Mayor Eric Johnson announces creation of ‘Mayor’s Distinguished Service Award’

DALLAS — Mayor Eric Johnson on Thursday announced that he is officially creating the “Mayor’s Distinguished Service Award.”

The award will honor the notable service and significant contributions of Dallas residents to the City of Dallas. During the inaugural year, Mayor Johnson — the 60th Mayor of Dallas — will name 60 awardees.

The new award will be considered the highest honor — other than the Key to the City — that can be bestowed on civilians by the mayor, who is the “official head of city government” under the Dallas City Charter.

“Dallas is a dynamic city that serves as the economic and cultural engine of the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country. But our greatest asset is our people,” Mayor Johnson said. “Through the Mayor’s Distinguished Service Award, we can properly honor those individuals who have strengthened our city in truly extraordinary ways.”

To be considered for the award, nominees must:

  • Currently live in the City of Dallas;
  • Have a distinguished record of service and/or meritorious achievement over multiple years in the City of Dallas;
  • Demonstrate a standard of excellence; and
  • Display good moral character.

Nominations are now open and can be submitted through this form. To be considered for an award, nominees must be current City of Dallas residents. City employees are ineligible to receive the award.

The nominations are due by 6 p.m., April 29, 2022.

To help him select awardees, Mayor Johnson has assembled a committee of distinguished community, civic, and business leaders, who will review nominations.

  • Craig Holcomb (co-chair) — Civic leader and former Dallas City Councilmember
  • Sarah Jackson (co-chair) — President, The Texas Lyceum and Vice President of Strategy and Public Affairs, Dallas Citizens Council
  • Jason Villalba (co-chair) — CEO and Chairman, Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation, and former Texas State Representative.
  • Agustin Arteaga — The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art
  • Willie Mae Coleman — South Dallas neighborhood leader
  • Betty Culbreath — Former Director, Dallas County Health and Human Services and incoming Chair, Dallas Housing Authority
  • Florencia Fortner — President & CEO, The Concilio
  • Mita Havlick — Executive Director, Dallas Education Foundation
  • Chris Heinbaugh — Vice President of External Affairs, AT&T Performing Arts Center
  • Lee Jackson — former Chancellor of the University of North Texas System and former Dallas County Judge
  • Lelious Johnson — Pastor, St. Paul Baptist Church
  • Ben Leal — President, The Addy Foundation
  • Andrew Paley — Senior Rabbi, Temple Shalom
  • Mary Poss — Realtor and former Acting Mayor and Dallas Mayor Pro Tem
  • Barbara Steele — Dallas civic and political leader

“The esteemed members of this inaugural selection committee have my sincerest gratitude,” Mayor Johnson said. “I trust their judgment, I know that they will represent viewpoints from all over this diverse and vibrant city, and I am thrilled to work with them to honor some of our most deserving residents.”

“This prestigious award provides us with the opportunity to recognize those residents of Dallas who have made a deep and lasting impact on our community and in some cases, beyond,” said Holcomb. “I want to thank Mayor Johnson for inviting me to help spearhead this process, and I am excited to help honor some genuinely amazing people in our city.”

“Dallas is a great city with some outstanding leaders,” said Jackson. “The Mayor’s Distinguished Service Award is a long overdue way for the City of Dallas to officially recognize the work our many civic leaders do every day to make Dallas the incredible place that it is.”

“Like Mayor Johnson, I grew up in Dallas, and I love this city and its people,” Villalba said. “I am grateful to the mayor for this opportunity to help lift up our city’s best and brightest. I know there are many people in our city who deserve to be honored in this way, and I look forward to working with this committee to help select the inaugural group of individuals to receive this truly special award.”

Previously, the Office of the Mayor had only four ways to honor civilians in Dallas: through formal letters, special recognitions, proclamations, and Keys to the City.

Mayor Johnson has presented the Key to the City on only four occasions: to survivors of the Holocaust during the opening of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum; to His Majesty King Oyo of the Tooro Kingdom during an official visit; to the South Oak Cliff community, represented by head football Coach Jason Todd, after the high school team won the state championship; and to recent NBA Hall of Fame inductee and Lincoln High School graduate Chris Bosh during a special ceremony last month.

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Tristan Hallman

Tristan Hallman

Chief of Policy and Communications for Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson