Press Releases

Michael Heckman Named Acting President & Chief Executive Officer

Houston • Aug. 6, 2020

HOUSTON (8-5-2020) – The Houston First Corporation announced today that Mayor Sylvester Turner has appointed Michael Heckman to the position of Acting President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective August 6, 2020. The Acting President & CEO will serve in this role until a permanent replacement is named.  Mr. Heckman will oversee full operations of the corporation and will guide Houston First through its next growth phase.   

Mr. Heckman was recently appointed Chief Operating Officer of Strategic Initiatives, charged with developing 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 and serving as the President and CEO of the 23rd World Petroleum Congress. He has been a part of the Houston First Corporation for six years and prior to that, spent five years with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

“Michael has the experience and ability to lead Houston First as we conduct a national search for a permanent president and chief executive officer. During his leadership, I want Houston First to continue moving forward and start reimagining itself to promote Houston throughout the world. We cannot wait until the pandemic is over. I know Michael will serve well in the interim position,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

"It’s an honor and a privilege to lead the team at Houston First.  We are a unique organization with an awesome responsibility to market and brand Houston.  As we all know, the tourism and meetings industries are facing historic challenges as a result of the pandemic. Fortunately we have the best of the best selling and marketing Houston in all areas. My associates and the Board are keenly focused on reimagining our business operations.  The team will focus on developing new, innovative strategies that drive growth and stability while continuing to support our hospitality stakeholders,” said Michael Heckman. 

"Houston First has been successful in promoting Houston as the premier destination for meetings, conventions as well as domestic and international leisure travel. Prior to the pandemic we were on our way to achieving another record year," said David Mincberg, Houston First board chair. "I am confident that with Michael’s leadership we will be an even stronger, more resilient and more entrepreneurial company during this recovery period." 

Mr. Heckman is assuming the position after Brenda Bazan announced her retirement in July. She had been with Houston First since its inception and worked for the city since 1993.