President & Executive Staff

Meet the President

Michael Heckman
President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed Michael Heckman to the position of President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective August 12, 2021. Heckman is charged with overseeing full operations of the corporation and guiding Houston First through its next growth phase.   

Heckman was Chief Operating Officer of Strategic Initiatives where he was responsible for establishing a new strategic direction for the corporation. Prior to that he served as the Senior Vice President of Partnerships and Event Development, most notably developing Comicpalooza, Texas’ Largest Entertainment and Pop Culture event. Heckman was President and CEO of the 23rd World Petroleum Congress and managed relationships with the Final Four Local Organizing Committee and the Super Bowl LI Host Committee. He has been part of the Houston First team for six years and prior to that, spent five years with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

A self-described foodie, Heckman enjoys golf, exercise and traveling with his wife, RoseAnne.  

Meet the Executive Team

Chief Financial Officer

Frank Wilson was promoted to chief financial officer in February 2018, after joining Houston First Corporation in November 2016 as Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration. He is responsible for the Finance, Accounting, Audit, Procurement and Human Resource departments. Wilson also serves as investment officer for the local government corporation that promotes Houston as a world-class destination and manages city-owned real estate.   

Before moving to Houston, the Oklahoma City native spent 20 years in the “Windy City” as chief financial officer for the City of Chicago’s Department of Police. While there, he managed a $1.3 billion budget and led its Finance Division. This division included budgeting & accounting, purchasing, payroll & timekeeping and a small IT group. His extensive experience in finance also includes eight years spent in the investment banking industry. He began his career in commercial banking, where he worked closely with the bank’s chief economist. 

Wilson earned his BA degree in Economics from Morehouse College, and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management with an international management concentration. He previously held Series 7 (general securities representative) and Series 63 (Uniform Securities State Law) licenses. 

General Counsel

Lisa Hargrove has been Houston First’s chief lawyer since 2012. She joined the city’s Convention & Entertainment Facilities Department in 2007 and helped lay the groundwork to establish Houston First.

She began her career at Houston Lighting & Power Co., joining the city’s Legal Department in 1992. She played a key role in high-profile projects such as the Hobby Center, the Downtown Aquarium site and the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel.

She is a graduate of the University of Texas and earned a law degree from South Texas School of Law.

Chief Operating Officer - Convention Center and Houston First Theaters

Luther Villagomez has been associated with the city's convention center since it opened in 1987. He has directed day-to-day operations at the George R. Brown since 1990 and was promoted to COO when Houston First was formed in 2011.

He has been involved in many major events at the GRB, from its construction in the mid-1980s to the completion of a $165 million expansion project that virtually doubled its size in 2003. He oversaw operations of the GRB which served as a shelter in 2005 for many displaced by Hurricane Katrina.