Presented By

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  1. The Elevation of Tex-Mex
    Mico Rodriguez
  2. The Bounty of the Barnett Shale
    Kelcy Warren
  3. The Entrepreneurial Woman
    Tomima Edmark
  4. The Growth of the Vietnamese Community
    Jennifer Nguyen
  5. The Founding of Uptown
    Phil Cobb
  6. The Changing Face of Politics
    Craig Watkins
  7. The Brain Gain
    Dr. Hao Zhu
  8. The Four Sport Town
    Mike Modano
  9. The Underground Culture
    Katherine Owens
  10. The Catholic Migration
    Father Ivan Asencio
  11. The Organized South Asian Community
    John Hammond
  12. The Next Way to Develop
    Jeff Blackard
  13. The Allure of the Silicon Prairie
    Anousheh Ansari
  14. The lighting of Reunion Tower
    George Schrader
  15. The New Old Tradition
    Jennifer Moreno
  16. The Test Kitchen
    Mariel Street
  17. The Art Magnet
    Kevin Moriarty
  18. The Glamorous Return of Dallas Shopping
    Brian Bolke
  19. The Strengthening of the Gay Community
    Jack Evans and George Harris
  20. The Resurgence of Downtown Dallas
    Art Ortiz
  21. The Megachurch Boom
    Ed Young
  22. The Fundraisers
    Lynn McBee
  23. The Refuge
    Pedro Amaya
  24. The Reason Dallas Took Off
    Ron Barzyk
  25. The Girl Who Stayed Home
    Erykah Badu
  26. The Preservation of Our Historic Buildings
    Virginia McAlester
  27. The Thriving Ethiopian Community
    Birhan Mekonnen
  28. The New Dallas ISD
    Jessica Leija
  29. The Rebirth of the Trinity River
    Peter Payton
  30. The Trains Start Running
    Ladrika Davis Gross
  31. The Architect of an Art Scene
    Stephen Lapthisophon
  32. The Calculator That Changed the World
    Vonnie Howard
  33. The Rise and Fall and Rise of Deep Ellum
    Frank Campagna
  34. The Big Move
    Kendra Norwood
  35. The Expanding Empire in Fort worth
    Scott Hernandez
  36. The Family Recipe
    Chuy Cruz
  37. The Transformation of Oak Cliff
    David Spence
  38. The Now-Legal Immigrant
    Jesus Castillo Carrizales
  39. The City of Philanthropists
    Lyda Hill
  40. The Transplants
    Tara Vornkahl
00 The Allure of the Silicon Prairie Anousheh Ansari photographed Monday, April 21, 6:28pm in her office.

Anousheh Ansari

In the late ’70s, as the Iranian revolution evolved into war with Iraq, Anousheh Ansari was a teenager with a head for math and science. When she graduated high school, Ansari knew that while she could pass the academic exams to attend university in Iran, she would fail the other tests: religious background (though she is Muslim) and devotion to the political regime. More than a decade after her family first petitioned for green card status, she migrated to Virginia. She studied electrical engineering, the first of many forays into a male-dominated field. In 2010, still just 11 percent of engineers were female.

“I had received resistance, whether it was at work or in school or later on, when I pursued space,” Ansari says. “I just tried to be the best I can be and prove everyone wrong.” 

Ansari and her husband started their first company, Telecom Technologies, Inc., in 1992. Most of their clients were in Richardson, the Telecom Corridor rising from the real estate boom and bust, though the city’s tech-friendly roots stretch back to the 1950s. The Ansaris moved to Plano in 1993, selling the company for $750 million in 2001. The money from the sale allowed her to travel to the International Space Station in 2006, as a self-funded citizen aboard a Russian spacecraft.  

But Ansari wasn’t finished. The same year she went to space, she started Prodea Systems, a company that integrates technologies for home or business. Thanks to resources like UTD, a concentration of telecom and engineering operations, and a reasonable cost of living, it’s easy for Ansari to recruit and keep top talent. In 2013, North Texas employed 216,753 people in high-tech jobs, according to the Metroplex Technology Business Council. 

“Silicon Valley is great, but it’s a revolving door,” Ansari says. 

With Prodea, Ansari believes they’ve identified the fatal flaw in our hyper-connected lives. When a digital link breaks, it falls to the consumer to troubleshoot the problem, even though the consumer is probably the least well-equipped. Prodea will shoulder that burden.

“It was really an ambitious goal that we set for ourselves, but we like ambitious goals,” Ansari says. “We like to be on the edge of building something new and disruptive.”