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Harvey One Year Later - Lessons Learned

Ross Ramsey

Executive Editor, The Texas Tribune

Ross Ramsey is executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune. Before joining the Tribune, Ross was editor and co-owner of Texas Weekly for 15 years. He did a 28-month stint in government as associate deputy comptroller for policy and director of communications with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Before that, he reported for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as its Austin bureau chief, and worked as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, writing for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ross got his start in journalism in broadcasting, covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.

Art Acevedo

Chief of Police, City of Houston

Art Acevedo was sworn-in as Chief of the Houston Police Department (HPD) on November 30, 2016.

Chief Acevedo leads a department of 5,200 sworn law enforcement officers and 1,200 civilian support personnel with an annual general fund budget of $825 million in the fourth largest city in the United States.

Chief Acevedo believes good communication is vital for a successful community and steadily works to strengthen the bond between the community and its police department. A proponent of community policing, Chief Acevedo refers to the proven practice as “Relational Policing,” an opportunity to forge a relationship with each citizen an officer comes in contact with.

The first Hispanic to lead the HPD, Acevedo brings a unique understanding to the concerns of the diverse communities in the City of Houston. Born in Cuba, he was 4 years old when he migrated to the United States with his family in 1968. Acevedo grew up in California and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from the University of La Verne in California. Acevedo began his law enforcement career in 1986 as field patrol officer in East Los Angeles with the California Highway Patrol. He rose through the ranks and was named Chief of the California Highway Patrol in 2005. Acevedo most recently served nine years as Chief of the Austin Police Department.

Chief Acevedo holds various leadership positions with the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He is married to Tanya Born Acevedo and is the father of Melissa, Matthew and Jake.

Carter Smith

Executive Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife

Carter Smith serves as the executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), a position he has held since January 2008.

A native of central Texas, Smith developed his passion for wildlife and the out of doors at a young age while roaming his family’s farm and ranch land interests in Gonzales, Williamson, and Edwards Counties. He has a wildlife management degree from Texas Tech and a master’s degree in conservation biology from Yale University. He began his professional career in 1992 as a management intern at TPWD, assisting in the Private Lands and Public Hunting programs. As a biologist, he has worked on a variety of research projects ranging from studying moose in the boreal forests of Saskatchewan to mule deer and pronghorn antelope in far west Texas to waterfowl in the Laguna Madre of Texas and Tamaulipas, Mexico.

At Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, he is responsible for overseeing an agency of 3,100 professionals in 11 different divisions, including Wildlife, Law Enforcement, State Parks, Coastal Fisheries, and Inland Fisheries. Smith has been particularly active in the realms of private lands stewardship, coastal issues relating to the state’s involvement with the Deepwater Horizon incident, children in nature initiatives, invasive species issues, expanded outreach to the state’s urban populace, and most recently acquisition of new state park and wildlife management areas and the state’s response to the chronic wasting disease situation in captive cervid facilities.

Carter and his wife, Stacy, and their son, Ryland, reside in Austin.

Billy Hamilton

Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, Texas A&M University System

As Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, Hamilton is responsible for the development, implementation and coordination of The Texas A&M University System Offices operations, plans, goals, programs, policies, and services with special attention to the management of financial operations. He has direct oversight for all A&M System departments, including the vice chancellors, chief business development officer and chief financial officers.


Hurricane Harvey had a profound impact on economies, properties and communities across Texas. One year later, we are still experiencing the effects to our citizens as well as our cultural and natural resources. This panel discussion, will focus on the respective operational challenges, and lessons learned associated with responding to a disaster of this magnitude. They will also look ahead at how to continue to move forward given the significant impact on budgets, operations and decisions for rebuilding impacted areas.

Driving Change, Inspiring Results

Paul Bickford photoPaul Bickford

CEO/President, Transformative Sales Solutions, LLC

Paul is an award-winning global thought-leader in the sales enablement space and graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, Paul has over twenty years of experience in sales, sales management, sales training/coaching and leadership development. Having worked for companies like Comcast and Epicor Software, Paul has trained and coached over 10,000 people around the world and continues to consult with sales leaders and CEO's to transform their teams to create results. He holds a Six Sigma Green Belt and boasts a plethora of sales and training certifications. Paul’s book, "It's Never too Late to Become What You Could Have Been" is being published soon.


You manage tasks, but you lead people! This session will cover how to define goals for performance improvement, how to equip & empower a workforce for success, and how to how to align internal departments & functions. Learn how to motivate, elevate and measure the business, the people and the results!

The Leader's Mindset and the Truth About IT Solutions

Kirsten Cox photoKristen Cox

Executive Director, Governor's Office of Management and Budget, Utah

Kristen Cox is the executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB). The mission of GOMB is to create more value for every tax dollar invested. Under Kris’ leadership, Utah improved government performance by more than 27 percent by January 2017, exceeding the 25 percent goal set by the Governor. The work to improve government is never over, and the focus has now shifted to targeted improvements at specific state agencies. Prior to her time at GOMB, Kris served as the executive director of the Department of Workforce Services (DWS). Kris led the DWS effort to save taxpayers nearly $30 million dollars while simultaneously improving quality for customers. This occurred during a time of significant caseload growth due to the 2008 economic recession. Kris has also worked as the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Disabilities, was appointed to a position with the Department of Education by President George W. Bush and held numerous positions with the National Federation of the Blind. She ran as the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Maryland during the 2006 general election. Kris received her Bachelor of Science in Educational Psychology from Brigham Young University. Kris is an avid reader and loves the outdoors, especially hiking Utah’s mountains and trails. Kris’ greatest outdoor adventures have been skydiving, paragliding, skiing, and hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim. Kris is the coauthor of the book “Stop Decorating the Fish,” a business fable illustrating how leaders often spend significant time and resources on solutions that only give the illusion of progress, but don’t actually solve the root problem. The book is currently available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. All proceeds from the book will go to the National Federation of the Blind. 25 of her books will be given away at the TASSCC Annual Conference!


Breakthrough results are possible for any organization—it simply takes the right mindset and focus. Kris’ presentation will explore the limitless opportunities for success when goals and targets are set high, when there is a belief that hidden capacity exists and when limited time and attention is focused on the right problem to solve. Oftentimes, organizations focus improvement efforts on an IT solution. It is easy to be lured in by the bells and whistles of technology and automation, but do huge investments in IT really add business value? Kris will demonstrate that if a few basic questions can't be answered about a proposed IT solution, the project will likely fail.

Lessons in Leadership - One Astronaut's Journey

Susan Helms photoSusan Helms

Lieutenant General, USAF, Ret. - Retired Astronaut, Flight Test Engineer and Military Officer

Lt Gen (R) Helms was commissioned from the US Air Force Academy in 1980, and upon graduation, she served as an F-15 and F-16 weapons separation engineer and a flight test engineer. Following completion of her Masters of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, she served on the Faculty of the US Air Force Academy in the Department of Aeronautics. She was subsequently selected to attend the USAF Test Pilot School, Flight Test Engineer Course, Edwards AFB, CA, completing the year long school as a Distinguished Graduate. After graduation, she served as project officer on the CF-18 aircraft as a U.S. Air Force Exchange Officer to the Canadian Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment, at Cold Lake AFB, Alberta, Canada. As a flight test engineer, Lt Gen (R) Helms has flown in 30 types of U.S. and Canadian military aircraft.

Selected by NASA in January 1990, Lt Gen (R) Helms became an astronaut in July 1991. On Jan. 13, 1993, then an Air Force major and a member of the space shuttle Endeavour crew, she became the first U.S. military woman in space. She flew on STS-54 (1993), STS-64 (1994), STS-78 (1996) and STS-101 (2000), and served aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a member of the Expedition-2 crew (2001). A veteran of five space flights, Lt Gen (R) Helms has logged 211 days in space, and accomplished a spacewalk of eight hours, 56 minutes, a world record that stands today.

After 12 years at NASA, Lt Gen (R) Helms transferred to Air Force Space Command in 2002. Over the next 12 years, she served in numerous staff positions and commanded the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral AFS, FL. Her staff assignments include tours at Headquarters Air Force Space Command, Air Education and Training Command, and U.S. Strategic Command, where she was the Director of Plans and Policy (J5). Upon promotion to Lieutenant General, she commanded the 14th Air Force (AF Space Command) and the Joint Functional Component Command for Space (US Strategic Command), in a dual-hat position at Vandenberg AFB, CA. As the U.S. Air Force’s operational space component to USSTRATCOM, Lt Gen Helms led more than 20,500 personnel responsible for providing missile warning, space superiority, space situational awareness, satellite operations, space launch and range operations. As Commander, JFCC SPACE, she directed all assigned and attached space forces providing tailored, responsive, local and global space effects in support of national and combatant commander objectives. Lt Gen Helms retired from military service in 2014.

Since retirement, Lt Gen Helms has spent her time on Board work, consulting and speeches. Lt Gen Helms is currently on the Board of Trustees for the Aerospace Corporation, and on the Board of Directors for Concho Resources, Inc. (CXO). She currently serves as a member of the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, and in 2014, was appointed by President Obama to a two year term as a Trustee, Board of Trustees, Woodrow Wilson International Center, a bi-partisan think tank in Washington DC. She has established her own consulting company, Orbital Visions, LLC, in Colorado Springs, CO.

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Susan Helms has spent 211 days in space, including a 163 day stay on the International Space Station as a member of Increment 2 (2001). This presentation relays many of the lessons learned about leadership from the human spaceflight experience.

Get Ready - New Healthcare is Coming

Kirk Kirksey photoKirk Kirksey

Vice President, Information Resources

Kirk A. Kirksey, Vice President for Information Resources, created the Information Resources Department at UT Southwestern Medical Center by merging five existing University computing operations. He currently oversees a budget of $56 million and 350 employees. Mr. Kirksey has been instrumental in the design and implementation of UT Southwestern’s clinical and financial information systems, the design of its data communications infrastructure, and the design and consolidation of the University’s internet functions. Prior to joining UT Southwestern, he held positions with Perot Systems Corporation, the Dallas-based Rubicon Minerals Corporation, and the King Faisal Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Mr. Kirksey, who holds a master's degree from the University of Texas at Arlington, is a nationally recognized expert in information technology and currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Dallas' Alliance for Medical Management Education.


It is no secret.  Healthcare in the United States has serious problems.  In 2018 healthcare costs in the US are predicted to rise 5%.  The CIA Factbook,  ranks the US ranks 57th  globally for Infant Mortality (2016 estimates).  In 2016, a study by Johns Hopkins reports Medical Errors as the third highest cause of death in the US.  But when it comes to healthcare solutions, the federal government seems to be at an eternal impasse.

With or without movement in Washington, U.S. healthcare is evolving.   New business models are emerging as the delivery of healthcare services are changing.  These changes bring a sea change to legacy health care computing technologies and operations.   Non-healthcare IT operations will be affected in unexpected ways.  This session will cover the inevitable move from old business models to ‘risk sharing’, value based healthcare.   We will cover examples of business models and organizational structures.  Finally, computing, connectivity, and interoperability requirements will be discussed.

Top Lessons Learned Researching And Co-Authoring The DevOps Handbook

Gene Kim photoGene Kim

CTO, DevOps Researcher and Author

Gene Kim is a multiple award winning CTO, and DevOps researcher and author. He has been researching high-performing technology organizations since 1999. He was founder and CTO of Tripwire, which commercialized the open source software he wrote in 1992 with Dr. Gene Spafford at Purdue University. He is the co-author of The DevOps Handbook, The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win, as well as The Visible Ops Handbook and The Security Visible Ops Handbook.

Gene’s area of passion is helping companies build super-tribes where Development, IT Operations, Product and Project Management, and Information Security simultaneously maximize throughput of features from “code complete” to “in production,” without causing chaos and disruption to the IT environment. He’s helped some of the largest Internet properties, such as Microsoft, Yahoo!, and AOL. He loves finding and fixing bottlenecks which impede and frustrate the entire organization, enabling management from each tribe to achieve the greater organizational goals.


Holy cow, I learned so much since The Phoenix Project came out in 2013. In this talk, I will share my top learnings while co-authoring The DevOps Handbook with Jez Humble, Patrick Debois, and John Willis. I’ll talk about the latest findings from the State of DevOps Report, the true importance of deployment lead times, how DevOps truly transforms the lives of Dev and Ops and Infosec, what I learned about Conway’s Law, and how DevOps is a subset of dynamic learning organizations, of which Toyota is the most famous. This project was one of the most fun and rewarding adventures of my life, and I want to share some of my biggest a-ha moments!

Legislative Panel Discussion

Ross Ramsey

Executive Editor, The Texas Tribune

Ross Ramsey is executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune. Before joining the Tribune, Ross was editor and co-owner of Texas Weekly for 15 years. He did a 28-month stint in government as associate deputy comptroller for policy and director of communications with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Before that, he reported for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as its Austin bureau chief, and worked as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, writing for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ross got his start in journalism in broadcasting, covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.

Giovanni Capriglione

Texas House of Representatives, District 98

Giovanni has been married to his wife Elisa for 16 years, and has three children attending Carroll ISD schools. After receiving his BS in Physics, he pursued his MBA in Finance from Santa Clara University. After school, Giovanni went on to work for a DFW based venture capital/private equity firm. Giovanni is now the owner and president of his own small business, Texas Adventure Capital LLC, which provides business services to various investment fund managers and business owners. His focus is investing in Texas-based small businesses. Previously, Giovanni held various positions at computer engineering companies specializing in semiconductor design and Internet products, and was senior vice president at an investment firm where he managed the loan and equity portfolios of various American businesses. Giovanni was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2012 and is serving his third term representing District 98 which encompasses all or part of Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Keller, Westlake, North Fort Worth, and Haslet. He currently serves on the following committees: Appropriations, of which he is the chair of the subcommittee for Budget Transparency & Reform, General Investigating and Ethics, vice chair of Government Transparency & Operation, and the Local & Consent Calendars Committee. He is a member of the House Innovation & Technology Caucus, House Veterans Caucus, House Travel & Tourism Caucus, and the interim Public School Finance work group, where he has become a champion for public education, focusing on equitable funding for "Robin Hood" districts.

César J. Blanco

Texas House of Representatives, District 76

Representative César J. Blanco represents District 76 in El Paso. This is his second term as Chairman of the Texas House Border Caucus and his first term as Whip for the Texas House Democratic Caucus. He was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Defense & Veterans' Affairs Committee and also serves on the Land & Resource Management Committee. Rep. Blanco followed a long family tradition of serving his country in the U.S. Navy. After serving in the Navy, Rep. Blanco earned his degree at UTEP with the help of the G.I. Bill. Rep. Blanco is currently the Vice President of the Latino Development Program and is the former Political Director for Latino Victory Project. Rep. Blanco was also the Arizona State Director for President Obama's 2012 Reelection Campaign and has also served as the Chief of Staff for several U.S. Congressman in Washington D.C. Rep. Blanco is a member of the American Legion, and the American G.I. Forum Paso Del Norte Chapter. He serves on the Executive Committee of the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization is a former board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Paso, an honorary board member of the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation in El Paso, and serves on the Executive Committee of the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization. Rep. Blanco advocates for our community's economic security through increased opportunities in workforce development and education. He also supports increasing access to health care and fighting for Veterans rights and benefits.


The 85th Legislature Interim Session covered charges such as cybersecurity, contracting and Hurricane Harvey response and response funding. In addition, the 86th Legislative Session is right around the corner. This discussion will allow attendees to hear from legislative leaders about the examination of these key issues during the Interim, as well as what to expect during the upcoming Legislative Session. 

Ten Proven Keys of Success

Ben Welch photoBen D. Welch

Executive Director of Halliburton Programs; Clinical Professor, Department of Management

Ben D. Welch serves as Executive Director of Halliburton Programs for the Center for Executive Development (CED) and Clinical Professor for the Department of Management in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. Ben also served as Assistant Dean for Executive Education for the CED for many years. The CED is a top quality designer and provider of creative and innovative executive education and management programs.

Ben received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Dayton, his Master of Science in Human Resource Management from Houston Baptist University, and his Ph.D. in Educational Curriculum & Instruction from Texas A&M University.

He joined the Texas A&M University Center for Teaching Excellence in 1988 and served as their Associate Director before assuming his faculty appointment with the Department of Management, which he has held since 1990. He served as the Undergraduate Administrative Coordinator for the Department of Management from 1990-1994. In 1994, he assumed the Directorship of the Mays College of Business Honors & Fellows Programs, which are the top two premier undergraduate programs within the College. He served in this capacity until 1998 when he joined the Division of Student Affairs as the Director of Student Activities for Texas A&M University. In this role he provided leadership to a progressive department that was responsible for over 750 recognized student organizations, the Student Organization Finance Center, Vocal Music, and Student Government. Ben has made hundreds of presentations to groups at Texas A&M University and has represented A&M as Muster Speaker in Baytown, East Tennessee, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Oklahoma City.


Dr. Welch has spent the last thirty plus years interfacing with executives from around the world. He has asked them the number key to their success. In this session, Dr. Welch will share the ten proven keys of success that cost absolutely nothing, but that can transform your organization in very pragmatic ways.

Thank You 2019 Annual Conference Presidential Sponsors