People Newspapers 20 Under Forty 2024

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Meeting our 20 Under 40 is one of my favorite parts of the year.

This year’s honorees represent many disciplines, including education, law, athletics, marketing, leadership, nonprofits, and more — and it’s inspiring to see how each of them also manages to carve out time to volunteer with local nonprofits.

Each honoree has demonstrated the change they’re able to make in the community at such a young age. As a fellow young professional, it’s encouraging.

In addition to our 20 Under 40, we also honor a Youth on the Rise. This year’s is a Highland Park High School senior who was born with a congenital heart defect and has done significant work and fundraising for the American Heart Association.

The 20 honorees, plus Youth on the Rise, were selected by a committee of three People Newspapers staffers and two Rotary Club of Park Cities members. This year brought a strong group of candidates and tough decisions.

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

We’ll be honoring the 20 Under 40 at an awards ceremony on April 25. See our social media channels or website to purchase your ticket.

Know of a young professional who we should consider for the section next year? Our pre-nomination form for 2025 is already available on our website.

Remington Reece

Ebby Halliday Companies

Remington Reece works as creative director for the Ebby Halliday Companies.

He started his real estate career as a design coordinator with the Dave Perry-Miller Real


Peyton Bono

Highland Park High School

As an American Heart Association

Teen of Impact, Peyton Bono broke the program’s fundraising record by securing $55,000 for the nonprofit in nine weeks.

She hosted a YMCA community walk, art show, and other events to bring people together and raise money: “I couldn’t have done it without this amazing Park Cities community, who at every event showed up ready to support the cause and hear my journey and story with a heart condition.”

The Highland Park High School senior was born with a congenital heart defect called tricuspid atresia and had two open heart surgeries in infancy.

“Physical activity has always been extremely limited, and growing up disabled isolated me from many of my peers,” Bono said. “It was lonely, being the only disabled child I knew, so I wanted to get involved in survivor spaces and get to know people in the field of cardiology — survivors and doctors alike.”

Estate brand before eventually taking over the brand’s full marketing efforts. Now, he oversees creative execution for all Ebby Halliday Companies and their affiliated services.

“Our brokerage brands are dominant players in the real estate markets for both neighborhoods as well as being North Texas’ top real estate firm, and there are incredible opportunities for community involvement that have come as a result,” Reece said. “We’re proud to be deeply connected to schools, events, and organizations throughout the Park Cities and Preston Hollow.”

Through his role as creative director, Reece fosters community partnerships and describes the company as having its “proverbial finger on the pulse of the community.”

He’s been involved in initiatives including the Ronald McDonald House, Angel Tree/Salvation Army, Communities Partners of Dallas’ Holiday Toy Drives, Coats for Kids, Dallas Suicide & Crisis Center, North Oak Cliff Greenspace, and Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation.

“I dedicate a considerable portion of our marketing budget to these kinds of sponsorships,” Reece said. “While it’s an

Bono says the American Heart Association’s reach and influence cannot be overstated as it funds hospitals, encourages research, and promotes healthy living.

Beyond the American Heart Association, Bono is involved with her school’s library, where she managed restoration efforts after a rainstorm destroyed most books in the classics section. She also volunteered with Salman Bhojani’s Texas House campaign in Arlington during her sophomore year and recently graduated from the National Charity League.

Bono will graduate from high school in the spring and then attend the University of Texas, where she will double major in health and history. After undergrad, she plans to attend law school.

“While I predict I’ll be working in health law — making sure more people get the healthcare they need, protecting and funding hospitals, and being a patient advocate all sounds fascinating and fulfilling to me — I’m only 18, and my life could go anywhere,” Bono said.

Who’s your biggest inspiration? My parents, for paving the way for me

excellent way to get agents in front of potential clientele (from a business standpoint), I mostly do it because I genuinely believe it’s fundamentally important to put money behind the community as much as we’re able to.”

He’s especially proud of developing the creative, messaging, and execution for a campaign supporting the North Texas Food Bank, which Ebby Halliday Companies kicked into gear during the pandemic.

“Since then, we’ve raised several hundred thousand dollars for NTFB, and I’m extremely proud to be the center of that,” he said.

and being my greatest supporters, and my little brother, who is just like me in all the ways that count, and whose determination and work ethic inspire me every day.

What advice do you have for other youth wanting to make a difference?

The worst you can hear is “no.” If you want to do something, call people who do it and ask them for advice and opportunities. Taking that first step will always be the hardest part, and when you do it, you’ll find it’s not that hard at all.

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

One summer, I ordered from our local Thai restaurant so much that when the employees saw my car pull in, they’d input the order without me even stepping inside (pad kee mow with extra beef).

Is there anything else we should know about you?

Beyond any accolade, the more important parts about me (are) that I love chai lattes (and) reality TV, and I’m currently addicted to Candy Crush.

What is your favorite local restaurant or shop?

Bandito’s in Snider Plaza. It’s a Park Cities institution.

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

I have the entrepreneurial spirit at heart, which is probably why real estate has been such a strong fit. But, longterm, I would love to have my own creative agency that services clients beyond their real estate experience.

“We’re proud to be deeply connected to schools, events, and organizations throughout the Park Cities and Preston Hollow.”
Remington Reece

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

I have dual citizenship — United States and United Kingdom.

What (or who) motivated you to get involved in the community?

Altruism is a philosophy that was instilled in me at a very young age from both my parents as well as my education at St. John’s School in Houston. Service first — and service above all. There was never a proverbial “Aha!” moment for me; it’s intrinsic.

B2 May 2024 | People Newspapers | 20 Under 40
FOLLOW MORE ON SOCIAL MEDIA For the full Q&A’s of the honorees and more 20 Under 40 content, follow us online at and on Instagram @PeopleNewspapers. Help share content — and even your own rising stars — by using #peoplenewspapers20under40


Aubrey P. Boswell

Aubrey Boswell credits his mentors for equipping him with skills to work with high-net-worth clients and their estate plans.

“Before opening my own practice, I spent more than a decade learning about this specialty from some of the best attorneys in Dallas and working with clients with estates at all levels of wealth and complexity,” he said.

Now, he leads Boswell PLLC and is one of few Texas attorneys with law and CPA licenses.

“I was drawn to the practice of estate planning and probate when (I) realized the importance these areas hold in everyone’s lives,” Boswell said. “I value helping clients leave a meaningful legacy and helping to protect that legacy after a loved one passes away.”

Boswell PLLC, located at Greenville Avenue and Lovers Lane, is focused on estate planning, probate, and trust matters.

“At heart, I am a problem solver devoted to finding solutions for my clients,” Boswell said. “My practice, however, is not limited to preparing legal documents; I also spend my time zealously advocating for clients inside and outside of the courtroom.”

Boswell became interested in this work during an accounting internship his senior year at SMU. He was interning for an accounting firm’s audit group, where he investigated and audited financial statements: “The process of investigating and digging deeper is very much what lawyers do, and this is what inspired me to pursue a legal career.”

In addition to his legal work, Boswell serves on the board of ChandlerSpeaks, a nonprofit devoted to serving children with speech disabilities. His past volunteer experience includes work on the boards of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and the Dallas Estate Planning Council.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My biggest inspiration is my parents. They have (an) incredible work ethic and have taught me character traits that affect everything I do. While I don’t come from a family of lawyers, my parents instilled in me the positive attributes of learning and developing skills that help me in all aspects of being a lawyer.

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

I would tell them to live out their dreams and to not take “no” for an answer. In life, I’ve been told “no” a lot, but it hasn’t deterred me from pursuing my passions. In fact, it made me more determined.

Maura Sheffler started at The Arts Community Alliance 10 years ago as its community relations manager.

Now, she serves as the organization’s executive director, a role she was promoted to in 2023.

“I have studied music since age 6, but when I was living in NYC in 2007, I realized arts management might be a more suitable calling for me,” Sheffler said.

Sheffler says the pandemic impacted her approach to community involvement as TACA raised and distributed more than $500,000 in six months and curated workshops for the arts community.

“We also now know that the pandemic had a profound impact on how people consume and participate in the arts,” Sheffler said. “Attendance patterns and preferences have since changed, and our traditional

revenue models are strained.”

The arts community needs a future that accounts for these changes, she said.

“This set of challenges has made me more committed and motivated than ever to making our arts community a thriving, sustainable one,” Sheffler said.

Sheffler also volunteers as a grant reviewer for the Houston Arts Alliance, is an inaugural member of the Meadows 2050 Council, and is a board member of the Dallas Arts District.

Her advice for other young professionals: “The world is changing rapidly, so it’s important to try new things, learn new skills, and meet people who are different from you.”

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Whether I’m still leading TACA or in another role, I want to make a real difference for the arts in Dallas — that means ensuring artists and arts organizations have access to the support they need to thrive. I truly believe the arts are an important contributor to making our region stronger for the economy, for tourism, and, of course, for those who call this area home.

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

•Don’t limit yourself to one path. What you’re meant to do may be different than what you envision right now.

• Believe in your instincts and do what you think is right.

•Explore and be curious — always!

If someone made a movie about your life, what would it be called, and who would play you?

It would be called Controlled Chaos, and I would love for Tina Fey to play me because she is a level of funny that I aspire to.

20 Under 40 | People Newspapers | May 2024 B3
Boswell PLLC SMU Maura Sheffler TACA SMU


Michael Coleman II


of Texas at Arlington and Louisiana State University

Michael Coleman II debuted his nonprofit, Crowned Scholars, at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in 2019.

The organization works to holistically develop Black middle school boys by teaching STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) academic readiness, building healthy habits, and fostering mentorship.

development programs.

“I have been in the talent acquisition/ campus recruiting space for the past five years and consider it a blessing to be in a corporate position that allows me to provide career opportunities to emerging talent,” he said.

He previously worked in the education sector as a full-time substitute teacher, graduate coordinator, and scholarship program manager: “Developing students has always been a passion of mine, and I truly appreciate the opportunity to be involved in the growth of our youth.”

Coleman also volunteers with the Richardson-Plano Alumni Chapter for Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity on the social media team and with the All Stars Project’s Afterschool Development Group.

What (or who) motivated you to get involved in the community?

The mentors that I had growing up inspired me to be the community leader and mentor that I have become today. From having basketball coaches who pushed me to become a vocal leader to community members who saw something in me that I could not see myself, I was blessed to have amazing people remind me how much good I can do in my community.

“Developing students has always been a passion of mine, and I truly appreciate the opportunity to be involved in the growth of our youth.”
Michael Coleman II

“We will always be grateful to Benjamin Franklin Middle School for trusting and allowing us to not only develop their students but to grow and enhance our organization’s programming through experience,” Coleman said.

Since its start, Crowned Scholars has expanded to have representation at 10 Dallas-area schools.

Coleman works for McKesson as the senior talent programs strategist, managing the enterprise’s early talent initiatives, such as summer internships and

Connie Babikian

The Pillow Bar


In 2021, Connie Babikian purchased The Pillow Bar, a custom bedding and linen company based in the Design District.

working with SMU and on the Texas Women’s Foundation board.

“The Texas Women’s Foundation is dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of women and girls in our state,” Babikian said. “Their work has never been more important, and I’m inspired by them every day.”

She urges other young professionals to treat everyone they meet respectfully and not compromise on values, describing Dallas as “a small town masked as a big city.”

“I’m a big believer in knowing your ‘why,’” Babikian said. “We all want to be part of something meaningful, and a shared purpose is the strongest motivator.”

In 10 years, she hopes to be leading The Pillow Bar into another decade of growth and “bringing great sleep to a new generation of buyers.”

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

We have a French bulldog named Tater that runs our household.

What’s on your bucket list?

Traveling to at least three different countries that have beautiful scenery, clear waters, and rich culture that I can immerse myself in. My most immediate desired trip is to Bali.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

God, my family, and my mentees are my daily reminders that I am still here for a purpose. They remind me of my power, my influence, and my why. Living the life of a corporate employee and a nonprofit leader simultaneously is not always easy, but the people around me constantly pour love and light into my space.

Elizabeth Carlock Phillips is the executive director of the Phillips Foundation, a private family foundation that leverages its assets to maximize social, environmental, and financial value.

She says the most important part of her role is building relationships across fields and issue areas to support increased collaboration and understanding.

“Phillips Foundation does not take a programmatic approach to our work because we believe that innovation, and the solutions to many of society’s most pressing problems, require multidisciplinary strategies among various sectors and types of organizations,” she said.

Growing up in Highland Park, Phillips says she’s benefited from working with many local nonprofits over several decades.

For example, New Friends New Life, a North Texas anti-trafficking organization, started at the church she and her family used to attend.

“That was very formative in my life and educated me on an issue I may not have

“Becoming a mother during the height of COVID forced me to reevaluate every aspect of my life and accelerated my career shift from the corporate world to entrepreneurship,” she said. “I’d always dreamed of running my own business and, after several months at home with a new baby, realized there’s truly no time like the present to make a change.”

She says she’s never looked back. Some of her brand’s offerings include pillows, bedding, bath towels and mats, and loungewear, including the “Dream Team Favorite” Daydreamer Down Robe.

What is your favorite local restaurant or shop?

My husband and I have a standing Thursday night reservation at Neighborhood Services on Lovers Lane. It’s hard to beat their cheeseburger and dirty martini!

“I’m a big believer in knowing your ‘why.’ We all want to be part of something meaningful, and a shared purpose is the strongest motivator.”
Connie Babikian

Her career began as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs’ private lending underwriting team. After getting her MBA from UCLA, she moved back to Dallas and worked for Hunt Consolidated in various roles in the company’s oil and real estate divisions.

Her volunteer experience includes

otherwise encountered,” Phillips said, describing the Park Cities as a philanthropic community that has provided her with role models. “My interest in nonprofit governance, social innovation, and impact investing only continued to grow into adulthood and has become my career.”

Her volunteer work includes serving on the board of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, Mission Investors Exchange, SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics, Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, and The Dallas Foundation, where she chairs the investment committee.

Some of her past involvement has included founding Echelon, the young professionals auxiliary for The Salvation Army, and serving as a previous board member and governance chair of the Texas Women’s Foundation. She was also a governor-appointed trustee of UNC Greensboro for eight years.

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

My first job was working at Swoozie’s

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

Don’t be afraid of a challenge. You are stronger than you think, and every failure brings a lesson to learn. It will all be OK. Also, please drink more water and take your vitamins!

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My parents. In every facet of their professional and personal lives, they are dedicated to bettering our community and lifting others up.

What’s on your bucket list?

Teaching my three kids to sail in my husband’s hometown in Maine.

when it first opened in Preston Center. I think I was about 15. I would organize and stock shelves, gift wrap, and work the register. It taught me how to treat people. You remember how the rude customers made you feel and appreciate the kind ones.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My late brother, Trey Carlock, is my biggest inspiration in the work I lead currently. He was a Kanakuk abuse survivor who was silenced to his grave in a retraumatizing legal process that involved a restrictive NDA. ... I’m working at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure survivor voices have a seat at the table in important reform efforts.

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

I received my certification in crime victim advocacy last year and am considering law school as a next step. I also plan to follow in my 11-year-old son’s footsteps and publish a book or two (Check out The Magic Island Chronicles by William G. Phillips!).

B4 May 2024 | People Newspapers | 20 Under 40
Carlock Phillips Phillips Foundation SMU

Greg Oertel

Greg Oertel’s drive for community involvement started in college when he played the French horn at a local school for blind students.

“The faces of audience members would light up, and some attendees even cried,” he said. “These recitals were some of my earliest moments getting to witness the direct impact I could make on the lives of others.”

Now, he works at Communities Foundation of Texas as senior community philanthropy officer, leading philanthropic advising services to help fundholders with grantmaking strategy, identifying fundraising opportunities in North Texas, and evaluating grantmaking efforts’ effectiveness.

young professionals program in 2020.

Before joining the CFT team, Oertel worked at The Arts Community Alliance, managing the organization’s $1.3 million+ portfolio of six grantmaking programs and developing programs for the North Texas arts and cultural sector.

He worked as a freelance French horn musician in Los Angeles before pursuing his master’s at SMU in Dallas.

“I’m a planner by nature, but I struggle with this one (the future),” he said. “I do see myself continuing to work in the ‘social good’ sector, hopefully challenging the status quo in big ways. Guess we’ll just have to wait and find out!”

What’s on your bucket list?

1. Open my own cocktail bar (probably a pipe dream)

2. Learn Italian by traveling to Italy often (no Duolingo)

3. Get a makeover on RuPaul’s Drag Race (and yes, I can walk in heels)

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

My first job was being a library assistant at the Music Library at University of Southern California while I was a student there for undergrad. I was a music major, so this was a dream job. I learned all the tips and tricks to search books, USC’s collection of thousands of CDs, sheet music, and more. I also never had to pay late fees!

“I do see myself continuing to work in the ‘social good’ sector, hopefully challenging the status quo in big ways.”
Greg Oertel

Oertel also volunteers with Equity Texas as the Dallas steering committee co-chair and with Social Venture Partners Dallas. He’s been a partner since completing its Dana Juett Residency

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

RuPaul Charles is a big inspiration of mine. He’s had a trailblazing career in the face of adversity and has been a beacon of LGBTQ+ representation and visibility in mainstream media. One of RuPaul’s quotes lives on my bio at work: “The most important thing you can do on this planet is become the realization of your own imagination.”

Service. Above. Self.

Hannah Harpole

Varsity Brands SMU

Hannah Harpole volunteers as a children’s advocate through Dallas CASA.

In this role, she helps children in Child Protective Services care access services and makes recommendations to help judges decide what is best for each child.

“I wanted to get involved in the community in a way where I could truly have a meaningful, positive influence on others,” Harpole said. “There’s no more impactful way I can contribute my time than to make a positive impact on a child’s life so that they don’t slip through the cracks of the CPS system.”

to help CASA in providing an advocate to every child in CPS care,” she said.

Harpole started her career at Bain & Company in management consulting, where she spent most of her time leading transformations for retail clients. After six years there, she stepped out of the consulting world and joined Varsity Brands, where she serves as the director of strategy and transformation and is “heavily involved in developing our growth strategy and leading strategic partnerships.”

Her “lightbulb moment” came during a summer internship in college when she watched her supervisors repeat the same things daily.

“It helped me realize that I didn’t want a career that delivered monotony; I craved variety and the opportunity to constantly learn new skills and be challenged,” Harpole said. “I ended up starting my career in consulting, and it delivered just that.”

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

Be where your feet are. Enjoy the present moment because you’ll never get to be there again, and life can change in an instant.

“I craved variety and the opportunity to constantly learn new skills and be challenged. I ended up starting my career in consulting, and it delivered just that.” Hannah Harpole

Harpole also serves on the Dallas CASA Young Professionals Council, and she cochaired the 2024 rendition of its signature black-tie fundraiser, CASAblanca.

“We are primarily focused on raising awareness about opportunities to get involved with Dallas CASA and fundraising

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

I recently hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim. It’s (about) 23 miles and almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain. While it was a doozy, it was amazing to meet so many fellow hikers along the way and enjoy a stunning sunrise and sunset over the cliffs.

What advice do you have for other young professionals?

You are going to spend a significant amount of your time at work. Spend your time on something that “lights a fire in your belly” and spend it working with good people. If you can solve for those two things, odds are you’ll be doing something that makes you happy.

20 Under 40 | People Newspapers | May 2024 B5
You may know the Rotary Club of Park Cities from the Park Cities Fourth of July Parade, but our club members serve the community all year long. Working through our foundation and with such strategic partners as the North Texas Food Bank, Salvation Army, and others, we strive to address hunger, make health care more readily available, and train leaders. We also have fun. Join us for happy hours, community outings, and Friday luncheons, where we celebrate, network, and learn. Visit to learn more.
Communities Foundation of Texas SMU and University of Southern California

Courtney Moeslein

Courtney Moeslein’s interest in digital marketing started when she discovered her knack for it and learned she could make it her full-time career.

She now works as senior marketing manager at AEG Vision, a company that empowers eye care professionals by leveraging medical practices, innovation, and collaboration.

Her first job out of college was as an assistant project manager for an experiential marketing company. She traveled the country and worked with clients such as Target, KABOOM!, and Tractor Supply.

to find the right places to volunteer,” she said. “In addition to giving back, community involvement is a great way to meet like-minded individuals in a new city.”

She’s an active member of the Kappa Alpha Theta Dallas Alumnae Chapter and Baylor University Women’s Council of Dallas. She’s also in her second year on the Dallas CASA Young Professionals Council board and her provisional membership year with the Junior League of Dallas.

How do you motivate yourself and others?

I am a big goal-setter. I like looking at the bigger picture and breaking goals into achievable milestones. I do this for my team’s goals, in addition to personal goals. It helps to acknowledge progress and have a clear sense of achievement throughout the process.

What is your favorite local restaurant or shop?

My favorite local restaurant is Honor Bar. I love the Shrimp Louie salad (and the french fries, of course). My favorite local coffee shop is LDU Coffee. When I first moved to Dallas and lived walking distance to one of their locations, I took my dog to get an iced coffee every Friday.

“In addition to giving back, community involvement is a great way to meet likeminded individuals in a new city.”
Courtney Moeslein

“It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about managing large-scale events, budgets, and teams, but I realized it was not something I wanted to do forever,” Moeslein said. “I helped with some of the digital marketing efforts at this agency and realized I truly enjoyed digital marketing. I continued to learn as much as possible and eventually made the leap.”

When Moeslein moved to Dallas in early 2022 to join AEG, she prioritized participating in philanthropy.

“It is essential to give back, and I wanted

Is there anything else you think we should know about you?

As a creative outlet, I run The Southern Spoonful, a food blog that uses simplistic all-natural ingredients to help the everyday home cook elevate their every day with my mom, Stacey. We enjoy testing and capturing new recipes for our blog and social media and love to entertain. The Southern Spoonful has been my passion project and is a fun way to test out new digital marketing tools.

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

My first job was at Nike when I was in high school. ... I learned a lot about excellent customer service and time management as I balanced my part-time role with school, sports, and extracurricular activities.

Alan H. Rose

Communities Foundation of Texas SMU and University of Texas at Dallas

Alan Rose has worked for the Texas Rangers, WFAA, and now Communities Foundation of Texas.

At CFT, he’s the senior manager of marketing and communications.

“My favorite part about my role at CFT is North Texas Giving Day and the impact donors make in our community supporting over 3,200 nonprofits,” Rose said.

He’s always had a knack for creating content and helping others. Growing up, he would make videos starring his friends, family, and sometimes himself.

was 3 years old and recently graduated from Leadership University Park.

His passion for volunteering stems from a desire to be part of positive change. He serves as the Highland Park Alumni Association’s board of directors vice president and as former chair of the Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee. He’s also involved with Broadway Dallas, where he has served as chair of the advisory board for the last four years and in other capacities.

What (or who) motivated you to get involved in the community?

My grandparents motivated me to become involved in the community through their actions. They always put others before themselves and enjoyed learning, growing, and helping throughout the community. I treasure the time I spent with them, creating memories.

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

My vision for the future, both personally and professionally, is deeply rooted in the impact I can make on others’ lives. Over the next decade, I aspire to enrich and improve as many lives as possible.

“I believe in the power of mentoring, offering insights from my own experiences while emphasizing the importance of individuality.”
Alan H. Rose

However, his “lightbulb moment” was a devastating one during his freshman year at SMU when his roommate died unexpectedly.

“Living with him for a year really taught me to come out of my shell, be myself, create my own opportunities, and seize happiness,” Rose said. “After that, I really turned my passions into action through school involvement, leadership opportunities, and my volunteering efforts.”

Rose, a third-generation Highland Park Scot, has lived in the Park Cities since he

Are you a young leader looking to make an impact in your community?

Through CFT’s Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy program, young professionals with a heart and mind for community learn to set their personal giving strategies and gain a deeper understanding of how to support what matters most to them.

Applications for the 2024 cohort open on June 1.

Learn more about applying to join our growing network of changemakers at:

What is your favorite local restaurant or shop?

While I have many local favorites, my absolute top spot is JD’s Chippery. They’ve more or less known me by name since sixth grade. I absolutely love taking my 3.5-year-old son, Paxton, with me. He asks to go many days after school and enjoys ordering for our entire family.

How do you motivate yourself and others?

I find motivation in authenticity — being genuinely myself. My approach to inspiring others centers around sharing who I truly am, both in my personal and professional life. I believe in the power of mentoring, offering insights from my own experiences while emphasizing the importance of individuality.

B6 May 2024 | People Newspapers | 20 Under 40


Gracie Letter

Gracie Letter’s career in counseling has come full circle.

She started directly out of undergrad at Dallas CBT, a group psychotherapy practice, where she worked as an exposure coach and research assistant.

She then went on to train at Children’s Medical Center in several clinical settings, where she worked with adolescent patients suffering from acute symptoms, including those struggling with suicidality and self-harm, behavior and emotional dysregulation, and trauma.

grow alongside this practice.”

An SMU lacrosse alumna, Letter spends her free time coaching Highland Park fifth- and sixth-grade girls lacrosse. She recently joined the Moody Family YMCA and hopes to continue finding ways to contribute there.

Her volunteer experience includes working with Back on My Feet, an organization that partners with the Salvation Army to help homeless people commit to weekly runs or walks and provides them with opportunities to further their education or find careers.

She has a favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

“You are on your own journey,” Letter said. “Make decisions with your head and heart because you want to, not because you feel like you should. The beauty of growth is learning what you value in your own life and how to embrace those values in all aspects.”

How do you motivate yourself and others?

Fill your life with the right people, and you will feel motivated each and every day. My family and friends are my strongest motivators. They push me out of my comfort zone, are honest with me, and see me for my fullest potential. I hope I provide the same motivation to those around me.

“The beauty of growth is learning what you value in your own life and how to embrace those values in all aspects.”

Gracie Letter

Now, she’s back at Dallas CBT, where she returned after graduating with her master’s. As a licensed professional counselor-associate and full-time clinician, she works with adolescents, teens, and young adults by using evidence-based treatments to provide care to patients facing OCD, depression, and anxiety.

“I work alongside a team of specialized clinicians who strive every day to provide quality, collaborative, and interactive care to members of our community,” Letter said. “I am very grateful to continue to

Jack Betts

The Make Your Own Legacy Academy Amherst College

Jack Betts advises, “If there isn’t a path, make one.”

The Amherst College football

alumnus founded The Make Your Own Legacy Academy in 2022, a first-of-itskind name, image, and likeness education program to help smaller-market athletes utilize their NIL potential.

these heights without help from his school or professional representation.

Since then, he’s been a consultant to more than 60 athletes nationwide, assisting them in developing professional relationships and skills that will benefit them once their time as student-athletes concludes.

Volunteer-wise, Betts co-founded “Kicks Land” while a student at the Episcopal School of Dallas. This initiative is a section of S.M. Wright’s Christmas in the Park Celebration, where he organized fundraisers to purchase and distribute approximately 2,000 pairs of Nike shoes annually.

He also has volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas as a tutor and mentor to primarily Spanish-speaking students.

“I tutored these students in English, reading, and mathematics, and (that) is where my passion for education stems from,” he said.

Betts will start working toward his master’s degree in sports management at SMU this fall.

What is your favorite local restaurant or shop?

What’s on your bucket list?

I have always wanted to experience the Northern Lights.

In fact, I have a tracker I keep on my phone every year that indicates the best time and place to see them.

What advice do you have for other young professionals?

You are doing enough. Take time to adjust, be present, and be OK with not knowing all (or any) of the answers at times. Do not expect yourself to be as knowledgeable as those around you who are more seasoned. Instead, take every opportunity to learn, observe, and humbly make mistakes.


He was inspired after discovering that few Division III athletes were making a name for themselves in the NIL space. He took the initiative to become the person he wanted to see when he Googled “Division III NIL success stories.”

“I tutored these students in English, reading, and mathematics, and (that) is where my passion for education stems from.”

My favorite local restaurant is undoubtedly Bubba’s. Every time I would come home from Amherst, my first meal always had to be Bubba’s. Their fried chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and famous rolls are a staple of my diet.

Jack Betts

“Being that I was one of the first D3 athletes to make a name for themselves in this space by inking partnerships with brands like Whoop, Body Armor, Allbirds, Invesco QQQ, and Insomnia Cookies, I realized that I was operating within a unique niche of individuals,” Betts said. “I earned the moniker of ‘The King of D3 NIL’ as I began developing skills in marketing, social media, content creation, and more.”

As his brand grew, similar small-market athletes asked him how he could reach

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

I am actually adopted. I was originally born in Seattle and moved to Dallas right after I was born. I am of Cherokee descent, and my Indigenous heritage is something that I hold in extremely high regard.

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

I’d tell myself that the journey is not going to be linear. You’re going to experience adversity with injuries in your football career and roadblocks to your education, such as COVID, but the best thing about it all is that the sun rises tomorrow.

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.”

–Kerryn Sarwansingh, consultant, Accenture Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy alumni member

For more information, visit

20 Under 40 | People Newspapers | May 2024 B7
Dallas CBT SMU


Sharon Lee Clark

Designer Sharon Lee Clark has a joke about her move to Dallas three years ago: She had to put her real estate agent as her emergency contact on school forms.

“I had to dive right in to make friends and create a community for our family,” she said, describing University Park as a place that quickly made her family feel at home.

She first got involved in the Hyer Preschool Association, where she met fellow moms, and Highland Park United Methodist Church.

Her volunteer experience also extends to co-chairing Partners Card for The Family Place, chairing the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Fashion Notes Luncheon, collaborating with Ese Azenabor to host a fashion show for the Children’s Cancer Fund, and serving as a Cattle Baron’s Ball new member.

Lee Clark has also participated in the

Family Forum at the Dallas Museum of Art each year and served on the advisory board for Kappa Kappa Gamma at SMU.

The artist started her home decor company, Krane Home, 12 years ago. It has been named the number one Asian-American-owned home decor brand by Architectural Digest

“My art has been exhibited widely with multiple collaborations with worldwide fashion brands, and Krane Home wallpaper and home decor have been featured in every major design magazine,” Lee Clark said.

She previously worked as a designer at Michael S. Smith while the office was doing the interiors of the Obama White House.

“During my time there, I realized there was zero art of textiles inspired by the Korean art of my heritage,” Lee Clark said. “As the third in a lineage of Korean artists after my mother and grandfather, it was my mission to share Korean art with the world.”

That’s when it dawned on her that she could bring Korean art and wallpaper to American homes by starting Krane Home.

If someone made a movie about your life, what would it be called, and who would play you?

This Korean American Life: The Life and Legacy of Artist Sharon Lee Clark. And that’s easy, my actor sister Greta Lee would definitely play me because we’re Irish twins, and she knows me better than anyone else on Earth.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

My mother Jane Lee hands down. She is the best artist I know. She is an accredited Korean folk art painter with exhibits in Korea as well as the Korean Cultural Center, and she is a talented pianist trained at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.


Michael Thompson

Workforce Dallas Langston University

Michael Thompson’s first job was as a camp counselor in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, through the mayor’s summer program for teens.

“I had the best of both worlds,” Thompson said. “I was able to impact youth but also work with the mayor and learn directly from him. He is still a mentor to this day for me.”

Now, Thompson is the executive director of Workforce Dallas, a hands-on approach to workforce development.

“Reduced crime, improved health, greater educational achievement, and stronger communities — all byproducts of reducing poverty — can be achieved with a laser focus on upskilling and upgrading low-wage workers to higher-paying job opportunities and providing hands-on support to help them succeed at those new jobs,” Thompson said.

He has served in various workforce

development leadership roles for 15 years.

As executive director, Thompson focuses on relationships, representing the organization, and developing partnership opportunities.

He realized he could change lives at a high level in college when he started a nonprofit with his university called Inspire All to All Inspire. The nonprofit granted 300 students scholarships that led to employment in the city.

“I saw many of my classmates that were not going home for holidays, and they said they didn’t because they didn’t have the money, and they had no one to go home to because their parents were incarcerated,” Thompson said. “I went to my college president to see what we can do. She told me to go speak to the mayor about this issue.”

From a young age, he says God’s purpose for him was influencing lives.

“Whether it was sports, church, school, or anything, I was always trying to help people around me,” he said.

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

My sons’ names are Michael and Jordan. I really love basketball.

Tell us about your volunteer experience.

It’s the most important thing in life. Being able to volunteer with impactful organizations like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and many more gave me the foundation to see firsthand the impact we can have on so many.

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

Consistency is key. If every single day you give your all to impact at least one person in some way, you will accomplish all of your goals.


Brian Oates

Brian Oates is a Jackson Walker “lifer,” meaning he joined the firm upon law school graduation and has been there since.

He focuses his practice on three areas of litigation: trademark, oil and gas, and real estate disputes.

“Unlike a lot of big firm litigators, I have had the opportunity to be in the courtroom frequently,” Oates said. “I have tried numerous jury trials to a verdict as the ‘first-chair’ lawyer.”

His trademark work typically takes him to federal courts in big cities, while oil and gas cases often take place in small towns throughout Texas.

“That diversity in subject matter, settings, and people keeps me on my toes and ensures that no two cases are alike,” Oates said.

As a dad of three children under 8, most of his volunteer work includes coaching his kids’ sports teams through the Moody Family YMCA, Upward Athletics, and Dallas Hardball. He’s also active in the Bradfield Dad’s Club, which includes a softball league against dads from the other HPISD elementary schools.

He also has taken up pro bono work and says these experiences “help remind me how fortunate all of us in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow are and how easy it is to take for granted things in our life.”

“Just recently, I was able to represent an individual who had been sued and could not afford representation, successfully obtaining the lawsuit’s dismissal,” Oates said. “I also tried a several-days-long arbitration for an elderly couple who found themselves in a consumer dispute with a large business.”

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

My first real job was as a professional baseball player in the Seattle Mariners organization. I was a pitcher. I credit baseball with teaching me so much, including teamwork, work ethic, how to compete, and the importance of setting goals. But truly, the thing professional baseball taught me was humility.

What was your “lightbulb moment” that led you to your career?

I took a political science class as a sophomore in college, where the professor made us all stand up and argue various positions in front of the class on a variety of topics. He was essentially making us prepare for and deliver an opening/closing argument. I loved it. I thought, “I could do this for a living.”

Frances Cannon Mitchell

The Compass School of Texas SMU and eCornell University

Frances Cannon Mitchell started her career as a financial analyst at ExxonMobil before joining her husband in Istanbul, Turkey, where she worked in accounting and back-office support for a start-up oil field service company.

After moving to London and then back to Dallas, she transitioned into human resources, supporting 13 operating companies domestically and internationally.

Now, she serves as a founding board member of The Compass School of Texas, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, independent school located on West Northwest Highway.

“As a mom, we will do anything for our kids, and as it turns out, that means even being a part of starting a school that

we believe will inspire future leaders, resilient and kind people, and analytical thinkers,” Mitchell said.

She’s part of the school alongside Francis Harrison (also a 20 Under 40 honoree) and Caroline Harrison Loehr.

“I joined (my) longtime friends … to help build a scholastic program in the heart of Dallas focused on an engaging and wholesome academic education,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also volunteers with Park Cities Presbyterian Church on the production team of the podcast Deep Light, the Cox Alumni Board at SMU, and the Highland Park Alumni Association Board.

Her involvement also includes Kappa Kappa Gamma. She is co-chairing its Oct. 15 Kappa Tablescapes event with her two best friends: “This is an event that annually raises over $200,000 for amazing local nonprofit organizations doing incredible work across the community.”

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

In my next life, I want to be a neuroscientist. The brain is so fascinating!

What was your “lightbulb moment” that led you to your career?

I resigned from my corporate role and went through an executive management course called Stagen, where I learned a lot of powerful tools, including defining my personal values and writing my life’s purpose statement through a lot of work and coaching. My purpose statement is, “I exist to shine a light on the road to love, empowerment, and resilience.”

B8 May 2024 | People Newspapers | 20 Under 40
Krane Home UCLA and Cal Poly
MARIA LAWSON Jackson Walker Trinity University and Texas Tech University DIANA OATES

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20 Under 40 | People Newspapers | May 2024 B9 4925 GREENVILLE AVENUE | SUITE 360 | DALLAS, TX 75206 | 469.518.9299 | BOSWELLPLLC.COM

Joseph Kim

Joseph Kim was one of the first North Korean minor refugees to come to the U.S. under the 2004 North Korean Human Rights Act, which became law during President George W. Bush’s tenure.

Kim calls Bush, whom he’s known for a decade, his biggest inspiration.

“Given that I work at the George W. Bush Institute, you may think this is a political answer, but it is not,” Kim said. “President Bush helped me realize that humility and confidence are not separate entities but two sides of the same coin.”

“He is my personal hero and role model because I want to become a genuine and compassionate person like he is, and he has an excellent sense of humor,” Kim added.

Kim became a homeless orphan at the age of 12. His father died of starvation, and Kim was separated from his mother and sister.

Now, he works as program manager of global policy at the Bush Institute, which he describes as “an excellent platform to pursue my passion for helping the North Korean people.”

“At the Bush Institute, we work to advance policies that integrate human rights with national security, provide scholarships to North Korean refugees to study in America, and develop a new generation of human rights advocates,” he said.

Through his job, he speaks at various forums and events to raise human rights and security concerns.

Studying history was a big part of why he chose his career.

“Judging history or bad actors or characters in history is easy, but the purpose of learning history should not be about judging those bad actors,” Kim said. “Instead, ask yourself how you would choose your course of action differently and prepare yourself to form a better version of yourself.”

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

My first job in the United States was cleaning tables at a local restaurant. That night, I made $20 and some change. I wanted to keep the $20 bill for life, so I saved it in a safe space. Unfortunately, it’s so safe that I can’t remember where I hid it. I learned that if you want to hide something, remember where you put it.

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

I hope by then, North Korea will be freed from dictatorship, and (I’ll) be able to return to my hometown. I want to become a high school teacher and care for orphans in free North Korea.

Allison Atwood

Moody Family YMCA

Truman State University

Allison Atwood has spent the last nine years working for the Moody Family YMCA.

She teaches exercise classes at the Y and in the community and is championing the Y’s new Special Olympics program.

“This is our first year, and we have had too much fun getting to know the athletes and families,” Atwood said. “Our goal is to provide a safe and healthy environment for (the) adult special needs population.”

The program so far has offered bowling, pickleball, and basketball.

Another job highlight is teaching classes for memory care groups.

“These memory care day programs allow for caregivers to have a day of rest knowing their loved one is being taken care of,” she said. “The participants are offered a day of fun in a safe environment.”

Atwood says she comes away from working with special needs and memory care populations “knowing I have the best job and have made someone’s day a little better.”

She expects to keep working at the Y for many years and see the Special Olympics program become well-established.

Atwood has also used her sports background to coach at Lone Star, a local volleyball club, for the last 10 years.

“This has allowed me to stay involved in a sport that means so much to me,” she said. “I have played since I was 11 and was able to play in college, and now (I) get to help young girls find that same passion.”

The mom of three also leads her oldest daughter’s Girl Scout Daisy troop.

“Seeing those young ladies get excited about helping people and each other is a rewarding experience,” Atwood said.

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

I have a twin brother!

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

I worked as a landscaper for a family friend. I learned the value of hard work and punctuality. Also, I worked with my brother, so I learned that it is OK to have fun at work. I still cherish those memories I have with him.

What advice do you have for other young professionals?

If you can, do what makes you happy and find fun in what you do. Find an employer that allows you to be who you are and brings out the best versions of you.

TACA proudly celebrates your leadership, impact, and dedication to the Dallas arts community.

Congratulations on your recognition as one of the 20 Under Forty honorees for 2024.

B10 May 2024 | People Newspapers | 20 Under 40
Congratulations MAURA SHEFFLER!
(214)239-3054 3237 Commander Drive Carrollton, TX 75006 Big D Party Rentals offers a wide range of rental products and services to our customers, including party tents and chair rentals. As well as stage rentals, table linens, and tabletop decor. We have been helping DFW event and wedding clients for over 15 years, celebrating life's milestones.
George W. Bush Institute Bard College


AJ Aguirre

Aguirre Medical

St. Mary’s University

Coming from a family of doctors, AJ Aguirre had a front-row seat to identify the industry-wide need for more efficient ways to approach payroll and billing.

That led him to start Aguirre Medical in 2019, with the hope of helping medical offices reduce expenses by outsourcing reception, referral, and accounting services.

“Five years later, my staff has quintupled, and it’s running like a well-oiled machine,” he said. “This was the culmination of everything I had learned, the people I’ve met, and a passion that grew.”

Aguirre started his career in finance at a local real estate services firm but had the idea for Aguirre Medical while talking over dinner with his mom about her growing pediatric practice.

“She asked if I would consider helping her,” Aguirre said. “I knew next to nothing about healthcare and didn’t know how to help.”

Francis Harrison

The Compass School of Texas College of Charleston

When Francis Harrison saw a need for more schools in Dallas, she cofounded The Compass School of Texas.

“I have followed a long line of family members who choose to give back and have made a difference,” she said.

The school is in its first academic year and aims to create well-rounded students through math, reading, farm-to-table, yoga, music, chess, and other subjects.

She says her grandmothers and mother motivated her to get involved in the community.

Her maternal grandmother, Caroline Rose Hunt, took pride in supporting important initiatives in Dallas; her paternal grandmother, Ann Harrison, always volunteered at her church and local government. Growing up, Harrison watched her mother help grow the Dallas Children’s Theater and advocate for accessible art.

He asked her, “What’s one aspect of the office that is giving you the most grief?”

“The front office,” she replied.

Soon, he started his management services organization with two receptionists in a downtown office.

He works with SMU’s Life After Ball program and the Texas A&M Mays Business School, which allow him to mentor and employ college students.

Outside of work, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a cause dear to Aguirre, as he was diagnosed with stage-four lymphoma in September 2021. He completed six rounds of chemotherapy and 20 rounds of radiation and celebrated two years of being in remission in February.

“In fact, the research (the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) funded developed the R-CHOP drug that saved my life,” Aguirre said.

He also volunteers with the Friends of Katy Trail, The Real Estate Council, Vogel Alcove, and Knox Park Community, which he founded.

“I really enjoy being around people and helping wherever I can,” Aguirre said. “I was motivated to get involved in the community to get to know and help my neighbors.”

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

I’ve been practicing water treading for about six months so that I can eventually join the Pegasus Water Polo Club.

What advice do you have for other young professionals?

Read the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It will tell you everything you need to know. It explains that you can be passionate but not too attached — that things won’t be fair, but don’t let it change your attitude.

“As I have watched Dallas experience tremendous growth over these last few years, I realized that there was a lot that we needed to focus on to be able to accommodate for such growth,” Harrison said. “We have seen numerous industries relocate to North Texas, which has been incredible, but it also made me look at our current infrastructure and, most importantly, education.”

Her first job was working for nonprofit Operation Smile, translating for medical teams and archiving medical histories.

Following her nonprofit work, she founded Conscious Cultures LLC, which allowed her to secure Office of Foreign Assets Control licensing to take U.S. citizens on licensed educational and cultural trips to Cuba. She’s also a director at the Rosewood Corporation.

Harrison’s philosophy: “If it doesn’t exist, then build it.”

How do you motivate yourself and others?

I try to lead and motivate by example, show humility, and be a problem solver. If the trash needs to be taken out or the fridge needs to be stocked, then I don’t hesitate to do it myself. I think that there is a strong balance between being a leader and a team player to motivating others.

What advice do you have for other young professionals?

In a world that is now dictated by instant gratification and constant transitions, I think loyalty, honesty, and long-term commitment go a long way.

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

After having spent so many years in Cuba, I am passionate about good coffee and playing dominoes.

As frequent users of the Katy Trail, we understand the significance of the Trail to Dallas. The Katy Trail is a beautiful, safe, and welcoming greenspace for all. It is a city-wide gathering place that provides mental and physical wellness benefits, a sense of belonging to our community, and alternative transportation. As one of our city’s greatest assets, the Trail is also a must-see destination for visitors to Dallas.

For over 25 years, Friends of the Katy Trail has managed and continuously enhanced this treasured greenbelt park. The Friends raises the approximate $1.5 million in funds needed each year to operate the Trail.

Please join us in supporting the important work of Friends of the Katy Trail by making a gift to the Spring Support Campaign.

ank you for your generosity!

Brittany and Baxter Underwood Spring Support Campaign Honorary Chairs

20 Under 40 | People Newspapers | May 2024 B11
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