Steve Kean has made his first moves as the new president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. Photo courtesy of the GHP

The Greater Houston Partnership announced organizational changes under the tenure of its new president and CEO, Steve Kean.

Kean officially took on his new role earlier this month, after being named the next CEO this summer. The GHP's former president and CEO, Bob Harvey, announced his retirement in January.

In his first acts as CEO, Kean reshuffled his executive suite with a series of promotions.

Katie Pryor has been promoted to executive vice president and COO where she will lead the partnership’s development and revenue activities like long-term fundraising efforts, engagement opportunities, annual membership campaigns, special events and programs, and long-term fundraising efforts, oversee people and culture, finance and accounting, and information systems departments.

Taylor Landin was also promoted, as he was named executive vice president and chief policy officer, where he will continue to lead the team of public policy and advocacy professionals in policy priorities at the federal, state and local levels.

Kean also created the Office of the CEO, which will be composed of both Pryor and Landin, and the organization’s senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer, Clint Pasche.

“I believe this shared leadership model will produce better outcomes on the strategies, opportunities, and issues we’ll address at the partnership,” Kean says in a news release.

GHP is Houston’s “leading business organization,” which has championed growth across a 12-county region by uniting business and civic leaders dedicated to Houston’s long-term success.

“I have always known Houston to be a region focused on creating opportunity, and as I’ve visited with many across our community over the last few months since my appointment, I have seen this opportunity-creation mindset in our region’s corporations and startups, political leadership, educational institutions, economic development partners and so many other organizations,” Kean, who once was the CEO of Kinder Morgan, adds in a news release. “There is strength in the unity of spirit we have here in Houston; and our ability to collaborate and work together is what sets us apart from other cities around the country.”

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Emily Keeton of Loeb.nyc, Steve Kean of GHP, and Lacey Tezino of Passport Journeys. Photos courtesy

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from investing to mental health — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.

Emily Keeton, operating partner and investor of Loeb.nyc

Emily Keeton has worn a lot of hats in Houston's innovation ecosystem and beyond. She shares on the Houston Innovators Podcast how she's engaging with companies these days, what the future holds for Houston, and more. Photo courtesy

Emily Keeton has had a front-row seat as the Houston innovation ecosystem developed — first hands on as a co-founder of Station Houston, and later from outside looking in from New York. As she shared on the Houston Innovators Podcast, she's hopeful about the future of the community.

"I am very optimistic about the future of Houston. It's a long game, and I think people need to keep showing up," she says on the show.

Now based in Houston, her latest endeavor is working with Michael Loeb on Loeb.nyc, a New York-based investment firm with shared services — marketing, design, etc. — with his portfolio. Read more.

Steve Kean, incoming president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership

Steve Kean will transition from leading Kinder Morgan to assuming the role of president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership later this year. Photo courtesy of the GHP

Steve Kean, who currently serves as the CEO of Kinder Morgan Inc., has been announced as the next president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. He's expected to transition from CEO to board of directors member at Kinder Morgan on August 1. Kean will then assume his new position at GHP no later than Dec. 1.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve our region in this role," he says. "I look forward to building on what Bob, the Board, members, and staff of the Partnership have accomplished. I know first-hand the opportunities that a vibrant business sector can create for people and communities. I look forward to expanding those opportunities further.”

The GHP's outgoing president and CEO, Bob Harvey, announced his retirement earlier this year, and will remain in his position until Kean is onboarded. Read more.

A Houston-founded company is targeting mothers and daughters with their teletherapy app. Photo courtesy of Passport Journeys

When Lacey Tezino’s mother died of cancer she vowed to help other mothers and daughters find their own ways to bond in beautiful, nurturing ways. She turned that vow into a mission that is now available for others to embark on with an online therapy app tailored specifically for the mother-daughter dynamic Passport Journeys.

The app, which launched aptly on Mother's Day, can be downloaded via Apple or Google Play, and includes video therapy sessions, journal opportunities, interactive worksheets, and help those who need access to this form of mental health help with ease.

“Outside of our target audience being mother-daughter, we are also the first teletherapy app to find prescribed activities,“ Tezino tells InnovationMap. “We are the first ones that are actually having the therapist in between their video sessions assign the mother-daughter pair intentional bonding activities. It is meant for them to spend quality time on where they are at in their relationship…there aren’t any other apps that are doing that.” Read more.

Steve Kean will transition from leading Kinder Morgan to assuming the role of president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership later this year. Photo courtesy of the GHP

GHP names energy exec as new president and CEO

taking the lead

A longtime energy executive has been named the next president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. He'll take on the new role this fall.

The GHP named Steve Kean, who currently serves as the CEO of Kinder Morgan Inc., to the position. He's expected to transition from CEO to board of directors member at Kinder Morgan on August 1. Kean will then assume his new position at GHP no later than Dec. 1.

Dr. Marc L. Boom, GHP board chair and president and CEO of Houston Methodist, made the announcement at a press conference June 21.

“Steve brings incredible business acumen and leadership skills to the organization," Boom says in a statement. "Coupled with an extraordinary passion for Houston, he will build on the Partnership’s momentum to continue to advance greater Houston as a region of extraordinary growth and opportunity.”

The GHP's outgoing president and CEO, Bob Harvey, announced his retirement earlier this year, and will remain in his position until Kean is onboarded. Kean was selected via a search committee established by 2022 board chair, Thad Hill. The committee was chaired by Marc Watts and included Boom, Thad Hill, Paul Hobby, Gina Luna, Eric Mullins, Armando Perez, and Ruth Simmons. The process, which looked at over 70 highly-qualified Houston leaders, also included the services of Spencer Stuart to manage the search.

“This last decade has been a dynamic time for Houston and the Partnership," Harvey says in a statement. "As a life-long Houstonian, it has been an honor to focus my efforts on supporting Houston’s continued growth and working with the business community to create opportunities for all Houstonians. This is an exciting time for Houston. I am very pleased that Steve is enthusiastic about leading the Partnership, and I look forward to the organization’s continued success under his leadership.”

With decades in the energy industry, Kean joined Kinder Morgan in 2002 and has served as COO, president of Natural Gas Pipelines, and president of Kinder Morgan Inc. before rising to CEO. He received a bachelor's degree from Iowa State University and his law degree from the University of Iowa.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve our region in this role," he says. "I look forward to building on what Bob, the Board, members, and staff of the Partnership have accomplished. I know first-hand the opportunities that a vibrant business sector can create for people and communities. I look forward to expanding those opportunities further.”

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Houston chemist lands $2M NIH grant for cancer treatment research

future of cellular health

A Rice University chemist has landed a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Health for his work that aims to reprogram the genetic code and explore the role certain cells play in causing diseases like cancer and neurological disorders.

The funds were awarded to Han Xiao, the Norman Hackerman-Welch Young Investigator, associate professor of chemistry, from the NIH's Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program, which supports medically focused laboratories.

Xiao will use the five-year grant to develop noncanonical amino acids (ncAAs) with diverse properties to help build proteins, according to a statement from Rice. He and his team will then use the ncAAs to explore the vivo sensors for enzymes involved in posttranslational modifications (PTMs), which play a role in the development of cancers and neurological disorders. Additionally, the team will look to develop a way to detect these enzymes in living organisms in real-time rather than in a lab.

“This innovative approach could revolutionize how we understand and control cellular functions,” Xiao said in the statement.

According to Rice, these developments could have major implications for the way diseases are treated, specifically for epigenetic inhibitors that are used to treat cancer.

Xiao helped lead the charge to launch Rice's new Synthesis X Center this spring. The center, which was born out of informal meetings between Xio's lab and others from the Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Baylor College of Medicine, aims to improve cancer outcomes by turning fundamental research into clinical applications.

They will build upon annual retreats, in which investigators can share unpublished findings, and also plan to host a national conference, the first slated for this fall titled "Synthetic Innovations Towards a Cure for Cancer.”

Houston neighbor ranks as one of America's most livable small cities

mo city

Some Houston suburbs stick out from the rest thanks to their affluent residents, and now Missouri City is getting time in the spotlight, thanks to its new ranking as the No. 77 most livable small city in the country.

The tiny but mighty Houston neighbor, located less than 20 miles southwest of Houston, was among six Texas cities that earned a top-100 ranking in SmartAsset's 2024 " Most Livable Small Cities" report. It compared 281 U.S. cities with populations between 65,000 and 100,000 residents across eight metrics, such as a resident's housing costs as a percentage of household income, the city's average commute times, and the proportions of entertainment, food service, and healthcare establishments.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Missouri City has an estimated population of over 76,000 residents, whose median household income comes out to $97,211. SmartAsset calculated that a Missouri City household's annual housing costs only take up 19.4 percent of that household's income. Additionally, the study found only six percent of the town's population live below the poverty level.

Here's how Missouri City performed in two other metrics in the study:

  • 1.4 percent – The proportion of arts, entertainment, and recreation businesses as a percentage of all businesses
  • 29.9 minutes – Worker's average commute time

But income and housing aren't the only things that make Missouri City one of the most livable small cities in Texas. Residents benefit from its proximity from central Houston, but the town mainly prides itself on its spacious park system, playgrounds, and other recreational activities.

Missouri City, Texas

Missouri City residents have plenty of parkland to enjoy. www.missouricitytx.gov

The Missouri City Parks and Recreation Departmen meticulously maintains 21 parks spanning just over 515 acres of land, an additional 500 acres of undeveloped parkland, and 14.4 miles of trails throughout the town, according to the city's website."Small cities may offer cost benefits for residents looking to stretch their income while enjoying a comfortable – and more spacious – lifestyle," the report's author wrote. "While livability is a subjective concept that may take on different definitions for different people, some elements of a community can come close to being universally beneficial."

Missouri City is also home to Fort Bend Town Square, a massive mixed-use development at the intersection of TX 6 and the Fort Bend Parkway. It offers apartments, shopping, and restaurants, including a rumored location of Trill Burgers.

Other Houston-area cities that earned a spot in the report include

Spring (No. 227) and Baytown (No. 254).The five remaining Texas cities that were among the top 100 most livable small cities in the U.S. include Flower Mound (No. 29), Leander (No. 60), Mansfield (No. 69), Pflugerville (No. 78), and Cedar Park (No. 85).

The top 10 most livable small cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Troy, Michigan
  • No. 2 – Rochester Hills, Michigan
  • No. 3 – Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  • No. 4 – Franklin, Tennessee
  • No. 5 – Redmond, Washington
  • No. 6 – Appleton, Wisconsin
  • No. 7 – Apex, North Carolina
  • No. 8 – Plymouth, Minnesota
  • No. 9 – Livonia, Michigan
  • No. 10 – Oshkosh, Wisconsin

The report examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2022 1-year American Community Survey and the 2021 County Business Patterns Survey to determine its rankings.The report and its methodology can be found on

smartasset.com

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.