The world-renowned architect I.M. Pei turns 100 years old on Wednesday. For those of you Dallasites who may be unfamiliar with his name, I guarantee you are familiar with his work. Pei’s architectural feats adorn our wonderful city of Dallas.
It is quite remarkable to witness Pei’s fingerprints all over the Dallas skyline. He designed Dallas City Hall (1977), One Dallas Center (1979), Energy Plaza (1983), Fountain Place (1986), and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (1989).
I don’t believe it was a coincidence that our city chose the chief architect for the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts to design Dallas City Hall.
Andrew Yang is the Founder and CEO of Venture for America (VFA). He has been selected by the White House as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship and a Champion of Change for his inspiring, impactful work in our communities. As a serial entrepreneur, Yang has developed amazing workplace cultures through such strategies as continuous improvement, throwing “convocations,” and acting as an “Asian Santa Claus.” As VFA’s CEO, Yang is uber committed to mentoring, developing, and counseling our country’s next generation of entrepreneurs.
This month, I had the opportunity to hear Adlene Harrison, 93, the first woman mayor of Dallas, speak about her historically progressive career juxtaposed with our current political climate.
In 1977, following her tenure as mayor, Harrison was appointed as one of the first woman Environmental Protection Agency regional directors, in charge of the EPA’s anti-pollution efforts in five southwestern states. She held this position until 1981, when she became chair of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority Board (DART), as highlighted by the Jewish Women’s archive.
She talked about how hard one needs to fight for the greater good when the field is tilted in favor of special interests. She recalled the many projects in which she needed agreement from both sides of the aisle. She even received glowing recommendations from GOP peers to stay on during the Ronald Reagan administration, but the newly elected President Reagan had quite a different strategy for the EPA specifically and regulations in general.
When she was recalling the past, Harrison was quite charismatic and joyful. But when it came to talking about the present, she had a stern warning for us in the audience. Harrison expressed her fears that we as a society have become complacent. But even worse, we have become more self-absorbed and self-interested than ever. She warned that without active civil engagement by common citizens, special interests will write the rules for our future.
At 93, Harrison has never been as fearful as she is today for our democracy. She warned that the prevalent attitudes and the business-as-usual culture will lead us down a dark path of more inequality, segregation, and climate change. She worries that rising inequality is causing seismic cracks in our society’s foundation.