Annise Parker is best known for being the first openly gay big city mayor, however she also should be known for being the first mayor to end veteran homelessness, reduce total homelessness by 50%, create the most extensive urban hike & bike trail system in the country, and so much more. I sat down with her for in-depth interview to see how she became a pragmatic leader and a woman creating history today.
"There are hundreds of amazing organizations all doing amazing work, but they run in parallel, they never converge. So, I wanted everybody in the same room and I wanted to bring together everyone's best asset." This was Mayor Parker's no-nonsense style when it came to tackling the housing issue. She felt sick she felt seeing empty beds and people on the street. "It came down to getting a brilliant housing guru and helping her big-foot the agencies where she needed to." Houston has become the gold-standard for progress in regards to homelessness.
Ms. Parker, during her time as mayor, was also the head of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors, through which she met almost every city mayor, Republican and Democrat, noting, "We all learned a lot from each other. I mean, There is no partisan way to patch a pothole or pick up trash." Mayor Parker also noted how mayors tend to be, "very pragmatic and all about getting the jobs done."
It was very clear from talking to Mayor Parker that she too was all about getting the jobs done. When asked about her biggest accomplishment, she went straight to the logistical fixes that she made behind the scenes, "these logistical and budgetary reforms I created won't be felt for around ten years, but they were the right thing for Houston." Ms. Parker also talked about how proud she was of her city, rather than citing her own individual accomplishments in office.
Mayor Parker is a phenomenal example of a woman creating history today. Ms. Parker continues to fight for equality of all genders, economic statuses, sexual orientations, even now after her time in office. Currently she is a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics to spread her message of hard-work, unity, and progress. Annise Parker is definitely On The Ryse!