August Newsletter
08/08/2023, 10:15:01 AM

August Newsletter

Boost your voter education superpower at September Boot Camp

Election season is picking up for local candidates on the ballot in November. University of Houston students interested in positive change in their community can register for the 2023 Civic Engagement Boot Camp hosted by the Hobby School on Friday, Sept. 15, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., in the Heritage Room at the Bates Law building.


The workshop and featured speakers will focus on voter education, how to get involved in local government and becoming a civic leader. Topics will include voter outreach initiatives, the power of the youth vote, voter resources, the upcoming City of Houston election and how the region’s demographics impact voter turnout and election outcomes. Attendees will also learn about National Voter Registration Day and other important election-related dates.


Registration is free but required. Lunch is provided for registered attendees. Contact the Hobby School’s Jessica Ruland O’Connor at with any questions.


Julia Ossemi-Seied, Office of Houston City Council Member Sallie Alcorn, At-Large 5
Juan Cardoza-Oquendo and Laila Khalili, Houston in Action
Annie Benifield, League of Women Voters of Houston
Hector DeLeon, Office of Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth

Houston Election Survey 2023

The Hobby School has released two new reports examining the candidates and issues central to the upcoming Houston elections. The first survey asked likely Houston voters where they currently stand on the Houston mayoral and city controller races, while the second survey focused on public policy issues voters considered important for candidates to address. Read the findings



In an op-ed written for the Houston Chronicle, Hobby School researchers Renée Cross and Mark P. Jones shared results from the second report, which found a significant divide between communities of color and people living in predominantly white neighborhoods, which suggests that both perceptions and the reality of city services may vary depending on where people live.

UH welcome events for new and returning students

Prizes and information await new and returning University of Houston students participating in Shasta’s Open House from noon to 4 p.m. on Aug. 29-31 during UH Weeks of Welcome. The Hobby School will welcome students taking part in the campus-wide welcome event that allows them to get familiar with campus, visit different departments and colleges and learn about upcoming events and services and ways to get involved.


Stop by The Commons on the ground floor of the Bates Law/Teaching Unit II buildings to discuss Hobby School academic programs and internships in Houston, Austin and Washington, D.C. and take a self-guided tour at our new campus home to win new Hobby School swag.

How Things Really Work with Dean Jim Granato

In the video program How Things Really Work, Dean Granato discusses relevant topics, from public policy issues to leadership lessons. The seventh video in the science series introduces forecast evaluation, the critical elements of a successful forecasting model and how the Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models (EITM) initiative can combat "garbage can" specifications. Episode eight explains feedback effects and robustness checks to ensure accurate structural relations and overall model accuracy.



Graduate student researchers lean into Texas energy grid research

The Hobby School is partnering with the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement (CCPPI) for a project to assess the main provisions of energy grid legislation under consideration during the 88th Texas Legislature. Graduate student researchers in the Master of Public Policy program, Catherine Miers and Lorenzo Salinas, provided research on bill summaries and the commentary shared in oversight hearings during the 2023 regular and special sessions.


“This year, legislators were focused on a redesign of the grid, how the markets work and how the different pieces function together,” said Miers, a former teacher and first-year MPP candidate. “What surprised me most about the project is the time management required to work during the slow period, so you aren’t overwhelmed when the deadline comes around. Learning how to work with a team made up of people at different levels was very informative. The experience helped me realize that I really like the research side of public policy.”


The research initiative was spearheaded by CCPPI founder, former state Sen. Garnet Coleman, for a report delivered to the Texas House Committee on State Affairs. Read more.



Hobby School celebrates National Intern Day

The Hobby School celebrated students in our internship programs for National Intern Day on July 27. The school hosts several invaluable public service and experiential learning opportunities for UH students who want to engage in government, communities and civic responsibilities. This year’s spotlight was on the Harris Fellows working full-time in Harris County government offices this summer. Students in the third cohort are developing marketable skills in communications, research and data analysis while tackling projects on critical local issues, such as affordable housing, public safety and extreme heat. Read more about them.


In addition to the Harris Fellows program, UH students can work in Austin during the biennial Texas legislative sessions with the Hobby Fellows program and in congressional offices or national nonprofits on Capitol Hill with the Leland Fellows program.


Coogs can get internship experience working in Houston area government, nonprofit or campaign offices during the fall and spring semesters through the Civic Houston Internship Program. The Social Economy and Enterprise Academy pairs students with nonprofits needing program data research and analysis projects. Internships are also required to complete the Hobby School’s new public leadership minor and for selected students in the competitive Next Generation Leadership Academy.

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center names 2023-2024 faculty fellows

Introducing the 2023-24 Hobby School Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership Faculty Fellows. The award is presented annually to select UH faculty members with funding to pursue research projects that further the study of ethics and leadership in the policy realm. This year's recipients are pursuing the study of race and gender tolerance in Santo Domingo and the legal doctrine of informed medical consent.


Rachael Afi Quinn is an associate professor in Comparative Cultural Studies and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies in the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Her transnational feminist cultural studies scholarship focuses on mixed race, gender and sexuality, and social media and visual culture in the African Diaspora. She will use her award to translate her first book, "Being La Dominicana: Race and Identity in the Visual Culture of Santo Domingo," into Spanish for Dominican and other Spanish-language audiences.


Valerie Gutmann Koch is an assistant professor and co-director of the Health Law and Policy Institute at the UH Law Center. Koch's proposed project, Reimagining Informed Consent, emphasizes the bioethical principle of justice. Her academic career is focused on the ethics of medicine and the leadership element of being able to work toward something better.



Hobby School's Diana Benitez is part of the 2023 cohort of the Emerging Leaders Institute, a leadership development program hosted by the Greater Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation for young professionals who want to make a difference in their communities. These professionals from different backgrounds and industries experienced a daylong session on critical topics for professional growth, such as leadership, goal setting, peer support and mentorship, designed to prepare the next generation of leaders.


Benitez started her journey at the Hobby School in 2013. Over the past ten years, she's performed various duties, including previously managing the Certified Public Manager program. She now serves on the marketing and communications team, spotlighting the Hobby School's interdisciplinary teaching, training, research and public service opportunities.

Mason elected to the UH Staff Council

Congratulations to the Hobby School’s program director of academic advising, Scott Mason. He has been elected to represent the Hobby School on the UH Staff Council for a three-year term. Mason is a two-time Coog with an undergraduate degree from the C.T. Bauer College of Business and a Master of Public Administration. He was a Civic Houston Intern in the Harris County Clerk’s Office and spent his early career in the public sector in the city administrator’s office in Montgomery, Texas. Mason started his university career in 2008 and later at the Hobby School in 2015. UH Staff Council is an advisory body to President Renu Khator and the UH administration representing the entire staff body.

Hobby School in the News


The latest Hobby School survey Houston Elections 2023 attracted widespread regional media attention for the findings pitting the top two contenders for the Houston mayor's race. The Center Square, a national publication covering state and local level government and economic news, featured the tightness of the race and the distinction between the top mayoral candidates. 


Results were covered extensively in broadcast and print media, including the major local television outlets, BET News, Houston Public Media, Houston Landing, La Esquína Texas and 930 AM San Antonio. Hobby School experts and researchers were also featured on Houston Matters, a Houston Public Media talk show on the issues important to Houston, bringing the year's total to more than 220 media mentions.

Hobby Happenings


Hobby School Happenings captures lectures, events, application deadlines, programs and collaborations hosted or co-sponsored by the Hobby School and its centers. Mark your calendars and join us for the next Hobby School happening.


Thursday, Aug. 10, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Graduate Programs Information Session (Virtual)


Wednesday, Aug. 16, 9 a.m.
Houston Matters Political Roundup with Renée Cross
KUHF, News 88.7 FM
Listen Online


Thursday, Aug. 17, 5:30-7 p.m.
Social Economy and Enterprise Academy Student Presentations
Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library
A reception will follow the presentations. RSVP to Pablo Pinto at


Monday, Aug. 21
First Day of Fall 2023 Classes


Aug. 29-31, 12-4 p.m.
Shasta’s Open House
The Commons, Bates Law

Wednesday, Sept. 6, 9 a.m.
Houston Matters Political Roundup with Renée Cross
KUHF, News 88.7 FM
Listen Online


Friday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
2023 Civic Engagement Boot Camp
The Heritage Room, Bates Law


Wednesday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m.
Houston Matters Political Roundup with Renée Cross

KUHF, News 88.7
Listen Online


Thursday, Sept. 28, 4-6 p.m.
Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center for Ethics and Leadership
Jonathan Rapping, Gideon’s Promise, John Marshall School of Law

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library


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