SMU honors 2023 distinguished alumni, emerging leader

Robert Dedman, Jr., Emily Rich Summers, Ray Washburne, and Brittany Barnett to be recognized during Homecoming Week

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU will honor four outstanding leaders in philanthropy, business, and civic life at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, at SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award presentation and dinner.

Each year, SMU awards a group of leaders during Homecoming Week with the highest honor the University can bestow upon its graduates. The 2023 Distinguished Alumni are Robert H. Dedman, Jr. ’80, ’84, president and CEO of DFI Management, Ltd; Emily Rich Summers ’66, founder and principal of Emily Summers Design Associates; and Ray W. Washburne ’84, chairman of the board of Sunoco LP and president and CEO of Charter Holdings.

Brittany K. Barnett ’11, a celebrated attorney and social impact entrepreneur, will receive the University’s Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of an alumnus or alumna who has graduated in the last 15 years.

Robert Dedman

Robert H. Dedman, Jr.

A legal and financial powerhouse, Robert H. Dedman, Jr. ’80, ’84 has a keen understanding of legacy and a commitment to advancing it.

Dedman received his bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 1979, where he served as the president of Pi Kappa Alpha – Beta Mu chapter. He then went on to complete his Master of Business Administration at SMU, graduating with highest honors in 1980, followed by his Juris Doctor at SMU, graduating cum laude and receiving the Order of the Coif in 1984.

Today, he is the president and CEO of DFI Management, Ltd., which manages the Dedman family’s financial and philanthropic activities. In addition to their commitment to SMU, the Dedman family has a rich history with ClubCorp and Pinehurst Resort and Country Club through Putterboy, Ltd.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Dedman has continued to support SMU, including as a member of the SMU Board of Trustees, where he served as chairman from 2018 to 2022. He is on the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs committee, the Board’s trusteeship committee, and is chair of the Board’s compensation committee. He also currently serves on the Dedman School of Law Executive Board and the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Executive Board.

Learn more about Dedman here.

Emily Summers

Emily Rich Summers

A proven tastemaker, Emily Rich Summers ’66 seamlessly blends her professional talent for interior design with her knowledge and passion for art, architecture, and historic preservation.

The Kansas City native made her way to SMU in 1962, where she studied painting under the tutelage of Jerry Bywaters and DeForrest Judd and minored in business. She pledged Kappa Alpha Theta and was president of the Mamselles Fashion Group, serving her well as she began working at Neiman Marcus in the fashion office upon graduation.

Ten years after graduating, she served as a docent at the Dallas Museum of Art, which sparked her interest in art history. She enrolled in graduate study of the subject back at her alma mater, with her sights set on becoming an art advisor. A class trip to Vienna and Yugoslavia opened her eyes to furniture design and decorative arts, and the rest was history.

Today, Summers is the founder and principal of Emily Summers Design Associates, a residential and commercial design and interior architecture firm. She has completed residential projects and collaborations in Dallas, New York, Palm Springs, Jackson Hole, Maui, and Bermuda.

Learn more about Summers here.

Ray Washburne

Ray W. Washburne

Innovative business leader Ray W. Washburne ’84 brings vibrancy to the Dallas landscape and beyond.

The Dallas native attended Highland Park High School before choosing SMU for his collegiate experience. “It had everything I wanted,” he says. He studied history and pledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon, citing his friendships and his fraternity as his greatest memories from his time at SMU.

Since graduating in 1984, Washburne has created numerous businesses in the Dallas area, creating thousands of jobs. He currently serves as the chairman of the board of Sunoco LP and president and CEO of Charter Holdings, a Dallas-based private investment company primarily involved in real estate, restaurants and diversified financial investments. He is the co-founder and co-owner of M Crowd Restaurant Group, which operates 46 restaurants including Mi Cocina, Taco Diner, The Mercury, and Katy Trail Ice House.

He also serves as president and managing director of Highland Park Village and owns a number of retail and office spaces, including Watters Creek Village, Knox Street Dallas, the former Dallas Morning News campus, and Founders Square. He has served on many boards and commissions and was inducted into the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Learn more about Washburne here.

Brittany Barnett

Brittany K. Barnett

A legal visionary, Brittany K. Barnett ’11 seeks criminal justice reform with compassion.

Born in Dallas, Barnett graduated from Commerce High School before attending The University of Texas at Arlington, completing her Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting in 2005 and her Master of Science in accounting in 2006. She gained corporate experience as an audit associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas before enrolling at SMU Dedman School of Law, where she completed her Juris Doctor in 2011. During her time at SMU, she served as the regional director of the Black Law Students Association and completed a judicial externship with Judge Renee Toliver, a federal judge for the Northern District of Texas.

Barnett’s mother’s incarceration while Barnett was applying to SMU sparked a lifelong calling to criminal justice reform that continues to this day. As a corporate attorney, Barnett was committed to pro bono representation of clients in federal prison serving excessive sentences under federal drug laws. Her work resulted in executive presidential clemency for a number of clients during both the Obama and Trump administrations.

She is the author of A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom, a memoir that was selected as an NAACP Image Award nominee and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist.

Learn more about Barnett here.



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