Friday, February 23, 2024 Feb 23, 2024
55° F Dallas, TX
Advertisement
Business

Dallas Power Couples: Inside the Lives of the Region’s Top Dynamic Duos

They’re superstars in business and influential forces in the community. Here’s how five of Dallas-Fort Worth’s most powerful couples make everything work.
By , , and | |Portraits by Justin Clemons; Family photos courtesy of couples; Moon’s wedding photo by Aria Studios
Image
Nirav and Megha Tolia photographed in their Highland Park home.

Megha & Nirav Tolia

Megha Tolia says she knew her husband was the one for her the moment they met. She and Nirav were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend who told Megha that their smiles reminded her of each other. Not long into the date, Megha messaged that friend, “I have a really good feeling about this.” 

Ironically, the date almost never happened. Nirav initially tried to contact Megha on Facebook, and she didn’t see his message for three months. He assumed she wasn’t interested. A mutual friend figured out the communication glitch and passed along Megha’s phone number. “Coming from Silicon Valley, I was making first contact through a Facebook message or through an email, and she was like, ‘Just give me a call,’” Nirav recalls. The couple began an email relationship, then turned things into an official long distance relationship, and married in 2011—within a year of their first date. “I printed our emails and made a book for him as a wedding gift, along with pictures from our first year,” Megha says. 

Just a few months after meeting Megha, Nirav co-founded social media platform Nextdoor. The now NYSE-traded company has a market cap of nearly $655 million. It was his third tech success; the first, review site Epinions.com, sold to what is now eBay for $620 million. The second, an online sports player and statistics almanac called Fanbase, closed in 2010 when Nirav pivoted to Nextdoor. “Creating something that has not existed before gives me a lot of pleasure,” he says. “I deeply believe in mission and impact. If I’m able to build things that have a positive impact on the world at scale, I consider that to be a privilege.”

Meanwhile, Los Angeles native Megha had achieved impressive success in brand management at Johnson & Johnson and Neutrogena. She moved to Silicon Valley to begin married life, accepting a role as general manager for household cleaning brand Method Products. “Ultimately, I realized I loved the breadth of brand management and being able to touch multiple functions,” she says. “I always toggle between brand and general management.” Six years later, she was promoted to vice president of strategy and e-commerce.

In 2018, Nirav transitioned from CEO to chairman of Nextdoor, and in 2019 the couple moved to Italy, where he served as a visiting professor for Stanford in Florence for two years. Megha used the time to study Italian and help their three sons transition to a new life abroad. After celebrating their 10th anniversary, the couple moved to Dallas, where Nirav’s parents and brother had settled, in 2021.

Image
Megha and Nirav Tolia and their sons moved from Italy to Highland Park in 2021 following the lead of Nirav’s brother and parents.

“People say the American Dream is dead, but it is alive and well in North Texas, and that’s something that we’re very excited about.”

Nirav Tolia

From North Texas, Megha now works as president and COO of Shondaland, the media production company led by icon Shonda Rhimes, while Nirav serves on several boards worldwide, including London-based Hedosophia, an original investor in Nextdoor, Spotify, and more. “I moved from being an entrepreneur, doing the actual building, to being an investor and a champion of entrepreneurs who are building,” he says. He also has been a guest shark on Shark Tank from time to time.

The Tolias’ professional lives are beginning to converge, as they recently were named co-founding directors of the new William S. Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership at SMU’s Cox School of Business. “A lot of people say the American Dream is dead, but it is alive and well in North Texas, and that’s something that we are very excited about,” Nirav says. “We want our kids to see it and be inspired by it.”—Kelsey J. Vanderschoot


Jamie & Melbourne O’Banion

Melbourne O’Banion stopped outside a room in a San Antonio hotel and knocked on the door. He was expecting his friend to answer, but instead, out walked his friend’s sister, Jamie, wearing purple pajamas. “For me, it was love at first sight,” Melbourne says. Jamie, though, was dating a Brigham Young University baseball player at the time. She recognized Melboune; not only was he a good friend of her brother’s, but he also was on a covert list among young women at BYU that ranked the top 10 hottest guys at the university. “Melbourne carried around note cards with vocabulary words written on them,” Jamie says. “He was always learning and I thought that was cute.” As fate would have it, the two eventually began dating their junior year, and soon after graduating, they got married. 

Today, the O’Banions call Highland Park home and are both founders of successful companies. Melbourne launched life insurance carrier Bestow in 2018. Since then, the enterprise, which has 175 employees, has evolved into a business that provides infrastructure to life insurance clients by offering its SaaS platform to large incumbent carriers. To date, Bestow has inked USAA, Nationwide, and Equitable to infrastructure partnerships, and most recently, it partnered with Transamerica to deploy a digital platform with enhanced self-service to all Transamerica customers. In five years, Melbourne has raised more than $200 million in capital, and in 2023, Forbes named Bestow the world’s best insurance company. “Now that we are venture capital-backed, our bet is that we’re going to grow and scale into either an acquisition or going public,” Melbourne says. 

Image
Jamie and Melbourne O'Banion spent their 20th anniversary in 2023 in an Ibiza villa, where they saw David Guetta perform.

Jamie recently sold BeautyBio, the skincare and beauty device brand she founded, to Rhyz, a subsidiary of the $2 billion giant Nu Skin Enterprises. At the time of the sale, in August 2023, BeautyBio products could be found in more than 2,000 stores. In the span of a year, BeautyBio grew from just over 300 employees to more than 600 today. Jamie is staying on for the time being to help Rhyz integrate BeautyBio. “It is very strange now, having completely sold the business,” she says. “It was bizarre to sign my new employment agreement, but I’m really happy with the outcome.” As a result of the sale, BeautyBio products will soon be found in Asia, Australia, and additional stores in Europe.

This year, the couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary by renting out a villa in Ibiza. They island hopped to Formentera to see David Guetta perform while he was in the region. “When you have young kids, it becomes difficult to take trips, but we make it a priority to travel to Europe every year,” Melbourne says. 

He and Jamie are both on the advisory council at the BYU Marriott School of Management. Melbourne also serves on the board of SMU’s Tate Lecture Series, while Jamie is on the advisory board for Children’s Cancer Fund and, via YPO Dallas, volunteers with the North Texas Food Bank. The couple has three children, ranging from 10 to 17.

“We never planned on both being founders and CEOs. But true empathy in our relationship has been our greatest treasure.” 

Jamie O’Banion

Having two entrepreneurs under one roof can be a challenge, but “MOJO” (the couple’s nickname) has figured it out. “We never planned on both being founders and CEOs. But true empathy in our relationship has been our greatest treasure,” Jamie says. “Most people would say that is kind of insane,” Melbourne adds. “But for us, it has worked. Our view is that when we’re our best selves—as a couple and as a family—we’re present in every moment. When we’re performing our best at work, we’re better spouses and better parents. They all connect.”—Ben Swanger


Matrice Ellis-Kirk & Ron Kirk

While Ron Kirk and Matrice Ellis-Kirk were working through premarital counseling, their pastor advised them to talk about their career aspirations prior to walking down the aisle. So, the two had a candid conversation. Ron told Matrice that his dream job was to be the mayor of Dallas. “I was relieved,” Matrice admits. “I thought it was a pipe dream; there was no way, at that time, Dallas was going to elect a Black man. I looked at him and told him that I didn’t know a politician with a happy home. And I never thought I’d have to worry about that.”

Fast forward to 1995, Ron was elected the first Black mayor in Dallas’ history. He served in the role until 2002, all while maintaining a happy household. “Building a relationship is based on mutual respect, caring, communication, and liking each other,” Ron says. “This job was not worth sacrificing my family for; I really worked at dedicating my attention to them—because I married someone who I not only love, but I like.”

Ron, who admits that he was “aggressively single,” says he knew it was love when he first laid eyes on Matrice at a Dallas Symphony Orchestra event co-hosted by the Black Academy of Arts and Letters. For Matrice, now the CEO of Ellis Kirk Group, it took a little more time. “Her sight wasn’t as good as mine,” Ron jokes. Six months after meeting, Matrice agreed to date Ron. “We were both evolving in our careers at that time, so we pretty much grew up together,” Matrice says. “I felt that I could realize my dreams with him.” The couple were off and on again before their final courtship, which lasted all of three weeks before Ron proposed. “I would have married Ron with a cigar ring,” Matrice says. But after Ron dragged his feet for too long, she got very precise about the type of ring she wanted, with the number of carats and diamonds, if he wanted a ‘yes.’ Says Ron, “I just remember calling my jeweler asking, ‘What in the world is a baguette?’” 

Image
An early family portrait of the Kirks with their daughters, Elizabeth Alexandra (left) and Catherine Victoria.

The couple wed in 1987 and went on to have two daughters within their first four years of marriage. After Ron served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet, he joined the Dallas office of Gibson Dunn, which he says is the perfect place for him. In the wake of George Floyd’s death in May 2020, Kirk, who is co-chair of the law firm’s international trade practice, was given the responsibility of hosting town hall meetings with employees who were feeling anxious. “Lawyers are freedom’s trustees. The reason we make the progress we make as a country is because courageous lawyers hold a mirror up to the Constitution and say, ‘This picture of what America looks like is not the reality,’” he says. 

“[Being the first Black Mayor of Dallas] was not worth sacrificing my family for; I really worked at dedicating my attention to them.”

Ron Kirk

In 2021, Matrice left a career with RSR Partners to go out on her own and launch Ellis Kirk Group. Ron jokes that with his last name in the company’s moniker, he is still waiting for his dividend check. Matrice says she is still in awe of the company’s rapid growth. “It has exceeded my expectations,” she says. Ellis Kirk Group serves more than 65 companies on a regular basis and has completed hundreds of search assignments for clients. “I knew she had always wanted to start a business,” Ron says, “and she exceeded her wildest dreams—but not mine. I knew she would succeed in this way.” 

The couple actively gives back to the community in various ways, currently serving as co-chairs of a campaign to uplift and renovate Fair Park as well as serving a collective 15 years on the board of the North Texas Food Bank. Through all the career success and crazy schedules, Ron has one silver bullet for marriage. “We don’t keep score, and we’re never competitive,” he says.—Ben Swanger


Kathryn & Craig Hall

The honeymoon has never ended for Kathryn and Craig Hall. The couple, who recently celebrated 30 years of marriage, appear to still be very much in love as they take a walk down memory lane from their expansive penthouse in the Dallas Arts District. The founder of HALL Group, Craig is a real estate developer, investor, and lender whose portfolio spans mixed-use developments in Dallas and Frisco and a new hotel in Palm Springs. Kathryn runs HALL Wines and WALT Wines and has been involved in the industry since the 1970s. She also co-founded the North Texas Food Bank and served as U.S. Ambassador to Austria during the Clinton Administration.

Thirty years ago, Kathryn was a Dallas mayoral candidate. (“It was the race from hell,” she says.) She and Craig got together at the urging of the late Texas Governor Ann Richards. They first met in 1990, but it wasn’t until 1991 that they went on a date. “Ann called me in February and urged me to call Craig,” Kathryn recalls. “She said, ‘You guys really fit.’” 

They agreed to have lunch. Craig picked an Indian restaurant, which impressed Kathryn, a vegetarian. “I thought she was beautiful, smart, and interesting—the same things I think now,” Craig recalls. “He talked about how he loved to write poetry; it was just so gentle, so sweet,” Kathryn says. “We met, and it was just perfect. We took a walk in Turtle Creek Park and talked about spending the rest of our lives together.”

Image
Kathryn and Craig Hall, who were initially set up by the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, married in November 1993.

But there were some challenges to overcome first. Craig was married (albeit with a legal separation and a dating agreement) and in a tussle with the Resolution Trust Corp., which forced him to file for bankruptcy to save his assets. Kathryn, a lawyer, joined Craig’s legal team to help untangle the mess. He ultimately settled for zero with the government and paid $102 million to buy some additional assets. “It was a very rough time,” he says. “I certainly didn’t want to inflict my personal or financial woes on anyone.” In the end, the bankruptcy court helped him finalize his divorce. “It all turned out well. And once it was cleared up, we got married,” he says.

“November 1991—no, 1992—I’ll never forget it,” Kathryn says with a laugh. Craig chuckles before clarifying: “It was November 27, 1993.”

With an anniversary that falls around Thanksgiving, the couple celebrates each year at their home in Maui with their extended family, which now includes five children, 11 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. It’s a cherished respite from their demanding schedules. “Kathy just got back from a board meeting in Washington, D.C.,” Craig says. “Before that, she was in Montenegro, giving a speech on democracy.” 

“There’s a lot of bending of schedules, but I do most of the bending,” Kathryn says. “Oh, God. I won’t stipulate to that,” Craig disputes.

“You might wonder why you have to work at something that’s so important and such a joy for you. But in my experience, I think you do.”

Kathryn Hall

The couple makes time to travel with close friends—to Alaska, Europe, and, most recently, India—and they say appreciating and collecting art is a shared joy. Craig says he appreciates his wife’s heart and her commitment to making the world a better place. Kathryn praises her husband’s creativity in solving problems. The couple says their marriage works because they genuinely love one another. When asked to share advice for other couples, Craig says the question is over his pay grade. Kathryn, though, says, “You’ve got to work at it—every day. You might wonder why you have to work at something that’s so important and such a joy for you. But in my experience, I think you do.” Craig chimes in: “I have no further comment, but I agree with that.”—Christine Perez


Dr. Tiffany & Daniel Moon

A week in the life of Dr. Tiffany Moon and her husband, Daniel, might look like this: Tiffany works a few intense shifts at Parkland Hospital as an anesthesiologist, teaching medical students and residents while also caring for patients. Next, she flies to an out-of-town medical conference, where she is a featured speaker. Afterward, she takes calls about her candle company, Aromasthesia. (The cleverly named Ketamine Pumpkin Spice was burning during our interview). When she has time, she posts social media content about being a physician and mom and works on her forthcoming memoir.

Meanwhile, Daniel may be in meetings for a new real estate play for the company his father founded or at an event at Sam Moon Group’s newest property, the JW Marriott, in the Dallas Arts District. In their spare time, they make crafts with their nine-year-old twins or guide Daniel’s other set of twins through their sophomore year of college. Tiffany’s 1.6 million TikTok and 775,000 Instagram followers give the public a look into the family’s busy schedule.  

The two met at a now-closed club called Suite near the Katy Trail on Knox after Daniel approached Tiffany and offered to buy her a drink. The two exchanged phone numbers, but Tiffany warned Daniel that she was about to be in Australia for a month to celebrate graduating from medical school. They joke that it would have been a great way to avoid calling him back, but Daniel bided his time and reached out when she returned. They dated long-distance through her residency, which took her to California for three years. “He was so nice and not sleazy or overbearing like most guys you would meet in a club,” Tiffany says. “It was a breath of fresh air.”

Image
After several years of long-distance dating while Tiffany Moon was in residency, she and Daniel married in Hawaii in 2012.

At 23, Tiffany was a young medical school graduate because of her accelerated studies in high school and at Cornell University, where she graduated at age 19. She immigrated to the U.S. from China when she was 6 years old to join her parents, whom she hadn’t seen in three years. The family moved to Texas from New York, and Tiffany jokes that having no siblings or pets left her no option but to read and practice figure skating, training with future Olympians Michelle Kwon and Tara Lipinski.

Daniel got a law degree from SMU then joined the family company, by this time a retail behemoth. He helped guide its expansion into hospitality, with the group adding five hotels and a golf course to its retail holdings.

Even though she isn’t a housewife, Tiffany was one of the Real Housewives of Dallas for Season 5, an experience she sometimes can’t believe she did and during which she admits there were some cringe-worthy moments. She says she knows what it’s like to be the odd one out and on the receiving end of casual racism—issues she had to deal with on the show. But it opened many doors for her, and she doesn’t regret the experience. “I thought it would be fun,” she jokes. “Silly me. How naïve, how stupid.”

“Tiffany is very smart. There are a lot of smart people who work medium-hard. You rarely find a smart person who works extremely hard.”

Daniel Moon

Tiffany (born Tiffany Sun, now Moon) and Daniel both describe each other as analytical and extremely hard-working. Neither can be away from email for very long, even on vacation. With their hectic schedules, they advise having empathy and seeing things from each other’s perspective to help balance work and parenting. They make it work by taking regular trips and keeping expectations realistic.

Daniel says he admires how committed his wife is. “Obviously, she’s super smart,” he says. “There are a lot of very smart people who work medium-hard. You rarely find a very smart person who works extremely hard.”—Will Maddox

Authors

Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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

Christine Perez

View Profile
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

View Profile
Will is the senior editor for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…
Kelsey Vanderschoot

Kelsey Vanderschoot

View Profile
Kelsey J. Vanderschoot came to Dallas by way of Napa, Los Angeles, and Madrid, Spain. A former teacher, she joined…

Related Articles

Tiffany Derry
Restaurants & Bars

Tiffany Derry Aims to Help Others Create Generational Wealth With Her New Franchising Model

The celebrity chef is franchising her Roots Chicken Shak restaurants in Texas, then plans to expand the network into other states.
Image
Dallas 500

Meet the Dallas 500: Bill Hancock, College Football Playoff

The executive director of the now 12-team College Football Playoff discusses his belief that college athletes are students first, that one time a Final Four game was delayed because they couldn't get to the basketballs, and more.
Image
Business

Why Matthew DeSarno Left the FBI to Run a Dallas-based Tech Startup

The longtime G-Man uses experiences gained over 20 years in the bureau to lead and grow Verfico Technology, a tech platform that helps prevent wage theft in the construction industry.
Advertisement