Getting Smart with Four Mayors of Fort Worth

On August 29th, it was our pleasure to host the Four Mayors of Fort Worth: An Evening of Insight & Vision. Mayor Betsy Price was joined by Mike Moncrief (2003-2011), Kenneth Barr (1996-2003) and Congresswoman Kay Granger (1991-1995).

The invitation-only event convened Fort Worth’s four current and former living mayors for a panel presentation to discuss what it takes to build, sustain, and scale a great community. Insights shared pinpointed a journey through and into how much growth Fort Worth has experienced over the last 25 years and the roles that philanthropy and community engagement have played during that journey.

One of the questions I was eager to have answered by our four mayors was: why has Fort Worth been successful in its growth?

Congresswoman Kay Granger shared, “Fort Worth is a city that is willing to take chances to improve. That’s a big reason we decreased crime by 49% when I was mayor. We took a chance on new programs that succeeded. My fellow panelists continued to innovate and encourage new ideas and initiatives that made large impacts to not only our city but the North Texas region as well.”

Former mayor Mike Moncrief added, “We also had good long-term planning, vision, and leaders who thought out a roadmap we could follow and add our own emphasis to. We had predecessors like former mayor Bob Bolen, who was responsible for attracting the Alliance Airport, American Airlines maintenance facility, and the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, among many other major economic developments. These pieces helped us have more stability when we went through recessions like the dips in 2007/2008.”

Other topics touched were around some of the challenges the four mayors of Fort Worth faced during their respective tenures, what occurrences had the biggest impact on them, and what they considered their most noteworthy accomplishments.

Both former mayor Kenneth Barr and current Mayor Betsy Price had a laser target focus on education, with Mr. Barr underscoring that he believes there is no reason that Fort Worth shouldn’t be number 1 in education. He stated, more than once, how excited he is to see initiatives flourishing that drive the city towards that goal.

Mayor Price echoed her enthusiasm, indicating that early childhood literacy, in particular, was the highest-priority goal her administration has, saying “If our kids can’t read, they can’t succeed. Our concentration right now is that every child is reading well by grade 3.”

The audience participated with the four mayors in a great Q&A, moderated by John Black, junior advisor to the Fort Worth Club Board of Governors and Senior Financial Advisor at Bessire, Schmid and Black, Merrill Lynch.

Additionally, we challenged our audience to think about how our community should meet its full potential. As Mayor Price said, “You have to show up and get involved…we’re getting back to making Fort Worth a ‘front porch’ community where you talk, connect with your neighbors and collecting share solutions for our future.”

By including their ideas on comment cards, our audience helped our leaders and the North Texas Community Foundation better understand what roadblocks we’re facing and what visions they have for how to overcome them.

An audience member shared after the panel, “One of our largest obstacles in Fort Worth that also has the potential for the greatest return is getting community members and parents/families engaged in and on the same page for making the BIG changes. I enjoyed tonight because it helped demonstrate that big change takes time, but every day our community can engage in and take ownership, it’s easier to keep getting closer to our big goals.”

Many of our participants contributed other insights on how to continue to Think Beyond the challenges we face, as well as ideas for smart investments we can make today ensuring a thriving Fort Worth 10, 20 and 50 years from now. The top concern that emerged? Challenges around transit & and mobility, with education a close second.

So, what happens next?

Internally, our staff and partners are taking a closer look at the Think Beyond ideas that were submitted. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing observations about what the North Texas Community Foundation, our donors, partners, advisors, and the philanthropic Fort Worth community at large sees as solutions and opportunities.

We want you to be a part of this conversation.

Leave a comment below, or on our Facebook or Twitter, with your insights into the roadblocks that Fort Worth and the North Texas region is facing and any ideas you’d like to share on how to overcome them.

We’d like to thank again our partners and co-host, The Fort Worth Club Junior Activities Committee. In particular, I want to recognize John Black, Junior Advisor to The Fort Worth Club Board of Governors and Chairman of the Fort Worth Club Junior Activities Committee. Our audience shared how they were so pleased with the Q&A portion of the program, which continued the rich conversation around how Fort Worth’s mayors and community have focused on education and collaboration.

Additionally, we want to recognize and thank again our event sponsors: Bob Semple, Pam Drenner, Sam Guerin, and Mark Nurdin at the Bank of Texas, also Dismuke & Waters, especially Bill Dismuke, North Texas Community Foundation Board member and principal of the Dismuke & Waters Law Firm.

Finally, we want to thank our audience for joining us and being an active part of the conversation committed to Fort Worth’s success. The Community Foundation is excited to be right there with you. As a public foundation serving more than 260+ individuals and families who make their charitable giving through us and with us, we provide donor services, community convening, and leadership as needed. It’s been our honor to have awarded grants totaling more than $200 million in our 35-year history, with $18 million this year to date.

We look forward to continuing to partner with all of you to ensure Fort Worth is a great city for generations to come. Be sure to sign up for our email list so you don’t miss an event or opportunity to continue to Think Beyond with the North Texas Community Foundation.

Nancy E. Jones has been the CEO/President of North Texas Community Foundation since March 1, 2009. Since she took the helm, not only have assets doubled reaching over $200 million, but annual grants reached more than $18 million in 2014. Nancy guides the Foundation toward its strategic goals, which are set in concert with the Board of Directors. She works closely with fund holders, professional advisors, community leaders and nonprofit agencies to improve North Texas through impactful charitable giving and community leadership.

Prior to coming to North Texas Community Foundation, Nancy was the founding president of the Community Foundation of Abilene. Begun in 1986, the Abilene foundation grew from an initial gift of $500,000 to more than $80 million. During her tenure in Abilene, she was  a member of the board of Regents of the Texas Tech University System and consulted with community foundations nationwide. She frequently is asked to lead seminars and work with boards at community foundations across the country.


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