Wednesday, January 19, 2022
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Newsmakers: Oakridge School leader to retire

🕐 8 min read


Sandra Brodnicki, APR, and Gigi Westerman, APR, Fellow PRSA, recently earned an intensive measurement and analytics certificate from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Brodnicki and Westerman are partners in The S & G Group, a strategic planning and communication consulting firm based in Arlington.


PlainsCapital Bank recently welcomed Bill Leonard to its Private Bank as wealth strategist at 3707 Camp Bowie Blvd. Leonard will develop customized financial plans and investment strategies for The Private Bank’s clients, aligning their assets with their goals.


Quirk Growth, a Fort Worth-based coaching and marketing services company supporting organizations around the United States, is one of the area’s first groups to attend and graduate from Business Made Simple’s (BMS) business coaching certification program. Executives Jake Jordan and Chris Rivera earned their BMS certification in the program’s inaugural class this fall.

Jordan, Quirk’s Chief Clarity Officer, joined the company to help lead Quirk after a career in business ownership in the real estate, financial advisory, and advertising industries. He attended Abilene Christian University prior to departing to launch a real estate company.


Irving-based JPI has promoted Payton Mayes– to divisional president and managing partner after successes in 2020, including portfolio transactions, pre-construction project sales and continued growth for the most active multifamily developer in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Mayes will oversee and lead all components of JPI’s multifamily regional operations, including site acquisition, development, design management, construction, capital markets, portfolio management and disposition, the company said in the announcement.


Jon Kellam, The Oakridge School’s Head of School, will retire in summer 2022 from the position he has held for 15 years. His retirement will mark the end of a remarkable career in education that has lasted nearly three decades at Oakridge.

Kellam said there is peace in knowing, that in life, there is a season for everything. Having accomplished much professionally, he is looking forward to more time with Kristi, his wife of 28 years, and their sons, Cole ’16 and Cade ’18.

“After many months of thoughtful deliberation and fervent prayer, Kristi and I have determined that the next academic school year, 2021-2022, will be my last as Head of School,” Kellam wrote in an announcement that followed a call with faculty and staff.

“Making the announcement this far in advance is out of my respect and love for the Oakridge family – the community I cherish. The timing also coincides with the end of my contract on June 30, 2022, and will afford the board sufficient time for a national search for my successor,” Kellam said.

Kellam joined Oakridge in 1993 as an English teacher. He went on to coach numerous sports, and held various administrative posts, including director of summer programs, head of middle school, and associate head of school.

He is the immediate past board president of the Southwest Preparatory Conference, a position held from 2016-2020. He has served on the board and in multiple leadership roles with the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest, and is currently on the board of Texas Private Schools Association.

Kellam holds master of education and bachelor of science in education degrees from Texas Christian University and completed the School Leadership Development Institute at Stanford University. He also earned a fully funded fellowship to the Klingenstein Head of Schools Program at Columbia University in 2014.

Prior to his time at Oakridge, Kellam taught English and business and coached soccer and football at Crowley High School.

Fort Worth Country Day  has named Leigh Block as its new athletic director, effective July 1, 2021.

Block was one of five semifinalists of 19 candidates chosen by the athletic director search advisory committee to be interviewed on campus.

His experience over the last 20 years working at independent schools similar to FWCD, including The Walker School in Marietta, Georgia, and Lancaster Country Day School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and understanding of the many constituencies with whom an athletic director works, led to Block’s selection as the school’s ninth athletic director, the school said in a news release.

“Following a months-long search, a committee of coaches helped identify and attract to campus five dynamic finalists for the position. My wish from the start of this process came true: I had a very difficult decision,” said Eric Lombardi, FWCD head of school. “Leigh differentiated himself from the candidate pool with his proven success leading athletic departments in schools like Fort Worth Country Day. His success has been the result of possessing incredible work ethic, humility, communication skills, organization, and, most importantly, heartfelt commitment to kids and coaches.”

Block joins FWCD from The Walker School, where he has coached, advised, and taught English for 17 years and served as athletic director since 2015.

He is a graduate of Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, English, and a master’s degree in English from the University of Florida.

He also holds the Certified Master Athletic Administrator designation from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and served as region president for four years. Three times, his colleagues selected him as Region Athletic Director of the Year.


Freese and Nichols Inc. has promoted Jeff Payne, PE, – PHOTO –  and Tricia Hatley, PE, – PHOTO –  two longtime managers with nationally recognized leadership experience, to executive vice president posts as the company prepares for succession changes.

As new members of the executive team, Payne oversees South Central Operations, which covers Texas and Louisiana, while Hatley oversees the firm’s operations in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida, the company said in a news release.

Payne has 24 years of experience in infrastructure operations and designing/leading urban and rural water transmission and wastewater conveyance projects. A key example: He managed the nationally acclaimed Lake Texoma to Wylie Pipeline project for the North Texas Municipal Water District.

Payne is in line to become chief operating officer in 2022 when current COO Larry Eckersley steps down from that role. Mike Nichols, a member of the company-namesake family, retired in 2021 as a COO overseeing offices in the Central Plains and Southeast U.S. regions.

Hatley will retain her role as Oklahoma Division Manager while also managing Freese and Nichols’ continuing expansion across the Southeast.


Arlington City Council District 1 representative Helen Moise has been appointed to a one-year term on the 2021 National League of Cities’ (NLC) Community and Economic Development Committee.


Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed Daryl Chambers and reappointed Allison Edwards, DrPH, Kathy Leader-Horn, and David E. Saucedo II to the Texas Board of Nursing for terms set to expire on January 31, 2027.

Chambers of Grand Prairie is a senior analyst and accountant at Sixth Street. He previously served as a senior operations analyst with Crestline Investors. He is a member of the National Association of Black Accountants. Chambers received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and Accounting from Texas Christian University.

Leader-Horn of Granbury is a Licensed Vocational Nurse and serves as Alternate Administrator and Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement Manager for The Good Samaritan Society Home and Community Based Services in Fort Worth. She previously served as a school nurse with Granbury ISD and Crowley ISD. She is a member of the National Federation of Licensed Vocational Nurses. Leader-Horn received a Vocational Nurse Certificate from The John Peter Smith School of Vocational Nursing.


Acme Brick Company has announced that Ed Watson is the new Executive Vice President – Operations, in charge of all sales and production operations as well as Supply Chain and Environmental, Health and Safety.

David Michie has been promoted to Vice President of Production, and will be responsible for all brick production and mining operations, as well as Engineering and Research & Production Services.

Watson joined Featherlite Building Products, an affiliated Acme Brick Company, in 1983 as the plant engineer of the Ranger Lightweight Aggregate plant, before moving to the Texas Quarries division as general manager in 1988.

In 1996, he was promoted to a regional manager of Featherlite, responsible for all production and sales at several locations before becoming the general production manager of Featherlite in 1999 when those operations were merged into Acme Brick Company.

In early 2003 he was promoted to Assistant Vice President of Production at Acme and Vice President of Production in 2004. Two years later he was named Senior Vice President of Production for the company.

Michie joined Acme Brick Company in 1985 as a management trainee at the company’s Denton, Texas, brick plant. He was quickly promoted to packaging supervisor within a year and by 1993 was named Processing Superintendent at the plant. A year later he was promoted to Plant Manager of Acme’s McQueeney, Texas, brick plant. His next promotion in 1997 was to Arkansas Regional Production Manager.

In 2006 Michie became Acme’s Assistant General Production Manager over all the company’s brick plants. Two years later he rose to become General Production Manager of Acme.


Jennifer Hatalski has been named Marketing Director at Calloway’s Nursery Inc.


Texan by Nature (TxN), a Texas-led conservation non-profit founded by former First Lady Laura Bush, has appointed  Robert Horton and Roxann Neumann to the board of directors.

Horton is Vice President of Environmental Affairs for Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Neumann is Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Silver Eagle Beverages in Houston.

Tailwind Advisors has announced that Cristina Desmond has joined Tailwind Philanthropic Advisors, a division of Tailwind Advisors within the family office services.  Tailwind Philanthropic Advisors works with clients to establish and actively support a long-term philanthropic vision that ensures alignment with financial goals.

Lena Pope, a nonprofit organization with a 90-year history of improving the lives of Tarrant County children, has appointed Cathy R. Sheffield as its new chief advancement officer.

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