Houston Mayor Annise Parker will be honored this November as Holocaust Museum Houston’s 2010 “Guardian of the Human Spirit” in recognition of her life-long work in public and community service, the Museum announced Wednesday.
Parker will receive the honor on Tuesday, Nov. 2, at the Museum’s annual luncheon, which begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Hilton Americas-Houston, 1600 Lamar, in downtown Houston. Last year’s event drew more than 900 attendees.
The Museum established the Guardian of the Human Spirit award in 1997 as a platform for acknowledging dedicated Houstonians who have worked to enhance the lives of others and to better humankind.
“Our Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy, and Mayor Parker has spent the better part of her adult life engaged in that same mission. From her early years as a community activist, to her service in neighborhood associations, to her life as an elected official, she has touched lives across Houston,” Museum Chair Michael S. Goldberg, a senior partner with Baker Botts, L.L.P., said in announcing this year’s honoree.
In making the announcement, Goldberg quoted from a Houston Chronicle editorial endorsing Parker in her bid for mayor, saying, “In both her public and personal life, Parker has maintained high ethical standards and decorum in her years as an elected official. No scandals have occurred on her watch. As mayor, she will present the city’s best face to the world – one of tolerance, diversity and compassion for all our citizens.” And, he added, “she has done just that.”
From Parker’s early years in Germany – where as a child she served as president of the Red Cross youth service organization, volunteered as a candy-striper at her father’s base hospital and worked in the base library – to her multiple public service activities as an adult in Houston, Parker has truly exemplified a “guardian spirit,” continually working to improve and enhance the lives of others around her, Goldberg said.
Parker has spent 13 years in service to the people of Houston – first on the City Council and five years as city controller, where she worked with Mayor Bill White to keep Houston moving forward with sound policy, not divisive politics. Her independent audits as city controller saved millions of dollars in waste that now fund after-school programs and senior centers. She was elected Houston mayor last November and took office in January.
One of her early official acts was to issue one of the most comprehensive non-discrimination orders in the nation. The order prohibits discrimination and/or retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity at every level of municipal government, including hiring, contracting and/or access to city facilities and programs/activities. She also has been actively involved in the fight to stop the sale of goods associated with murderers, rapists and other violent criminals, known as “murderabilia.”
Parker has spent six years of service on the Museum’s own Board of Directors and served on the boards of Girls Inc. and the advisory boards of the Houston Zoo, the Montrose Counseling Center, Bering Omega Community Services and Trees for Houston. She previously served as president of Houston’s Gay Political Caucus and as president of the Neartown Civic Association.
Previous recipients of the award have included Barbara and Gerald Hines; Marc J. Shapiro; Lester and Sue Smith; Sandra Weiner and Martin Fein; Naomi Warren and Fred Zeidman; Joan and Stanford Alexander; Ed Wulfe and the H-E-B grocery chain; Jack Blanton and The Houston Chronicle; the Rev. William A. Lawson and Julie and Ben Rogers; Linda P. Lay and Siegi Izakson; and Ron Stone.
Proceeds from the event help fund the Museum’s worldwide educational outreach efforts and allow Museum admission to remain free year-round.
For more information or to purchase tickets or tables for the luncheon, call 713-942-8000, ext. 129 or e-mail [email protected]