People Newspapers 20 Under Forty 2023

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Ialways enjoy seeing the mix of industries, backgrounds, and impressive accomplishments of the young professionals in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow neighborhoods as I prepare our 20 Under 40 section each year.

Honorees are nominated by members of the community and selected by a committee including People Newspapers staff, members of the Park Cities Rotary Club, and a previous honoree.

From retail to the North Texas philanthropy scene, our 2023 honorees have made a difference in their communities, workplaces, and career fields in the North Texas region and beyond.

I’m proud to be able to see firsthand and share the stories of how people of so many ages in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow are working to solve some of the world’s most intractable problems and help their neighbors.

I can say I’ve been inspired by our honorees’ dedication to their community and careers, and I hope our readers are, too. Some standouts this year include:

•The first Asian American Miss Texas who’s still in her 20s and already has a charitable foundation with her mother and her own social media consulting business.

•A clothing designer and business owner whose company centers around giving back to the Dallas community and her native Colombia.

•A restauranteur who founded a cafe to employ and mentor children aging out of the foster care system.

In addition to our 20 Under 40, we highlight an Episcopal School of Dallas student who started a blog with her mother in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to share ideas and provide advice for other teens.

We hope you also enjoy learning about your neighbors and come away inspired.

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor


For the full Q&A’s of the honorees and more 20 Under 40 content, follow us online at and on our Instagram page @PeopleNewspapers.

Help share content - and even your own rising stars - by using #peoplenewspapers20under40

Sienna Link

Education: Episcopal School of Dallas

While working through the challenges of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Episcopal School of Dallas student Sienna Link with her mother, Maria, created a blog called to share ideas and provide advice for other teens on everything from social/ emotional wellness and physical wellness to nutrition and more. An Instagram account for the blog has grown to more than 600 followers.

Link’s passion for helping other teen girls inspired her to organize a holiday gift drive for tween and teen girls

at Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center in 2022. Each week, she also volunteers as a tutor at a local elementary school.

“Most of my involvement revolves around working with, and for, girls,” Link said. “The DCAC is definitely one of my favorite nonprofit organizations. … Everyone there is so passionate about the cause.”

After graduation, and thanks to inspiration from one of her chemistry teachers, Link hopes to study science in college, obtain a doctorate, and continue traveling.

“He’s been my teacher for two years now, for both Honors and AP Chemistry, and I can easily say that there is no way I would have become so passionate about science or seeking further education without his influence in my life,” she said of her teacher.

What’s a fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

The most exciting fun fact about me is that I was born in New York City and grew up in Dubai. I lived abroad for eight years before I moved to Dallas. Living in Dubai has shaped who I am today. It is such a different environment than here. My friends were from all over the world, and the cultures I experienced made me a lot more open-minded.

What’s on your bucket list?

The top of my list is to travel the world. Meeting new people and being in a new environment are exactly how I would love to spend my time. When we lived in Dubai, we traveled to cool places such as Jordan, Thailand, and Vietnam

because they were relatively close to us. I hope to one day have been to every country in the world and have at least one friend in each, so I always have a reason to go back.

What is your favorite local store?

I’m not sure if Starbucks counts, but if it does, that’s where I am most days. Other than that, I always find some fun dresses at Bittano for any dances or birthday parties. Honestly, any of the shops on Lovers are amazing. I also love a lot of the shops in (Snider) Plaza, like Dear Hannah or L. Bartlett.

Toughest personal challenge and how you overcame it?

When I was little, I loved gymnastics. I had practice three times a week for a few hours each time and I loved every minute of it. When I found out that I was moving from Dubai back to the U.S., I was most sad to leave my gymnastics team. About a week before I was supposed to move, I was at gymnastics working on a skill to impress my new gym in the U.S., when I fell and shattered the bones in my left arm. I ended up having two surgeries, but the worst part was not being able to use my arm for a whole summer! I couldn’t get in the ocean, no soaking in a hot tub, no getting in the lake at camp, and definitely no gymnastics. I spent my time with my family and friends, and ended up having a lot of fun. I would definitely never want to experience it again, but the bonds that I built with the people who went through it with me made it all worth it.

Celebrating Four Under 40 and a Remarkable Anniversary

I enjoy working with people of all ages, but there’s something truly awesome about working with young people. Their energy and passion keep me feeling young.

As we celebrate 20 individuals under 40 doing good in our community and their careers, I would also like to recognize the four young women under 40 who are part of the People Newspapers team. Only one is barely into her 30s, and the others are in their 20s –oh, to be young again.

Rachel Snyder, a deputy editor, has led our 20 Under 40 program for a few years and done an incredible job.

When asked what advice she’d give her 18-year-old self, she said, “Don’t be afraid to speak up. You deserve to have a seat at the metaphorical table.”

We encourage that!

Maria Lawson, also a deputy editor and the newest addition to our team, started in May of 2022. She’s doing a great job covering Preston Hollow and overseeing our inaugural Remarkable Women special section last month.

She’d tell her 18-year-old self, “embrace change. New environments can lead to new opportunities, whether that’s a new job, friend, hobby, etc., and you’ll never know until you try.”

Maddie Spera, our client relations and marketing coordinator, does a great job juggling all the plates I throw at her.

Her biggest inspiration is her dad. “I’ve always admired his entrepreneurial spirit, his

passion, his creativity, and his ability to never take life too seriously no matter how hard it gets,” she said.

Maddie doesn’t take life too seriously, either, especially when she’s doing stand-up comedy.

Mia Carrera, our digital and production assistant, is talented, hardworking, and generous with her time and talents.

Her older brother has always been her biggest inspiration. “He is the model of creativity and diligence for me,” she said. “We grew up extremely close, and as we’ve gotten older, that bond has only strengthened to facing adulthood together. He’s one of my biggest supporters, and I owe a lot of my career and confidence to him.”

I’m also reflecting on the many staffers who

have come through our doors over the years.

For many, a job at People Newspapers (PNP) is their first or second out of college. We know they will likely eventually move on, perhaps to bigger media organizations or public relations.

No offense to those who have left: It makes me proud to see how they’ve grown in their careers and know that we helped them.

But sometimes we are fortunate that a young person decides to stay.

A few months ago, we celebrated senior advertising account representative Kim Hurmis’ 40th anniversary. When asked about her longevity at PNP, she says she loves her job, loves working with her clients, and is good at sales.

I agree; she’s great at sales!

B2 April 2023 | 20 Under Forty |
CLOCKWISE: Rachel Snyder, Maria Lawson, Maddie Spera, and Mia Carrera. MELANIE THORNTON PAT MARTIN RACHEL SNYDER

Catalina Gonzalez-Jorba


Education: SMU

This Colombian-born clothing designer and founder of lifestyle brand Dondolo made giving back to her home country and new home of Dallas a centerpiece of her company.

Dondolo started in 2012 as a children’s clothing line sold wholesale and has grown into a lifestyle brand with office and warehouse space in the Design District and collaborations with more than 10 other brands, including New York-based LoveShackFancy, which also has a store in Highland Park Village.

Throughout its trajectory, though, Catalina Gonzalez-Jorba says the Dondolo Gives program, a charitable initiative that supports efforts to train and employ single mothers in Colombia and provide clothing and financial contributions to organizations like Community Partners of Dallas and the Birthday Party Project locally, remains the “heart” of Dondolo.

“I started Dondolo because of a strong desire to give back to women and children in need,” Gonzalez-Jorba said. “With my first newborn in my hands, I decided I wanted to fulfill my creative passion and help others. I fueled my passion when I started designing, mixing patterns and fabrics, and making everything with so much attention to detail. I am always thinking of new creations for mothers and children to wear and celebrate memories that will last forever.”

Outside of her work with Dondolo Gives, Gonzalez-Jorba supports Dallas by serving on the board of Community Partners of Dallas and Texas Ballet Theater, as a member of the Cary Council, which advances early-stage research by young scientists at UT Southwestern, on the 21st Century Council at SMU, and as a cochair of the Family Forum at Dallas Museum of Art and the Family Night for Children’s Health.

“I strongly believe in helping children and women in need and that (through) education and the arts, we can make a difference,” she said.

Gonzalez-Jorba hopes to continue growing Dondolo and eventually open a community center in her native Colombia.

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

My first job was doing financial reports and accounting for a real estate company. I learned that I see in COLOR and not in numbers … and although I graduated with an economics and finance degree, my minor in arts is still my passion that I love pursuing.

Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

Being assertive and motivating the team with clear goals. Leading with empathy


Congratulations, Danielle Reynolds, for being named a 20 Under Forty honoree! The milestones you have reached and the impact you are making in the community are extraordinary. Whitley Penn is beyond proud of your endless dedication and we look forward to celebrating your future achievements.

while being clear and assertive. What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

I would tell the younger me to travel more and study abroad!

What’s your biggest inspiration and why?

Traveling! It’s so wonderful to reconnect with nature and be immersed in beautiful new sceneries, whether it’s

mountains or the ocean. I also love getting inspiration from other cultures and cities. I love learning, finding new colors and palettes.

If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

I would gift them the new Assouline coffee table book about Cartagena because it shows where I am originally from, with so much beauty and color. | 20 Under Forty | April 2023 B3
I am always thinking of new creations for mothers and children to wear and celebrate memories that will last forever.

Brad Smith

Highland Park High School alumnus

Brad Smith started Everest Stone, a company that distributes natural stone, quartz slabs, and pre-cut stone products, about 10 years ago. Since then, it’s grown to have a multimillion book of business in the central U.S.

“While many of the companies in Dallas are more like hand-select boutiques, we are more of a Sam’s Club approach that handles the higher volume wholesale programs of large builders and developers,” Smith explained. “This job has given me a strong understanding of operations, distribution, importing, accounting, and sales.”

The company opened a showroom and storefront at 2330 Royal Lane, Suite 100, in 2022, and Smith hopes his business continues expanding from a regional organization to a national one.

“I think our greatest success in the past

12 months is to stay profitable while keeping all of our staff and dealing with the adversity through tenacity and strategic problem solving,” Smith added.

The longtime Park Cities Baptist Church member’s faith is integral to his life and community service. Everest Stone was part of a coalition in 2020 that helped acquire a bus for a child rehabilitation center in Africa for field trips or medical visits.

He still credits Highland Park football offensive coordinator Grayson Wells as a role model.

“I think Coach Greyson Wells on the HPHS athletic staff does an incredible job. I think he is greatly responsible for the success of the HP football program and that he plays a key part on the offensive strategy each week,” Smith said. “He was one of the most consistent male role models in my life over more than three years and had a huge impact on my life.”

Smith supports and serves as a strategic partner for the Christian organization Cru, which has campus and city ministries that encompass more than 35 cities and more than 2,000 churches and organizations. He also employs graduates of the Men of Nehemiah program, a faith-based treatment center for men battling addiction.

Favorite nonprofit causes?

Nationally I think Cru/Campus Crusade for Christ is an incredible organization. In addition to having staff on many USA college (campuses), they also have ministry partners telling the good news of Jesus Christ in almost every country in the world. Locally Men of Nehemiah, I also think, does an incredible job in their gospel-based rehabilitation program.

Brittani “Brit” Wold

Grit Fitness

Education: Cornell University, Harvard Business School

Brit Wold went from a Division 1 college basketball player at Cornell to the founder of a fitness concept.

Wold started Grit Fitness in 2015, intending to empower others, especially women, to reach their fitness goals.

“I attended a conference in LA in 2013 where Jillian (Michaels) was the keynote speaker. She said, ‘Work with passion is purpose; work without passion is punishment.’ In that moment, I felt a huge conviction to lean into my passion for fitness and empowering women,” Wold said. “I decided at that point that I try to build something sustainable and with greater impact beyond just working as a part-time fitness instructor.”

She now has two locations — one on SMU Boulevard, near where she attended basketball camp on the campus as a child, and another in the Design District.

Fitness and continue writing. Her first book is set to hit the shelves next year.

With her team, Wold teaches life skills and fitness classes for Our Friends Our Place, a transitional living center for women aged 18-24. She’s also a member of the Junior League of Dallas and Shoreline City Church.

“The women at GRIT Fitness are my community in Dallas. They are the most sincere, hardworking, passionate people I’ve ever known,” Wold said. “They have been my family before I was married and had a family of my own. The consistency and positivity of my community are what I love the most.”

Toughest business/personal challenge?

Setting boundaries and being able to say “no” without remorse was challenging for me, and I think it is for many women leaders. I’ve learned to prioritize self-care, rest, and my personal well-being so that I can bring my best self to serve others. Also, making time to have a personal life required a lot of intention and discipline. About three years into starting GRIT, I was very burnt out and also very much desired a family of my own. Something had to give, so I set boundaries around work and clear “clock out” times so I could prioritize dating. I’m glad I did. I met my husband during that time, and we have been married for three years and have a beautiful 8-monthold son.

What’s on your bucket list?

• Dinner with Oprah.

• To visit 12 countries in 12 months with my husband.

• To have my own venture capital fund that invests in women-owned businesses.

Friday, May 5, 2023

11 a.m. Silent Auction Noon Luncheon

The Statler Grand Ballroom

1914 Commerce Street Dallas, TX 75201

Sally Hoglund and Kristy Hoglund Robinson

Caroline Rose Hunt Cherish the Children Honorees

Lynn Fisher, Director of Corporate Giving, The Rosewood Corporation Honorary Chair

B4 April 2023 | 20 Under Forty |
Everest Stone
Education: Dallas Baptist University
To purchase sponsorships or tickets, visit Y CM MY CY CMY K ai16776016598_CASA_CTC2023_Ad-marks.pdf 1 2/28/23 10:27 AM A MULTI-FAMILY OFFICE CO ngrATULATIO ns, Courtney Joyner Director, Philanthropy and Family Engagement We are proud to celebrate your recognition as a 20 Under 40 honoree. Thank you for making an impact on our team, with our clients, and in our community. Tolleson Wealth Management did not pay to participate in this award program. Photo credit: Rachel Snyder, People Newspapers
Cortney Jones Featured Guest Speaker Veree Hawkins Brown and Kim Meth Luncheon Co- Chairs Dallas C ASA Children’s Council Luncheon Host

Alysa Teichman

Alysa Teichman has continued her family’s legacy in designer jewelry retail.

Her parents, Joanne and Charles Teichman, founded their Plaza at Preston Center jewelry store Ylang 23 in the mid-’80s. Alysa joined Ylang 23 in 2016 and opened her jewelry store and piercing studio concept Wildlike in the Shops of Highland Park in 2021.

The former People Newspapers intern was inspired to join her family in retail, rather than go into journalism, by a family friend while working at her family’s store during a break in her senior year of college.

“I haven’t looked back since deciding to go into retail — the things I have learned from being an owner/operator of small businesses and the people I have come to meet have made an immeasurable impact on me,” Teichman said.

She hopes Wildlike will continue to expand in the coming years.

“I’m so committed to my mission of self-expression and creating joyful experiences,” Teichman said.

When she’s not focused on her businesses, Teichman enjoys giving back to the Dallas community as a board member of Jubilee Park and Community Center and the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. She and her mother, Joanne, also co-chaired Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas’ 32nd-annual Dallas Awards event in November 2022.

“My calling to help others less fortunate in the community started as I was preparing for my Bat Mitzvah 20+ years ago, and today I am so proud to use the broader reach that I get through Ylang 23 and Wildlike as platforms to support the community,” Teichman said. “Helping others is in my DNA.”

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

My first job was as a tennis and horseback riding instructor (age 13) at Merriwood Ranch. I first learned the importance of hard work and grit working in 100-degree heat at such a young age. PS – My second job was as an intern at People Newspapers when I was a high school student at Greenhill.

How do you motivate others?

Listening, transparency, and vulnerability –I think that’s what people want from their leaders. To the extent possible, I give my team members autonomy so they can experience elements of ownership mentality. Beyond that, I get my hands dirty and work very hard. I’m so passionate about what I do and think most people just want to feel that their leadership team is “in it” with them.

Gideon Powell is continuing and expanding his family’s business.

Cholla Petroleum traces its roots to his grandfather, L.W. “Slim” Powell, who started in the oil business as an oil field pumper on Caddo Lake in East Texas in 1916. The company operated initially as L&M Oil Company and became Cholla Petroleum in 1989.

Over time, it expanded exploration and production into Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado, and North, Central, and West Texas. Gideon joined the company to lead its expansion into the Permian Basin in 2013 after a stint in Midland working for a royalty acquisition company.

“After a few divestitures, I stepped away from my role at Cholla to study the global power markets for investable CO2 utilization projects. It was during this time that we saw an opportunity in Bitcoin mining and high-performance computing to provide dispatchable electrical capacity to local grids,” Powell said.

“I then co-founded Autonomous LLC as Cholla’s Bitcoin mining investment company. In 2017, Autonomous acquired raw land in West Texas and developed HODL Ranch 1, the world’s first hyperscale greenfield campus for Bitcoin mining. After divesting this 100-megawatt project to a Silicon Valley company, I rejoined Cholla as its president and COO to lead the company’s new vision, exploration efforts, and capabilities expansion.”

He said the experience deepened his understanding of the energy industry.

“I’m excited to continue driving Cholla’s vision of leveraging our venture mindset and operating capabilities to be the partner of choice in the discovery and development of transformational and environmentally responsible energy resources,” Powell said.

Outside the oil industry, Powell supports the Crystal Charity Ball, the Meadows Foundation, Buried Alive, which works to end federal drug-related life-without-parole sentences, and Men of Nehemiah, a faith-based organization that offers treatment programs for men struggling with addiction.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My dad. He loved my mom and passed away with all his kids proud of him. He left a legacy his family is proud of.

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

The (first) job was working on a drilling rig in South Oklahoma. ... It’s very humbling being around large machinery and not understand how it all works. ... I wish everyone could experience (firsthand) how important the oil and gas workers are for powering our modern economy. | 20 Under Forty | April 2023 B5
Gideon Powell Cholla Petroleum
Wildlike and Ylang 23
36 35
Education: Northwestern University

In her work as a business development manager at accounting firm Whitley Penn and as a volunteer with local organizations, including Capital for Kids and Lemonade Day of Greater Dallas, Danielle Reynolds is passionate about connecting with people.

Reynolds started working in human resources at Whitley Penn seven years ago and worked her way up to business development manager.

“After implementing the firm’s wellness program and leading campus recruiting efforts for the last several years, I found myself ready for the next challenge,” Reynolds said. “I never said no to opportunities and realized my ultimate passion was connecting with people, building relationships, and being a resource to them however I could. Now being in a business development role, I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and it was through those relationships I built early on.”

She’s also used her skills in building relationships and connecting with people as an advisory council member and service chair for the Dallas Regional Chamber Young Professionals group and the Communities Foundation of Texas Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy cohort program.

She continues to give back to the community by volunteering with Capital for Kids, which supports organizations that educate, protect, and encourage at-risk children, and Lemonade Day of Greater Dallas, which seeks to empower youth to become business leaders, advocates, and volunteers of the future. Most recently, Reynolds started a monthly volunteer event organizing a team of volunteers from her Dallas/Preston Center office to assemble “busy books” (coloring book kits) for patients and families at Children’s Health Medical Center Dallas.

“This community is truly the most generous group of people, and I feel so blessed to surround myself with like-minded people that want to make an impact,” Reynolds said.

How do you motivate others?

The most important thing we can do is inspire people, and I think a big part of that is setting a good example through actions and words. Be a listening ear for others, be available to hold each other accountable, and always celebrate, no matter how big or small. We tend to focus on the “gap” and how far we have left to go when really, we should be focusing on the “gain” and how far we’ve come!

What’s a fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

I love to bowl! During my senior year of high school, my friends and I joined one of our parent’s bowling leagues, and it was a blast!

Abby Fuqua doesn’t just help clients achieve their financial goals as vice president of business development at accounting firm Venturity Financial Partners.

She also helps people in need in Dallas and surrounding counties with 0% interest emergency loans, healthcare loans, and more as a Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association board member.

“The organization offers a hand-up rather than a hand-out and has been making an impact in the North Texas community for several generations,” Fuqua said.

She’s also volunteered with the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, Temple Emanu-El, and networking groups for women in finance and business, including the Women’s Finance Exchange and the emerging leaders’ program through Executive Women’s Forum International. She’s a past president of

the Dream Team Women’s Network and, as of December 2022, serves as the president of the Association for Corporate Growth DFW.

She hopes to continue fostering success for clients at Venturity and making an impact in Dallas and beyond through service with local nonprofits.

“I am excited to see how the strategic choices made at Venturity bear fruit and continue to make a positive impact for businesses and nonprofits across the country,” Fuqua said. “I have had the honor of serving on impactful nonprofit boards and committees and would love to continue serving the community to ensure that great organizations continue to receive the audience and financial support they need and deserve.”

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My biggest inspiration comes as a unit — my parents and my in-laws. My husband and I are so fortunate that we have supportive parents who embody selflessness and community role models. Our parents inspire me because they put family first, made sure their children had every opportunity, were active members of their communities, and mixed in a lot of fun as well. I try and emulate them in all that I do.

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

I would tell my 18-year-old self, “You belong in the room. Don’t be afraid to ask questions — no one has all of the answers even if they seem like they do.” My dad always told me, “Don’t let anyone intimidate you. They put their pants on in the morning the same way you do.” I still remind myself that today since I’m fortunate to encounter accomplished and impressive professionals often.

B6 April 2023 | 20 Under Forty |
Danielle Reynolds Whitley Penn
Education: University of Oklahoma
RACHEL SNYDER 35 © 2023 Haynes and Boone, LLP Congratulations! Haynes Boone congratulates our partner and friend, Taryn McDonald, for your remarkable leadership and involvment in our community. We proudly celebrate you for being honored by Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People in the 2023 class of 20 under 40. Bank of Texas ® and BOK Financial ® are trademarks of BOKF, NA. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender . ©2023 BOKF, NA. WM-5878 BANK OF TEXAS CONGRATULATES Megan Hughes for being recognized as a 20 Under Forty honoree for 2023. MEGAN HUGHES SVP, Personal Trust Manager 214.525.7696
Fuqua Venturity Financial Partners Education: University of Maryland | 20 Under Forty | April 2023 B7 Your Life. Your Team. Protecting the Best Interests of You and Your Family. 205 W. Louisiana St. Suite 100 | McKinney, TX 75069 | 972.562.2212 | Dallas 4311 Oak Lawn Ave. Suite 450 | Dallas, TX 75219 | 214.526.5234 | Meridian 113 N. Main St. Meridian, TX 76665 | 254.229.5317 | McKinney Rockwall 102 S. Goliad St. Suite 109 | Rockwall, TX 75087 | 214.771.8672 | Verner Brumley mueller Parker Family l aw *Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization +Member, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers †International Academy of Family Lawyers LEFT TO RIGHT: Christopher Powell, Alex Lambring, Jimmy L. Verner Jr.*, Amy T. Ford, Paul Brumley*, Janet P. Brumley*+, George Parker*, Jim Mueller*+† 2022 D Best, Rob McAngus*+, Danny Garner*, Abby M. Foster*+, Ravi V. Mohan, Kim Meaders Shane Landers, Andrea Hunter

Jennifer Vo advances Alzheimer’s disease research and care as a senior clinical operations manager at Kerwin Medical Center and outside of work in her charitable endeavors.

Vo, an acute care nurse practitioner of about 15 years, switched career paths to join Kerwin Medical Center, a medical practice focused on brain health, memory care, and movement disorders research.

“I began my career in nursing in a fast-paced environment, caring for those in critical need as an ICU nurse,” Vo said. “I’ve had the honor to work alongside some of the smartest and most caring nurses through my years. After several years at the hospital and after having a family of my own, I decided to take on a new journey of my career. This journey led me unexpectedly to what has grown to be my passion – research. Helping to find a cure and better therapies for Alzheimer’s and other rare dementias.”

Since joining Kerwin Medical Center, Vo has helped it grow into a renowned


clinical research site part of organizations including the Global Alzheimer’s Platform, a nonprofit that supports more than 100 clinical research sites around the world through study startup and recruitment activities, promoting diversity in research studies, and recognizing the citizen scientists who make research possible.

Kerwin is also involved with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which supports the organization’s efforts to provide Alzheimer’s care and support and accelerate research.

What is your biggest business/career success in the past 12 months?

Prior to me assuming the management role, our center was having challenges with staff retention. I would say my biggest success through these past 12 months has been growing the connections with the team, improving the work culture, and retaining happy and satisfied staff.

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

My first job was at a pizza restaurant at the age of 16. I have (been) employed every day of my life since then, (except) for the two months I went on hiatus and was on search for another position (the one that I’ve been at for now the past seven years). With that first job, I learned the importance of good work ethic and dependability. It’s not about how old or smart you are; it’s about your trustworthiness and ability to not only do your job but to do it well.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My kids – my son (11 years old) and my daughter (8 years old). I want them to understand that we are blessed with an incredible life and that they could achieve anything in life. I want them to never settle for mediocre. We have a saying in the house to “Go into the world and do well, but more importantly go into the world and do good.”

Between helping grow Smocked Auctions, which offers smocked and monogrammed children’s clothing, and her nonprofit work, Natalie Lesikar stays busy.

Lesikar joined Smocked Auctions as chief merchandising officer in 2019 after a 10-plus-year career with Neiman Marcus, where she worked her way up from an assistant buyer to a contemporary trend/activewear buyer.

“I got promoted to my dream buying job at Neiman Marcus when my oldest daughter was just 6 weeks old. I interviewed for the position every week from the time she was 10 days old until I got the job. ... I went back to work at 11 weeks and was on a plane to LA for market,” Lesikar said. “I traveled 16 weeks out of the year back and forth to NYC, LA, Paris, Florence, and Milan, and once our youngest, Ashley, was born 21 months later, I made the difficult decision to retire. … Then, just a few months later, I came out of retirement and started working at Smocked Auctions with my sister (Nicole Brewer)

and her business partner (Amy Laws) in January of 2019. That was four years ago, and I’ve never looked back.”

Outside of work, she’s president of the Armstrong Bradfield Preschool Association and helped the organization raise a record $175,000 for Armstrong and Bradfield Elementary schools at the annual home tour in 2022, and served as underwriting co-chair for Cattle Baron’s Ball, the largest single-night fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, which raised $4.1 million in 2022. Additionally, she was involved with Junior League of Dallas in various leadership positions for 14 years. She also volunteers with the Women’s Auxiliary for Children’s Health, the Birthday Party Project, and other organizations.

“My professional work life is busy, and my personal volunteer life is even busier, and there is still so much opportunity in both aspects. That’s what drives me –knowing how much opportunity there still is and knowing that I still haven’t scratched the surface,” Lesikar said.

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

My first job was being a camp counselor at Camp Longhorn. I was a camper for nine years and then a counselor for two.…You learn a lot when you’re at camp for three weeks without your family and air conditioning. I learned how to be independent, how to be a leader, take care of a cabin of 12 girls, all while having fun, gaining confidence, and forming lifelong friendships. Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My family. If you know me, you know my family is close-knit. My parents are my rock, and I wouldn’t survive without my sister, her kiddos, my husband, and my girls. I got my dad’s work ethic and my mom’s love of volunteering. Our parents raised us to work hard and help those around you. I’d like to think that’s what my sister and I do every day, and I hope I’m teaching my girls the same.

B8 April 2023 | 20 Under Forty |
CFT’s Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy program, young professionals with a heart and
for community learn to set their personal giving strategies and gain a deeper understanding of how to support what matters most to them.
more about applying to join our growing network of 375 changemakers at:
a young leader looking to make an impact in your community? Through
Jennifer Vo Kerwin Medical Center Education: Texas Tech University
39 37
Natalie Lesikar Smocked Auctions Education: University of Missouri - Columbia
Go into the world and do well, but more importantly go into the world and do good.
That’s what drives me – knowing how much opportunity there still is and knowing that I still haven’t scratched the surface.

Laura Harris, NBC5 Today co-anchor, started her journalism career as a sports logger for CNN in Atlanta.

She primarily covers news now but still gets to cover sports occasionally, including the Tokyo Olympics for NBC 5 in 2021.

“I was literally paid to watch sporting events and log detailed notes about each play. I learned the value of a dollar quickly,” Harris said of her time as a sports logger. “My father used to tell me, ‘If you make a dollar, save 50 cents.’ While he wasn’t being literal, he was instilling in me that we had to save what we could. It’s that whole preparation thing that is so important to me even now. My parents always wanted us to be sure that we could support ourselves and be ready for anything, especially financially.”

Since then, she has worked as a reporter and fill-in anchor for WNEGTV in Toccoa, Georgia, a morning anchor/mid-morning co-host at WCIV in Charleston, South Carolina, and co-host of ABC Action News at WFTS-TV in

Tampa, Florida, before joining NBCDFW in 2018. Throughout her career, she’s won Emmy and Associated Press awards.

While in Tampa, Harris covered Pope Francis’ historic visit to Cuba in 2015 and then-President Barack Obama’s visit to the country in 2016.

In her new home of Dallas, Harris helped start NBC 5’s Reading With You initiative, a childhood literacy program in partnership with Reading Partners North Texas that encourages elementary-aged children to read at least one book weekly throughout the summer to combat summer learning loss. She often emcees and hosts charitable events, including GRACE Grapevine’s gala, and volunteers at her church, Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

“I want the next generation coming after me to see hard work breeds a successful career,” Harris said.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My mom and dad. They often tell my sister and me the story of when they moved to Atlanta from Ohio with only a bean bag to their name. They would sometimes even eat dinner on the floor of their apartment until they had enough money to buy a dining room table. My parents not only got off the floor, literally starting from the bottom, but they found a way to get to the top. Raising two daughters in a middle-class household and helping us not just survive but thrive.

It’s because of their hard work and dedication to their own careers and our education that I became the person I am today, and my sister is a successful litigator in Alabama.

What’s a fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

I can play the violin.

What are you most excited about for the future?

GETTING MARRIED! 2023 is the year my fiancé (Patrick Means, who runs the Park Cities branch of Charles Schwab) and I will tie the knot, and we are so thrilled!

Taryn McDonald hopes to model community involvement for other young lawyers.

Nine years ago, McDonald joined Haynes and Boone, focused on helping businesses and providers with government investigations and healthcare litigation.

Before law school, she worked for the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Office of the Attorney General and in human resources for Target.

“I always considered going to law school because I loved public policy, and I met many lawyers when working in the Texas Legislature in college who encouraged me. It was working in human resources for Target after college that finally pushed me to apply,” McDonald said. “Working in the government investigations space has allowed me to use my prior experience and interests to help businesses and providers navigate complicated regulations and

resolve issues.”

Part of the reason she says she was interested in working at Haynes and Boone is the firm’s emphasis on making a difference in the community – a value she shares.

“I want to model that for other young lawyers in the future,” she said.

McDonald has served on the Cattle Baron’s Ball committee for seven years, helping organize the largest single-night fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

She recently joined the Women’s Auxiliary to Children’s Medical Center Dallas and volunteers at her daughter’s school, Boone Elementary.

“Cattle Baron’s Ball is unique in that most of the money raised (over $93 million thus far) stays right here in DFW. The cause is close to my heart since my mom died of breast cancer in 2013. She received her cancer treatment here in DFW for 14 years and was able to have access to several clinical trials without having to leave home,” McDonald said.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

It has always been my mom. She was such a positive force — even while living with cancer, working, and raising a family — all while being in and out of (mostly in) treatment for the better part of 14 years. She never complained, and she spent most of her time thinking of others. Now that I am a mom myself, I have an even greater appreciation for how she chose to live.

Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

Anything having to do with speaking in front of others. It’s always hard to put yourself out there in that way, but I’ve found that the more I do it, the easier it becomes.

What’s on your bucket list?

I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano.

“CFT’s Emerging Leaders program has been amazing to be part of. It’s not your typical young professional group. You get to learn alongside and connect with a uniquely diverse group that you wouldn’t otherwise interact with on a regular basis. Participants are passionate about making intentional impact in our community. The experience of funding nonprofits through the program is extremely rewarding, and you also gain the skills and tools to create change on your own.”

For more information, visit | 20 Under Forty | April 2023 B9
Laura Harris Co-anchor NBC 5 Today Education: Georgia Southern University Taryn McDonald Haynes and Boone, LLP
36 37
Education: University of Texas, SMU Dedman School of Law
I want the next generation coming after me to see hard work breeds a successful career.
It’s always hard to put yourself out there in that way, but I’ve found that the more I do it, the easier it becomes.

Megan Hughes

Bank of Texas

Education: University of Kansas, SMU Dedman

School of Law

Megan Hughes, a senior vice president and personal trust team leader at Bank of Texas, is passionate about helping other women advance in finance and life. Hughes has been involved with the Women’s Finance Exchange, the Mary M. Jalonick Women’s Philanthropy Institute, and the emerging professionals board of the Dallas Estate Planning Council.

Hughes joined Bank of Texas in 2017, first as a vice president and trust officer before promotion to her new role in 2021.

“It is really fulfilling to see others become successful in their careers and know that you played a part in helping them along the way,” she said. “I want to be thought of as a leader who always

stands up for what is right and someone that people enjoy working with and for.”

Her passion for helping, particularly causes supporting women and children, is evident in her involvement as a board member of Genesis Young Leaders, which supports the Genesis Women’s Shelter, as well as her involvement with the Dallas 24 Hour Club, which provides transitional living, support services, and essential life skills for those experiencing homelessness or struggling with addiction.

“A large part of my heart will always be with abused women and children,” Hughes said. “I am also very passionate about addiction as it impacts so many people and families and is frequently misunderstood.”

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

I was a hostess at a restaurant. I learned how to deal with tough personalities, how to work under pressure, and the value of providing excellent customer service.

What’s a fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

In college, I studied abroad in Newcastle, Australia. I left with not only an appreciation of their culture but also a love of Tim Tam cookies.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My parents. They provided me with a great moral compass and taught me the meaning of hard work, to never give up, and to always follow your dreams.

Courtney Joyner

Tolleson Wealth Management

Education: Wake Forest University

Courtney Joyner shares a passion for helping Tolleson Wealth Management clients live out their values through financial investment and philanthropy with her father.

Joyner joined Tolleson in 2015 after a 2.5-year stint in wealth management in New York. She’s since worked her way up in the company from a senior analyst to her current role as director of philanthropy and family engagement.

“I grew up with my father working for the company that I now have the opportunity to work at. I saw him wake up every day excited to go to work and have a passion for serving client families,” Joyner said. “I knew that I wanted to work in the same industry and ultimately at the same company with the same people. For the past 7.5 years, we have been able to work together, and I love it.”

Her team at Tolleson supported clients in donating more than $21 million nationwide in 2022.

“The private foundations and donor-advised funds that our team supports at Tolleson Wealth Management are very involved in their local communities. Many support Highland Park ISD schools, the independent schools in Preston Hollow as well as many excellent nonprofits located in the Park Cities, like the Belong Disability Ministries at Highland Park United Methodist Church,” Joyner said. “Although our client families support organizations across the nation, they are very mindful of the needs in their own neighborhoods.”

Outside of work, Joyner enjoys volunteering and supporting animal rescues Hearts and Bones and Dallas Pets Alive.

“We have fostered many dogs in the past few years through both of these organizations, and I love their mission and unique approaches,” she said.

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

I was very critical of myself as a young person, and I still am to some extent. However, at that age, I listened to all the voices around me equally. If I could tell my teenage self something, I would tell myself to pick a handful of people whose voices matter to you – those that truly care about you – and only listen to those voices.

What’s on your bucket list?

During college, I went sky diving in the mountains right before they closed for the winter season, so I think that I have crossed off my riskiest bucket list item. I would really love to visit all 50 states.

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B10 April 2023 | 20 Under Forty |
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Announcing Amanda McCatherine as Floral Designer | 20 Under Forty | April 2023 B11

When work brought him to Dallas in 2021, Dane Block Jr. wanted to use his lifelong love of sports to get involved with the community.

“My first call was to the Moody Family YMCA,” he said. “Having grown up in youth sports and YMCA programs, I felt an urge to plant roots and get involved in a community through an avenue with which I was largely familiar.”

At the Y, he is a volunteer coach and the youngest board member.

“As a volunteer coach, I have the privilege to lead children of this community and build strong, healthy spirits through sports,” he said.

As a board member, “I have the opportunity to be a part of the strategic planning, development, and execution of key programs and initiatives that directly benefit this community and beyond.”

This year he joined the private investment firm Latticework Capital Management after first coming to Dallas as an investment banking associate with Stephens Inc.

Block said he appreciates the welcome from the Dallas community.

“After expressing interest in getting involved in the community and showing a little bit of love and passion behind my efforts, I was met with an overwhelming amount of support from people who had no business investing in an outsider with no real ties to the area,” Block said.

He hopes to continue building relationships and growing in his career in the future.

“I love what I do and enjoy the incredible people doing revolutionary things I meet and work with along the way. The opportunity to work with business owners, founders, and management teams to build foundations, grow operations, and ultimately recognize value for work put in is a rewarding career,” he said.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

I have been incredibly blessed with various role models, mentors, and friends throughout the different seasons of my life. To pinpoint just one would be a disservice to the countless individuals I am currently thinking of. However, to give credit where it is due, I have my parents to thank for serving as one of the greatest inspirations in my life. My father, who graduated from the Air Force Academy and served, has taught me how to set a standard for myself and work relentlessly toward personal goals and milestones. My mother, who graduated from Auburn University, has taught me how to show empathy with others and to be vulnerable. They currently reside in Huntsville, Alabama, and I love them dearly.

What’s on your bucket list?

Over the past couple of years, I have had completing a full Ironman on my bucket list and am currently in training to complete this in October of this year. Beyond that, I want to get into mountain climbing. Climbing some of the world’s tallest mountains is circled on my bucket list, and I look forward to working toward that.

Nicole Paquette is passionate about civic engagement and literacy.

Prior to joining Communities Foundation of Texas in 2017 as director of marketing and communications, she held various communications roles over a decade at the Bay County Library System in Bay City, Michigan, and spent five years as communications manager at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland area in Holland, Michigan.

“I began working at my local library in high school and fell in love with helping others from that very first job,” Paquette said. “I became passionate about civic engagement and communications in college and ended up writing grant proposals for regional community foundation funding through my university.”

In Dallas, she co-led Big D Reads in 2021-2022, a community book club initiative in partnership with Communities Foundation of Texas, nonprofit publisher Deep Vellum, D Magazine Partners, and 50+ other community partners and sponsors. As part of the initiative, Big D Reads printed 30,000

copies of The Accommodation by Jim Schutze, which tells the mid-century history of Dallas, centered on the civic response to the bombing of Black residents’ homes in South Dallas.

Paquette serves on the Friends of the Dallas Public Library board of directors, has served on the organization’s executive committee, and has twice co-chaired its annual fundraising event, Love Local in 2022 and A Novel Night Out in 2019.

She is a Mayor’s Star Council graduate and helped lead the organization’s rebrand in 2021-22 to Engage Dallas. She now serves on the Engage Dallas advisory committee and is a new board member of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. She is a 2019 graduate of the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce’s LEAD YP program.

Since 2014, Paquette has served on the national steering committee CommA, a professional association of community foundation communicators, where she now serves as chair.

She serves on the Philanthropy Southwest communications committee and is a founding member of the Communication Network’s ComNetworkLocal Dallas-Fort Worth chapter.

In 2023, Paquette received the Distinguished Professional Achievement Award from the University of North Texas Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism. Communities Foundation partnered with People Newspapers on our 2023 20 Under 40 program.

What was your toughest business/personal challenge?

Giving and volunteerism numbers are dropping, and it is going to take each of us to change that so our communities have the resources they need. We also have a very low voter turnout rate for local elections here in North Texas, especially in our millennial age demographic. There’s so much on our local ballots that affects our day-to-day quality of life, and I hope we can increase civic engagement and awareness drastically here.

B12 April 2023 | 20 Under Forty |
Dane Block Jr.
Capital Management
Auburn University
Communities Foundation of
University 26 33
Nicole Paquette
Saginaw Valley State
I love what I do and enjoy the incredible people doing revolutionary things I meet and work with along the way.
There’s so much on our local ballots that affects our dayto-day quality of life, and I hope we can increase civic engagement and awareness drastically here.

Noah Allen, who joined the law firm Kirkland & Ellis in 2020 and made partner in 2022, is working to help other attorneys advance.

His practice focuses on capital markets transactions, corporate governance, and securities law compliance.

“At the law firm, I’m involved with pro bono efforts to assist disadvantaged members of the community with expunging eligible criminal records in order to have better access to employment and housing opportunities,” Allen said. “I’m also working to develop a program to teach junior attorneys, particularly women, how to play golf and how the game can be a great resource for developing relationships and networking throughout the community.”

Outside of work, Allen stays involved with Boone Elementary, including the campus’ Dads Club, and Highland Park Presbyterian Church.

He’s also passionate about the work of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

“My wife was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 12 years old,” he

said. “As a child, she worried that she would never get to be a mom, but because of the research this foundation has funded, the technology gets better and better — to the point that her insulin pump now helps manage her blood sugars automatically.”

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

I was a lifeguard for a pool company in Atlanta, Georgia. Eventually, I became the director of operations for that same company, and it paid my way through undergrad. I learned how to manage my responsibilities, take ownership of a business and our clientele, and direct people who were often several years older than me.

If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It was one of those books that I read in high school that still reminds me of how many blessings we have all around us, especially in this community, and that most of my “problems” are really not all that bad.

What’s a fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

I received a kidney transplant in 2017 thanks to a now-dear friend, and actually have three kidneys in my body at the moment.

Toughest business/personal challenge?

Trying not to always control situations and having faith that things will ultimately work out even if it’s not the way I envisioned it.

What are you most excited about for the future?

Watching my kids grow into their personalities and learning to make decisions on their own.

Francois Reihani founded La La Land Kind Cafe in 2019 to hire and mentor youth in foster care. It has since grown to 10 locations in Texas and California, including locally in the Pavilion on Lovers Lane and NorthPark Center.

Reihani’s passion for giving back, particularly for providing a hand-up for youth aging out of the foster care system, inspired him to start the We Are One Foundation to work with nonprofits, including Dallas CASA, on the issue.

He had experience in hospitality, having helped found Bar Stellar and Pok The Raw Bar in Dallas’ West Village after transferring from the University of Southern California to SMU.

He combined his philanthropy and restaurant experience to start La La Land Kind Cafe.

“I was selling airplane parts when I turned 16, then selling cars for Volkswagen when I turned 18. In college at USC, I took as many internships as I could get, then transferred to SMU, where I ended

up opening my first restaurant at 21,” Reihani said. “From there, my nonprofit got started, and (I) ended up putting together my passions and creating La La Land.”

“These kids have never done anything wrong and (were) just handed horrible cards in life,” Reihani said. “When they turn 18, we throw them out into the street and say, ‘Good luck.’ It’s a completely broken and ignored system that needs to be solved.”

Reihani hopes to continue growing his company in the future.

“(It’s) exciting to continue to see how we can think outside the box and revolutionize the industry,” he said.

What’s on your bucket list?

Going back to my hometown in Rosarito, (Mexico), to help shape a better community.

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

Enjoy the moment. As we grow and succeed through life, it is important to also appreciate the journey and be thankful. It’s very easy to get lost in the work.

Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

Learning to create real boundaries between you and your team while also having a caring relationship.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first corporate job was selling cars for VW. I learned how to push myself and work ethic by being in an environment that was performance based.

Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

Shaping society through experiences that open our eyes, change what we see as the norm, and bring humanity closer together. | 20 Under Forty | April 2023 B13
Noah Allen Kirkland & Ellis Education: University of South Carolina Francois Reihani La La Land Kind Cafe Education: University of Southern California, SMU
I love what I do and enjoy the incredible people doing revolutionary things I meet and work with along the way.
32 27
When they turn 18, we throw them out into the street and say, ‘Good luck.’ It’s a completely broken and ignored system that needs to be solved.

In 2016, Laura McLaughlin founded Headfirst Counseling, a child, teen, and family therapeutic service provider.

McLaughlin started her counseling career working for nonprofits focused on children and adult survivors of domestic violence and other abuse. In her practice now, McLaughlin specializes in working with children displaying social or emotional difficulties, behavioral concerns, sensory sensitivities, attachment concerns, and high-functioning autism spectrum disorders.

“At our practice, our goal is to help families increase their mental wellness through enabling families to strengthen coping skills, engage in problem-solving, and find solutions to increase peace and positive collaboration within the family system,” she said.

In 2022, McLaughlin started the practice’s nonprofit arm, the HeadFirst Mental Health

Initiative, aimed at providing free mental health treatment to families who would otherwise not have access to services due to financial burdens or inability to pay.

“The ‘lightbulb moment’ really came after the Uvalde school shooting. I couldn’t get it out of my mind all of the similarities potential perpetrators of these unthinkable acts typically have in common — the fact that they started as victims of a system that perpetually let them slip through, and had they received the mental health interventions they so desperately needed, we may not be in the situation we are now in which children cannot be guaranteed safety to attend school,” she said. “The idea also came after years of turning away clients at our private practice due to inability to pay and thinking there must be a better and sustainable way to help therapists make a decent living while also giving back to the community and helping more families.”

Outside of her practice and nonprofit, McLaughlin works as a volunteer advocate with Dallas CASA. She previously worked with Community Partners of Dallas as part of its HEART program to provide group therapy services to child victims of sexual abuse in Dallas County before the HEART program lost funding.

What are you most excited about for the future?

The continued destigmatization of mental illness. It’s a reckoning that’s been a long time coming.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

Generation Z – their openness, inclusivity, and intensity in the way they fight for what they believe is right is fascinating to witness.

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Lauren Sands is continuing her grandmother Caroline Rose Hunt’s legacy of giving back to the Dallas community.

Sands serves on the boards of Dallas CASA, which advocates for children in foster care, and Trusted World, a disaster and humanitarian relief organization.

“Volunteering with CASA makes me feel like I am making a personal impact by allowing me to advocate in the courtroom and visit my cases in their foster home,” Sands said. “I am happy to support Trusted World as a board member because I think that their business model is one of the best ways to efficiently serve those in need.”

Sands grew up in the Park Cities and returned to the area in 2021 to work for the Rosewood Corporation, owned by the Caroline Hunt Trust Estate.

Before that, she worked in Los Angeles

and New York after college as an assistant digital media planner on the Disneyland and Resorts account at Carat and a digital investment analyst on the Audi account for PHD.

“When COVID hit New York, I decided to move back home to Dallas,” Sands said. “I currently work as a business development manager for The Rosewood Corporation and have been working on growing our subsidiary companies, Rosewood Ranches and Royalty Pecan Farms.”

Since then, in addition to her work with Dallas CASA and Trusted World, Sands has worked alongside The Rosewood Foundation and The Moozie Foundation to help those in need in the Dallas community.

“I’ve enjoyed uniting with local community members to find the best solutions. I am a part of United Way’s Tocqueville March Fellows program, which is an initiative designed to engage a diverse group of young professionals in a multi-year learning, giving, and volunteering experience,” she added. “I’ve also enjoyed working with organizations like T.R. Hoover, CEOC, BridgeBuilders, and Bonton Farms, who are making an incredible impact on South Dallas and the Bonton area.”

Toughest business/personal challenge?

I always say, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” I’ve been in a lot of situations where I have had to be resourceful and figure things out along the way — and that’s OK. When I was redesigning the pecan packaging for Royalty Pecan Farms, I had no experience in the food industry and had to figure out how to make a bar code, nutritional label, and manufacture the packaging. It all came together in the end.

B14 April 2023 | 20 Under Forty |
Education: University of Texas, University of North Texas
Lauren Sands
26 Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Methodist Health System, or any of its affiliated hospitals. Methodist Health System complies with applicable federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
The Rosewood Corporation Education: University of Southern California
Find a doctor at or call 469-551-4842

The first Asian American Miss Texas’ nonprofit work is in keeping with her message of “y’all means all.”

Before being crowned Miss Texas in June 2022, Averie Bishop was the first Asian American Miss Dallas in 2020. Most recently, Bishop represented Texas at Miss America this December, where she was named second runner-up, making her the highest-placing Miss Texas in 15 years.

“I grew up in poverty, experienced

food insecurity, and faced discrimination,” Bishop said. “My social platform aims to make every child feel at home and teaches them how to grow into their greatest potential, even through challenging adversities.”

Bishop, a first-generation graduate of SMU’s Dedman School of Law, is the youngest member of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council and the statewide ambassador for Texas Cares for Children, which provides lowto-no-cost mentorship and educational programming to Title 1 schools across the state. With her mother, Marevi, a Filipino immigrant, she founded the Tulong

Foundation, a nonprofit that provides educational opportunities and clean drinking water for impoverished communities in southeast Asia. She’s also written a children’s book, Miss Melody the Marigold , about the importance of diversity and inclusion that benefits the Tulong Foundation.

Among her recent business ventures is social media consulting.

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” Bishop said. “I incorporated my own small business (for social media consulting) just last year and found the confidence to encourage others to do the same.”

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

I was a hostess at a Mexican restaurant in North Texas (perhaps that’s why I acquired a love for queso). I learned to get my hands dirty. Nothing is given; you’ve got to earn it.

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

Stop waiting. I waited through middle school and high school, hoping someone

like myself would become the representation I desperately needed. I waited until I felt prettier, smarter, richer, and thinner. Don’t wait. Allow yourself to try, even when failure seems like the imminent end.

What’s a fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

I have a vegetable garden in my small backyard where I’ve grown giant-sized green bell peppers.

What are you most excited about for the future?

I look forward to seeing how the economy of Texas will change! While I’ve had numerous offers to work in New York or LA, North Texas is where everyone is flocking to and where I plan to stay. Texas is quickly becoming THE global place to work, live, and play.

Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

I used to shrink myself, especially as a woman of color. I would speak quietly, question my decisions, and even hesitate to speak up during law school or during meetings. I always remind myself and others that you deserve to take up space.

Biggest business/career success in the past 12 months?

While I graduated with a juris doctorate degree from SMU law school, I incorporated my own small business for social media consulting. I acquired a million followers across social media and get to help companies like Google and Microsoft create engaging media campaigns. | 20 Under Forty | April 2023 B15
My social platform aims to make every child feel at home and teaches them how to grow into their greatest potential, even through challenging adversities.
Averie Bishop
The Tulong Foundation, Miss Texas Education: SMU

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B16 April 2023 | 20 Under Forty |
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