A Legacy of Giving Back in Denton County

Somebody might as well jokingly shorten Dawn Cobb’s list of job duties as Denton County’s Director of Community Relations to one bullet point with the urban catch-all phrase, “all the things.” It would undoubtedly make defining her role in county government much easier, considering she lends a helping hand to practically every major initiative. As a bonus, each new job duty assigned by Judge Andy Eads or the Commissioner’s Court would automatically be covered.

“I’ve always worried that if I ever left journalism, I would get bored,” Cobb said with a laugh. Before joining Denton County five years ago, she spent nearly 30 years in local newspapers, having been everything from a beat reporter to a managing editor. “People don’t realize how much county government does, and you never really know until you live it every day. So I never get bored. It’s like standing in front of a firehose sometimes, but I’m constantly learning and get to make a difference.”

The theme for this month’s issue is Women of Influence. More than just owning a business or holding a high-ranking position, these women understand the importance of social responsibility and giving back to their communities. Some are constantly in the public eye, and others quietly tug on strings behind the scenes. Either way, they are committed to positively impacting the world and using their skills and resources to help others.

Cobb is no exception. Her journalism career included stops at five newspapers, most notably the Abilene Reporter News and the Denton Record-Chronicle. She’s been in Denton since 1986 and always saw herself as a storyteller, a seeker of truth, a mentor to young writers, a loyal wife, and a good person who lived and breathed the community she represented. Since leaving journalism, there isn’t much she hasn’t done. She was with CoServ from 2015 to 2018 and has added everything from public relations to community engagement and crisis management to her already-impressive resume. She’s also served as a board member for several Denton County non-profits throughout her career.

“It has been an opportunity to give back to Denton County because it was Denton County that gave me a wonderful career as a journalist,” Cobb said. “If I get to help people live a better life along the way, my job is done.”

When Cobb joined Denton County, her role was to simply create a public relations department and get the word out about what county government does. That meant building the county’s social media presence, writing and distributing newsletters, and working with local newspapers. Those responsibilities mushroomed into her becoming a key resource and solutions-finder for Judge Eads and the Commissioner’s Court—in good times, bad times, and especially pandemics. And perhaps there was no better example of that than during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The list of what the county did during that time is too much to list in one article, but just a few include providing much-needed funds for business and non-profit grants and kick-starting emergency rental assistance programs and senior citizen housing assistance efforts. They also instituted a food box program where they partnered with several local farms to provide nutritional fruits and vegetables for families in need. These efforts reduced the strain on existing food banks already charged with providing food for 13 local counties. And Cobb was at the center of it all and still is. Some of her additional work includes forming collaborative countywide teams, managing department budgets, developing new systems, and networking with other community leaders.

“I get as much information as possible on whatever topic we are working on and then devise solutions so that the Commissioner’s Court
can make decisions accordingly,” she said. “All any of us are trying to do is help people who need it the most. My background serving
on boards put me in the right position to help.”

For Cobb, it’s all in a day’s work. And yes, it’s much easier to simply say she does “all the things.”

“When I left journalism, I wasn’t sure what I would do. But I asked myself, ‘What do I want to be next?’ And it all worked out,” she said.
“I work with great people who do much more than fix roads. All we want is to make Denton County the best place to live.”

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