Sarah Jane Semrad is a chemist, and the spread of artistic potential sparking in DFW communities is her lab. The woman who seems to have coined the term "social entrepreneur" -- or, at least, validated the idea as a productive path -- has co-founded two arts nonprofits and nursed them to success by choosing the right people to help her and the right spots to implant her dreams for Dallas.
And those dreams don't skimp on scale: Semrad's ultimate plan for La Reunion TX includes a 35-acre wash of land in Oak Cliff, a sustainability-focused space built to inspire creation and live-in artists who'll complete residencies by doing their work and passing on their skills to the community at large. The idea isn't for change to happen within the confines of the ranch. Semrad is working to help the ecosystem already forming under the project's umbrella translate to daily life in the area.
The project, based on correcting blunders made by a real-life arts colony that once existed in Dallas, already preps the site and gives artists an outlet by maintaining a decomposing outdoor sculpture garden on the land as part of its Environmental Arts program. And a La Reunion TX mentoring program called Art Chicas Unidas pulls in the Girl Scouts of NorthEast Texas, Deaf Action Center Texas and the Dallas Art Dealers Association, just a few of the sturdy legs Semrad and company have to stand on as they move forward.
Semrad's mug shots stand out among those of the powerful board members she works with at La Reunion and outward-focused creative collective Art Conspiracy. The mother of two who actually studied chemistry at the University of Dallas has rocked varying versions of super-short and asymmetrical haircuts during her tenure as a new kind of community organizer. Semrad's no-apologies youthfulness and radical vision exude a new strength that will be vital to DFW's sustainability model as the future is happening -- a future that looks brighter if Semrad has a say.