MEET OUR 2020 CANSTRUCTION HOUSTON JUDGES
THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR JUDGES – YOUR PARTICIPATION IS GREATLY APPRECIATED
Brandi Smith is the social media anchor for HTownRush, KHOU 11’s morning newscast. She comes to Houston from a little town called Umpqua, Ore., population 112. (Yes, just 112.) As the saying goes, she wasn’t born here, but she got to Texas as fast as she could. Brandi might be a small-town girl at heart, but she loves life in the big city! When she’s not on air or sleeping (her favorite pastime), you can find her trying local IPAs, exploring new greenspaces and eating all the amazing food Houston has to offer!
Sadie Rucker, president of Horizon International Group, LLC is a native Houstonian – rooted in her
support for the betterment of her hometown. Horizon International Group, is a premier general contractor and job order contractor in the construction industry and is a certified City of Houston Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprise and State of Texas Historically Underutilized Business designation.
Sadie is an undergraduate of Texas Southern University and holds a Master’s Degree in Training and Development from the University of Houston along with an Interior Designer license. She has over fifteen years of experience as a project principal and as a project executive. While at the University of Houston, Sadie met Al Kashani. There they discovered mutual visions for developing growth opportunities for businesses and generating change in the neighborhoods that need it the most. After graduation Sadie served the City of Houston through her work with former Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis. While still working for Senator Ellis, she and Kashani started Horizon International Group in a garage near the Texas Medical Center and Bellaire.
According to Kashani, “Sadie gave the business a boost with her energy, innovative ideas, talent and dedication.”. Horizon fiercely promotes certified businesses throughout all project levels and continually exceeds government set goals on projects. Sadie truly believes in the importance of “giving a chance” and ingrains this philosophy in the employees of Horizon. This effort has led Horizon to receive multiple awards, including the 2015 and 2017 City of Houston Champions of Diversity Construction Certified Contractor of the Year.
Sadie’s commitment to certified businesses is only rivaled by her commitment to education. Without a strong educationally system in place, neighborhoods cannot reach their potential. Horizon has participated in and created mentor/protégé programs, community outreach events and internship studies. Horizon hires local college students as interns and aid in developing job skills needed to succeed. This educational passion has culminated in the purchase of an HISD school that will become a workforce training program in the heart of Third Ward.
Sadie led the team for the first LEED affordable housing in the City of Houston, which is more important than ever in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Horizon’s expertise will be a needed reference as we rebuild together. As a Director with the Greater Southeast Management District, Sadie works to promote, develop, encourage and maintain employment, commerce, transportation, housing, recreation, arts, entertainment, economic development, safety and the public welfare in the Southeast Houston area. She is the past chair of the Public Safety Committee.
Sadie is a member of the Page Turner’s Book Club and enjoys needlepoint, swimming, golfing and biking. She volunteers with her church, St. James Episcopal Church. She is a member of Links Incorporated, Houston Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha and enjoys volunteering for charity walks and toy drives. She is currently President of the Women’s Contractors Association.
Jorge Franz is the Senior Vice President of Tourism for Visit Houston. He has been working for the Houston office since 2001 and in this capacity, is in charge of promoting Houston as a great place to visit. As a part of the realignment with Houston First, his responsibilities include working with travel trade to create to new initiatives that show measurable returns to Houston hospitality partners and new economic impact to Houston. He also oversees the “Visit Houston Marketplace” – an initiative where travelers can buy authentic Houston experiences.
Mr. Franz also oversees a team of professionals that focus on the international promotion of the City of Houston through Sales, Marketing and Public Relations efforts. This includes directing a staff of 11 in Houston along with representation agencies for Mexico, Europe, and Asia. Mr. Franz is very active in the Tourism community. He currently serves on Expedia’s Media Solutions Select Board and most recently served on the 2017 Super Bowl International Host Committee. He is also a Past Chair of the Governor of Texas’ Tourism Advisory Committee. Mr. Franz was born in Santiago, Chile and has lived in Chile, Venezuela, Spain and the United States. He has also represented Houston personally all around the world.
david w. robinson
David W. Robinson is currently serving 2.3 million citizens of the City of Houston in his third term as City Council Member for the At-Large 2 position. David was appointed chair of the Transportation, Technology & Infrastructure (TTI) Committee of the Houston City Council in the spring of 2018. He was named vice chair of the Housing and Community Affairs Committee this year. Since 2014, David has served on the Houston First Corporation Board as chair of the Sales, Marketing and Tourism Committee. He was appointed by Mayor Sylvester Turner to represent Houston Galveston Area Council (HGAC) Transportation Policy Council and currently serves that 8-county regional authority as officer and first vice chair.
Early in his architectural career, David worked on the design of the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan. He later contributed to the master plan for the campus of Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. Since then he has worked on various healthcare projects in the Texas Medical Center (TML), around Texas and beyond. In 1999, he started his own company as a sole practitioner with a broad, diverse portfolio that presents work completed on health care facilities, commercial businesses, individual residential projects and other related commissions. As a small business owner, David maintains a list of projects mostly located in the Houston area and has taught a graduate-level course for Texas Tech University in their Houston Practicum called “Infrastructure in the Urban Environment”, and currently serves on Rice Architecture’s William Ward Watkins Council.
Along with his architectural practice, David has been actively involved with neighborhood issues, serving eight years as an officer of the Neartown (Montrose) Association, including terms as vice president and president. With the nomination of civic club representatives from across Houston, he was elected to serve as chairman and president of the citywide Super Neighborhood Alliance (SNA) to a maximum two-year term that concluded in January 2013. Concurrently and while serving on the board of directors for the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, David was appointed to the City of Houston Planning Commission by Mayor Bill White in 2007 and re-appointed by Mayor Annise Parker in 2009, becoming the first licensed architect to serve that commission since the 1970’s.
David W. Robinson received a BA in Architecture from Yale College in 1988 and earned a Master of Architecture from Rice University in 1993. In 2018 he was inducted to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA). He is the proud father of 20-year-old Elissa, a college sophomore, and is an active member of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church.
Born in Austin, Texas, Vincent Powell is a graduate of Texas Southern University, with a Bachelor of Music (Jazz & Musical Theatre). His unique blend of Gospel and Jazz with a contemporary flavor helps him to perform to the world without crossing over. The Singer/Songwriter/Actor started singing at a young age and received musical guidance from his mother and older brother, George Powell.
Vincent has been a featured performer for over 12 years for Dancin’ in the Street…Motown & More Revue at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston, Texas which attracts over 50,000 people annually. Since 2009, he has served as the Minister of Praise & Worship at Fallbrook Church under the leadership of Pastor Michael Pender where the church membership is 15,000. In 2013, Vincent was a Top 10 Male Finalist for Season 12 of American Idol on Fox. His live national performance of “Cause I Love You” by Lenny Williams garnered national attention from the likes of Lenny Williams, Rolling Stone Magazine, Billboard Magazine, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson, Keith Urban and many more.
Powell participated in the NAACP Act-SO competition (1st place in Austin, TX, and was a finalist at the National Level for two years). Vincent has starred in several musicals around Houston including Porgy & Bess, Cosi Fun Tutti (TSU), Die Fledermaus (TSU), The Wiz (TSU), Hair – Rock Musical (U of H Clearlake), and Smokey Joe’s Café (Wortham). He has performed principal character and extra work for Star Furniture (commercial), Judge Alex Ferrer (Fox), Judge Christina Perez (Fox), and La Berge Casino Resort (commercial).
Vincent has sang background for Whitney Houston (Arista), Kim Burrell (Sony), Regina Belle, Letoya Luckett (Capital), Micah Stampley (EMI) and many more. He has been on various stages and programs with such artists as Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Janet Jackson, Fantasia, Sheryl Crow, Kelly Rowland, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary and many more.
Sean Crowl is the Community Events Manager at the Houston Food Bank where he oversees all third party events such as Canstruction, ABC13 Share Your Holidays and Food From the Bar campaigns.
John S. Gonzalez, CMP is Senior Vice President and General Manager for Houston First venues, which include the George R. Brown Convention Center, Wortham Theater Center, Jesse H. Jones Center for the Performing Arts and Miller Outdoor Theatre. He served as longtime Senior Event Manager and Director of Guest & Event Services with the convention center before being promoted to
Senior Vice President.
Today, he has over 20 years of experience in the convention/hospitality industry and oversees a team of 28 focusing on the day-to-day operations of the facility. He manages a budget of over $50 million and 200 contractual service employees for Food & Beverage, Communications/IT, A/V, Security and Engineering Services. Mr. Gonzalez served 16 years in the U.S. Army Reserve which included multiple tours to Southwest Asia in support of operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom. Mr. Gonzalez is a native Houstonian and very active in the community. He is married and has two children.