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Mayor Michael S. Rawlings

2019 Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award Honoree

Friday, September 20 | 6:30 p.m. | Hilton Anatole Grand Ballroom

Mayor Michael S. Rawlings

Mike Rawlings came to Dallas in 1976 with a couple hundred dollars in his pocket and plans to work as a radio reporter. He didn't think he'd stay long. But over the next four decades, Rawlings proved that Dallas is truly a city of opportunity.

Elected in 2011, Mike Rawlings became the 61st mayor of Dallas and the longest-serving mayor in nearly six decades. During his eight years in office, he focused on spurring economic development in the long-overlooked southern portion of Dallas through his GrowSouth initiative, improving public education, combatting poverty and domestic violence, developing parks, elevating the city's international profile and turning Dallas into a top destination for artists, young professionals, families and corporations. Though success is not confined to one area of the city, because of the Mayor’s GrowSouth initiative the southern Dallas tax base grew by 60 percent between fiscal 2011 and 2018.

A Borger, Texas native and proud Boston College graduate, Mayor Rawlings worked his way up from an entry-level position at TracyLocke, then the largest advertising agency in the South, to become the CEO. Later, he took the helm of the world's largest pizza company, Pizza Hut, and grew it to record sales. He previously served as Chairman and Managing Partner of private equity firm CIC Partners, where he is currently the vice chairman.

During the time that Mayor Rawlings has led the ninth-largest city in America, Dallas experienced tremendous economic growth. When he took office in 2011, the overall property value in the city was $83 billion. Now, it is upwards of $130 billion, an increase of about 56 percent. He has also worked to keep Dallas in the national and international spotlight. In 2016, he was selected as a Vital Voices Global Partnership honoree for his work to eradicate domestic violence. He was the 2017 recipient of the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award for Leadership in Urban Design, and the following year, he received the National Award for Local Arts Leadership from Americans for the Arts and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Prior to being elected as mayor, he served as the Chair of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau (VisitDallas), the city's Homeless Czar and president of the Dallas Park Board. Mayor Rawlings and his wife, Micki, live in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas. Their daughter, Michelle, an artist, and their son, Gunnar, and his wife, Gaby, also live in Dallas.

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