Emerging business leaders of different backgrounds are bringing fresh ideas and finding a new way in Fort Worth.

At a panel that the Fort Worth Report hosted to mark its first anniversary, three community leaders shared the same goal: ensuring the younger generation leading the city can contribute. 

“We’re seeing a new generation of leaders that are coming forward. It’s new ideas, it’s also a new perspective. It means that folks are making space at the table for younger folks like myself,” Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO Anette Landeros said at the event.

The other two panelists were Matthew Avila, CEO of Byrne Construction, and Courtney Lewis, president of the Fort Worth Rotary Club. All three panelists were featured in the Report’s Profiles in Leadership series, which highlights the “movers and shakers” shaping the city’s future. 

Alongside Tony Green as the host, the panelists talked about what their role as community leaders entails. Green asked the three what they wished they had known before taking on their positions. Avila leads 105 employees. He has to balance many responsibilities, including meeting the needs of his employees, their work and personal lives. This responsibility, he said, can’t be turned off. 

“Anyone who’s in a leadership role seeks to try and make a positive impact, but it’s hard. It’s stressful. It weighs on you,” he said. “It pushes me to do the best I can and be the best.”

Lewis, the first Black woman to lead the Rotary Club of Fort Worth, shared her journey to taking on this unexpected role as a woman of color. 

“When I took on this role, I didn’t realize the impact Rotary has had on the community,” she said. 

The event at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth also featured a panel of Report journalists. The nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization launched in April 2021 with the goal of publishing free local news about Fort Worth and Tarrant County. The news outlet has grown from six employees to 18.

Business editor Bob Francis, who joined the Report after nearly 20 years at the Fort Worth Business Press, described the nonprofit news model as having “forward momentum” as newspapers around have been shrinking during the past two decades. 

For community engagement reporter Cristian ArguetaSoto, working for the Report means giving back to the community where he grew up. ArguetaSoto started as an intern in June 2021 after graduating from Texas Christian University, just down the street from his alma mater of Paschal High School. 

“I grew up here, I was born here, and so I wanted to do something that I was invested in, and that’s my city,” ArguetaSoto said.

Education reporter Kristen Barton said the benefit of a nonprofit is the fact that all donations made to the Report, whether through individual or foundation support, go directly to funding local reporting. Barton joined the Report last summer from the Longview News-Journal

“Everything that you see here is a direct result of the community and the community’s involvement,” Barton said. “It’s going back to something that you can see and I just think that it’s incredibly special to be supported by the community because I wasn’t getting that anymore where I was at, we’re just you don’t see that as much anymore. This is life-changing.”

Fort Worth Report fellow Sandra Sadek may be reached at sandra.sadek@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Sandra SadekBusiness Reporter

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Houston, she graduated from Texas State University where she studied journalism and international...