It takes know-how, savviness, vision and an entrepreneurial mindset to be a business leader. A great education also provides a strong foundation to rise to the top. Many of the region's top business leaders got their start at UNT and are pillars in industries as varied as aviation, banking, healthcare and education.
D CEO's special edition, The Dallas 500, is a list of the most powerful business leaders in the Dallas-Fort Worth area -- the people who are driving the region's economic progress through business, education and more.
Congratulations to everyone in the UNT family who made the list!
- Neal Smatresk, president, UNT
- Smatresk came to UNT in 2014 when he was named the 16th president in UNT's history, marking his second university presidency. He has nearly 35 years of experience in higher education.
- Terrance Pohlen, director, Logistics Systems Institute, UNT
- Pohlen is the director of the UNT Logistics Systems Institute, a group of researchers who provide leading-edge solutions to public and private organizations. UNT's logistics program is one of the top in the country, and its students have garnered several awards at national case competitions.
- Lee Jackson, chancellor, UNT System
- Jackson became the UNT System chancellor in 2002 and has guided the system to incredible growth. He spent 20 years in government before coming to UNT.
- Brint Ryan ('88, '88 M.S.), UNT System Board of Regents chairman; CEO, Ryan Inc.
- Ryan was appointed to the UNT System Board of Regents in August of 2009 and has served as the chairman since 2013. He is the CEO of Ryan Inc., a professional tax services firm based in Dallas.
- Laura Wright ('82, '82 M.S.), UNT System Board of Regents member; CFO, Southwest Transplant Alliance
- Wright has been the CFO at Southwest Transplant Alliance since 2012 and is a UNT System Board of Regents member. She was previously with Southwest Airlines for 25 years.
- Bobby Ray ('69), former UNT System Board of Regents member and chairman; president, BR Homebuilding Group
- President of the BR Homebuilding Group, Ray has been building homes in the area since the 1980s. He is a former member and chairman of the UNT System Board of Regents, serving from 1995 to 2007.
- Michael Williams, president, UNT Health Science Center
- Williams was named president of the UNT Health Science Center in 2013 after more than 20 years in medicine as an anesthesiologist. He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the UNT Health Science Center in 1981.
- Michael Maslanka, assistant professor of law, UNT Dallas College of Law
- Michael Maslanka is currently an assistant professor of law at the UNT Dallas College of Law after spending 34 years as a practicing attorney.
- Gary Cook ('77 M.A.), president, Dallas Baptist University
- Cook is one of the longest serving university presidents in the North Texas region, leading Dallas Baptist University since 1988. The university has grown from an enrollment of just under 2,000 in 1988 to more than 5,500.
- Mark Duebner ('96 M.P.A.), director of aviation, City of Dallas
- As the director of aviation for the city of Dallas, Duebner oversees operations at the Dallas Love Field Airport. He has helped with Love Field's expansion efforts since the repeal of the Wright Amendment in 2013.
- Robert Earley ('83), president and CEO, JPS Health Network
- Earley leads the JPS Health Network, a nearly $1 billion healthcare system in Tarrant County. He is a former state congressman, serving in the Texas House of Representatives from 1984 to 1995.
- Warren Ivie ('73), founder and CEO, Ivie & Associates Inc.
- Ivie spent 20 years in the retail marketing industry before founding Ivie & Associates Inc. in 1993. The firm has grown from a small startup to a global marketing company.
- Fehmi Karahan ('81 M.B.A.), president and CEO, The Karahan Companies
- Karahan, now president and CEO of The Karahan Companies, came to the U.S. seeking a master's degree. He eventually received that degree at UNT and has gone on to lead development projects like The Shops at Legacy in Plano.
- Christina Kitchens ('99, '05 M.B.A.), group managing director of national energy finance, East West Bank
- Kitchens recently joined East West Bank, one of the largest public banks in the U.S., which is expanding operations in Texas. She also is a founding member of the Texas Energy Update and Women's Energy Network.
- Jim LaFontaine ('87), senior vice president-Texas region, UMB Bank
- LaFontaine joined UMB Bank as senior vice president-Texas region in 2013 and has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. He earned his bachelor's degree in music at UNT.
- Bryan Marsh ('82), vice president and portfolio manager, Digital Realty
- Marsh has served as vice president and portfolio manager for Digital Realty, a company involved in datacenter acquisition, ownership and operation, since 2009.
- Fredrick Savelsbergh ('82), CFO, Baylor Scott & White Health
- Savelsbergh earned his bachelor's degree in accounting and economics and went on to become the CFO of Baylor Scott & White Health, the largest nonprofit health system in Texas.
- Debra von Storch ('82), partner and Southwest region strategic growth markets leader, EY
- Von Storch studied journalism at UNT before changing her major to finance and going on to become partner and Southwest region strategic growth markets leader at professional services firm EY.
- Jim Walton (’78), president and CEO, Genesis Physicians Group
- Walton leads the Genesis Physicians Group, an independent practice association with 1,400 physicians. He earned degrees from UNT and from the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.
- Gabriella Draney Zielke (’02), CEO, Tech Wildcatters
- Zielke is the CEO of Tech Wildcatters, a top seed accelerator for technology startups. She also co-founded and is a partner in Health Wildcatters, a healthcare-based seed accelerator.