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Public Official of the Year 2016

Public Official of the Year Winner, Captain Brian Penoyer

Capt Brian Penoyer accepting award

“The American public and communities demand and deserve nothing less than our best effort to protect them. There’s an amazing array of jurisdictions, authorities, and capabilities spread throughout the Federal, State, County, Municipal, and Private Sectors,” said Captain Penoyer. “To make sure we’re all pulling towards the same objective, achieving the Unity of Effort in military parlance—we have to achieve shared understanding of the situation, and deep understanding of one another’s priorities and needs. No one of use can protect the coast line, these ports, and these communities alone.”

- Capt Penoyer

Keynote Speaker

Lisa Falkenberg

Lisa Falkenberg

We are pleased to announce the keynote speaker for the 5th annual Public Official of the Year Luncheon, Lisa Falkenberg. Falkenberg is an award winning journalist who recently won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2015 for her work with the Houston Chronicle. Falkenberg writes commentaries every Wednesday and Friday from politics to education to the death penalty. She began her studies in Journalism and the University of Texas, joined the Associated Press’ Dallas bureau in 2001 and became a regional writer, and was named Texas AP Writer of the Year in 2004 before she joined the Houston Chronicle in 2005. We are very excited to have her as our keynote speaker and would like to extend a UH welcome to Lisa Falkenberg.


Gary M. Jackson

Gary Jackson

Gary M. Jackson serves as Assistant Manager of the City of Deer Park, Texas, a position he has held since March 2007. He has operational responsibility over assigned departments, activities and special projects including Parks & Recreation, Information Technology Services, Human Resources, Library, Economic Development, and Public Relations/Marketing. His duties also include coordination of the annual budget, strategic plan, and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during emergencies as well as serving as liaison to assigned council appointed boards and commissions.

Mr. Jackson’s 37-year career as a municipal management professional includes over 31 years of service as either city manager or assistant city manager. Jackson has a diverse background in management of cities in different economic settings including serving as city manager of Baytown in Harris County, assistant city manager of Lawton, Oklahoma, the 5th largest city in the state, and manager of Ruidoso, New Mexico, a destination resort community. During this time he has provided management direction in virtually every facet of city government operations.

Jackson’s municipal leadership roles have also included serving as manager of city-related organizations such as General Manager of a Municipal Development District (MDD), which administers 1/2% sales tax for economic development, General Manager of a water authority, and Executive Director of a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) and Redevelopment Authority.

Jackson holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Government from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. He is a member of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) and the Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC).

Jackson’s wife of thirty-four years, Lisa, is a librarian employed by the City of Pasadena, Texas. Jackson’s personal interests include playing guitar, walking, hiking, snow skiing, and recreational bicycling. Jackson is a native Texan, born and raised in Port Arthur.

Terence O’Neill

Terence O'Neill

O’Neill directs the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of International Communities and Refugee Affairs, which reaches out to Houston’s ethnically diverse communities to promote inclusiveness, civic engagement and cultural understanding. O’Neill led the City’s first Mayor’s Human Trafficking Task Force, which successfully advocated for the creation of the Houston Police Department’s first human trafficking unit and the naming of the City’s first human trafficking czar. Since the creation of the HPD unit, human trafficking tips have increased by more than 1000 percent. O’Neill also directs the city’s language access plan, which mandates that city departments make essential information available to the public in five foreign languages most commonly spoken in Houston.

Brian Penoyer

Cap Brian Penoyer

Captain Brian Penoyer reported aboard Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston in 2013, and is a 2015 recipient of the Coast Guard’s Type I Incident Commander qualification. Captain Penoyer is a native of the Chicago area and a proud University of Chicago graduate.

Captain Penoyer previously served at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he served as the Coast Guard Fellow in the Center’s International Security Program, and as the Deputy Chief of Coast Guard Congressional Affairs, where he led the Service’s nationwide congressional engagement strategy. Captain Penoyer also served as Admiral Thad Allen’s liaison in the office of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security during the DEEPWATER HORIZON incident and supported Admiral Allen during the Hurricane Katrina response.

A specialist in coastal operations, Captain Penoyer served as Deputy Sector Commander in Baltimore with responsibility for the execution of all Coast Guard missions on the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries; as Chief of Prevention at Sector Baltimore; and as Chief of Port Operations and Planning in Jacksonville, Florida where he formulated and led the Coast Guard’s regional response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In other operational assignments, he inspected foreign and U.S. merchant vessels, led oil spill response teams, and conducted investigations in Alaska during a period of multiple cruise ship groundings and significant, fatal commercial fishing vessel accidents. In his first assignment for the Coast Guard, Captain Penoyer deployed throughout Europe and the Middle East during the 1991 Gulf War.

Captain Penoyer’s staff assignments include serving as the Department of Homeland Security’s Chief of Contingency Planning, where he led the interagency teams revising the National Response Plan, Pandemic Influenza Response Plan, and Joint Field Office doctrine. He also served as the Coast Guard’s liaison to the U.S. Department of the Interior and Coast Guard representative on the National Response Team. At Coast Guard Headquarters, Captain Penoyer formulated doctrine for marine investigations, coordinated law enforcement policy, and developed the Coast Guard’s enterprise operational data system.

Captain Penoyer holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Maryland. He also holds a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and is a graduate of the College of Naval Command and Staff at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where he received the Director’s Award for Academic Excellence.

Captain Penoyer has been awarded five Meritorious Service Medals, three Coast Guard Commendation Medals, the Department of Transportation “9-11” Medal, and several campaign medals including the Southwest Asia Service Medal. He is married to Hildi Baker of Madison, Wisconsin, a nurse and University of Chicago graduate. Together they have two daughters, Scotia and Teslin.

Alan Rosen

Constable Alan Rosen

Life-long Houstonian Alan Rosen’s law enforcement experience, business experience, training, and education uniquely qualify him to provide the leadership and management skills needed for the success and growth of the Precinct One Constable’s Office.

First elected in 2012, the Constable has spent more than 25 years in local law enforcement, chiefly at the Constable’s Office and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. He has worked in street patrol, fugitive warrants, marine patrol, criminal warrants, narcotics and mental health warrants. He also served as a member of the Sheriff’s executive command staff. With his extensive business background, Constable Rosen manages budgets and taxpayers’ money effectively. Constable Rosen has saved taxpayers’ substantial money every year in office by bringing a business approach to managing the Constable’s Office budget.

During his first year in office, Constable Rosen required all personnel to attend law enforcement ethics training, created the first Precinct One Special Response Group, the first Precinct One S.W.A.T.-Certified Tactical Response Team and the first Precinct One Game Room and Prostitution Task Force, which has shut down illegal gambling establishments and massage parlors that are often fronts for prostitution and human trafficking organizations and seizing the assets of these illegal establishments. He also assigned the first Precinct One Deputy to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s anti-drug task force and ensured that all deputies assigned to the Mental Health Special Operations Division are mental health-certified through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

The Constable was the recipient of the Acres Home Chamber of Business and Economic Development Inc.’s Empowerment Award in Community Politics for 2014 and the Greater Heights Chamber of Commerce’s Government Advocate of the Year award for 2013. Under his leadership, the Precinct One Constable’s Office was awarded the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (“MADD”) Outstanding Law Enforcement Agency of the Year 2014. Precinct One was also recognized as the National Night Out Rookie of the Year in 2014.

Constable Rosen served or is serving on local civic boards and committees, including the MD Anderson Cancer Center Advance Team Board of Directors, the Greater Houston Visitors and Convention Bureau Board of Directors, the Houston Police Department – Citizen Review Committee, the Beth Yeshurun Day School Board of Directors (development chair), Beth Yeshurun Synagogue (security committee) and the Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Seven Acres Jewish Geriatric Home Board of Directors and currently Co-Chairs the Harris County Law Enforcement Technology Committee.

He is a Life Member of the 100 Club of Houston, and a Life Member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He was awarded the Presidential Volunteerism Award for 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Constable Rosen earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Houston, graduating with honors. He is deeply committed to keeping families safe, aggressively addressing crime issues and improving the quality of life for all residents of Precinct One. He and his wife and children are proud residents of the precinct.

Mike Sullivan

Mike Sullivan

Sullivan leads the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Office and oversees a staff of over 400 people across 16 branch offices. He works closely with other public entities such as county commissioner’s court, school boards, MUDs, the Harris County Appraisal District, and the Texas DMV. He worked with the legislature in 2015 for tax relief and more transparency in government. Under his leadership, a Military Help Desk was established to assist military members with tax matters, and Property Tax Workshops were established to enhance citizen understanding of the property tax system.