Compass Awards

The West Houston Association (“WHA”) adopted the Compass Award in 2018 to recognize members that lead efforts and provide direction to the organization that inspires sustainable, quality growth. Board members and committee chairs nominate and vote on award winners. There have been 9 Compass award winners to date.

Bill Callegari and Todd Burrer

Water Workforce Development

Bill Callegari and Todd Burrer are the latest recipients of the West Houston Association Compass Award for their extraordinary efforts in seeking a resolution to the growing decline in regional water service operators.  Both recipients were awarded at the West Houston Association City Issues Forum on May 14th, in which Mayor Sylvester Turner was the main speaker.

At a WHA Water Resources Committee meeting, Bill Callegari mentioned an issue in the regional water service provider industry. Licensed operators aged out of the workforce faster than new ones entered into the pipeline. The West Houston Association Education and Workforce Development Committee responded by collaborating with the Water Resources Committee to create a Water Workforce Technical Forum and hosted workshops to spread awareness and solicit solutions for the need.

Todd Burrer of Inframark is among this group of people that played a significant role in contributing to the collaboration of regional partners – the Water Environmental Association of Texas (WEAT), Si Environmental, and the City of Houston Public Works Department. The West Houston Association also recognized the following individuals for their efforts concerning this growing problem.

  • Julie Nahrgang – Water Environment Association of Texas
  • Michael Thornhill – Si Environmental
  • Dylan Christenson -Black & Veatch
  • Katie Zheng – SouthWest Water Company
  • Janet Harreld – Houston Community College
  • Zachary Hodges – Houston Community College
  • The Department of Labor
  • Houston Public Works

Michael F. Bloom, P.E. ENV-SP

Envision Rating System

Michael F. Bloom, P.E. ENV SP was presented with the first Compass Award in 2020 at the West Houston Association Green Development Forum. Bloom, Environmental Engineer and Sustainability Consultant for R.G. Miller Engineers, was instrumental in aiding WHA’s promotion of the Envision Rating System, a best practices guide on developing and implementing resilient and sustainable infrastructure.

Augustus “Auggie” Campbell, CEO of WHA, had this to say, “WHA appeared at the first meeting of the new Harris County Commissioners Court, asking Judge Hidalgo and the Commissioners to support the Envision program item being proposed by Harris County Engineer John Blount. One WHA member is most responsible for promoting Envision. That member is Michael Bloom”, said Auggie Campbell, CEO of West Houston Association.  Bloom was nominated by West Houston leadership who took note of his service for Envision. Michael Bloom generated the idea for the Envision program and moderated the panel for the Envision Technical Forum in 2016.

Jim Russ, Principal at EHRA and WHA Sustainable Infrastructure Committee Chair and Board Member, presented Bloom with the award.


Marlene Gafrick 

METRONext Plan

WHA has supported thoughtful transit since its inception.  WHA’s founding Chairman, David Wolff, later served as the Chairman of the METRO Board. The West Houston 2050 Plan and West Houston 2060 Plan both call out the need for improved, grade-separated, high-capacity transit.  The METRONext plan that was on the ballot last month will provide for bus rapid transit on Beltway 8.  This Beltway BRT will connect METRO’s existing Park & Ride facilities near the Beltway to a new facility at Beltway 8 and I-10.  As late as October, this Beltway 8 BRT route was shown as a Gessner BRT route that would run through local neighborhoods at grade level.  The village mayors and City of Houston Council members strongly opposed this Gessner BRT.  Luckily, the West Houston Association and its members, specifically Marlene Gafrick had been following this issue for over two years and working on an alternative.

Marlene, Auggie Campbell, HCC’s Zach Hodges, and others approached current METRO Chair Carrin Patman and CEO Tom Lambert.  METRO’s leadership listened carefully and made thoughtful changes.  This change meant that local leaders dropped their opposition to METRONext.  WHA and TAG co-authored an op-ed in the Houston Business Journal after securing the change to the METRONext Plan.  The bond referendum passed with approximately 68% support of voters.


Kate Wythe

2060 Plan & 2019 Economic & Demographics Report

Advocacy is not just about a solution.  Often, it’s about how you present a solution and the information necessary to give it context. In 2017, John Moody, Marlene Gafrick, and WHA’s Committee Chairs had worked to gather the ideas that became the West Houston 2060 Plan.  At the time, WHA was just considering an update of the 2050 Plan and was struggling with how to present these ideas in a way that would attract attention and inspire the imagination.  Steve Spillette and Ty Jacobs of CDS had just completed the 2017 WHA Economic & Demographic Report when WHA asked if they could project populations and jobs out to 2060.  WHA was still struggling with how to present its ideas but after bringing on Imani Forrest, started to make some progress and produced a number of videos.  Aaron Tuley and Kate Wythe, planners with Halff Associates, volunteered to transform the data and ideas into a planning document.  Kate, Imani, and Aaron worked brilliantly together to create beautiful results.  The West Houston 2060 Plan received an HGAC Our Great Region Award at the beginning of 2019 and has attracted attention from academics from SMU in Dallas to Dartmouth in New Hampshire.

Then Aaron and Kate worked with Steve and Ty & Imani to provide a new WHA Economic and Demographic Report that improved upon previous reports in many ways.  The 2019 Economic and Demographic Report has set a new standard for WHA documents and has given new relevance to WHA as an organization that can help promote the region.


Alia Vinson

Houston Stronger

This Compass Award was presented to Alia Vinson on behalf of Joe B. Allen, to recognize the efforts that led to the creation of Houston Stronger.  This effort provided the foundation for the collective advocacy for the 2019 Bi-Partisan Budget Act, the passage of the Harris County Flood Bond, and inspired the passage of Senate Bills 7 and 8.  Without Joe B. Allen, Alia Vinson, Kristen Hogan of Allen Boone Humphries and Robinson, Houston Stronger and the work that it has done would not exist.  These three individuals and the entire ABHR team have shown leadership and generosity that paved the way for a more resilient region.  Many other individuals and groups, from ACEC to Greater Houston Partnership were instrumental in Houston Stronger.

From start to finish, Joe B., Alia, and Kristen have set the table and made sure that everyone in our community and beyond can come to the table.


John Moody, Marlene Gafrick, and Lee Lennard

West Houston 2060 Plan and the Houston Stronger Plan

In 2018, John Moody, Marlene Gafrick, and Lee Lennard were given engraved compasses for their outstanding efforts on our West Houston 2060 Plan and the Houston Stronger Plan.