2023 Women in Business
As we celebrate Women in Business, we proudly recognize these deserving women for their role in empowering the community to chase their dreams and career goals. Each honoree displays unique skills and perspectives that they bring to their respective industries. These women have a purpose for their work and aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. To be strong businesswomen, these honorees have shown their determination, problem-solving skills, confidence, and contribution, all while being champions for the great city in which we live.
Ashley MillerDirector of Public Relations and National Breast Cancer Foundation Spokesperson
“I am deeply inspired by the idea of advocating for women to prioritize their health and wellness. It’s not just about physical health, but also promoting mental and emotional well-being,” Ms. Miller shares. “I am passionate about bridging gaps in our community, bringing people together, and fostering connections. To me, investing in others means dedicating time, resources, and support to empower individuals to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.”
In Frisco, Ms. Miller gives back so much of her time and energy serving as Chairwoman of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, on the Board of Trustees for the Frisco Chamber Foundation, and is a past chair and current member of the Board of Directors for Melody of Hope. Ms. Miller is a member of Hope Fellowship Church and serves on the Rogers PTA, is a proud room mom, and serves on the Texas Big Star Half Marathon and 5k Planning Committee. She is a Leadership Frisco graduate and a host for the “Hope Ignited” National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) podcast.
Ms. Miller shares, “My family is my why. My husband steps up in countless ways to allow me to serve and set out to leave Frisco better than we found it for our children. I’m constantly seeking opportunities where I can wholeheartedly contribute to building the Kingdom of Jesus through meaningful connections and intentional relationships. I am passionate about investing in others and helping them succeed.”
In the future, Ms. Miller wants to continue sharing the NBCF mission across bigger platforms to help more women and families. She hopes to continue to emcee and host local events. “I am deeply committed to loving the city of Frisco, where opportunities abound for our families to thrive. What inspires me most is the spirit of collaboration that defines our community, where we work together to preserve that cherished small-town feel while embracing innovation and evolution. We are stronger together,” she says.
Lauren LaakeCommunity Relations Lead for PGA of America
In her current role, Ms. Laake builds and maintains strong relationships between the PGA of America and the North Texas community. Additionally, she ensures that the PGA is a valued and engaged member of the community and helps bring awareness to the variety of services golf and PGA Professionals offer. Playing an instrumental role in the development of PGA Frisco is considered one of her standout accomplishments.
In her daily work, Ms. Laake serves as the contact for Frisco and the North Texas community at the PGA of America while publicly representing the company. She bridges the gap between her organization and local residents and businesses while acting as the liaison, facilitating communication, collaboration, engagement, and partnerships.
The PGA of America is comprised of more than 28,000 PGA Professionals who primarily work at more than 10,000 golf facilities around the country. “They inspire me every day to be successful in this business. Their influence extends far beyond the fairways, and we are fortunate to work with them. We have an incredible team of talented individuals at the PGA of America who collaboratively work together to help grow the game. We work and live by a set of shared values that help us succeed and become better every day,” she says.
Ms. Laake also created and manages the PGA Cares Employee Volunteer Program, which allows the team to take up to 16 hours of volunteer time off annually to get involved with local nonprofits and charities of their choice.
Locally, she serves on the Frisco FastPacs Board of Directors, the Leadership Frisco Advisory Council, the Frisco Bowl Golf Tournament Committee, and on the Executive Host Committee for KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
“Overall, my desire to make an impact in Frisco is fueled by a combination of a genuine love of the community, personal values, professional commitment, and the belief that strong communities have the potential to create remarkable change. I am dedicated to playing an active role in Frisco’s growth and journey and to ensure that the PGA of America, our staff, and PGA Professionals are engaged and represented,” Ms. Laake shares.
Marla RoeExecutive Director of Visit Frisco
As Executive Director of Visit Frisco, Ms. Roe and her team focus on improving the local economy’s vitality through tourism and providing long-lasting memories to those who visit Frisco.
Ms. Roe is inspired by the people who do great work and are fun to collaborate with in her business. Her unique role is to help drive economic impact into the community through sales and marketing efforts.
She is a huge fan of everything Frisco. Ms. Roe shares, “I moved to Frisco nearly 20 years ago and can honestly say it is the very best place I have ever lived, worked, and played. It’s not often you get to live in a community that works so well together and enjoys time spent together. I hope that as many of us reach retirement age, the spirit I see in Frisco lives on.”
Ms. Roe gives back by dedicating her time to making sure Visit Frisco works collaboratively as an industry while advocating for the impact that tourism has on Frisco and the savings it brings to each household. She spends much of her time participating in as many meetings and events as possible to champion all things Frisco. “You can find me in front of many organizations, groups, and boards presenting and listening, working to help keep Frisco thriving,” she shares.
Visit Frisco just began a new Tourism Public Improvement District, and Ms. Roe wants to make sure that not only Frisco hotels get value from it, but that Frisco also sees significant results in the increase in tourism to the community, which then creates a continued healthy economy. She adds, “I also hope to begin succession planning, so that Visit Frisco continues to thrive when I’m gone. I’m excited about the growth still to come in Frisco with so many projects announced, and I’m hopeful we continue to see growth in tourism projects as part of these developments.”
Karen WhiteFounder/Owner - Oasis Accents
Karen White is the founder and owner of Oasis Accents, an art and home decor gallery in Frisco who is passionate about elevating the arts in Frisco. “My local artists inspire me each and every day as they pour their hearts and souls onto canvas. Artwork also plays a unique role in bringing people together and providing inspiration. It’s a medium in which people share what they see and appreciate, without disagreement or debate,” she says.
Ms. White pivoted from her role in a successful career as a Human Resources executive to a small business owner after 20+ years in corporate America. Now, she is celebrating almost seven years as a small business owner.
Ms. White was proud to be selected by Frisco STYLE Magazine as a “2023 Person to Watch” and as one of five businesses (out of 125 applicants) for the 2023 FC Dallas Homegrown Program. She is a member of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce and was elected as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Frisco Arts Foundation in June of 2023. Ms. White is also actively engaged in the city and FISD elections. She loves supporting her fellow community and business leaders and attending arts and cultural events.
“Since 2006, when I relocated to Frisco, I’ve watched and experienced the extraordinary growth within our community. As a business owner and the Chair of the Frisco Arts Foundation, I have a vested interest in elevating the role that arts play in our city, which includes empowering the arts community, engaging residents, and enlisting partners and supporters. These are truly exciting times, and I have an incredible opportunity to make an imprint in this Renaissance era,” she shares.
Of her daily work, Ms. White plans to continue to provide a unique customer experience to Oasis Accents patrons. She adds, “What I’ve learned is that dreams do come true if you work hard in the pursuit of your goals and are relentless in achieving them. When you’re tested, keep going!”
Christal HowardInterim President and CEO of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce
Following the retirement of long-time President Tony Felker, Christal Howard has proudly embraced her new role as Interim President/CEO of The Frisco Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Howard and her team have been hard at work as they have set in motion the final steps to establish a Frisco Chamber of Commerce Foundation (a 501(c)(3) arm of the organization). Obtaining this status allows key programs like Frisco’s chapter of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and Leadership Frisco to elevate to new heights. It will allow the Chamber to serve with the opportunity to tap into revenue sources and support that would’ve previously been unavailable.
The Frisco Chamber’s strategic planning process takes place every several years to ensure its role meets the current needs of the business community. The focuses of that strategic plan are workforce initiatives, small business ecosystems, community nonprofit assistance, and improved financial literacy. “My personal role in all of that is to lead the execution of that strategic plan. It may mean working with the team to conceptualize a database where local nonprofits can be categorized and listed so corporations can have a single location to find ways to give back to our community, or it could mean serving on an investor panel to hear business pitches from young entrepreneurs. It could mean connecting a new business that’s moving here with resources to navigate an unexpected challenge, and it often means celebrating with businesses as they enjoy success and achieve new wins!” Ms. Howard says.
Ms. Howard serves on the Frisco Fastpacs board and has had the honor of serving Frisco through roles on the Visit Frisco board and the Board of Adjustments. She says, “The Frisco of today was built by the greats before us. I’m inspired by the fact that we get to stand on their shoulders and have the opportunity to shape the Frisco of tomorrow and our children’s tomorrow by making an impact in areas of influence. We are surrounded by visionaries with servant-leader hearts and bold ideas. Watching all they do to make an impact and to shape Frisco into an even greater place inspires me to do more!”
Charlie WendellFounder and Executive Director of Melody of Hope
As a leader in both business and philanthropy, Ms. Wendell’s inspiration stems from a desire to see Frisco develop as a cultural hub for the arts so residents are not visiting surrounding cities for performances.
During her time leading Melody of Hope, Ms. Wendell’s proudest accomplishment has been the number of nonprofits that have been helped and how many live music events have been built. Melody of Hope has served and volunteered with more than 50 nonprofit organizations and built more than 300 live music programs at no cost to charity partners since 2013.
Ms. Wendell’s most significant contribution to Frisco is her spirit and passion for community collaboration. “I believe the ability to partner effectively is absolutely essential in strengthening the fabric of our communities. Through innovative collaborations through music programs with nonprofits, artists, civic leaders, businesses, and churches, we can contribute to the well-being of our city, work together to educate the public on city issues, and create quality arts programing for residents to enjoy. People know if they attend a Melody of Hope event, they are using music to help make a difference,” she shares.
Through such events, the organization has become an ambassador for nonprofit organizations and provides artists with a stage to display their talents. A few of the nonprofits Melody of Hope serves are Frisco Fastpacs, Boys & Girls Clubs of Collin County, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Frisco Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Treasured Vessels Foundation.
Outside of Melody of Hope, Ms. Wendell currently serves as the Chair of Women Enhancing Business and is an active member of the Rotary Club of Frisco.
She shares, “One of the most profound experiences that made me the person I am today is my faith in Jesus. That is the foundation of everything I do and why I serve. I believe that the Lord has given all of us gifts, talents, and resources, and it’s our job to use those to serve others. That is my mission in life and the reason I want to make an impact in our city.”