Rising Leaders 2021: A Unique Experience

By Jennifer A. Boggs, J.D. 

In a year characterized by global challenges not seen in a generation or two, the question, “what is a leader” has perhaps never been more salient. In 2004, W.C.H. Prentice, writing in the Harvard Business Review, said that a leader’s, “unique achievement is a human and social one which stems from his understanding of his fellow workers and the relationship of their individual goals to the group goal that [s]he must carry out”. This is a perfect summation of the first 40 years of vision and hard work by the founders and members of the West Houston Association. And it is on those shoulders that the next generation will stand to carry our mission and vision into the future. They will contend with carrying forward the vision of quality communities in a world forever changed by a year of Zoom, isolation, a hunger for safe, well designed outdoor spaces, new ideas about the expanding definition of healthy communities, and resource limitations. The challenges will not be insignificant.  

WHA’s next generation of leaders has a firm foothold in our Rising Leaders. WHA’s Rising Leaders program differs from other leadership programs in that it is uniquely designed to accelerate leadership within WHA, specifically. Our class participants come to us with industry experience and expertise already well established. This is a program designed to utilize that expertise and to create lasting relationships between members and the vision and mission of WHA. Our goal is to provide these young leaders with the network and resources to achieve a thriving West Houston region.  

Over the first few years of the program, the staff solicited feedback from class members, and this year, we took that wish list and re-designed the program to bring deeper dimensions of mentorship and cross-industry education and shared expertise to the program. Each cohort will engage in a series of classes designed around our committee work and advocacy over a period of 8-months with intermittent opportunities for one-on-one mentorship with board members. If our plan was to provide a crash-course in all things WHA to our Rising Leaders, then we sweetened the deal for members by adding opportunities for previous Rising Leaders and other members to join the classes on panels or as speakers to discuss their WHA passion projects and advocacy.  

We held our first class of the 2021 cohort on April 9th, and our first session showed we have a fantastic group of individuals that are already working hard in their respective industries to create quality communities in West Houston. As we’ve seen previous Rising Leaders move into committee leadership positions at WHA and start driving their own passion projects, we can already tell this current cohort is going to bring expertise, energy, and no small amount of fun to WHA this year and in the years to come! And so, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you the WHA Rising Leaders Cohort of 2021 (Class 6): 


Diana Miller  Schwartz, Page & Harding  Associate Counsel 
Sanjay Bapat  ABHR  Associate Counsel 
Brian Gates  Newland  Project Manager 
Taylor Reed  Vogler & Spencer  Project Manager 
Lilian Baldwin  HCC-Northwest  Dual Credit Coord. & Pub. School Liaison 
Karina Moreno  LJA  Business Development Manager 
Christine Crotwell  Masterson Advisors  Director, Owner 
Monica Navarro  Texas Children’s Hospital – West   Supervisor Admissions 
Kent Milson  META  Sr. Planner