Day 2 – The Mayor introduces the Smarter Cities Challenge team to Houston

Day 2 kicked off with a press conference.  This was my first involvement in any type of press conference ever.  I instantly gained more respect for any type of public official.  The flashes from the cameras, the all seeing video cameras can certainly make you self conscious.

Mayor Parker launches the Smarter Cities Houston initiative.

The forum for this event was the beautiful rotunda in City Hall.

After the press conference we went straight to work with some of the key stake holders.

We met with Dr. Everette Penn, one of the leaders of TAPS Academy  a 15 week program primarily designed for at-risk youth. During this 15 week cohort students partner with 10 mentor officers and discuss issues such as: bullying, anger management, avoidance of gang life, drug usage, conflict management and many other youth and law enforcement focused topics. Through these interactive sessions students gain skills to manage these situations. Knowledge is a powerful tool for youth and through TAPS Academy they are building skills to make positive decisions in their daily lives.

We also met with Brian Greene, President and CEO of the Houston Food Bank, a private non-profit organization founded in 1982, is a certified member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network. The organization plans to grow to an annual distribution of 100 million nutritious meals by 2018. Visit for more information. Find us on Facebook at or follow our news on Twitter at

By meeting with these two leaders, the team was able to gain critical insights into some of the key challenges needing to be addressed by our work.

The final meeting with the day was with the Mayor Annise Parker, Ed Gonzalez -Mayor Pro Tem , Katye Tipton – Director, Department of Neighborhoods and Mark Cueva – Director of Education Initiatives and Project Manager for the Smarter Cities Challenge.  This group shared with us the vision they have for improving the city’s ability to deliver services to their constituents and how the internal organizations can become more efficient and effective.

All in all, this was a great start to a long journey…


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