Members
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Commissioner Rodney Ellis
Chair
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Commissioner Rodney Ellis
Chair

Commissioner Rodney Ellis was born and raised in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood and attended the Texas public school system from grade school through law school. Although he is an attorney, his passion is public service.

On Nov. 8, 2016, he was elected Harris County Commissioner for Precinct One, which serves approximately 1.1 million people. Previously, he represented a Houston district in the Texas Senate for more than 25 years, earning widespread praise as a leader on economic development, education, civil rights, budget issues, responsible environmental policy, tax cuts for the middle class, criminal justice, and workforce development.

Commissioner Ellis believes the role of government is to ensure that all people have the opportunity and ability to build a better future for themselves. As Harris County Commissioner, he is dedicated to providing quality and accessible services and programs that will enhance the lives of people in Precinct One and fighting for reforms that will benefit all Harris County residents.

During his career in public service, Commissioner Ellis has worked hard to ensure that children have equal access to a quality education, regardless of where they reside. He also has spearheaded legislation to provide employees with a safe workplace, access to affordable health care and a living wage. In criminal justice, he has fought for reforms that guarantee equal treatment for everyone under the law. It’s his cardinal belief that guilt and innocence must never be dependent on one’s income, gender, race or ethnicity.

Before joining the Texas Senate in 1990, Commissioner Ellis served three terms on the Houston City Council and as chief of staff to the late U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University, a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Commissioner Ellis also studied at Xavier University in New Orleans and the London School of Economics.

Commissioner Ellis is married to Licia Green-Ellis and has four children.

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Sheriff Ed Gonzalez
Vice-Chair
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Sheriff Ed Gonzalez
Vice-Chair

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, a lifelong Houstonian, was elected on November 8, 2016 as the Sheriff of Harris County. On January 1, 2017, Gonzalez became the 30th Sheriff of Harris County, Texas.

Sheriff Gonzalez earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston Downtown and went on to serve 18 years in the Houston Police Department. Sheriff Gonzalez started out as a civilian employee and became a police officer, rising through the ranks to Sergeant. He served on the elite hostage negotiation team and was assigned to the Homicide Division as an investigator.

After retiring from the Houston Police Department in 2009, Sheriff Gonzalez served three terms on the Houston City Council representing District H. He was elected by his peers in 2010 to serve as Vice Mayor Pro-Tem and was appointed Mayor Pro-Tem in 2012 by Mayor Annise Parker.

Sheriff Gonzalez chaired the council’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee. Sheriff Gonzalez resorted to the core of his law enforcement background and experience to improve public safety and neighborhood protection – breaking new ground with initiatives to protect vulnerable seniors from elder abuse, expand the fight against human trafficking, reduce the public safety risks of stray animals, protect cyclists and pedestrians on city streets and protect online buyers and sellers from predators.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is the largest Sheriff Office in the State of Texas, and the third largest nationwide. Sheriff Gonzalez leads upwards of 5,000 employees to protect the County’s 4.5 million residents within the 1,700 square miles of Harris County

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Gracie Armijo
Representative of the Impacted Community
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Gracie Armijo
Representative of the Impacted Community

My name is Gracie Armijo. I currently serve as a community organizer on the Right 2 Justice campaign with Texas Organizing Project. I have been engaging communities of color throughout the city of Houston for more than two years and helping shape leaders who will join the fight to end mass incarceration.

I was born and raised in the East End (Second Ward), a neighborhood of people of color that was over-policed, and people there rarely got the justice they deserved.

My passion for criminal justice reform is rooted in my experiences with a system that seemed designed to crush people like me.

I lost my father in 1980, when he was caught in the crossfire between police and a suspected murderer. A police officer was also fatally shot. I’ll never forget how everyone who responded to the scene ignored my father as he lay dying, and instead focused on the dead police officer.

A decade later, I lost my brother and my oldest son in an accident. They were being pursued by the police.

A few years after, I was mired in my grief and struggling to make ends meet. I was a single mother of two working minimum wage jobs.

I miscalculated my bank account funds and checks bounced. And as I attempted to make things right, I was arrested.

I now have a record that impacts me because I took a plea and did not understand what that entailed. 

But despite of everything I’ve experienced, I feel blessed that I get to fight everyday to change the system, and make justice accessible to everyone!

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Alex Bunin
Chief Public Defender
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Alex Bunin
Chief Public Defender

Alex Bunin is the Chief Public Defender for Harris County, Texas, an office he established in 2010. Previously, he was the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of New York. In 1999, he was appointed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to establish Federal Public Defender offices in the Districts of Northern New York and Vermont and he was twice reappointed to additional four-year terms. In 1995, before relocating to New York, he established and managed the federal defender organization in the Southern District of Alabama in Mobile. From 1993 to 1995, he was an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Eastern District of Texas in Beaumont. From 1986 to 1993, he was in private practice in Houston, Texas. He earned Board Certification in Criminal Law and Criminal Appellate Law from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. In over 30 years as a criminal defense lawyer, Mr. Bunin has tried many cases, including federal capital murder and complex white collar fraud. He received the Champion of Public Defense Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Thurgood Marshall Award for capital litigation from the New York City Bar Association and the Torch of Liberty Award from the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. He was an Adjunct Professor at Albany Law School of Union University from 2003-10. He sits on the Advisory Board of THE CHAMPION magazine and the CRIMINAL JUSTICE MAGAZINE of the American Bar Association. He served on the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Board of Directors (2012-15), Executive Committee (2013-14), and committees on Federal Rules, Forensic Sciences, and Fourth Amendment Advocacy. He is Vice-Chair of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association’s Public Defender Committee and a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum. As well as having written law review articles on federal sentencing and the death penalty, he is co-author of O’CONNOR’S FEDERAL CRIMINAL RULES & CODES (Jones McClure 2016).

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Marilyn Burgess
District Clerk
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Marilyn Burgess
District Clerk

Marilyn Burgess is the Harris County District Clerk. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with over thirty years of experience bringing fiscal responsibility and exceptional organizational skills to public and private organizations. She ran on a platform dedicated to modernizing the jury system by going all electronic, increasing juror diversity, reforming the bail system, and decreasing waste and inefficiencies in the District Clerk’s office to ensure a living wage for the hardworking professionals that staff it.

Marilyn graduated from Louisiana State University with an accounting degree that launched a successful career in business, which has included serving as the president of the North Houston-Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce and the Chief Financial Officer at a family-owned local company. It was during her work as the Executive Director of the Texas Parent Teachers Association (PTA) that she found her true calling: fighting and advocating for causes that better the lives of teachers, working- and middle-class families, single mothers, and children.

As District Clerk, Marilyn oversees a budget of $36 million and a staff of approximately 600 individuals, a responsibility to her constituents she takes seriously. Marilyn now brings her seasoned, measured, smart leadership to the District Clerk’s office, where she will work to fulfil her campaign promises to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, increase community participation, and fairly compensate the employees.

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Judge Genesis Draper
Presiding Judge of the County Criminal Courts at Law
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Judge Genesis Draper
Presiding Judge of the County Criminal Courts at Law
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Troy Finner
Chief of Police, Houston Police Department
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Troy Finner
Chief of Police, Houston Police Department

Troy Finner, Chief of Houston Police Department

Biography

  • Troy Finner was born in the 5th Ward area of Houston
  • Raised in the Hiram Clarke neighborhood
  • Madison High School graduate
  • Bachelors of Science, Criminal Justice, Sam Houston University
  • Masters of Criminology, University of Houston-Clear Lake

Professional Development

  • Graduate of Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP)
  • Police Executive Leadership Institute (PELI)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation National Executive Institute (NEI)
  • Began his law enforcement career in 1990. 31-year veteran of serving the citizens of Houston at the Office of Public Affairs, Southwest Division, South Gessner Division, and the Internal Investigation Command.

Executive Level

  • Currently the Chief of Police for the fourth largest city in the United States.
  • Oversight of over 5,300 classified/sworn personnel and over 1,200 civilian staff support.
  • Assistant Chief of South Patrol Command, which encompassed all of South Houston.
  • Management/oversight of Field & Support Operations.
    • This responsibility involves three patrol region commands and one support command encompassing 15 patrol divisions, the Traffic Enforcement Division, Emergency Communications Division, Mental Health Division, and the Gang Division.
    • This entails approximately 3,550 classified/sworn personnel and 230 civilian support staff.
  • Chief Finner is both committed and dedicated to relational policing wherein each contact with a citizen is an opportunity to improve relationships and a means by which to build trust.
  • Chief Finner leads from the front line during major events, civil unrest, and protests, and he embraces the use of technology and data-driven analysis in the reduction of crime.
  • He is especially committed to youth mentoring programs that aid in bridging the gaps in trust and communication with the police.
  • Committed to strong community policing.
  • Proven record of bringing unity within the community balanced with leading operational improvements and initiatives, which have enhanced departmental productivity and reduced costs.


















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Commissioner Adrian Garcia
Commissioners Court Representative
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Commissioner Adrian Garcia
Commissioners Court Representative

Born and raised in the Northside, Precinct 2 has always been home to Commissioner Adrian Garcia. His 35-year career in public service began as a Houston Police Officer. In 1994, he was appointed by Mayor Lee Brown as Director of the Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office, and in 2003, was elected to Houston City Council.

During his tenure, he served as Chair on two City Council committees — the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and the Minority/Women Business Enterprise Committee. With the support of his peers, Mayor Bill White confirmed him as Mayor Pro-Tem.

In 2008, Commissioner Garcia continued his service by being elected as the Harris County Sheriff — the largest sheriff's office in Texas and the 3rd largest in the United States. On November 6th, 2018, he was elected Harris County Commissioner for Precinct 2, which serves more than 1.1 million people. Commissioner Garcia is committed to working every day to make Precinct 2 and all of Harris County a place where everyone who wants a job can get a job, where everyone can afford to rent or own a home, and where our kids and seniors can walk to church, park or school without fear of crime.

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Kathryn Griffin Townsend
Victim Rights Expert
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Kathryn Griffin Townsend
Victim Rights Expert

Kathryn Griffin Townsend was born in Inglewood, California, and after being adopted, she lived her formative childhood and teenage years in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. At the age of sixteen, Kathryn arrived in Houston, Texas with a full scholarship for enrollment at Texas Southern University.

Kathryn's innate talent for music and entertainment, returned her to California, where she performed with internationally acclaimed recording artists George Clinton and Rick James. In 1986, she met her biological father, Ed Townsend, the famous producer of Marvin Gaye and many celebrity "Motown" recording artists. Later that year, she entered the first of many rehabilitation treatment centers to address her substance abuse addiction.

Kathryn was offered a 'choice' by her Criminal Court Judge in November 2003 to either suffer a long sentence of incarceration, or change her bad habits and become a productive citizen. In February 2005, Kathryn was the first to graduate from the Harris County STAR Drug Court Program. Today, Kathryn is one of the greatest advocates in Congress, the Texas Legislature, and Harris County Commissioners Court, where she fights to secure funding for rehabilitation vs. incarceration.

Kathryn is a strong voice for victimized children, men, women, transgenders, and works tirelessly on their behalf. She is the Program Coordinator for Our Road to Freedom that is housed in Plane State Jail and the Henley Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division. She also administers her Re-Entry Program Been There, Done That in the Harris County Jail of the Sheriff’s Office to rehabilitate women who have been victims of human trafficking and prostitution. Kathryn now heads the Human Trafficking Division for Harris County Constable Alan Rosen, Precinct One.

On November 14, 2019, Kathryn will celebrate sixteen years of sobriety.  She is presently married to the Morning Show's FOX TV Anchor Jose Grinan in Houston and she is always raising her three daughters.    

MEMBERSHIPS & APPEARANCES

  • Guest on TV's Steve Wilco Show as the "Prostitution Rehabilitation Specialist"
  • Guest on TV's Dr. Drew Life Changers as a "Life Changer"
  • Guest on TV's Bill Cunningham Show
  • Guest on FOX-TV's Jeremy Kyle Show
  • Hosted for three years the world famous PrisonShow on the PACIFICA Foundation's KPFT-FM Radio
  • Host of her own TV show Invisible In Plain Sight (Produced by HTV Studios)
  • A Motivational Speaker who serves on many national and local organization's boards to speak on human trafficking and humanitarian needs
  • A proud Rotarian
  • A special staff liaison working in the Texas House Of Representatives
  • Guest speaker at Congressional Hearings on human trafficking and the National Association Of District Attorneys
  • Membership in the National Jewish Women's League, Texas Drug Court Association, Houston Mayor's Human Trafficking Task Force, and League Of Women Voters.
  • Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts Coordinator
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Judge Kelli Johnson
Administrative Judge of the Criminal Trial Division of the District Courts
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Judge Kelli Johnson
Administrative Judge of the Criminal Trial Division of the District Courts

Judge Kelli Johnson is the presiding judge of the 178th Criminal District Court of Harris County, Texas.  She was elected in November of 2016 and re-elected in November of 2020.  In 2021, Judge Johnson was selected by her colleagues to serve as the Administrative Judge for the Harris County Felony District Courts.

Judge Johnson graduated with honors from Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Communications and a minor in Spanish.  Before earning her law degree at South Texas College of Law, she worked at the White House for two years by doing Press Advance for the Clinton Administration.  She went on to clerk for Judge Charlie Baird at the Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin.  She served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for sixteen years.  There she served in different positions including Chief in the Trial Bureau, Crimes Against Children, and Major Fraud.  She was awarded the Houston Police Chief Accommodation, Prosecutor of the Year, Harris County Gang Task Force Awards and Victim Appreciation awards.  She also participated in many speaking engagements on behalf of the office.

In addition to her regular duties, Judge Johnson also presides over a STAR drug court docket which specializes in helping women overcome struggles with addiction through treatment.  Judge Johnson has served as Chair of the Docket Management Committee, Bail Bond Committee and the Standing Committee where she has addressed administrative concerns along with her colleagues within the administrative system.  She was selected to serve as a Safety Justice Challenge representative to the County to serve as a liaison to other stakeholders within our justice administrative system.

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Dr. Teresa May
Director, Community Supervision and Corrections Department
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Dr. Teresa May
Director, Community Supervision and Corrections Department

Dr. May was appointed Director of the Harris County CSCD in 2013. She has over twenty years of experience in criminal justice and currently oversees the 3rd largest Community Supervision Department in the country.

She has worked extensively in the development, operation, and implementation of a number of evidence-based treatment programs and two comprehensive assessment centers for criminal justice involved individuals. In collaboration with Dr. Brian Lovins, Dr. May led the statewide initiative to adopt, validate, and implement the Texas Community Supervision Risk Assessment tool currently used across the State of Texas.

Dr. May serves on numerous local and state committees and provides testimony regarding policy and funding issues related to criminal justice programs to the Texas State Legislature.

Dr. May received her Ph.D. from Southern Methodist University (SMU) and is a licensed clinical psychologist in the State of Texas. Prior to serving in administrative roles, Dr. May provided forensic assessment and treatment services for the Court system and taught personality, forensic, and behavioral action of drug classes as an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University.

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Christian D. Menefee
County Attorney
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Christian D. Menefee
County Attorney

Christian is a civil litigation attorney who was recently recognized as a 2019 Texas Rising Star by Super Lawyers. Christian has called Houston home since early childhood, and he attended K-12 in the Klein and Alief Independent School Districts. He currently resides in Houston with his wife Kaitlyn and their rescue dogs, Howie and Kennedy.

The son of two veterans, Christian understands duty and service. On September 11, 2001, just hours after our country was attacked, Christian's older brother was diagnosed with cancer. As his brother received treatment from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and his parents spent many hours at the hospital, Christian took a more active role in raising himself and looking after his younger sister. Christian's family overcame - his brother beat cancer, he became the first person in his family to attend college, and his sister went on to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Christian attended the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), where he was elected Vice President of the Student Government Association, recognized as the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. International Undergraduate of the Year, and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

After graduating from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and interning at the Harris County Public Defender’s Office, Christian began his legal practice at Fulbright & Jaworski (now Norton Rose Fulbright), an international law firm founded in Houston more than 100 years ago. Christian has spent countless hours on pro bono work, including advising the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, advising immigrants and their families at Bush Intercontinental Airport during the “Muslim ban,” and working with Texas Appleseed on expanding alternatives to involuntary commitment for the mentally ill.

Though Christian’s day job is practicing law, he has for years spent his nights and weekends working to better his community. Christian served on Houston’s Independent Police Oversight Board, which is charged with evaluating all Houston Police Department (HPD) internal affairs investigations involving excessive force or the use of a firearm. In this role, Christian wrote and championed a new HPD regulation requiring that when an officer uses his firearm against a civilian, the officer must provide emergency first aid until a medic arrives. Christian also served on the boards of the Houston Young Lawyers Association (HYLA), the State Bar of Texas’s Minority Counsel Program, and a nonprofit aimed at providing job readiness programs to ex-offenders. In his role at HYLA, he ran a program that took students at underserved public high schools on a field trip to the Harris County Civil Courthouse, at which judges and lawyers encouraged the students by reminding them that they were capable of being lawyers one day. For his involvement in that program, Christian received the President’s Award from the Parents for Public Schools of Houston in 2018.

Christian is a graduate of Leadership Houston (Class XXXVI) and the United Way Project Blueprint board leadership-training program (Class XXXV).

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Natalie Michailides
Pretrial Services Director
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Natalie Michailides
Pretrial Services Director

Natalie Michailides is currently the Director of Harris County Pretrial Services.  She comes to Harris County with over twenty years of experience as a justice system practitioner and consultant.  She has a diverse public safety background that has formed her personal goal to reshape pretrial justice systems to increase community safety, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, and achieve a less costly alternatives to pretrial incarceration. 

Her career has centered around the re-engineering pretrial justice systems across the county that are consistent with evidence-based practices to reduce unnecessary pretrial detention.  Prior to joining Harris County, she served as the lead site coordinator for the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), a pretrial assessment, in eleven jurisdictions, including Harris County and Cook County.  As the site coordinator for implementing the PSA and pretrial justice reform initiatives, she collaborated with stakeholders for strategy development, operationalizing the strategy, and sustaining fidelity. 

Natalie comes to us from Ohio and has a broad criminal justice background with a focus on the front-end of the system.  She held positions as a law enforcement planner, justice affairs coordinator, pretrial supervisor, and Chief of Probation for Canton Municipal Court.   During her tenure with CMC, she expanded the capacity of the department beyond probation supervision.  She operationalized the first pretrial diversion program for the Court, entitled the First Offender Program.  Additionally, implemented two cognitive behavior programs for the Court.  These programs were frequently court-ordered requirements for specific charges and bringing them in-house allowed the Court to waive the fees if a person was unable to pay an outside vendor. 

Natalie holds a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts both from the University of Akron.

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Kim Ogg
District Attorney
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Kim Ogg
District Attorney

Kim Ogg is the Harris County District Attorney. She is a native Houstonian licensed by the State Bar of Texas in 1987 and recognized as a specialist in Criminal Law by the Board of Legal Specialization since 1992. Upon taking office, she promised a new era of criminal justice by insuring a just process for the victim, the accused, and the community in every case. She has focused her prosecutors on public safety by prioritizing disposition of crimes against people and property.

Kim's legal career began in 1987 as a line prosecutor for the Harris County D.A. While serving as a Chief Felony Prosecutor, she was appointed Houston’s first Anti-Gang Task Force Director in 1994. From 1999 - 2006, Kim served as the Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston. In 2006, Kim transitioned to private legal practice and became the managing partner of her own law firm.

Kim now brings her strong track record of public service and thirty years of criminal justice experience to the position of Harris County D.A. During the first six months of her Administration, she has successfully advanced major drug policy and bail reform, diversified the leadership of the District Attorney's Office and effected legislative reform on behalf of crime victims.

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Barbie Robinson
Executive Director, Harris County Public Health
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Barbie Robinson
Executive Director, Harris County Public Health

Barbie Robinson, MPP, JD, CHC

In March 2021, Barbie Robinson was appointed Executive Director for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) – the nationally accredited county public health agency for the nation’s 3rd largest county serving a population of approximately five million people.

She comes to Harris County with a vision of HCPH as the Community Health Strategist for leading and enabling cross sector partnerships that connect safety net services in an integrated way to ensure interventions, services, and programs address the social determinants of health in a holistic way.

Prior to her appointment, she served as Director of Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) for five years, while concurrently serving as the Interim Executive Director of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission in California for the past year.

Robinson’s leadership was instrumental in the formation of Sonoma County’s ACCESS Initiative, a nationally and internationally-awarded integrated, care coordination model that helps underserved and vulnerable individuals achieve self-sufficiency and well-being, a model that is being replicated across the Country. She led the County’s COVID-19 pandemic response, and oversaw the public health responses during the wildfires of 2017, 2019 and 2020 and the response to the County’s largest homeless encampment in 2020.

Robinson has over 27 years of experience in health care administration, policy, and research. Before Sonoma County, she worked at the Federal level at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for 15 years overseeing the administration of Federal healthcare programs, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Medicare Fee-for-Service program, and the Affordable Care Act.

She held numerous leadership positions while at CMS, including Associate Regional Administrator (ARA) of the San Francisco and Atlanta Regional Offices Division of Financial Management & Fee-for-Service Operations her leadership earning her the Administrator’s Achievement Award in 2014.

Throughout her career, Robinson has been recognized for leading collaborative efforts to address health disparities, health improvement, and health equity.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts with a triple major (Political Science, Spanish, and International Sociology) from Middlebury College, her Master of Public Policy, Health and Social Policy from Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy and her Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School. She was admitted to the California Bar in 2000.


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Matthew Simpson
Non-Profit Criminal Justice Research & Policy Organization Representative
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Matthew Simpson
Non-Profit Criminal Justice Research & Policy Organization Representative

Matt Simpson has served as a senior policy strategist at the ACLU of Texas since 2008. He advocates for civil rights and civil liberties at the state legislature and assists with local campaigns related to criminal justice reform, such as prison and jail policy, law enforcement information sharing, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline. Matt holds a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon and a B.A. in political science from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

During Texas’ 83rd Legislature in 2013, Matt worked with legislators and coalition partners to end the ticketing of students for minor misbehavior, to increase accountability for police officers stationed in schools, and to push for smart-on-crime reforms that increase rehabilitative services and reduce the need to incarcerate individuals for long periods of time. In particular, the ACLU of Texas along with key partners helped pass a review of the use of the psychologically damaging and recidivism-inducing practice of housing individuals in solitary confinement.

Through his work in the Texas legislature, Matt has fought to stop the passage of Arizona-style, anti-immigrant legislation, helped outlaw the dangerous and unnecessary practice of shackling incarcerated women during delivery and childbirth, and helped ensure the continuation of smart criminal justice policies. Outside his in-session advocacy, Matt has worked with local activists and the Austin City Council to develop city policies regulating the newly created Austin Regional Information Center, a law enforcement intelligence-sharing hub; those policies have provided a model statewide.

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Mayor Sylvester Turner
Mayor, City of Houston
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Mayor Sylvester Turner
Mayor, City of Houston

Elected in December 2015, Sylvester Turner is serving his first four-year term as Houston’s 62nd mayor. Since taking office, Mayor Turner eliminated a $160 million budget shortfall in record time; led the city’s remarkable rebound from Hurricane Harvey; championed historic pension reform; cheered on the 2017 World Series-winning Houston Astros; hosted a successful Super Bowl LI; expanded municipal investments in renewable energy and led the winning bid to host the World Petroleum Congress in 2020.

As the head of the energy capital of the world and the most diverse city in the nation, Mayor Turner has brought a performance-driven approach to the job, creating more responsive, streamlined and efficient delivery of city services while shoring up Houston’s financial future. Thanks to his leadership, the Texas Legislature and local voters approved the pension reform package that reduces the city’s liability by billions of dollars and provided a “fix” that had eluded the city for 17 years.

One of the mayor’s signature initiatives is Complete Communities, which aims to improve the quality of life for residents in all neighborhoods. The mayor’s other priorities include filling more than 90,000 potholes on city streets, implementing a six-point holistic plan for addressing homelessness, reducing flooding and improving drainage.

Mayor Turner’s civic leadership has been nationally recognized through his service as a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Transportation and Communications Standing Committee, vice chair of the National Climate Action Agenda, member of the C40 and Global Covenant for Mayor’s for Climate and Energy and an advisory board member of the African American Mayors Association. He is also the recipient of the Ohtli Award, the Mexican government’s highest honor. Turner has been featured in publications and news outlets such as 60 Minutes, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, FOX News, Wall Street Journal, Black Enterprise Magazine, Cuba Today Magazine, Ebony, New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today.

Prior to his election as mayor, Turner served for 27 years in the Texas House as the representative for District 139. He worked on the House Appropriations Committee for 21 years and served as Speaker Pro Tem for three terms. He was appointed to several Budget Conference Committees to help balance the state’s budget and served on the Legislative Budget Board.

Mayor Turner is a life-long resident of Houston and lives in the Acres Homes community where he grew up with eight siblings. He is a graduate of the University of Houston and earned a law degree from Harvard University. He began his law practice at Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. and later founded the Barnes & Turner Law Firm.

Mayor Turner is the proud father of First Daughter Ashley Turner, who is continuing the family tradition of public service in the healthcare field.