Q&A: Louise Appleman


Louise Appleman Owner/Principal, Appleman & Associates

n Betty Dillard bdillard@bizpress.net

Louise Appleman has been an active volunteer in the Tarrant County community for more than 45 years. A familiar face on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards, Appleman was recently re-elected president of the Tarrant County College District Board of Trustees. She also serves on the boards of Tarrant County College Foundation, Workforce Solutions, Scenic Fort Worth, Scenic Texas, United Way Women’s Leadership Council and the advisory board of Streams and Valleys Inc.

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She has been president of the Junior League of Fort Worth Inc. and Beth-El Congregation, director of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Arts Council of Fort Worth & Tarrant County, co-founder/co-chairman of the Women’s Foundation of North Texas and founding board/grants committee chairman of the Community Foundation of North Texas. Her leadership acumen and dedication to improving the community have not gone unnoticed. Appleman was selected for the 1985 class of Leadership Texas, named First Lady of Fort Worth by the Altrusa Club, honored as a Distinguished Alumna of Texas Woman’s University, recognized as the Outstanding Volunteer by the Fort Worth Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and received the Legacy of Women Award from SafeHaven of Tarrant County.

And in her spare time, she runs her own business – Appleman & Associates, a relocation consulting company that assists employers with executive and administrative personnel and their families who are being recruited and/or relocated to the Fort Worth area. A native of Corpus Christi, Appleman is a 1962 graduate in nursing from Texas Woman’s University. After college, she married attorney Gordon Appleman and they settled in Fort Worth. Upon retiring as director of in-service education at what is now Baylor All Saints Hospital and after finding herself an “empty nester” when her kids set out for college, she realized she could parlay her volunteerism into a successful business.

“I wanted to return to the workplace but manage my own time and not entirely give up the volunteer world,” she said. “In fact, continuing to volunteer provides me the connections I needed to help newcomers become involved. I feel that my involvement in a variety of organizations is helpful in linking newcomers to activities they might enjoy and benefit.” What’s one of her most interesting relocations? Two horses from overseas.

There was a lot of criticism during the development of TCC’s two downtown campuses and of the board’s perceived lack of transparency. How will that past experience affect your leadership this time? Planning and building a downtown campus was the result of a study by the Fort Worth Chamber, Downtown Fort Worth Inc. and educational institutions from across the region, which determined that there was an underserved population within five miles of the downtown core. TCC was in a high-growth mode, as well, at the time. What we now call the Trinity River Campus East Center for Health Care Professions was selected after many other downtown sites were considered and rejected for several reasons: cost to remodel or build, transportation issues, etc.

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All decisions were made in the boardroom, open to the public, from the initial announcement of choice of site through the construction phases. Plans had to be changed because of concerns regarding building in the flood plain (which the U.S. Corps of Engineers had never, before Katrina, questioned). Finally, the RadioShack building became available for purchase. Printed minutes of these discussions and decisions were and are available to the public. A model of the original design (which crossed the river) was on display in public places for several years. We invited and encouraged citizens to view it and comment. There were special open-to-the-public sessions with consultants when the project was challenged. Throughout, regular updates on the TCC website regarding construction progress were publicized.

It is with some pride that we point out that the east campus has been selected by Architizer.com as one of 13 sites in Texas to be visited, that it has been featured on the cover of the 2012 Fort Worth Chamber Newcomers Magazine, and that it won the Downtown Fort Worth Inc. award for Sustainable Development in 2011. Four years ago, during my presidency, we began live-streaming our board meetings. They are also archived on the TCC website if an interested citizen cannot watch live.

What is your vision for TCC’s future? In 2010, under Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley’s direction, we engaged in a lengthy strategic planning process. After 11 meetings throughout the county attended by hundreds of citizens who submitted thousands of suggestions and comments, we prepared, presented and strive to adhere to TCC Vision 2015. There are three major goals and 20 implementations supporting student learning and success, ensuring affordability and access as well as diversity representing the citizenry, and promotion of institutional effectiveness through continuous improvement. We are an Achieving the Dream Institution. This is a national initiative whose goal is “to increase the number of Americans with a college certificate or degree with marketplace value within the next decade.” Changes and additions have been made to the district’s organizational chart, our budget, curriculum and programs to help achieve each of these priorities.

Why did you choose relocation consulting? The Fort Worth Chamber, in late 1980, conducted a nationwide survey to determine the Fort Worth “image” regarding new business development. It was somewhat negative, to say the least, and I brashly assumed I could be of help. If only we could get them to town, show them around, talk about “life outside the workplace,” we could change the perception. We created a brochure explaining a two-part orientation/assistance process, printed stationery and contacted every CEO and headhunter who might be familiar with me and what I hoped was a “good reputation.” The phone started ringing. Twenty-five years later and we have relocated 600-plus new families. This means we’ve given the initial tour 1,200 times as about one-half of the recruits are hired and move to the area. That success from what I call a “kitchen counter operation” proves Fort Worth-Tarrant County “shows and sells itself.”

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What’s your favorite place in Fort Worth to show clients? I always enjoy seeing the reaction of my visitors during the driving tour when I turn the corner from North Main onto Exchange Avenue and they see the Historic Stockyards for the first time. From there, we go back to downtown via Main Street toward the courthouse and they get a wonderful view of our downtown and its varied architecture. Then we drive along Forest Park and the river with Trinity Park in the background, on to the Botanic Garden and then the museums. They usually comment on the variety of amenities adding to quality of life, the “clean and green” appearance of the city, and how easy it is to “get around,” current construction projects notwithstanding.

Any advice for an entrepreneur wanting to start or grow a business? This is a “Do as I say, not as I did” answer: formulate a business plan detailing anticipated expenses and income; seek professional advice from an attorney, CPA, or a business assistance center; determine your market and how to reach it with appropriate PR and information; be prepared for unexpected challenges and/or changes. If this is your only means of necessary income, be VERY prepared and have a Plan B.

What do you do for fun? Play with our three grandchildren.