Dallas business has something of a good ol’ boy reputation—deservedly or not. But Dallas also is a progressive city. Most everywhere you turn, there is a strong woman at the helm of a flourishing company. The common thread: none are afraid of embracing change or making tough decisions. Join us as we celebrate these women in D CEO Women.
Event Details: On STEM
October 19, 6-8pm
Women in STEM has been a big topic not only in Dallas, but also the world. For our final panel of this year’s series, we invited Dana Brown, Molly Cain, and Seema Yasmin to discuss their roles in STEM. The editors of D CEO magazine invite you to hear their stories. Join us for a private evening of discussion and networking.
Panel Discussion Features:
Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
A former 25-year technology industry veteran, Dana Brown has been on the founding team of multiple successful ventures including co-founder and chief marketing officer for MetaSolv Software (NASDAQ: MSLV, acquired by Oracle in 2006), CEO of Ipsum Networks, (acquired by Cisco), CMO for Ignite Technologies, the leader in enterprise content delivery; as well the early years of her career at Texas Instruments and Arthur Andersen.
As the Chief Marketing and Engagement Director, Dana leads the teams responsible for United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ brand strategy, integrated marketing, and strategic communications programs including social, digital and mobile strategies; strategic partnerships; and volunteer engagement and events.
Dana was also engaged by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas on a full-time, pro bono basis to develop and launch a new initiative, the GroundFloor, the region’s first social impact accelerator fund. The GroundFloor is focused on investing in social enterprises that tackle the challenges facing North Texas and help United Way of Metropolitan Dallas reach the region’s United 2020 goals in the areas of education, income, and health (www.thegroundfloor.org).
Prior to joining Tech Wildcatters, Molly co-founded The Haul Company, a video-focused e-commerce startup that connects social personalities with brands, advertisers, and networks for syndication. She is a regular contributor to Forbes, where her leadership column receives nearly half a million views a month, and on GlassHeel.com a career, lifestyle and networking site for professional women, which she founded in 2011.
Molly has spent the greater part of her career in Dallas, where in 2012 she was recognized as one of Dallas’ 40 Under 40. Before joining the startup community, Molly managed strategy, communications, and content management for Fortune 500 organizations. For more than 10 years, she specialized in the development and execution of content management tools and change management initiatives for large and diverse audiences in a number of industries, including telecommunications, financial, and media. She has received international recognition for her work in developing targeted and customized programs which change behavior, drive awareness, and generate buy-in on topics based on an organization’s executive and strategic needs.
Molly has an MBA from the University of Texas, Dallas and a bachelor of science from Texas A&M University.
Professor of Public Health
The University of Texas at Dallas
Writer, The Dallas Morning News
Dr. Seema Yasmin is a staff writer at The Dallas Morning News, a professor of public health at The University of Texas at Dallas, and a Medical Analyst for CNN. Dr. Yasmin trained in medicine at the University of Cambridge and in journalism at the University of Toronto. She served as an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she investigated disease outbreaks in maximum-security prisons, American Indian reservations, and healthcare facilities. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed medical journals as well as the popular press including the Huffington Post and Scientific American.
“There are moments when I was a great mother or I was a great banker. At the same moment, it was more rare. So I think balance is just like anything; we work on it every day, and we need to give ourselves a little slack.”
— Elaine Agather
“I am like, ‘We can get it done, we can do it.’ If someone is telling me no, I always think they just need more information.”
— Lynn McBee
MAY 18, 2015
One day in law school, a professor looked at Marilea Lewis, who was a student at the time, and asked her, “Why are you here?” Lewis replied, “Am I late?” The professor said, “No. I mean, why are YOU here? There are men out there who have to support their families. Why are YOU here?”
Today, Lewis can laugh about that story. Back then, she couldn’t.
“I made it anyway,” she says. “I overcame that, and I overcame the barrier of myself.”
Lewis, now a name partner at the law firm Godwin Lewis, joined Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Kimberly Lacher, president, Vendera Resources, at D Magazine Partners’ office in May to discuss barriers. The successful leaders had plenty of stories to tell.
Valdez, the only speaker in the series to have brought her gun with her (that we know of), spoke about the beginning of her career. She was once at a sheriff’s conference, and walked out of the bathroom and stumbled into the end of a conversation where a guy was saying, “I’m not going to take orders from someone who has to sit down to pee.” “Of course the whole class turned and looked at me,” Valdez says. “Even now, it’s been 25-30 years, I still get little goose bumps, and a little upset. Actually, I just stopped getting upset about three to four years ago. But I still remember the feeling of humiliation, of embarrassment.”
The experience, though, taught Valdez something important. “I remember saying, ‘If I ever get to be in charge, I will never let anyone feel like this. I will always work at not letting … because of your color, or your sex, or sexual orientation, or religion, whatever it is … I will not let anyone feel like this.”
When asked about her status as a role model, Lacher said she takes the responsibility seriously. “I’m really excited to be a role model for women and help them navigate these waters,” she says, citing that 20 percent of the people who work in the oil and gas industry are women. “It’s an opportunity to build up and really help move the industry in the right direction as it relates to women being able to have a place here … and to be able to use their unique contributions to really make a better industry for everybody.”
MARCH 23, 2015
For Lynn McBee, fundraising powerhouse, being successful in the philanthropic world is all about making connections. “I love maintaining relationships with folks, and exploring what their passions are and what their interests are, and finding common interest,” she says. “And so, to me, it’s very personal.” McBee, CEO of Young Women’s Preparatory Network, was joined by Michelle R. Thomas, Vice President, Global Philanthropy, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, and Jennifer Sampson, CEO/President, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, to discuss philanthropy, leadership, and Dallas for the second in our D CEO speaker series sponsored by TrueHR.
Thomas, who heads up the bank’s foundation, echoed McBee’s sentiments about relationships, but also discussed the importance of partnerships in philanthropy, with foundations and among nonprofits. She used to sit with various directors and discuss the different missions and outcomes of nonprofits. She said that now, they’re all working together better. “They’re learning from each other,” she says. “It’s just so much more effective for the city.”
The audience, made up of mainly businesswomen, a couple businessmen, and some students from the Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, wanted to know what advice the panelists have for getting into nonprofits. “Do it!” Sampson says. A self-proclaimed “long-suffering accountant,” Sampson says the lines between for-profits and nonprofits in Dallas are blurring. When looking to hire new people at United Way, she looks for people with a breadth and depth of experience in a variety of fields. McBee agreed. “Dallas and its philanthropic community expect nonprofits to be run by business people,” she says. “It’s a new day.”
While all the panelists agreed the job can be taxing at times, they say it’s worth it. “It’s a really rewarding career,” Sampson says. “It’s work that keeps me up at night. The big issues we’re trying to solve are so complex. But it also gets me out of bed every single morning, because of the opportunity to really make a difference and change lives in a permanent way is immeasurable.”
SPETEMBER 29, 2014
For our first in our presentation, we invited 100 businesswomen (and a few good men) to D’s office to hear from three of D CEO’s Wonder Women. On hand were Elaine Agather, chairwoman of Dallas Region, JP Morgan Chase; Matrice Ellis-Kirk, managing director, RSR Partners; and Melissa Reiff, president, COO, and director, The Container Store. The goal for the evening was to get some frank, honest assessments of women in leadership. The panelists did not disappoint.
Elaine Agather, with her trademark straight talk, shared some of the advice she gives women in her office: “If you cry, I will kill you,” she said. “I don’t mean for it to sound flip, but if you don’t get honest feedback early, you never know, and then you never move up and probably leave because you didn’t get the promotion.” She recounted the time when she had just been promoted at a bank in Fort Worth, and she showed up for a sales call in a pink Escada suit. “I was going to make some calls with a cowboy over there,” she said. “I walk in, and he goes, ‘Ohmygod, what do you have on?’” The man (who worked under her) informed her she looked like she was wearing Pepto-Bismol. She thanked him, ran home, and changed.
Matrice Ellis-Kirk also got a lesson in fashion when her husband, Ron, was first elected Mayor. “I went to the grocery store after working out, and to tell you I looked like a hot mess…I didn’t even have a hat on. It was that bad,” she said. An elderly woman walked up to her and said, “Honey, you cannot come out looking like that. You represent this city.” Ellis-Kirk heeded the woman’s advice.
While fashion faux pas were a part of the discussion, so was discussing how to find balance. “Life is all about the mixing and the folding of everything that’s important to you on a daily basis,” Melissa Reiff said. “It’s a choice to be positive. It’s a choice to look at the glass half full. I think that really makes a difference in just making your life happy and full and centered.”
The women also discussed key strategies for success, how to handle change, and how to get more women to serve on boards.