Award recipient leads by quiet example
Several years ago, Virtugroup Chairman Neil Petch wrote about the virtues of quiet leadership, or as he called it, “silent leadership.”
“At the heart of it is a quiet confidence, rather than arrogance or ego, and a tendency to want to solve problems through collaboration, logical thought and encouragement . . .” Petch wrote for Entrepreneur magazine, adding that quiet leaders are also understanding and approachable. Furthermore, “they command their team through earned respect, rather than force of character,” he noted.
In describing Fort Worth resident and Jewish community leader Lon Werner, Bob Goldberg would likely agree with Petch’s assessment.
“Lon is one of those people who has done almost everything, and is very community-minded,” said Goldberg, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. “He has led quietly, is greatly respected by the community and is thoughtful, deliberate in his thinking and level-headed.”
As a result, Werner is being honored with the Manny and Roz Rosenthal Spirit of Federation Award, which will be presented at the Federation’s campaign kick-off brunch at 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 4050 South Hulen St. Now in its fifth year, the award recognizes Tarrant County residents for their leadership and service.
This “quiet leader” is a past participant of Leadership Fort Worth, who focuses on rolling up his sleeves, digging in and putting his efforts toward improving both the Jewish community of Fort Worth, and the greater Fort Worth community. The B’nai B’rith lifetime member and former member of the national board of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, has served as president of Congregation Ahavath Sholom (CAS), the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and the former Danciger Jewish Community Center. Additionally, he and his wife Laurie are active members of both CAS and Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, as well as hands-on supporters of national and Israeli Hadassah projects.
Werner has been on United Way allocations committees, as well as the Fort Worth Cancer Society board, and continues to serve on the board of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Association, a position he has had for more than three decades.
“As busy as we are nowadays, we need to focus on the core issue of taking care of our community, as it’s vital to our longevity,” Werner said. “There are umpteen jobs available to help this Jewish community, and all it takes is saying ‘yes’ to become a part of it.”
Born and raised in Fort Worth to Mort and Marion Werner — “I’m a card-carrying, Fort Worth native,” he said — Werner attended college at Oklahoma University and Texas Christian University, eventually receiving his undergraduate degree in psychology.
After marrying Laurie, daughter of Lou and the late Madlyn Barnett, Werner joined his father-in-law in the oil and gas business. “This was an opportunity that offered great potential for the future,” he explained. “Everyone needed it, and exploration was driving a lot of the activity, both in Texas and the surrounding states, with no end in sight.”
Werner eventually launched his own company, Werner Energy Interests, which he still owns and operates. He is an avid outdoor cyclist, who can be found pedaling, with friends, across various roads and paths throughout North Texas on most weekends of the year. His 46-year marriage to Laurie has led to two sons and two grandchildren.
“Both Laurie and I learned from our parents the importance of giving back to our Jewish community and for that matter, to the Jewish community wherever there is a need,” he said. “We have put the concept of philanthropy into practice, and hopefully our sons will continue the example we have shown them.”
The award with which Werner is being honored is meaningful to him, as it was created under his watch, while he was the Federation’s president. “The Federation leadership, at the time, realized that we had quite a few jewels in this community, and more than a few jewels needed to be honored for their dedication and hard work,” Werner explained, adding that award had been created to celebrate the Rosenthal family’s commitment to the Tarrant County community, as well. “Giving one’s time is the utmost one can do,” Werner said. “They [the Rosenthals] rose to the occasion whenever they were asked.”
From Goldberg’s perspective, the Werner family has also risen to the occasion whenever asked, and has done so quietly, without fanfare. Their behind-the-scenes efforts have had a very deep impact.
“Lon and his family have made a significant investment in the improvement of our Jewish community and Jewish lives for many years,” Goldberg observed. “Through that, he’s inspired others to get involved, and serve and work for the community. He’s invested his time, effort and care back into the community, and the community is better for it.”