Executive Director, Dallas Black Dance Theatre
Honoree Year: 2016
Texas A&M University - Commerce
College of Business
Area of Impact:
Diversity and Inclusion
Zenetta Drew is the executive director and visionary leader of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT). An alumna of Texas A&M University—Commerce (TAMUC), she has spent a lifetime successfully confronting the realities of exclusion to create opportunities for inclusion by all.
Drew’s impact has been extraordinary. She graduated from TAMUC in 1974 with a BBA in accounting—during a time when not many women, particularly women of varying race or ethnic backgrounds, pursued accounting—and subsequently dedicated 12 years of the practice at ARCO Oil and Gas Co. During this time, she held nine positions of increasing management responsibility. Most notable were her assignments as oil revenue accounting manager and offshore oil projects in the Gulf of Mexico, where she was responsible for 50 percent of corporate revenue.
Drew’s leap beyond a typical accounting graduate’s career has changed the landscape in Dallas and changed the lives of countless individuals in the region, the country, and the world.
As the driving force behind the Dallas Black Dance Theatre since 1987, Drew has seen the organization grow its operating budget from 175,000 USD to over 3.9 million USD. The company's yearly services have grown from just 30 performances to over 600, with national and international venues, and audience growth has increased from 20,000 attendees to more than150,000 annually. To date, the company has performed in 31 states and 15 countries and on five continents.
Even the building that houses the DBDT was once a symbol of exclusion in Dallas, as it was a place that African-Americans couldn’t frequent. She led a campaign to purchase the building, and it has become one of the most exciting places in the arts district in Dallas. She coined the DBDT motto of “relentless excellence,” and she and her talented staff and dancers all live up to the verbiage.
Over the course of its history, DBDT has performed for 3.5 million arts patrons and 2.5 million children worldwide. In addition, DBDT maintains the Dallas Black Dance Academy that teaches multiple dance disciplines to kids ages four and up. The academy trains more than 475 students per week in year-round classes at the DBDT studios.
Throughout all of this, Drew finds time to play an active and engaged role with her alma mater on the TAMUC College of Business Executive Advisory Board and the TAMUC Business Advisory Council. Additionally, her time is devoted unselfishly in the greater Texas community, serving on numerous boards including the Booker T. Washington High School Advisory Board, Friends of WRR, the Dallas Women’s Foundation, the Marketing Committee for the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Advisory Board of Dallas Thanksgiving Square, and as a founding member of Dallas Coalition for the Arts.
She currently serves on the board of governors for TACA (The Arts Community Alliance), the advisory board of the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University. She is also a board member of Downtown Dallas, serves as treasurer for both the Dallas Arts District and the City of Dallas’ Dallas Development Fund, and is a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization.
Nationally, Drew has served on advisory panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and President Bill Clinton’s Americans for the Arts Strategic Planning Committee. She is also the recipient of numerous local and regional awards and honors: the 2003 Texas Legislative Black Caucus Outstanding Texan Award in Arts/Entertainment, the 2004 Dallas Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Alumnae Chapter’s Outstanding African American Women in the Arts Award, the 2009 Woman of the Year–St. Paul Baptist Church, and a 2013 Women of Color Achievement Award by the 100 Black Men of Greater Dallas/Fort Worth, Inc. She was also one of three inaugural inductees into the Academy of Entrepreneurs at TAMUC.