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Memo to the next Houston Tomorrow Executive Director

From Jay Blazek Crossley

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TO: Houston Tomorrow’s next Executive Director
FROM: Jay Blazek Crossley, current Executive Director
RE: The next five years of Houston Tomorrow
DATE: May 1, 2016

Houston Tomorrow is an independent nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life for all the people of the Houston region. Our vision is that on its 200th birthday - in 2036 - the Houston region will be home to the healthiest, happiest, most prosperous people in the nation.

Houston Tomorrow provides forums for crucial dialogues, best practices for emerging ideas, and support for public policies to improve the quality of life for all the people of the Houston region. We host the Texas Children in Nature - Houston collaborative, the Houston Food Policy Workgroup, and are a lead organization in the Houston Coalition for Complete Streets.

Among our regular forums for discussion are the Livable Houston Initiative, My Houston 2040, the Houston Green Film Series, the Intersections Conference, and our online presence through social media, websites, and our email newsletter. We help bring safe, multimodal transportation options to every neighborhood, support local farmers and healthy communities, fight for meaningful transit options across the region, and change the paradigm of growth and development to build a stronger, more resilient economy for all.

We think, we question, we prove, we build upon, and we nurture.

You have before you the ability to take the reins on a powerful machine for good: the best social media presence of any small or medium nonprofit in Texas, a brand the people and entities of the Houston region - whether they love it or hate it - trust to be straightforward and dogmatically committed to a sustainable Houston region, and a complex network of relationships.

You must maintain Houston Tomorrow’s strength of purpose, ability to dramatically lead a diverse set of partners, and the flexibility that has allowed us to so successfully define and engage our mission. However, you need to do so in the manner of a sustainable organization that effectively empowers a synergistic group of diverse professionals rather than rely on one individual. David Crossley brought this organization further than anyone ever thought possible and I have set it up for you to expand it wide to facilitate a group of people to do the same every year. Now it is time for us to again rethink what is possible for Houston.
Over the next five years, it is your job to lead Houston Tomorrow to facilitate the transition to a new paradigm of growth, development, and access, such that millions of people can live healthy, affordable, low carbon lifestyles in walkable urban neighborhoods connected by high quality transit. This should entail:

One million daily ridership on transit by 2024 - a goal no one thinks possible.
Regional Complete Streets, Vision Zero, and Balanced Transportation policy.
Equitable Transit Oriented Development policies in multiple jurisdictions.
A regional Food Policy Council built upon good data and optimistic view of healthy farms and neighborhoods.
Abundant access to nature every day for every child in the Houston region.
Continued efforts like Intersections 2016, which nurture an integrated, complex policy arena.

These are not easy tasks. We are not in easy times. This is adventurous work for someone committed to healthy, happy, prosperous Houstonians and a sustainable world.

While doing your part to save the world, you are also going to have to build up the organization and the support network to finance the amazing work that you will soon become obsessed with making sure happens. And you’re going to have to build it from the ground up. Houston Tomorrow went from a $400,000 annual budget to $150,000 and you are going to have to hit the ground running to work with the Board to ensure the funding for 2016 and sound footing for a strong 2017.

However, we have some tremendous assets, like Intersections 2016, which wonderfully combines what I expect to be a truly transformative mission work - working hand in hand with a strong, diverse group of entities across the region - with a stellar opportunity for sponsors to support improving the quality of life for all the people of the Houston region.

Achieving goals like those listed above will take a village. You will need to maintain our network of allies across the region, across disciplines, and across power and class lines. We have built a philosophy of coalition strength that continues to bring the Houston region toward safe streets, healthy food, and abundant nature for every child in ways that facilitate teamwork on short terms, while nurturing long term thoughtful, complex solutions. You need to keep your friends excited and keep your enemies engaged in the right arguments. You need elected officials and public servants to value your brain.

I will be here for you. Houston will be here for you. All you’ve got to do is believe in HOU.

This memo was written by Jay Blazek Crossley upon announcing that he will be stepping down as Executive Director to focus on his family. You can read his resignation letter here. Houston Tomorrow is seeking a new Executive Director.

The preferred deadline for applications is May 15. Applications received after May 15 will be reviewed, but priority will be given to applications received prior to May 15. We are exploring the option of a caretaker, interim ED and a strategic visioning process, but are open to finding the talented, excited person for the job right away.

Refer to the complete job description for instructions on how to apply. Believe in HOU.

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