Category In the News

Joffrey Director of Community Engagement Linda Swayze and Joffrey Board Director D.L. Morriss.

The Joffrey is pleased to announce that Linda Swaye, Director of Community Engagement at The Joffrey Ballet, and D.L. Morris, Joffrey Board Director, have been recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business as Notable Black Leaders & Executives of 2021.

All 71 members of this year’s cohort represent various fields, including law, banking, media, and nonprofits. In the face of COVID-19 and racial unrest, they found themselves in new and often unprecedented positions. 

As the Crain’s selection committee writes, “these leaders have redoubled efforts to boost the next generation through nonprofits that help young people succeed in school and prepare for a career. These leaders are seizing the moment.“

Over the past 18 months, Swayze was instrumental in developing the Joffrey’s virtual education curriculum, which brought dance education to students around the city. The Joffrey's e-learning curriculum reaches more than 400 students in Chicago Public Schools. Last year, Swayze worked with the Joffrey artistic team to produce a Nutcracker documentary in lieu of live performances, which was seen by more than 17,000 CPS students. Swayze had a performance career with the Dance Theatre of Harlem for 17 years. She returned to her native Chicago and has held a variety of positions with the Joffrey, including as a teaching artist and community engagement program supervisor. She was named to her current position in 2020 and is a lead architect of the Joffrey’s studio expansion in the South Loop.

With a team of three associates and two partners, Morriss manages firmwide cultural initiatives and affinity groups, including Black, Asian, Hispanic, women, Mediterranean, LGBTQ and veterans groups. Following the George Floyd murder, Morriss worked to develop programming on a wider range of issues and included speakers on implicit bias and identity. He’s a member of the associate hiring and compensation committees and oversees recruitment, retention, talent development and advancement of attorneys from diverse backgrounds. Morriss was instrumental in the firm’s commitment in June to join the Mansfield Rule 5.0 certification process designed to diversify representation. Morriss focuses his practice on commercial litigation and represents companies in lender liability, financial workout and bankruptcy, and civil tort actions. He’s been a member of The Joffrey Ballet board since 2016.