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Why Monica Christopher Switched Gears to Lead TWU’s Dallas Campus

She broke grantmaking records at Communities Foundation of Texas. Now, the longtime nonprofit exec aims to have a similar impact in education.
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Monica Christopher

After 15 years with Communities Foundation of Texas and with a milestone birthday looming, Monica Christopher began exploring new career opportunities late last year. “I thought if I was going to do something different, now was the time to do it,” she says. At the same time, Texas Woman’s University Chancellor Carine Feyten was seeking an inaugural president for the school’s Dallas campus—someone who could elevate its profile, forge partnerships, and help with fundraising. Christopher was a perfect fit. 

After all, she had been connecting with people her whole life. Her father, a mechanical engineer, worked for the same company for 45 years. His climb up the corporate ladder often required him to take posts in new towns. “It was very traumatic to move every four years or so, just as I was feeling like I was getting established,” Christopher says. “But in retrospect, it forced me to meet new people and helped me see a lot of different perspectives, which I now really appreciate.” 

Ultimately, the family settled in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Like the rest of her family, Christopher loved sports—a passion that only deepened when she attended The Ohio State University. Her dream of becoming a sports journalist brought her to Dallas in 1996 to work as an intern at WFAA-TV. “Dale Hansen had a woman sports reporter on his team at the time, Susie Woodhams, and I followed her around for a whole summer,” Christopher says. “It was great. But the biggest thing I took away from that experience was that I loved Dallas—the can-do attitude of the people, the opportunities, and the weather.”

After earning her degree, she took a job working in community relations for The Dallas Morning News and WFAA, ultimately coordinating more than 150 nonprofit sponsorships and educational and charitable programs. From there, she joined CFT, where she oversaw grantmaking, donor relationships, and North Texas Giving Day. Her drive led to record-breaking gifts and grants.

Christopher aims to have a similar impact in her new role at TWU. Founded in 1901 as the Girls Industrial College, it’s the nation’s largest university system focused on women. (Men have been admitted since 1972.) TWU expanded beyond its main campus in Denton in 2011 when it opened a Dallas site that specializes in nursing, other health sciences, and healthcare administration. It also has a center in Houston. Texas legislators established the school’s three campuses as the state’s seventh university system in 2021.

The organization is “very clear about why it exists,” in a market that has bountiful educational options, Christopher says. “I’ve seen in my work that getting a great education is the surest form of poverty intervention,” she says. “TWU provides wraparound support for first-generation college students, single parents, and other nontraditional students. As North Texas and its workforce needs continue to grow, there are gaps that all of us can fill if we work together.”  

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Christine Perez

Christine Perez

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Christine is the editor of D CEO magazine and its online platforms. She’s a national award-winning business journalist who has…

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