Distinguished Fort Worth leaders offer optimism, insight at TCC Trinity River’s Connections Week

Four Fort Worth community leaders offered unwavering optimism and renewed inspiration on August 16 during TCC Trinity River’s Connections Week. The campus traditionally invites community partners to share with faculty and staff ways to strengthen the community and support one another and students during the upcoming school year. Prior guests over the past five years have included government officials and non-profit leaders and CEOs from various industries, particularly the healthcare industry since many of the campus’ faculty support the College’s Center for Healthcare Professions.

This year’s panel included Joseph DeLeon, president of Texas Health Harris Methodist-Fort Worth; Fort Worth Chief of Police Neil Noakes; Daphne Barlow Stigliano, chief executive officer and president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County and Patrick Winfield, Fort Worth campus pastor of The Potter’s House Church. The event was moderated by Sean Madison, Ed.D., president, TCC Trinity River.

Madison asked each panelist to share what the prominent ideas embedded into the event’s 2021 theme of “Partnerships, Well-Being and Success:  Supporting Each Other, Our Students and Our Community” means to them both personally and professionally. He also inquired as to how they pivoted the way they worked, engaged and served the community as the pandemic surged. Each spoke candidly about their experiences and wisdom gained over the past 17 months and how these insights have led to new unified opportunities for serving the community and connecting with TCC.

Panelists shared how they each faced the common task of raising teenagers during the pandemic, no easy feat at any time, but made more difficult during challenging times. They addressed how adaptability, combined with kindness and consideration, helped them to adjust how they served the community during the various challenges faced. Additionally, each addressed the importance of having a strong and ongoing relationship with TCC as a partner.

Hospital executive Joseph DeLeon, also a former captain in the U.S. Air Force, expressed his appreciation for the strong partnership with TCC in providing workforce-ready graduates and in helping to train students to work in high-demand healthcare areas as needs evolve. He shared that the $300 million Texas Health Fort Worth hospital expansion, which will feature a nine-story patient tower, will open in 2022—a century after the hospital first opened. It will feature 144 patient beds, 15 surgical sites and a pre-operative and post-operative services area. He said TCC’s healthcare training programs are imperative in helping to staff the new facility.

Police Chief Neil Noakes talked about “relentless optimism,” saying, “People who have hope, change the world.” He discussed the importance of education and spoke of how his unconventional educational journey provided him with the experiences needed to best reach out and work with the community through compassion and positivity. Noakes, a strong advocate of youth engagement programs, indicated that humility is one of the most important traits of leadership, and he and his officers are constantly seeking new ways to relate to residents and better understand hardships faced while keeping the community safe.

Non-profit executive Daphne Barlow Stigliano talked about how reaching out to families in need during a pandemic forced new ways of thinking and the worst of times can bring out the best in people. She discussed how critical resources and support of the more than 36,000 youth served were met, and how creative thinking helped to build expanded and creative service networks. One such outcome was the thinking that if kids couldn’t come to the Boys and Girls Club during the pandemic, then they needed to bring it to them. As a result, the organization created a Mobile Clubhouse that rolls into the communities and helps to achieve their motto: “Every kid eats. Every kid learns. Every kid thrives.”

Pastor Patrick Winfield discussed how ministry changed in its outreach efforts during the pandemic and how isolation became one of the greatest challenges. An educator as well as a minister, he is a champion in promoting empowerment and social mobility through education.  He addressed how social needs and even just the power of touch can greatly impact a person’s well-being and how ministering to those in need had to adapt to help people cope with the loss of loved ones due to the pandemic as well as feeling alone. Pastor Winfield also reported that the popular community EduFest Conference and Expo 2021 has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 30, out of concern for community health. EduFest’s mission is to transform lives through the catalyst of education and resources.

Many TCC Trinity River staff members commented that the panelist discussion left them with a renewed sense of support, gratitude and inspiration. Their messages of hope, resolve, compassion and optimism about the future served as reaffirmations that together … as a community, TCC faculty and staff will have the strength to face whatever may come our way as we navigate the future.  “It showed a commitment of the community leaders,” said one employee, while another remarked that the “everyone is family” message demonstrated how the Tarrant County community works well together.

In addition, Elizabeth Beck, who serves as Fort Worth Councilmember for District 9, kicked off the announcements of the 2021 Trinity River Awards Celebrating Excellence (TRACE) employee achievement awards. Beck is a mother, veteran, lawyer, and life-long resident of Fort Worth, and began her higher education journey at TCC. She thanked faculty and staff for their support in helping her to achieve her dreams, saying without it she would not be where she is today. She encouraged educators to continue their compassion and outreach assistance to students across Tarrant County so they too can realize their academic goals.