Meet the Team

  • Sara Thurber

    Vice President of Economic Development
    Fort Worth Economic Development Partnership

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    817.880.8461 Email Sara Thurber

    Sara Thurber serves as Vice President of Economic Development for the Fort Worth Economic Development Partnership, overseeing Business Attraction.

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    Previously, Thurber served as a Retail Strategist and Broker for The Retail Strategy, an Austin-based commercial real estate firm, where she focused on new business development and national client account management. Prior to The Retail Strategy, she was Director of CRE Marketing and Business Development with United Bankshares, Inc. in Washington, D.C.

    In addition to her background in Real Estate, Sara has extensive experience in marketing and business development during her time with United Bankshares, Inc. in Washington, D.C.

    Thurber holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications/Human Relations with a minor in Advertising and Public Relations from Texas Christian University and is a licensed Real Estate Sales Agent.

    Sara is an active member of the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth, CREW Fort Worth and PEO International

  • Robert Sturns

    Fort Worth Economic Development Department

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    Robert Sturns has more than 25 years of experience holding leadership roles in municipal government, commercial real estate and banking operations, with the last 20 years negotiating terms and structuring deals for economic and community development programs in Texas. As a certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP), Mr. Sturns has received numerous awards and accolades for creative and successful business recruitment/retention efforts. By leveraging partnerships with public and private entities, he has been directly engaged in the announcement of over $3.0 billion in new capital investment and 25,000 jobs.

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    In his current role, he is responsible for the economic development program for the City of Fort Worth, including business attraction & retention, business diversity initiatives and small business/entrepreneurship development. Mr. Sturns received a commission as an Officer in the United States Army Reserve where he served for 10 years and reached the rank of Captain. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Texas Christian University and a Bachelor of Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University.

  • Ori Fernandez

    Ori Fernandez

    Assistant Director
    Fort Worth Economic Development Department

    Ori Fernandez became the Assistant Director of Economic Development for the City of Fort Worth in February 2022. She took her first role in economic development in 2015, and spearheaded the creation of a Type A Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in Del Rio, Texas, after less than one year on the job. She served concurrently as Del Rio’s Economic Development Director and the EDC’s Executive Director.

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    Fernandez is experienced in overseeing marketing and promotions, helping recruit American Airlines jet service to the City of Del Rio, managing the accredited Del Rio Main Street Program, and helping implement a Downtown Historic District Ordinance. Her passions are business retention and expansion and workforce development, and she believes building personal relationships with business owners is critical to successful recruitment and retention efforts.

    Fernandez was born and raised in Eagle Pass, Texas, and is a former high school English teacher and coach. She graduated with a BA in English and Sport Management from Rice University in December 2005, and earned her MBA in 2009 and M.Ed in 2017 from Sul Ross State University.  She also graduated from the OU-EDI program in 2021.

  • Michael Hennig

    Michael Hennig

    Economic Development Manager
    Fort Worth Economic Development Department

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    Michael Hennig has more than fifteen years of experience as an economic development professional serving governments and investors across North America and abroad.

    While part of the City of Fort Worth’s Economic Development Department, Hennig has played a direct role in securing over $2 billion in new private investment, the creation of over 12,600 net new jobs, and over 6.25 million square feet of new development.

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    He has successfully negotiated public-private partnerships relating to a wide variety project types, including corporate relocation, industrial, hotels, adaptive re-use, and tech-related R&D. Hennig has also played a key role in the development of new tools, policies, and strategies that support job creation, economic growth, and social advancement throughout the region. Prior to his time at the City of Fort Worth, he served in multiple senior roles in the field of strategy consulting and policy analysis.

    Hennig is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and has progressed toward a PhD (ABD) in Public Policy and Administration. He holds an MPA in Economic Development from the University of Texas at Arlington’s School of Urban & Public Affairs, a BBA in Entrepreneurship from TCU’s Neeley School of Business, and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.