Scenic Houston Appoints Claudia Williamson as Interim President/CEO

The nonprofit also welcomes Kristi Gollwitzer, P.E., as Director of Special Projects


Claudia Williamson has been named Interim President and CEO of the nonprofit Scenic Houston. She previously served on the Scenic Houston board and was Board Chairman from 2010-2014.

Scenic Houston announced the appointment of Claudia Williamson as Interim President and CEO, effective immediately. Williamson, a long-time Scenic Houston board member and former Board Chair from 2010 – 2014, will lead day-to-day operations, working closely with the board of directors to move the nonprofit forward with all current programs and initiatives. A search for a permanent president and CEO will be conducted by the Scenic Houston board in the coming months.

Williamson comes to Scenic Houston following the departure of Scenic Houston President and CEO Anne Culver who led the organization since 2008. Also joining the staff is Kristi Gollwitzer, P.E., who will serve as Director of Special Projects under Williamson.

“Claudia Williamson is the perfect choice to guide Scenic Houston during this transition period,” says Derrick Mitchell, Chairman of the Board of Scenic Houston. “She led the organization through an unprecedented period of growth during her term as board chair, including oversight of a strategic planning process, publication of our first Streetscape Resource Guide and the execution of the successful ‘Campaign for a More Scenic Houston.’ Her vision, business acumen and management skills will be invaluable as we continue our mission to enhance the scenic character of the spaces where we live, work and visit.”

Mitchell notes that “although we will miss Anne dearly, we are fortunate to have a solid Scenic Houston staff she assembled. The addition of Kristi Gollitzer in the new position of Director of Special Projects will greatly add to the depth of our organization as we expand our footprint in Houston and seek additional working partnerships in the community.”

Professionally, Williamson has served as Director of Business Development for a national architectural and engineering firm and as Director of Government Relations for a national civil engineering company, both headquartered in Houston. Currently, Williamson serves as ambassador for the UH William P. Hobby School of Public Affairs and is an instructor in the Hobby School’s Texas Certified Public Manager (CPM) Program.

“I am honored to serve Scenic Houston in this capacity,” Williamson says. “I love Scenic Houston’s mission and I look forward to supporting the staff and board as they continue their tireless efforts to enhance Houston’s streetscapes and public spaces.”

Kristi Gollwitzer has been named Scenic Houston’s new Director of Projects. She will be responsible for moving the organization’s plans and projects from concept to completion.

As Director of Special Projects, Gollwitzer will help drive streetscape and public space enhancement initiatives from concept to completion – making this role critical for Scenic Houston’s future. The position entails collaborating with an array of public and private partners to move these plans forward and to deliver projects on time and on budget, including capital improvement projects.

Gollwitzer, a professional engineer, comes to Scenic Houston from Walter P. Moore where she was Principal and Market Sector Leader for the firm’s higher education practice, holding both business development and project management responsibilities. These included several significant educational, civic and cultural projects, such as the George R. Brown Convention Center renovation, Rice University Music and Performing Arts Center, University of Houston Student Center Transformation, The Gordy at Stages Repertory Theatre and St. Anne Catholic Community Commons and Garage. Gollwitzer is an active community volunteer, including serving on the board of Rice Design Alliance.

Scenic Houston is a chapter of Scenic Texas, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization and an affiliate of Scenic America. Scenic Houston’s mission is to enhance the scenic character of the spaces where we live, work and visit. The 20th annual Scenic Houston Dinner is scheduled for Oct. 23 at Houston Country Club.

Scenic Citizen – MetroNational

In 1959, the early stages of Memorial City on Houston’s west side began to take shape. Joseph Johnson, the founder of the real estate development company MetroNational, saw potential to transform 200 acres of underutilized land off Gessner Road into a “city within a city.” Now, 60 years later, Memorial City is a prime west side business center and thriving pedestrian hub including a hospital, shopping center, LEED-certified residential and facilities and office buildings, and many top-notch amenities. With its dedication to building best-of-class environments, Scenic Houston is proud to recognize MetroNational as a Scenic Citizen.

Throughout Memorial City’s campus, an array of enhancements improves the pedestrian experience. Color-defining sidewalks provide clear access points and connections to attractions. Comprehensive, on-brand wayfinding signage helps motorists and pedestrians navigate the large site. “We’re trying to build an area where all the uses are supportive of one another,” Marlene Gafrick, MetroNational’s Director of Planning, says. “We think about people and how they walk and get around, where we put the sidewalks in to make sure that Memorial City is easily navigable.”

Marlene joined MetroNational five years ago. Previously, she was Director of Planning for the city of Houston. Her land development and public policy expertise are a perfect fit for MetroNational’s vision. Marlene also serves on the Board of Directors of Scenic Houston, where she is a long-standing member of its Streetscape Committee, which devised and published the Streetscape Resource Guide. Her Scenic Houston involvement provides Marlene another platform to promote best standards for quality streetscape development, in addition to the superlative examples that MetroNational puts in place.

A current MetroNational project is to activate 18 acres on the northwest corner of Gessner and I-10 into an additional pedestrian-oriented environment. Wide sidewalks and bicycle lanes encourage walkability and cycling, and a concrete detention pond was transformed into a park setting to add the benefit of greenspace.  To further strengthen the city’s identity, MetroNational buried overhead utility lines along Gessner to reduce aerial clutter. “Getting rid of the overhead powerlines eliminated that visual blight and made the walking experience so much nicer,” Marlene says. “It makes a tremendous visual impact on the street.”

Like Scenic Houston, MetroNational and Marlene recognize that public spaces can provide tremendous value and enhance communities. MetroNational is committed to continued development first-class environments with inviting social spaces, thoughtful design, and vibrant streetscapes that enhance their developments. “We don’t do quick investment for the short term,“ Marlene says. “We do projects well and with good quality.”

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