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Traci Cook Lee

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Planning knows no bounds for Traci Cook Lee, who coordinates, creates and conceives schedules for some sizable conferences.

As director of NAPE Expo (North America Prospect Expo), the Fort Worth event manager juggles duties that might intimidate even the Martha Stewarts of the world.

“I was always a person who liked to get involved,” says Lee, 37, a longtime marketing professional who now has the job of overseeing the world’s largest oil and gas prospect exposition.

Held annually in three cities and featuring more than 3,000 exhibitors, the expo hosts 33,000 attendees each year. Days after returning from a recent Pittsburgh conference, Lee expressed disbelief on being named a Great Woman of Texas.

“I think that everyone should have a lot of balance in their life with work and community and your family life, and I guess that maybe winning it means not that I’ve achieved that balance, but that maybe I’m on the right path,” Lee says.

Asked about a typical day, Lee described mornings spent reviewing phone messages from the previous evening and preparing to tackle the new day’s tasks.

“We’re about to add a fourth [show], so it’s juggling and making sure to keep focused on the event,” Lee says.

Only days after wrapping up the Pittsburgh show, Lee already is planning the Feb. 5-8 winter and Aug. 14-16 summer 2013 shows in Houston as well as the April 9-13 NAPE East show in Pittsburgh.

Attendees make her job easier, with conference guests surveyed after each event. Their responses help Lee and her assistants plan for the next event.

“One of the assets I have is I’m blessed with an amazing staff. I don’t think I could do it without them. I just have one of the strongest networks of people I need,” Lee says.

Lee and her husband, Richard, have a son, Barrett, 7, and live in Fort Worth.

– A. Lee Graham

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