Welcome 2022 Fall New Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 45 new business members in the months of September and October. Learn more about each member business and the services they offer by clicking the links below.

September New Members
ADOBE
BEHAVIOR FRONTIERS
BUILDING RESOURCE COMPANIES
CADDO OFFICED REIMAGINED
CARSTENS, ALLEN & GOURLEY, LLP
CHELSEA PHARMACY
ELLIE MENTAL HEALTH
EOS WORLDWIDE
HONOR YOGA PLANO
KUDOS
LEADFORWARD MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS
MIAMBE GROUP
MILLENNIUM SMILES
NORSTAR FINANCIAL OF PLANO, LLC
PARKER-CHASE PRESCHOOL
ROGERS HEALY AND ASSOCIATES – Rich Cardozo
ROSA COLLINS REAL ESTATE GROUP
ROSE AESTHETICS
SHAKESPEARE MCKINNEY
SPEEDPRO IMAGING
SUNSTONE ASSOCIATES
THE TOY TREE

October New Members
ABSOLUTE CONSTRUCTION
AMEGY BANK
BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS WINANS
BRIANNA CANNON
BULK BLADE AND BIT
COPELAND CARES AGENCY
COSMETIC COMPANIONS, LLC
ERC SPECS
EXP REALTY – DAVID RILEY
FAIRFIELD INN & SUITES BY MARRIOTT – PLANO
 FIREHOUSE SUBS
HIGH PROFILE INC
INSPERITY – TRISHA VANMETER
INSURE ME STEVE AGENCY
JCPENNEY COMPANY, INC.*
MARS SERVICES
POLARIS EEG & DIAGNOSTICS
PRESTON PLACE RETIREMENT
SHAKE SHACK – W. PARK
SPENGA – N. DALLAS & PLANO
TAZIKI’S
UNITE PRIVATE NETWORKS
VILLAGE MEDICAL – PLANO EAST

Are you interested in learning more about the Plano Chamber of Commerce and what your business can gain from joining the Plano Chamber? CLICK HERE for information about member benefits, services, and programs or contact membership@planochamber.org.

Don’t forget to visit the Plano Chamber Business Directory the next time you are looking for products, services, or a fun night out with friends! Remember to support local businesses and Shop Plano First.

50 Leading Women: Jessica Baca

In honor and celebration of our Women’s Division‘s 50th Anniversary, we will be spotlighting 50 Leading Women making an impact, raising their voice, and leading the next generation of women in the workforce and Plano community.

Introducing, Jessica Baca, Senior Victim Advocate for the City of Plano, Plano Police Department. Jessica has served as a Victim Advocate for over 10 years, relentlessly working towards the Plano’s Police Department’s Victim Services Program’s goal “to reduce the short and long-term effects relating to the traumatic experience of victimization.” Throughout her career, Jessica has received the Chief’s Unit Award (3 times), Excellence in Victim Advocacy, Lifesaving Award, Civic Achievement Award, and the Meritorious Service Award for her work on a 3-part mental health series, viewed by thousands, on Plano Police Department’s social media platforms. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Victim Services Association and serves as a thought leader in her field. When she is not working, you can find Jessica traveling & making memories with her husband and two sons.

1. Describe your leadership style and how you lead others.

I like to be engaging and empathic towards those that I work with. I can also be direct and delegate tasks as needed to get the job done. My leadership style will pivot to what is needed of me at the moment to get the outcome that is needed or wanted by the organization. My leadership skills are always evolving as I continue to learn and gain wisdom.

2. How can women develop their leadership skills in the workforce?

If they are offered professional development opportunities within their companies take advantage of that to grow professionally and individually. If that is not possible, try to get involved in organizations such as women leading government that offer webinars and networking opportunities. I have sought out professional development opportunities outside my organization not only to gain more knowledge but to network.

3. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

Although I am not the supervisor of the Victim Services Unit, there are many decisions I make to try to ensure the success of the unit. I look for ways to network with other entities that can help bridge the gaps in services, help educate individuals on victim services, and find innovative ways to best serve crime victims. I also manage the Rape Aggression Defense program and the general internship program for the police department. I try to recruit individuals that will contribute to the teams in a positive manner, so that the goals of the programs can be met and the programs succeed.

 4. What has been one of your biggest joys as a leader?

I have been in the victim advocacy field for over ten years now, and I enjoy mentoring others who are new to the field and helping them succeed in their respective agencies.  I also have been able to make a positive impact to victims of crime by implementing procedural and policy changes that will benefit victims of crime for years to come within the police department.

5. What has been your greatest career disappointment? What did you learn from it?

When I first started with the police department, there were things I believed that needed to change to better serve victims of crime.  I tried implementing change within an organization before I understood the culture.  This created animosity with key players and formed barriers that perhaps could have been prevented had I understood things better.  In order to resolve the issues that had arisen, I had to own my part in the problem.  It took time to mend the broken relationships because of the mistakes made in the beginning.  Although, this was a difficult time in my career, I learned how to handle delicate situations and to repair relationships when it seemed impossible.  I carry these lessons with me and share my wisdom when asked.

6. What strategies could be used to promote inclusion in the workplace?

There are many strategies that may be used to promote inclusion in the workplace, for example organizations can start by looking at their recruiting practices. To get a better diverse pool of candidates organizations should be more conscientious of where they are advertising their job postings. Posting jobs in a broad range of forums, including diversity or special-interest-focused job websites, helps increase the chances of reaching a variety of individuals. Another option would be to host a job fair in typically overlooked communities.  When posting job descriptions, organizations should ensure that it does not have gendered phrasing that may exclude a specific gender from applying.

7. What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

If I could speak to my younger self, I would tell her to have patience, and prioritize self-care. I still struggle with the self-care part, but each year I’m doing better.

8. What advice can you give to the next generation of female leaders?

First and foremost, believe in your capabilities and what you can bring to the table. There is going to be a lot of people that may undermine your talents or abilities, don’t let that ever get in the way of your career goals. Find mentors that have your best interest in mind and who will show your skillsets off. Get out of your comfort zone, this allows you to develop your skillset and meet people. Lastly, we all only get one life, make sure you prioritize what is important to you.

9. Who inspired you and why?

My grandparents. These individuals faced incredible hardships in their lives and somehow always managed to provide for their families and persevere. Both of my grandparents were born in Mexico and had little education, but they both wanted to build a better life for their children. My grandmother raised nine children on her own and was able to give them a better life in the United States. My grandfather became the owner of a M. Serrano Construction company that has been in business for over 30 years. I admire the strength and determination my grandparents had. They passed on those traits and grit to my parents, who I owe immense gratitude for who I am today.

10. What do you want to be remembered for? 

I value my time with my family immensely. I always make sure to find time to go visit my parents and siblings who live eight hours away from me. I make sure to be there for all of my son’s awards, field trips, or anything that he believes is important. I also would like to be remembered for making a difference within the community and helping the Spanish-speaking population.

50 Leading Women: Taryn Limpach

In honor and celebration of our Women’s Division‘s 50th Anniversary, we will be spotlighting 50 Leading Women making an impact, raising their voice, and leading the next generation of women in the workforce and Plano community.

Introducing, Taryn Limpach, Regional Vice President at Safelite Autoglass. Previously, Taryn spent the last 16 years of her career at PepsiCo right here in Plano. In her most recent role as Transformation Senior Director for PepsiCo Foods North America, she led both the design and process for omni channel service to enable the foods business for future growth. While at PepsiCo, Taryn had been a part of EQUAL, PepsiCo’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, since 2008 and led the North America Leadership team focused on allyship, benefits, and inclusivity of the entire LGBTQ+ community. The Plano Chamber’s Plano Culture & Inclusion Alliance had the privilege of hearing & learning from Taryn as she served on an Employee Resource Group best practices panel discussing her role and experience in EQUAL. She earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Sonoma State University and a Masters in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix. Taryn and her wife, along with their two sons will be relocating in January 2023 as she embarks on her newest career journey with Safelite Autoglass.

1. Describe your leadership style and how you lead others.

Throughout my career, I have always found through servant leadership and coaching individuals and teams to work collaboratively we have found success in meeting our objectives!

2. How can women develop their leadership skills in the workforce?

Women can develop their leadership skills but stepping outside of their current role and taking on stretch assignments.  I also believe that growing your network inside and outside of your organization will allow you to take on roles that are outside of your normal day to day work.  Supporting women’s networks, non-profits, and getting involved in the community have challenged me and allowed me to grow as a leader.

3. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

People decisions are the most important.  Your team and the individuals that you are around make the most impact on you and your business.  If you support your team and have their best interest at heart you will find it is much easier to get the work done and have fun!

4. What has been one of your biggest joys as a leader?

I love this question and literally can think back to so many great moments of seeing others outside their comfort zone and absolutely killing it!  I have had the honor to mentor so many wonderful people and to help them grow their confidence and knowledge allows them not only to exceed in their daily work, but it changes their outlook on what they bring to the table.  Mentoring not only allows me to share what I can with others but allows me to learn as well.

5. What has been your greatest career disappointment? What did you learn from it?

Early on in my career, I really wanted out of a role so had posted on a few roles within my organization.  I did not have the opportunity to take them.  Being young, that was so disappointing not only because I didn’t get the role but I wasn’t able to digest the feedback.  It took time and a great mentor to not only walk me through what I needed to work on but to see that I wasn’t going after my passion but looking for a way out.  I can say after that role, I followed my passion which has allowed me to lead great teams through large change!

6. What strategies could be used to promote inclusion in the workplace?

DO IT!  I think often times we are waiting for a special day or someone to come in and do the work for us. Inclusion is something that must be lived daily.  One way to promote inclusion is to bring your team the knowledge and resources to learn so that they can step outside their comfort zone.  You have to walk the talk!

7. What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Be Yourself!  My past 16 years have all been spent in a male dominated industry and I had to push myself to make sure I was being true to who I was.  This meant speaking up and making sure my voice was heard.  Also, I would say find yourself “your people” they will keep you grounded, pick you up on the bad days, and celebrate the wins with you!

8. What advice can you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Go get it.  Don’t be afraid to work hard for what you want.  I remember starting my career and thinking when I retire I want to be doing what I am doing now.  Heck, I still have another 25 years to work so there is such a long runway and it makes me excited for our next generation!

9. Who inspired you and why?

My Mom!  Growing up she was one of the only females in her work and to see her continue to get up early in the morning and work hard showed me how to get it done.  She didn’t stop on those bad days but worked harder to make sure she was on the leaderboard while being a great mom.

10. What do you want to be remembered for?

I want my legacy to be that I cared for people while being successful as a leader and a mom.  Winning is great but having your work and family beside you at that finish line is no better feeling!

50 Leading Women: Pamela Zeigler-Petty

In honor and celebration of our Women’s Division‘s 50th Anniversary, we will be spotlighting 50 Leading Women making an impact, raising their voice, and leading the next generation of women in the workforce and Plano community.

Introducing, Pamela Zeigler-Petty, President of PZPBizConnect. Pamela Zeigler-Petty serves as the SVP, Community Development Banking for Interbank. In this role, she is responsible for expanding community development lending relationships, enhancing the Bank’s community outreach, and ensuring InterBank is positioned to meet the needs of all the communities it serves. Pamela serves as “change agent & culture advocate” in volunteer roles such as current Chair of the Plano Culture & Inclusion Alliance, member of the Plano Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and Business Council for the Arts, 2022 Obelisk Awards Chair; just to name a few. Due in part to her leadership, the Plano Culture & Inclusion Alliance hosted their inaugural DE&I Summit open to the Plano community. In her very rare spare time, you may have noticed her articles featured in Local Profile. We can not wait to see what she sets her mind to next!

 

1. Describe your leadership style and how you lead others

I flourish when I implore Transformational leadership. I thrive on strategy and participation that infuses creative and innovative approaches with seasoned methodology. I lead others based on their specific “needs”; I am adaptive to situations, enjoy workplace harmony for teamwork, encourage self-directed productivity and open lines of communication at all times.

2. How can women develop their leadership skills in the workforce?

I believe that if women surround themselves and seek others that exemplify excellence, their leadership skills will become enhanced. It’s important to read, become educated about best practices, seek counsel from leaders, ally’s, sponsors and be open to advice and critique as often as needed. As women grown along their journeys someone will always have a better grasp on a particular skill. Take the opportunity to master it; share with those you influence along the way.

3. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

Leadership requires understanding your strengths and weaknesses! You must be willing to take responsibility at all times and stand behind decisions that require executive leadership traits and approach. Some of the most important decisions require leading in a manner that is respectable, judicious and will not jeopardize outcomes. As a leader, I must be well versed in the subject matter prior to making final determination.

4. What has been one of your biggest joys as a leader?

I am thrilled when I provide just a touch of leadership to those who are already “fabulous”, but for some reason are not realizing their great potential. It’s so rewarding to share a few tools to channel their voice and creativity, push the boundaries and then get out of the way and watch them explode into the incredible, unstoppable leaders they have always been. It never fails, most not only outgrow my methodology, but end up teaching me so much more than I could ever have imagined. It’s an incredible feeling that I never get tired of experiencing!

5. What has been your greatest career disappointment? What did you learn from it?

One disappointment during my journey, was recognizing my strengths and leadership were not being utilized to the fullest capacity and would not materialize the way I envisioned. I learned along the way, we may potentially encounter a plateau, that does not align with professional goals. Recognize this, derive a plan, and pursue the opportunity that is awaiting full leadership abilities.

6. What strategies could be used to promote inclusion in the workplace?

Inclusion refers to a sense of belonging in any environment. To really achieve the benefits of diversity, you must work to be inclusive in recruiting, hiring, retention, and promotions. Recently, I heard it brilliantly described, “You must include the whole person, versus, just looking at them from inside of the four work walls. Have to be willing to consider all portions of the person.”

7. What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

You are so incredibly talented, confident, and committed to excellence; don’t ever doubt yourself. And, if, you find yourself in a place of uncertainty, seek the best counsel available and know that God is not done with you yet. You have so much to give and if, you stay the course, it’s going to be an awesome ride.

8. What advice can you give to the next generation of female leaders?

“Leave the door open, and the ladder down.” The greatest gift you can give in leadership is to master advice after receiving it and remember to bring others along the journey with you as you start to reach the proverbial “table” of success. I am my Sister’s Keeper.

9. Who inspired you and why?

I often reflect on the work of Dr. Myrtle Hightower and the late Mazzie Moses, as examples who have inspired me to strive to be a much better version of “myself.” Their leadership and commitment to communities is exemplary and continues to guide me as I journey along my path.

10. What do you want to be remembered for?

I’ve often said that I want to be known for my “works”. But, as I continue to “grow”, I realize that my motto, of “It’s not about me”, is, faith based. So, I’ve tweaked my hope that when others think of me, it will be that I invested in communities, businesses, and people, without hesitation, because I wanted to see each rise to their greatest potential.

50 Leading Women: Courtney Echols

In honor and celebration of our Women’s Division‘s 50th Anniversary, we will be spotlighting 50 Leading Women making an impact, raising their voice, and leading the next generation of women in the workforce and Plano community.

Introducing, Courtney Echols, Vice President of Development for Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County. Courtney has over 12 years of fundraising and special events experience, having previously worked for Pepperdine University School of Law, the University of Texas at Dallas Jindal School of Management, and My Possibilities. Her skills and experience fundraising are directly impacting those the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County serves so that no child victimized by abuse or neglect goes without services and support. Courtney earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of California, San Diego, and her Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University School of Law.

She is a proud graduate of Leadership Plano, Leadership North Texas University, and Leadership Texas and has a strong commitment to serving in her community through board involvement and volunteering with her husband and children. She previously served on the Plano Chamber’s Women’s Division Board and is still a very warm, welcoming face at our Women’s Division Monthly Luncheons. If you’re lucky, she just may be your fitness instructor at The Barre Code Plano or CycleStar Instructor at the CycleBar Lakeside Market. There is nothing this women can not do!

1. Do you remember your first time attending one of our Women’s Division events?

I remember attending a Nothing but Networking luncheon at Gleneagles back in 2016.  It was the first time I had attended something remotely close to “speed networking” and I remember being in awe of how organized the system was.  I also learned that day to ALWAYS bring more business cards than you think you could possibly need!  What made me come back, time and time again was the energy in the room.  You often hear people make comments about how women don’t support each other and the energy at a Women’s Division luncheon is the complete opposite.  The monthly luncheons are a refreshing respite to me; a place where I can see women I respect and admire and meet women with the same kind of positive and cooperative energy.

2. Describe your leadership style and how you lead others

My leadership style is trusting and optimistic.  I know that I am not the expert in everything…far from it! I love to see my team excel in what they are good at.  I am here to support their efforts but also to trust that they’ve got it—unless they tell me or show me otherwise.  Someone once told me that you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.  I believe that my team is the strongest when we all show up with our own set of skills and talents and when we trust each other that we’re all working for a common goal.

3. How can women develop their leadership skills in the workforce?

Take the leap, ask for more responsibility, say yes. For the longest time, I did not want to manage people.  I wanted to “go and do” and didn’t think I could be bogged down with a leadership role.  The more I wrestled with opportunities to lead, the more I started to feel like “why not me?” As women, there are some barriers to our advancement in our roles but a lot of times, we believe a story we have told ourselves about what we are and are not capable of.  So, take the leap!  And if you’re too scared to do it, surround yourself with mentors and a tribe who bring out the best in you by challenging the story you’ve told yourself.

4. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

I think the most important decisions I make as a leader are how I spend my time.  As a working mother, it’s important to me to find balance in my life; for myself, but also so that I can model that it IS possible for members of my team to achieve the same.  Whether it’s taking time to squeeze in a workout for myself or carving out time in my schedule to attend an assembly at school for my kids, you only get 24 hours in the day.  How you spend them matters and your time is your most valuable resource so use it wisely!

5. What has been one of your biggest joys as a leader?

Hands down, the best part of being a leader for me, so far, is seeing my team succeed.  It’s a proud mama moment!

6. What strategies could be used to promote inclusion in the workplace?

I’m a big proponent of bringing your whole self to work.  If I don’t know who you are and what matters to you outside of the office, I don’t know how to support you in the office.  Spending time getting to know your team helps in learning what is important to them.  Building a place of trust and respect fosters a safe environment for all of us to feel like we can show up as our true selves without judgment or consequence.

7. What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

It’s often used in parenting, but I think it applies universally: the days are long but the years are short.  If you’re not intentional about reassessing where you are in life, the time flies and you may end up feeling stuck in a situation. A related saying that I love: “You are not a tree. If you don’t like where you are, move”.  This has gotten me out of a bad mood or a bad, more serious, situation.

8. What advice can you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Cheer for each other, loud and often.  Compliment other women and mean it.  I heard Pamela Ziegler-Petty say it on a panel of Athenas at a Women’s Division luncheon: open the door and leave the ladder down for the woman behind you.

9. Who inspired you and why?

This is an easy one.  My maternal grandmother, Mildred Vivian Jann Pon will be 104 in May.  She is an Asian-American woman who graduated from then College of the Pacific (now, University of the Pacific) in Stockton, California in 1939.  Can you imagine?  I feel so fortunate to have grown up with this kind of female role model who just by her own choices modeled for me that I could achieve anything I set my mind to.

10. What do you want to be remembered for?

I want to be remembered as “the woman who remembered my name and who grabbed an extra chair and pulled up a seat for me at the table”.

50 Leading Women: Ebele Kemery

In honor and celebration of our Women’s Division‘s 50th Anniversary, we will be spotlighting 50 Leading Women making an impact, raising their voice, and leading the next generation of women in the workforce and Plano community.

Introducing, Ebele Kemery, is the Head of Global Technology Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) for JPMorgan Chase & Co., embedding an inclusive lens into how the firm develops technology, serves clients, helps communities, and supports employees. She is charged with delivering the firm-wide agenda to over 50K technologists, focusing on priorities such as inclusivity, supplier diversity, emerging technology, and ethical code. In addition, Ebele has governance and oversight of all DEI leads and pillars across 21 global technology centers.

1. Describe your leadership style and how you lead others.

I am purposeful in creating a team culture that values inclusion, as well as celebrates and respects the differences of all employees.  All voices on my team are welcomed and encouraged. I make it a priority to create an environment where each member feels comfortable being exactly who they are at work. I love seeing the ‘real’ side of people, as it’s that authenticity that drives true creativity and innovation. I find it extremely rewarding helping each member of my team find their strength, lean into their superpower, and accomplish remarkable feats.  I want them to feel empowered and know that I trust them, and the talent(s) they bring to the table.

2. How can women develop their leadership skills in the workforce?

Be curious and invest in yourself.  For instance, I am continuously educating myself by reading, or listening to podcasts.   Also seek out stretch assignments and gain exposure to new areas outside of your comfort zone.  At times this might be a challenge, however there is power in leveraging your existing network to find sponsorship or visibility.  With the right sponsorship, opportunities will begin to present themselves

And for those in senior positions, I encourage you to be a sponsor. Put high potential women in projects/initiatives where they will be required to manage the delivery, and lead through influence. This can turn out be a learning opportunity, or a platform to shine. Either outcome is impactful and creates a great pipeline of talent for senior roles.

3. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

Building and developing my team.  I strive to hire smart people with differing skillsets or background from myself or others on the team.   I welcome diversity of thought and believe in having a diverse team, with both acquired and inherent traits.  If we were homogenous, we would not have differentiated ideas.  Diversity creates different points of views, friction, and at times, outright conflict.   I intentionally make time and space to connect with my team so that I can support their growth and career mobility.

4. What has been one of your biggest joys as a leader?

Success of my team.  I don’t just mean us as a collective, but also as individuals. Watching them grow, develop, and move up in their careers gives me a sense of pride.  I feel like a proud parent watching their child beat out the competition and emerge victorious! Their success is my biggest compliment.

5. What has been your greatest career disappointment? What did you learn from it?

Early in my career I was offered an opportunity to take an assignment in Asia. For reasons that were important at the time, I declined.  I soon realized; those reasons were focused on short-term versus long-term factors.  I knew going forward I needed to stay open to opportunities and think about the future impact.  Thankfully, there was a next time, and I took an assignment in London.  That experience taught me a lot about myself, how/where I wanted to further my career, as well as how I approach decisions.

6. What strategies could be used to promote inclusion in the workplace?

The key is to foster a culture where employees feel valued and have a sense of belonging, where candidates want to work, and a place where employees want to stay and grow their careers.  It’s an environment that listens and empowers employees with a culture of learning; leaders and employees are aware of their differences, and the manifestation of those differences in the workplace.   How?  By building trust, investing in your resources’ career path, and making connections across your entire organization.

7. What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

My advice is to 1) be present, 2) know your brand and 3) be intentional about how and where you show up.    It’s very important to be effective at the right tables, and at the right time.  These 3 focus areas will drive that.  Also, keep your mind open.  It’s wise to set your goals and drive towards them, but don’t miss out on the present moment – you could inadvertently miss out on hidden opportunities.

8. What advice can you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Resilience, empathy and agility are characteristics that I believe are important and have played a major part in my career. Resilience allows us the ability to adjust to career change, regardless of the circumstance. We all face different challenges in work and life. Having the right mindset and strategies helps us through those unexpected change. More now than ever, we need to be empathetic towards others – we don’t know what others are facing nor their journey. Finally, agility –the ability to adapt and flex your skill set to the ever-changing environment. To be a good leader you must be flexible and easily adapt to a competitive landscape.

9. Who inspired you and why?

My Dad.  In my journey, I credit much of my success to being true to my strong work ethic which was engrained in my upbringing.  Family supported me and pushed to me educate myself.  Once I entered the corporate world, I used this to navigate the organization in ways that benefited my career growth/potential; specifically seeking out mentors and sponsors who understood me – who I am and my aspirations.

10. What do you want to be remembered for?

IMPACT. My purpose in this world is to make a positive impact on my family, friends, and community at large.

Member Spotlight: Fusion Academy Plano

The Plano Chamber membership team is thrilled to present our  monthly Member Spotlights! Each month, we will be highlighting different Plano Chamber of Commerce members to continue connecting our members with each other and the Plano community at large.

The Plano Chamber would like to welcome and spotlight, Fusion Academy Plano. Heather Wagemann, our Membership Engagement Manager, asked Head of School, Cindi Di Iorio, M.Ed, a few questions about their school, membership, and role in the community.

1. What would you like readers to know about Fusion Academy Plano and what you specialize in?

Fusion Academy is a fully accredited, 6th-12th grade school that offers an incredibly unique educational experience to students who need a non-traditional approach to learning. Students balance their time at school between social opportunities and completion of independent practice in one of the café spaces with attending personalized, 1:1 learning with their team of teachers.  Yes, that’s right, One-on-One instruction so that every student can learn at their pace, at their level.

Open twelve hours every day, there is flexibility in the overall design of the school day. Fusion’s teaching model is based on the belief that students must be loved first, ensuring a strong connection between teacher and student, in order to develop motivation to learn and do their very best.

2. Why did you choose to join the Plano Chamber of Commerce?

Being new to Texas (arrived in 2021), I wanted to meet business owners, leaders, and community stakeholders in Plano.  I discovered that, while Fusion Plano had been around the area since 2014, very few people had heard about us. I feel it’s crucial to partner with one another, as we all serve the same people.  I desire to be a recognized leader in the community and promise that I will give as much to the Chamber as I take.

3. Tell us about your involvement in the community.

So far, I’ve been mainly in learning mode. I do keep our “business” primarily in Plano- hosting networking and outreach events at local restaurants, purchasing from Plano businesses, and attempting to start a new group of Plano Area Leaders in Schools (PALS) so that we can support each other, learn from one another, and have some fun together. Our students also participate in community service projects within the community, so let me know if you have any ideas on ways that we can give a smile, provide some love, or offer support in any way!

4.What is your favorite part of your current work environment?

Fusion Academy is a family!  There are over 80 campuses nationwide and Plano is one of the three in the DFW area. I feel so blessed to be a part of this amazing group of people and to do the work that we do.  Every day, I witness lives changing- from the students to the parents, to the staff.  The culture on our campus feels more like a home than a school and we have FUN! We smile… a lot! We laugh…hard!

50 Leading Women: Julissa Estrada

In honor and celebration of our Women’s Division‘s 50th Anniversary, we will be spotlighting 50 Leading Women making an impact, raising their voice, and leading the next generation of women in the workforce and Plano community.

Introducing, Julissa Estrada, Executive Director of The Local Good Center. Julissa oversees The Local Good Center, an extension of Chase Oaks Church, as they work towards their mission “to create lasting good within our local community by providing opportunities for personal and community-wide transformation.” In order to accomplish their mission, they offer programs focused on four key pillars: Advocacy, Wellness, Education, and Job Readiness.

Julissa has spent her entire life around people from a variety of ethnic, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds. Her childhood experiences in Oak Cliff, Virginia, and South Dallas have shaped her commitment to love and serve others in a way that honors their dignity. She is thrilled to help create access to life-changing services which may otherwise seem unattainable.

Julissa currently lives in Allen with her husband Albert, their three children, and their beloved Yorkie, Cesar.

1. Describe your leadership style and how you lead others.

Empowerment. I believe in being available, defining what success looks like, training, encouraging, and then getting out of the way to allow new leaders to lead.

2. How can women develop their leadership skills in the workforce?

I believe leadership skills can be developed by really understanding and learning your brand, connecting to your audience, modeling hard work, and developing an authentic reputation in your industry/community. If you are always learning, have great work ethic, and take initiative, people will be inspired to follow you.

3. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

1). Who I hire. Having the right talent makes all the difference.

2). The boundaries in place to encourage our organization to stay focused. In the nonprofit world, the needs are big and very complicated. Having clear assignments is extremely important if we want to create a lasting impact.

4. What has been one of your biggest joys as a leader?

I love seeing change and transformation. I get to see transformations in people’s lives regularly.  Whether it’s a volunteer finding their sweet spot and leveraging their talents to serve others, or an individual walking into our space for services and seeing them accomplish goals such as English language development, gaining U.S. Citizenship, improving their parenting skills, gaining employment, and so forth, or someone on my staff creating a successful program that they were originally unsure of and having that program succeed.

5. What strategies could be used to promote inclusion in the workplace?

Open and ongoing dialogue is very valuable.  Not limiting inclusion to race but making it broad enough to include social economic status, age disparities, gender equity, access equity, and more.  Hearing different perspectives on what inclusion means to different people is powerful.

6. What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

I would reassure myself that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.  That every decision that I made would (good and bad) prepare me for something bigger.

7. What advice can you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Find a mentor and mentor someone. Support and encourage other women. There is room for all of us.  Also, always strive to be part of the solution.  Identifying problems is easy, being part of the solution is where we grow.

8. Who inspired you and why?

I’m always inspired by people who succeed against all odds.  People who by no fault of their own have overcome a huge disadvantage. Like immigrants, refugees, orphans, foster kids, and those with limited access to basic resources.

9. What do you want to be remembered for?

I would love to be remembered for being all in for what I believe in.  For being dedicated to the things I’m passionate about:  my family, friends, job, and my faith.

50 Leading Women: Lisa M. Ong

In honor and celebration of our Women’s Division‘s 50th Anniversary, we will be spotlighting 50 Leading Women making an impact, raising their voice, and leading the next generation of women in the workforce and Plano community.

Introducing, Lisa M. Ong PCC, CPA, President & Founder of Wishing Out Loud LLC. Lisa is an award-winning diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)+Belonging (DEIB) strategy consultant, speaker, and professional certified executive coach. Known as a “talent gardener” and “inclusion connector,” CEOs and CHROs hire her to co-create their DEIB strategy to cultivate inclusive cultures as great places to work. She received a 2022 Leaders in Diversity Award from The Dallas Business Journal and D CEO Magazine named her to The Dallas 500 in their 2021 and 2020 directories as “one of the most powerful business leaders in DFW” in the “Consultants” and “Corporate Diversity Officer” categories.

Before launching Wishing Out Loud LLC, she was a national diversity director in PwC’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, an HR director, and a financial audit senior manager. Lisa is a proud Plano resident and considers herself a lifelong learner.

1. Describe your leadership style and how you lead others.

My leadership style is a combination of coaching and visionary (if you use the six emotional intelligence leadership styles from Daniel Goleman’s work.) I focus on creating environments where everyone can use their strengths and work at their best.

My two working geniuses (workinggenius.com) say that my gifts are Enablement and Discernment, so that pairing means that I am “The Insightful Collaborator – an intuitive, empathetic advisor and team player. Selfless and compassionate in providing others with what they need in the right way.”  I know when to be the guide by their side but can step up to lead from the front when they need help.

My style is often described as a “Talent Gardener” and “Inclusion Connector”.  I like to create cultures where people can thrive and grow with equitable access to shine at their best.  I am curious about others’ stories, dreams, and goals.  I enjoy connecting them with others who can support their journey or grant their wish. It brings me joy to see when our meaningful, trusting connections can help others overcome societal barriers to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for all.

2. How can women develop their leadership skills in the workforce?

Leadership skills are practiced and honed.  We can never stop learning.  Leaning into our discomfort and asking questions or for new stretch assignments allows us to accelerate our learning.  Adding mentors and sponsors to our networks helps motivate us to aspire to be like them.  I’ve heard success is when preparation and hard work meet opportunity.  I encourage my clients to build meaningful, trusting relationships and keep “wishing out loud” ™ for those stretch assignments, highly visible projects, and other opportunities to shine.  If they are not strategically wishing out loud, they may miss opportunities to showcase their skillsets and strengths after investing in those relationships.

3. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

I am prioritizing what matters most. Learning to get out of my way, stop overthinking, and trust that my network, knowledge, and know-how will help me keep making informed decisions. I ask myself- am I living by faith, growing in grace, and walking in love daily? When I’m fielding many requests for my time,   I pause and ask myself: Am I the only one uniquely qualified to do what they are asking? Is this where God is calling me to serve? I pray for discernment often.  If not, I respectfully decline and share my network so that others can joyfully help and benefit from the opportunity.

4. What has been one of your biggest joys as a leader?

Shining diamonds. Seeing my clients and mentees achieve their career and life goals and live their purpose.

5. What has been your greatest career disappointment? What did you learn from it?

I did not take the opportunity to go on an international assignment earlier in my career before I had a family.  It’s much harder to do later once you get settled.  Global work experience is so vital for world impact.

6. What strategies could be used to promote inclusion in the workplace?

As a DEI+Belonging strategist, this is my super power.  You can download my favorite slide on the Five DEI+Belonging Strategies for EACH of us at wishingoutloud.com.  It starts with each of us demonstrating inclusive leadership behaviors and habits everyday..

7. What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Comparison is the thief of joy. Be unapologetically you.  Authenticity, Consistency, and Relationships make a huge difference. Your network is your net worth.

8. What advice can you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Surround yourself with generous, heart-based leaders who inspire and uplift you.  We are a product of who we spend our time with and where we spend our time.  Invest in your continuous learning everyday.

“Be bold when managing your moments.  Be kind to yourself and others. Be brave and keep “wishing out loud” ™”

9. Who inspired you and why?

I build a large network of inspirational leaders every day from various aspects of my life and work.  Most recently, I was inspired by Mackenzie Scott’s $3.8 million dollar gift to the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.  As a Girl Scout Gold Award winner, I know the value of investing in the girls education is the future of our next generation of strong women leaders.  She walks the talk in using her power and privilege for good by investing in organizations who are already doing great work in the community for the causes she cares about and amplifies their mission for others to join in her support. I volunteered for the Visionary of the Year 2023 Spring campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to raise over $56k between Feb 22-May 5, 2023 to begin learning more about fundraising too.

10. What do you want to be remembered for?

    1. Did I live in a way that glorifies God?
    2. Did I create memorable moments for others to thrive and grow and live their purpose and strengths?
    3. Have I equipped the next generation to unleash their strengths for positive world impact?

50 Leading Women: AJ Barkley

In honor and celebration of our Women’s Division‘s 50th Anniversary, we will be spotlighting 50 Leading Women making an impact, raising their voice, and leading the next generation of women in the workforce and Plano community.

Introducing, AJ Barkley, Head of Neighborhood and Community Lending at Bank of America. A recognized leader in financial services, Barkley works with nonprofits, community advocacy groups, real estate professional organizations and industry leaders, advocating for housing stability, affordability, and generational wealth creation for under-represented groups. Barkley is a long-time champion of affordable and sustainable homeownership and is responsible for the bank’s Community Homeownership Commitment, a $15 billion program to increase homeownership, particularly among first-time homeowners, underserved communities and multicultural borrowers. Barkley has been recognized as a HousingWire Woman of Influence for her work in this area.

She is the co-executive sponsor of the bank’s Black Executive Leadership Council, supporting strategies that empower and improve career and leadership opportunities for Black professionals. Barkley also serves on the boards of Trinity Park Conservancy and Plano Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Division.

A J Barkley photographed in Dallas, Texas on August 7, 2020. (Photo by/Sharon Ellman)

1. Describe your leadership style and how you lead others. 

Listen, learn, apply. It may seem simple, but active listening is the foundation for great leadership. Listening with the intent to truly understand is key in turning words into actions, then applying them to your own life.

2. How can women develop their leadership skills in the workforce?

Keep yourself surrounded by bright people who challenge you to grow. I have learned over the years to keep smart, curious people in my corner, leaning on their perspectives to make well-informed decisions for my team and my own career.

3. What has been one of your biggest joys as a leader?

Developing and coaching people to challenge themselves and growing their careers as a result of the plans and initiatives we create.

4. What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Don’t be afraid to take on assignments that are outside of my current knowledge and experience. The real growth only happens outside of your comfort zone!

5. What advice can you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Absorb as much as you can along the way and challenge yourself to look beyond your immediate job function to accelerate your impact.

6. What do you want to be remembered for?

For the positive impacts I’ve made on others and for being a courageous leader.