About 2017

new-year-hope

Poverty and homelessness in Dallas

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Perception isn’t always reality. In spite of all the DFW corporate relocations and business expansions – good news – in Dallas the homeless population increased 21 percent over the past year due to a combination of high rates of poverty and shortages of affordable housing.

Among the findings presented to the Dallas City Council’s Housing Committee by the Dallas Commission on Homelessness, Dallas has the highest number of people living 185 percent below the poverty line of any American city. It has the second highest number of people living 100 percent below the poverty line.

Along with homelessness, a recent post in FrontBurner by the editors of D Magazine also focused on the city’s community development needs. Some of the facts:

  • Dallas’ median income has declined since 1989.
  • Over 27,300 residents live in poverty despite having full-time employment.
  • Over half of Dallas households make less than $50,000 per year, and 28.6 percent make less than $25,000.
  • Compared to other Texas cities, Dallas has the highest percentage of individuals without a high school diploma and the lowest percentage of residents who hold college degree.
  • 38 percent of Dallas children live in poverty, 20 percent have no health insurance, 28 percent have inadequate food and nutrition, 160,000 children are obese, and 60,000 have asthma.
  • Less than 20 percent of jobs are accessible by transit in less than 90 minutes, and more than 70 percent of HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) assisted properties are unaffordable when housing and transportation costs are combined.

Is there any good news? Between 2011 and 2016 the city of Houston reduced chronic homelessness by 76 percent thanks to a collaboration with HUD. As the Frontburner article suggests, there are successful models in place to address the issue of homelessness. Dallas just needs to find the leadership and funding to implement it.

 

Give from the heart on Giving Tuesday

 

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As everyone recuperates from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, today is #GivingTuesday, a great opportunity to give back to your community. You can search for nonprofits in your neighborhood, explore volunteer opportunities, or donate to a charity or organization that has impacted your life.

One of the organizations I support is Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs. And through today, every donation made will be matched dollar for dollar up to the first $20,000.

Now’s the time to help others! Find out more at Give a Dog a Job and check out Giving Tuesday

 

Finding my way

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Love. Orbit belongs to Dawn Thompson, CCI puppy raiser. Holiday shopping is tough!

I’ve been struggling to make sense of what’s going on in our country today. Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is approaching. Yet I see so much hatred. So much division. What can I do?

Here’s my plan. Listen. Love. Act. I’ll do what I can to make the world we live in – together – a better place.

I’m volunteering to support causes I believe in, including refugee assistance. I’ll continue my work with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support.

We can’t all see eye to eye; I know that. I probably won’t change minds or hearts. I know that, too. What I can do is show love to all, regardless of personal opinions. I’ll hug my dog Levi more often. I’ll continue to speak up for what I believe in; to do otherwise would damage my soul. I refuse to succumb to spoken and written words of ugliness.

I’m praying for peace and kindness. Join me.

Goodbye 2015, hello 2016

HAPPY 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s about time to say so long to this year and look ahead, but not without a few observations and reflections on 2015.

  • The kindness (and patience) of friends old and new never ceases to amaze me.
  • I’m grateful for steady work as a freelancer with challenging work assignments.
  • Everyone faces challenges, every day – seen and unseen. Be compassionate.
  • Love all living creatures. Especially dogs.
  • Imagine a world without war or hatred. Consider what you can do to support this vision and turn it into reality. Pray.
  • Help others see the best in themselves. Encouragement doesn’t cost a thing.
  • Listen more and talk less.
  • Learning is a lifelong endeavor.

Here’s to a wonderful 2016!

 

Improving quality of life for people living with paralysis

Derek and ShaggySpinal Singularity is leading the charge when it comes to medical innovation. The company designs connected medical devices to improve the quality of life for people with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (SCI/D), and they’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign for The Connected Catheter. This is the world’s first semi-permanent, fully internal, smart catheter system for neurogenic bladder.

Derek Herrera, CEO and co-founder of Spinal Singularity, understands the value of this device for millions of patients who need the assistance of a catheter to maintain renal function from a personal perspective. A former Marine, he is living with paralysis from a spinal cord injury after being shot in Afghanistan.

Find out more about Spinal Singularity and how you can support this initiative.

2 questions to persuade

ask the right questions 2It isn’t always easy to persuade someone to do something, even when it seems to be a fairly reasonable request. You’ve heard all the excuses, at home and in the workplace (I don’t have the time, it’s not my job, blah blah blah). If you have kids, I’ll bet you’ve heard some pretty creative “reasoning” as to why something won’t, or can’t happen. I like Dan Pink’s technique to overcome potential objections to act. Check out this video, posted on The Muse.

Ask these questions to persuade

3 tips on how to use evidence to persuade

Speaker credibility

When a presenter wants to persuade listeners to do something – or change their point of view on an issue or topic – it’s not enough to rely solely on emotion to persuade. Speakers should also use evidence to support their contentions. Here are a few tips.

1. Cite your sources. If you’re using a statistic to support one of your main points, where did that information come from? Is the source reliable and trustworthy? If you’re the expert, fine. Make sure the audience knows about your experience/expertise related to the topic. (You’re not bragging; you’re qualifying yourself as a credible source.)

2. Connect the dots. Explain how the information you cite supports the points you’re making. Don’t just throw the information out there.

3. Use several credible sources to maximize persuasion, not just one. You may have a single expert you quote whose opinion or testimony supports your contentions in a powerful way. However, citing additional sources will bolster your arguments leading to persuasion. Using more than one source should also help mitigate audience members’ possible suspicions that if only one person, report or whatever supports your point of view, there’s something wrong. Why should they believe you based on only one source you cite? I’m guessing they want to hear more.

“Work” redefined: making a living has changed

WORK ISN'T WORK ANYMORE-As a baby boomer and the daughter of an Air Force veteran, early on I imagined I would find a job and stay in that job until I retired. It’s what everyone did, right?

Times have changed. Jobs have changed. Employers have changed. Where, when and how we “work” is very different than my father’s experience. He doesn’t understand why I don’t have a full-time job. (I’m a marketing communications contractor.)

Ross Perlin’s article in Fast Company offers a succinct summary of this shift – and explains how work is increasingly everywhere and nowhere.

Medical device startup wins UCLA Knapp Venture Competition

Knapp Venture award

Team lead Derek Herrera holds the first prize check. Behind him (left to right) are Zach McKinney, Bud Knapp, Beth Johnson and Betsy Knapp.

UCLA’s student-run Knapp Venture Competition is designed to give UCLA Anderson School of Management students an intensive learning experience in the venture initiation process. Spinal Singularity won this year’s competition, and I’m very proud to know a member of this amazing team.

Derek Herrera (EMBA ’15) is my nephew, and along with team members Zach McKinney (Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering ’15), Beth Johnson (EMBA ’15), and Chandrashekar Hariharan (EMBA ’15), Spinal Singularity captured first place. The competition is named for Cleon T. (Bud) and Betsy Wood Knapp, who generously gave an endowment in 1997 to support this annual event along with other entrepreneurial initiatives. Spinal Singularity’s mission:

We design connected medical devices to improve the quality of life for people dealing with spinal cord injury and disease (SCI/D). Spinal Singularity leverages unique combinations of existing technologies to create an exponential impact on the lives of the people we serve.”

The UCLA Anderson Blog has more details on the award and the team.

Congratulations!