More than 1,300 business, civic, and community leaders joined us on March 7 for our 2016 Annual Meeting & Luncheon at the Omni Dallas Hotel. It was another great day Downtown, as we were joined by presenting sponsor Southwest Airlines, who gifted the entire audience with 2,500 Rapid Rewards points! Additionally, DDI CEO John F. Crawford, formerly serving as President and CEO, announced a leadership transition plan naming Kourtny Garrett as President.
The 2016 Board of Directors was approved unanimously and Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) then honored Robert Decherd with the Chairman’s Award. The award recognizes Decherd’s efforts to help stimulate and maintain a vibrant environment and promote community involvement in Downtown Dallas.
“On the subject of ‘we’re all in’, I am particularly thrilled we were able to honor Robert with the Downtown Dallas, Inc. Chairman’s Award. The DDI Chairman’s Award was created to recognize a company or individual who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to, and significantly impacted the progression of, Downtown Dallas. Few can parallel the efforts of Robert Decherd” said John Crawford, CEO, Downtown Dallas, Inc.
After spending his career dedicated to A.H. Belo Corporation and Belo Corp, Robert Decherd is now Vice Chairman of the Board of A. H. Belo Corporation, the oldest continuously-operating business in the State of Texas. Decherd is also Chairman of the newly created Parks for Downtown Dallas foundation, formerly the Belo Foundation, whose giving emphasis is urban parks and planning. He and his wife, Maureen, established The Decherd Foundation in 1993 and that foundation pursues similar giving objectives.
Mr. Decherd’s civic contributions to Downtown are vast, significantly advancing planning and public space efforts for more than three decades. In 1991 he was a part of the creation of The Dallas Plan. Between 2002 and 2005, he chaired the Inside the Loop Committee, facilitating the creation of the Inside the Loop Report, Emerald Bracelet Plan, CBD Comprehensive Transportation Plan, and the first Parks Master Plan for Downtown. In 1988, he was named an Honorary Member of the Texas Society of Architects for distinguished service in Dallas over time, and received an American Institute of Architects “Citation of Honor” in 1981 for his work to establish the Dallas Arts District. In 2012, Mr. Decherd received the Kessler Award from the Greater Dallas Planning Council for the breadth and scope of this work.
From 2000 to 2014, under his direction, Belo Corp and Belo Foundation invested a combined $14 million in mostly Downtown projects highlighted by Belo Garden, The Dallas Plan, Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe Bell Tower, Downtown Parks Master Plan, Ferris Plaza, Inside the Loop Report, Lubben Plaza, WFAA Plaza, and 912 Commerce Beautification.
Most recently, in 2013, The Decherd Foundation funded a comprehensive update of the 2004 Downtown Dallas Parks Master Plan, and it was announced just at the end of last year that the future focus of the Belo Foundation would rest on the advancement of parks with the creation of the Parks for Downtown Dallas foundation, a $30+ million matching grant fund to further the work of the 2013 master plan.
More specific to this award is a fascinating history. Robert’s father, H. Ben Decherd, served on this organization’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee during our founding years in the late ‘50s and ‘60s. He was quoted as saying, “A strong organization is needed to take the lead and follow through in achieving Downtown improvements.” Robert continued his father’s legacy in 1980, joining the then-Central Dallas Association Streetscape Task Force that produced one of the earliest urban design plans for Downtown streets. He continued his leadership with Board of Directors and Executive Committee roles, as well as serving as Vice Chair, Planning and Implementation Committee Chair, and Downtown Improvement District Chair. I don’t think it’s overstating to say that a tremendous amount of what you see Downtown today is the result of Robert Decherd’s dedication to planning and design in the center of our city.
Downtown Dallas, Inc. and the Board of Directors thank Robert for his dedication, leadership, and the legacy he is leaving for future generations to improve Downtown Dallas.