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Current Article

​Contact: Debra Dennis

For immediate release — Dec. 10, 2019

Note: Biographical sketches for new board members are included in this story.

(DALLAS) — The Dallas County Community College District Foundation has announced the appointment of five business and civic leaders to its board of directors.

The new members are: Manuel Diaz, founder and lawyer at Diaz Law Firm in Dallas; Chad Houser, founder, CEO and executive chef of Café Momentum; Alicia Makaye, founder and co-owner of GXA; Ann Margolin, an investor and nonprofit consultant; and Alfreda B. Norman, senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Created in 1973, the DCCCD Foundation offers more than 400 scholarships to students at the district’s seven colleges. The DCCCD Foundation is governed by a board of business and civic leaders who support educational programs that help remove barriers for students, allowing them to earn a degree or college credential, start a career or transfer to a university to further their education. The DCCCD Foundation also identifies and develops resources that help solve problems in the community that the district serves.

“We are thrilled to have these dynamic individuals join our board,” said Debbie Taylor, DCCCD Foundation’s board chair. “The diversity of their experience and skills will be a tremendous asset as we continue the work of supporting our outstanding district.”

“We are excited to have these new board members join the foundation,” said Dr. Pyeper Wilkins, DCCCD’s chief advancement officer, who also serves as executive director of the DCCCD Foundation. “We count on their expertise and passion for education to guide us in our support of the district priorities, serving the needs of our students and our community.”

In 2019, the DCCCD Foundation awarded more than $1.3 million in scholarships; it has secured $83 million in private funds since it was founded.

The DCCCD Foundation currently has five major funding priorities:

  • Emergency Aid Fund assists DCCCD students who are on the verge of suspending their educational pursuits when financial emergencies arise;
  • Food Pantries are located at all seven of the DCCCD colleges to help ensure DCCCD students have access to nutritional foods and never go hungry;
  • Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality program, so it can meet industry and workforce demands;
  • Early Childhood Education, expansion of early childhood education across all DCCCD colleges in order to meet education, community and workforce gaps; and
  • LevelUp Scholarship, which funds the Parent Promise that helps put adults on the pathway to an in-demand career immediately after they complete their studies.

For more information, contact Pyeper Wilkins by email at or by phone at 214-378-1536; or Kathye Hammontree in the DCCCD Foundation office by email at or by phone at 214-378-1536.

Biographical Sketches — New DCCCD Foundation Board Members

Manuel Diaz

Manuel Diaz

Dallas attorney Manuel Diaz is CEO and founder of Diaz Law Firm, PC. Diaz specializes in business litigation, criminal defense, international business transaction and trial law.

Before launching his law firm, he worked as a corporate attorney with an international law firm.

Diaz is a former partner with Helms, Johnson & Diaz, LLP, and a former associate with Haynes and Boone, LLP. He is currently affiliated with Dallas CASA, Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, Mexican American Bar Association and Dallas Hispanic Bar Association and is director of the Texas DWI Defense Lawyers Association. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Dallas Bar Association and the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations.

Diaz earned a doctorate in law from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. He received his undergraduate degree from SMU and earned an associate degree in Spanish and English translation from the University of Texas at Brownsville.

Chad Houser

Chad Houser

After 17 years as a chef and partner of Parigi Restaurant, Houser sold his partnership to devote his full attention as founder, CEO and executive director of Café Momentum, which provides a 12-month paid post-release internship program for young men and women coming out of juvenile facilities. The restaurant serves fresh, locally sourced, sophisticated new American cuisine in the heart of downtown Dallas.

Houser’s professional mark in Dallas is an enviable one. He previously served as president of the board of directors for Dallas Farmers Market Friends and is also a member of the El Centro College Food and Hospitality Institute “Hall of Fame.”

Houser was featured in the Starbucks production of short features called “Upstanders Season 2,” a series created to shine a light on stories of everyday Americans who are doing extraordinarily courageous things.

In 2011, he received the Edible Dallas/Fort Worth “Local Hero – Chef” award. In 2017 and again in 2018, Houser was among the Best 500 Business Leaders in Dallas. In March of 2018, Houser was named a CNN Hero.

Alicia Makaye

Alicia Makaye

Dr. Alicia Makaye is a philanthropist, entrepreneur and co-founder of Richardson-based GXA — an IT solutions provider that also specializes in cybersecurity and cloud computing. The company was founded to address the business and technology needs of companies in Dallas and Fort Worth.

She is a U.S. Air Force veteran and a graduate of University of Texas at Dallas with a doctorate in public affairs. Makaye is an alumni of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses entrepreneurship program (cohort 10) and was selected by Dallas Business Journal as 2019’s Minority Business Leader for outstanding leadership and community impact.

Makaye’s volunteer work includes serving as a judge for Tech Titans, a regional technology trade group that celebrates success of the best-in-class of the IT industry. She frequently speaks and participates in activities that foster youth development.

Her company, GXA, has been in business for 14 years and employs 20 staff members. Since its inception, GXA has serviced over 300 small-to-medium sized businesses in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, with some of her recent and most notable clients being Covenant Church, Briggs Freeman, Integrity Transition Hospital, The Real Estate Council and the Butler Burgher Group.

In 2014, GXA was the recipient of the Inc. 5000 award as one of America’s fastest growing companies. Makaye attributes her company’s success to its focus on customers, strong relationships with clients and a successful track record of giving back to the community.

Ann Margolin

Ann Margolin

Ann Margolin is an investor, nonprofit consultant, community volunteer and longtime advocate for children. She works on special projects for her family’s business, Robokind, a robotics company that teaches social skills to children with autism.

Margolin served on the Dallas City Council from 2009-2013 representing northwest Dallas and was appointed to the Parkland Hospital board in 1988. Margolin became the first woman to chair its board.

Recently, she was appointed by Mayor Eric Johnson to chair the Dallas Citizens Homelessness Commission. She has previously served on the City Planning and Zoning Commission and the Dallas Park and Recreation Board.

Margolin is the immediate past board chair of TexProtects (The Texas Association for the Protection of Children), which advocates for legislation to fund child abuse prevention programs and improve foster care.

She has a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia Business School and an undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern University.

Alfreda B. Norman

Alfreda B. Norman

Alfreda B. Norman, a longtime proponent of promoting financial stability for low- and moderate-income communities and individuals, joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in 2004. She is currently its senior vice president and oversees communications and public outreach programs. Her responsibilities include corporate communications, publications/web services, community development, economic education and financial institution relationship management.

Prior to joining the Federal Reserve, Norman was one of the first neighborhood development officers hired by Bank of America in Texas. She also has extensive experience working with the public and private sectors and held management positions at the city of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and the Container Store’s corporate headquarters in Dallas.

Norman is associated with numerous cultural and civic organizations, including Big Thought, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Assembly, North Texas Asset Funders Network, Southwestern Medical Foundation, Executive Women’s Roundtable and the Dallas Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University and is a graduate of the University of Virginia’s Graduate School of Retail Bank Management.

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