- Ken Kalthoff, NBC5 Dallas

Women now lead four Central Dallas business groups in a sign of growing gender equality in Dallas.

They are not elected officials, but these women have been chosen for jobs that have power and influence over what’s happening in Dallas.

They are leading a transition to a denser, more walkable urban core and they say they are doing so in a new, more collaborative way.

Kourtny Garrett is the first woman to be President and CEO of the business group, Downtown Dallas, Inc.

“There’s a fundamental culture shift happening in Dallas, and in the urban core,” Garrett said. “The density is coming in, the desire for mixed-use environments.”

Lily Caatu Weiss is Executive Director of the Dallas Arts District, which has large venues that benefit the adjacent neighborhoods.

“We gain a lot by sharing and promoting each other’s assets, by collaborating on events and projects. And certainly, safety is key for all of us,” Weiss said.

Stephanie Keller Hudiberg, Executive Director of The Deep Ellum Foundation, said the women enjoy better cooperation than there has been in the past.

“Especially when it comes to city building, it’s the intersections, it’s the overlap, where people have historically worked in silos where it gets interesting and where we can find the most work that we can advance in a way we haven’t thought before,” Hudiberg said.

Kathy Stewart is Executive Director of Uptown Dallas Inc.

“I’m collaborating with other women and I do think we have a similar perspective and I think collaboration is the key,” Stewart said.

For instance, Stewart said a pending project to add street lanes for scooters and bikes should not end at the edge of downtown but should continue through Uptown.

“We need to make that work so that the urban core works better, functions better,” Stewart said.

The number of people living in these Central Dallas areas has grown by thousands in recent years with many more on the way.

The concerns for these leaders cover everything from the color of flowers in common areas to homelessness. They work to see that the denser new urban neighborhoods have the services working parents might require.

“Competing with each other is not going to take us where we want to be,” Stewart said. “I think where we will be much stronger is if we work together.”

It is a new level for the women in power and for Central Dallas.

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