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Episode 1 with Don Williams | The CEO Call to Action

Don Williams, Former Chairman and CEO of Trammell Crow Company shares his insights on working to strengthen low-income neighborhoods in Dallas.

Don created a commission to address inequities in Dallas and developed the Dallas Together Covenant, which included commitments to diversity and regular reporting of ethnic minority employee representation.

Learn about Don’s journey to build trust in the community through his encounter with a legendary principal of Lincoln High School and the importance of partnering with those most at risk to drive tangible change.

Discover how listening and engagement can transform communities and improve their conditions.

Tune in to the next episode to hear strategies Don used to strengthen low-income neighborhoods and the importance of trust in this work.


Show Notes

About the Guest(s):

Don Williams is the former CEO and Chairman of Trammel Crow Company, one of the largest global commercial real estate development firms in the world. He has dedicated his career to addressing the inequalities and challenges faced by low-income neighborhoods in Dallas. After retiring from Trammel Crow, Williams continued his work in South Dallas, focusing on building trust, listening to the needs of the community, and collaborating with residents to drive positive change.

Episode Summary:

In this episode, host Cecilia Edwards interviews Don Williams about his journey to caring about and working in low-income neighborhoods in Dallas. Williams shares two important lessons he learned along the way: the need to see and understand the inequalities that exist and the importance of centering efforts around the agenda of the people most impacted. He also discusses the role of business leaders in driving societal impact and offers advice for those looking to make a difference in their communities.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the dynamics and challenges faced by ethnic minorities and women in business is crucial for driving meaningful change and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Seeing and acknowledging the inequalities that exist in low-income neighborhoods is the first step towards making a difference.
  • Building trust and listening to the needs of the community are essential for creating lasting impact.
  • Business leaders should go beyond writing checks and actively engage with the community to understand their needs and work together towards solutions.
  • The role of a CEO extends beyond the business realm and includes a duty to the public and the community.

Notable Quotes:

  • “What leads you to do anything? I think for me, it was a gradual process growing up in a business class community where there was great equality for the most part. So I was kind of shocked when I moved to Texas after law school and found the degrees of inequality in Texas.” – Don Williams
  • “I think the learning process that I went through of the differing conditions in low-income neighborhoods, the extraordinary capacity and commitments of so many of the residents, I had the privilege to meet, that I felt called to get in and do what I could do, even though I really didn’t know for sure what needed to be done or how to do it.” – Don Williams


To listen to the full episode and gain more insights from Don Williams, tune in to the podcast. Stay tuned for more episodes of The Business of Impact, where business and civic leaders share their secrets to driving positive societal change.

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