May 2021 Newsletter
Greetings from your NLF Chair, Howard Shotwell
Well, thus far, 2021 is now officially better than 2020. Covid vaccinations are approaching 70% nationwide, fewer cases are being reported weekly, and last week both Governor Abbott and Tarrant County Judge Whitley removed the mask mandates.

Of course, we remain cautious because other strains of the virus continue to emerge.

Here’s another sign of progress: The 30th Annual Northeast Leadership Forum Award Luncheon took place in just one attempt, rather than the three attempts needed last year. Our emcee, Scott Murray, did a magnificent job of keeping us on track as well as conducting an outstanding Zoom interview with Dallas Cowboys legend and soon-to-be NFL Hall of Famer Drew Pearson.

It was my honor to present former Trophy Club Mayor Nick Sanders with his Past Chairman Award for his service this past year.

And congratulations to “The Fletch” – John Fletcher – who was honored with our Distinguished Leadership Award and then surprising the 200 attendees by announcing his engagement to Rebecca Barksdale. I loved his line about soon becoming “Mr. John Barksdale.”

Once again, we appreciate the Nancy & Alan Hamm Foundation for matching our $22,000 scholarships that gave us a total of $44,000 to award to graduating seniors from Northeast Tarrant County high schools.

In addition, we are now awarding students $12,000 in Vocational Skills Scholarships from new contributions.

We recognized our chamber of commerce executives and chairmen from 2020 who provided such outstanding leadership and resources for our local communities and businesses.

Let’s express our appreciation to Ian MacLean, owner of Highland Landscaping in Southlake and Chairman of the Small Business Council of the United States Chamber of Commerce, for being our featured speaker at our Tuesday, May 11, breakfast at the Texas Star Conference Center.

I am proud to announce that we held a quick board meeting following the breakfast and your board voted to approve seven new members. You will see the names listed below, including profiles on two of our new members.

Let's commit to being valuable resources during the balance of this pandemic. I appreciate what each one of you does in Northeast Tarrant County and with NLF. Your commitment and passion for growing leaders in our region helps make us successful. If you have any ideas or suggestions or if I can be of help to you, please contact me at or (817) 247-3240).

-Howard Shotwell
Scott Murray and Drew Pearson Highlight 30th Annual Award Luncheon
It was NFL at the NLF as over 200 members and guests joined to celebrate and venture out in public – many for the first time in over a year – at the Gaylord Texan on Friday, April 30.

While we appreciate the service of our event committee of Randy Clinton, RaDonna Hessel, Randy McCauley and John Fletcher, we particularly want to thank RaDonna for securing such a wonderful venue and Randy for managing every minute detail that led to such a successful celebration.
We announced $44,000 in scholarships for graduating high school seniors from Northeast Tarrant County, plus Chairman Howard Shotwell’s priority of another $12,000 of vocational skills scholarships to benefit local recipients who will attend trade schools.

Former NLF chairman and Mayor of North Richland Hills, Oscar Trevino, led the recognitions for our seven area chambers of commerce, asking each chamber’s chief executive and 2020 chairman to come forward and receive a certificate and personalized pen.

Next, Tarrant County Precinct 3 Commissioner Gary Fickes enjoyed some digs at John Fletcher as he introduced “The Fletch” as recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Leadership Award.
Fletch closed with a surprise announcement that he and Rebecca Barksdale had become engaged the night before the luncheon – setting quite a high bar for next year’s honoree to top. The crowd went wild to celebrate the moment.

The day’s highlight was our emcee Scott Murray interviewing Dallas Cowboys legend (“The ORIGINAL #88) Drew Pearson about his career as a Dallas Cowboy and how he grew under the mentorship of head coach Tom Landry and quarterback Roger Staubach.

Drew was unable to join us in person because the NFL requested him to be in Cleveland the same day to announce the second and third round picks of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL draft.
Because he had committed to us previously, Drew coordinated with the NFL officials so he could join our event. He skipped a prestigious NFL draft luncheon to fulfill his commitment.

In addition, Drew donated his speaker’s fee to our Vocational Skills Scholarship Program, which allowed us to increase the number of career-oriented scholarships we could present. He congratulated the NLF on our commitment to building leaders and awarding scholarships.

Some of Drew’s shared favorite memories included:
  • In the December 28, 1975, playoff game against Minnesota, Drew caught the famous “Hail Mary” pass from Roger to win the game. In Drew’s words, “People forget that I had to catch a 4th down and 17 yards to go pass just moments earlier to keep the drive alive, or there never would have been a Hail Mary pass.”
  • He shared a business parallel to that famous catch by saying that, just has he had to use a “swim move” with his arms to free himself from the defender, so we also need to commit to being resourceful with our own “swim moves” to succeed in life and business.
  • He used Tom Landry and Roger Staubach as examples of inspirational and dedicated leadership. He attributed their success to character, intelligence, passion, and talent.
  • Drew learned leadership as a Cowboy, which positioned him to be elected team captain and walk out onto the field for the coin toss beside Roger Staubach, Mel Renfro, and Bob Lilly.
  • These skills led him to be a leader off the field and in his community.
  •  After a car wreck that caused his brother’s death and ended Drew’s football career, he grew in his faith and asked God to reveal his new life’s purpose, which led Drew to give back in many ways to many organizations – to make a difference.
  • He left us with this closing message:

Will there be tomorrow
Tell me how can you be sure
There ain't always next season
There ain't always an open door
Life is dear, don't you waste it
The future no one can see
So, step aside and let it be!

Following the interview with Drew, Scott auctioned off two Dallas Cowboys footballs autographed by our future Hall-of-Famer, Drew Pearson, with all proceeds benefiting the new NLF technical skills scholarship program. We thank Julie Bird from Cornerstone Wealth Strategies in Southlake as well as Euless Mayor Pro-Tem and attorney Salman Bhojani for collectively paying over $5,000 for the two footballs.
We Thank Our Sponsors!
VIP Table Sponsors
Chamber of Commerce Resources

All our area chambers continue to be valuable resources for our businesses. These chambers can grow your business and expand your influence.
Please feel free to contact your local chamber of commerce by clicking on the link below to read the chamber’s information or to call their office number listed next to their name.
Our chambers of commerce are the voice of business for our communities, and we are indeed fortunate to have such committed and caring leaders as their presidents/executive directors and officers.
Colleyville Area Chamber of Commerce
Chelsea Rose – 817-488-7148
Grapevine Chamber of Commerce
RaDonna Hessel – 817-421-1522
Greater Keller Chamber of Commerce
JoAnn Malone – 817-431-2169
HEB Chamber of Commerce
Mary Frazior – 817-283-1521
Northeast Tarrant Chamber of Commerce
Jack Bradshaw – 817-281-9376
Northwest Metroport Chamber of Commerce
Sally Aldridge – 817-937-2000
Southlake Chamber of Commerce
Mark Guilbert – 817-481-8200   
NLF Offers Scholarships to Local, Regional
Leadership Programs

One of the signs of a vibrant community and its chamber of commerce is a powerful leadership program that opens the doors for the next generation of leaders. Each of the chambers of commerce affiliated with Northeast Leadership Forum is now accepting nominations for its leadership program.
Northeast Leadership Forum is providing a 50% leadership tuition scholarship for one person in each of the chambers of commerce leadership programs in our area. In addition, NLF is offering a 50% tuition scholarship for one member who is accepted in Leadership North Texas. Contact your local chamber of commerce about their individual 50% off leadership tuition scholarship, and contact Mary Frazior ( regarding the Leadership North Texas scholarship.
This is your opportunity to identify emerging leaders and seasoned leaders within your company or organization to grow their circle of influence and connections. All chambers of commerce listed above participate with leadership programs. Please contact them directly for more information. 
Leadership North Texas is in the final stages of accepting applications for its graduate level class. Please click below for information and how to apply.
We are honored to announce the following recipients of our scholarship programs for graduating high school seniors in Northeast Tarrant County. Congratulations to the following graduates, who each received a $2,000 scholarship:
Adeline Miller
Byron Nelson High

Alyse Bradley
Grapevine High

Ashley Her
Keller Timber Creek High

Bella Panganiban
Keller Timber Creek High

Benjamin Domenzain
Hurst L.D. Bell High

Benjamin Platz
Keller High

Brent Wilson
Keller Central High

Colby Coppinger
Keller Fossil Ridge high

Dylan Pepper
Euless Trinity High

Hadlee Fry
Northwest High

Jasmin Ashley
Grapevine High
Joel George
Richland High

Joseph Hurley
Steele Accelerated High

Kaitlyn Adams
Haslet Eaton High

Kelsey Cox
Haslet Eaton High

Koya Cunningham
Byron Nelson High

Mariana Martinez-Puente
Collegiate Academy

Matthew Bayles
Colleyville Heritage High

Michelle Nguyen
Keller Fossil Ridge High

Renee Parker
Northwest High

Vanitha Karnati
Carroll Senior High
In addition, the following have received our Vocational Skills Scholarships at $1,500 each:
Ava Wood
Keller Fossil Ridge High

Connor McGhee
Richland High

Drew Hutto
Birdville High

Nathaniel A. Velasquez
Byron Nelson High
Olman Arevalo
Haltom High

Peyton Hotchkiss
Byron Nelson High

Shawn Lane
Byron Nelson High

Tanya Monsivals
Euless Keys High
May 11 Breakfast Illuminates Challenges Facing Small Biz, U.S. Chamber
Ian MacLean, CEO of Highland Landscaping in Southlake, delivered his insights as Chairman of the Small Business Council of the United States Chamber of Commerce during our May 11 breakfast at the Texas Star Conference Center.

We thank Linebarger, Goggan Blair & Sampson for sponsoring the breakfast.

Ian’s common-sense approach impressed members as he shared both recent actions and current priorities of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents over 1,000,000 members and speaks on behalf of more than triple that number of small businesses nationwide.

He emphasized that the Small Business Council and the U.S. Chamber constantly review the impact that any proposed legislation will have on the entire spectrum of small businesses that range from mom-and-pop to operations of 500.

The U.S. Chamber has taken the following stances:
  • Opposed the $15 minimum wage because there are unintended consequences that would place excessive burdens on small businesses
  • Recommended a sunset to end the federal unemployment benefits because far too many workers are financially incentivized to remain at home doing nothing rather that return to work
  • Took a stand against the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) proposal that would penalize non-union businesses
  • Supported the Main Street Certainty Act that would make the 20% small business tax deduction permanent after it expires following 2025
Keep NLF Dynamic and Growing

Your NLF board voted to accept seven (7) new members at our May 11 board meeting. These new members are:
Julie Bird: Cornerstone Wealth Strategies
Marsha Etie: Mosaic Strategies Partners
Alicia Fleury: Mayor of Town of Trophy Club
Elizabeth Grace: Mid-Cities Care Corps
Scott Hurbough: Tarrant County College, NE Campus
Jason Williams: Dallas Baptist University
James Wright: EVP Information Services, Inc.
When you interact with business and community leaders who impress you, please invite them to our next meeting, which will be our breakfast meeting on Tuesday, August 10. We will confirm our breakfast location and announce details in the June newsletter.
These influencers are making a difference in our area, so let's invite them to participate in NLF. Membership is the lifeblood of our organization.
For any prospective NLF members you know, click here to download the membership application. We want both established and emerging leaders to continue to join our organization to further the dynamic growth of Northeast Tarrant County. 
We ask you to warmly welcome visitors and new members to our breakfast meetings. Growing the power of networks is one of the main benefits of NLF.
New Member Profiles
Julie Bird

Julie has successfully invested her career in positions primarily held by men. Following graduation from L.D. Bell High School in Hurst and then earning a B.A. in Finance from Stephen F. Austin University, she worked her way up from sales rep to sales manager of Marine & Industrial Supplies.
She entered the financial services world as an employee benefits agent for New York Life Insurance while she founded her company, Cornerstone Wealth Strategies in Southlake. Today, 28 years later, she remains owner (her husband, Anthony, is the new CEO as of this January) of the company. Along the way, she has been a member of the Mass Mutual Society 1851 as one of the nation’s top 250 producers and she speaks several times each year at conferences.
Julie began her own nonprofit, Chairi-Tea, which helped a friend teach etiquette for high school youth to benefit Students Standing Strong. An avid – and accomplished – golfer, Julie lives with her husband Anthony and their three children and grandchildren. You can find them at home or at the Timarron Country Club golf course.
Jason Williams

Jason’s 17-year career at Dallas Baptist University has been anchored by a career in the entertainment business with Malibu Entertainment and then as manager of tourism sales over a four-year period with the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Leveraging his bachelor’s degree in Marketing and his master’s degree in Marketing, Jason became Assistant Vice President for Enrollment and, five years ago, Associate Vice President for Enrollment. For the past 13 years, he has also served as an adjunct professor in marketing, thus applying his education to academic instruction.
Beyond his career, Jason was passionate about service to his then hometown of Pantego, having served on the Zoning Board of Appeals, Parks Board, as a city council member and as mayor. He is a previous Board member of the Colleyville Chamber and a current Board member of the HEB Chamber, where he is a graduate of Leadership HEB. Jason also serves on the Veterans Higher Education Task Force for the George W. Bush Institute. He now lives with his family in Mansfield.
Mark Your Calendar
2021 Membership Meetings:
(Please arrive by 7:15 to mix and mingle!)
Tuesday, August 10, at 7:30 a.m. - Keynote Speaker: To Be Announced
Tuesday, October 12, at 7:30 a.m. - Keynote Speaker: To Be Announced

Annual Event:
Heart of North Texas
Friday, November 5, 2021
For sponsorship opportunities, please contact John Fletcher at 817-205-2334.