Recap | 44th Annual Members’ Luncheon

We hosted our 44th Annual Members’ Luncheon on Thursday, September 24th at the Irving Convention Center at Los Colinas, with over 700 North Texas leaders in attendance.

The luncheon kicked off with our final board meeting for the fiscal year, presided over by Board Chairman Gray Mayes of Texas Instruments. Points of order included the release of the latest issue of NTX Magazine, a discussion on Leadership North Texas University and a presentation by Ed Dolanski, President and CEO of Aviall, Dallas-based aviation company, on Export-Import Bank.


Photo credit to Barbara Berry.

Following the board meeting, members were welcomed into the ballroom, which was themed around the word of the day: innovation. Along with our attendee gift bags, the tables were set with LuminAID lanterns, lighting up the room and creating conversation the moment guests sat down.

The luncheon opened with a warm welcome from North Texas Commission President and CEO Mabrie Jackson and a few words from DD Hayes, Chaplain at the DFW Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy. Mabrie recognized members of the North Texas Commission board, past and current elected officials, and looking to the future of North Texas, the 13 DECA members in attendance as part of the essay contest hosted earlier this month.

Mabrie also discussed the contents of our North Texas Commission branded bag at each seat, and the Mark Cuban Companies in attendance, some of whom were exhibiting outside the ballroom. To read more about those, click here. Board Chairman Gray Mayes thanked the sponsors of the event, as seen below:


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Mavs ManiAACs. Photo credit to Tim Sharp.

As a company on the forefront of innovation, it was fitting that Audi was our presenting sponsor for this event.

Audi Senior Account Executive Allison Piper spoke on how Audi has grown and sought innovation over the years, just as our keynote speaker, Mark Cuban. But before Mark took the stage, we had a surprise for our guests.

The North Texas Commission pumped up attendees with a performance from the popular Mavs ManiAACs (pictured right), who were the perfect transition into keynote speaker Mark Cuban.

At last, it was the moment attendees had been waiting for. Mark Cuban, world-renowned entrepreneur and Shark Tank‘s most dangerous shark, gave a rousing keynote on innovation in North Texas and his viewpoints as a businessman.


Mark Cuban during his keynote speech. Photo credit to Tim Sharp.

Mark discussed how true innovation is about knowing your audience and your product. “At the Mavericks, we don’t sell basketball,” Cuban said, “We sell special moments.” If you attend a Mavs game, you don’t reminisce every jump shot a player scores; you remember the time spent with people important to you, whoever they may be.

Cuban also took a few moments after his keynote to answer questions, one of which was how he felt North Texas ranked among other metropolitan areas in entrepreneurial potential.

“North Texas is easily one of the best places for entrepreneurs to start,” Cuban boasted. And, he’s not wrong. With supporters like Cuban and other innovative groups such as Launch DFW, the Dallas Entrepreneur Center and the Arts Incubator of Richardson backing thinkers and creators along the way, North Texas is a well of potential waiting to be tapped into.

Following Cuban’s keynote, North Texas Commission Vice Chairman Robert Hastings, enthusiastic about his upcoming term as Board Chairman, closed out the luncheon.

This event was one for the books for anyone in attendance. It was a rare chance to see Shark Mark Cuban speak about business and to see so many of the companies he has invested in showcased under one roof. Check out the gallery below for more pictures of our 44th Annual Members’ Luncheon!

44th Annual Members' Luncheon: Focus. Prepare. Change the Game.

What’s in the bag? | 44th Annual Members’ Luncheon


Z_BB2720Our 44th Annual Members’ Luncheon was a rousing success with more than 750 attendees enjoying keynote speaker Mark Cuban discussing the topic of the day, innovation.

Annually, the North Texas Commission provides a gift to the guests of the Annual Members’ Luncheon to thank them for attending. This year, we filled a North Texas Commission branded bag with products from Mark Cuban Companies, many of
whom were featured on Shark Tank.

So, what was in the bag?



Meet the companies that had a presence at our Annual Members’ Luncheon below!



Alyssa’s Bakery

What’s in the bag? Healthy Oatmeal Bites

About the company: Alyssa’s Bakery opened in 2010 with the mission to create great-tasting baked goods from scratch with 100% natural ingredients. The company, based in Jupiter, Fl., now shelves their products at Central Markets across North Texas. To learn more about Alyssa’s bakery or to purchase their products, click here.



What’s in the bag? Matcha Cricket Protein Bar

About the company: Chapul prides itself in being the originator in cricket-based protein bars, debuting on Shark Tank Season 5 Episode 21. Since Cuban’s backing on the 2014 episode, Chapul has moved to donate 1% of their profits back to water conservation in regions that inspire their bars. To learn more about Chapul or to purchase their products, click here.


dallas_mavericksDallas Mavericks

What’s in the bag? Light-Up Boom Sticks & Special Ticket Offer

About the company: Since Cuban’s majority-stakeholder purchase in 2000, he has revolutionized the way owners interact with teams, and the way basketball players are treated during and off-season. To learn more about the Dallas Mavericks, click here.






Echo Valley Meats

What’s in the bag?  Cheddar Sausage, Garlic Sausage & Garlic Cheese Spread

About the company: This Illinois-based “old fashioned butcher shop” company had two runs on Shark Tank before finding success. On Season 6, Episode 21, they secured funding from Mark. Echo Valley specializes in wholesale, mail order and fundraising, headed by Dave Alwan, a third generation cattleman and farmer. To learn more about Echo Valley Meats or to purchase their products, click here.


HourlyNerd Logo

Hourly Nerd

What’s in the bag? $1,000 off your first project

About the company: Hourly Nerd connects businesses with independent experts, known as nerds, each with years of experience in professional fields in a variety of areas. Experts bid on projects submitted by businesses and are chosen to work on tasks such as building a business, researching markets and raising capital. To learn more about Hourly Nerd or to book an expert for your next project, click here.



What’s in the bag? 50% off at

About the company: Ilumi is a smart light bulb that changes colors, controlled through a mobile app and  Bluetooth connection. The North Texas based company, founded by two University of Texas at Dallas graduate students, received backing from Cuban in Shark Tank Season 5 Episode 29. To learn more about Ilumi or to pre-order their new bulb, coming out in November, click here.



What’s in the bag? News Made Easy at

About the company: Like news in a social media platform, Inside brings users real-time updates in short blurbs, with links to what’s happening now. The website tracks top authors, top curators and top sources. To learn more about Inside, click here.




What’s in the bag? Complimentary Lip-Locking Lip Balms

About the company: This Shark Tank company combines chemistry with fun as a lip balm due that, when combined, creates a new flavor. Kisstixx appeared on Season 3 Episode 11, and secured funding from Cuban. Shortly after being featured, the new company sold nearly 5,500 units of product, almost crashing their website in the process. To learn more about Kisstixx or to order your own lip balm duo, click here.



logo (1)LuminAID

What’s in the bag? Solar Powered LED Lantern – Sponsored by TXU Energy

About the company: What started as a challenge to design a product to aid relief efforts in Haiti turned into a product lighting the way not just for the members of the North Texas Commission, but adventurers across the world. LuminAID creators Anna and Andrea were backed by Cuban on Shark Tank Season 6 Episode 17 where they shared their brilliant idea, an inflatable lantern charged by the sun that provides up to 16 hours of light. To learn more about LuminAID and to purchase your own lantern, click here.


Monkey Mat LogoMonkey Mat

What’s in the bag? $5 off at

About the company: Created by long-time friends Courtney and Christie after a 6-hour layover watching their daughters play on a dirty airport floor, the two appeared on  Shark Tank Season 5 Episode 28 and were backed by not only Mark Cuban, but fellow shark Lori Greiner as well. This 5×5 mat is more than meets the eye, made of durable, ripstop nylon with an attached bag for carrying and loops for toys and keys. To learn more about Monkey Mat or to purchase your own, click here.


logo (2)Sriracha 2 Go

What’s in the bag? Mini Sriracha Keychain

About the company: Sriracha2Go continues to capitalize on the recent sriracha craze, partnering with popular sriracha vendor Huy Fong Foods to sell 1.69 keychain bottles and 1 oz. bottles of the cravable sauce. Cuban recently invested in the company, headquartered in New York City. To learn more about Sriracha2Go or purchase your own bottle, click here.



Three Commas Apparel

What’s in the bag? 20% off at

About the company: Three Commas Apparel, co-founded by Cuban, hopes to inspire people to seek out the true meaning of the American Dream, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” while also striving towards the one thing that has allowed Cuban to help so many entrepreneurs – financial success. By branding with the universal symbol of a billion dollars (,,,) Three Commas wants to remind people that anyone can achieve success. To learn more about Three Commas Apparel or purchase their products, click here.



What’s in the bag? Dallas Mavs Shoelace Spirit Pack

About the company: ULace custom shoe laces founder Tim Talley appeared on Shark Tank Season 5 Episode 21, securing funding from Cuban. Today, ULace is distributed in over 4o countries across the globe, and is the #1 Hot New Trend product in Japan. To learn more about ULace or to purchase your own set, click here.



vc13_logo1Villy Custom

What’s in the bag? 15% off any Custom Bike

About the company: Villy Custom offers branded custom bikes in various colors to their customers. Bikes can be bought individually or in fleets, and previous corporate brands to invest include Monster energy drinks, The Palms Hotel and Jameson whiskey. Villy founder Fleetwood Hicks secured funding from Mark Cuban on Shark Tank Season 3 Episode 13. Villy also donated a custom North Texas Commission branded bike, which was raffled off at our Annual Members’ Luncheon. To learn more about Villy Custom or to purchase your own sweet ride, click here.


We’d like to thank all of the Mark Cuban Companies who took part in this year’s Annual Members’ Luncheon, and to TXU for providing our LuminAID lanterns.


CTE Students to Attend 44th Annual Members’ Luncheon

DECA Header2
The North Texas Commission is partnering with the Texas association of DECA, an organization preparing emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management with more than 200,000 members in high schools and colleges across the globe, to bring students from Career and Technicallogo Education programs across North Texas to our Annual Members’ Luncheon. This year’s luncheon, themed “Beyond the Pitch: Focus. Prepare. Change the Game.,” will feature Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban as the keynote speaker.

DECA has over 12,600 members across the state in more than 300 schools. DECA members in Texas DECA Districts 7 & 11 (encompassing North Texas) were asked to submit essays answering the prompt “How does innovation impact your community?” Of the submissions received, 13 students were selected to attend this years’ Luncheon.

AlyssaRicoAlyssa Rico, Senior, North Garland High School, Garland

Alyssa Rico is a second year DECA member and chapter Vice President of Social Media, advised by Texas DECA District XI director Kimberly Adams. She currently serves as a senior class officer, assisting in the prom planning, and is a member of the North Garland student council and debate team. She works at Lifetime Fitness, and previously received the GANAS award, given to outstanding Hispanic students. Alyssa plans on pursuing a degree in business administration or marketing, and hopes to create her own fashion label.

To read Alyssa’s essay, click here.



Anthony Duarte, Senior, R.L. Turner High School, Carrollton

Anthony Duarte is a second year DECA member and chapter Vice President, advised by Rene Hillgartner. He has previously competed with DECA at the district level. Anthony is also a member of R.L. Turner’s Academic Decathalon team, and plans to start his own business after graduating college.

To read Anthony’s essay, click here.




Braelyn Mintzlaff

Braelyn Mintzlaff, Junior, Birdville High School, North Richland Hills

Braelyn Mintzlaff is a first year DECA member, advised by Emily Shipman and Andrea Anderson. She is a spokesperson for nonprofit Snowball Express, a volunteer at the North Richland Hills public library and a member of Best Buddies at Birdville High School. Braelyn currently works at Pacific Sunwear. She intends to earn a degree in the communications field, and plans on going into broadcast journalism after graduation.

To read Braelyn’s essay, click here.



Damari Salas

Damariz Salas, Senior, Sunset High School, Dallas

Damariz Salas is a first year DECA member, advised by Marcus Nickerson. She currently works at Tom Thumb, and hopes to attend Texas Tech University to become a teacher.

To read Damariz’s essay, click here.





Destiny Ramsey, Junior, MacArthur High School, Irving

Destiny Ramsey is a first year DECA member and her chapter’s Social Media Director, advised by Dee Dee Jones and Kelley Watson. She is a member of AVID college prep at MacArthur, and was recognized as Magnum Cum Laude by her school in 2014 and 2015. Destiny hopes to earn multiple degrees, including bachelors in business and Ph.D. in education, before becoming an elementary school teacher. She also aims to own her own business.

To read Madison’s essay, click here.




Jenna Wilson, Junior, Allen High School , Allen

Jenna Wilson is a second year DECA member and Chapter President, advised by Sue Rowley. She competed at districts, state and DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Orlando this spring in Professional Selling. Jenna is the clarinet section leader in the Allen High School marching band, where she has been named a 3-time all-region band member and has participated in UIL at the solo and ensemble levels. Jenna currently works at Chick-fil-a, and intends to pursue a career in international business or business administration.

To read Jenna’s essay, click here.



Johanna Skarbek, Junior, New Tech High @ Coppell, Coppell

Johanna Skarbeck is a second year DECA member and her chapter’s Treasurer/Vice President of Fundraising, advised by Carolyn Province. She has competed at the district and state level, and in addition to DECA, is a member of National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and tutors students in her community through her job at Gideon Math and Reading Center. Johanna is a recipient of the Global Issues Genius Award, and was named her cross country team’s MVP. She intends to pursue a degree in engineering.

To read Johanna’s essay, click here.




Lauren Mann, Senior, Ben Barber Career Tech Academy, Mansfield

Lauren Mann is a fourth year DECA member and serves as her chapter’s President, advised by Cathy Slagle, as well as Texas DECA District VII Secretary, advised by District VII director Lisa Greco. She has competed at the district, state and international levels in DECA multiple times, and is an active member of National Honor Society. Lauren is ranked No. 10 in her class, and is a member of her school’s varsity choir and UIL team. She recently interned with the Mansfield Chamber of Commerce, and now works at Uptown Cheapskate.  Lauren would like to attend college in North Texas, and earn a degree in marketing.

To read Lauren’s essay, click here.



Madison Bonds, Junior, John Dubiski Career High School, Grand Prairie

Madison Bonds is a third year DECA member and her chapter’s Treasurer, advised by Randy Walker. She has competed at the district and state level, and attended the Emerging Leader’s Academy at the DECA International Career Development Conference. In addition to DECA, Madison is involved with SkillsUSA, where she is also a chapter officer, club volleyball. Madison plans to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering.

To read Madison’s essay, click here.




Nadia Miralrio, Senior, Woodrow Wilson High School Academy of Finance, Dallas

Nadia Miralrio is a third year DECA member and her chapter’s Director of Public Relations, advised by Denise Tucker. She has competed at the district and state level in DECA, and participated in Junior Achievements, a program that allows her to work with elementary students on financial literacy. She was recently certified as part of a program with the IRS to complete taxes, which she does at Woodrow Wilson for free. Nadia intends to earn a sociology degree.

To read Nadia’s essay, click here.



Nick Kasody, Senior, Ben Barber Career Tech Academy, Mansfield

Nick Kasody is a first year DECA member, advised by Cathy Slagle. He is a member of his school’s varsity baseball team, and volunteers with Meals on Wheels and the Mansfield Food Bank. Nick intends to pursue a degree in business administration.

To read Nick’s essay, click here.





Sheradyn Romo, Junior, Marcus High School, Flower Mound

Sheradyn Romo is a second year DECA member and serves as her chapter’s Historian, advised by Kendra Day. She has competed at the district and state level with DECA, and is also a member of National Honor Society and her school’s student council and debate team. Sheradyn plans to earn a degree in psychology or business.

To read Sheradyn’s essay, click here.





Tyler Barry, Junior, Birdville Center of Technology and Advanced Learning, North Richland Hills

Tyler Barry is a second year DECA member, and serves as his chapter’s President as well as the President of Texas DECA District VII, advised for both by District VII director Lisa Greco. He has competed at the district, state and international level with DECA, and in addition, is a member of the DECA Direct Social Media Correspondent team. He also assists in running his chapter’s school based enterprise. Tyler is also a member of the North Richland Hills Youth Advisory Committee, and recently earned his Sabre Travel Network certification. He currently interns with the Birdville Center of Technology, and is earning his pilot’s license. Tyler intends to pursue a degree in professional flight and business aviation management.

To read Tyler’s essay, click here.

The North Texas Commission is excited to offer these students the opportunity to network with our members and guests at our Annual Members’ Luncheon, which will be held Thursday, September 24th at the Irving Convention Center. To learn more about DECA, click here.

Recap | To The Point: Energy


Photo2The North Texas Commission’s latest To The Point event featured Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, speaking on the oil and gas trade industry and how it effects North Texas.

Among other topics, Commissioner Craddick discussed the work of the railroad commission and the nearly 130,000 inspections of oil and gas wells each year. They work with drillers across the state to teach best practices for creating oil and gas wells.

Funding for Texas’ infamous rainy day fund comes from oil and gas taxes, and recently, this funding has been tapped into for water and irrigation projects. In the near future, over $6 billion of the rainy day fund will be used for transportation projects.

In addition, Craddick spoke on the recent legislation Governor Abbott signed calling for a new program with the University of Texas at Austin to create new stations across the state detecting earthquake activity.

Don’t miss our next event, To The Point: Open Carry. For more information, click here.

To see photos from the event, check out the album below:

To The Point: Energy


Thank you to the sponsors of this event:


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cpy2-color        Metroport Cities Partnership




Mabrie Jackson Honored at 2015 DBJ Women in Business Awards


NTC staff at the 2015 Dallas Business Journal Women in Business Awards

North Texas Commission President and CEO, Mabrie Jackson, was recognized at this year’s Dallas Business Journal Women in Business Luncheon.

The 25 honorees in attendance were selected out of over 250 nominations. Mabrie was recognized on stage for her many contributions to the North Texas region.

The group of women honored was widely varied, ranging from leaders of fellow non-profits like United Way, to an Executive Vice President of Wells Fargo. To see the full list of honorees, please visit the Dallas Business Journal website here.

Please join us in congratulating Mabrie on this well-deserved honor!

Recap| To The Point: High Speed Rail

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Photo courtesy of Texas Central Partners

The North Texas Commission was honored to host Texas Central Partners CEO, Tim Keith, to speak at the latest To The Point presented by Fidelity Investments on Tuesday, August 25th.

Over breakfast at the Omni Mandalay, Keith explained the plans of the Texas Central Partners to make a 90-minute train ride from North Texas to Houston possible. With over $75 million in investments already, it’s a vision that’s already in the works, having been given an approved line of movement by the  Federal Railroad Administration, with which they hope to have the least environmental impact possible.

The line will also have as little impact on landowners and other means of transportation as possible, Keith said, with overhead bridges and pass-through to allow movement of livestock, equipment and vehicles. Their goal is to keep goods and people moving.

When tickets go on sale in 2021, Keith explained that the high speed rail will meet the luxury room of a first-class airline seat, with the affordability of a coach-class ticket. Texas Central Partners and other investors will be working to compare costs between ground and air transportation between North Texas and Houston.

To read more about the high speed rail project, visit the Texas Central Partners website here. To see pictures of the event, check out the album below:

To The Point: High Speed Rail

Thank you to the sponsors of this event:


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DBJ-Logo-NameplateMedium_highres-01        att          DFW_Airport_Logo 9-08-JUST BOX


cpy2-color        Metroport Cities Partnership



Don’t miss our next event, To The Point: Energy with Railroad Commissioner Craddick. For more information, click here.

2015 Transportation and Water Summit


Did you know that the current U.S. interstate highway system was designed in the 1950s? Back then, the population of North Texas was close to 885,000. Today, North Texas has grown to over 6.8 million people, the fourth largest region in the U.S. The needs and issues we had in the 1950s and the needs and issues we have today are very different, which is why the North Texas Commission is proud to sponsor the City of Irving’s 2015 Transportation and Water Summit, taking place August 18-19 at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.

While recently North Texas received lots of rain, there are times when water levels are low and temperatures are high. This precious natural resource can be scarce at times, and planning to ensure that North Texas has enough safe, clean water is just one of the topics to be discussed at the Transportation and Water Summit.

This summit, also sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation, will open the floor for discussion, allow for collaboration and sharing of information among local organizations and governments, and showcase new ideas and technologies to help meet the needs of an evolving North Texas.

Anyone who would like to attend is welcome, and registration information can be found HERE.

A Recap of the 2015 North Texas Healthcare Summit

Inaugural North Texas Healthcare Summit Discusses Regional Opportunities, Challenges

Location, location, location was the theme of the North Texas Commission’s inaugural Healthcare Summit last Thursday. From the first speaker, Elizabeth Sobel Blum of the Dallas Federal Reserve to the closing luncheon keynote with Tony Buettner of Blue Zones, the audience of healthcare professional and regional leaders learned that the zip code we live in may have more to do with our health and wellness than genetics.



The half-day summit opened with a TO THE POINT breakfast sponsored by Fidelity Investments with Blum speaking about why health and healthcare matters to the region’s economy.
“Your zip code is a more accurate prediction of your health outcome than your genetic code,” Blum said. Factors affecting this includes access to nutritious food, doctors and the ability to safely walk and exercise outside.



Following Blum, a panel moderated by Bill Hethcock of the Dallas Business Journal and comprised of Dr. Ruben Amarashingham of Parkland Center for Clinical Health, Dr. Ray Tsai of Children’s Health Pediatric Group, Marc Gelinas, Slalom and Matt Zavadsky of MedStar Mobile Healthcare took the stage to discuss innovation and access to healthcare.
Location came up once again during Dr. Laura DeFina’s presentation. The President and CEO of The Cooper Institute spoke about health and wellness impacting a person’s ability to lead.
“The number one thing a CEO can do to have healthier workers is create a culture of health in the organization,” Dr. DeFina said.


With a rapidly growing population in North Texas, the discussion turned toward population health with Dr. Margaret Balfour of Connections AZ speaking about the cost of mental health and a panel on population health with Sharon Phillips of Parland, Dr. Paul Hain of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Jonathan Scholl of Texas Health Resources with moderator Kristin Jenkins of the DFW Hospital Council Foundation.


The 2015 North Texas Healthcare Summit closed with a final discussion of location from Tony Buettner, brother of Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner. In his discussion, he shared some of the tips of communities from around the globe known for their longevity. Through their research, they found that the communities with an active lifestyle, access to fresh, nutritious food and senior citizens who view retirement as the next phase in their life live fuller, healthier and happier lives.
With a Blue Zones project underway in Fort Worth, Buettner showed that a longer, healthier life is attainable.
The 2015 North Texas Healthcare Summit was presented by Slalom, Tenet Health and Texas Health Resources. Fidelity Investments presented the TO THE POINT breakfast. AT&T, the Dallas Business Journal and DFW Airport were premium sponsors. Metroport Cities Partnership was an Event Sponsor. The Summit was hosted in partnership with the DFW Hospital Council Foundation.
The event was chaired by Mark Felts of Slalom, Corey Davison of Tenet, David Tesmer of Texas Health Resources and Kristin Jenkins of the DFW Hospital Council Foundation.

5th Annual Grits & Gridiron

Elected Officials, North Texas Business Leaders Mingle at Grits & Gridiron

TX-OU weekend got off to a right start at the 5th Annual Grits & Gridiron Red River Kickoff brunch hosted by the North Texas Commission and Texas Association of Manufacturers. This year’s event hosted elected officials including Speaker Joe Straus, Rep. Lon Burman and Sen. Charles Schwertner. Michael Kelly, COO of the College Football Playoff spoke about the new college football playoff system and the benefit to North Texas for hosting the first championship game.

Grits & Gridiron has become one of the most anticipated events on the Friday before TX-OU, routinely bringing together the stakeholders of North Texas together with our elected officials from Austin. Sponsors of this year’s Grits & Gridiron are American Airlines, Bayer HealthCare, Boeing, Coca-Cola, OXY, Texas Prosperity Project and Texas Instruments.

Annual Members Luncheon

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.21.00 AMMayor Price, at AML Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.22.10 AM


Finding Your Adventure through a Connected World

For 40 years, DFW International Airport has connected North Texans to adventures across the world. During the North Texas Commission’s 43rd Annual Members’ Luncheon on September 12, the celebration of four decades of “the new big airport’s” service to our region culminated with 900 business and community leaders gathered together at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.

Inspired by DFW Airport’s mission of Connecting the World, the North Texas Commission invited the legendary scientific and educational organization National Geographic to take the stage to show how interconnected we are across the world.

The luncheon opened with internationally-acclaimed Cliburn pianist, Tomoki Sakata, treating the nearly sold-out audience to a private concert. Sakata, who has performed all over the world in major cities such as Paris and Moscow, flew to North Texas from Tokyo for the performance, reinforcing that having a major international airport in our region benefits the arts and culture community as much as the business community.

Following Sakata’s performance, the CEO of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Sean Donohue, took the stage. Donohue discussed the importance of business development in the area, and praised the North Texas region for providing such an enormous amount of support for DFW Airport.

Donohue then gave way to National Geographic’s CEO and President Gary Knell. Knell gave a brief history of National Geographic and its impact on the world, before explaining how they plan to continue inspiring growth and exploration through today’s modern media. Knell noted that whether people like it or not, television is our greatest teacher, so it’s important that National Geographic embraces the medium.

For decades, National Geographic has been highly regarded for telling stories through their tremendous work in the field of photography. Thanks to the growing world of social media, they have been able to maintain their reputation while connecting with a younger generation. Knell noted that National Geographic has the largest Instagram account in the world, and explained that through the popular photo sharing app they have been able to bring the excitement of exploration to everyone’s fingertips.

To further discuss National Geographic’s commitment to exploring our ever-changing world, guests were next treated to remarks from noted geneticist and Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, Spencer Wells. Wells, who has traveled to the furthest corners of the globe studying the earliest days of man, discussed how genetics explain diversity in society. As director of National Geographic’s Genographic Project, Wells delved into some of his detailed studies about the evolution of humans. He also showed guests a clip of his special “Journey of Man” to further illustrate the work he’s done in the field of genetics.

The North Texas region is fortunate to be a large, diverse region with a world-class international airport. We add a new person every 5 minutes – and many of these people come to North Texas to find their adventures. With the phenomenal growth of international routes added to DFW Airport, where will you find your next adventure?