More than 60 guests gathered on the Old Parkland campus on Tuesday, February 20, for Learning from Leaders: Innovation and Leadership in the State of Texas. Hosted by The Cary Council, a young leaders group supporting Southwestern Medical Foundation and UT Southwestern, the evening featured a fireside conversation with special guest James Huffines.

The discussion was moderated by Josie Sewell, member of the Council’s Steering Committee, and Michael Kahn, Founder and Chair.

Growth in our Community

James Huffines, who is a member of Southwestern Medical Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Executive Committee, spoke about how he has seen our community grow to become the rich tapestry of arts, business, education and medicine that it is today. “The reason was the people. It was a collective group of individuals, business people much like yourselves, who were determined to make our city a great place,” said James.

As we steer through a time of tremendous change, our community needs to look to young leaders with hope – deep hope that they will work to build a brighter, stronger, and healthier future for all. James, who was mentored by the late former Governor Bill Clements, is a great believer in trusting and developing the next generation of leaders. “Bill Clements had an approach to bring in young people and grow them. He recruited me and a few others to work with him during his term as Governor in Austin, and that experience changed the direction of my life.”

Failing Up

He reminded attendees of the critical importance of stepping courageously into leadership and service, “You need to prepare yourself, but you also need to learn from your failures and mistakes,” said James. “Every CEO, every single person that is a leader in some capacity, has made mistakes. The difference is that the ones who are successful later in life, are the ones who didn’t repeat the same mistakes over and over. So learn from them, and embrace them if you can.”

You need to prepare yourself, but you also need to learn from your failures and mistakes."
James Huffines

“James has been a remarkable advocate for The Cary Council, UT Southwestern, and the state of Texas,” said Michael Kahn. “It was such a successful evening. The Cary Council is excited by the wonderful momentum identifying community leaders to join this important effort, and James inspires us to continue accelerating innovative research through our Young Investigators program.”  

Looking Forward 

James spoke with great pride of the medical advances occurring at UT Southwestern, and of what he sees for the institution’s future. “Innovation is going on across the country, but here it’s laser-focused because UT Southwestern has recruited and continues to attract the best and brightest,” he said. “I think you’re going to see major breakthroughs in our research that will change lives for your generation and your children’s generation.”

Kathleen Gibson, President and CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation, echoed James’ enthusiasm about The Cary Council’s role in Dallas and North Texas. “I’m thankful to James for sharing his immense experience in leadership with this group,” said Gibson. “I’m also incredibly proud of all that The Cary Council has accomplished in the past three years. They bring energy, inspiration, and strategy to building future leadership in our community.”

In attendance at the event were all three young investigators who received early research support through funds raised by The Cary Council’s 2017 An Evening with DocStars. “Through its programs, The Cary Council is developing an outstanding base of young talent that will step into influential roles in academic medicine,” said Kathleen. “They are elevating, investing in, and mobilizing their peers around medical research so that future generations will experience the many gifts that come from improving our lives and our health.”

“They are elevating, investing in, and mobilizing their peers around medical research so that future generations will experience the many gifts that come from improving our lives and our health.”
Kathleen Gibson, President and CEO, Southwestern Medical Foundation

With more than 35 years in banking and finance, James Huffines is the former COO of Subsidiaries of Hilltop Holdings. Prior to his role at Hilltop, he served as President and COO of PlainsCapital Corporation for five years and Central and South Texas Regional Chairman for the bank for 10 years. He has also served two terms on the UT System Board of Regents and has twice served as its Chairman.


Click here to view photos from the event.