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North Texas Commission Announces 2023 Regional Award Recipients

For Immediate Release

September 1, 2023

North Texas Commission Announces Recipients of Regional Leadership Awards

North Texas – The North Texas Commission’s Regional Awards Selection Committee convened in early August to determine who would receive the awards. Out of more than 50 nominees, eight recipients were selected to receive the Awards, including business leaders, elected officials, civic leaders, and organizations. Honoring the memory of the organization’s former president/CEO Dan Petty, in 2021 the North Texas Commission established the Dan Petty Regional Visionary Award. This year’s winner will be announced during the Commission’s 52nd Annual Members’ Luncheon on September 21, 2023.

“These eight unique awards represent the significance of our region’s public and private sector leaders and the importance of collaboration in North Texas. These past few years have reminded us that we are better together as we work as one, unified region to tackle our challenges and work on future growth opportunities,” said Chris Wallace, the NTC’s President and CEO.

The seven award recipients will be honored at the Annual Meeting. Recipients of the 2023 Regional Leadership Awards are:

Civic Leadership Award: Kenneth Hutchenrider, Jr., President, Methodist Richardson Medical Center – As a healthcare leader for over 30 years, Kenneth has overseen multiple hospitals, often institutions at the center of the community. As Methodist Richardson enters its 60th year, Ken has led it to continuously reinvent itself to evolve with changing needs and demands. In addition to his dedicated leadership to the hospital, Ken was elected to the Richardson City Council in 2019.

Corporate/Organization Leadership Award: Envoy Air, Inc.Envoy Air has made numerous contributions to the North Texas region, particularly in the areas of diversity and inclusion. It has a robust workforce comprising members from diverse backgrounds, with more than 60% of Envoy's workforce identifying as belonging to one or more minority groups. It has launched the Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee (CDIAC) and the Women of Envoy (WE) program, initiatives that have significantly contributed to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment. As one of DFW’s largest employers, its diversity gives rise to a wide range of viewpoints and new ways of thinking that have not only benefited the organization but the entire North Texas region as well.

Diversity Leadership Award: Dylan Rafaty, Founder, North Texas Disability Chamber Dylan Rafaty serves as a passionate advocate for persons living with disabilities in North Texas. His creation of the North Texas Disability Chamber is just the latest in his advocacy and educational efforts. Dylan founded the North Texas Disability Chamber (NTXDC) to promote a more cohesive, transparent, informed, regional, member-based, cross-disability community via events and education hosted at accessible locations across North Texas. The organization's guiding pillars are threefold: Community Building, Community Education, and Interactive Engagement between People with Disabilities (PWDs) and People without Disabilities (PWOD).

Education Leadership Award: Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, Retired Superintendent, Arlington ISD – With 33 years in public education and eleven as Arlington ISD's Superintendent, Dr. Cavazos has been a transformational leader and a tireless advocate for students, staff, and the community. He has improved test scores and implements innovative programs known nationwide. Cavazos has been a transformational leader and a tireless advocate for students, staff, and the community. He has improved test scores and implemented innovative programs known nationwide.

Elected Official Leadership Award: Rick Stopfer, Mayor, City of Irving – Over a 30-year career in public service, all in Irving, Mayor Stopfer has served the City and the wider North Texas community with dedication, integrity and a focus on practical solutions that unite people. He has served in various public service positions, with a particular passion for infrastructure development to support growth for Irving and the region. Today, Irving is widely recognized as the "Headquarters of Headquarters" in Texas, with more Fortune 500 companies per capita, nine, than any other city in the state. It is a thriving community that exceeds the needs of its residents, companies and workers with a central location, business-friendly environment, excellent education opportunities and exceptional lifestyle offerings, leading the City to serve as one of the most significant economic contributors to the North Texas economy.

Social Impact Award: The Real Estate Council, Dallas – TREC Community Investors (TREC CI) is the philanthropic arm of The Real Estate Council (TREC), the largest and most influential professional organization of its kind in Texas, representing over 2,000 members and 625 companies in the North Texas commercial real estate industry. TREC CI leverages the incredible industry expertise of its members, forms meaningful community partnerships, and works with neighborhood residents to revitalize our region’s most underserved communities and create equitable development in ways no other organization can. TREC CI views community revitalization as a collaborative effort, not specifying how communities will evolve but partnering with established, respected neighborhood organizations and community residents to realize their vision, energize their economies and honor their rich histories and cultures.

Rising Star Award: Carey Neal, Deputy City Manager, City of Lancaster – Carey's passion for his work extends far beyond his duties within the city government. He continually demonstrates his commitment to the development of his community by actively participating in various local organizations. As a board member of numerous organizations, including the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power and the Inland Port Transportation Association, Carey works tirelessly to ensure that his constituents enjoy the highest possible quality of life. His leadership roles in these organizations reflect his dedication to the larger community and his unfaltering commitment to public service. The depth of his commitment to the community is also reflected in his personal endeavors. As a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, he invests his time and energy into fostering the growth of our future leaders. As a member of the Lancaster Lion's Club, he seeks to make a difference on an even more personal level, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among his peers.


Established in 1971, the North Texas Commission is a unique public-private partnership that drives large impactful projects and legislative issues benefiting a robust 13-county region, and tackles the region’s greatest challenges with board and staff subject matter experts who provide resources to market the region and educate future leaders. The Commission also manages the region’s unified advocacy voice at the state and federal levels.

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