Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Daniel Cortez Appointed Director of Economic Development and Tourism

Daniel Cortez, Deputy Director of Economic Development and Tourism, has been promoted to Director, effective July 1. After the departure of Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher, Cortez’s history of strong work performance, world-class professionalism and commitment to assist Southlake businesses and residents make him fit for the task to lead the Southlake economic development team.

“Daniel Cortez has many notable accomplishments under his belt,” said Assistant City Manager Alison Ortowski. “His energy, creativity, intelligence and strong people skills make him ideal for this role.”

Since 2017, Cortez has worked to implement key recommendations of the 2035 Economic Development Master Plan. He has also created and implemented a commercial site assessment project, resulting in valuable insights into Southlake’s commercial centers. He managed the City’s first Business Climate Survey to understand the local business community’s strengths and challenges, track trends and ensure the City has useful data for business support programs.

“I am humbled at the confidence the City’s leadership has in me. I look forward to continuing to serve our business community with the same tradition of excellence Southlake is known for, with new inspiration and determination to meet the challenges of the future,” Cortez said. “There is truly no place like Southlake. It is my privilege to be part of a great community and I’m excited to strengthen the City’s relationships with local businesses.”

Ortowski also highlights his business retention work, noting that “he has established strong relationships through one-on-one visits and programs he’s created to improve business engagement with the City.”

Southlake youth have also benefited from Cortez’s hard work. Through the Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership (SKIL) program, Cortez has worked with Mayor Hill and Carroll ISD to offer selected students access to local business leaders through educational seminars and internship experiences. Cortez guides the students through the program, which has been in place for three years.

Perhaps Cortez has demonstrated his strongest performance with his work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Untangling the complex and sometimes confusing information related to the various executive orders was a terrific service he was able to provide to our business customers,” noted Ortowski.  “He promoted businesses in unique and creative ways. He demonstrated a keen knowledge of the needs of our businesses and worked proactively to provide needed support.”

In his new role, Daniel will be responsible for economic development work, and will oversee the day-to-day activities of the City’s tourism and special events team.

Youth Leadership SKIL Immerses Itself in Entrepreneurship

Over the last four months, the youth leadership group, Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership (SKIL) have been meeting regularly with TD Ameritrade representatives to not only learn what it takes to operate one of the country’s largest brokerage firms, but to learn valuable entrepreneurial skills from company leaders.

SKIL is a youth leadership program where students and adults can work together to make Southlake a better community by enhancing engagement with the City’s youth through educational and leadership opportunities. The program was created in 2015 through a partnership between the City, Carroll Independent School District and the Southlake Chamber of Commerce. In 2018, TD Ameritrade joined the program as a partner to introduce hands-on financial and entrepreneurial skills to the students.

“When I envisioned a youth leadership program, I knew we had to include the business community as a partner because they helped mold Southlake in to what it is today,” SKIL founder and Southlake Mayor Laura Hill said. “By having partners like TD Ameritrade involved, we enhance the experience for our students and also build a stronger sense of community.”

TD Ameritrade has spent the last several months mentoring and training the youth leadership group by assessing and identifying problems with services, forming an understanding of solution-based service and learning the operations of a top performing financial services business. As a part of this entrepreneurial experience, the students also get to learn from John Huffman, Southlake City Councilmember and local entrepreneur, and get a better understanding of what it means to be trained in a profession and what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

“Entrepreneurship is important because it can harness some skill sets that many students don’t even know they have and can help guide them as they select careers,” Southlake City Councilmember and local entrepreneur John Huffman said. “I’ve personally learned a lot through my own experiences as an entrepreneur and passing some words of wisdom onto these young leaders is so important in today’s competitive environment.”

For more information about SKIL, please visit the City’s website.

Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership Annouces its New Wave of Students

This new group of 20 students was selected after enduring a rigorous selection process conducted by Carroll Senior High School, where each candidate is evaluated based on several criteria. These students have earned their spot in this program and have already begun to demonstrate leadership qualities.

SKIL is a youth leadership program where students and adults can work together to make Southlake a better community by enhancing engagement with the City’s youth through educational and leadership opportunities. The program was created in partnership between the City, the Carroll Independent School District and the Southlake Chamber of Commerce. By participating in the program, these students will be directly involved to create positive dialogue and an engaged government while opening the community to a new generation of ideas.

“Our children have amazing ideas about what they would like to see now and in future,” says Mayor Hill, founder of the SKIL program. “When any citizen, including our youth, are involved and engaged in the community, we all benefit from it because it brings all of our ideas together. These young leaders will grow up, know the value of being engaged and rely on the systems that are in place so they can improve them when they become leaders in their community.”

This group of students and will continue to elevate the status of this elite group of students. They will work with the school district, the City and the local business community on various matters that impact the community all while becoming engaged leaders.

The next generation of SKIL students will kick-off their first meeting in Southlake Town Hall on October 21st.

For more information about SKIL, please visit the City’s website.

Student Leaders Honored in Fourth Annual SKIL Awards Reception

The City of Southlake along with CISD Trustees and members of the Southlake Chamber of Commerce came together on Thursday, May 9 at The Marq Southlake to honor the students involved in the SKIL (Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership) program in the fourth Annual SKIL Awards Reception.

SKIL is a youth leadership program where students and adults can work together to make Southlake a better community by enhancing engagement with the City’s youth through educational and leadership opportunities. The program was created in partnership between the City, the Carroll Independent School District and the Southlake Chamber of Commerce.

“I always had the vision for SKIL to be an opportunity for our community’s youth to have a seat at the table with our local leaders and help us solve our local challenges.  SKIL has given these young leaders a chance to learn how things work in our community, what it takes to get them done and how good choices can be made,” said Mayor Laura Hill, the founder of the SKIL program.

Over the last year, SKIL students have had the opportunity to spend a day on the job with area business leaders during the program’s Annual Day of Internship, where area businesses like The Barrows Firm, Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU), Highland Landscaping and many others gave students an inside perspective to their business operation. The students also got the opportunity to learn from leaders at TD Ameritrade, who became a partner in the SKIL program just this last year. The students learned about the inner workings of the financial services company and presented solutions to obstacles that were presented.

In addition to learning about businesses, municipal government and school district operations, the SKIL students paid a visit to the Texas State Capital, where they had a chance to meet Representative Giovanni Capriglione and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen about important matters affecting everyone in Texas and the importance of leadership in those matters.

“This program has become more comprehensive and illustrates all the different aspects that impact a community,” said City Staff Liaison, Daniel Cortez. “Not only do the students learn about what’s going on locally, but they get the chance to see how it fits into the larger picture with our state leadership.”

Since the program began in 2015, it has seen a phenomenal amount of support from the community and program volunteers. Each year, 20 high school Junior students are selected by Carroll Senior High School staff, which now makes a total of 80 students that have participated in the program.

As the latest 20 students of the SKIL program were honored at the May 9 reception, a scholarship was also awarded by the Southlake Chamber of Commerce. The recipient was Zeena Mahmud, who demonstrated a high level of engagement in the program and willingness to lead in a variety of capacities. “I cannot put into words how thankful I am for the city of Southlake and what they have done and provided for us,” said Mahmud.

For more information about SKIL, please visit the City’s website.

SKIL Students Engage with Area Businesses During Annual Day of Internship

Students from Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership (SKIL), the community’s youth leadership program, experienced a day on the job with area business owners and managers during the program’s Annual Day of Internship March 22.

With the participation of 14 area businesses, including AT&T Corporate Offices, Educational Employees Credit Union (EEUC) and Highland Landscaping, SKIL students got an insider’s perspective in several industries and businesses had an opportunity to showcase their companies while mentoring the next generation of potential employees and business leaders.

“The SKIL program provides real-life shadowing opportunities for our students. Students learn theory in the classroom, and the SKIL program provides them a chance to translate the classroom to a real-world job environment,” stated EECU Director Barbara Walker.

This is the fourth year of SKIL, a program created in partnership between the City of Southlake, the Carroll Independent School District and the Southlake Chamber of Commerce. The program provides opportunities to develop leadership qualities in young citizens and create better decision makers by engaging students in their community.

SKIL does more than simply educate students about opportunities, it creates experiences for the students to participate and engage in leadership activities. Students learn about and actively contribute to projects within the City of Southlake’s various departments, as well as work with the Carroll Independent School District and the Southlake Chamber of Commerce. Through the program’s Annual Day of Internship, students also expand their entrepreneurial experiences as well. Carroll Senior High School students interested in participating in the program apply at the beginning of each academic year, and then 20 high school juniors are selected and begin program activities each October.

“SKIL offers current Southlake community leaders, business owners and residents a valuable opportunity for cultivating the next generation of leaders, which ultimately strengthens our community. The real-world insight youth leaders gain during the experience fosters an interest in government and business, which gives students a better understanding about leadership paths they may want to pursue in the future,” stated Mayor Laura Hill.

For more information about SKIL, contact Daniel Cortez in the City’s Economic Development Department at 817-748-8039.

Fourth Generation of S.K.I.L. Students Kick-Off the Year Talking About Leadership

The community’s youth leadership program S.K.I.L. (Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership), kicked-off its first meeting with the fourth generation of students on Monday, October 15 with Mayor Laura Hill and Council Member Chris Archer to discuss leadership in the community.

More than four years ago, Mayor Laura Hill envisioned a youth leadership program that would create better decision makers by engaging students in their community. From this vision, S.K.I.L. was formed and has become a valuable and highly sought after program. Students in the program are selected from Carroll Senior High School at the beginning of each academic year. The program allows students to participate in a meaningful way to make the Southlake community better.

“This is the fourth year for the program and it keeps getting better every year. We have to make sure our youth and future generations are equipped with good leaders and S.K.I.L. is just the right tool to help make that happen,” said Mayor Laura Hill.

Training future leaders brings in a new generation of fresh ideas and helps to foster an interest in good government. “I am beyond excited to welcome this new group of leaders and work with them. The program creates meaningful life experiences for the students that they can take with them in future leadership roles,” said Deputy Director of Economic Development & Tourism Daniel Cortez.

This year’s group of S.K.I.L. students will get to work with the City on various topics such as finance, infrastructure and development in addition to working with Carroll Independent School District and the Southlake Chamber of Commerce. One new addition to the program this year is a youth entrepreneurship focus where the students will work with the program’s newest partner, TD Ameritrade, to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills.

This year’s selected S.K.I.L. students are: Emma Cave, Christopher Ciccone, Trevor Easton, Eric Eaton, Chase Gardiner, Olivia Hein, Nadia Khalil, Lauren Kim, Emily Kennedy, Sachi Kishinchandani, Zeena Mahmud, Kelli Nusspickel, Sophia Polisetty, Ryan Sahihi, Rohun Shroff, Simrun Shroff, Farees Syed, Pablo Valderrama Pena, Matthew Vinson, Michelle Wu.

For more information about the S.K.I.L. Program click here.

Southlake’s Youth Leadership honored for their S.K.I.L.’s

Yesterday evening on May 17, City leaders, Carroll Independent School District trustees, local business leaders and parents gathered to recognize this past year’s youth leadership graduates at the 3rd Annual S.K.I.L. (Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership) Awards Reception.

The reception has been a way to honor these student leaders’ success during the academic year and recognize all of those that have contributed to the program, and this year was no different. Southlake Mayor Laura Hill expressed her gratitude to all of the students for their commitment to the program and the value of good leadership.

The reception provided an opportunity for parents to meet with all the contributors to the program and what role they provided. “Without the contributions of the school district, the City, the Chamber of Commerce and all of our business partners, this program would not be possible,” said Daniel Cortez, the City of Southlake staff liaison to the program.

The evening reception concluded with the Southlake Chamber of Commerce giving special recognition to S.K.I.L. student Logan Reid who demonstrated a positive attitude and tremendous growth in her leadership skills over the last year and was awarded a scholarship towards her college education.

The youth leadership program, created in partnership between the City of Southlake, the Carroll Independent School District and the Southlake Chamber of Commerce, will continue into its 4th year beginning in the Fall of 2018 when the next generation of S.K.I.L. students enter their junior year at Carroll Senior High School.

You can learn more about the S.K.I.L. program and how you can contribute here.

Student Leaders Honored in Second Annual SKIL Awards Reception

The future never looked brighter than it did Wednesday, May 17, night at The MarqSouthlake. City leaders, Mayor Laura Hill, CISD trustees, parents and students involved in the SKIL (Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership) program convened to celebrate the end of the program’s successful second year.

SKIL is a youth leadership program created in partnership between the City of Southlake, the Carroll Independent School District and the Southlake Chamber of Commerce. The program’s mission is to enhance engagement with the city’s youth through education and leadership opportunities, or, in Mayor Hill’s words, “to give the kids a seat at the table.”

Before Mayor Hill took the stage to discuss the program and bestow accolades upon the SKIL participants, Daniel Cortez opened the evening with some remarks about the program.

Cortez, the program’s City staff liaison, spoke about how proud he was of this year’s SKIL group, which includes 20 juniors from Carroll Senior High School. After starting the program in October, the group visited various departments throughout the city, and also visited the capitol in Austin to learn about leadership at the state level.

The program’s second year culminated with a presentation to City Council on Tuesday night, followed by the awards reception on Tuesday. During the ceremony, Mayor Hill awarded each student with a plaque and a Certificate of Achievement. Carroll Senior High teacher Eddie Morman, Chamber President Mark Guilbert and CISD Superintendent Dr. David Faltys also spoke about their pride in the program, but the Mayor wasn’t finished doling out awards to the crop of talented Dragons.

SKIL student Ganeev Kaur was awarded $2,500 for the college of her choice, and Kaur currently plans to study medicine after graduating from Carroll Senior High in 2018. Furthermore, Kaur will be interning in State Representative Giovanni Capriglione’s office this summer—just one example of the stellar work being done by the motivated students in the SKIL program.

Applications for next year’s SKIL group will open up in August, and next year’s group will have big shoes to fill. As Morman said, “There’s no doubt about it—these kids are the best of the best.”

Visit the City website to learn more about the SKIL program.

SKIL Students Visit Austin

Earlier this week, the Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership (S.K.I.L.) met with state leaders in Austin for a day that was filled with learning about history, government and leadership at the highest levels in the State.

S.K.I.L. consists of 20 high school juniors selected at the beginning of each academic year. The mission of the program is to help foster the next generation of decision-makers through developmental exercises and information sessions. The current group of S.K.I.L.ed students has kept busy refining their leadership skills through monthly meetings, where topics such as safety and security and transportation are discussed, and activities such as the “Day of Internship.”

Representatives from the City and Carroll ISD joined the group for the trek to Austin, where our leaders of tomorrow had the opportunity to chat with state representative Giovanni Capriglione and Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett.   Topics of conversation included governmental processes and the leadership skills necessary to make the state work.

Trips like these help the students encounter leadership perspectives at many different levels.  Prior to visiting the State Capitol, S.K.I.L. students had the opportunity to learn and work with Carroll ISD, the Southlake Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Southlake.

For more information about S.K.I.L., visit this page.