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Meet the Board: Chris Harmon – Director of Community Service

Tell us about your business or the work you do.

I am a Videographer and I also own a Production and Entertainment company with Harmland Visions and High School Hype!

How long have you been a NACE member? On the board? 5 years a member, 4 years 

What is your personal motto? I am the kind of person you can only truly love when I’m dead and gone… Meaning that I have to raise the bar so high and leave an impact so heavy on this earth, that generations after me will mimic the Chris Harmon model.

What is your guilty pleasure? Popping Bottles in the club…. always making bad financial decisions 

Which actor or actress would play you in the movie about your life? Omari Hardwick

What does true leadership mean to you? Leadership is being able to lead a team and not having anyone do anything that you wouldn’t do. Constantly demanding greatness and nothing less.  Realizing that you don’t have to be a leader because someone said so, but you do it because that’s just who you are.  

What is in the trunk of your car right now? A whole bunch of bull…. naw just kidding… but it’s a lot of trash and broken pieces of something.  I don’t even think the spare tire is screwed in right.

Meet the Board: Jennifer Burns – Treasurer

Tell us about your business or the work you do.

I am currently President of Illumination Fireworks, a fireworks, pyro and special effects company based in Carrollton.  We provide services for sports organizations, socia, weddings and cities.  We also have Ultimate Confetti.com under our umbrella, an  ecommerce retail site that sales confetti to national and international clients.

How long have you been a NACE member? On the board?

I have been a NACE member for, I believe 14/15 years.

What is your personal motto?

 It always works out. 

What is your guilty pleasure?

An afternoon glass of wine and then a nap. 

Which actor or actress would play you in the movie about your life?

I am not sure who would play me, but I would love to be Jennifer Gardner (Sydney) in Alias.  

What does true leadership mean to you?

True leadership is inspires me to be a better leader to my own team. 

What is in the trunk of your car right now?

1 case of bottled water and 2 cases of Diet Cokes. 

Meet the Board: Rebecca Wright, CPCE – Awards Chair

Tell us about your business or the work you do.

I am the regional Director of Private Dining for the Truluck’s Restaurant Group. I plan and execute private events that range in size from 8-300 people at our Dallas area locations and am proud to have been happily employed at Truluck’s since 1999. It truly is a dream job. I keep showing up to do work that I love and they keep paying me (which I also love) – what more could I ask? I do not own Truluck’s but they treat me like I do!

How long have you been a NACE member? On the board?  

I have been a member of NACE for 10 years (since 2010) and have served on the board in various capacities for 6 years. I served as the Treasurer and most recently as the Awards Chair where my duties are to submit our chapter’s body of work for national award recognition.I am proud that our chapter has won “Chapter of the Year” while I have served in this role. 

What is your personal motto?

Two-Twelve It! That is a quick way to remind me to give it my all. This comes from a concept book by Sam Parker called 212 Degrees. It essentially says that at 211 degrees water is very hot but at 212 degrees water boils. With boiling water you get steam. With steam you can power an engine and with an engine you can move mountains. The difference between 211 and 212 is only 1 degree. However, 1 single degree makes ALL of the difference. Can I commit to giving it 212 degrees? You bet I can!

What is your guilty pleasure?

Macaroni and cheese from EatZi’s and sleeping late.

Which actor or actress would play you in the movie about your life?

Because she is one of my all-time favorites, I pick Meryl Streep! If it has to be someone a little closer to my actual age, I pick Debra Messing.

What does true leadership mean to you?

True leadership is leading by example and having an ego-less approach. A true leader cultivates and develops future leaders by providing the appropriate support to allow each to learn and succeed in their own way.

What is in the trunk of your car right now?

A set of Tiffany champagne flutes and my nephew’s stroller. Yeah, I’m that kind of aunt!

A Message from the DFW NACE President

Dear DFW NACE Family,

At some point in my DFW NACE presidency, I’m going to have the opportunity to send out the traditional and, dare I say, fluffy message that you’re used to seeing from past presidents. It definitely wasn’t my last newsletter, where I focused on Covid-19 and the effects it was having on our event industry. And it certainly isn’t going to be this one either.

There’s no denying that 2020 has been tough. For all of us. And for some members of our community, it hasn’t just been a rough year. It’s simply a life that has been made more difficult because of the color of their skin. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, I think (or dare I say, hope) that we can all agree that our country has a long way to go when it comes to racial equality, fairness, and sometimes just plain decency. It’s a shame that there has to be another trending hashtag in order for the world at large to see what those of us in the black community have known for a long time. Things aren’t equal.

But here’s what I do know…

The Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of NACE can be a safe space. A place where we can avoid naively saying things like, “I don’t see color” as a way to show solidarity and togetherness, but instead can embrace and celebrate our differences, including race. While it may be well intentioned to think that being blind to color is a good thing, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking our backgrounds and experiences are the same. Our chapter is more diverse than it’s ever been. Ever. And the only way we keep it that way is by fostering a welcoming, inclusive environment. Not just with Instagram messages and Facebook posts.

I want to encourage you to take a look around you. At your friend group. At your children’s friend group. At your network. At your workplace. Surrounding yourself with people who don’t look like you, who don’t worship where you worship, and maybe don’t even love who you love makes us all better. And pretending like we’re all the same, well… that’s so 2019.

I’ll be attending this webinar tomorrow to continue the conversation, “Healing Wounds & Bridging Gaps: An Honest Conversation About Race & Allyship in the Wedding Industry.” I hope you’ll join me.

Kimberly Rhodes
Owner & Event Planner at Hitched Events
DFW NACE President

All About Earning Your CPCE from Lauren Twichell

A CPCE designation signifies your mastery and knowledge of 8 core competencies as a professional in the catering and events industry. CPCE stands for Certified Professional in Catering and Events. It is a nationally recognized program and you receive the certification through NACE. It truly is the mark of excellence for catering and event professionals!

The 8 CPCE Core Competencies are:

  1. Accounting
  2. Beverage Management
  3. Catering Services
  4. Contracts and Agreements
  5. Food Production
  6. Event Management
  7. Human Resources
  8. Sales and Marketing

I believe that your education doesn’t end after school. Continuing to further your education as a professional is what sets you apart from all the other event professionals out there. The CPCE program allows you to become a trusted events and catering vendor partner and gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.

For me, earning my CPCE is about more than JUST my years of experience and my job title. Having earned my CPCE, I am not only demonstrating my expertise in these 8 subjects of the event industry and food and beverage, but I am also proving to myself, my employers, and my clients that I am an essential and versatile resource when planning and managing an event.

Preparing and studying for the CPCE is definitely something you want to make time in your schedule for. I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston Conrad Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, so I have had a thorough education in food and beverage safety, policies, and guidelines. But this was over a decade ago! Guidelines and protocols for the catering and events industry have evolved over time. So, I decided to take a Fast Track Course that NACE offers to freshen up my knowledge and I also used the CPCE handbook as a study guide.

On the morning of the test, like anyone else might feel, I was equally calm and nervous at the same time. I knew I was well-prepared, but I was anxious and ready to take the test! I was able to take the test during the NACE Evolve Conference earlier this year that was hosted in Dallas. And sweet Kevin Brant was my proctor.

If you’re interested in receiving your CPCE or you want to learn more, reach out to myself or another board member. As a chapter, we can set up a study group, and plan our own test date in DFW with a local proctor. It’s an incredibly easy process to set this up for our members, and the DFW NACE Board is always happy to facilitate the planning! Also, I want to note, that it was incredibly helpful to have a supportive group of friends and colleagues to study with and to be able to cheer each other on through it all. We were also able to quiz one another!

You can reach me at vicepresident@dfwnace.com

Lauren Twichell, CPCE
Director of Business Development, CN Catering
Vice President of DFW NACE

Meet the Board: Lauren Twichell, CPCE – Vice President

Tell us about your business or the work you do.

I work for CN Catering as the Director of Business Development 

How long have you been a NACE member? On the board?

NACE Member about 7 years and on the board about 3 🙂 

What is your personal motto?

What goes around comes around, treat everyone the way you’d expect to be treated in return. 

What is your guilty pleasure?

I love the spa, like a really nice and unfortunately expensive spa day! 

Which actor or actress would play you in the movie about your life?

Hmm, what a fun question! I WISH it was Tina Fey, but it would probably be Melissa Joan Hart! 

What does true leadership mean to you?

I love trying to ensure all of my friends and peers feel like they know I am always behaving or acting for the greater good. I am always wanting them to succeed and for all of us as an industry to rise together! I think that I do this with my own actions every day and hope my peers feel the same. 

What is in the trunk of your car right now?

Oh, a foldable wagon of course! You never know when you’ll need that bad boy!

Legends of NACE: Leigh Tidwell

Tell us about your business or the work that you do.

I’m the Regional Sales Manager for AFR Furniture Rental – We provide soft seating solutions for conferences, events, and sporting events.

What year did you join NACE? 

2005

How do you define success.

I define success as being a benefit to your community and the world around you.  Setting goals that make the world a better place then utilizing your skills and network to achieve them. 

What would the title of your autobiography be? 

One day at a Time

Tell us your favorite NACE moment or memory.

My favorite NACE moment was when we raised over 2,500.00 for Cafe Momentum to support them – it was amazing! The membership really rallied to the cause. 

Advice for newer members of NACE


Get involved!  You definitely get back what you put into it.  Join a committee – any time spent is well worth it.  

Over the years what is the most important thing you have gained through NACE? 

Leadership skills and friendships that last a life time. 

Meet the Board: Lauren Schmidt – Secretary

Tell us about your business or the work you do.

 I am the owner of two companies, a planning firm called The Creative Touch, Events by Lauren which has been around over 10 years, and a floral design company called Freesia. I intentionally keep the two businesses separate because, well, they are two totally different beasts.  I also love the relationships I have with other planners and I want them to feel comfortable to bring their clients to Freesia knowing that their in good hands with their floral needs and that’s it. On the planning side, our focus is mainly weddings and social events.  On the floral side, we literally do so many fun things from weekly floral/plant design for restaurants, hotels, attorney’s offices and banks.  We design for weddings, corporate events, showers, funerals, you name it…doesn’t matter…where anyone wants flowers, we will create it for them.  We recently made and hand delivered rose box invitations for a client all over the metroplex.

How long have you been a NACE member? On the board?

I have been a NACE member since at least 2008…so 12 glorious years. On the board? I have served on the board for 5 of those years. Once I had my littles, I took a bit of a break, but now I’m back!

What is your personal motto?

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” 

What is your guilty pleasure?

I have a few…is that bad??? I love wine & cheese….anytime, for any reason.  I love cheddar & sour cream chips….ahh I cannot keep my hands out of the bag.  And I really do love to binge watch Netflix series…I’m always bummed when there isn’t another season to pull up on a favorite show.

Which actor or actress would play you in the movie about your life?

Hmm, that’s a toughie. I would have to say Sandra Bullock because her character roles always have a quirky, yet strong independent and loving spirit about them and I think she could pull my personality off easily.

What does true leadership mean to you?

True leadership to me, is being a servant leader. I’ve always been the type that if I knew my boss’ had been there, done that and gone through it themselves then I had that much more confidence and respect for them and was more willing to go the extra mile. I have done that throughout my career and my team knows that I will step in to help out whenever needed.  I also strive to teach them the tools to be successful and work independently on their own. And to know that they matter, their input matters. I believe that’s part of how we as a company become more successful and efficient. 

What is in the trunk of your car right now?

A box full of pine cones…prepping for the holidays!

Legends of NACE: Wendy Timson

Tell us about your business or the work that you do.

Director of Sales for Shag Carpet Prop Rentals.  We are a rental company that provides unique props and décor to create fabulous events

What year did you join NACE? 

June of 2006 – wow, it has been a long time

How do you define success.

When you feel fulfilled in both your personal and professional life

What would the title of your autobiography be? 

Planning for Others:  A Life in Events

Tell us your favorite NACE moment or memory.

Winning the NACE National Member of the Year award.  I was up against some pretty amazing others in the industry and wasn’t expecting to win.  I felt so honored to be recognized in that way on a National level.

Advice for newer members of NACE

Don’t under estimate the power of connections.  When you know people and you help each other out and can count on each other you can achieve just about anything for your clients.

Over the years what is the most important thing you have gained through NACE? 

Friends and Colleagues all over the US that I can reach out to for advice, guidance, friendship and a good laugh

Meet the Board: Luke Wilson – Director of Ways and Means

Tell us about your business or the work you do.

Luke Wilson Events is a wedding planning and design company specializing in destination weddings in the United States with a focus in the Southeast.

How long have you been a NACE member? On the board?

Since June 2019, Since January 2020

What is your personal motto?

“Do the most!” What this means to me is that everything I touch I really want to do to the absolute best of my ability.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Lavish vacations.

Which actor or actress would play you in the movie about your life?

I have never thought about this before and so it is a very interesting question! I don’t even know who I would pick.

What does true leadership mean to you?

True leadership to me means stepping up to the plate when things aren’t always going so well! As a wedding planner, I often use the phrase “you don’t hire a wedding planner for when things are coming up roses”.

What is in the trunk of your car right now?

Absolutely nothing! I am a hyper organized person and cannot stand to have Mess or Clutter anywhere.