It was just about a year ago in February that Kelby Woodard announced that he had accepted the position of headmaster of St. Thomas Academy in Minnesota. For Kelby it was returning to familiar grounds, having been a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2011-2014. What brought him to Dallas had been the establishing of Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep in 2014. It was a pie-in-the-sky challenge. After all, who would envision a school that had originally been designed to handled 150 elementary schoolers could be expanded to include “a state-of-the-art academic center along with a new innovation center, gym, cafeteria and soccer field” representing a “$24 million investment in southeast Dallas”?
But it happened!
With Kelby’s announcement made just before the pandemic hit, the search got underway for his successor.
Today it was announced that City of Dallas Executive Officer Michael A. Mendoza will take over the role on Monday, January 25.
According to Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep Board of Directors Chair Richard Joyner, “We are thrilled to announce that Michael Mendoza has been named the next president of Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep. Highly regarded as a skilled leader and champion for building community, Mendoza’s personal and professional experience aligns perfectly with the mission of the school and its commitment to future growth. He offers a deep knowledge of Pleasant Grove and the surrounding communities from his work with the City of Dallas. We believe he’s exactly the right person to lead the Cristo Rey Dallas community to its brightest future.”
Unlike Kelby, native-Texan Michael is far from new to the Dallas education world. A graduate of Bryan Adams High School and having earned his BA in economics at SMU as well as completing the Advanced Biblical Studies program at the University of Dallas’ Neuhoff School of Ministry, Michael “has served in various capacities in multinational organizations with global reach and strategies. From 1997 to 2019, he served as trade commissioner for the Consulate General of Canada, advising on cross-border commercial alliances, business development, foreign direct investments and technology partnerships.”
Since last February he had held the newly created position of strategy and special initiatives officer for the city of Dallas.
In his spare time, he “had served as a board member and advisor to Aristo Cyber Defense and as a partner with Stoney’s Jazz Lounge in Lakewood. Mendoza also has been active in the community, including service as plan commissioner for the City of Dallas, director and board chair for the Southern Dallas Development Corporation, board member of the Oak Cliff Gateway TIF and Earth Day Dallas, and an active participant in urban land use policy issues.”
In accepting his new position, Michael said, “I am honored to be selected to lead this innovative institution to its next chapter. Cristo Rey Dallas provides a transformational experience for high school students seeking to create new opportunities and an unbounded future. The advantage of this academic instruction and exposure to the business world will create a new trajectory for their lives, their families, and our communities. Nothing is as impactful on our world as young people thinking critically and emulating the virtues of character we value.”
* Graphic/photo provided by Cristo Rey Dallas