professionally and most of my friends now stem back to Leadership Dallas, or something that I’m doing because of Leadership Dallas,” Brodsky said. “It really was an inflection point in my life because it exposed me to a side of Dallas that I had never seen.
“I genuinely believe that Southern Dallas has a financial capacity and market demands that are not being met by the market,” Brodsky continued. “I genuinely believe that everybody deserves to have not just their basic needs met, but their commercial desires catered to. Everybody deserves to have the comforts and conveniences that people want.”
One of those comforts includes the recent addition of a Tom Thumb grocery store at the Shops at RedBird, a move that promises to increase access to high-quality groceries for families in an area chronically affected by food deserts. Brodsky highlighted the DRC’s role in the success of the monumental project.
“I want to make sure everybody here understands that the DRC was a critical player in this event. And without the DRC, particularly [Latosha], this would not have happened,” Brodsky said. “If you want a specific instance of the Dallas Regional Chamber putting time and resources and effort into a Southern Dallas project, this is it.”
Graduates of LD stay connected through the DRC’s Leadership Dallas Alumni (LDA) program, designed to keep alumni engaged in the community.
“The mission of Leadership Dallas Alumni is to connect alumni to each other and the community through impactful and inclusive leadership opportunities,” 2023 LDA Council Chair Jonathan Blum said. “We are connected by our desire to see the region succeed, and that that success is one for all in our community.”
John Roppolo, LD ’77 and retired fundraising professional, was presented the 2023 LDA Distinguished Alumni Award. This award acknowledges his contributions and commitment to the community, his demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities, and his positive impact on the Dallas community.
“I’ve had a long affair with Leadership Dallas Alumni. I was in the second class [of Leadership Dallas], and for over 50 years now I have been involved,” Roppolo said. “And I just want you to know that it has been a wonderful experience for me: the friendships I’ve made, the ability to hone my leadership skills, and the networking that it has provided me in this community… I’ve been able to serve many organizations because of the help that I’ve received in my leadership programs here at the Chamber.”
Brodsky left the LD Class of 2023 class with some encouragement to use their LD experience for good.
“If you’re in a position of power and you have a seat at the table, you have to advocate for things that go against the grain.”
The DRC’s Annual Leadership Luncheon was sponsored by Bank of America and Amazon. LDA is presented by EY, and the LD Class of 2023 is presented by Grant Thornton.