2017 Gala Keynote Speaker & Gala Emcee

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DEREK HAAS: 2017 Gala Keynote Speaker

Derek Haas

Derek Haas created “Chicago Fire” with his writing partner, Michael Brandt – their first foray into television.  They developed and serve as executive producers on “Chicago Fire” and its spinoffs “Chicago PD, “Chicago Med,” and “Chicago Justice.”  Chicago Fire has become a juggernaut for NBC, a show whose popularity counts over 10 million viewers a week.  This is the fifth season for Chicago Fire, fourth for Chicago PD, second for Chicago Med, and Chicago Justice debuts in March.  Derek has written over 30 episodes of Chicago shows, including 8 of the 12 most popular in the series history.

Together, Michael and Derek have written the feature films “3:10 to Yuma,” “Wanted,” “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “The Double,” which Haas also produced, and their films have grossed over a half-billion dollars worldwide at the box office.

Haas attended Baylor University for both his undergraduate and graduate work, and he earned an M.A. in English literature.  It was on the Baylor campus where he first met Brandt, and they started writing screenplays together in the mid-’90s.

Haas is the author of the best-selling Silver Bear series of books: “The Silver Bear,” “Columbus,” “Dark Men,” and “A Different Lie,” which collectively the New York Times Book Review called “A devastatingly cool series.”  His fourth novel, “The Right Hand,” launched a new character and earned a prestigious starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.  His novels have garnered critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and two rare “starred reviews” from Kirkus. Derek lives in Los Angeles. Follow him on twitter @derekhaas.

Click here to watch the pre-Gala video with a special message from Derek.
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BIANCA CASTRO: 2017 Gala Emcee

Bianca Castro joined the NBC 5 team in March 2014 as First at Four co-anchor, alongside Kristi Nelson. She also reports on medical and health care topics that affect North Texans. 

Bianca comes home to Dallas-Fort Worth from Orlando, Fla., where she spent three and a half years as an anchor and reporter at WFTV, the ABC affilliate. Her roots though are planted deep in Texas. She grew up in Plano and later worked in several Texas news markets. She started her career in Waco, where she reported on a vast range of stories, from President George W. Bush's visit to his Crawford ranch to issues facing our troops at Fort Hood in Killeen.

Bianca is proud to call herself a Baylor Bear. She attended Baylor University from 1999-2003 and received her Bachelors of Arts degree in telecommunications. During that time, she met her husband, Ryan Chapdelaine, who was a member of the Baylor football team during their college years. They have two sons and a daughter and live in Frisco.