Newsmakers: Promotions, new hires

Jyric Sims courtesy photo


Liberty Capital Bank has announced the promotion of Ryan Friend to president. Friend previously served as senior vice president. He assumes the responsibilities of president from mentor, Robin Wantland, who is retiring following a 42-year career in banking, 10 of them with Liberty Capital Bank.

Texas Capital Bank N.A., and its parent company Texas Capital Bancshares Inc. announced several leadership appointments: Joe Valenzuela as Senior Manager, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, effective May 19, 2021; Don Goin as Chief Information Officer, effective May 27, 2021; and Madison Simm as President of Mortgage Finance, following the retirement of Jack Nunnery, effective August 2, 2021.


Fort Worth Country Day (FWCD), the oldest co-ed college-preparatory school in Fort Worth, has named Stephen Blan  as its new head of Middle School, effective July 1, 2021. Blan succeeds John Stephens, who will depart FWCD at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year after 15 years of service.

Blan has been a member of the FWCD faculty since the 2016-17 academic year when he accepted a position as a Middle School history teacher. In 2018, he became FWCD’s first director of the Center for International Studies, and in 2019, was named assistant head of Middle School.

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Holly M. Hutchins ­ has been named vice provost for faculty success at the University of North Texas. Her appointment begins July 12.

Texas Wesleyan University’s Eunice & James L. West Library Director Elizabeth A.M. Howard  was elected to the Texas Library Association’s executive board as its new academic representative-at-large. She took office at the end of the TLA 2021 Annual Conference on April 24.


The Tarrant Regional Water District’s board of directors announced May 18 that Dan Buhman  has been named as the agency’s seventh general manager in its 100-year history. Buhman will begin serving in his new role on July 1. He will succeed Jim Oliver, who has served as the Water District’s top official since 1986. Buhman most recently served as TRWD’s deputy general manager, and has overseen many of the District’s major divisions, high-profile projects and strategic initiatives during his eight-year tenure.

Buhman earned his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree from Colorado State University. He works closely with nonprofits like Streams & Valleys, Trinity Collaborative, and as a member of Downtown Fort Worth Rotary and graduate of Leadership Fort Worth. Buhman is on the board of several state and national associations, including serving as Policy Chair of the Texas Water Conservation Association and Vice President of the National Water Supply Alliance.

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Jyric Sims, FACHE,  has been named chief executive officer for Medical City Plano and Medical City Frisco, effective May 17. The new assignment had been previously announced.

Sims had served as CEO at Medical City Fort Worth since 2017.

HOUSTON – LifeGift, the nonprofit organ and tissue donation organization serving 109 Texas counties in Southeast, North and West Texas, has announced the promotion of Kristine Browning, ­ RN, to vice president, quality and regulatory compliance.

Kyllan Cody has been appointed as chief executive officer of Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of City View. Cody will oversee all of the day-to-day operations as well as patient care and quality at the 77-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital, located at 6701 Oakmont Boulevard in Fort Worth. She assumed the position on May 17, 2021.

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JLL has expanded its Dallas team with the hiring of Jason Cheek as vice president, healthcare.


Trucking and transportation attorney Steve Laird  has been named the recipient of the 2021 Blackstone Award, the Tarrant County Bar Association’s most prestigious honor.

The Blackstone Award is presented annually during the TCBA’s Law Day Celebration to an attorney whose career embodies ethical ideals, courage and service to the legal profession.

The award is named after British jurist and judge Sir William Blackstone. His Commentaries on the Laws of England is considered the foundation of legal education in England and North America.

“It gives you a chance to reflect when peers present you with a career-spanning recognition,” said Laird, founder of The Law Offices of Steven C. Laird, PC in Fort Worth. “Law always has been and continues to be a profession to me, rather than a business. I’ve always said, ‘How a lawyer practices is a reflection on the kind of person he or she is.’ It takes years to develop a positive reputation, but that can all be lost overnight. I have been fortunate throughout my career, but I have also worked very hard to maintain my professional integrity.”

Last year, he was one of a select group of attorneys to be among the first in the nation to earn Board Certification in Truck Accident Law from the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is also Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board Legal Specialization and as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Also in May, Laird was inducted into the exclusive International Society of Barristers.

The invitation-only organization is devoted to retaining access to trial by jury, as well as improving trial advocacy training, encouraging civility, and supporting and protecting the legal rights of all citizens.

Selection follows a stringent vetting process by fellow trial lawyers and judges based on a candidate’s abilities, experience, professional accomplishments, and ethical standards.

Three litigation attorneys have joined Cantey Hanger LLP. Partners Daena Goldsmith Ramsey and Constance M. “Misty” Broome, and associate Matthew Alagha had been with Vaughn & Ramsey in Arlington. 


Marisa Bono, a lifelong social justice advocate and thought leader, has joined Every Texan as its next chief executive officer.  Bono brings extensive experience as a civil rights lawyer and public servant. She is the first Latina and first person of color to serve as Every Texan’s CEO.

Bono joins Every Texan – formerly the Center for Public Policy Priorities – after most recently serving as Chief Strategic Officer of VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, and as Chief of Policy for San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg prior to that.

Tarleton State University President James Hurley has been appointed to the North Texas Commission board of directors. NTC is a public-private partnership established in 1971 to address regional challenges and opportunities to spur economic development, promote innovation and improve quality of life. Hurley became Tarleton’s 16th president in fall 2019.

United Way of Tarrant County announced May 27 that Shakita Johnson, Esq, LBSW, has been named executive director of the Area Agency on Aging of Tarrant County as of June 7.  She also will serve as Vice President, Community Investment for United Way of Tarrant County.

As executive director,  Johnson will oversee the overall operations of the agency and lead all awareness and advocacy efforts to improve the quality of life for people ages 60 and over, as well as people with disabilities and caregivers in Tarrant County.

Johnson earned her Juris Doctor from Texas A&M School of Law. She has a B.A. in Social Work from the University of North Texas and a Long-Term Care Administration Degree from Tarrant County Community College. She is a licensed social worker, a qualified mediator and has a certificate in elder mediation training.

Schwab Charitable, one of the largest national providers of donor-advised funds and other philanthropic services, has announced that Sam Kang will become president effective July 1, replacing Kim Laughton, who had previously announced plans to retire from the organization this summer.

Kang, who holds the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy designation, is an Executive Sponsor for the Charles Schwab Community Ambassadors Team in Westlake and is part of the Executive Leadership Team for the American Heart Association in Tarrant County.


Darby Swank has been appointed Senior Vice President, Sales & Business Development of Kapsch TrafficCom North America. Swank is a standing member of the Finance Committee for the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Authority (IBTTA) and graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He is located in Austin.

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