A Titan Stepping Down: On Roslyn Dawson Thompson’s Leadership

The Texas Women’s Foundation (TXWF), a leader in women’s philanthropy in Texas and around the world, announced their President and CEO, Roslyn Dawson Thompson, is retiring from TXWF at the end of 2021. In conjunction with Dawson Thompson’s retirement announcement and TXWF’s succession plan, the nationwide search to fill her seemingly unfillable shoes is underway.

Roslyn Dawson Thompson
Roslyn Dawson Thompson has guided the Texas Women’s Foundation to unprecedented expansion for a decade and is now stepping down. (Photo credit: Texas Women’s Foundation)

Throughout her 10 years with TXWF, Dawson Thompson oversaw and led the organization from the Dallas Women’s Foundation to what it is today — a global force for women’s social and economic progress and philanthropy. Climbing the ranks from volunteer to CEO, Dawson Thompson’s unique perspective on how to develop efforts for women’s empowerment is a prime example of what TXWF promotes as a whole: community, integrity, inclusivity, and grassroots action.

Dawson Thompson’s lasting legacy

By positioning TXWF as a leader in research and advocacy statewide, Dawson Thompson has shifted the organization from a local agent for change to a world-renowned and trusted source and network. With its reputable standing, TXWF has been able to not only help women and girls through their Women’s Leadership Programs and initiatives, but they’ve also significantly impacted Texas state policy changes around housing, childcare, healthcare, and education.

As summarized in the recent announcement of Dawson Thompson’s retirement, under her leadership, grantmaking by more than 180%. Under Dawson Thompson’s guidance, Texas Women’s Foundation also became the first women’s foundation to invest 100% of its assets in a 100% mission-aligned gendered impact portfolio that delivers strong financial returns and social benefits to women and girls.

Dawson Thompson led this change to address all aspects of gendered investing, from climate action to housing. By diversifying TXWF’s portfolio with a 100% gendered-lens, the opportunities for women and girls social and financial equity increases through return on investments, but also through the deeper impact the investments have themselves.

Amongst the long list of Dawson Thompson’s other accomplishments as CEO: dramatically increasing the diversity of TXWF’s Board and staff in relation to women of color and those who identify as LGBTQ.

Employing strength to initiate change

When asked about her thoughts from her tenure at TXWF, Dawson Thompson spoke mainly about her staff and the women and girls themselves. “These are the strengths that sustain Texas Women’s Foundation – and they will carry the Foundation forward into the future, where our mission, our work and our impact are needed more than ever, to build equitable communities where all women and girls can reach their full potential and all Texans will benefit,” she said.

The strengths Dawson Thompson values in her entire team and its grantee community are their ability to fight for women and girl’s equality in the way that they do. Dawson Thompson recognized TXWF as the humble catalyst providing grants, advocacy, and resources to shift that community drive into tangible change.

Dawson Thompson outside of TXWF

Along with serving on several boards, including Tides, the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Dallas Chapter of International Women’s Forum, Dallas Medical Resource, and the SMU Tate Lecture Series, Dawson Thompson has earned several awards during her career. These include the 2020 Liberty Bell Award from the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, the 2019 Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, and the 2018 Global Goals, Local Leader Award from the United Nations Association-USA.

Strong women, better world

The retirement of Dawson Thompson comes with the inevitable emotions of a valued leader stepping down. Yet, the overarching theme of TXWF’s succession announcement is hope for the future. So much was accomplished over the past 10 years. With its strong foundation, TXWF is on course to reach higher heights.


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Author: Abigail DelVecchio

Abigail DelVecchio, MSc, is a freelance copywriter and writer focusing on women's mental health and the sociocultural contexts that affect their well-being.

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