• Sara Thurber

    Project Management Director
    Fort Worth Chamber

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    817.338.3392 Email Sara Thurber

    Sara Thurber joined the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce staff December 2, 2019 as Project Management Director for Business Attraction, Retention and Expansion, one of the four pillars of the Chamber’s strategic plan, Fortify.

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    Previously, Thurber served as a Retail Strategist and Broker for The Retail Strategy, an Austin-based commercial real estate firm, where she focused on new business development and national client account management. Prior to The Retail Strategy, she was Director of CRE Marketing and Business Development with United Bankshares, Inc. in Washington, D.C.

    In addition to her background in Real Estate, Sara has extensive experience in marketing and business development during her time with United Bankshares, Inc. in Washington, D.C.
    Thurber holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications/Human Relations with a minor in Advertising and Public Relations from Texas Christian University and is a licensed Real Estate Sales Agent.

    Sara is an active member of International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), and P.E.O International.

  • Chris Strayer

    Executive Vice President of Economic Development
    Fort Worth Chamber

    Chris manages new business and economic development initiatives

    Chris Strayer was named Executive Vice President of Economic Development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce on January 1, 2020. He currently oversees all aspects of economic development at the chamber, including Talent and Small Business & Entrepreneurship.

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    Strayer joined the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce staff in 2018 as senior vice president of Business Attraction, Retention and Expansion, leading one of four pillars of the Chamber’s four-year strategic plan, Fortify.

    Strayer came to Fort Worth, Texas, from Columbus, Ohio, where he was the senior project manager for Business Development and Project Management at Columbus 2020, the economic development organization for the 11-county Columbus region.
    There, he oversaw more than 180 successful projects with more than $1.5 billion in investments and 35,000 retained and created jobs. Clients have included Verizon, Kroger, Abbott Laboratories and Avnet, as well as several other Fortune 500 companies.

    With a background in land use planning, civil & environmental engineering, construction, land development and government at the local and state level, Strayer understands the process that companies must embark upon for the expansion of their organizational footprint.

    Strayer holds a B.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University and an Economic Development Finance Professional credential from the National Development Council.

  • Netty Matthews

    Vice President of Business Engagement
    Fort Worth Chamber

    Netty manages current Chamber business partnerships and initiatives

    Netty Matthews joined the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce in January of 1989. She has held positions in nearly every department throughout her career at the Fort Worth Chamber – from assistant to the president when she began in 1989, to her promotion to Vice President of Membership in 1999.

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    Matthews’ current role as Vice President of Business Engagement focuses on business retention and expansion.

    Matthews oversees several groups and committees related to business retention and expansion, including the Chamber’s Leads Groups, Area Councils and Business Retention and Expansion committee. Her experience at the chamber includes workforce development, environmental issues related to business, small business/entrepreneur support and special events.

    Matthews came to Fort Worth, Texas from the Netherlands, where she studied international business development at Schoevers. She previously worked for a national real estate developer in Daytona, Florida, focusing on international business development.

    Matthews speaks four languages – Dutch, English, French and German.

  • Robert Sturns, EDFP

    Director
    Fort Worth Economic Development Department

    Robert Sturns has more than 25 years of experience holding leadership roles in municipal government, commercial real estate and banking operations, with the last 20 years negotiating terms and structuring deals for economic and community development programs in Texas. As a certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP), Mr. Sturns has received numerous awards and accolades for creative and successful business recruitment/retention efforts. By leveraging partnerships with public and private entities, he has been directly engaged in the announcement of over $3.0 billion in new capital investment and 25,000 jobs.

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    In his current role, he is responsible for the economic development program for the City of Fort Worth, including business attraction & retention, business diversity initiatives and small business/entrepreneurship development. Mr. Sturns received a commission as an Officer in the United States Army Reserve where he served for 10 years and reached the rank of Captain. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Texas Christian University and a Bachelor of Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University.

  • Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, CEcD

    Assistant Director
    Fort Worth Economic Development Department

    Brenda Hicks-Sorensen currently serves as the Assistant Director with the City of Fort Worth, Texas, Economic Development Department. As Assistant Director, she is responsible for a team focused on small business development, entrepreneurship and innovation, strategic development and revitalization, existing business development, business recruitment, and tax increment financing districts. She is also the project manager for the City’s economic development strategic plan. 

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    Prior to her time in Texas, Brenda served in various economic and community development leadership roles, including as the director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development; president and founder of Economic and Community Development Solutions; vice president of Economic and Community Development with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation; and president of the Fond du Lac County (Wisconsin) Economic Development Corporation.

    Brenda earned her certified economic developer designation in 2005. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and a Master of Science degree in Urban Studies with an emphasis in Public Policy and Economic Development from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

    Brenda has served on numerous boards throughout her career and has earned several prestigious awards and designations for her work in the economic and community development field. These include the Outstanding New Economic Developer of the Year from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Outstanding Young Alumni from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, and the President’s Award from the Site Selector’s Guild.