Jennifer Ellison and Laurie Bates extend friendships — and palates — one dinner at a time.

They started a supper club called Fort Worth Crowded Table to connect women and build relationships with one another over a meal. 

Now, they are expanding their guest list further through their inaugural Meaningful Conversations event scheduled for 7 p.m. May 4 at The Ostreum, 108 South Freeway No. 130 in Fort Worth.

Meaningful Conversations differs from Crowded Table in that it isn’t a dinner, but a speaking event with live music from musical duo The Secret Sisters, complimentary snacks and a full bar. And organizers want women and men to attend. Tickets are $35. 

The conversation, surrounding women-centric issues, will be similar to what Crowded Table guests are used to. Ellison says that Meaningful Conversations is a purpose-driven, women-focused speaking event that discusses topics ranging from community involvement, to politics, to everything in between.

For the first Meaningful Conversations, Ellison and Bates invited podcast hosts Sarah Stewart Hollins and Beth Silvers of “Pantsuit Politics” to lead guests in a conversation about women’s role in politics.

“They bring grace and curiosity to what can be a challenging topic among friends,” Bates said. “They are truly an inspiration to us with their candid approach.”

Ellison and Bates are proponents of community-driven discussion. In starting Crowded Table, their initial goal was to encourage women to take part in open, meaningful conversations in their communities. 

Meaningful Conversations is just another way to inspire engagement in Fort Worth women, they said.

Ellison hopes the discussion will inspire guests to continue these conversations during their daily lives, she said.

“They may disagree on issues, but fundamentally at the end of the day, they stand on common ground and choose to focus on compromise over conflict, which is something Laurie and I believe is currently lacking in society,” Ellison said. 

Matthew Sgroi is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at 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. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Matthew Sgroi

Matthew Sgroi

Matthew Sgroi is the 2022-23 Fort Worth Report multimedia fellow. He can be reached at or (503)-828-4063. Sgroi is a current senior at Texas Christian University, majoring...