2017 JA Business Hall of Fame
Author: Evan Simmons
Published: Wednesday, 01 Mar 2017
What makes a community or organization special is very rarely its product, but the people who help produce the culture at the heart of that community. Junior Achievement is honored to host the bi-annuel JA Business Hall of Fame celebration dinner in order to thank and honor the leaders in our community who deserve recognition for outstanding leadership of our business community and, therefore, have improved our community, as welll.
The purpose of the JA Business Hall of Fame was accomplished in a very fun "country" fashion at Celebration Hall on the Silverado. As we aim to celebrate the laureates for their exceptional leadership, the atmosphere for the entire evening felt like a party ... truly celebrating the laureates and their families. Each laureate received a commemorative bronze, a stetson hat (we did hold the event in a barn!), and a custom hat box.
We cannot thank each laureate enough for their support of Junior Achievement, their organizations, and our community.
Ultimately, this event raised over $90,000 to the benefit of Junior Achievement of Abilene!
Tim Lancaster is the President and CEO of Hendrick Health System. The healthcare system includes a 500 bed medical center and employs over 3,000 people.
He has implemented strategies to give employees and citizens of Abilene the opportunity to grow from entry level positions to highly skilled, professional positions while creating a world class work environment. He leads others by example and is an advocate for giving young professionals in Abilene opportunities for greater leadership opportunities and community involvement.
Tim has been instrumental in helping bring the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center to Abilene which includes the Schools of Pharmacy, Nursing and Public Health. These educational institutions enable hundreds of students each year the opportunity to learn and grow in their professions, with the hopes of keeping these individuals employed in Abilene.
Tim was also supportive and integral in bringing the concept of a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) to Abilene as ours was the largest community in the state without one. The creation of this facility in Abilene provides easier access to healthcare for some of our city’s most vulnerable populations.
He is active in community service and is past board chair of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the Board of Abilene Industrial Foundation and First Financial Bank Shares.
He was appointed by Governor Perry in 2013 to serve on the Texas Tech University Board of Regents and was recently appointed to the role of Vice-Chair.
Tim is past chair of the Texas Hospital Association, past chair of the Texas Association of Voluntary Hospitals, current chair of the Texas Purchasing Coalition, and current chair of Lt. Governor Patrick’s Advisory Committee on Healthcare.
Tim and his wife, Regina, have two sons: Chad and daughter in law Lyndsay and Chris and daughter in law Meredith. They have four grandsons Jack, Jett, Shepherd and Hooper.
Wesley Smith is the owner of Chick fil A - North Abilene. Wesley is very engaged in the community, specifically related to the Abilene Chamber of Commerce (Business EXPO , Business Council, Military Affairs Committee, and Leadership programs), serves on mulitple leadership boards (Communities in Schools, West Texas Rehab, Goodwill, Friends of the Library, and United Way), and serves as a regular JA volunteer.
Wesley's energy and involvement are all-encompassing. What makes Wesley stand out is his effort and intentionality. Nobody can say that Wesley's goes half-way because when he's committed, he's 100% engaged. He is “all in” for his employees, “all in” for his customers, and “all in” for his community. He has found ways to give to each of these three audiences simply to show that he cared. Wesley was listed as one of Abilene’s 20 under 40 in 2008 and was named the recipient of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Award in 2016. Not to mention, he was the Best Dressed Rodeo Man in the 3rd grade at Bowie Elementary.
Wesley is the dad of Daisy (9) and Fletcher (6).
Kirk and Kristi Thaxton
Kirk Thaxton is the President and CEO of First Financial Trust & Asset Management Company. Kristi Thaxton is an Exceptional Funds Officer with Abilene Christian University.
Professionally, Kirk and Kristi are known to be leaders by example in their fields. Doing their job the right way and leading others in the same direction is natural to them. They are the type of people who people want to immolate. With over 30 years at First Financial for Kirk and over 20 years at Abilene Christian University for Kristi, longevity, loyalty, and consistency are found in their successful careers.
Kirk and Kristi are very committed to making Abilene better than they found it. Over fifteen organizations including emphasis in civic leadership, business, arts, education, youth sports, and community development have benefited from Kirk and Kristi’s involvement. One thing many people may not know is that Junior Achievement has known very few years without the leadership of one of the Thaxtons. Since JA’s inception in 1983, Kirk OR Kristi have served on one of the JA leadership boards for all but five years. In other words, for 29 of JA’s 34 year history in Abilene, either Kirk or Kristi have been formally involved in a leadership role in empowering Abilene’s young people for success.
And this is not uncommon for the Thaxton's. For the past 34 years Kirk and Kristi have been supporting the other in whatever they are involved. Through this process, many people have considered Kirk and Kristi the ultimate team due to their commitment and sincere interest in one another. Their involvement in the lives of their three children (Matt, Kyle, and Kaitlin), their involvement in their community, and their commitment to their organizations has all been completed with the support and partnership with the other.