The Houston First Corp. has named Michael Heckman as its CEO following a year in which he held the position in an interim capacity. The destination management organization owns the 1,207-room Hilton Americas-Houston hotel, and manages the George R. Brown Convention Center along with 10 other city-owned properties, and it developed the Avenida Houston entertainment district by the convention facility.
Heckman will continue to oversee the full operations of the corporation, guiding Houston First through its continuing pandemic response and into its next growth phase. The organization recently has also named a new head of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, which it oversees, as well; Jorge Franz took on that position at the end of June.
“The mark of true leaders is the ability to unite and inspire their teams to work to achieve great things. Over the last year Michael has led Houston First through unprecedented challenges and in turn Houston First’s response plan has been an industry leader,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “He led his team as they turned obstacles into opportunities while charting new and entrepreneurial initiatives. Houston First engineered a relief plan for the hospitality industry, catalyzed the return of Houston’s convention business and kept Houston top of mind by generating hundreds of national stories. Houston First is an extremely important organization to our city and I am confident that Michael is the right person to lead it into the future.”
From M&C's July/August Issue
At the announcement, Heckman said he hopes to articulate a clear vision for the company and empower the leadership team to execute a nimble and responsive strategy. “As we move forward, one of the foundational elements of Houston First’s strategy will be to align the public and private sectors, industry and community around a common goal of positioning Houston as a global powerhouse,” he said.
Prior to assuming this mantle a year ago, Heckman served as COO of strategic initiatives for Houston First, responsible for developing a new strategic direction for the corporation. He has also served as the senior vice president of partnerships and event development, with responsibilities ranging from major events like the Super Bowl to a portfolio of entrepreneurial enterprises. He has been part of the Houston First team for 12 years.