Nearly 160 area teenagers, each nominated by their school or a member of the community, converged in West Houston for the first West Houston Teen Leadership Summit. Student representatives from each of Spring Branch ISD’s high schools attended, while several SBISD trustees and Superintendent Duncan Klussmann participated in sessions.
Hosted and organized by State Rep. Jim Murphy, the summit gave the teenagers a chance to meet and interact with close to forty of Houston’s top leaders in business, healthcare, education and politics.
The first-of-its-kind summit was held at the Norris Conference Centers in City Centre near I-10 and Beltway 8 and provided the student-leaders with a series of panels and policy workshops on some of the most important issues facing Houston today.
A policy workshop on transportation issues was moderated by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, and a workshop on health care issues was moderated by Chuck Stokes, COO of Memorial Hermann Health Systems. An education policy workshop was run by Superintendent Duncan Klussmann of Spring Branch ISD, and a workshop on quality of life issues was run by Perri D’Armond, president of the West Houston Association.
Murphy moderated the panel discussion on business issues, and Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel ran the panel discussion on Houston politics that included state representatives Sylvester Turner and Ana Hernandez; Paul Simpson, chairman of the Harris County Republican Party; and Buffie Ingersoll, president and founder of Generation Now.
A panel discussion on media and communication issues was moderated by Sherry Fox, vice president of communications at the Westchase District, and a discussion of philanthropy in Houston was run by Jeannie Bollinger, president of the Houston West Chamber of Commerce.
Among the teen leaders were Kendall Lilly of Lamar High School and Ashlon Lusk of Bellaire High School. Both are sophomores, and both came away with a better understanding of West Houston.
“The adults did a great job — they were very serious and treated us like real adults,” Kendall Lilly said.
Ashlon Lusk echoed that sentiment: “There’s so much going on in Houston, from the oil and gas industry to health care,” she said. “It was great opportunity to talk with people who are already leaders in their field.”
The conference was the brainchild of Murphy, who believes that in addition to math, science, reading and writing, students also need to learn leadership skills.
“The teens at the summit are already leaders in their own right,” said Murphy. “It was exciting to see them engaging in conversation with the panelists and elected officials and asking really good questions.”
The summit was sponsored by Norris Conference Centers, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, Centerpoint, Houston West Chamber of Commerce, Greenberg Traurig and Comcast. Some of the other leaders who participated in the event were Spring Branch ISD Trustees Pam Goodson, Bob Stevenson, Karen Peck and Katherine Dawson, Houston City Council Members Oliver Pennington and Brenda Stardig, Hilshire Village Mayor Shannon Whiting, Hunters Creek Mayor Bonnie McMillian, and Judge Michael Landrum.