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Senior Leadership Team

President and CEO

Michael Heckman
President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed Michael Heckman to the position of President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Houston First Corporation in August 2020.  

Prior to this role, Heckman served as Chief Operating Officer 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 13 years.  

Heckman has a more than 20-year career with leadership roles spanning destination marketing and hotels, as well as sports and event management. 

Senior Leadership Team

HOLLY CLAPHAM-ROSENOW
Chief Marketing Officer

Biography coming soon!

JORGE FRANZ
Senior Vice President, Tourism and Industry Relations / Tourism

Jorge (George) Franz is Senior Vice President of Tourism and Industry Relations for the Houston First Corporation and President of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is a 20-year veteran at the company.

In his Senior VP role, he oversees the Tourism Department of Houston First which is tasked with international leisure promotion of the City of Houston and for various initiatives designed to help promote Houston to potential visitors like the “Houston Marketplace.” He also oversees the Houston Film Commission which is tasked with attracting film, television productions to Houston. Lastly, he oversees the Services Department for Houston First which is tasked with the management of events for the company.

In his capacity as President of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jorge is tasked with overseeing the operations of the organization and with interaction and value delivery for the 750-members who represent Houston’s hospitality sector. It is the largest organization of hospitality professionals in Houston.
Mr. Franz is very active in the Tourism sector. He currently serves on Expedia’s Media Solutions Select Board, is on the Executive Board of the Texas Travel Alliance and on the board of the Texas Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus. 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, working especially close with Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner to attract visitors to Houston. He is married to Holly and they have a beautiful eight-year old boy named Ethan.

JOHN GONZALEZ
Senior Vice President & General Manager / Convention & Cultural Services

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 25 years of experience in the convention/hospitality industry and oversees a team of 250 focusing on the day-to-day operations of the facilities. He manages an extensive operations budget for convention and cultural facilities and 200 contractual service employees for Audio Visual Services, Facility Services, Electrical & Telecommunication Services, Engineering Services, Food & Beverage, Housekeeping, Operations and Maintenance, and Security. Mr. Gonzalez served 16 years in the U.S. Army Reserve which included multiple tours to Southwest Asia.

He has been key in the success of major events held in Houston including Super Bowl XXXVIII and LI NFL Experience, NCAA Final Four, NBA All-Star events; managing the GRB as a shelter for Hurricane Harvey and Nicholas and as a Warming Center during Winter Storm Uri; the GRB facility redesign in 2016 that added Avenida Houston; and during COVID in 2020, Houston’s theater district was the first in the country to reopen and host in person events.

Mr. Gonzalez is a native Houstonian and very active in the community. He is married and has two children.

LISA HARGROVE
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.

ROKSAN OKAN-VICK, FAIA
Urban Development Officer / Urban Development

Roksan works with various public and private entities in the Houston region to further enhance its quality place for both Houstonians and visitors. This entails leading creative efforts and projects to improve the physical appeal of the Houston region, defining and creating iconic places, and enhancing existing facilities.

Her previous experience includes 11 years as executive director of Houston Parks Board, 2 years as director of the Houston Parks & Recreation Department, and 6 years as the executive director of the Hermann Park Conservancy. Prior to that, she managed numerous architectural projects throughout the US.

A native of Turkey, she owns a master’s degree in architecture from Rice University and a bachelor’s in architecture and urban planning from Istanbul Technical University. She is also a life-time member of the American Institute of Architects, College of Fellows.

JOHN SOLIS
Senior Vice President of Sales & Client Services / Sales

John Solis has over 35 years of experience in the Convention industry. He currently services as the Senior Vice President of Sales and Client Services at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau also known as Visit Houston. His primary role is to lead a team in developing and implementing strategies that maximize annual group sales business opportunities from both Domestic to International conferences/events for the Greater Houston area.

Solis served as second in command at the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau prior to joining Houston. There he oversaw all strategies related to marketing, public relations, tourism, convention sales and services.

While in Houston, John has played a significant role in securing successful bids for: 2017 National Football League Super Bowl, 2023 Men’s Final Four Basketball Championship and the 2024 College Football Playoff Championship.

LUTHER VILLAGOMEZ
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.

KAREN WILLIAMS
Senior Vice President of Finance / Finance & Administration

Biography coming soon!

FRANK F. WILSON
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 and Procurement Departments. Frank also serves as Corporate Treasurer and Investment Officer. He previously, 2018 - 2021, served as President of HFC’s staffing company, Convention and Cultural Services Inc.

During the COVID 19 pandemic, Frank led HFC’s efforts at restructuring its 2020 and 2021 operating budgets. His efforts helped secure over $11 M in federal stimulus funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and American Rescue Plan Act Programs, including three Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans totaling $8.8 million. Additionally, he led his team in restructuring some of the company’s debt stack, loan facilities and tax-exempt bonds totaling more than $156 million. His efforts achieved over $5 M in debt service savings, and importantly, allowed the company’s debt to maintain its bond ratings through the worse period of revenue contraction during the pandemic.

Before moving to Houston, the Oklahoma City native spent 20 years in the Windy City as Finance Director 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 with both Chicago and New York-based firms. He began his career in commercial banking with a large multinational, where he worked closely with the bank’s chief economist.

Frank 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. During 2021, he earned certificates of completion for Destinations International’s Master Class in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business’ Strategic Thinking Program.