SMU receives 2023 Advocate Award from Project Unity for commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion

SMU was honored with Project Unity’s Advocate Award for organizational unity at a special celebratory event, Together We Sing, on June 15.

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU was honored with Project Unity’s Advocate Award for organizational unity at a special celebratory event, Together We Sing, on June 15. The Unity Awards recognize corporate executives, faith leaders, organizations, and individuals for championing the cause of racial healing and harmony.  Project Unity is a faith-based collaborative movement among Dallas-area religious, business, civic, philanthropic, grassroots, and government organizations founded by Richie Butler, senior pastor of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church and an SMU Trustee.

“Project Unity reminds us all that what unites us is greater than what divides us,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Working with this program is fulfilling on so many levels, and we are proud to be included with an outstanding group of honorees.”

The top prize, the Trailblazer Award, went to Troy Vincent Sr., the NFL’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations.  The Unity Awards are presented in three groups, with three category winners in each. Activist awards go to those who have implemented robust diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice programs; Advocate awards recognize partners who have worked tirelessly to advocate for Project Unity and help grow awareness of the organization in the community; and Legacy awards go to those who have leveraged their reputation on behalf of Project Unity to leave a legacy of hope and change for social relations.

This year’s corporate and organization award winners are:

  • Corporate Unity – Activist Award Dallas Mavericks
  • Corporate Unity – Advocate Award Lennox International
  • Corporate Unity – Legacy Award Jackson Walker
  • Organization Unity – Activist Award International Leadership Texas
  • Organization Unity – Advocate Award SMU
  • Organization Unity – Legacy Award Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Individuals honored by Project Unity for 2023 are Kymberlaine Banks, senior business engagement officer at Communities Foundation of Texas; Ken Malcolmson, president and CEO of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce; and Texas State Representative Royce West.

“These awards are a sign of our deep appreciation for all that our winners have done in making North Texas a better place,” Butler said. “They consistently put in the time and effort it takes to improve our society for all people.”

Project Unity’s mission includes dialogue and community-building events, education, and empowerment with the theme, “Together We.” The award celebrates the contributions of students, faculty and staff across the University. For example, SMU Athletics has partnered with Project Unity through its “Together We Can” program, and President Turner has served as a program ambassador. Butler spoke at SMU in March about Project Unity’s “Together We Dine” program that encourages courageous conversations about race among strangers at the dining table.



SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and more than 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities, and the world.