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Darren L. James, FAIA

KAI Enterprises | Board President

Darren L. James is President of KAI Enterprises, a national design and construction services firm with eight offices nationwide. In this role, James is accountable for corporate market advancement and Dallas/Fort Worth leadership by creating growth strategies for each of the KAI Enterprises’ four companies.

James seeks the most complex, culturally conscious, politically sensitive projects that will make lasting differences in the lives we touch. James has been involved in some very important projects throughout his multi-decade career but he is most energized by the results from those that truly changed the narrative and outcomes of the communities, surrounding residents and patrons around these key examples; South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas, Reby Carey Youth & Family Library in Fort Worth, Walnut Park Branch Library in St. Louis, Billy Earl Dade Middle School in Dallas, and Dr. Robert L.M. Hilliard Center – University Health in San Antonio. James has really been honored to work across the country on projects named for prominent Americans and more specifically ten Black national or local civic, political, social and educational leaders.

James was elevated to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in 2019. As an entreprenuer, architect and servant leader, James has spoken at national conferences and seminars. James is especially honored that KAI received AIA Dallas’ 2021 Firm of The Year. James was named one of D CEO Magazine’s 2022 500 Most Influential Business Leaders in North Texas for the second consecutive year, 2022 Elite News Dr. R.E. Price Meritorius Service Award, recipient of the 2021 TxA Award for Equitable Practice in Architecture in Honor of John S. Chase, Jr., a 2021 Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce Quest for Success recipient, and a 2021 KU Black Alumni Network’s Mike and Joyce Shinn Leaders and Innovators Award. He has also received the 2018 TAAACC William Sidney Pittman Award.

In addition to KAI, James serves as the inuagural President & Chair of Fair Park First, the non-profit selected to manage the National Historic Landmark, Fair Park - Dallas. Fair Park First was named D CEO’s 2021 Non-Profit of the Year. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Dallas Citizen’s Council, The Real Estate Council, Dallas Regional Chamber, World Affairs Council and Trinity Park Conservancy. James completed his sixth and final term, December 2021, as the longest serving Chair in the 95-year history of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce and was named Chair Emiritus.

In his role as President of the Board for Fair Park, he is instrumental in delivery of a new 14-acre Signature Community Park inside the 277-acre Fair Park as well and overseeing the $500M campus-wide capital investment and revitalization, increasing daily use and enhancing Fair Park as a destination for park goers near and far.

James mentors as well as provides business and professional development advice for team members and external colleagues nationally. He believes in providing opportunity for young people interested in entering the design and construction professions by providing advice on preparatory academic and extracurricular activities.

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