Barbara Thomason, longtime Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce president, leaves lasting legacy

Barbara Thomason smiles with James Parker, owner of Shredding on the Go, at CreekFest Houston.

Barbara Thomason smiles with James Parker, owner of Shredding on the Go, at CreekFest Houston.

Image description
Barbara Thomason
Image description
Barbara Thomason
After serving as the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce president for 14 years, Barbara Thomason is stepping down from her role May 31.

Since 2005, Thomason has provided leadership to the chamber while working to improve the economic health of the Spring and Klein communities through a variety of chamber initiatives, including Grow Northwest, a strategic effort to improve the community and its workforce.

Thomason announced in November she is stepping down from her role to focus on her private business, LeaderShift, a training, consulting and leadership firm. The chamber named current Vice President Bobby Lieb as the new president, effective June 1.

“I love this community and everybody in it,” Thomason said. “My hope for this chamber and this community is that it thrives.”

Despite her passion for the role, Thomason said she did not immediately jump at the opportunity to become chamber president when it was presented to her in 2005.

“I got a call from one of the board members who said that this position was vacant and that I needed to apply for it,” she said. “I believe my response was, ‘Well, why would I want to do that?’”

After much deliberation, Thomason said she applied and was offered the position, which she accepted—a choice she said she rarely regretted. She said her previous roles, which included serving as a dean at Lone Star College-North Harris and a franchise owner at Gymboree, gave her the leadership skills and experience needed to be HNWCC president.

Chamber accomplishments


Under her leadership, the chamber achieved multiple notable projects, including strengthening its public policy positioning and beautifying the Spring and Klein area.

For example, HNWCC lobbied for bills related to flood disaster recovery and prevention at the 86th Texas Legislature, which runs Jan. 8-May 27, and has sent chamber representatives to the state Capitol to testify.

“That was unheard of 14, 15 years ago,” Thomason said. “The public policy engagement is a whole new area that I think is tremendously important to the chamber, particularly in this community that has such little governance.”

The chamber has also made aesthetic improvements to the community, such as helping construct green medians in 2010—spearheaded by interior designer Barbara Schlattman—and installing monument signs in the Cypress Creek Cultural District.

“The impact of those projects is not calculable. All we have is anecdotal evidence,” Thomason said. “For example, once the green medians were installed, you saw businesses up and down the Cypress Creek corridor [FM 1960] begin to invest in their facade and to put money in their businesses, and that is economic development at its finest.”

Leaving a legacy


During her time on the chamber, Thomason developed close relationships with community members and stayed active in the community.

Lieb said many chamber projects were a result of his collaboration and teamwork with Thomason. Thomason would hand off ideas or projects to him, such as branding the bus stations along FM 1960, and Lieb would move the project ahead, he said.

When Hurricane Harvey hit in August 2017, Clara Lewis, The Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts’ director of development, said Thomason helped clear debris from properties in the Cypress Creek Cultural District, including the museum and The Centrum, which sustained severe flood damage.

“She’s worked to build businesses and has been very supportive of all the nonprofits and all the community improvement projects,” Lewis said. “She’s been a strong force for good; she’s a strong leader, and she will be missed. She’s made a very profound impact for good.”
By Eva Vigh
Eva Vigh joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 as a reporter for Spring and Klein. Prior to this position, she covered upstream oil and gas news for a drilling contractors' association.


MOST RECENT

Since 2005, the venue had served as a local dance hall featuring live country music, having hosted musicians including Josh Abbott Band, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Kyle Park, Turnpike Troubadours and Easton Corbin, among others. (Courtesy Big Texas Spring)
Following second round of statewide bar closures, Big Texas Spring announces permanent closure

The statement reads: "With the Governor recently announcing that bars are again closed, we now know that it will not be possible to operate again."

The First Street Foundation's dataset includes a forecast models that anticipate the effects of climate change and sea level rise. (Screenshot via First Street Foundation)
Analysis: FEMA may be undercounting national total flood risk by as much as 70%

The new dataset includes an interactive Flood Factor dashboard that anyone can use to assess the risk of flooding over a 30-year period for any address.

The city of Houston reported the 14-day moving average for testing positivity was at 24.8% as of June 28, up from 15.4% on June 1. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 1,249 cases, three deaths confirmed July 2

The city of Houston reported the 14-day moving average for testing positivity was at 24.8% as of June 28, up from 15.4% on June 1.

On June 23, the TEA released guidance giving school districts two options to deliver instruction remotely alongside on-campus learning to receive state funding. Those options include synchronous, or real-time, and asynchronous, or self-paced, remote learning. (Graphic by Matt Mills/Community Impact Newspaper)
School districts prepare for unknown in the fall amid ongoing pandemic

After school districts across the Greater Houston area closed in mid-March and quickly shifted to remote learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, district officials are now faced with crafting budgets and calendars for the upcoming school year that can accommodate the unknown.

Houston fireworks display
Here’s how to celebrate Fourth of July across the Greater Houston area

Several Houston-area cities are still planning fireworks shows with drive-in or virtual components this Fourth of July.

Gov. Abbott ordered bars across the state to close their doors for a second time on June 26 due to a spike in COVID-19 cases across Texas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Abbott’s second round of bar closures a “gut punch” for Spring, Klein bar owners

Gov. Abbott ordered bars across the state to close their doors for a second time on June 26 due to a spike in COVID-19 cases across Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott: Texans must wear masks in public starting July 3

"COVID-19 is not going away," Gov. Abbott said. "In fact, it is getting worse."

The Kemah Boardwalk will be open Fourth of July weekend. (Courtesy Kemah Boardwalk)
3 Houston-area amusement properties will be open Fourth of July weekend

The Kemah Boardwalk, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier and Downtown Aquarium Houston are offering a joint weekend adventure pass for $29.99.

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments. (Source: Matt Frankel/Community Impact Newspaper)
'Refinancing isn't free:' How to navigate refinancing a mortgage

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments.

The Old Town Spring boutique specializes in women's jewelry, fashion accessories, gifts and home decor. (Courtesy Golden Gypsies)
Golden Gypsies to relocate boutique within Old Town Spring

Spring-based boutique Golden Gypsies will be relocating within Old Town Spring early next month and plans to reopen on July 11.

Episcopal Health Foundation
Survey: Texans support emphasis on improving economy, safety, pollution to address overall health

“COVID-19 is clearly showing what Texans already know: the state needs to address underlying, non-medical conditions that have a dramatic impact on their health,” Episcopal Health Foundation President and CEO Elena Marks said.

Amid climbing positive COVID-19 cases across the Greater Houston area, Cypress Creek Hospital announced July 1 it would be extending behavioral health services available through its Honor Strong Program to front-line health care workers. (Courtesy Cypress Creek Hospital)
Cypress Creek Hospital extends Honor Strong Program services to front-line health care workers

Features unique to the Honor Strong Program—now available to front-line health care workers—include access to clinicians who are certified first responder counselors, a dedicated first responders unit and staff, a dedicated first responder liaison available 24/7, and an expedited assessment and admissions process conducted on the unit for increased confidentiality, among others.