Dale A. Petroskey assumed the position of President and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) on April 1, 2014. He works with the Board, staff, and more than 1,100 member companies to increase economic prosperity and enhance the quality of life throughout the region. The DRC focuses on economic development initiatives, improving education at all levels, and setting public policy direction designed to maintain a healthy business climate in North Texas.
Mr. Petroskey brings to the Chamber a strong background in public policy, strategic communications, and non-profit management, having held leadership positions in all three sectors – public, private, and non- profit – for more than 30 years.
After graduating from Michigan State University, he worked 18 years in Washington, D.C., where he served as Chief of Staff to Congressman Bill Goodling (PA), Assistant White House Press Secretary to President Ronald Reagan, and Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation under then-Secretary Elizabeth Dole.
At The White House, Mr. Petroskey served as a spokesman for President Reagan and led the staff responsible for the preparation of every official White House document released to the media. In addition, he traveled extensively and accompanied the President to his historic first meetings with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 1985, and in Reykjavik, Iceland, in October 1986. He also accompanied the President and Mrs. Reagan to Camp David on 10 different weekends.
From 1988-1999, Mr. Petroskey served as a senior executive at the National Geographic Society, the world’s largest educational membership organization. He was named the first-ever Vice President of Public Affairs in 1988 and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Mission Programs in 1996. In that role, he was the senior executive responsible for the committee that funded scientific research and exploration projects for well-known scientists and explorers such as Jane Goodall, Bob Ballard, and Sylvia Earle. He also oversaw a 50-state geography education program, which still includes the National Geography Bee, which was hosted by Alex Trebek, as well as exhibits, the public lectures program, and fundraising.
From 1999-2008, Mr. Petroskey was President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, where he was the primary link to all living Hall of Famers and their families and led the day-to-day operations of one of the nation’s best-known and most respected museums – a premier symbol of American achievement. While there, he was instrumental in launching the museum’s first-ever national traveling exhibition, Baseball As America, which was seen by more than 2 million visitors in 15 respected museums throughout the U.S., including the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science in Fair Park. Membership grew from 4,000 to 32,000 during his tenure, and he also helped create the Hall of Fame’s Development Office, which now provides an important source of revenue. One of his greatest sources of satisfaction and pride was working closely with the Board to initiate and implement a one-time-only, five-year study and process for considering and electing Negro League players, managers, and executives. That process resulted in the election of 17 Negro Leaguers in 2006, nearly doubling the number in the Hall of Fame.
From 2008-2010, Mr. Petroskey served as Executive Vice President of Marketing and Community Development for the Texas Rangers, where he led the reorganization of the Texas Rangers Foundation, resulting in a focus on children in need and a much greater awareness in the community. He also made more than 70 speeches throughout North Texas to share the story of the Rangers on the field and in the community. While with the Rangers, Mr. Petroskey served on the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Foundation Board, the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau Board, and the United Way of Greater Dallas campaign.
Mr. Petroskey was also Vice President of Public Affairs for Occidental Petroleum Corporation (Oxy), the nation’s fourth largest energy company. He worked mostly with Oxy’s five general managers throughout California and other key senior-level managers on challenging legislative and regulatory issues, local community engagement, public education, and charitable contributions.
Mr. Petroskey is a member of numerous Boards, including the Dallas Citizens Council, Dallas Medical Resources, Educate Dallas, The Alfalfa Club of Washington, D.C., and Clayton Kershaw’s Challenge. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Petroskey and his wife, Ann, both graduates of Michigan State University, have been married since 1978. They have three grown children: Kathleen, an SMU graduate living and working in Dallas; Frank, a Tufts University graduate living and working in New York City; and Claire, a College of Charleston graduate living and working in Charleston, SC.
Pat Priest has extensive leadership experience in key financial and operational roles of both public and private companies, as well as active participation in community based service organizations.
Prior to joining the DRC team, Ms. Priest served as Chief Financial Officer of The Kor Group, an investment, development, and management firm specializing in the hospitality and multi-family industries. As a member of the Executive Committee, she was directly responsible for development of the strategic plan for growth, implementing new management systems, and building a motivated team for this privately held California based company.
Prior to Kor, Ms. Priest served as Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer, and member of the Board of Directors of The Beck Group, a multi-national construction, architecture and development company. In addition to her role as Chief Financial Officer, she initiated and chaired the Beck Risk Council and Beck University, and served as Managing Director of Beck Technology, Ltd., which developed and marketed parametric design and construction technology to the building industry.
Her experience also includes Rosewood Property Company and Wyndham International. For 10 years, Ms. Priest served as Executive Vice President and member of the Executive Committee for Rosewood. Joining the company at its inception, Priest assisted in developing it into a nationally recognized real estate group. As Wyndham’s Chief Investment Officer, she defined and directed investment activities following the initial public offering of the hospitality REIT and sourced capital through public and private debt and equity placements.
Ms. Priest also served as President of Intershop Real Estate Services managing the North American portfolio of this Swiss based publicly traded company. She began her career at KPMG & Austin Industries in Dallas, Texas.
Ms. Priest holds a BBA from the University of North Texas, and an MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Ms. Priest’s community based service activities include:
* University of Texas McCombs School of Business Advisory Board – Awarded Lifetime Membership for work in identifying and addressing the barriers to entry for women in the MBA program.
* City of Dallas Design District Tax Increment Financing Board – Chair of this Board established to revitalize a historical district into a vibrant community in the City.
* Real Estate Council – As a member of the Board of Directors of The Real Estate Council Foundation, assisted in development of the strategic plan for the foundation, screened applicants for community grants, and participated in the executive committee to assist large impact grant recipients, including the initial Woodall Rodgers Park Impact Grant.
* Dallas Independent School District – Served as an Executive Coach to principals in Dallas ISD schools.
* YMCA – Served on the Major Gifts Committee, raising funds from large corporate and individual donors for the YMCA Scholarship Program.
* Grameen Foundation – Participated in financial and operational review of the micro-finance lending program for women in indigenous Indian tribes in Chiapas, Mexico.
International Women’s Foundation – Previous Board Member and active participant in the Dallas Chapter of IWF.
Her husband, John Priest, is a professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington, and they have two children.
Mike is Senior Vice President of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s economic development program, a position he has held for 10 years.
From 2002 to 2004, prior to joining the Dallas Regional Chamber, Mike was a Senior Vice President with the Buxton Company, a Fort Worth-based consulting firm that selects locations for prominent national retailers and helps cities with retail-oriented economic development programs.
For 14 years from 1988 through 2002, Mike was with the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce economic development department and promoted to lead the economic development team as Senior Vice President of Economic Development.
Mike holds a Master of Science degree in economic development from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Bachelor of Science degree in regional planning, also from Southern Miss.
During his career Mike has been involved with numerous corporate locations and expansions to the DFW area.
In 2015, he served as chairman of the Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC), the 800-member statewide organization for economic developers.
Mike leads the DFW Marketing Team, the network of economic development professionals representing cities throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Ms. Farley leads the Dallas Regional Chamber’s education efforts from pre-K through workforce, connecting business members with education programs, legislative efforts, and partnerships. Ms. Farley currently serves on the Workforce Solutions Dallas Board, the Commit! Board, the Dallas Out of School Time Council, the Dallas Education Foundation Board and the Uplift School Board. Prior to her work at the Dallas Regional Chamber, Ms. Farley was the CFO of Command and Control Environments in Grapevine, Texas.
As a Certified Management Accountant, she also worked as a consultant with several national firms, including Haynes and Boone, LLP, serving clients in highly regulated industries, particularly on government contracts and accounting investigations. She and her husband, Travis, have two sons that currently attend public school in North Texas.
Ms. Schmiel is Senior Vice President of Member Services for the Dallas Regional Chamber. In this role, Jennifer leads an internal membership development team and collaborates with volunteer leadership throughout the business community to provide the resources to support and sustain the DRC’s region-wide programs and initiatives.
Her primary objectives include efforts to foster positive relationships with existing members and optimize their experience, recruit new members, increase corporate investments, and promote membership benefits and events. Ms. Schmiel and her team also work to increase member participation and retention and identify ways for member companies and community leaders to enhance their success.
Before joining the Dallas Regional Chamber in early 2010, Ms. Schmiel gained extensive experience in the chamber industry: she worked as Vice President of Membership & Marketing for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce; Manager of Member Services for the Greater Houston Partnership; Membership Development Director for the Charleston (South Carolina) Metro Chamber of Commerce; and Manager of Membership and Special Projects for the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce.
During her 16-year career with chambers, Ms. Schmiel has been active in the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, serving on both the executive committee and board; the National Association of Membership Development, serving on both the executive committee and board; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as a faculty member for the USCC Institute of Organizational Management.
Ms. Schmiel holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Houston and a Bachelors degree from Texas A&M University. In 2013 she graduated from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute of Organizational Management, as well as earned her Certified Chamber Executive designation from ACCE.
She and her husband, Greg, live in the Lake Highlands neighborhood of Dallas with their two young daughters, Ruth and Leah. Among their many family activities, they are members of St. Patrick Catholic Church.
Duane Dankesreiter is the Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation at the Dallas Regional Chamber.
Duane oversees the Research team, which is responsible for identifying, prioritizing and delivering information services and products needed to support the Chamber’s strategic priorities of economic development, the talent pipeline and talent attraction. Duane’s also leads the Chamber’s activities around supporting and growing the innovation ecosystem in DFW. In 2013, Duane and his team were a Grand Prize Winner in the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Awards for Communication Excellence competition. The prize recognized the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Economic Development Guide as the best chamber publication in the nation. More recently, Duane helped lead the launch of Dallas Innovates, a new online news site dedicated to telling the stories of innovation in Dallas-Fort Worth. The web site, dallasinnovates.com, launched in December 2015.
Duane joined the Chamber in August 2009. He was previously employed at the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) for fourteen years. There he led demographic and economic data research efforts and provided technical services to Agency departments, local governments, and the public.
He is a member of the Dallas Area Business Economists and the Council for Community and Economic Research. Duane also serves as a member of the Cedar Hill Economic Development Board.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Texas A&M University, and a Master of Public Affairs (M.P.A) degree from the University of Texas – Dallas.
Jessica Heer is the Senior Vice President of Talent Attraction. Talent Attraction is a newly created department at the DRC that focuses on marketing the region by leveraging existing strengths of the Dallas Region to attract and retain talent workers.
Ms. Heer joined the Dallas Regional Chamber in 2005 in the Business Information and Research Department where she was responsible for producing the Dallas Economic Development Guide and providing standard research analysis and support to DRC departments. In 2007 she joined the Economic Development department, leading corporate recruitment efforts for companies considering a move or expansion to the Dallas Region. During her tenure at the DRC, Ms. Heer has completed many economic development projects, including AT&T, Golden Living, GKN Aerostructures, Fiesta Restaurant Group, Neovia Logistics (formerly Caterpillar Logistics), Toyota Motor North America, Kubota Tractor Corporation, Jacobs Engineering Group, and more.
For 3 years prior to joining the DRC, she was employed at the North Central Texas Council of Governments where she was responsible for economic data research efforts, supporting agency departments, local governments, and the general public. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Midwestern State University and a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A) degree from the University of North Texas.
Virginia Martinez Schaefer, J.D. joined the Dallas Regional Chamber in November 2014. As the Senior Vice President of Public Policy, she leads the Public Policy team and is responsible for working with board members and other volunteers to develop and advocate for public policy positions related to healthcare, energy, transportation, economic development, and water supply issues.
The Public Policy team also initiates opportunities for DRC members to interact with leading elected officials. Mrs. Schaefer represents the policy positions of the DRC to elected officials and their staff for all levels of government.
Prior to joining the DRC, Mrs. Schaefer worked at reputable law firms in Austin and Dallas. She also worked as a law clerk for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee under U.S. Senator John Cornyn and as a summer law clerk for Chief Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa of the Southern District of Texas.
Mrs. Schaefer was raised in McAllen, Texas. From there, she attended The University of Texas at Austin where she earned a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Government and minoring in Spanish. While at the University of Texas, Mrs. Schaefer was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority and served as Panhellenic Delegate. She also studied abroad in Spain at the University of Seville where she earned a certificate in Advanced Spanish Literature and Composition. After college, she earned her J.D. at South Texas College of Law and is licensed to practice law in Texas.
Mrs. Schaefer is active in the community and is a member of Cattle Baron’s Ball Committee, which raises millions of dollars for cancer treatment and research in North Texas every year. She is also a member of the Dallas County Bar Association and the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers. She was recently appointed to the Trinity Commons Foundation board and Dallas CASA board.
Sarah Carabias-Rush leads the Dallas Regional Chamber’s efforts to raise the Dallas Region’s international profile. She actively markets the region as a prime location for U.S. and North American headquarters and corporate facilities.
Sarah has worked at the Dallas Regional Chamber since 2003, with increasing responsibility in the areas of economic development, technology and healthcare industry programming, and international business recruitment. She led the Chamber’s efforts to recruit major corporate headquarters to the Dallas Region, including Toyota Motor North America, ACTIVE Network, Hilti, Omnitracs, and Kubota. In addition, she played a key role in recruiting operations for Panasonic, Hexaware Technologies, Liberty Mutual, Kohl’s, and other well-known organizations to the region. Sarah earned her B.A. in international studies, sociology, and Spanish from Austin College. She and her husband became proud parents in August 2015.
As Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, for the Dallas Region’s largest business association, Kelle Marsalis works with companies to build relationships among DRC members and provides opportunities for companies to grow their businesses and develop talent. She leads a program of work for the Dallas Regional Chamber that oversees involvement opportunities, management of the governance process and governing board, and implementation of the DRC’s strategic priorities. In 2015, Ms. Marsalis led the Committee for the Future, engaging business and community leaders in creating the DRC’s next 5-year strategic plan, Building Tomorrow Together. In the past 6 years with the Dallas Regional Chamber, Ms. Marsalis also focused on communication and programming for economic development and membership investors, high-level investor thank-you programs and teams providing member engagement and events. She implemented and led the Small Business Initiative for the DRC for 5 years, increasing involvement of small and mid-size companies by over 250 percent in its first year.
Ms. Marsalis has worked with leading business organizations for 10 years. In 2007, while serving as a Director, she led the Stillwater (OK) Chamber of Commerce to be named Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). She currently serves as an advisory council member for ACCE and a member of the Chamber of the Year committee. In 2009 she worked with 6 counties to create and implement a stand-alone regional young professionals’ organization in Northern Illinois. And in 2010, she earned her certification with Institute for Organizational Management from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. Ms. Marsalis served as a class advisor 3 years at two Institute sites and continues as a West Board of Regents member, elected as Chair of the 2017 West Board of Regents.
Ms. Marsalis and her husband, Van, are graduates of Oklahoma State University and reside in downtown Dallas.
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