Politics & Government

Greatest Dallasites: Annette Strauss (No. 58)

How the first woman elected mayor of Dallas helped shape the future of the city.

Annette Strauss was a true force of nature. Her leadership and legendary commitment to community service and volunteerism culminated in her serving as the first elected female mayor of Dallas (1987–1991). Her election was accomplished without the direct support of the Dallas Citizens Council or the Dallas Morning News, and she paved the way for the introduction of single-member council districts in Dallas and improved representation for all citizens across the community.

She displayed a rare combination of strength, determination, grace, beauty, and intelligence, always the compassionate champion for the citizens of Dallas who considered her their very own. Even though her first term in office was marked by a regional economic downturn and racial strife, Annette was a light in our dark city. With her compassion, she diligently worked with disparate groups, and in 1989, when Fortune named Dallas the best city in which to do business, Annette appeared on the cover of the magazine.

Before serving as mayor, Annette was driving one afternoon and noticed a mother and her children living under a bridge. She was outraged and immediately decided to do something about it. In typical form, Annette set about coordinating the necessary city support, raised the required funding, and Family Gateway opened in 1986 as Dallas’ first shelter for homeless families. Today it is the largest provider of supportive housing and related services for homeless families in North Texas. The facility was named the Annette G. Strauss Family Gateway Center in 2000. It stands today as testimony to Annette’s strong sense of right and wrong and serves as exemplar of how one person who cares enough can make a difference in her community.

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