Everything that’s ever changed the course of a community began with that community’s leadership. We believe leadership is the key element to any kind of collective success.

Our Story

The mission is big, but the idea is simple: BoardBuild was born from the desire to strengthen communities.  We know the best way to strengthen the social fabric of any community is to strengthen the fibers of its leadership.

It’s with these thoughts in mind that we’ve developed an innovative pairing of robust board governance, nonprofit resource, and leadership training with the advanced matching of candidates and nonprofit board openings. We invite you to join us in our mission and become a BoardBuilder today.


We envision a world where diverse, trained leaders and organizations unite and foster strong communities in which to work, play and grow.


We are on a mission to strengthen communities through the training and matching of emerging and established leaders with qualified nonprofit boards.


BoardBuild TEAM

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Pam Cannell


Pam has dedicated her entire career to nonprofit leadership and board governance, playing an active role in the nonprofit community for over 25 years.

Pam is passionate about creating opportunity through collaboration and demonstrates her commitment as a Board Member and Officer of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, Founder and Board Member of the Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition, and a Trustee of the Garrett Family Preserve.

She is also an engaged member of the Rotary Club of Fort Worth, Women’s Policy Forum, UPWARD Women, Tarrant County Child Fatality Review Team and serves as the co-chair for the 2020 National Water Safety Conference. Pam holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Missouri and pursued graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania.

Board of directors

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Jeffrey Allison

Executive VP and CFO
United Way of Tarrant County

As BoardBuild’s lead financial director, he utilizes his financial, operational and planning expertise to manage the organization’s business operations.

Jeff earned his Certified Public Accountant license from the State of Ohio. He received a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Oklahoma Price College of Business.

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Kathryn Ball

Director, Talent & Leadership Development, Highland Homes

Operations Officer, Naval Personnel Command, U.S. Navy Reserves

Kathryn Ball is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and has served 18 years on active and reserve duty.  She is the Director, Talent & Leadership Development at Highland Homes located in Plano, TX and the Operations Officer for the NR Naval Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee as a commander in the US Navy Reserves.

She began her professional career as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy deploying to the Caribbean Sea, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and surrounding countries. In 2005, she was selected to return to the United States Naval Academy and teach Leadership and Character Development to midshipmen in the Leadership, Ethics, and Law department.  It was during this tour she realized she wanted to be in the Development profession for the rest of her career.  She transferred into the Human Resources community in the Navy and has had a career in Development ever since. Her continued service in the military has taken her all over South America, Europe, and Asia and her roles have included Manpower and Readiness Officer-in-Charge (Commander, Naval Seventh Fleet), Commanding Officer (Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center Det B), and Operations Officer (Naval Personnel Command).

Kathryn has Leadership Development experience with large, Fortune 500 companies (Keurig Dr Pepper and Ericsson) and smaller, private, employee-owned companies (Highland Homes).  She has been responsible for leadership development programs, competency development, succession planning, executive and senior leader coaching, organizational development interventions, corporate leadership development, e-learning, digital content, learning management systems, culture change, general mentorship, coaching, and leadership.

Kathryn holds certifications from Hogan Personality Index®, Hogan Values Index®, KornFerry Leadership Architect®, KornFerry 360®, CPP MBTI®, CPP TKI®, CLS Situational Leadership®, CLS EQi2.0®, and CCL Benchmarks® Suite for 360’s and competency development.

She has volunteered with the United States Naval Academy as a Blue and Gold Officer (Liaison and Information Officer for Naval Academy candidates), Girls on the Run (a non-profit mentorship program for mental and physical health of girls), and as speaker at the Youth of the Year Leadership Dinner for the non-profit Boys and Girls Club of America, Southwest Region. She was on the board for the Military and First Responders Employee Resource Group (ERG) at Keurig Dr Pepper and part of the core team for the Ericsson Veterans Alliance ERG. She is a founding member of the Reserve Leader Development Training Team for the U.S. Navy Reserves and has a twice quarterly Leadership Development seminar of approximately 350 future Commanding Officers per session with the goal of developing all 11,000 Reserve officers prior to her retirement. She serves as a member of the executive team on the BoardBuild Board of Directors, a non-profit driven to train and develop other non-profit boards and members.  Additionally, she has been the guest speaker for multiple podcasts, colleges, and at different company’s events on the topics of Talent, Leadership, and Organizational Development, and lastly (but definitely not least!), on the value transitioning veterans can bring to companies.

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Matthew Ciardiello

Poplar Resources

Matt is the founder and CEO of Poplar Resources, an oil and gas exploration and production company based in Fort Worth. Over the course of his career, he has held various executive management and finance roles in the energy and financial industries. Prior to Poplar Resources, Matt served as Chief Financial Officer of Magellan Petroleum Corporation, a NASDAQ-listed independent exploration and development company. In the private equity industry, he served in various investment roles focused on the energy, power, and infrastructure space, including with Mubadala, an Abu-Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, and Arcapita as part of their London-based team. Matt began his career as an M&A analyst with Compass Partners in New York.

In addition to serving on the board of BoardBuild, Matt is the founder and president of ADAM Energy Fort Worth, an industry organization for oil and gas executives in the greater Fort Worth area.  He also serves as a mentor with Big Brother Big Sister Foundation Inc. and as an Advocate Circle Member for Partnership with Native Americans.  


Matt holds an AB degree in Classics and Medieval Latin from Harvard University and is a CFA charterholder.

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D.J. Harrell

Development Services of the City of Fort Worth

D.J. Harrell is the Director of Development Services of the City of Fort Worth.  His primary responsibilities include administration of municipal planning, development facilitation, public infrastructure design review, and building standards for the city.  He is best known for his ability to develop and integrate teams to align around shared visions and goals while promoting an inclusive and cooperative culture.  

In addition to BoardBuild, D.J. is active in multiple professional organizations such as the Texas Municipal League, the Urban Land Institute, the American Planning Association, the International City/County Management Association, the Project Management Institute, and the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors. 

D.J. holds a Master of Arts from the Southern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.  Through his association with service organizations like Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, Southern University Alumni Federation, Leadership Fort Worth, and United Way of Tarrant County, D.J. enjoys volunteering in areas such as youth mentorship, food and toy drives, and various community enhancement initiatives.

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Elise Kensinger

Director of Sales and Marketing
4C - Capital Custom Cabinets and Countertops

Elise is an experienced consultant and business marketer with an innate passion for helping her local community through volunteering and engaging in philanthropic efforts.  Currently, she serves on the Rodeo Sales Committee for The Junior League of Fort Worth, Inc., is a Community Volunteer for HOPE Farm Inc., and a graduate of Leading EDGE in Fort Worth. 

In addition to BoardBuild, Elise is the Director of Sales and Marketing at 4C - Capital Custom Cabinets and Countertops. She has an innate passion for helping the community and an unparalleled work ethic and skills in marketing and consulting.

Elise graduated from Texas Christian University (TCU) in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Advertising and Public Relations.

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Leah King

President and CEO
United Way of Tarrant County

A passionate advocate for community service, Leah has served on various boards and committees, including the Child Study Center, Junior Achievement of the Chisholm Trail, Communities In Schools of Greater Tarrant County, Circle Theatre, Catholic Charities Refugee Services and Brighter Outlook, Inc.

In addition to BoardBuild, Leah currently serves on the board of directors for Cook Children’s Medical Center, the Trinity River Vision TIF and was elected to the Tarrant Regional Water District board in 2017. She is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and a founding member of UWTC’s Women’s Leadership Council.

She is a member of Leadership Fort Worth’s 2010 LeadershipClass and Leadership North Texas’ 2011 class.

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Gregory Nielsen

President & CEO
Nielsen Training & Consulting, LLC

Gregory Nielsen is an experienced nonprofit CEO and consultant committed to helping leaders and organizations excel. Gregory has earned the prestigious BoardSource Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting. He is also a frequent public speaker on nonprofit leadership and governance. Gregory previously served as CEO of the Center of Nonprofit Excellence (CNPE), expanding the reach of the organization to serve more than 500 nonprofit organizations through consulting and professional development. During this time, Gregory also helped launch Destination:Excellence, a 6 month leadership development program for nonprofit executives and Circles of Excellence, a peer-to-peer learning program for nonprofit leaders. 

The growth and accomplishments of CNPE under his leadership were recognized locally and nationally, and the organization was honored with awards from the Better Business Bureau for Ethics and the Louisville Urban League for championing diversity. 

Gregory is a military veteran, having previously served as an officer and attorney in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government and International Relations from the University of Notre Dame and a Juris Doctorate from Notre Dame Law School. In 2016, Gregory was named a “40 Under 40” honoree by Louisville Business First publication.

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Willie Rankin

Executive Director

As a community servant, Willie Rankin has helped many community members navigate nonprofit and government resources to receive assistance. He built a reputation in the Tarrant County community by building strong collaborative relationships, seeking new community partnership opportunities, and cultivating individuals for fundraising and engagement. He is also the Executive Director of LVTRise. 

Alongside his position with BoardBuild, Willie volunteers on the Board of Leadership Fort Worth, BRIDGE Fort Worth, and the Zoning Commission for District 2. Willie has also served on committees for the Blue Zone Project, Veterans Coalition of Tarrant County (VETCO), and the 2017 City of Arlington Transportation Advisory Committee.

Willie is a Marine Corps, Operation Iraqi Freedom War veteran, which helped him develop the leadership skills to manage operations, lead troops, and cultivate business opportunities. He received his Executive MBA from the University of Texas in Arlington.

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Ed Riefenstahl

Director of Experiential Learning
TCU’s Neeley School of Business

Ed’s experience in the nonprofit world is vast with his various roles in leadership staff and volunteer positions.  He served in the planning and policy-making units of the American Heart Association and the American National Red Cross corporate headquarters, served as the chairperson of the Accelerate DFW Foundation, was the President of the DFW Airport Rotary Club, and served as a National Examiner for the Baldrige Presidential Quality Award.

Not only does Ed serve on BoardBuild’s Board, he also is the Director of Experiential Learning at TCU’s Neeley School of Business.  There, he launched Neeley & Associates Consultants, an MBA consulting program. He is also the co-founder of The Alternative Board (TAB) of Greater Fort Worth, an organization that recruits and onboards business owners to sit and serve on an advisory board of non-competitive, business owner peers that is led by an executive coach/facilitator.

Ed received his B.A., Economics, University of Pittsburgh, his MBA from Emory University, and a post-graduate Diploma in Business Administration from University of Manchester (U.K.) as a Rotary Ambassadorial Fellow.

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Benjamin Robertson

Director of Business Development
Byrne Construction Services

A strong supporter of community empowerment and growth, Benjamin serves on more than 10 boards and commissions, including BoardBuild, Leadership Fort Worth, Rising Tide Initiative, East Fort Worth, Inc., Eastside Economic Development Alliance, Historic Randol’s Mill Valley Alliance, Eastside Community Assistance, Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth Roadhouse Committee and the City of Fort Worth’s City Plan Commission. In addition to his board governance, Benjamin provides business and nonprofit consulting, helping organizations learn how to succeed at their core capacity and operate as profitable businesses.

In 2016, he was named one of Fort Worth Business Press’ 40 Under 40. Benjamin earned a Bachelor of Science in Management from Northeastern University.

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Beth Watson, SPHR

Chief Human Resources Officer
United Way of Tarrant County

Beth Watson is Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for United Way of Tarrant County where she is responsible for all employee relations initiatives across the organization.  In her role she manages all recruitment, onboarding, talent management, and health and safety programs; ensures organizational and leadership development, performance management and strategic human resource planning; and the creation and implementation of policies.  She oversees a competitive compensation and benefits program and ensures compliance with employment-related laws, regulations, and best practices.  

Prior to her work with United Way of Tarrant County, Beth served as a human resources consultant where she advised clients of diverse sizes and industries regarding human resources best practices.  Beth received a BBA, Management and Marketing from Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!) and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).