August 2023 Newsletter

Greetings from your NLF Chair, Dr. Eli D. Mercer

Let's take a moment to honor Parents and Teachers, thank you!   

Leadership and education start at home and continue into the classroom. As the new school year begins, we take this opportunity to thank the parents, teachers, administrators, school board members and community mentors of Northeast Tarrant County for your generous outpouring of time, talent, and treasure invested into our next generation. Your service to young people and leadership set our cities apart and we are grateful!

Lifelong learning is the hallmark of sound leadership.

Leadership and learning are inextricably linked. Sound leadership requires knowledge, skills, and an ability to effectively communicate. However, the best leaders report a lifelong curiosity to learn more at each stage in order to better serve the people and communities they lead. According to Benjamin Franklin, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  By expanding our knowledge, skills, and understanding, we position ourselves and our organizations for greater impact.

Northeast Tarrant County is blessed with a range of excellent education and training options including award winning school districts, world-class private schools, robust home school networks, and highly ranked colleges and universities. This is mostly due to the relentless dedication and pursuit of excellence on the parts of teachers. Albert Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Thank you teachers for investing in our students!

We thank our students of all ages for undertaking the noble pursuit of education and training to unleash your calling in life. Whether beginning a new grade, seeking a degree, or gaining a professional certificate, your dedication is recognized and appreciated. As Mark Twain once stated, in his own unique way, Training is everything. There is nothing that training can’t do. Nothing is beyond its reach. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower, is nothing but cabbage with a college education.We encourage you in this noble pursuit!

We are fortunate to have a range of opportunities for young people to engage in leadership and service activities that build character and develop skills. US President John F. Kennedy said “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other,” and urged all Americans to seek knowledge, whatever their life stage, in order to “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” He made the case that greater knowledge can lead to greater and more impactful acts of service.


At the dawn of a new era, Nelson Mandela described a world, “Transformed in a generation,” and went on to say that, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.According to the Center on Society and Health, people with more education tend to experience less economic hardship, attain greater job prestige and social rank, and enjoy greater access to resources that contribute to better health. These things translate into quality of life for our citizens and a better experience in our community.

The NLF provides a forum for collaboration, dialogue, and engagement to build stronger communities through relationships. Click here to download the membership application. We wish you and your families a wonderful school year ahead. 


With tremendous gratitude,

-Dr. Eli D. Mercer, Chairman of the Board of NLF

Michael Morris Dazzles with Transportation Insights

Our August NLF breakfast started with a bang when Tarrant County Precinct 3 Commissioner Gary Fickes announced that our speaker had convinced him to vote for a $10 million transportation grant just the day before!

Commissioner Fickes then introduced Michael Morris, Director of Transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, who is known as the authority on mobility for this region of Texas.

When it comes to our 2023 theme of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” Michael Morris is prominently involved in all three categories. He started off referencing “The DFW Miracle” – the dynamic traffic plan that used managed lanes to deliver traffic driving at 70 mph.

He said the model has been replicated in such cities as Atlanta, Nashville, and Washington, DC.

Michael began his presentation by sharing key statistics:

  • Tarrant County’s population will grow by 53% from 2.1 million to 3.1 million between 2020 and 2045
  • In that period, the North Texas regional population will increase from 7.6 million to 11.4 million
  • During that period, regional employment will grow from 5 million to 8.1 million (62% increase)
  • Tarrant County is the fastest growing county in Texas with an anticipated influx of 964,000 new residents

As he watched attendees shooting photos of the PowerPoint screens and frantically taking notes, Michael grinned and promised to send them the entire presentation, so everyone could relax.

CLICK HERE and scroll to the August meeting information to download the Speaker's full presentation.

Perhaps the most startling statistic was the annual cost of congestion/delays.

  • Current 2023 conditions: $13.2 billion
  • 2045, if projected mobility upgrades occur: $30.1 billion
  • 2045 if NO projected upgrades occur: $59.8 billion

The bottom line: Brace for dramatic congestion in the future:

  • TWICE AS BAD in 2045 if we proceed with mobility upgrades
  • FOUR TIMES AS BAD in 2045 if we do NOT proceed with mobility upgrades

That’s sobering news that we need to digest now. Here are some additional pieces of information he shared:

  • The current expedited project – Airport Freeway to Highway 161/George Bush – will cost $1.35 billion
  • The current mobility plan we are operating under was first established by Congress in the 1970s
  • We need to build an alternate East-West connector that passes through DFW airport to avoid overloading Airport Freeway

Michael endorsed PPPs – Public-Private Partnerships--that allow public money to be leveraged in partnership with private investments. Among these have been:

  • Existing and proposed TEXpress Managed Lanes #1: $2.13 billion private funding + $0.55 billion public funding
  • Existing and proposed TEXpress Managed Lanes #2: $4.56 billion private funding + $0.83 billion public funding
  • The Alliance Smartport, pending an INFRA Grant Application, will feature 62% private/local funding + 38% non-federal funding

He concluded by saying “The DFW Miracle” of 70 mph travel can continue with the Public-Private Partnerships that have relieved congestion so far. He is a strong advocate for private funding because free lanes are still available and the private funds allow public money to pay for even more projects. (See slides 4,6,11 of Speaker's presentation)

In Memoriam

It is with great sadness, that I share the news of the passing of former City of Euless Mayor and former NLF Board Chairman, Mary Lib Saleh.

It is impossible to state what a profound impact that Mayor Saleh had on the City of Euless. She was tenacious, sweet, kind and always advocating for the betterment of this community. 


As the impact of her leadership and friendship reached beyond the Euless city limits, I am requesting your assistance to share the news of her passing with those who may have known her during her years of service. 


A Celebration of Life service will be held at the Mary Lib Saleh Euless Public Library, 201 N. Ector Dr., on Friday, September 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

To learn about the life and legacy of Mary Lib Saleh, click here. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Euless Library Foundation.


She will be profoundly missed by all that had the pleasure of knowing her.

Thank you,

Kim Sutter, TRMC, CMC

City Secretary/Chief Governance Officer

City of Euless

Details Being Finalized on the

26th Annual Heart of North Texas Conference



Keynote Speaker:

Jason McCann

CEO of Vari, Varidesk and Varispace

Our tremendous trio of Kathryn Rotter, RaDonna Hessel, and Craig Hulse and their team of awesome NLF members are busy working to finalize the speakers for the 26th Annual Heart of North Texas on Wednesday, November 1, at the Hurst Conference Center.


This year’s theme, “The Future is Now” reflects the focus on how technology, innovation – including artificial intelligence, and economic changes will impact how we conduct business and live our lives.


PLEASE NOTE that this meeting is on the first Wednesday of the month because it was so successful last year. 


 The remaining sponsorship levels are:

Presenting Sponsor: $5,000

Platinum Sponsor: $3,500

Gold Sponsor: $2,500

Silver Sponsor: $1,000

Table Sponsor: $600

We thank our confirmed sponsors!

Gold Sponsor

Silver Sponsors

Table Sponsors

City of Euless

City of Grapevine

City of Hurst

City of North Richland Hills

City of Southlake

DEC Engineering

HEB Independent School District

Howard Shotwell

Lift Aids, Inc.

Lucas Funeral Home

O. Trevino Construction


In addition to the exceptional subject matter experts, the event will include both breakfast and lunch. We are riding a wave of continued success at the Heart of North Texas due to the relevance of our agendas and the outstanding quality of our speakers.


For additional questions about the sponsorship levels, please contact RaDonna Hessel directly for more details about how your company may become a supporter of this event.


If you would like to serve on this team, please reach out to:


Please remember that the net proceeds of the Heart of North Texas are the major source of funding for our scholarship program.

2023 Heart of North Texas Event Flyer

Sixth and Final Round of Texas Travel Industry Grants to Begin Today, Friday, September 1

The Governor’s office has announced one final round of travel industry-related grants that began, Friday, September 1, and will extend through Friday, September 15.

The first five rounds, which began last summer, provided up to $20,000 for categories such as restaurants, sports bars (technically, “food and drinking places”), as well as hotels, motels, and B&Bs.

This new round will be far more generous for those specified eligible companies. Rather than pay $20,000 for lost sales in that amount or greater, this new grant will fund up to $250,000 (yes, that number is CORRECT) to offset losses on the IRS tax form submitted in 2020 and 2021.


Any applicant who received a grant in one of the initial rounds must deduct that amount from the request being submitted. This Texas Travel Industry Recovery Program grant was established by Senate Bill 8 and signed into law by the Governor following the 87th Legislative Session.

This is a one-time reimbursement grant for the recovery of Texas businesses (from 2020-2021 losses) in the tourism, travel, and hospitality industries to help reimburse eligible costs to qualifying businesses.

To qualify, a business must:

  • have been in operation before January 20, 2020
  • operate in the state of Texas
  • be a privately owned for-profit business or non-profit organization
  • have suffered negative economic impact due to COVID-19
  • be organized under one of the eligible NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes (71, 722, 7211, 7212, 5615, 561920, 312120, 312130, 312140, 532111, 487990, 487210, 487110, 485510, 483212, 483114, 483112, 481211, 481111, 512132, 512131)

Complete details are listed on the grant program website.


The Communities Foundation of Texas’ NTX Giving Day is an 18-hour online giving event designed to empower every person to give back to their community by supporting local nonprofits and causes they care about in one easy-to-use platform.


Among the over 3,200 nonprofits in North Texas featured, more than 100 are from right here in Northeast Tarrant County.


The event stands in a class by itself. It helps build awareness and support for nonprofits like nothing else. In 2021, $62 million was raised through 103,000 donors benefiting over 3,300 local nonprofits, bringing the 14-year total to over $500 million for our community. NTX Giving Day is the largest community-wide giving event in the nation.


Since its inception in 2009, this online event has mushroomed from an idea to help local people give wisely, to a movement that has ignited a broader culture of community-wide giving. During NTX Giving Day, everyone can find their passion, and thus give with purpose, unifying to build a stronger and more vibrant community.


DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue to Keynote

October 10 NLF Breakfast

The final installment of our “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles” theme will take place on Tuesday morning, October 10, at the Hurst Conference Center, featuring DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue.


The DFW Airport Board of Directors selected Sean in July 2013 to succeed Jeffrey P. Fegan, who retired after 19 years as CEO.


In the past 10 years, we have turned Sean into a Texan – a far cry from his Australian roots, where he served as Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Australia, headquartered in Brisbane.


Today, he manages a $40 billion powerhouse that covers 17,000 acres. DFW Airport is recognized as the second-largest economic engine in the state of Texas, with a pre-pandemic 250,000 jobs associated with the airport.


We look forward to hearing Sean Donohue’s Australian accent – with a slight hint of a Texas drawl – as he shares his insights on how DFW Airport will continue to thrive and drive the North Texas economy forward into the future.

CLICK HERE to register by Friday, October 6.

Thank you to the October membership breakfast sponsor!

Chambers of Commerce Continue to be Valuable Resources for Business, Nonprofits, and Communities

As we discovered during the pandemic, our local chambers of commerce are valuable catalysts that help our communities survive and thrive. If you have not joined your local chamber, you are missing out on resources that can help drive the growth of your business.


Please reach out to our local chambers of commerce listed below to energize your business. Please contact them directly for more information: 

Colleyville Chamber of Commerce


Grapevine Chamber of Commerce


HEB Chamber of Commerce


Keller Chamber of Commerce


Metroplex Chamber of Commerce


NE Tarrant Chamber of Commerce


Southlake Chamber of Commerce


Membership Continues to Grow

As you interact with business and community leaders who impress you, please invite them to sit at your table for our next NLF breakfast on Tuesday, October 10 at the Hurst Conference Center. These influencers are making a difference in our area, so let's invite them to participate in NLF. Membership is the lifeblood of our organization.


For any prospective NLF members you may know, click here to download the membership application. We want both established and emerging leaders to continue to join our organization to further the dynamic growth of Northeast Tarrant County. 


We specifically ask you to welcome visitors and new members to our breakfast meetings because growing the power of networks is one of the main benefits of NLF.


Please reach out to Craig Hulse, our membership chairman, if you have a prospect: or 972-849-3858.

New Member Profile 

Please welcome one of our newest members of NLF.

Megan Vollmer

Smart Realty & Associates, Colleyville

Megan Vollmer is the Office Supervisor and Mentor, as well as, a Realtor® with Smart Realty, where she represents clients who are selling or buying their dream homes in Colleyville and Grapevine.


As an Army brat, Megan understands the stress that can innately come with the buying and selling of homes. She works tirelessly to ensure that each listing gets the most return on investment possible and each buyer is paired with a home that they will love for many years to come.


She is proud to specialize in the GCISD school district where she grew up and is also raising her children. She was a teacher for 9 years and thinks of being a Realtor® as an extension of that career. She serves on the Board of Directors for Serving our Seniors, won Member of the Year for 2023 through the Colleyville Chamber, is an alumni of Leadership Grapevine and Leadership Colleyville, and a volunteer with Colleyville Woman’s Club, 6 Stones, and other local non-profits. 


Megan and Brian have been married for 16 years and have two beautiful children. Jacob is 12 years old and loves soccer and Riley Grace is 10 years old and loves cheer. Megan is proud to live, work, serve, and play in Colleyville, TX.

Mark Your Calendar: 2023 NLF Event Schedule

Featured Event

26th Annual Heart of North Texas Conference


Keynote speaker:

Jason McCann, CEO of Vari, Varidesk and Varispace

Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Time: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Location: Hurst Conference Center

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Radonna Hessell.

Membership Breakfast Meeting

Location: Hurst Conference Center

Networking: 7:15 a.m. • Breakfast Open: 7:30 a.m. • Program Starts: 7:45 a.m.

Tuesday, October 10

Speaker: Sean Donahue, CEO of DFW Airport

Sponsor: Atmos Energy

NLF 2023 Membership Application
Visit our webpage!