Leaders and Legacies: Peggy Freeby

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Freese and Nichols

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By Gina Smith, Organizational Development Manager 

As part of our 125th Anniversary celebration, we’re recognizing past leaders whose vision continues to drive us forward.


I met Peggy Freeby through Fort Worth Human Resources Association. She was always very upbeat and cheerful, with a sunny disposition.

A Good Friend and Leader

Before Freese and Nichols, Peggy worked in human resources for 18 years in the banking industry, where she met Bob Herchert, who would later join the company and hire Peggy. Peggy joined Freese and Nichols in September of 1990 as the company’s first official Human Resources director. She made an impact on the company right away, putting in place performance reviews, policies and HR structure, which were nonexistent before. Peggy also established procedures covering benefits, hiring practices, compensation and more.

Peggy hired the right people who would fit and carry on our culture and who had great technical abilities — a practice that has continued to drive the company forward. Her hires, which included Brian Coltharp and John New, were of the highest quality, integrity and commitment to FNI culture.

But Peggy did more than impact the company with new policies and practices. She impacted people. People alway felt comfortable coming to her with private, confidential information and felt well taken care of. Peggy took the time to know others and remembering names and personal milestones. Many people who had the opportunity to work with her referred to her as “a good friend and good leader.”

Peggy was a champion for Human Resources and Organizational Development at every opportunity.

With a good champion, you are able to contribute as much as possible. I admired her ability to be a force to be reckoned with at the leadership table, which can sometimes be a challenge for Human Resources professionals. She was very intelligent and had authority along with her sunny disposition.

Leaving a Legacy

Freese and Nichols University (FNU) resulted from one of the company’s employee surveys – both of which were created under Peggy’s leadership. A survey revealed that employees wanted in-house development, so Peggy started the Organizational Development group and hired Jim Cross to help create FNU, a new resource that  emphasized client, employee and leadership development.

In 1995, when FNI experienced its first financial difficulties, the company did not cut training back, as many companies do. Instead, the owners of the company took on the financial burden so employee development wouldn’t take a hit. This was a testament to how much the company cares about its employees.

After 25 years with the company, Peggy retired in 2016, leaving behind a company she helped grow, improve and create an award-winning culture for.

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