Photo credit: Roland Parrish

By Earnestine Cole

PR Consultant 

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Grand Opening of the Roland Parrish Career Planning & Development Center will take place on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The ceremonial groundbreaking for the Center was in 2018. Catalyst Builders Inc. In Nashville, provided the civil engineering, landscape, architectural planning and design services. 

Located on the historic Fisk University campus, that was recently visited this month by United States Vice President Kamala Harris, this two-story, 10,605-square-foot building is designed to prepare the next generation of business executives and community leaders. Features of the Roland Parrish Career Planning & Development Center include classrooms, conference rooms, innovation spaces and a career services center. 

This is the first new building built on the Fisk University campus since 1974 (in 49 years). Roland G. Parrish, a Dallas businessman and Philanthropist, donated a historic $3 million gift to Fisk University, to fund the construction of the new Roland Parrish Career Planning & Development Center. This is one of the largest gifts in the university’s history.

At Fisk University, Parrish worked closely with Frank Sims, Interim President and longtime Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Dr. Jens Frederiksen, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Strategic Development. The new Roland Parrish Career Planning & Development Center is part of Mr. Sims’ strategic initiative to prepare the next generation of business executives and community leaders. Parrish is highly committed to giving back to the community, especially causes that support the education and welfare of youth and young adults.

The strategic focus of the Roland Parrish Career Planning & Development Center is to deliver greater opportunities for students to achieve their future goals. The Center provides customized career information, resources and practical professional development services. The overall result is training students to possess skills that will increase their marketability and competitiveness in the marketplace.

Former Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson will be Parrish’s special guest at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Grand Opening for the Roland Parrish Career Planning & Development Center. “She has lived an extraordinary life and has an incredible story to tell,” said Parrish. “I want to show appreciation to this great lady and celebrate her 45 years of dedicated public service to help make our lives better.” 

Born and raised in Waco, Texas, former Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s political career spans 45 years. She served as a Member of the Texas State House of Representative from 1972-1977; Administrator, United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare from 1977-1981; Member of the Texas State Senate from 1986-1992; and elected as a Democrat to the One Hundred Third and to the fourteen succeeding Congresses to represent Texas’ 30th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 2023.

Congresswoman Johnson was the first Black woman to serve the city of Dallas in the Texas State Senate since Reconstruction. She was also the first Black woman to chair the Congressional House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

During the luncheon for the Grand Opening of the Roland Parrish Career Planning & Development Center, former Congresswoman Johnson and another special guest Drew Pearson, a former NFL Dallas Cowboys player, will engage in a friendly conversation before the audience. They will discuss some of her experiences and numerous contributions during her 40 years in public service.

Parrish received his BSIM and MBA from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Business, in West Lafayette, Indiana. At his alma mater, Parrish’s $2 million Leadership Gift supported the renovation of the former Management School Library at Purdue University. It was opened and renamed the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management and Economics in 2012. It’s the first facility at Purdue to be named after an African American.

Parrish’s gift of philanthropy led to the building of the Rev. John and Marie Parrish Medical Clinic in Fort Portal, Uganda, which opened in May 2016. The clinic, named in memory of his parents, annually services over 6,000 children.

Parrish currently serves on the Advisory Boards for the NBA Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Texas; on the Board of Trustees of Fisk University, in Nashville, Tennessee; and on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Krannert Business School and the Department of the Libraries. He also collaborates with the MLB Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.

Parrish is the CEO and Owner of Parrish Restaurants Ltd., which owns and operates 25 McDonald’s restaurants in Dallas and surrounding cities. The Dallas Business Journal ranked Parrish Restaurants, Ltd, the 2nd Largest Black Owned Firm in North Texas, in 2021 and 2022. In 2017, Parrish received the Dallas Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Parrish Restaurants, Ltd consistently makes the Black Enterprise BE 100 as one of the Top 100 Black Owned Businesses in the United States. Parrish is the 2nd largest investor for the restructuring of the Re-Imaging Red Bird Project which will bring a Marriott Hotel and hundreds of jobs to the Red Bird community. It includes 200,000 square feet of medical/clinical services to the southern sector, through Parkland Hospital and UT Southwestern Medical Center. The Project was the Dallas Business Journal’s 2020 Best Real Estate Deal of the Year.