Monday, July 20, 2015

New responsibilities with City of Dallas



JULY 17, 2015 214.670.797

Changes announced on mayor’s poverty task force
Former chair assumes GrowSouth post; new leadership named

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on Friday announced a change in leadership and scope of his poverty task force, which was formed in early 2014.

Regina Montoya, a co-chair of the task force, will take on sole leadership responsibilities of the newly-reconstructed task force, as the panel’s mission shifts to further study the poverty that plagues Dallas and to develop sustainable solutions.

Larry James, the head of Dallas nonprofit CitySquare and the founding chair of the task force, will take on a key role with the mayor’s GrowSouth initiative. Although he will remain a member of the poverty task force, he’ll now be primarily tasked with forming the GrowSouth Collective Impact board.

Under the leadership of James and Montoya, along with former City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins, the poverty task force in August 2014 presented several recommendations to the Dallas City Council. Among them: leverage the federal earned income tax credit as an economic engine; emphasize early-childhood education; improve efforts to reduce blight; and support an increase in minimum wage for city employees and contract workers.

From his new post, James, who has been fighting poverty in the city for decades, will now work to connect the City of Dallas’ Neighborhood Plus plan with the Mayor’s GrowSouth initiative in specified areas. The envisioned Collective Impact board will oversee the work of three general managers who will focus on progress in the target neighborhoods of Parkdale/Urbandale, the Lancaster Corridor and the Education Corridor.

"The poverty task force last year presented substantive recommendations that we are continuing to pursue," Rawlings said. "In his new position, Larry James will be able to help implement those and additional policies through the Collective Impact model."

The mayor said his poverty task force will now be focused on better understanding the alarming poverty numbers in our city. It will also be charged with developing long-term solutions for the entire city.

"Portions of our city are booming with historic prosperity and development," Rawlings said. "Yet, the median family income for single-mother homes dropped by 30 percent from 2000 to 2012 and the median income for married couples with children dropped by more than half of that. This is a crisis and we must better understand its root causes if we’re going to address it. Given Regina Montoya’s leadership experience and her extensive knowledge of these critical issues facing Dallas, she will be in an excellent position to lead the work of the newly-reconstructed task force."

Newly elected City Council member Mark Clayton will also join the task force. He replaces Atkins.

Regina Montoya is a Harvard-trained attorney who has been nationally recognized as one of the top lawyers in the country. She served as co-chair of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings' Task Force on Poverty, and she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Montoya was one of the first Latinas to earn partnership in a major corporate law firm in the United States, and she is a former award-winning television commentator. Montoya is currently working on a book about the importance of incorporating Latinos into the economic, political and social fabric of America, and she is a frequent public speaker on a wide range of issues, including health care, poverty, diversity and children.

Montoya has received numerous awards for her corporate, philanthropic and nonprofit accomplishments. She earned her B.A. from Wellesley College, where she is a Trustee Emerita, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Larry James has provided executive leadership since joining CitySquare in 1994. James is known in the Dallas faith, business and media communities as a social entrepreneur and committed servant to the people of East and South Dallas.

He is a graduate of Harding University (B.A. 1972), Harding University Graduate School of Religion (M.A. 1973), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv 1977), Tulane University (M.A.—American History 1986) and Perkins School of Theology at SMU (post-graduate). His first full-length book, The Wealth of the Poor: How Valuing Every Neighbor Restores Hope in Our Cities, was published by Leafwood Publishers in 2013.

Since 1999, James and his wife, Brenda, have made their home in the inner city. James, a United Methodist Minister, serves the church in a dual appointment to CitySquare and Highland Park United Methodist Church.

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