Harriet Harral, executive director of Leadership Fort Worth for the past 25 years, announced her retirement today. She will continue in her role through June 2020 to ensure a smooth transition for her successor.
Harral is only the second person to hold the position, having joined LFW in 1995.
“The board of directors is incredibly grateful to Harriet for building LFW into a major convener of nonprofit, business, education and government leaders who work together to tackle the key issues in our community,” said Doug Wilson, president of LFW’s Board of Directors. “Fort Worth owes her a debt of gratitude for her dedication to building a diverse and sustainable network of local leaders committed to service.”
As executive director, Harral grew LFW from one to five leadership development programs that serve middle school students, young professionals, established leaders and CEOs and top decision makers. More than 3,200 community members participated in one of its programs during her tenure, reflecting the broad reach of the organization.
“Harriet did a yeoman’s job growing and expanding the reach of Leadership Fort Worth," said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. "Under Harriet’s strong leadership, LFW increased its footprint from one program to five programs that positively impact a wide range of professionals with diverse experience and backgrounds.”
"Harriet Harral has done a remarkable job in spearheading Leadership Fort Worth for the past 25 years,” said former Mayor Ken Barr, a member of the 1973 Leadership Class.
“ She has helped set leadership expectations in our community and thousands of us have benefitted from her work. Virtually every community organization Tarrant County has one or more board members who have participated in a program presented by Leadership Fort Worth. Harriet has made a difference and she will be missed, Barr said.
“Harriet Harral has been very instrumental in working to create the leadership of Fort Worth. I’ve known Harriet for over 30 years and I've seen her commitment to developing leaders and also to making sure that there is diverse representation in the leadership of Fort Worth,” said Rosa Navejar, president of The Rios Group and former head of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
"Harriet's leadership and knowledge reaches far outside of Fort Worth. She's seen as a leader among leaders throughout North Texas. I am forever grateful to have her by my side as we launched Leadership North Texas and am proud to call her a mentor and friend," said Kimberly Walton, Vice President, Communications, North Texas Commission.
“Rosie and I are glad to join the many friends and fans of Harriet Harral in congratulating her on the outstanding job she has done for Leadership Fort Worth on behalf of our city. She has a unique skill set which has served our community well through her instincts, energy and perseverance. Her unique ability to find a consensus have benefited this generation and future generations in Fort Worth Texas,” former Mayor Mike Moncrief said.
Last year, Harral worked with the United Way to develop and launch BoardBuild – a new online tool to help equip and match emerging and established leaders with nonprofit board service opportunities.
“Harriet is an absolute pillar of this community. Heading up the Leadership Fort Worth enterprise that has sharpened generations of local executives, she's truly been an architect of our economic strength and prosperity,” said T.D. Smyers, retiring president and CEO of United Way.
“I got to know Harriet well when I participated in LeaderPrime and was blown away by the professional experience that program offered me. Since then, I've had the unique privilege of personally working with Harriet to forge what is now BoardBuild, a joint venture of our two organizations and a game-changer in the non-profit board leadership space. We'll miss her, but it's been my honor to have worked with her during her extensive ;tour of duty’ in service,” Smyers said.
“It has been a great privilege to serve Leadership Fort Worth and, by extension, our wonderful city,” Harral said. “I often say that one of the great pleasures of this job is that I get to work with such good people – people who want to give back and make their community better.
“It is a particular joy to observe people who have been in our classes move into new leadership roles. They often come back to speak to our classes and open the doors for new participants to assume leadership. The mark of success is not the position of leadership; it is the ability to assure that decisions are made for the good of all. I am grateful to have had a front row seat to see that happen.”
Leah King, recently selected to become the next president and CEO of United Way, said “for those of us who have had the opportunity to participate in Leadership Fort Worth, we’ve had the dual benefit of learning about our community from Dr. Harriet Harral.”
“She’s not only a champion for community stewardship, she has also personally introduced leaders at all stages of their career to the history of Fort Worth. And while her well-deserved retirement ends an era, the strength of the organization she has built will continue to live on for years to come,” King said.
Harral has received the Association of Leadership Programs Preceptor Award and has been named an Outstanding Woman of Fort Worth by the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women and a “Great Woman of Texas” by the Fort Worth Business Press. She has also received the “Legacy of Women” award from SafeHaven of Tarrant County.
Other honors and recognitions include the Will Courtney Award for Outstanding Service to Goodwill Industries (2012); Guardianship Services 25th Anniversary Honoree (2010); Paul Harris Fellow (2003), Rotary International; Outstanding Woman of Fort Worth (2000) Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women; and the Linda Keithley Award for Outstanding Woman in Public Management, 1991, North Central Texas Council of Governments;.
Harral holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Baylor University and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in organizational systemic communication. She served as training director for the City of Fort Worth from 1987 to 1991 and director of the Center of Productive Communication at the M.J. Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University from 1991 to 1995.
“Harriet has long been a strong advocate of using training and development strategies to empower personal and organizational development. She played an important role with the City of Fort Worth government as head of training, which is where I first met her,” said former City Manager Doug Harman. “She went on with an even broader scope of leadership in training and development with LFW. She has had a great influence on many individuals and organizations.”
Harral has volunteered on such nonprofit boards as Goodwill Industries, Renaissance Heights United, the Rotary Club of Fort Worth, United Way of Tarrant County, Women’s Policy Forum, Mayfest, and Guardianship Services. Nationally, she chaired the boards of the Community Leadership Association and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Harral has taught as an adjunct professor at the Singapore Baptist Theological Seminary since 2003. She also has taught as an adjunct professor or as faculty in the MBA Program at Texas Wesleyan University, the University of Illinois, Chicago; the University of North Florida; and the University of Colorado.
Harral was Director of Employee and Organization Development for the City of Fort Worth from 1987 to 1991, and an administrative aide to the mayor and director of Training and Staff Development for the City of Jacksonville, Florida, in 1983-1986.
As principal of The Harral Group, she continues to facilitate planning and communication initiatives for numerous government and nonprofit entities.
“Harriet’s retirement marks an important moment in LFW’s story,” said Ramon Guajardo Jr., the board’s president-elect. “We are excited to celebrate her many contributions to the community, which will lay the groundwork for commemorating LFW’s 50th anniversary in 2023. At the same time, we look forward to finding our next executive director who will lead the organization into its next chapter.”
CMP will coordinate the search process for LFW.
For more information, visit https://www.careermp.com/leadership-fw-ed.
During the transition, LFW will continue offering its leadership development programs and hosting events to raise awareness about emerging issues in the community.