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UNPF Leadership

The University of Houston (UH) and Neighborhood Partnership Forum (UNPF) is an initiative set forth by Dr. Renu Khator, Chancellor/President of the University of Houston System and University of Houston. It was organized during the summer of 2014 and is co-chaired by Rev. William Lawson, pastor emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, and Dr. Elwyn C. Lee, Vice President for Neighborhood & Strategic Initiatives, UH. The other UNPF members are administrators from UH and community representatives drawn from neighborhood churches, schools and non-profit social organizations. Recommendations formed by the UNPF led to the launching of the Third Ward Initiative.

UNPF photo with Vice President Lee, Chancellor Khator and Reverend LawsonPresident Khator charged UNPF with investigating best practices in university and community partnerships. UNPF members researched such collaborations and took several trips across the nation to learn about strategies. Of special note were the trips to Cleveland, Ohio where the group learned about collaborations spearheaded by the Cleveland Foundation, and the trip to Philadelphia where insights were garnered from the Netter Center of the University of Pennsylvania, the acknowledged gold standard in university/community partnerships. 


Alan Bergeron, CEO & President, Bergeron Management Services

Brian Smith, Board Chair, Greater Southeast Management District

Paul Charles, Executive Director, Neighborhood Recovery Community Development Corporation

Donna Blackshear-Reynolds, University Oaks resident

Edwin Harrison, Row House CDC 

Eugene “Gene”  LockePartner, Attorney, Andrews & Kurth, LLP

Cleveland Gite, The Alliance for Reform 

Howard Jefferson, Member, National Board of NAACP 

Keith Watson Wade, Special Assistant to the Mayor

Cheryl Lawson, CEO, WALIPP Academy

Elwyn Lee, Co-Chair, Vice President for Neighborhood & Strategic Initiatives, University of Houston

Leonard Spearman, Director Office of Governmental Relations, Texas Southern University

Michelle Barnes, Executive Director, The Community Artists’ Collective

Omowale Luthuli-Allen, Community Engagement Director, My Brother’s Keeper Houston

Mary Ann Ottinger, Associate Vice President for Research

Patrick Peters, Professor, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, University of Houston

Rev. Manson Johnson, Senior Pastor, Holman Street Baptist Church 

Rev. Preston Allen, Director for Nonprofits and Community Development, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church 

Rev. Robert E. Magee, Senior Pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church 

Rev. William A. Lawson, Co-Chair, Pastor Emeritus, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church

Rodney Reynolds, Texas Southern University College of Business

Assata Richards, Executive Director, Sankofa Research Institute

Susan Rogers, Associate Professor, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture; Director of the Community Design Resource Center, University of Houston

Rev. Leslie Smith, Founder & CEO, Change Happens!

Vonda G. Mays, Projection Management Specialist, Shell Oil Company – Global Litigation

Robert Wimpelberg, Professor, College of Education, University of Houston

Yolanda Smith (alternate with Howard Jefferson), Executive Director, Houston, Branch, NAACP

Talibah Young, Senior Assistant General Counsel, University of Houston