D Academy

DAcademy_logoD Academy is a leadership program designed to educate members of the creative class in Dallas on the workings of the city. The program is underwritten by the owners of D Magazine, and applications are open to all D staff and members of the community. There is no age requirement but a next-generation mindset helps. D Academy provides a series of crash courses on a variety of topics, including healthcare; art and culture; education; criminal justice; the environment; race, poverty, and class; infrastructure; philanthropy; and the city’s brand. Executive coach Robin Pou will meet with the group monthly to give the fellows the tools they need to be effective in the city. The application process is rigorous, but the commitment is moreso. The leadership group works on Big D Reads, a community-wide reading experience for Dallas, and the volunteer hours required, especially in the spring, are substantial.

Here’s what our inaugural class members had to say about the experience:

“I’ve been in numerous leadership programs throughout my life, but D Academy impacted me the greatest. D Academy changed the trajectory of my career by educating me on the growing need to connect young people to the arts. After our arts day, I asked my CEO if I could dedicate a portion of my time to creating a program to address this issue. Not only did he agree, but he also offered company resources to support my efforts.”—Christian Yazdanpanah, Director of Positive Impact, MePlusYou Agency

“D Academy is inspiration and aspiration; leadership and community; confidence and understanding; empowerment and empathy; an overall feeling of being part of something greater than yourself, and being armed with the tools, courage, and determination to make a positive impact on the world around you.” —Frances Yllana, Creative Director, MasonBaronet

“After working all my life in a luxury industry that reinforced all the usual Dallas stereotypes, D Academy made me see and appreciate a more diverse, interesting, and passionate side of my city. The experience was profound and invaluable.” —Peggy Levinson, Editor at Large, D Home Magazine

“I hadn’t really considered homelessness before this class day, now I actively volunteer at Dallas LIFE with Back on My Feet. Thanks.” —Scott Smith, Director of Research & Data Management at SMU Center on Communities and Education

“It’s great. You give the Academy fellows a lot of opportunities and experiences they wouldn’t normally have.” —David Hopkins, Staff Writer, Idea Grove

“I am still awestruck by how much knowledge I gained, and inversely, how much I didn’t know. Poverty, politics, infrastructure, navigating the public school system – it’s equal parts fascinating and rewarding to become privy to the inner-workings of this city; who is making things happen and who is standing in their way.” —Halley Homen

We’ll start taking applications for D Academy’s 2014-2015 class soon. Details for the application process will be posted shortly. For more information, contact Krista Nightengale at krista.nightengale@dmagazine.com.



September 6-7, 2013
Theme: Examining the Past, Present, and Future of the City
Speakers, demographers, and analysts will discuss where the city’s been and where it’s going.

Class Day 1

October 10, 2013
Theme: Working With the City

Class Day 2

November 7, 2013
Theme: Building the City

Class Day 3

December 5, 2013
Theme: Defining Poverty in the City

Class Day 4

January 9, 2014
Theme: Healing the City

Class Day 5

February 6, 2014
Theme: Protecting the City

Class Day 6

March 6, 2014
Theme: Educating the City

Class Day 7

April 10, 2014
Theme: Refining the City

Class Day 8

May 8, 2014
Theme: Branding the City

To apply, go here.


Do I have to be a D employee in order to apply?
No. The group will be made up of a few D Magazine Partners employees and people from the community. If you love Dallas and want to make a difference in the city, you’re more than welcome to apply.
When do I need to apply?
Application deadlines will be posted soon.
How do I apply?
Go here to fill out the application. We’re asking for two references. You’ll also be asked to submit a form that has been signed by your boss with his/her permission to miss a day of work each month.
What are you looking for in candidates?
We are looking for people who are passionate about Dallas, but still have room to learn. We want people who are engaged and willing to get their hands dirty. We’re looking for people of all ages, demographics, and with various backgrounds. We want a group of people who are energized and willing to take on large projects.
How much does it cost?
The dues for one semester are $250. This will go towards the retreat, supplies, food, and venues.
What is required of me?
You must attend the retreat in September. You cannot miss more than 12 hours throughout the semester. You must prepare for each class day by doing at least one of the homework assignments. You will play an instrumental part in planning Big D Reads. We do not ask for a lot of money, but we do ask for a lot of your time.
What do I get out of this?
You get to learn more about Dallas. You’ll meet great, passionate, like-minded people. You’ll make a difference in the city. You’ll be a part of something bigger than you. You get out of the office one day a month. You’ll get happy hours.
What is the end-of-semester project?
Big D Reads is a community service project designed to immerse Dallas in a shared reading experience, with a specific focus on ninth-grade Dallas ISD students. The program is under way now and will culminate with a citywide initiative throughout the entire month of April 2014. Big D Reads will conduct dozens of special events centered on S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, including an opening event, a closing event, poetry slams, educational events/speakers, DISD enrichment programs, movie screenings, a field day, and as many other community interactions as budget allows. At the same time, 20,000 books will be distributed to DISD ninth-graders, as well as to DART riders, visitors in hospital waiting rooms, and all branches of the Dallas Public Library.
Whom can I contact if I have more questions?
Send Krista Nightengale an email. Or give her a call at 214-939-3636.