Merv Tarde Inductees

Merv Tarde Values in Leadership Circle Inductees

The Merv Tarde Values in Leadership Circle (MTVLC) is designed to recognize leaders who are boldly living out their faith in Jesus Christ as they serve others in the Technology Community of DFW.  Learn about the requirements to be considered for the MTVLC, our selection process, and how submit your nomination on our Submission Page.

2018 Inductees

Robert Hunt

Robert Hunt is the owner of Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas. He serves business owners and CEOs through peer-to-peer advisory groups, executive coaching, and leadership development. His work with leaders and their teams in the Metroplex is known for changing lives for the better.

Robert’s purpose is “to help others remove obstacles that keep them from being their best.” That is what he does each time he steps into a situation. His passion for excellence and desire to honor God in whatever he does is one of the things we love most about him.

Robert was one of the original volunteers who helped us start the Dallas/Fort Worth Technology Prayer Breakfast in 2014 and has served in a variety of capacities over the years. We affectionately call him the “COO” because he jumps into whatever area needs leadership and does it with excellence.

Robert has also given his time to ministries like the Ring of Hope Boxing Club, Involved for Life, the Greater Dallas Business Ethics Award, and the Technology Ball. He lives in Frisco with his wife, Kathy, and his son, James, while his daughter, Lauren, is pursuing a music career in Austin. The Hunts attend Chase Oaks Church in Plano, where Robert leads the high school boys group he calls the “Band of Mustaches.”

Robert will be inducted into the Merv Tarde Value in Leadership Circle at the Dallas/Fort Worth Technology Prayer Breakfast on Oct. 5, 2018.

Rusty Kennington

Rusty Kennington is a technology executive with a career spanning more than 30 years and multiple industries. He has worked in Fortune 500, private, and startup organizations. He has been responsible for global technology teams spanning north and south America, Europe, and Asia.

Rusty was recently recruited to be the CIO for Corsicana Mattress Company. His task is to build a strategic IT capability to fuel significant business growth and transformation. He comes with a track record of leveraging technology to drive game-changing business results, including growth in market share and margin. His new team is doing so already at Corsicana.

Previously, Rusty led the Americas IT team at Commercial Metals, was vice president of Enterprise IT for Brinker International, and held leadership positions at Ernst and Young and MCI. He also cofounded a successful software solution delivery company. He received his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and completed the graduate finance program at Southern Methodist University. He currently serves as a member of the Society for Information Management DFW Chapter Board. Finally, he spent six years on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters and is well into his second decade as a Big Brother.

Rusty will be inducted into the Merv Tarde Value in Leadership Circle at the Dallas/Fort Worth Technology Prayer Breakfast on Oct. 5, 2018.

Eric Wilson

Eric Wilson has spent the last 20 years as a software developer and solutions architect, with the last five years focused on management and leadership roles. He is currently a development manager for World Ventures, a global membership and travel services company, where he is responsible for all membership services and systems. He has a deep understanding of how to build performant software systems from the ground up and, more important, how to build highly functional teams through servant leadership.

Eric has worked in a variety of industries during his career and enjoys the technical challenges that building new systems provide. His biggest reward, however, is not in seeing these systems built but in seeing the synergy and teamwork of the builders.

Eric has worked in prison ministries for the more than two decades. For the past several years, he has served as chairman of the Prison Ministry Council at Prestonwood Baptist Church, where he is also a deacon. He has witnessed to men individually, going cell to cell, and led small-group Bible studies in the prison chapel. He has acted as unit coordinator for prison-wide evangelical outreaches involving more than 100 volunteers. He also works with men who are seeking to reacclimate to society after prison, helping them with life skills and their relationships with Christ.

Eric will be inducted into the Merv Tarde Value in Leadership Circle at the Dallas/Fort Worth Technology Prayer Breakfast on Oct. 5, 2018.

2017 Inductees

Matt Levy

Matt is the co-founder and managing director of Credera, a management consulting, user experience, and technology solutions firm based in Dallas, Texas. In 1998, when Matt helped start Credera, he dreamed of working with a group of leaders he both admired and respected. Today, Credera has been recognized by several notable organizations including Fortune’s 100 Best Medium Work Places, Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Millennials, Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing Private Companies, Texas Monthly’s Best Companies to Work for in Texas, among several other local organizations.

Matt’s emphasis is in organizational health and culture, marketing and technology. Matt leads marketing for Credera and focuses on growing Credera. He currently serves on several boards and enjoys working with entrepreneurial leaders who are considering their company’s next major growth step. Matt is the co-author of The Business of Faith: How to Lead Yourself, Unify Your Team, and Create a Remarkable Organization. Matt graduated from Texas Tech University in 1996 and is a member of the Lone Star YPO chapter. Matt, his wife Amy, and their two teenage children live in Dallas and are active members of Watermark Community Church in Dallas.



Onyeka Nchege

As Interstate’s Chief Information Officer, Onyeka Nchege champions partnerships to make valuable ideas possible. He combines a passion for technology with deep business insight to help Interstate Batteries realize its vision: being the First Choice in sustainable battery solutions in every community we serve, now and for generations to come.

Recently nominated for the 2016 Dallas CIO of the Year, Onyeka brings more than 20 years of leading teams, developing strategies and building technology solutions to the biggest name in automotive replacement batteries. He also leads the creation and integration of technology solutions for Interstate’s network of retail store franchises and distributors across North and Central America. Onyeka regularly contributes to CIO Review magazine and shares his insight and experience with peers and colleagues via his own blog,


Paola Saibene

President & CEO of Consulting Firm TXYSAI – Paola Saibene has 21 years of experience in IT Transformation & Business Innovation, having held multiple CIO/ CTO/ CSO/ COO positions in government and in the private sector, including multi-billion dollar enterprises.  She has also received multiple awards for innovation, transformation and cybersecurity.  Recently, Paola has worked as the CTO for the State of Hawaii, encompassing 18 executive branches, 106 attached agencies and 136 boards and commissions.

David Stone

David Stone is the founder and CEO of First Rate, Inc., an organization designed to assist businesses in learning how to exhibit the character of God with their coworkers, customers and communities. Stone launched First Rate in 1991 with the vision of providing a dynamic set of analysis tools that offer web-based performance solutions.

Stone has run First Rate both as a U.S.-based company as well as extending his brand into a locations far from most people’s radar. Stone has written the book “First Rate Living in God’s Company”.

Our 2016 Inductee

Mark A. Stone


Mark was one of the original leaders who helped make the DFW Technology Prayer Breakfast a reality. His “Fruit of the Spirit” is evidenced through constant and consistent mentoring, career transition support, spiritual leadership in small groups along with his monthly reminders and encouragement to serve others (career and spiritually) through his monthly newsletters.

As a more personal example of Mark’s “Fruits”, when he found himself out of work and without a strong network he made two commitments to himself and shared this with a few others privately. One was to build his network so that in the future he would not be in such a poor position to find his next job. Second, he would commit to help others in order to pay back and pay it forward to others in order to help them build their network in advance of needing it. Once he found his job, he kept his commitment to help others by writing a book and taking significant personal time to help those in transition. This is one of the most difficult and personal soul-searching times in an individual’s life and Mark uses it to build their personal self-esteem / network and to also initiate, not so subtly, discussions about the importance of a personal relationship with Christ.

Mark currently serves as the System CIO for the Texas A&M University System. Prior to this, Mr. Stone served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc., Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Zale Corporation, and Director of Financial Operations for the Resolution Trust Corporation. Mark is a Certified Public Accountant and the author of “The Three C’s: A Career Enrichment Primer on Characterizing, Connecting, and Communicating.” He holds a BBA in Accounting from Baylor University and a Masters in Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary.

Our 2015 Inductees

Jeffrey Blackwell and Phil Farr

Both of these leaders have shown Fruit of the Spirit of GOD in their lives, a willingness to make time to humbly mentor and serve others, and a commitment to strive for  excellence in themselves and others. You can learn more about them by clicking on their photo to watch a video from last years event, or you can click on their name to visit their LinkedIn page and let them know you appreciate the example they are setting for others here in DFW.

Jeffrey Blackwell, Deloitte 

Jeff is an IT Director at Deloitte responsible for leading teams supporting and developing Deloitte’s HR systems. In his role, he oversees a product portfolio of over 100 applications.

But that’s what he does. He is being inducted into the “Values in Leadership” Circle because of who he is. And that is a man who believes and lives the word and teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jeff is a deacon and Bible Fellowship leader at Prestonwood Baptist Church

  • He incorporates his passion such as his love of baseball into community outreach through leadership in Prestonwood Sports Organization and leading mission trips to the Dominican Republic with SCORE International
  • He loves and nurtures his family. Jeff and Caroline, his wife of 18 years, have two lovely daughters, Emily (15) and Allison (12).
  • And he embodies the principles of servant leadership in all areas of influence, both inside and outside of Deloitte.

Please join me in welcoming Jeff Blackwell.

Phil Farr, Farr Systems

Phil Farr is a true Servant Leader who has given freely of himself and enriched the lives of many Technology Leaders in the DFW area. He goes  out of his way to accept just about EVERY one of the MANY requests he receives for career coaching. He will adjust his schedule to do whatever it takes to meet … for coffee before work, during the workday, over lunch or even after work hours. In fact, Phil is  the person who encouraged Merv to follow him as President of the DFW SIM Chapter.

As the CEO and Founder of the Farr Group, Phil sets the bar high as the moral compass for the firm. Whenever an issue arises regarding how or what to do in a particularly challenging client situation, his consistent message is”how would WE want to be treated?”

Much like Merv, Phil never toots his own horn. If you  want to hear about how good he is … you better ask someone else. For  example,  when you ask him about how he handled the most difficult customer he ever encountered, he simply says “I just never figured out how to serve him well enough.”

Phil is always a gentleman and a gentle man. Even when he has to deliver a tough message, he does it with such grace and kindness that people come away still feeling good about themselves while knowing clearly how to get better results next time. He has a rare  ability to bring peace to any situation; when faced with a crisis, he is always the one who brings calm  and  says “we WILL find a way thru this.”

While Phil would never beat someone over the head with his faith, he is always quick to acknowledge that the source of his strength is Jesus Christ, his Savior, and that he is only able to do what he does by His Grace .

Those who know  Phil  say that they have NEVER known him to behave differently in public than he does in private…he  truly “walks his talk!”