Matt Papenfus

Giving a Newcomer a Hands-On Look at The Community

The DRC’s Leadership Dallas program helped Wisconsin transplant Matt Papenfus get involved.

Raised just outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Matthew Papenfus studied architectural engineering at the prestigious Milwaukee School of Engineering before moving to Dallas in 2003. One of the first things he did was get involved in the Leadership Dallas program offered by the Dallas Regional Chamber, graduating as part of the 2005 class. “Being still relatively new to the area, it was a great opportunity to plug in,” he says. “I had always heard positive things regarding it and the Chamber itself, and it’s turned out to be a great way to get involved and meet new people.”

Papenfus also felt drawn to the program’s mission of enriching the lives of future and current area leaders while also giving back to the community at large. Each graduating class takes on a project within the community, given participants a direct, hands-on experience. Papenfus describes it as being more than the average “let’s build something” venture, because it focused on creating a dialogue about areas in Dallas that need help. “It’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill endeavor,” he says. 

Now a vice president for Turner Construction, Papenfus says the benefits have extended to his professional career as well. He sees many similarities between the two: “The Dallas Regional Chamber holds some of the same core values that Turner tries to embody—to support and complement those within and outside its community.” 

Although the busy executive’s life can be a bit hectic at given times due to the nature of his occupation—not to mention his six children and wife—Papenfus makes it a priority to stay in touch with his Leadership Dallas classmates. “We regularly email back and forth, and I’ll see some of my old classmates at the Mayor’s Breakfast and other events and functions put on by the Chamber,” he says. 

Papenfus went on to serve on the executive board of Leadership Dallas’ organizing body for a number of years, and he intends to remain involved as long as he can. “It truly is a great program,” he says.