Port Commission of the Port of Houston
An appointment to the Port Commission of the Port of Houston is an honor and a responsibility. Walk us through your background. Were you always interested in international trade?
I was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and arrived in Texas in my junior year in high school, along with my educator parents, who accepted career opportunities in Austin. My interest since childhood has always centered around entrepreneurship and business. My grandfather was a very successful residential real estate business owner, and I worked with him since I was a young teen.
He instilled in me the values of hard work, business ethics, and the importance of a great education. Though I grew up during the racially charged times in D.C., I was largely sheltered from racism and ironically grew up with no awareness of limitations on my future due to my gender or race.
I came to Port Houston with little knowledge of international trade, but with a strong business background. Having said that, yes, it is truly an honor to serve this city, state, and region as a Commissioner of the Port of Houston Authority. As a businessperson, I am in awe of the economic impact that one of the world’s busiest waterways has on our regional and national economy!
You have had a long career in finance, advising on money management and investing. In what way do you feel this will help in working with the Port Commission?
As a businessperson, Port Houston is a great place to serve because it is all about business. Our mission statement says it all: “We move the world and drive regional prosperity.” Every year, more than 269 million tons of cargo move through the greater Port carried by more than 8300 vessels and 200,000 barges. We are ranked number 1 in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage, number 1 in U.S. imports, number 1 in U.S. exports tonnage, and second in the U.S. in total tonnage.
The greater Port is absolutely vital to our local, state, and national economies. It is comprised of more than 200 private and eight public facilities. The Port Commission has direct management of the eight public terminals; however, we advocate on behalf of the greater interests of the channel and the greater Port of Houston.
The economic impact of the importers and exporters using the more than 200 private and eight public Port facilities along the Houston Ship Channel is significant – valued at more than $800 billion to the nation. Houston Ship Channel related business contributes approximately 1.35 million jobs in Texas alone and more than 3 million jobs to the nation. Its economic activity generates roughly $340 billion in value for our state.
We have significant plans for additional future growth. As a businessperson, and in my position as a Commissioner, having an understanding of the significance of the greater Port and the public terminals that we provide direct guidance and the impact it has on jobs and our local, state, regional, and national economies is something that I want to be a part of now.
What brought you to the University of Houston? What influenced your decision to stay and make Houston your home? What was your major course of study?
Though I wanted to return to D.C. to attend college, I had the scholarship to attend the University of Houston, where I studied business and law, obtaining four degrees. I believe in divine intervention, and so Houston is where I was supposed to be. I stayed after college because I met my husband, and this city has provided great opportunities for both of us to build successful businesses and to raise our children.
Do you serve on other boards, committees, and organizations in Houston that deal directly with Global trade?
I have served on a variety of numerous boards over the years that have ranged from non-profit, for-profit, and a gubernatorial appointment with the Texas Public Finance Authority. As the newest Port Houston Commissioner, this is my introduction to global trade.
What are your plans and goals for your service with the Port Commission?
This is a very exciting time to serve as a Port Commissioner. I am very excited about our new strategic plan, which focuses on the widening and deepening of the Houston Ship Channel to improve its capacity to safely serve the region and facilitate economic recovery and continued growth. I am equally excited about our additional strategic goals and accountability measures to ensure that the Port Houston’s public facilities for which we are directly responsible are the best place to work by fostering a culture of inclusion, diversity, innovation, and open communication.
Additionally, I look forward to the Port’s very important goal of developing and strengthening external partnerships. Within a couple of weeks, we will have the results of a disparity study, which I believe will be a “report card” of how Port Houston has done in the past in terms of the diversity of our partnerships. We serve a very diverse city, state, region, and nation for that matter, and our partnerships need to reflect such.
Finally, it is a strategic goal of Port Houston to improve our stewardship. We believe that we can obtain the growth we need in an innovative and environmentally safe way. I am encouraged by the re-engagement of the Community Relations Committee, comprising a diverse group of Port neighbors and stakeholders that will ensure open and transparent dialogue, collaboration, and accountability.
Our magazine goes to consulates and businesses all over Houston. Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who would like to know more about the Port of Houston and how they could work with the Port?
Port Houston believes very strongly in community engagement and small business development. Our small business development program created over a decade ago provides broad resources to small businesses in addition to how to do business with the Port’s public terminals. Please go to https://porthouston.com/small-business/ to learn more information about this great resource.