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Executive Holidays: Jennifer Chandler, Pedro Fabregas, Michael Horne, Cece Cox, and More

Area C-Suiters share their favorite memories, wish-list items, and New Year’s resolutions.
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A 3-year-old Cece Cox at Christmastime.

Continuing our series from the past few years, we bring you more reflections on holidays of the past, down-time tips, and goals for the coming year from C-Suiters across the region. Read on to find out which exec played a Stevie Wonder album “3,000 times” after getting a record player at age 10, whose lawn sports a 30-foot-tall reindeer, and which exec’s three key words for 2024 are “patience, adventure and minimize.”

Be watching in the coming days for additional posts, and read past editions from 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Jennifer Chandler

President, Bank of America Dallas

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Jennifer Chandler with two holiday icons.

Holiday traditions: “Making recipes that have been in our family for decades, where there are no real measurements just terms like a “dash” of this, or a “dash” of that for instructions. Oyster stuffing is my favorite. We’ve also enjoyed serving the homeless and supporting the SoupMobile or other nonprofits over the years.”

Favorite gift: “A handmade quilt from my mother made of fabrics from special moments over my childhood years. Her gifts were always something that took her a great deal of time and consideration. They were never of the highest cost but were always the most valued. She passed away years ago, and thinking of that gift is always a reminder as we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping.”

On this year’s wish list: “More time with my loved ones, and I believe that will happen because our gift each year to the kids is a family vacation.”  

Down time tips: “I’ll share a quote from Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall about juggling balls: There are two types of balls—bouncy balls and crystal balls. Some are OK to drop, and others are not. It is just a matter of remembering to prioritize things accordingly. Give yourself some grace if a ball is dropped. Read Cynt’s book, and you’ll get it.”

Memorable moments from 2023: “Meeting “Pudge” Rodriguez and the Rangers winning the World Series. My dad has been waiting for that moment his entire life. He had always hoped it would happen in his lifetime. He turned 80 just days afterward.”

New Year’s resolutions for 2024: “Spend more time with my children and family. My oldest will be a senior in high school this year and will be going to college soon. I’m so proud of all of them and don’t want to miss any special moments.”

Pedro Fabregas

President and CEO, Envoy Air

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A 3-year-old Pedro Fabregas with his all-time favorite holiday gift.

Holiday traditions: “The holidays are all about spending time with family. My favorite yearly tradition is enjoying a meal in the company of family members on Christmas Eve.”

Favorite gift: “My first bike, at 3 years old!”

On this year’s wish list: “I start every day with a high intensity CrossFit session. One can never have too many gym clothes!”

Down time tips: “While enjoying spending time with family and friends, it’s always important to be thankful for what we have and to give back where we can. At this time of year, it’s important to donate to homeless shelters—food, blankets, warm clothing, and more—to ensure that those less fortunate are also able to enjoy the holiday season.”

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Envoy CEO Pedro Fabregas

Memorable moments from 2023: “This was a great year for Envoy and for commercial aviation. Alongside announcing new aircraft deliveries, growing our ground handling business, expanding the scope of work at our hub locations, and so much more, nearly 20,000 employees across more than 100 airports provided outstanding service to hundreds of thousands of customers. It’s a team success, and I’m looking forward to all that comes in 2024!”

New Year’s resolutions for 2024: “What you do in your personal life lays the foundation for professional success. Some of the best leaders I’ve met are deeply focused on their lives outside of work. Those who are passionate about their interests, hobbies, friends, family, and communities can carry that energy into their professional lives and build on success. My resolution is to continue to work on my work/life balance. Both are critically important for success.”

Michael Horne

President and CEO, Parkland Health Foundation

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The Horne family pose for a holiday shot in Santa's sleigh.

Holiday traditions: “Every year, my family visits the Dallas Arboretum’s 12 Days of Christmas display. Sipping hot chocolate, we enjoy one of Dallas’ gems—marveling at the various gazebos and exploring the replica homes in the Christmas village.  It feels quite special to journey through the gardens incapsulated by thousands of Christmas lights with my family.”

Favorite gift: “One year, my children gave me a set of engraved leather-bound notebooks and pens. I enjoy writing, and I am reminded to slow down and jot down my thoughts when I see the notebooks.”

On this year’s wish list: “Arthur Brooks’ latest book, Build the Life You Want.”

Down time tips: “For me, this is a work in progress. I have learned that it is important to create and maintain healthy boundaries with your professional life such that you spend quality time with your family. Over the years, I developed and communicated a clear work-back plan to set expectations around important deadlines or activities such that my team and I can recharge over the holidays.”

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Michael and Marissa Horne

Memorable moment from 2023: “Speaking before the Dallas City Council in support of Parkland’s zoning application to build a health center located on the Dallas College Richland Campus. When the application was approved, I thought about the thousands of individuals who will now have access to compassionate and high-quality primary healthcare close to where they reside and work.”

New Year’s resolutions for 2024: “To continue to practice bold leadership. Over the past several years, I have seen great progress in Dallas as a diverse group of organizations and individuals from the grassroots and grass tops work together to confront some of our city’s most pressing challenges. We have created new green spaces, attracted new enterprises to historically underinvested neighborhoods, and strengthened our health ecosystem. At the same time, many residents in our community are locked out of the opportunity to advance our city forward. More than ever, we need a bold resurgence of what makes Dallas unique—a cross-section of stakeholders leveraging the power of private and public resources to make substantial place-based, data-informed investments in the continuum (education, health, housing, workforce).”

Cooper Koch

President, Multistory Media

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Todd (left) and Cooper Koch with their kiddos

Holiday traditions: “We decorate big at our house, including a 30-foot-tall wooden reindeer in the front yard that we made ourselves. Whenever someone in the neighborhood asks where we live, we just say, ‘The house with the reindeer,’ and they know exactly which one. We’re big-time crafters and DIYers, so there’s always some new project in the works each year to add to the decor. A few years ago, I created a wreath from pinecones collected at my husband’s childhood home in North Carolina that now hangs in our entryway.

Favorite gift: “Years ago, I received an Aura digital photo frame that I didn’t expect to love as much as I have, particularly being able to see new photos pop up while I’m working. In fact, I love the frame so much that it’s become one of my go-to gifts for relatives, including my mother and mother-in-law. We can easily add new photos of our kids to their frames as we take them.”

On this year’s wish list: “I want a small point-and-shoot camera to use when we travel, instead of having my iPhone out all the time—which inevitably leads me to messing around on my phone instead of soaking in the trip. The increasingly central role phones play in our lives has started to bother me, so I’m looking for easy ways to disconnect from it.”

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The Kochs and their famous 30-foot-tall reindeer

Down time tips: “I don’t subscribe to the idea of “work/life balance” because, by definition, balance means they’re opposing forces. I tell my team that we all have whole lives, which include interdependent professional and personal parts. The holidays traditionally slow down for us, so I encourage them to lean into the personal parts like holiday lunches with close friends, sleeping in if the night before was particularly “festive,” and doing their in-person shopping on weekdays so that they’re not cursing themselves at NorthPark on a Saturday afternoon. I trust them to keep tabs on things as needed.”

Memorable moments from 2023: “This summer we spent nearly two weeks in an old-school beach shack on the California coast just south of Santa Barbara. It didn’t have A/C and was only about 1,000 square feet indoors, so we had the windows open the entire time and hung out as a family on the beach for most of the days. (The highest temp was in the mid-60s, so that was also a memorable respite from this year’s brutal Texas summer!)

New Year’s resolutions for 2024: “I’m always being asked what products I like, how I cook something or what my twisted take is on something happening in our daily lives, so I’d like to explore my potential as a middle-aged influencer. Martha Stewart got her start at 50, so why can’t I?! Speaking of 50, that’s the birthday I’ll be marking in 2024, so I intend to continue to focus more on my health.

Dr. Ruben Amarasingham 

CEO, Pieces Technologies 

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A young Ruben Amarasingham (left) celebrating Christmas with his father and brother.

Holiday traditions: “I follow the Christian faith, and my favorite tradition is the Christmas Eve Candlelight service. Something about the darkness, the candles in one hand in a congregation, as the year silently dwindles is peaceful, reflective, and meditative. My favorite treat is the yule log cake, a tradition my grandmother (Nallamah Amarasingham) started in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.”

Favorite gift: “My wife, Naseem, once gave me a ‘wall of affirmation.’ It was the most heartfelt gift ever. My second favorite gift of all time was a Mechano set from U.K., which I got from my grandparents (Luther and Pushpam Jeyasingham) when I was 9.” 

On this year’s wish list: “It was a trip to Israel, which I had to cancel.” 

Down time tips: “Select one day a week where you do absolutely no work, including chores, and stick to it religiousl—no matter what anyone says.” 

Memorable moments from 2023: “We had two mountaintop moments: First, dedicating our 2 millionth autonomously generated summary to my mentor, the great Dr. Ron J Anderson. Second, I did a 14-mile mountain hike in 24 hours with my best friend, my wife.” 

New Year’s resolutions for 2024: “I don’t do New Year’s resolutions per se. I have a set of five goals; at the end of the year I review them, celebrate what worked and revise what didn’t. I then use the new year as the proverbial momentum builder on the same set of goals.” 

Cece Cox

CEO, Resource Center

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A costumed CeCe Cox with her parents

Holiday traditions: “One favorite tradition is making gingerbread cookies, decorating them with red hots and a lot of sparkling sugar, and taking to share with friends and family. We make a giant batch because we always eat a lot while we bake them. 

Favorite gift: “I got a record player when I was 10. I then played a Stevie Wonder album 3,000 times. And there was a year when my parents couldn’t travel and my brothers couldn’t come home. I spent Christmas alone with my parents, and it was strangely quiet. I was feeling a bit blue until I opened a present from my oldest brother—a fluorescent orange, inflatable tube man costume. I put it on, and my parents and I laughed and laughed. Knowing that he was thinking about us made the day brighter.”

On this year’s wish list: “Some space and time to be still.”

Down time tips: “Do something for yourself. That’s hard to do, especially when there are children, parents, and friends demanding our time. But we must care for ourselves, so we have enough fuel in the tank to give to others.”

Memorable moments from 2023: “The yin-yang of life; immense happiness at the groundbreaking at Oak Lawn Place, Resource Center’s affordable housing development, and being with my father when he died.”

New Year’s resolutions for 2024: “Keep my eye on the prize—focus on what matters.” 

Caren Lock

Regional VP and Associate GC, TIAA

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Caren Lock and her two sons trim the tree.

Holiday traditions: “The kids and I used to bake chocolate chip cookies together and leave those out for Santa. I still leave out cookies and milk for Santa, even though our kids are grown and out of the house. Since I am technically Santa, it gives me an excuse to eat cookies for breakfast on Christmas morning.”

Favorite gifts: “The best gifts are the ornaments my kids made for me at school, and usually they have their pictures on them. I have had to glue some of them back together, but they all get a prominent display on the family Christmas tree. When I unwrap the ornaments every year, I look back at their pictures and it makes me smile.”

On this year’s wish list: “I want a champagne color backpack for work, but I can’t bring myself to buy it because it seems so frivolous. I am hoping Santa has heard me talk about it enough that he will get it for me!” 

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Caren Lock and her husband, Michael Bahar

Down time tips: “My best advice is to know when to say, ‘No, thank you.’ I have had to learn to control my FOMO and prioritize time with my boys when they come home for the holidays. I also take off the whole week after Christmas to decompress and only check work emails once a day.” 

Memorable moment from 2023: “My husband and I went to Argentina and dined with the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina and his wife at the Palacio Bosch, their official residence in Buenos Aires. I credit this once-in-a-lifetime experience to a dear friend who is like my big sister for letting us join her on this vacation.”

New Year’s resolutions for 2024: “I don’t make New Year’s resolution because I feel that’s setting myself up for failure. Instead, I choose words that guide me, and I try to honor them throughout the year. For 2024, my three words are patience, adventure and minimize.”

Josh Irving  

Co-Founder and CEO, I & A Agave Spirits  

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A young Josh Irving (right) with his brothers.

Holiday traditions: “Growing up, my grandparents were my favorite people on the planet. Every Christmas we would go to Big Spring or Midland. Some of the best food and conversations that I’ve enjoyed most came from those traditions. Also, a family tradition of white elephant is a must.” 

Favorite gift: “In 1997 my dad bought me my first set of golf clubs. They were Lynx Black Cat irons with graphite shafts.” 

On this year’s wish list: “There is a small company called Artisan Golf in west Fort Worth that makes custom golf clubs. Their work requires multiple hours to build ‘the perfect’ golf club (putters, wedges, irons). I am an avid golfer and appreciate the small details so that would be an amazing experience.” 

Down time tips: “Be 100 percent present. Time goes by too fast to not create memories during moments of celebration.” 

Memorable moments from 2023: “Going to my son’s first soccer game and watching him dominate! I’m an extremely competitive person who grew up playing every sport. Being able to watch him love competing was incredible. For the first time in Jack’s life, I remember doing exactly what he was doing. For whatever reason, our bond became much stronger because of that day.” 

New Year’s resolutions for 2024: “Yoga. My state of mind creates success for myself and others. Yoga is not for everyone, but it gives me the ability to reset. This brings clarity and happiness for me personally and professionally.” 

Authors

Christine Perez

Christine Perez

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Christine is the editor of D CEO magazine and its online platforms. She’s a national award-winning business journalist who has…
Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the senior writer for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…
Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…
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