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38 Individuals in TechFW Network Listed in FW Top 400 Most Influential

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

We couldn't do what we do at TechFW without the incredible individuals listed below. We are beyond grateful to have them as part of our network.

1. Lori Baldock

Fort Worth Market President Simmons Bank

Lori Baldock was promoted to Simmons’ Fort Worth market presidency in September 2019, from Midtown Banking Center president. She is past chair of Near Southside, Inc. and serves on its board; member of Women Steering Business in Fort Worth; and graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, Intermediate Banking School at SMU, and Leadership Arlington, where she served five terms on its board.

2. Steven Colwick

Fort Worth Market President Comerica Bank

Steven Colwick was named Fort Worth market president of Comerica Bank in May 2019, and he also serves as middle market and business banking group manager. Colwick began his career at Comerica two decades ago as a credit analyst and has spent most of his career in the middle market sector. Colwick serves on the board of the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth, and he also volunteers with Junior Achievement of Chisholm Trail, March of Dimes, and the United Way of Tarrant County. Colwick earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas State University and MBA from Texas Tech University. He also completed the SMU Graduate School of Banking program in 2007.

3. Brandom Gengelbach

President Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

Brandom Gengelbach this summer is expected to complete a fast

ascent to top post at the Chamber, which has teamed with the city and other organizations to throw the selling of Fort Worth into higher gear. Gengelbach, who came to the Chamber in 2016 as EVP of economic development, became president last fall. In August, the Chamber board is expected to promote him to CEO.

4. Erika Hersh

Regional Lending Manager, Dallas-Fort Worth PeopleFund

Erika Hersh joined PeopleFund, a specialist in microloans and

other SBA products, in 2012 and currently serves as the regional lending manager for Dallas-Fort Worth. She is lauded in the small business finance community as serving an important niche in the local capital landscape. Hersh’s diverse background includes experience in lending, grant writing, community outreach, business assistance and education. She serves on the American Heart Association Circle of Red committee and is an officer in the Burleson Chamber Power of Heels committee. She also is head judge for the City of Fort Worth’s annual Business Plan Competition.

5. Charlie Powell

President Ciera Bank

Charlie Powell has been Ciera Bank president and CEO since March 2015, responsible for its $775 million in assets and eight locations. Powell, who has a bachelor’s from the University of Texas, has more than 30 years in financial services. In the community, he has served in numerous community leadership posts, including John Peter Smith Health Network, Near Southside Inc., Fort Worth Sister Cities International, and United Way of Tarrant County.

6. Bill Buechele

Managing Director, Business Development Capital CFO Partners

Bill Buechele is chairman of Fort Worth’s Cowtown Angels investment group, run by the TechFW incubator. He is a longtime business advisor and investor with diverse experience, including private equity, technology, health care, manufacturing and energy exposure. Buechele was formerly a leader of Deloitte’s Growth Enterprise Services practice in North Texas. He has a bachelor’s and MBA, both from Indiana University.

7. Carolyn Cason


Carolyn Cason, retired professor and associate dean for research in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at the University of Texas at Arlington, serves on the steering council of the Cowtown Angels investing group in Fort Worth. In 1997, she joined the College of Nursing, where she led in creating the research infrastructure needed to support the PhD program, and was instrumental in defining and implementing the program focus on health care for diverse and vulnerable populations. She developed the model for the SMART Hospital, a virtual hospital in which high-fidelity interactive mannequins serve as patients. And as co-founder, she acquired private and governmental funding for it. Cason holds bachelor’s and master’s and a PhD in educational psychology.

8. Bob Ferguson


Bob Ferguson, a Fort Worth entrepreneur and investor, also is an angel investor and member of the Cowtown Angels Steering Council. Last year, the UNT Health Science Center gave Ferguson its Vision Award, the university’s highest recognition, for his work to raise the Health Science Center’s reputation. Ferguson has been a UNTHSC Foundation member since 2009 and has been a generous donor to the health science center. He served as foundation chairman from 2014 to 2016.

9. Tyler Head

President Corbett Capital

Tyler Head is president and founder of Corbett Capital LLC, a closely held investment company focusing on growth capital investments in early-stage and lower middle-market companies. Prior to founding Corbett Capital LLC in 2011, Head served as an officer and F/A-18 pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1998 through 2009, attaining rank of major. Head is a founding member of Cowtown Angels and serves on the group’s steering council. Head also serves on the board of Elevate Credit in Fort Worth, a publicly-traded tech-enabled provider of innovative and responsible online credit solutions for nonprime consumers. Head serves on the board of directors of Little Passports, a monthly subscription company for children. Head has a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in Spanish from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MBA from Dartmouth College.

10. Isaac Lee

Software engineer

Isaac Lee, a software engineer, is a member of the Cowtown Angel Steering Council in Fort Worth. Lee is the former chair of the Angels and has helped lead much of the due diligence on companies that are under consideration by the group. Lee got his start working for Lumension Technology’s Dallas office and then moved on to Accenture. He has a Bachelor of Science in software engineering from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

11. Stella Robertson

Founder Bios Partners

Stella Robertson is founder in Bios Partners, a Fort Worth private equity firm. She’s a member of the Cowtown Angels investing group in Fort Worth and serves on its Steering Council. Robertson is known in the Fort Worth tech startup and angel community for her guidance on prospective health care investments. Robertson has over 25 years in pharmaceutical research and development, including R&D strategies, project management, clinical trials, regulatory filings for U.S. and international registrations, product launch, market support, translational medicine and medical communication. Robertson was a vice president in research and development at Alcon Laboratories. She received a PhD in biology- immunology from Johns Hopkins University. She holds a number of patents and is the author or co-author of over 50 publications.

12. Sunny Vanderbeck

Managing Partner Satori Capital

Sunny Vanderbeck co-founded Satori Capital with Randy Eisenman in 2008, on the principles of conscious capitalism, which asserts all stakeholders do well when everyone’s interests are addressed. Satori looks for the same traits in the companies it chooses to invest in. Satori is a multi-strategy investment firm. Vanderbeck previously co-founded and served as CEO of Data Return, a leading provider of managed services and utility computing. The company reached a $3 billion market capitalization, making Vanderbeck one of the youngest CEOs to lead a Nasdaq company. His experiences with building, selling, buying back, and reselling Data Return, along with his subsequent involvement with dozens of private businesses at Satori, led Vanderbeck to publish his book, Selling Without Selling Out: How to Sell Your Business Without Selling Your Soul.

13. Les Kreis

Managing Partner Bios Partners

Les Kreis has 25 years of investment background across the global public and private equity markets. He is managing principal at Steelhead Capital Management, a family office in Fort Worth that manages a portfolio of small business investments and startup ventures. Kreis is a founding member of the Cowtown Angels angel investing group. He was formerly a vice president at HBK Investments, a multi-strategy global hedge fund based in Dallas. During his 11 years with that firm, he managed a $3 billion global portfolio of stocks, bonds and derivatives. He was one of two professionals responsible for launching HBK’s London office, and he traded in financial markets including Japan, India, Europe, United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S. Kreis received a BBA in finance from TCU in 1994.

14. Randy Eisenman

CEO Satori Capital

Randy Eisenman co- founded Satori Capital in 2008 and likes to say he operates at the intersection of three passions: investing, entrepreneurship and sustainability. Eisenman and co-founder Sunny Vanderbeck built Satori, a multi-strategy investment firm, on the principles of conscious capitalism. Eisenman previously spent 10 years at Q Investments, a multibillion-dollar private investment firm. Eisenman launched the firm’s private equity business and was a partner for seven years. He was the youngest to be named partner in the history of the firm at age 25. While at Q, Eisenman founded Handango to capitalize on the emerging mobile applications market. Eisenman is vice president of the Fort Worth Country Day School board and a former board member of the Cook Children’s Health Foundation. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas.

15. Bob Semple

Chairman, Tarrant County and Market Executive Bank of Texas Private Wealth

Bob Semple has a long history in banking, serving in various leadership posts at Bank One from 1977 through 1998. He also spent five years with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Semple is a director for Downtown Fort Worth Inc. He has served as an advisory board member of the TCU Neeley School of Business and as a director of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award Foundation. Semple is a TCU graduate.

16. Hayden Blackburn

Executive Director TechFW

Hayden Blackburn has been executive director of the nonprofit, 22-year-old TechFW incubator and director of its Cowtown Angels angel investing group since late 2016. Blackburn moved to TechFW from the Idea Works FW collaborative. TechFW’s programs include ThinkLab, Cowtown Angels, EpICMavs at the University of Texas at Arlington, TechNest, and M-Crew, a new mentor match that brings in outside volunteer talent. Blackburn co-founded and was the initial director of IDEA Works, launched in 2014. Blackburn has been a founder or leading contributor to the major annual Fort Worth Business Plan Competition, 1 Million Cups, Startup Weekend, Great Ideas conversations, and the Entrepreneur Summit.

17. Darlene Boudreaux

Coach TechFW

Darlene Boudreaux, a pharma entrepreneur who came out of retirement to run the TechFW incubator for 12 years, continues to coach budding entrepreneurs through TechFW since she handed over the reins to successor Hayden Blackburn. Boudreaux founded the Cowtown Angels angel investing group within TechFW in 2016. Angel investors secured their first exit, with the $465 million sale of Encore Vision — a TechFW client and incubator tenant nurtured by Boudreaux — to Novartis in 2016. Boudreaux co-founded and was CEO of PharmaFab, a Grand Prairie third-party pharma manufacturer, from 1994 to 2006. She grew revenues to $28 million before selling the company.

18. Mike Brennan

CEO Near Southside, Inc.

Mike Brennan has been CEO of the Near Southside, Inc., economic development nonprofit since mid-2018 when he stepped into the job from his post as the organization’s planning director. Brennan is one of Fort Worth’s thought leaders on intelligent urban design as a means of promoting economic development. He received his master’s degree in urban planning from Harvard's Graduate School of Design in 1999. On his plate today: the Near Southside’s Medical Innovation District, branded as the iter8 Health Innovation Community, in which the city’s growing medical industry and local entrepreneurial community are teaming up to explore new opportunities in an environment with attractive places to live, work and play.

19. Megan Henderson

Marketing Director Near Southside, Inc.

As Near Southside marketing director, Megan Henderson produces ArtsGoggle, Open Streets, Friday on the Green, PARK(ing) Day, and Art South. COVID-19 stopped this spring's Friday on the Green and cut deeply into creatives. A gregarious connector, Henderson organized the Southside CARES fund for grants.

20. Robert Sturns

Economic Development Director City of Fort Worth

Robert Sturns has more than 25 years in local government, commercial real estate and banking operations. Sturns estimates he's been involved in more than $3 billion in new announced capital investment and 25,000 jobs via partnerships. He served 10 years in the Army Reserves, reaching captain. He has an MBA from TCU.

21. Mitch Whitten

Executive Vice President Visit Fort Worth

Mitch Whitten is EVP at Visit Fort Worth, where he has outreach, brand, and the Destination Master Plan. Awareness of Fort Worth and the visitor economy have grown in five years. Whitten holds a bachelor's from SMU and master's from the University of Virginia.

22. Chris Strayer

Executive Vice President, Economic Development Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

Chris Strayer started in civil engineering but found his way to economic development. He joined the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce in February 2018 and was promoted to EVP last winter. Strayer led the Chamber in the effort to develop a regional marketing message and worked with the city to develop a new incentive policy.

23. Bobby Ahdieh

Dean Texas A&M School of Law

Bobby Ahdieh, a Yale-educated lawyer and Princeton undergrad, arrived in Fort Worth two years ago to take the helm of the rapidly emerging Texas A&M School of Law in downtown Fort Worth. The law school and A&M brand — an arrow in the city’s quiver of higher ed assets — continues to move up in rankings, placing 60th in U.S. News’ 2021 ranking of best law schools.

24. Elyse Dickerson

CEO and Co-Founder Eosera

Elyse Stoltz Dickerson is CEO of Eosera, Inc., a fast-growing Fort Worth biotech company whose Earwax MD launch line of over-the- counter products for compacted earwax quickly reached national distribution. Dickerson, a former Alcon exec, was named one of the Top Women in Health, Wellness and Beauty by Drug Store News in 2019. Dicker- son has a bachelor’s from the University of Notre Dame and MBA from SMU. Dickerson is a lifelong athlete and has completed marathons, triathlons, and an Ironman. A Fort Worth Country Day School alum, she is vice president of its board.

25. H. Paul Dorman

Chairman and CEO DFB Pharmaceuticals

DFB is a Fort Worth holding company that Paul Dorman and partners started in 1990. DFB grew from four companies and $18 million in annual sales to more than $400 million in sales. DFB sold three businesses for more than $1.5 billion. DFB continues to operate NanOlogy and Phyton Biotech. NanOlogy is in human trials on new delivery for traditional IV cancer drugs — making them into nanoparticles and injecting them into tumors. Dorman guaranteed first-year tuition for the first class of the new TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine. Dorman holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and JD, both from Tulane.

26. Jyric Sims

CEO Medical City Fort Worth

Jyric Sims was named CEO of Medical City Fort Worth, one of the Fort Worth hospital district’s major hospitals, in 2017. He came to Fort Worth after serving as senior vice president and chief operating officer at Hospital Corporation of America’s Tulane Health System, where he was responsible for daily operations of two acute care hospitals with more than 500 beds and 35 hospital-based clinics. Sims joined HCA in 2011, serving as chief operating officer of St. Lucie Medical Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and associate chief operating officer at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in southeast Texas. Sims received a master of health administration from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and has an undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University.

27. Dr. Michael Williams

President UNT Health Science Center

Dr. Michael Williams became the sixth president of UNTHSC in December 2012. Williams, who earned his doctor of osteopathic medicine from UNTHSC, became first UNTHSC alumnus to serve as president. Williams, who also is an M.D., collaborated with TCU and Fort Worth leaders to launch the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, which this spring completed its first year of operation. Williams practiced anesthesiology and critical care medicine in Texas for more than 20 years. In 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry appointed Williams to serve on the UNT System Board of Regents. Williams completed his anesthesiology and critical care training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. Williams also holds an MBA from Duke University and a master’s in health care management from Harvard University.

28. Eric Fox

Senior Director, Government Relations Lockheed Martin Aeronautics

Eric Fox, the senior director of government relations for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, has worked for the company since February 1999. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Southwestern University. Fox is a member of the executive committee of the North Texas Commission.

29. Ken Schaefer

President Schaefer Advertising Co.

As owner and name- sake of Schaefer Advertising, Ken Schaefer has built the agency

on core values centered around the company’s mission to “Make Life Better.” Schaefer Advertising, in operation nearly 25 years, has won numerous awards in health care, real estate, and destination and entertainment. Schaefer has served on numerous community boards and today is a member of the Near Southside, Inc. board. He holds a BBA in marketing from Stephen F. Austin State University.

30. Caroline Harrison

Managing Partner, Pham Harrison

Caroline Harrison has been managing partner of Pham Harrison since 2015. She specializes in employment litigation, avoid, and counseling employers in employment law. Harrison is board-certified in labor and employment law. She has a Bachelor of Art from the University of Texas at Arlington and law degree from Texas Wesleyan University.

31. Julie H. Wilson

CEO, The Reasons Group

Julie Wilson is immediate past chairman of Visit Fort Worth, tourism bureau. Treasurer, North Texas Community Foundation. CEO of Reasons Group, a business development consultant specializing in marketing strategies and conflict management. Wilson was vice president of Blue Zones Project Fort Worth, helping manage the well-being initiative to the city. Before that, she was vice president-urban development for Chesapeake Energy Corp. for seven years from 2006 to 2013, beginning with the height of neighborhood gas leasing over the Barnett Shale. Wilson was previously a longtime advertising agency executive in Fort Worth. She also formerly owned a group of franchise hair salons and ice cream shops. Wilson holds a Bachelor of Arts from New Mexico State University.

32. Clark Cowley

Member Whitaker Chalk

Clark Cowley is one of Whitaker Chalk’s experts on intellectual property, representing corporations, other business entities, entrepreneurs and individuals in copyright, trademark and other IP issues. Clients range from sporting goods to pharmacy technology and film in the U.S. and abroad. Cowley is AV-Rated Martindale-Hubbell Preeminent. He holds a BBA from Abilene Christian University and a law degree from Baylor University.

33. Brian Newby

Managing Partner, Cantey Hanger

Brian Newby, Cantey Hanger’s managing partner, maintains his public/regulatory practice. Clients include leaders in education, water, transportation and health care. Newby has taken to trial, arbitration and mediation hundreds of cases involving commercial business disputes, construction defects, public and private contract claims, personal injury and employment agreements. His practice includes representing clients before state and federal administrative hearing boards. Newby was chief of staff to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Newby began his career as an Air Force lawyer in the JAG Corps. He formerly managed over 450 military lawyers and paralegals nationwide in a reserve component of the Air Force and retired recently at the rank of major general. He has a BA from Texas Tech University and law degree from the University of Texas.

34. Kenneth Barr

CEO, Barr Consulting Group

Former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr is a consultant on governmental relations and public affairs. Barr was elected to Tarrant County College’s District 7 last year to a term that ends in May 2025, replacing longtime trustee Louise Appleman, who left the board. Barr was elected mayor four times, and he retired in 2003. Barr served 11 years as a member of the North Texas Tollway Authority, including chairman, and he played a key role in the development of several road projects, including the Chisholm Trail Park- way. He is chair of the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth, and he serves on the executive committee of the Van Cliburn Foundation. Barr grew up in Fort Worth, attended public schools, and holds a bachelor’s degree in business from TCU. His father, Willard Barr, was mayor from 1965 to 1967.

35. Breck Ray

President and Executive Recruiter Ray Partners

Breck Ray has more than 35 years in executive search, the first 20 with his father’s firm, Paul R. Ray Co. In 2002, he formed Ray Partners, focusing on search for executives whose cash compensation is at least $225,000. Industry focus: energy, aerospace and defense, consumer and industrial products and services, private equity portfolio companies, hedge funds and financial institutions. Ray has an undergraduate degree in real estate and finance from the University of Arkansas.

36. Richard Connor

Publisher, Fort Worth Business Press

COVID-19 has dealt the Fort Worth Business Press a blow, as it has all media, but publisher Rich Connor adapts. Pre-COVID-19, the Business Press drove a lot of value through distribution of its twice-daily electronic newsletters, and the FWBP is piling in on the online content even more. “We have been working around the clock to provide news coverage from all angles,” Connor told readers in May. “Our vehicle has been online news on our digital platforms. We have a sizable and loyal following with our twice-daily newsletters, and we just unveiled a redesigned and expanded website. We’ve printed one paper in the last month and published two e-editions, which contain all the news and advertising that appears in a printed edition.” Connor stirred up the local media landscape last year when he announced he planned to launch a nonprofit newspaper called the Fort Worth Press. Nothing new on that lately.

37. Andrew Blake

Founder Presidio Interests

Andrew Blake formed Presidio Interests, 2006. Developed or redeveloped and repositioned more than 180,000 square feet urban infill commercial and mixed-use properties, value $40 million-plus. Bachelor’s, Vanderbilt University; MBA, University of Texas. Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth board.

38. Bruce Conti

CEO, Conti Warehouses

Bruce Conti made his money in warehouses. His properties around Fort Worth include the former Fort Worth Star-Telegram plant and historic Ranch Style Beans. Conti in recent years built the DFW Neurological Recovery Center from scratch in one of his buildings on Fort Worth’s West Side to provide a rehab setting for his son, who suffered a catastrophic, debilitating infection. The center gained recognition for its advanced tools and therapy, and Conti and his wife Lee Anne opened it to other patients. Conti has invested in consumer businesses, including Wild Acre Brewing Co. and Trinity River Distillery, located in the Ranch Style Beans facility. Wild Acre recently opened a taproom in another building Conti owns on Camp Bowie Boulevard and signed other tenants, including Colonel’s Bikes and the Lazy Daisy coffee shop.


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