Alex Jimenez first heard the phrase “The Fort Worth Way” from former Mayor Mike Moncrief as he compared Fort Worth to Dallas.

Moncrief described Fort Worth as more collaborative than its neighbor because city leaders prided themselves on working out potentially divisive topics before bringing them to the public while Dallas had ugly fights about such issues in public, Jimenez recalled. 

Twenty years later, Jimenez, former vice-president of TXU Energy and a board member of Rocketship Public Schools in Texas, says closed-door meetings continue to be the norm. But his view on “The Fort Worth Way” has also changed since first learning the phrase.

“One thing that’s missing, especially in the last 20, 25 years has been that maybe not the right people have been behind those closed doors,” Jimenez said. “I think that builds a kind of distrust in communities, especially communities of color.”

“The Fort Worth Way” means many things to many people. For some, it reflects the small-town spirit that makes a big city like Fort Worth hospitable. But for others, it points to a long history of excluding certain people from having a seat at the table for Fort Worth’s important conversations. 

Now, as Fort Worth continues to grow and its leadership evolves, people are asking which way the city should go.

In response to these questions, Fort Worth leaders will convene to discuss “The Fort Worth Way” as part of a ”Candid Conversations” series sponsored by the Fort Worth Report. 

This event begins at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 16 at Texas Wesleyan University and will be moderated by longtime Fort Worth journalist Bob Ray Sanders. 

Panelists include former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Leadership Fort Worth Executive Director Jennifer Treviño, Community Frontline founder Dante Williams and Jimenez.

Sanders encourages attendees to come with an open mind.

“What is ‘The Fort Worth Way’?” Sanders said. “These are all people who will speak their minds very candidly so I expect it will be an engaging morning for the panelists as well as the audience.”

If you go:

When: 7:30-9 a.m. Feb. 16 

Where: Nick and Lou Martin University Center, Texas Wesleyan University (3165 E. Rosedale St., Fort Worth, 76105)

What: This is a free community event with free parking. Complimentary continental breakfast will be served starting at 7:30 a.m. and the program will begin promptly at 8 a.m.

The event is sold-out, but a livestream of the event will be broadcast on the Fort Worth Report’s Facebook page, and a recording will be posted at

Many people point to the city’s rejected 2012 Olympic bid, which spurred a $540 million public-private partnership now known as Dickies Arena, as a prime example of the Fort Worth Way bolstering the city. 

But a negative connotation is also attached to the idea, often linked to a “good ol’ boys system,” said Treviño, who first heard the term from former Mayor Bob Bolen in one of her graduate business classes at TCU. 

“He described it as the way we do business in Fort Worth or the way that our politics tend to work,” she said. “Depending on your perspective or where you are in the community, understanding that that doesn’t always mean a good thing.”

While longtime residents may be familiar with “The Fort Worth Way,” she said, many newer residents may not know about it. 

“Anything that we can do to open up the dialogue and have these kinds of conversations to make Fort Worth more accessible, more inclusive the better. Because if we know better, then we can do better,” Treviño said.

The panel will explore whether “The Fort Worth Way” still holds a place in Fort Worth and how city leaders can better engage all communities. Jimenez said he hopes for candid conversations that will foster change. 

“Having those kinds of conversations, sometimes you don’t feel comfortable,” he said. “If we don’t talk about the problems we’re having, then everything stays the same, and I really believe that sometimes, things have to change to get better.”

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @ssadek19

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...