Aug 20, 2015
Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Austin, Texas
Lucia Athens is the City of Austin’s first Chief Sustainability Officer. Recognized internationally as an authority on sustainability, she is author of the Island Press book Building an Emerald City: A Guide to Creating Green Building Policies and Programs.
Lucia began her career in public service at the City of Austin as a key member of the development team for Austin Energy’s Green Building program in the early 1990's. From there, she spent 10 years leading the City of Seattle's green building program; during her tenure, Seattle was widely recognized as a trailblazing leader in sustainability. She rejoined the City of Austin in 2010 and has successfully guided efforts to enhance Austin’s reputation as a leading green city.Lucia has served in an advisory capacity to the National Board of Directors for the U.S. Green Building Council and Portland Sustainability Institute’s EcoDistricts. She also has collaborated on design projects with the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, Rocky Mountain Institute, and U.S. Global Green.
Senior VP and PPP Strategic Development Director for North America & Director, AECOM Capital
Sam Barend serves a dual role in AECOM as both Senior Vice President and PPP Strategic Development Director for North America and as a Director in AECOM Capital. In these roles, she provides leadership in AECOM’s PPP work across all business lines, including energy, water, transportation, and buildings and facilities. In addition, she identifies and develops PPP project investments and is responsible for helping create the strongest private sector consortium to bid on them. Sam also supports project bids after teaming has been established through the entire procurement process.
Sam also provides considerable assistance to states in the development of PPP policy frameworks, potential projects, and legislation. She recently served as Deputy Project Manager for the PPP study commissioned by the Washington State Joint Transportation Committee to investigate the suitability of PPP delivery to major transportation projects.
Prior to her position at AECOM, Ms. Barend served as Executive Director of the New York State Commission on Asset Maximization. The SAM Commission, was charged with exploring public-private opportunities in New York State. The Commission released a final report which identified 26 specific public-private opportunities and proposed a transparent process for undertaking those ventures.
Director of Public Works, Dallas County
As Director of Public Works, Alberta is responsible for the planning, design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction of approved transportation projects. In addition, she provides engineering support to the County’s four Road and Bridge Districts, and real estate support to the entire County government.
Alberta joined Dallas County in September 1993. Her last assignment was Assistant Director of Engineering and Construction, where she led the Engineering & Construction division of for Public Works for over 15 years. She was responsible for the design, engineering, and construction of approved transportation projects under both the 1991 bond and Major Capital Improvements Program. These projects were completed in coordination with the planning, utilities and right of way acquisition and collaboration under Dallas County’s 5-Phase project delivery system.
Prior to joining Dallas County, she served 7 years with the City of Dallas as a project manager.
Alberta is a native Dallasite and alumna of Ursuline Academy of Dallas. She received a B.S. degree in Environmental Design, and a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the distinguished Texas A & M University.
Senior Vice President - Business Development, SUEZ Environnement
Tom Brown is well-versed in all aspects of utility management and wastewater technology. His background in engineering and management make him a leader within the SUEZ Environnement team. Mr. Brown has spent most of his 35-year career as a manager and consultant in water, wastewater and environmental services. He has worked in all aspects of these industries focusing primarily in senior level management and business development in municipal and industrial markets. He has demonstrated success in developing new business and he has a detailed understanding of the technical applications of water and wastewater treatment.
Texas State Fire Marshal
Chris Connealy was appointed as the Texas State Fire Marshal on June 18, 2012. He previously served as fire chief of the Cedar Park Fire Department from 2004 to 2012. Chris has been in the fire service 37 years. He initially served 26 years with the Houston Fire Department and retired January 2004. He promoted through the ranks to fire chief. Connealy served as HFD’s Accreditation Manager while an assistant chief and the department became the largest accredited fire department in the world in 2001.
He has associate, bachelor, and master degrees. Chris completed the Harvard University State and Local Executive program in 2003. He is accredited as a Chief Fire Officer and is a National Fire Academy EFO graduate. Chris was named a 2014 Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine and was a Dallas Morning News 2013 Texan of the Year Finalist. He was appointed by Governor Perry and served as presiding officer on the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, served on the Texas Fire Chiefs Association executive board, and received various additional awards during his career in the fire service. He is the first fire chief in the United States to have lead two cities (Houston and Cedar Park) to an ISO Class 1 rating. Chris serves as an adjunct instructor for TEEX. He loves his profession and serving others.
Travis County Judge
Sarah Eckhardt began service as Travis County’s first female county judge on January 1, 2015. Judge Eckhardt presides over a Commissioners Court she previously served as Precinct 2 Commissioner for 6 ½ years.
With deep roots in Austin and Travis County, Judge Eckhardt has dedicated herself to making life better for Travis County families for more than 15 years.
In the County Attorney’s office, she secured protective orders for family violence victims and defended the community’s interests against polluters.
As a Travis County Commissioner, she championed Central Texas values on nearly every issue to come before the Commissioners Court.
Judge Eckhardt is dedicated to serving the people of Travis County and ensuring that our community is efficient, green, healthy, just and mobile.
Judge Eckhardt serves on the CAMPO Transportation Policy Board. She will renew efforts to expand upon her successes as a County Commissioner by advocating for an affordable network of sidewalks, bike lanes, buses and rail, as well as roads. The Judge serves on the CAPCOG Executive Committee, which crafts regional solutions for its 10-county service area.
Director, Committee on Special Purpose Districts, Texas House of Representatives
Elizabeth Fazio (“Liz”) serves as the Director for the Committee on Special Purpose Districts in the House of Representatives where she provides strategic planning for the economic development of the state's raw land and the redevelopment of residential and commercial lands. Liz possesses an expansive skill set and record of accomplishment leading the formulation and execution of public policy, as well as, demonstrating financial and legal expertise to drive sustainable change in the preservation and conservation of the state's natural resources and water rights. More recently, Liz played an instrumental leadership role in the creation and passage of legislation to finance over $27B in water development projects over the next 50 years.
Prior to serving as Committee Director, Liz pursued opportunities in the private sector, serving as a corporate tax advisor for KPMG, LLP specializing in international tax procedures and a legal associate with a leading real estate and corporate law firm in Denver, Colorado. In these roles, Liz participated in several multimillion dollar and multinational transactional projects.
Liz holds both her LL.M. in Taxation and her J.D. from University of Denver Sturm College of Law. She is a dual-degree graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Government and a B.S. in Communications.
Director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University
A nationally recognized urban planning expert, Fulton previously served as planning director for the city of San Diego and as a city council member, deputy mayor and mayor of the city of Ventura, Calif. He also worked as vice president for policy development and implementation at Smart Growth America and as a principal in various urban planning and environmental consulting firms. A prolific writer, Fulton is a Governing columnist and author of hundreds of articles, dozens of reports and five books on urban planning. Born and raised in Auburn, N.Y., Fulton received a B.A. in mass communications from St. Bonaventure University, an M.A. in journalism from American University and an M.A. in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.
City Manager, El Paso, Texas
Tommy Gonzalez is the City Manager of El Paso, a position to which he was appointed in June 2014.
Mr. Gonzalez is a results-oriented, strategic leader with more than two decades of management experience in the public and private sectors. He has extensive experience performance excellence initiatives and serves as an expert resource on transformational change within organizations.
Previously, Mr. Gonzalez served as the City Manager for Irving, Texas, which received both the Texas Award for Performance Excellence and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Under his leadership, Irving adopted Lean Six Sigma to identify systems and process improvements that ultimately saved the city more than $44 million and 50,000 hours in productivity.
Mr. Gonzalez has had a distinguished military career, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army after 22 years of service.
He holds a Masters of Public Administration from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and a Bachelor of Science from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico.
Executive Vice Chancellor and CFO, The Texas A&M University System and former Texas Deputy Comptroller
From the rising cost of healthcare to financing Texas’ public education system, there’s very little Billy Hamilton didn’t touch on during his tenure as the Texas Deputy Comptroller. Hamilton (MPAff 1975) is known in the world of public service as an insightful and compassionate manager. A long-time employee of the Texas State Comptroller’s Office, Hamilton answered over 14,000 employee questions in six years on his “Ask Billy” blog. A member of the third graduating class of the LBJ School, Hamilton has risen through the ranks of state government with a reputation as a public servant dedicated to flattening communications between employees and top-level administrators.
As Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, Hamilton is responsible for the development, implementation and coordination of The Texas A&M University System Offices operations, plans, goals, programs, policies, and services with special attention to the management of financial operations. He has direct oversight for all A&M System departments, including the vice chancellors, chief business development officer and chief financial officers.
Senior Editor, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University
Holeywell oversees the Urban Edge blog and writes about transportation, urban planning and economic development. He previously covered transportation and infrastructure as a staff writer at Governing magazine. Before joining the Kinder Institute, he worked as a reporter covering the energy industry for the Houston Chronicle. He’s also covered local government for The Monitor newspaper in McAllen, Texas. An award-winning reporter, Holeywell has appeared on CNN, NPR, and CNBC to discuss his articles. Holeywell is a Houston native and earned his B.A. in political communication from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
General Manager and Director of Portal Operations, Texas.gov
Erin Hutchins is a General Manager and Director of Portal Operations for Texas.gov, the award-winning official website of the State of Texas. She manages the ongoing operations of the portal including outreach, marketing, program management, and application development. Over her 16 year career in eGovernment, Ms. Hutchins has also worked for three other enterprise eGovernment organizations – Virginia.gov, Alabama.gov, and Maine.gov – in positions including Project Manager, Director of Operations, and General Manager.
President, Klotz Associates
Mr. Klotz is president of Klotz Associates, Inc., a full service civil engineering firm based in Houston. His 34-year career began with a B.S. in civil engineering from Texas A&M University in 1974 and a Master of Science in civil engineering from the University of Houston in 1976. He is a licensed professional engineer in Texas and Louisiana.
Mr. Klotz serves on the Board of Directors of the Harris-Galveston Coastal Subsidence District. He also has served as officer for ASCE, HCEC, CEC-T Harris County Flood Control Task Force, the C Club, and the University of Houston and the Texas A&M Civil Engineering Advisory Boards. He launched the Klotz Associates Endowed Scholarship in Civil Engineering at both universities.
Among Mr. Klotz's awards are the ASCE National 2005 Edmund Friedman Professional Recognition Award and the 2004 Texas A&M Distinguished Graduate of the Department of Civil Engineering. He has also received the Texas Section and Houston Branch ASCE Awards of Honor. The American Water Works Association awarded him a Life Membership for his more than 30 years of dedication to AWWA and the water profession. This year he received an Honorary Professor award from the Ricardo Palma University in Lima, Peru.
Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, DART
Leininger joined DART--a 13-city transit system providing bus, light rail, commuter rail, and paratransit services to a 700-square mile service area with a population of 2.3 million--in December 2008. He currently oversees all financial and risk management activities for the Agency, with additional oversight of the IT, Marketing, and Procurement departments. Prior to joining DART, Leininger served in senior financial capacities with several metroplex cities and spent 25 years in the private sector, during which time he served as a senior executive in several commercial real estate ventures and a partner in an international real estate research firm.
Leininger currently is Chair of the APTA Financial Management Committee. He is also a full member of the Urban Land Institute and serves on the Transit Oriented Development Product Council. In 2011, he was named CFO of the Year for Governmental Agencies by the Dallas Business Journal.
Director, Texas Sunset Advisory Commission
Ken Levine is the Director of the Sunset Commission. Before being appointed to this position in October of 2009, he had served as Deputy director of the Commission since 1995. He has worked for the Sunset Commission and the Texas Legislature in various roles since 1981 and has performed or supervised policy evaluation projects in almost every functional area of state government. Ken currently serves on the Executive Committee (Board of Directors) of the National Conference of State Legislatures and is a past chair of the National Legislative Program Evaluation Society. Ken has a BA in Government from the University of Texas at Austin and a Masters in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Ken has spoken on Sunset reviews and performance evaluation at numerous state, national and international meetings.
Regents Fellow, Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Dr. Lomax has been involved in urban mobility research for more than 35 years. He leads a team of researchers and communications specialists who produce reports and plans to describe mobility solutions to a wide range of audiences. He is a three-time graduate of Texas A&M University and the recipient of the Theodore M. Matson Memorial Award for outstanding contributions in the field of traffic engineering. He has presented recommendations on congestion strategies and performance measure issues to the US Congress, state legislatures, and a variety of transportation, business, civic and media groups. He and his wife Jeannine have one son, Geoff, a Business and Economics graduate of Hendrix (AR) College. Geoff was a pitcher for the Hendrix Warriors and went pro in Accounting in 2012.
Executive Director, Texas Infrastructure Council
Tim Merriweather has over 30 years of experience in public finance investment banking, economic development, project development, and public entitlements. His current focus is on the development of public private-partnerships (P3). During the recent 82nd Legislative Session, Tim took an active role in advocating for the development and passage of Senate Bill 1048, relating to P3s. He co-authored the Texas Model P3 Guidelines for public entities using SB 1048. In the 84th Legislative session Tim lead the effort to pass HB 2475, relating to the creation of a Texas P3 center of excellence.
As a financial advisor, with expertise in public finance, Tim has served a variety of public sector clients that include cities, counties, school districts, institutions of higher education, special districts and state agencies. He has structured and placed financing for both public sector and public private sector clients. His public finance clients have included the Texas Association of School Districts and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He also provides consulting services to private companies seeking to secure public sector contracts, including general contractors, design and engineering firms.
Director – Health & Human Services - U.S. & Canada, Unisys Company
Steve Middlekauff is the Director for Unisys’ Health & Human Services Practice covering the United States and Canada. Mr. Middlekauff is responsible for developing Unisys’ strategy and solution capabilities to meet the evolving needs of public sector agencies and the citizens they serve.
As a 30-year veteran in the Information Technology industry, Mr. Middlekauff has held a broad range of leadership roles across both public and private sector. He came to Unisys after 27 years with EDS and HP, where he held a variety of positions including Client Account Executive, Enterprise Solution Architect, Principle Consultant, and Director of Consulting Services.
In addition to his executive leadership experience, Mr. Middlekauff has extensive experience in the design and deployment of large-scale complex solutions for some of the largest corporations and agencies in the world.
Mr. Middlekauff was part of a select panel of industry experts requested to provide testimony to the Health Information Technology Policy Committee in Washington D.C. on the implications related to the Affordable Care Act.
Middlekauff earned a Computer Science degree from Westland College and continuing education courses at Sacramento State University in California.
Chief Administrative Officer, LCRA
LCRA is a billion-dollar public energy and water enterprise serving more than a million people in Texas. Miri leads a diverse portfolio of functions including information technology, engineering, cybersecurity, physical security, public safety, emergency management, enterprise risk management, and human resources. Leveraging his technology and startup experience to transform LCRA's business functions for dramatically improved efficiency, Miri is strengthening the resiliency of 5,100 miles of the Texas electric grid; driving cost savings and building a culture of excellence and innovation.
Prior to joining LCRA, Miri was CEO of Bluewater Technology Services, a company providing strategic consulting to a distinguished roster of clients ranging from large government agencies to venture-funded startups. Miri is an internationally-recognized expert on using technology to transform organizations for better administrative performance. His many articles and research reports have been published in Governing, Government Technology, Public CIO, FutureStructure, and Emergency Management magazines.
In his early career, Miri was the chief architect of a number of innovative software products in energy risk management, human resources, social media, data analytics, and business process automation.
Miri graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Physics.
Vice President, Employee and Information Services, University of Colorado; former Director of Personnel and Executive
Director of the Department of Personnel & Administration, State of Colorado
Kathy Nesbitt joined the University of Colorado in January 2015 as vice president for employee and information services. She is responsible for a wide range of services, including payroll for CU employees, employment policy, compliance education, leadership and organizational development, benefits design, information security and enterprise technology systems, and employee data management and metrics. She is also responsible for the CU health plans offered through the University of Colorado Health and Welfare Trust.
Nesbitt came to CU after serving Gov. John Hickenlooper as director of personnel for the state of Colorado and executive director of the Department of Personnel & Administration since January 2011. In that role, she was responsible for the efficient and effective management of five divisions: Human Resources; Central Services, including the fleet, printing operations, mail delivery and document scanning; Finance and Procurement; the State Controller’s Office; and Administrative Courts. She oversaw statewide programs, including the State Architect’s Office, State Archives and the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program.
Mayor, City of Houston, Texas
Mayor Parker is Houston’s 61st mayor and one of only two women to hold the City’s highest elected office. As the City's chief executive officer, she is responsible for all aspects of the general management of the City and for enforcement of all laws and ordinances.
Parker has spent many years in service to the people of Houston, with six years as a City Council member and six years as City Controller. She is the only person in Houston history to hold the offices of council member, controller and mayor.
The mayor’s tenure includes passage and implementation of Rebuild Houston, a pay-as-you-go comprehensive street and drainage improvement program that will provide jobs for Houstonians for years to come; voter approval of a $410 million public improvement bond program; creation of an independent organization to oversee the City’s crime lab operations; a unique sobering center for public intoxication cases; adoption of a long-term financial plan that ensures the stability of the City’s water department and reorganization of City departments to achieve cost savings and more efficient operations. She created a new City department focused on the needs of neighborhoods and the Office of Business Opportunity to help minority and women-owned small business enterprises compete for City contracts.
Director, Healthcare Innovation, National Government Solutions, Adobe
Kumar Rachuri joined Adobe as Director of Healthcare Innovation from the State of Ohio, where he served for more than 18 years in executive leadership roles across five different agencies—from central services to mission-focused agencies.
Most recently, Rachuri was CIO for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), an agency with an annual operating budget of more than $20 billion. As a triple-combined agency, ODJFS manages administrative services and support for Medicaid, Welfare, Child Support, Children Services, Child Welfare, Unemployment Compensation, and Workforce Development. Rachuri managed an IT budget exceeding $275 million and oversaw the largest IT organization in a state government agency in the United States. Under Rachuri’s leadership in 2013, the ODJFS technology team was recognized by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) – IT Solutions Management (ISM) for “Excellence in Human Services Technologies” in the “Collaboration Across Boundaries” category.
Human Resources Director, City of Houston, Texas
Omar C. Reid is the Human Resources Director for the City of Houston and is responsible for financial and administrative activities of the department. Director Reid has initiated several major initiatives that have significantly improved the services provided to the city’s workforce. With a strategic focus on process improvement and enhanced client services, Mr. Reid has:
Mr. Reid earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from University of Houston – Downtown and his MBA from Texas Southern University. The City of Houston has received many awards as a result of Mr. Reid and his team. Listed among his accomplishments, Mr. Reid is a published author of The Traffic of Life: Characteristics of Effective Leadership. He has a ‘people come first’ personal philosophy. He and his wife Janice have a daughter, Briana, who follows the examples of hard work in education and sports that is exhibited by both her parents.
Executive Director, Railroad Commission of Texas
Milton Rister was appointed Executive Director of the Railroad Commission of Texas, October 1, 2012. Rister came to the Commission from the Office of the Governor where he served as Director for Administration from 2010 to 2012. Previously, Rister served as Executive of Director for the Texas Legislative Council and as senior advisor to the Lt. Governor of Texas.
Rister has extensive experience and expertise in executive management throughout Texas state government. Among his areas of expertise; the recruitment, development and retention of highly successful executive leadership teams deeply committed to excellence in public service.
For more information, view Milton’s LinkedIn profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/miltonrister
Group Chief Executive, Accenture Operations
In this role, Mike oversees Accenture’s business that provides Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services as well as Infrastructure and Cloud services. He leads an 88,000 strong global team of both consulting and outsourcing professionals focused on delivering business value and driving productivity improvements for clients. In addition, Mike serves as a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee and represents Accenture on the Board of Avanade.
Under Mike’s leadership, Accenture has received many accolades and has consistently been recognized by industry analysts and influencers as a market leader in operations. In 2014, Mike was inducted into the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) Outsourcing Hall of Fame.
In the early part of his career, Mike also held senior leadership positions at a number of start-up and publicly traded companies such as the HR BPO pioneer Exult, where he was President of Americas region and subsequently at Hewitt, where he was the Global Sales and Accounts Co-Leader for their HR Outsourcing Group.
Mike holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Marietta College, Ohio where he graduated cum laude and now serves as a member of the Board.
Editor-in-Chief, CEO and Co-Founder, The Texas Tribune
Evan Smith is the Editor-in-Chief, CEO and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan digital news organization recently called “one of the nonprofit news sector’s runaway success stories.” The Tribune's deep coverage of Texas politics and public policy can be found at its website, texastribune.org, in newspapers and on TV and radio stations across the state, and in the print and online editions of the Washington Post. Since its launch in 2009, the Tribune has won international acclaim and numerous honors, including sixteen Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Previously Evan spent nearly 18 years at Texas Monthly, including eight years as Editor and a year as President and Editor-in-Chief.
Executive Director, TML MultiState Intergovernmental Employee Benefits Pool (IEBP)
Susan Smith joined the TML MultiState Intergovernmental Employee Benefits Pool (IEBP) in 1995 and developed the Pool’s Provider Network bringing managed care options to our Members. The Pool restructured into a team environment in 1996 where Susan served as Central Team Manager. In 1997, Susan assumed the position of Director of Member Services over all three teams. In this position, she managed the teams operations, maintained the Provider Network and directed the marketing effort for the organization. In September 2000, Susan was appointed as the Executive Director.
Susan has been on both sides of health care developing provider networks as well as hospital administration. Her multifaceted expertise in the healthcare industry includes being a Hospital Administrator and Executive Director of three Houston based hospitals. Prior to joining the Pool, Susan was Chief Executive Officer at Integrated Management Services, Inc. where she developed a Houston-based provider network that contracted with a management service organization for infrastructure management. As Executive Director of Baywood Hospital she was responsible for hospital expansion as well as acquiring accreditation for a private school.
Speaker of the House, Texas House of Representatives
Director, Health and Human Services, Dallas County
Mr. Thompson currently serves as Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS). He has more than 25 years of experience in managing state and federal grants.
As the Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, Mr. Thompson is responsible for running the day-to-day operations of more than 15 programs and 300+ employees who work to ensure that the 2.4 million residents of Dallas County remain safe and healthy. The DCHHS Medical Reserve Corp received recognition for outstanding work during the Hurricane Katrina and Rita response and recovery efforts.
Dallas County Health and Human Services was the first health department to offer the pertussis vaccine. The Department acquired a comprehensive emergency redundant telecommunications system. These accomplishments along with the passing of 4 public health legislative bills are credited to the leadership of Mr. Thompson as well.
Education: Associate Degree of Arts from El Centro College in Dallas, TX; Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSW) from the University of Texas at Arlington in Arlington, TX; Master of Arts from Amber University in Garland, TX.; and adjunct Professor at Eastfield Community College for more than 20 years.