November 2021 Newsletter
Greetings from your NLF Chair, Howard Shotwell
Good Thursday afternoon!

After closing the November chapter – along with fond memories of family Thanksgiving gatherings or Zoom Thanksgivings – let’s continue our commitment to our local retailers. This past Saturday was Small Business Saturday, and we need to prioritize taking care of our small businesses in Northeast Tarrant County.

Now, let’s reflect on what a wonderful event we hosted on November 5 with our 24th Annual Heart of North Texas Conference.

This event attracted a record number of sponsors and attendees that resulted in over $14,000 being raised for our scholarship fund.

I want to personally thank our tri-chairmen, Eli Mercer, RaDonna Hessel and Craig Hulse, for leading their committee to create such an outstanding event.

We are indeed grateful for the following speakers sharing their amazing insights:
  • Leah King, President/CEO of United Way of Tarrant County
  • Dr. Lloyd Potter, Texas State Demographer
  • Dr. Eugene Giovannini, Chancellor of Tarrant County College District
  • Shannon Bryant, Executive Vice President, Corporate Solutions of Tarrant County College District
  • Dr. Kenya Ayers-Palmore, President of Tarrant County College – Northeast Campus
  • Dr. Gayle Stinson, Superintendent of Birdville ISD
  • Brett Leatherman, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of Dallas FBI Office
  • Casey Messner, Communications Director for M3 Networks
  • Bob Francis, Editor of Fort Worth Business Press

… and, of course, Dr. Faye Beaulieu, who once again offered the kindest and most inspirational opening prayer imaginable.

Please allow me to also thank Chris Connolly, General Manager of the Hurst Conference Center, for overseeing such a smooth operation from a logistics perspective. We have had nothing but positive comments about the food, service, and audio/visual elements.

The Heart of North Texas reaffirms that the Northeast Leadership Forum is an organization of leaders that focuses on connecting leaders and building leaders.

Just as with the last two years, the entire event was sold out with every sponsorship filled and a full house with sponsors filling tables. We are deeply grateful for everyone who contributed to this amazing event and to all our sponsors.
Your NLF board held our regular board meeting on Tuesday, November 9, and approved four new members: Jerry Cantu, Clayton Fulton, Matia Messemer, and Laura Ingram.

Our annual award luncheon committee is finalizing plans for the event with a target date of Friday, April 1. No foolin’! You will be impressed to learn who our prestigious keynote speaker will be.
Please look for award nomination requests for our Distinguished Leader Award, which will be presented at the banquet. The deadline for nominations will be Monday, February 28.
And finally, let’s pay attention to what FBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Brett Leatherman told us at the Heart of North Texas:
'The holiday season is when cyberattacks are most likely to occur in our businesses and for us personally. Now is the time to focus on our cyber protocols.'

From my family to yours, I wish you happy, merry, and joyous Christmas holiday season!

-Howard Shotwell
Heart of North Texas a Resounding Success – Again!
The theme of “Building for an Economic Boom” created energy inside the Hurst Conference Center for the 24th Annual Heart of North Texas Conference. The sold-out crowd learned how nonprofits and social service agencies pivoted during the pandemic, what the demographic trends will mean to Texas and Northeast Tarrant County, how education is changing to meet emerging vocational and workforce training, and how daunting cybersecurity threats are to our businesses and our families.

One of the cleverest elements of the conference took place between speakers, as our conference committee created a theme for each networking break. Attendees were asked to visit with someone new to discuss:
  • Break #1: Share about what you learned from your alma mater
  • Break #2: Share about a mentor that impacted your life
  • Break #3: Celebrate your favorite charities and tell why

We were honored to attract such captivating and timely speakers as:
Leah King, President/CEO of United Way of Tarrant County, shared insights on how nonprofits and social service agencies pivoted to meet community needs during the early days of the pandemic. She gave specific examples of how United Way partnered with Tarrant County, cities, and nonprofits to be creatively resourceful during such a dire time of need. She added that some of these collaborations have led to long-term solutions that will last beyond the pandemic.
Pictured: Speaker - Leah King
Dr. Lloyd Potter, our Governor-Appointed Texas State Demographer, provided insights on how the 2020 census is impacting Texas. He gave reasoning behind why the Fort Worth-Dallas area did not receive one of the two new congressional seats allotted to Texas. He also detailed how upward birth rates among Hispanics and declining birth rates among the Anglo population will lead Anglos to become a minority in Texas in the near future.
Pictured: Speaker - Dr. Lloyd Potter
Dr. Kenya Ayers-Palmore, President of Tarrant County College-Northeast, moderated the Education, Industry, and Vocational Training Panel. Participants consisted of TCC Chancellor Dr. Eugene Giovannini, TCC Executive Vice President of Corporate Solutions Shannon Bryant, and Birdville ISD Superintendent Dr. Gayle Stinson.

Among the revelations were that a growing number of graduating high school students are seeking trade training that can lead to fulfilling and lucrative careers, how TCC will customize training to meet individual company specifications, and that the TCC Foundation will match funds from NLF’s scholarship program on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
Pictured: Education, Industry, and Vocational Training Panel Speakers
The luncheon keynote varied from the schedule when M3 Networks founder/CEO Michael Moore was unable to attend because of a family funeral at the same time. Communications Director Casey Messner from the company joined Brett Leatherman, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge from the FBI Dallas Office, to discuss cybersecurity issues for our businesses and homes. Brett shared that 80% of all ransoms paid help fund additional criminal action, most specifically illicit drugs and human trafficking. He also strongly encouraged each of us to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that encrypts our data and makes it more difficult for hackers to access.

What a wonderful transition we had from last year’s “Surviving and Thriving” theme to this year’s “Building for an Economic Boom.”
Pictured: Speaker - Brett Leatherman

Our event committee consisted of:
Eli Mercer, Tri-chair
RaDonna Hessel, Tri-chair
Craig Hulse, Tri-chair
Howard Shotwell
Dr. Kenya Ayers-Palmore
Faye Beaulieu
Shelby Bruhn
Marcia Etie
John Fletcher
Mary Frazior
Jim Griffin
Garry Hamilton
Larry Hurbough
Ritu Raju
Kathryn Rotter
Nick Sanders
Carolyn Sims
Shannon Watt
Pictured: Heart of North Texas event committee
We could never have hosted this event without the financial support of our sponsors, whose generosity is helping us fund scholarships for college, university, and trade school education.
Thank you, Community Sponsors, for Funding Scholarships!

Lunch Sponsor
Texas Health Resources:
Texas Health HEB
Texas Health Southlake
Texas Health Resources Foundation

Breakfast Sponsor
Tarrant County College - Northeast

Venue Sponsor
Venture Business Impact (VBI)

Networking Break Sponsors
Frost Bank
Glen Whitley, Tarrant County Judge
Ciera Bank
Gary Fickes, County Commissioner Precinct 3
Valliance Bank
Republic Services
Linebarger Attorneys at Law
Tarrant County Alerts for Holiday Gatherings

Our families began gatherings this past weekend for Thanksgiving, and Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja is recommending that we remain vigilant and cautious with get-togethers and public events from now through the first week of 2022. He shares that the new Omicron variant could be a stronger strain even though it has not been identified yet in Texas.
At the same time, the department lowered the community spread level from “high” to “substantial” following declining hospitalizations and case counts.
Concerns remain that case counts could increase as families and friends gather together starting with the Thanksgiving holidays.
Membership Drives the Influence of NLF

Our membership has grown by almost 25 new members over the past year, so please continue to invite colleagues and influential members of our community to join NLF. 
Among these is our newest members:
  • Jerry Cantu – EECU Credit Union
  • Clayton Fulton – Assistant City Manager, City of Hurst
  • Matia Messemer – Executive Director Human Resources, City of Hurst
  • Laura Ingram – Vice President of Development, The CEC

As you interact with business and community leaders who impress you, please invite them to next breakfast in early February. Details will follow soon.

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, and we are providing a valuable forum for new members to have close access to so many of the decision makers that shape the course of events in Northeast Tarrant County.

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 economic 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.
NLF Board Elects Officers, 
Sets 2022 Calendar at Board Planning Meeting

Your NLF Board of Directors held a regular meeting on November 9 and took the following actions:

  • Elected the following officers for 2022:
  • President: Shelby Bruhn
  • Chair-Elect: Eli Mercer
  • Secretary: RaDonna Hessel
  • Treasurer: Shannon Watt
  • Past Chair: Howard Shotwell

  • Board members for terms to expire in 2024:
  • John Fletcher
  • Don Perfect
  • Dr. Robin Ryan
  • Kathryn Rotter
  • Committee chairs will be:
  • Programs: Eli Mercer
  • Sponsors: John Fletcher
  • Mayors’ Roundtable: Linda Martin
  • Heart of North Texas: RaDonna Hessel, Craig Hulse
  • Chamber Presidents’ Roundable: RaDonna Hessel
  • Economic Development Directors’ Roundtable: Craig Hulse
  • Nonprofit Roundtable: Randy Clinton
  • Awards Luncheon: Randy Clinton
  • Membership: Shannon Watt

  • Approved the addition of four new members, which you will see in the Membership article
  • Elected Dr. Kenya Ayers-Palmore to fill an unexpired one-year term on the Board of Directors
  • Made updates to the By-laws of Northeast Leadership Forum that bring the language up-to-date and clarify certain items
NLF Foundation Scholarship Program has Broad Reach

In the five years of the NLF Foundation scholarship program, 126 students have received a total of $173,000 to help fund their dreams of attending a community college, four-year university, or a trade school.

These students have attended 52 different universities, ranging from TCU, Texas Wesleyan University, and U.T. Arlington in the Fort Worth area, Stanford University and the University of Southern California on the west coast and New York University on the east coast. Trade-focused students have attended Tarrant County College, the Culinary Institute of America, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical.

As you may contemplate year-end gifting, please consider the Northeast Leadership Forum Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) organization that is certified by the IRS. For details about a potential gift, please reach out to Carolyn Sims at (817) 905-0542.

Also, please remember that any scholarship money that specifies Tarrant County College will be matched by the Tarrant County College Foundation, so your contribution provides twice as much benefit if you give through NLF Foundation!
Roundtable Updates
One of the most valuable functions of NLF is to create and foster a platform for categories of community leaders to meet, cooperate, and share best practices. These are our roundtable groups that consist of our area chambers of commerce, mayors, superintendents, economic development directors, and nonprofits.
Here are the latest reports, which were shared at the November 9 Board meeting:
  • Chambers of Commerce: Chamber executives and board chairmen will meet on Monday, December 6
  • Mayors: Are not meeting formally, but text and call each other frequently
  • Economic Development Directors: Met on Monday, November 22
  • Nonprofits: Randy Clinton provided a list of nonprofits to board members and is seeking any additional organizations to add to the list, which he secured by reviewing the nonprofit members of each of our area chambers of commerce. The next step will be to create a committee of nonprofits and schedule the first meeting.
NLF Member Selected for Second Year as Chair of U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council has renewed Ian MacLean, President/CEO of Highland Landscaping in Southlake, as Chair of its Small Business Council for a second year. The move, while not unprecedented, is traditionally made with the organization is impressed with the first year of service.
Ian chaired the Southlake Chamber of Commerce for two terms, 2014-16, and has chaired the giant Southlake Oktoberfest event eight times. He serves on the Men’s Ministry Advisory Board of White’s Chapel United Methodist Church and also founded the Mission in the Marketplace ministry to serve the Southlake area.
He has served on the U.S. Chamber’s Small Business Council for over five years and was appointed Vice Chairman of the Council in 2018.
We look forward to Ian continuing to represent small businesses across the nation with the experience and values he has developed here in Northeast Tarrant County.
By-Law Updates Approved by NLF Board

Changes have been made to the Bylaws of Northeast Leadership Forum and were approved by your Board of Directors on Tuesday, November 9.

Click the button below to review the updates that were made.
Mark Your Calendar
2022 Membership Meetings:
Please arrive by 7:15 to mix and mingle!

Information Coming Soon!