July 30, 2021

A shared commitment to making a positive impact has drawn the SMU community and Goodwill Industries of Dallas together for almost a century. The challenges created by the pandemic sparked new opportunities for that bond to grow stronger.

Under the leadership of SMU alumnus Tim Heis ’01, president and CEO, Goodwill Dallas is expanding its presence and finding innovative ways to augment its mission of “changing lives, one job at a time.”

Over five generations, SMU community leaders have helped advance that goal. Alumni David B. Miller ’72, ’73; Bill Vanderstraaten ’82; Donald Berg ’70, ’77; R. Brooks Cullum, Jr. ’70; Roland K. Robinson ’72; Jim Johnston ’70, ’71; Stephen Sands ’70; Matt Hildreth ’88; Frank Mihalopoulos ’77; Ronald J. Case ’54 and Charles M. Solomon ’61 each served as chair of the board of directors and left an indelible mark on the organization, Heis says.

Through the years, a host of alumni have served on the board, including Pat Bolin ’73, C. Fred Ball, Jr. ’66, Ray Hunt ’65, Harriet E. Miers ’67, ’70 and Jeanne L. Phillips ’76. An active Mustang contingent is currently involved on the board, including alumni Tucker Bridwell ’73, ’74; Wood Brookshire ’05; Pete Chilian ’97; Ward A. Kampf ’85; Craig Keeland ’76; Andrew Levy ’89; Peter Lodwick ’77, ’80; Kris Lowe ’04; John C. McGowan ’03; Douglas C. Nash ’04; Kyle Miller ’01; Kirk Rimer ’89; Mark Sloan ’90; and Brooke Holman West ’96; as well as Matthew B. Myers, dean of SMU’s Cox School of Business.

Building careers, one internship at a time

With companies shifting to remote operations and cutting back on expenses, many summer internships melted away in 2020. In response, Dean Myers and Jason Rife, senior assistant dean of the Cox Career Management Center and Graduate Admissions, reached out to alumni. Heis answered the call.

“We had just reopened our operations in early May after a six-week closure,” Heis says. He and the nonprofit’s board of directors used that time to reflect on the future. A key principle of their plan to move forward was identifying ways to “emerge stronger.”

“We saw an opportunity for SMU students to help, and we recruited and hired five interns to work on our most strategic projects,” Heis says.

A first step was growing Goodwill Dallas’ footprint “to dramatically increase the number of lives we could impact,” Heis says. Although the nonprofit serves eight North Texas counties, it had physical operations in only three.

Heis enlisted Jimmy Tran ’03 to lead the store footprint and real estate expansion strategy. Tran had recently left CBRE, where he headed corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions, to focus on his own enterprises, including Oaklawn Group, a real estate investment firm he founded in 2007. As BBA students, Tran and Heis were Hunt Leadership Scholars and studied abroad in Australia and Southeast Asia together. After SMU, they went their separate ways before meeting again while each pursued an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School.

Over eight weeks in summer 2020, Tran and SMU intern Gabriela Barcelos ’21 analyzed which of Goodwill’s stores performed best and why, then identified 12 target submarkets where new stores and career centers could be successful.

Barcelos says Tran’s feedback, coaching and mentoring were invaluable. Opportunities to apply concepts learned in the classroom to a real-world project also stood out for her. “It is amazing to see our work come to fruition,” she says. Barcelos received a BBA in accounting in May and is now pursuing her MSA with a tax concentration at Cox School. In summer 2021, she was a tax intern at EY.

Based upon their recommendations, a new Goodwill store opened in Plano June 17. More than a dozen SMU alumni, including board members, friends and employees of the organization turned out to celebrate. Among them was Kate Cox ’21. As an intern she created real-time reports and analytics that Heis describes as “a game-changer.” She also completed a pricing benchmark study.

“I spent the summer working closely with the Goodwill Dallas leadership team to help the organization gain deep data insights into the organization. Along the way, I developed a love for the organization’s culture and began to see an opportunity to make an impact in the community,” Cox says.

She turned down another job offer to become the organization’s first vice president of information technology and business analytics after receiving her full-time MBA in May.

Other summer 2020 projects and SMU interns included: store operations, Alison Sheehan ’21, BBA in marketing, who is now an analyst with Goldman Sachs; telecom and internet sourcing and optimization, Richard Albert ’21, full-time MBA in management and strategy and entrepreneurship; and financial planning and agility, Samantha Stevenson ’22, SMU Dedman School of Law student who previously worked as a senior accountant for EY.

Goodwill Dallas continued its internship program in summer 2021. Full-time MBA student Daniela Garcia Maltos ’22 worked with Kate Cox to help the organization’s business intelligence dashboards and applications move to the next level.

Creating a path for people to reach their full potential is not only at the heart of SMU’s academic charge, but it’s also what Goodwill has been doing in Dallas since 1923 through its donated goods retail operation and workforce development programs. SMU alumni and student interns are helping Goodwill expand possibilities for thousands of people, Heis says.

“SMU has provided each of us with the tools and resources to make a difference in the world, and Goodwill is a benefactor of these combined talents in action,,” he says. “It has been fulfilling to work together to provide more opportunity for people with barriers to employment.”