Jim Knight, KFM Engineering and Design
2019 TREC Chairman
What are your goals as chairman?
I’ve given a lot of thought to my goals in preparation for this year, but I believe it comes down to a few things. I want to start with board engagement. We have some of the smartest leaders in our community on our boards and we have to get them actively involved and help them understand the complexity of this organization so they can find their path to success. I want to see TREC Community Fund expand and find even more ways to give back and touch even more people’s lives for the better. I want to significantly engage our design community, which contributes not just to North Texas but to the world and does things most people within our membership don’t have the ability to do. If we can get their engagement, we can exponentially increase our level of giving back to the community and leverage our non-profit and pro bono giving. And finally, increase our interaction with city officials. We’re going to have a new mayor coming in later this year, and new city council members not just in Dallas but in all the communities surrounding Dallas. I want to reach out and grow our footprint so that we are seen as working hand-in-hand with our elected officials to help our community grow.
One of TREC’s largest areas of growth in the last year was with our Community Fund, adding new programs like the Real Estate 101 Bootcamps and CRE Accelerator and receiving grants from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI program and JPMorgan Chase’s PRO Neighborhoods grant initiative. How would you like to see the Community Fund continue to grow in 2019?
The awards and grants the Community Fund received last year put us on a new path. I’m not sure our members truly understand the ability the Community Fund has to affect change in our community. Most people in the City of Dallas don’t understand that TREC laid the initial idea and funding for Klyde Warren Park, and today we are advancing the Dallas Catalyst Project which focuses on revitalizing an area of Southern Dallas. TREC Community Fund has the opportunity to make the same impact. By working with the community and the city on affordable housing and using these grant programs to reestablish and create success for these neighborhoods, 10 to 20 years from now we’ll look back and say we touched people’s lives.
In 2018, TREC introduced the Dallas Catalyst Project alongside partner organizations St. Philip’s School & Community Center, Cornerstone Baptist Church and CitySquare to help revitalize the Forest District. As TREC chairman, what are you most looking forward to about the Dallas Catalyst Project in Year Two?
This year we will see our first level of construction activity in the Forest District, and we’ll see significant growth and improvement in the area. What’s unique about this project is that we have three organizations working hand-in-hand with the community. St. Philip’s School has been in that community since the 1940s, the Cornerstone Baptist Church as well. Now, working with CitySquare, we’re going to see some significant things from this project. If our organization does what we expect it to do, we believe the Dallas Catalyst Project will expand and be more vibrant. Once our first project is developed, the neighbors will start to see it and it will take off from there.
Our PAC and Public Policy teams were very active in the last year as well. What excites you the most about the work they’re doing?
The most dynamic thing I believe that’s happened outside the Dallas Catalyst Project within our organization over the past five years was the creation of our Public Policy Committee. That group is some of the most talented, energetic people who want to really engage and understand. A lot of them are professionals who know how the process works and want to develop rules and regulations to help the community to be sustainable over a long period of time, but a lot of them just want to be involved. They want to learn. We now have over 1,000 members under the age of 35 and we have a public policy committee that’s well over 100 people participating on a regular basis. Led by our PAC and its leadership, we work to try to make sure we support the right elected officials when they move to be leaders in our community at the city, state and even the school board level. We’ve seen great changes in our community, and the PAC and Public Policy Committee working together will do great things.
What can our members do to support our organization this year and Build the City You’ve Imagined?
A lot of our members don’t necessarily understand the opportunity they have in front of them. Most of our members are very successful professionally, but to whom much is given, much is expected. It’s time for them to understand that and to give back. Even giving back incrementally will help everybody else. If everybody works and does a little bit, either through time or dollars or a combination of both, this community will get better and will be sustainable for many generations to come. Many hands make for light work, and by working together we will see success. One day, we’ll look back at the young people who are now part of our organization and have great joy because we helped them establish their careers and prepared them to lead future generations as well.
Finally, in closing, I would like to remind all our members. There are only two (2) things that are important in this world.
- Every day, do something to make the world a better place.
- Raise a family to continue this after you are gone.
The rest is background noise. Focus on others and make your time count for generations to come. That is the mettle of a true leader.