Gillea Allison, LD ’20
President, D Magazine Partners
Each year, the Leadership Dallas class chooses a United Way-facilitated community project wherein we lend our time, talents, and treasure to a local nonprofit – and race to get a large initiative executed in just nine months. Over the past few years, Leadership Dallas class projects have included the MLK Fresh Food Distribution Center at the MLK Community Center (2019), indoor and outdoor recreation space for the kids of Promise House (2018), and the New Hope Garden at Austin Street Center (2017).
For its class project, Leadership Dallas 2020 elected to revamp CitySquare’s food pantry. In 2019, the food pantry served an average of 2,500 neighbors per month, but as food insecurity in our community grows, it is facing increased demand – now serving up to 300 families per day.
John Siburt, CEO of CitySquare and member of the LD Class of 2020, and his team worked with our class step by step to ensure we were maintaining the pantry ‘shopping’ experience that profoundly represents CitySquare’s mission of fighting poverty while honoring the dignity, respect, and humanity of each neighbor it gladly serves.
Our project goals included:
- increasing the number of neighbors served;
- reducing food waste;
- decreasing wait time and improving the experience; and
- providing access to additional social services.
The Dallas Region business community provided tremendous support to Leadership Dallas to make this happen, primarily through in-kind services, and hard work on nights and weekends. When Dallas sets its mind on something, it gets it done – and this project was no different.
OmniPlan evaluated floor plans and previous work; Turner Construction and The Beck Group devoted its experts (classmates Nicole Little and Jason Aboujeib, respectfully) and contract partners to lead the construction and renovation efforts; McKinsey Consulting analyzed proper flow and optimization (thanks to classmate Ben Kinsey); Hilti North America secured a much-desired forklift for the CitySquare warehouse; and Corgan added the final touches with incredible design elements (thanks to LD alumna Lindsay Wilson). LD also received generous financial contributions from Atmos Energy Corporation, Oncor, Texas Capital Bank, and others to complete this project.