Fort Bend Leadership Forum
Class of 2013
At the time when I applied to the Fort Bend Leadership program, I had been living in the Houston area for 6-1/2 years. My life was about being a mother to my 2 young kids, being a wife, and working full-time. In fact, I really didn't feel like Houston was 'home', because I had not really established relationships outside of work associates and family. By entering the program, I hoped to identify opportunities to serve the community that aligned with my passions and could develop me personally. I quickly realized that my participation in Leadership not only exposed me to opportunities to serve the community, but also gave me a sense of belongingness and sense of pride because I've built meaningful relationships in the process. Because of my Leadership experience, my roots are now firmly planted in Fort Bend. I highly recommend this program to anyone seeking to grow personally and professionally.
Nona Austin-King, Class of 2013
The Himalaya Drug Company
Class of 2012
Imagine a situation that you have no idea what to expect and you find that the program exceeded anything you could imagine. You learn that you have the ability to trust people and accomplish things with skills you may never have thought of in your wildest dreams!
You will be amazed at the intense emotions you will have. Not only in the education sessions and trips, but in the friendship and networking that occur during the 10 month commitment, which by the way goes by in the blink of an eye.
I could go on but I don't want to give away the experiences. You need to take this class to know and understand how beneficial it is to you personally, professionally, and most of all how you can be a better leader in your community.
I guarantee that you will be touched on many levels and in oh so many ways. You will create bonds for life. Take the class, then you will truly understand the feelings that I have. It's wonderful!
Hillary Goldstein, Class of 2012
President - First Colony Community Association
The Fort Bend Chamber Leadership Program is one of the best professional experiences that I have ever attended. This program is a fun, interactive way to learn about your community and those who run it on a daily basis, all the while establishing life-long friendships and relationships with the others involved. The experience you leave the Leadership Group with is second to none and I would not only recommend it to anyone who is in a leadership position, but those who aspire to reach those professional levels as well. I would not trade the last 10 months for anything, and would go through the program again if I had the opportunity.
P.S. Schultz, Class of 2012
Assistant Chief of Police
Sugar Land Police Department
I just wanted to send a thank you from the bottom of my heart for your leadership and the time you give of yourselves to co-chair Fort Bend Leadership Forum year after year.
The experience I went through these past ten months has been one of the most impactful in my lifetime. When I signed up last summer, I had no idea that I would be coming away from the forum with 50 new friends, and relationships that will last a lifetime. Four days after graduation, I am still a bit melancholy about this being over, but know that this is really just a beginning.
From the initial reception to Opening Retreat in San Antonio, to Austin, DC and cumulatively graduation in Galveston, I went from wondering how such a large group of people would even get to know everyone’s names to, as we speak, missing each and every one of them.
This opportunity gave me an insight into my newly adopted home (Sugar Land/Fort Bend County) that I would have never gotten otherwise. Leadership is actually what prompted me to move to the County.
This has encouraged me to become more active in the community, including signing up for the Non-Profit Leadership Excellence for this fall as well as volunteering to facilitate some of the sessions for the Class of 2013.
Anyone that has a chance to go through Leadership is very blessed.
Michelle Goodman, Class of 2012
Account Sales Executive
Jan-Pro of Houston
I applied to the Fort Bend Leadership Forum hoping to gain a greater understanding of the county and where I might best be of service. The program far exceeded my hopes, providing me with a clear understanding of the county’s strengths and challenges, as well as the county’s impact on the state and opportunities to serve. Even more valuable, I was introduced and able to build relationships with dedicated individuals working to ensure Fort Bend County remains one of the premier places to live and work in the country. This program goes beyond the intellectual understanding of community; it helps participants build an emotional connection to the community.
Michelle Oshinski, Class of 2012
SVP/CMO & Government Relations
PrimeWay Federal Credit Union
I really enjoyed the leadership class. It was very informative, productive, relationship building, networking, team building and gave me an idea of what our local leaders are doing, and how I can join in.
Mark Hudec, Class of 2012
United Planners Financial Services
Through the Leadership Forum, I had the opportunity to gain a unique insight into Fort Bend County and meet some amazing people along the way. I have built both personal and professional relationships through the program that I believe will last for years. I highly recommend the program to anyone who is new to Fort Bend County or a life-long resident, like myself. If you want to do more than just network, the Leadership Forum is the best choice in Fort Bend County. It is amazing what this program can do for you and your business.
Christopher Morales, Class of 2012
The Morales Law Firm, PLLC
The Fort Bend Chamber Leadership Forum was one of the best investments I made for my business and myself. As a life time resident of Fort Bend County and small business owner I have made a lot of connections over the years, but Leadership allowed me to create more than mere business connections. I created lasting friendships with my classmates, and as a result I can look to each of them for advice or help in my business. Every member of the Chamber should go through this program and I recommend it to anyone looking to create more than a mere business connection.
Chris Morales, The Morales Law Firm, PLLC
I recently had the honor and the privilege of participating in the 2012 Fort Bend Leadership Forum sponsored by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce. I applied for the forum not knowing exactly what to expect. Also, I own my own company so I had to pay the full tuition myself. I figured that I might meet a few new people and get to know a little more about the county. The Leadership Forum surpassed any and all expectations that I thought I had at the beginning. It was one of the absolute best programs I’ve ever participated in. Every session was entertaining and informative and the retreats were wonderful. The program is very organized and the facilitators, Ray Aguilar and Trey Reichert, were fantastic. With all this said, the most beneficial and rewarding part of the entire forum are the friendships that I have made. I now have 50 new friends that I am very close to and that I will never forget. If you have an opportunity to participate in this program do not hesitate to apply.
Keith Borgfeldt, Class of 2012
I have lived in Fort Bend County for over twenty years, but only recently started a new job where I am now fortunate enough to work in this area. I wanted to become involved in a program that was part of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and would also allow me the opportunity to meet a lot of the “movers and shakers” in a short period of time. The Leadership Forum was the perfect way to do this. Not only did I make a lot of good business contacts, but also learned a great deal about Fort Bend County that I wasn’t aware of. The friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime and I strongly encourage anyone considering enrolling in the program to do so – you will not regret it!
Thanks again to Trey and Ray – it was a great year and went by way too fast!
Brian Tave, Class of 2012
Senior Vice President &
Commercial Loan Officer
Class of 2011
Tough economic times got you down? Forget gold bullion and the stock market – invest in the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce Leadership Forum. I guarantee - your return will be priceless! You’ll be exposed to an incredible amount of information and learning opportunities, but don’t be fooled - the real value is the people you will meet and the friendships you’ll develop over a short period of time. Whether you’re a young professional or a seasoned veteran, The Leadership Forum will expose you to concepts, organizations and people you’ve never experienced before – and leave you wanting more. The commitment, passion and investment by Trey Reichert and Ray Aguilar, along with the staff at the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, will far exceed your expectations. I wholeheartedly recommend The Leadership Forum to anyone wanting to learn about volunteer and leadership opportunities in the community and establish valuable relationships at the same time. I am proud to be a Class of 2011 graduate and look forward to helping this program thrive!
Kelly Buettner, Class of 2011
Sales / Marketing Director
Sugar Creek Country Club
We so often take for granted the great blessing it is to live and work in Fort Bend County with its many manicured and safe neighborhoods, leading schools and ample professional opportunities. Being a part of the Fort Bend Leadership Forum not only introduced me to the people and groups that continue to lead this area to greatness, but it also called attention to issues often hidden by the prosperity. The Forum has encouraged me to become more involved with the community’s needs and has introduced me to a great cross section of professionals within the community with whom I shared this excellent experience.
Mark Gehringer, P.E., CFM, Class of 2011
HR Green, Inc.
In July 2010, my wife and I moved to Fort Bend County from the DFW Metroplex. Upon my arrival, I began a new career in commercial lending at NewFirst National Bank in Sugar Land. I had no business contacts in Houston, much less Fort Bend County! Thankfully, I enrolled in the Fort Bend Chamber of Leadership Forum with our first event beginning in August. For the past 10 months I have developed long lasting friendships and business relationships with my classmates, community leaders and program facilitators. Furthermore, the Leadership Forum exposed me to countless services, programs and volunteer opportunities available in the Fort Bend area. I highly recommend any business professional in Fort Bend County enroll in the Fort Bend Chamber Leadership Forum. The return on investment will pay dividends many times over.
Chip Voss, Class of 2011
NewFirst National Bank
The Fort Bend Leadership Program exceeded my expectations in so many ways. My only regret is that I waited too long to enroll. I wish that I had taken the course when I first moved to Fort Bend County 17 years ago so that I could have benefitted over all these years. Meeting civic and community leaders and hearing what is happening in our community from the key people who are designing our future was unparalleled. The course was a great blend of business professionalism and informality so that barriers were broken down and friendships could develop very quickly. I feel that I have 24 new friends and could call on any of my classmates for advice, a business opportunity or just for a lunch or happy hour date. I highly recommend the course to emerging leaders as well as seasoned professionals who want to learn more about our county and be equipped to lead us into the future.
Ruthanne Mefford, Class of 2011
Child Advocates of Fort Bend
I just wanted to say thank you for all of the thought and work you put into this program. As someone who has only lived in Texas for a year and half, Leadership has helped make Ft Bend County home for me. It’s easy to take for granted everything that must have gone on behind the scenes, for this program to run so smoothly… so thanks again for making Leadership so special. I think the Trey/Ray component is a big part of why this program works.
The Fort Bend Chamber Leadership program presents the unique opportunity to learn more about what makes this community exceptional. From infrastructure to social services and most importantly the people, the Leadership program provides insight and inspiration paired with great friendships.
Emily Rhodes, Class of 2011
Entering into the Class of 2011 Leadership Forum, I knew that I was going to be learning many different aspects of our great county, however I did not know fully what to expect. Learning was made “fun” during the fantastic ten months. The trips to DC, Austin, San Antonio and Galveston exposed me to learning which I never thought I would get. The relationships the Chamber has formed with different Government, Civil and Business institutions allowed a behind the scenes learning experience fit for ROYALTY. There was never a dull moment during the ten months and I have made friends for life. I would like to extend my warm and sincere appreciation to Trey Reichert and Ray Aguilar for their leadership and mentorship throughout the ten months! If I can do it again, I would say sign me up!!
Naushad Kermally, Class of 2011
Prime Communications, LP
Class of 2010
I have been so fortunate to have the benefit of a number of management and leadership classes through former employers, but the Fort Bend Chamber Leadership Forum was the most meaningful of all. The ability to see Fort Bend County from a different perspective provided such a foundation for understanding the inner workings of our community. Meeting and getting to know the people in my class was second to none for conducting business here. No program is more important than this one. Give yourself this gift!
Brenda Bowman, Class of 2010
Literacy Council of Fort Bend County
The Fort Bend Leadership Forum has established itself in my mind as a high quality magnet for talented people of integrity. In my business, and I believe in any business, when you can market yourself to people with strong character, it doesn’t matter if they are direct consumers of your product. Eventually that relationship pays off through referral; Not just in a one-sided way, but truly both parties are served well by the relationship. In short, when you work for your friend’s interests, “salesmanship” evolves into “servantship.” This is how business should be done.
The forum gave our class the environment needed to organically grow solid foundations that will lead to true service oriented partnerships. In a business environment like most of us operate in today, which is fast paced and often “faceless,” the forum breaks that paradigm by getting business leaders out from behind their desks and computer screens to establish true friendships with their fellow classmates. These friendships lead to opportunities that would not have hatched if we simply put an advertisement in the paper or passed out a business card at a meeting. I feel like at the Fort Bend Leadership Forum, I have begun some friendships that will last a lifetime.
Grant Crowell, Class of 2010
The Urban Foresters
I have already been telling everyone I work with internally and externally what fun I was having, how much I have learned and what wonderful contacts I have made. Of course, the folks in my class have been wonderful. It’s a very diverse group of interesting folks with various backgrounds but we have all bonded over the last 9 months and I personally feel I could call upon any one of them for guidance or assistance. I will continue to participate and look forward to facilitating next year’s class. This program has taught me a lot about what Fort Bend County has to offer and opened my eyes to the various civic opportunities. I have also learned from my class mates both by speaking with them but also by working with them on teambuilding exercises and watching how they handle challenges and problems.
Thank you, Ray and Trey, for facilitating the class. It wouldn’t have been the same without you both.
Melinda Silva, P.E., Class of 2010
Brown & Gay Engineers, Inc.
“FBLF was an incredible learning experience in so many ways. Not only did we learn about County and City Services, Local, State and Federal Government, Cultural Differences, etc, but, more importantly, we learned about ourselves, our fellow classmates and our facilitators. Together, we laughed and learned and forged bonds within our group that will last a lifetime.... and THAT was/is the best part!”
Pam Puckett, PE, Class of 2010
“The FBCC Leadership Forum is one of the most outstanding programs in learning about our county and nation! I have come to understand why Fort Bend is so dynamic, and the level of diversity, intelligence, and overall balance it is offering its residents and employees! I will cherish the friends and fun The Leadership Forum provided!”
Zeenat K. Mitha, Class of 2010
Mitha Law Firm, P.C.
“My experience attending Ft. Bend Leadership Forum provided the opportunity to meet a vibrant group of professionals from different industries who shared their experiences, contacts, and genuine interest in the advancement of Ft. Bend County. This was especially important for me, as a relative newcomer to the area. Over the past year, FBLF helped me forge valuable friendships and reinforced the fact that we all have room to grow.”
Chief Joel F. Fitzgerald, MBA, Class of 2010
Missouri City Police Department
Fort Bend Leadership 2010 was a fantastic experience for me both personally and professionally. The knowledge that I acquired about our county was exceptional, all of the programs were presented in a “first class” manner, and I had the opportunity to experience places and things that I otherwise would not have been able to. Being a new comer to the county, I met and formulated friendships that will last a lifetime! I highly recommend this forum to professionals in Fort Bend.
Mary Nan Holley, Class of 2010
CEO, Sugar Land Surgical Hospital
“I have been so fortunate to have the benefit of a number of management and leadership classes through former employers, but the Fort Bend Chamber Leadership Forum was the most meaningful of all. The ability to see Ford Bend County from a different perspective provided such a foundation for understanding the inner workings of our community. Meeting and getting to know the people in my class was second to none for conducting business here. No program is more important than this one. This class is life-changing!”
Brenda Bowman, Class of 2010
Executive Director, Literacy Council of Fort Bend County
The Leadership Program allowed me to build relationships with a diverse group of people from many different sectors, all of whom shared a common interest in learning about and promoting our community.”
Matt Fielder, Class of 2010
City of Rosenberg
Economic Development Director
As a newcomer to Sugar Land, I was so grateful to find that the Fort Bend Chamber had a leadership program. Having participated in the Class of 2010, the program exceeded my expectations. Besides having a diverse class mix, the speakers were outstanding and I learned more about Fort Bend than anticipated. Now when I’m working on a project, I have a greater base of colleagues to access thanks to the camaraderie of my Leadership class!
Karen Daly, Class of 2010
City of Sugar Land, Assistant City Manager
I quickly realized upon my arrival at Fort Bend ISD that I was missing a key ingredient to success – personal and business relationships in the greater Fort Bend community and an understanding of the many programs in the area. Participation in the Leadership class allowed me to quickly gain an understanding of the Fort Bend community and to formulate relationships in the area which have helped me tremendously. I highly recommend participation in the Leadership Program to others in the community.
Tracy Hoke, Class of 2010
Chief Financial Officer FBISD
Class of 2009
Yes, Fort Bend Leadership exceeded all my expectations. I have lived in Fort Bend County for 25 years but never worked in the community. I know a lot of people and have made many connections throughout the years as a parent and active resident. Because of the sessions, I learned so much about our city and county government and also the state and national areas of government. I also have a lot more information/respect for the police depts., prison system, hospitals and educational systems. The opportunities in Fort Bend are endless and being a part of Leadership 2009 has really made me aware of all this county has to offer and made a significant impact on me and my company/organization. I expected the learning to be outstanding but did not realize the impact the people in the class would have on me. I have met some of the most caring, interesting and motivated people that live and work in Fort Bend County. Because of our diverse group my interest has been refreshed in all these areas and I look forward to volunteering and making a positive difference in my community. I am also very excited about the opportunity to facilitate and work with the Chamber leaders to help the Class of 2010 have a positive and rewarding Leadership session. Thank you for all your work to make our experience the best it could be.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help promote this great experience. Be blessed :)
Gladys Brumfield, Class of 2009
YMCA of the Greater Houston Area – Fort Bend
In August of 2008, I called Louis Garvin to discuss a couple of ways that I could become more involved in the Chamber. I had a single goal, to build and increase my business during these trying economic times. Louis immediately recommended that I sign up and participate in the Leadership 2009 program. Skeptical at first, Louis emphasized the relationships that would be built and the doors that would be opened with community leaders. He was certain it was just the thing for me. I “justified” the financial commitment as my monthly advertising budget and signed up.
First, let me say it’s the best money I’ve spent on advertising – ever! Second, the experience provided me with so much more than “just” new business. Below is a summary of what I received:
• It met my original goal; I gained the new business that I was looking for when I signed up
• I created business and personal relationships that will last a lifetime
• I have a greater understanding of our government, how the various agencies are intertwined
• I am more aware of various issues and how my business and my family will be impacted by them
• I have been able to personally speak to my government leaders
• Senator Cornyn’s office has looked into a matter that concerned the overall health of my business and many other businesses across the country and responded back to me.
• My horizons were broadened and the knowledge I received was priceless
• And so much more!
At the end of the day, I cannot say enough about my Leadership experience. It far surpassed my expectations and my memories will last a lifetime. I highly recommend the Fort Bend Chamber Leadership Program to anyone who has the opportunity and desire to become a more active participant in their world today.
Lea Bogle, Class of 2009
The ten months in leadership were some of the most rewarding, stimulating, fun and exhausting times of my life. I do suggest that everyone train as if for the Olympics before you begin.
Susan Carpenter, CPM®, RPA, Class of 2009
The program was very helpful in me getting to know more about the community, who is involved, and how many businesses, agencies, etc. operate. I also learned a lot from my leadership classmates about their businesses and themselves. It was a great experience to compare how so many individuals with different backgrounds, life experiences, and educational levels all joined to a common point during the past 10 months. Most of us have changed in some way and while we may not be able to put this leadership experience on our resumes, going through and being a part of this program is equally as important.
Michael Higgins, CGFO, Class of 2009
Asst. Finance Director
City of Missouri City
"Get a behind-the-scenes view of Fort Bend County while making lasting connections with a diverse group of professionals"
K. Jason Miller, P.E. , Class of 2009
JACOBS : North American Infrastructure
The Fort Bend Leadership Forum is an organized, educational, and entertaining program. The sessions provide insight into the different agencies/businesses located within Fort Bend County. As this program is tailored for business leaders or future leaders in the County, it is also a terrific resource for networking, marketing and potentially growing your business.
Chad E. Hablinski, P.E. , Class of 2009
The Fort Bend Leadership Forum was an awesome experience! Being in the Law Enforcement Profession, I am used to being in a training environment with others from the same profession, therefore you don’t have many different perspectives or opinions to grasp from. However, the Fort Bend Leadership Forum broadened my perspective on a variety of issues. It’s wonderful when you have someone from another line of work to see the behind the scenes work of another. There is much value in getting many professionals from various backgrounds to understand the multi-facets of government operations and its functions. Moreover, I can not put into words about the value of the networking and friendships among the group of people during the ten months. It is a wonderful thing as we have created a line of communications that shall continue for a long time to come. The friendships will be everlasting, it was truly a great experience, I did not miss a session and I would highly recommend it to others within my profession and many other professionals within the greater Fort Bend County.
Eric C. Robins, Class of 2009
Asst. Police Chief
Sugar Land Police Department
The Fort Bend Leadership program offered by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce is an excellent leadership development program designed to develop future leaders of the community. I joined this program after it was highly recommended by my manager at Shell. I had no idea what this was about and man was I surprised!!! I was exposed to different aspects of the community including government, diversity, infrastructure, Health Services and much more, of which I was either ignorant or took it for granted earlier. I had the great opportunity to meet and network with business and government leaders and fellow participants and in the process made some lasting friendships. Trey and Ray make the program all the more fun and interesting. I strongly recommend this course to anyone interested in business and community leadership or service opportunities!
Manasa Kethireddipalli, Class of 2009
Shell Oil Products US
Engaging! Effective! Educational! Fun! A distinguished program focused on providing insight to all levels of government that impact our community and lives. If you are thinking of becoming involved in your community or just wanting to meet leaders that serve you, this program is a must.
Carlos Sepeda, Class of 2009
Southwest Water Company
The Fort Bend Leadership Forum exceeded my expectations in every way. The leadership is extremely committed to making this forum a valuable experience. Each session was informative and I came away with new knowledge about the different sectors of our county, as well as at the state and national level. Additionally, I was able to make new contacts with business leaders from throughout Fort Bend County that will be beneficial for years to come. I would not hesitate to recommend this program to other business leaders.
Michael J. Cabiro PT, MBA, OCS, Class of 2009
Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation
I would strongly urge anyone who wants to make a difference in this community to participate in Fort Bend Leadership. What I learned regarding the operations of Fort Bend County, as well as state and federal government cannot be duplicated anywhere. The contacts I have made with like minded professionals from this community will last a lifetime. I now have personal relationships with individuals who perform vital roles in the development and operations of this community as well as a sensitivity to the balance of business, government and the many cultures that make Fort Bend County awesome.
I also want to thank the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce that makes Leadership possible especially Trey Reichert and Ray Aguilar. I am sure it was difficult to provide organization and direction to so many people but ya’ll do it with professionalism (Trey) and humor (Ray) that is second to none.
John Robson, Class of 2009
Chief Operations Officer
Fort Bend Regional Council
Class of 2007
"I highly recommend the Leadership Forum to anyone that wants to get a strong foundation in Fort Bend County for participation on boards, employment, volunteerism and project facilitation, while building relationships. The relationships that I developed have been integral in my being elected to public office and have lead to key business opportunities."
Ron Reynolds, Class of 2007
Texas State Representative House District 27
“The Fort Bend Chamber’s Leadership Forum allowed me to gain valuable insight into many different aspects of Fort Bend County. The relationships, networking opportunities and leadership skills I gained from the program were priceless and I highly recommend the program to anyone looking to enhance their careers.”
Himesh M. Gandhi, Class of 2007
Hrbacek & Associates, PC
Class of 2003
I am excited to write to you and express my experience with the Fort bend Chamber of Commerce and in particular the benefits I received from my participation in the 2003 Leadership Program. In 2003, I was a midâï¿½ï¿½level engineer at a local engineering firm that promoted community involvement. As part of my experience and professional growth, my supervisor suggested I enroll in the Fort Bend Chamber Leadership program. The value and benefit was unknown to me at the time. Looking back on the experience, I can honestly say the Leadership Program opened a whole new world and way of thinking to me. The experience and education the Leadership Program provided prompted me to get involved within my community in the City of Fulshear. First, I participated in Fulshear’s Visioning and Comprehensive Planning process and then served on the Planning Commission for 8 years. Ultimately, the Leadership Program instilled in me a knowledge of Fort Bend County and our community coupled with an encouragement of being of service to others that was a part of my decision to run for Mayor in 2010 where I am still currently serving.
The Leadership Program brings together a wide cross section of people. Not only are individuals of differing professions brought together, but also of differing cultures and backgrounds. We were also able to see and experience many different aspects of our County that the average person does not. We saw inside state, county, and local governments and how they operate. Education and healthcare accomplishments and needs within our community. Also, how our community provides for the social services for those in need. Being an engineer, I appreciated the focus give to infrastructure development and needs.
The Fort Bend Chamber Leadership Program reminds me of the quote by Tom Peters, “Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders." The Leadership Program does encourage and create leaders and I am a product of that. The Fort Bend Chamber has my endorsement for accreditation with the US Chamber of Commerce. Let me know if I can be of further help in your efforts.
Thomas C. Kuykendall, Jr.