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Laura Miller moves smoothly among family, church, career, Horned Frog nation, sorority and mentoring women

By Rebecca ChristophersonJuly 9, 2024July 10th, 2024No Comments

Laura Miller, beneficiary of much mentoring, has spent her volunteer life helping open doors for other women.

Laura Miller moves smoothly among family, church, career, Horned Frog nation, sorority and mentoring women

By Joy Donovan
Photography by Rodger Mallison

Laura Miller’s Fort Worth office reveals a lot of clues about what’s important to her. “Happy birthday Lala,” scrawled in a grandchild’s handwriting on a paper tacked to Miller’s office bulletin board, alerts visitors that a child renamed her. A bumper sticker pinned close to it brands Miller as a TCU Horned Frog. Miller’s business card states her title as DFW community bank market president of Veritex Community Bank. And the finger puppet shaped like an owl, the symbol of Chi Omega sorority, gives a small clue that she is the sorority’s national president.

Miller is a powerhouse by most measures, with a resume that reads like a phone book and connects her to numerous people and causes. With almost 50 years in Fort Worth, Miller’s involvement touches the community in significant ways.

As market president, she’s responsible for leading and managing growth, profitability and risk management for Veritex. The publicly traded bank has $12.7 billion in assets and operates 17 North Texas locations, seven in Tarrant County.

Laura Miller decided to join Chi Omega sorority at TCU when she recognized young women who were campus leaders were typically sorority members.

At TCU, Miller pledged Chi O, was voted homecoming queen and graduated magna cum laude in 1979. She was elected president of the student body, the first woman to do so, and that earned her the privilege of escorting President Gerald R. Ford on a TCU tour.

Miller today serves on the university’s board of trustees and as president of its national alumni association. She cheers for the purple religiously, and her family’s TCU football tailgates were legendary on the north side of the parking lot.

In Fort Worth, she served as a trustee and as a chair of the Committee on Trusteeship at Trinity Valley School, where her sons Jay and Scott attended. She sat on the executive committee of the Junior League of Fort Worth and now maintains a sustaining membership. She’s long been an elder at University Christian Church and a life member of Jewel Charity.

Board memberships? Everything from Cook Children’s Medical Center to the I Have a Dream Foundation and the National Conference of Community and Justice.

And now as Chi Omega’s national president, she guides the world’s largest women’s fraternal organization. It was founded in 1895 at the University of Arkansas and has expanded to include 181 collegiate chapters and 248 alumnae chapters. Selected as the group’s national president in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, Miller was installed virtually — instead of the typical organizational convention and accompanying hoopla — to lead more than 410,000 initiated members.

All this, yet she declares she gets eight hours of sleep a night.

A native of Houston, Miller was drawn to TCU as a fourth-generation member of the Disciples of Christ, the denomination affiliated with the university.

“I came to TCU thinking perhaps I’d explore the ministry,” she said, smiling because she knows what she said might be funny.

She majored in marketing, and TCU’s numerous school activities drew her into a full extracurricular life. She was so busy that as a freshman, she didn‘t go through rush. Connected, interested and involved, she initially thought she didn’t need a sorority. What turned her head was seeing that the sorority women were the leaders of various campus organizations.

“I quickly learned the most women achiever-doers were sorority members,” she said. “I was drawn to that type of women who were achievers. I was drawn to the girl who was contributing, was fun, made great grades and leading the clubs.”

“So, I decided to go through rush.”

Miller joined as a sophomore, starting a lifelong commitment most sorority women don’t want. Being a part of Chi Omega on the TCU campus combined two passions, which still remain strong causes.

“That old adage that ‘there ain’t nothing like a convert’ is true,” she said. “When I switched over, I switched hard.”

Miller volunteered as an adviser for TCU’s collegiate Chi Os for 35 years, her favorite job of all her sorority volunteer work. She served as president of the Fort Worth alumnae chapter and, in 1988, chaired Chi Omega’s national team for the sorority’s national rush program. She even wrote the sorority’s national handbook for rush — now known as recruitment.

Laura Miller’s Chi Omega pin

Then during the 2020 pandemic, she rose to the national president of Chi Omega.

Meanwhile, she remained a devoted wife to her husband, Tod Miller, chief fiduciary officer at Lone Oak Trust Co. in Fort Worth. The two met on a blind date at TCU. The couple graduated one weekend and married the next. Together they raised two sons — also TCU grads — who have married TCU graduates and given the Millers six grandchildren.

Laura is whip-smart, strategic and funny. Her friends describe her as relatable, genuine, steadfast, determined, committed and loyal.

“She’s good at everything,” TCU’s chancellor, Victor Boschini, said in an interview. Miller considers the chancellor and his wife close friends. The friendship began after she served on the selection committee that hired him as TCU’s chief.

“If I wanted something done at TCU, she’s the person I go to,” Boschini said. “If you ask for a building, in two days she comes back with a skyscraper.”

She’s a natural leader, he said.

“I think her secret weapon is this,” Boschini said. “Everybody wants to be acknowledged and heard. Instead of a brain, she has a Rolodex. She never forgets you, she never looks beyond you. She is in the moment. The biggest gift you can give is your time, and when she gives you her time, she makes you feel like you’re the center of her world.”

After her family, church and work, Chi Omega remains at the center of Miller’s world. As the mother of two boys and no daughters, it might seem an odd choice.

But her sons grew up knowing volunteering was an obligation and privilege, and Chi Omega became a family affair at times. Then there are the friendships she holds close.

“She’s just the best,” her close friend Kim Eppstein said in an interview. The two met at church camp, and when the younger Eppstein went through rush at TCU, she followed Miller, also joining Chi Omega. “She’s been such a role model for me for many, many years. We all love Laura, love her, love her, love her.”

Forming and maintaining strong relationships is important to Miller. She attributes her career start and continued success to older Chi Omega women who mentored her. She’s returned the favor, and been invited to experience great celebrations and personal losses with younger women.

“I feel like I have hundreds of daughters because of those relationships,” she said.

Relationships, though, can be formed without all this extra responsibility, work and sacrifice. Why does she do it?

“At a base level, I feel a strong calling to serve, to make a meaningful contribution to people, institutions and causes that matter. It sounds trite, but it’s true. I answer the call to serve through my leadership.”