July 2023 Newsletter

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

Purposeful leadership is a lifelong pursuit worth leaning into at each stage of life and our leadership journey.

Today, as I write this letter, my wife and I are attending a conference of leaders who are gathered to share ideas, learn from one another, and lean into collaborative opportunities to impact our communities. We all have much to learn together.

We’re excited about the many good things taking place in Tarrant County, in the US, and around the world to address society’s biggest challenges. Northeast Tarrant County is blessed to have many leadership opportunities for impact. I encourage you to seek out one of the many community initiatives taking place and get involved.

I was reminded recently of the importance of self-examination as leaders in the April 6, 2022 article “5 Principles of Purposeful Leadership” by Hubert Joly, the former CEO of Best Buy, published in the Harvard Business Review. 

The author presents five attributes that characterizes leaders who are able to unleash the kind of human magic you see at work at some of the most high-performing companies.

  1. Be clear about your purpose and why it is what drives you as a leader.
  2. Be clear about your role. Create clear vision, energy, and momentum.
  3. Be clear about whom you serve. Hint: It’s not yourself.
  4. Be driven by values. Values are no good if they remain on paper. Being driven by values is doing right, not just knowing or saying what’s right.
  5. Be authentic.

Questions to ask ourselves as leaders:

  • Have you decided what kind of leader you want to be?
  • How would you describe your purpose?
  • How would you describe your role?
  • How are you creating an environment for others can thrive and flourish?
  • Who are you serving and what values define you?
  • Are you doing your best to be authentic, approachable, and vulnerable

In particular, I appreciate this summary advice for each of us to: “Start with yourself. Be the leader you’re meant to be. Be the change you want to see.” Be encouraged as you face challenges and reach out to collaborate.


The NLF provides a forum for collaboration, dialogue, and engagement to build stronger communities through relationships. Click here to download the membership application.


With tremendous gratitude,

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


Details Emerging on the

26th Annual Heart of North Texas Conference

Our dynamic planning committee is hard at work and will release details in August about the theme, agenda, and keynote speakers for the 26th Annual Heart of North Texas Conference.


Please mark your calendar now for Wednesday, November 1, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Hurst Conference Center.


In addition to what is becoming a fantastic line-up, 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 speakers.


Please contact RaDonna Hessel for more details about how your company may become a sponsor 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 a major source of funding for our scholarship program.

Chamber Leadership Leadership Programs Are in Final Days of Recruiting New Classes

One of the signs of a vibrant community and its chamber of commerce is a powerful leadership program that opens the doors for the next generation of leaders. Each of the chambers of commerce affiliated with Northeast Leadership Forum is accepting nominations for its leadership program.

These leadership programs offer the opportunity for you to identify emerging leaders and seasoned leaders within your company or organization to grow their circle of influence and connections. All Chambers of Commerce listed above produce leadership programs. Please contact them directly for more information. 

Colleyville Chamber of Commerce


Grapevine Chamber of Commerce

817-421-1522 – Already full

HEB Chamber of Commerce


Keller Chamber of Commerce

*In partnership with the City of Keller


Metroplex Chamber of Commerce


NE Tarrant Chamber of Commerce


Southlake Chamber of Commerce


August 8 Breakfast to Feature Michael Morris:

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles - Part 2 of 3

RSVP for our Tuesday, August 8, breakfast at the Hurst Conference Center. Our speaker will be the Director of Transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments – Michael Morris.


Michael has played a pivotal role in the planning and implementation of mobility projects across North Texas for the past 33 years. Most importantly, the plans he is helping create will impact how well North Texas residents travel for the next 50 years.


He has overseen everything from feeder road connectors to the major projects that include Airport Freeway, the DFW Connector, and the recently-celebrated I-35W in Fort Worth.


This breakfast provides your opportunity to invite friends and colleagues to hear the inside scoop on transportation issues that impact all of us.

Please CLICK HERE to confirm your reservations. 

We appreciate Linebarger Attorneys at Law being our breakfast sponsor.

Membership Continues to Grow

We continue to grow the influence of our organization and of our new members as we add new members.


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, August 8, 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.


Please see two more new member profiles below:

  • Ruth Assi, MSW– Regional Director, United Way of Tarrant County
  • Bryan Downer - CEO, The CEC (Community Enrichment Center)


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: chulse@nrhtx.com or 972-849-3858.

New Member Profiles 

Please welcome two of our newest members of NLF.

Ruth Assi, MSW

Regional Director, United Way of Tarrant County

Ruth Barajas Assi is the Regional Director of United Way of Tarrant County, a dynamic leader with a vested interest in community engagement and helping nonprofits thrive. With a bachelor's and master's degree in social work from The University of Texas at Arlington, she possesses a strong academic foundation for her impactful work.

Ruth's journey with United Way of Tarrant County began in May 2022 when she joined as a Program Manager. Her exceptional contributions and dedication led to a promotion in January 2023 to her current role as Regional Director. Prior to rejoining United Way, Ruth served in key roles with the City of Fort Worth and ReflectUs, both of which deepened her understanding of community needs and collaboration.

Born and raised in Fort Worth, she has deep-rooted connections to the community she serves. Additionally, Ruth serves as the Vice President of Marketing for the Dallas chapter of the Hispanic Women's Network of Texas (HWNT). Her diverse experiences and unwavering commitment to uplifting nonprofits make her a strong connector for work happening across Tarrant County.

Bryan Downer

CEO, The CEC (Community Enrichment Center)

As President and CEO of The CEC (also known as The Community Enrichment Center), Bryan Downer works with the leadership team and the Board of Directors to build on the strengths and partnerships CEC has established in the community to provide assistance to families in need. He has been a part of CEC since March of 2013 where he served as Vice President of Property.

His understanding heart for people helps him to relate to the various needs and challenges of the over 400 people who sleep under CEC roofs each night and the hundreds of families fed each day through the CEC Food Pantry. His vision is to build on our strengths and partnerships to help the most people move from crisis to wholeness in an effort to break the cycle of poverty and family violence by preventing its start.

Bryan currently serves on the Executive Board of the Apartment Association of Tarrant County and the Board of the Texas Apartment Association. Prior to joining CEC, he managed a family service business in the DFW area that he and his wife, Nansii started. Bryan’s 20 years of residential construction experience guided him in the management of the many homes, townhomes, condos and apartments that the CEC owns throughout Tarrant County.

In 2009, he earned a graduate degree from Tyndale Theological Seminary in Fort Worth and currently leads a local faith community. He is passionate about connecting people with the peace of God. He is married to the love of his life, Nansii, and is the father of three, grandfather of six, and they have two great grandsons. The Downers live in North Richland Hills.

Mark Your Calendar: 2023 NLF Event Schedule

Featured Event

26th Annual Heart of North Texas Conference

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 Meetings

Location: Hurst Conference Center

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

Tuesday, August 8

Speaker: Michael Morris, Director of Transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments

Sponsor: Linebarger Attorneys at Law

Tuesday, October 10

Speaker: Sean Donahue,

CEO of DFW Airport

Sponsor: Atmos Energy

NLF 2023 Membership Application
Visit our webpage!