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Dallas 500

Meet the Dallas 500: Gail O’Bannon, Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs' chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer talks about the team's DEI efforts, becoming a published children's author, and more.
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Gail O’Bannon started her career with the Dallas Mavericks in the ticket sales and service department and now aims to set the standard for other NBA teams in leading the Mavericks’ DEI efforts. Under O’Bannon’s leadership, the NBA recognized the Mavs with the 2022 Inclusion Leadership Award, marking the second straight year the franchise won the honor. She is also a published children’s author.

Education: Oklahoma State University

Birthplace: Lawton, Oklahoma

Proud Moment: “We’ve achieved notable successes over the past year: a complete sell-out of season tickets, ranking No. 1 on Instagram by the NBA, securing multiple Emmys, and earning a nomination for our Mavs Business Assist program by LEADERS. The American Airlines Center has also seen significant upgrades, including a new video board and seating. Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion continues to set the standard.”

First Job: “When I was 16, I worked as a cashier at a grocery store. I learned customer service skills, teamwork, working a cash register, handling money, and how to sack groceries. I also learned there are several different types of apples.”

Best Advice: “Treat people how you like to be treated.”

Dinner Party: “If I could have dinner with any two local business leaders it would be Roland Parrish and Jessica Jesse. They are both trailblazers and phenomenal leaders who deeply care about the environment and are passionate about giving back to the community.”

I Collect: “Coffee table books, crystals and stones, and snowman ornaments”

Hobby/Passion: “I enjoy trying new recipes, listening to music especially on vinyl, genealogy (I’m the family historian), and practicing film photography.”

Local Fare: “I have two favorite restaurants. At Pappadeaux, I get the Greek salad, fried shrimp, with dirty rice. And Waffle House. I get the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich and hash browns scattered and smothered.”

Guilty Pleasure: “Popcorn for dinner and pizza for breakfast”

Fun Fact: “I’m the board game champion of my family. And I ate a burger cooked in 100-year-old grease.”

Go-to Advisor: “My Uncle Phillip M. Randall. I trust his advice not only because he’s family but also because he has extensive experience in the corporate world, and I know he’s always going to steer me in the right direction.”

First Car: “1990 white Ford Fiesta, I had the dealership add a blue stripe down the side”

A Better DFW: “We need to continue to invest funds and resources in the southern sector of Dallas.”

Walk-up Song: “‘Rappers Delight’ by Sugar Hill Gang—it’s one of my favorite songs!”

Must-read: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum is a reminder of the fundamental lessons we’re taught in our earliest years, lessons that remain essential throughout our lives.”

Spirit Animal: “Elephant”

Alternate Reality: “If I wasn’t in my current profession, I’d be a librarian. I love spreading the passion and importance of reading.”

Embarrassing Moment: “My hair caught on fire in middle school.”

Bucket List: “I became a self-published author and I learned to play the acoustic guitar.”

Key Leadership Strategies: “A leader who sets a clear vision for the future, actively listens to all team members, adeptly navigates through crises, and champions collaboration and teamwork is a good leader. They prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring the workplace is a safe and supportive environment for all.”

Future Forecast: “I’m excited about our ongoing commitment to influence change, expand our community outreach, and grow our fanbase in the DFW, North Texas, the US, and worldwide. Creating more Mavs Fans For Life #MFFL.”

Author

Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…
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