29Apr, 2020

Former Chamber President Passes

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The Greater Heights Area Chamber of commerce board of directors and staff mourn the passing
of former president David Santana. David was elected as GHACC President and took office on
March 17, 2008. When the announcement was made in the Chamber newsletter, LINKED, he said: “I look forward to working with the Chamber’s Board of Directors, our committees, our members and building relationships with other key Houston constituents as well. I encourage your phone calls or emails regarding our Chamber and will welcome the opportunity to get acquainted. If you want to talk about fishing or golf that’s fine with me too!”

During his Chamber tenure, he was truly an “advocate for the Heights.” Working to helping
members during the economic recession in 2008, and facilitating recovery efforts during and
following Hurricane Ike. As president, David added Jacob Millwee to his staff as Director of
Member Services, a hire that would ultimately lead to his serving the Chamber for 11-years, five
of those as president.

Resigning as president in 2009 to enter the family business, David embarked on a path that
would find him working at family businesses and later assuming teaching positions at Garden
Oaks Elementary Montessori School and Waltrip High School. Working in conjunction with a
Chamber member, they established the Eugene Field Elementary School’s Mentoring Program.
During his teaching position with Waltrip, he assisted with beginning the school’s first
Montessori curriculum. He was a valued member of both faculties, and his personalized teaching
methods, demeanor and knowledge endeared him to many of his students and their parents as

David was a native Houstonian and a graduate of Sharpstown High School. He earned his
Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of St. Thomas and received his Masters of Education in Secondary Education also from St. Thomas. Prior to joining the Chamber, he held numerous executive positions with non-profit organizations and a Chamber in Florida.

On behalf of the Chamber, we extend our sincere condolences to David’s family. He will be missed by those of us who worked with him and treasured his friendship.

16Mar, 2020

Coronavirus Update

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Dear Chamber Members.
With the uncertainty surrounding the on-going impact of the Coronavirus, your Chamber has been compelled to make decisions regarding pending and upcoming events, activities and administrative operations.
The result of our decision, a decision shared with our fellow Chambers, is that for the next 4-weeks, all events will be cancelled. This decision will be revisited following the 4-week time-frame to determine when operations may resume normally.
While we regret having to make this decision, it is in the best interests of our members, staff and prospective members. These are trying times; however, Houston has endured previous dreadful conditions such as Hurricane Harvey.
On behalf of the Chamber Board of Directors and staff we trust that you and your families will be safe.
Louie Gill
10Mar, 2020

GHACC Annual Crawfish Festival

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The Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Crawfish Festival in the Heights was held on March 7th at 411 West 20th street. Cooler than expected weather greeted festival attendees, but the crawfish, corn and potatoes were in abundance. Mudbug eaters along with those that favored hot dogs and sausage on a stick enjoyed the food washed down, in some cases, with a wide variety of cold beers, sodas or water. Plenty of entertainment took place highlighted by the Zydeco Dots, a local band that played Cajun-style tunes that prompted spontaneous dancing in front of the Eureka Heights stage.

Additional entertainment was provided throughout the day by students representing local area schools and featured Helms Cheer and Drum group, Kathryn Smith Cheerleaders and Choir, Garden Oaks Montessori Singers and Cheerleaders, Sinclair Folklorica and Cheerleaders, and KIPP Nexus Cheerleaders and Dancers. Not to be overlooked were the Chamber members and others that manned vendor booths demonstrating or selling a diversity of products and services that ranged from: jewelry, art pieces, fitness and sports, children’s clothing, financial services, HEB, and cleaning and pest control.

Louie Gill, President of the Chamber reflected on the event and said: “Our festival has a rich heritage of bringing together the Heights community for a day filled with food, festivities and entertainment. Performances by our area school students showcased the talent enriched by outstanding faculty leadership. We are extremely grateful to our many sponsors, volunteers, staff, vendors and others that helped stage this year’s festival.”

Photos illustrating the event can be seen on the Chamber website homepage, on the top heading “Calendar & Events” and then by scrolling down to “Event Photos” and on

24Feb, 2020

Chamber Accepting Applications for 2020 Scholarship Program-Deadline is March 15th

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The Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce is currently accepting applications for the 2020 Scholarship Program for deserving high school students in the area.

Each year, the Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce awards scholarships to  outstanding high school seniors  in the area.  Those students are honored at a luncheon to be held in May.  Since the inception of the program, the Chamber has awarded over $350,000 in scholarships to area students.  Those scholarships are made possible through generous donations by our members.  We are pleased to continue that tradition this year and are currently taking applications for the 2020 scholarship program.  Deadline to apply is March 15, 2020.  To apply, please read and complete the 2020 scholarship application 


20Feb, 2020

Don’t Forget to Purchase Your Crawfish Bucks Before the March 1st Deadline!

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The Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its annual Crawfish Festival in the Heights for March 7, 2020. The festival will be held at 411 West 20th Street, across from Heights Hospital and the hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. This family fun event is one of the Chamber’s primary fund-raising projects and offers plenty of food, entertainment, festivities, and of course, crawfish. The events of the day include entertainment by local students; live Zydeco music by the Zydeco Dots, an award-winning group that not only plays Zydeco music, but R&R, R&B, C&W and other varieties of music. Display tables in the shopper’s paradise which contain products, services and much more plus a kid’s attractions area that will be available at no cost.

A crawfish plate costs $20 in crawfish bucks in advance or $20 at the door and includes crawfish, potatoes and corn. Purchase $100 in crawfish bucks on a single purchase and get 20 free crawfish bucks. Crawfish bucks can be purchased online, and crawfish bucks will be available from students at area schools with the Chamber in turn making a donation to the school.

For the non-mudbug eaters, there will be sausage-on-a-stick with plenty of beer and water available. Display tables are available in a shopper’s paradise that will allow companies to show off their merchandise, promote products, offer specials and build recognition at the event which is anticipated to attract more than 7,000 visitors. To reserve a display table, contact Donna Torres or MaryBeth Wegner at

“Everyone is invited to share in the fun,” said President Louie Gill. “This is a wonderful opportunity to reward customers, employees and their families.” The public is invited and entrance to the event is free. Find out more information on Facebook or on the Chamber website at


Current sponsors include: Houston Highway Credit Union, Members Trust of the Southwest Federal Credit Union, Memorial Hermann Greater Heights, PrimeWay Federal Credit Union, Harris County Constable Precinct One, Central Bank, The Heights Hospital, Budweiser and SignatureCare Emergency Center. There are expanded benefits within the various sponsorship levels and Crawfish Festival sponsorship information is available from Dee Farino at


20Feb, 2020

February Education Meeting Recap

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Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce

Education Committee Meeting

February 19, 2020 at Baptist Temple

Today our meeting was filled with lots of success stories as our businesses and schools are partnering up and fulfilling the needs of students and their families.

Tiffany Mensing with Space and Serenity helped to provide for family in need from Northside High School. EEPB, an accounting firm, held an internal food drive in order to help supply the Food Pantry at Northside High School, Great job!

Huntington Learning Center partnered with Heights High School for college needs and they have an upcoming Boot Camp for preparing for the ACT and SAT.

Carlos Larios with Ascending to Men, a mentoring program for males from K-12, has a mentor program March 5, 2020 from 10-1 pm at Booker T. Washington.  Want to help sponsor the breakfast or become involved, come!

HCC, Northeast Campus is having a great Automotive Career/Job Fair on March 25 from 10-1pm!

Clifton Middle School is having career fair coming and speakers are wanted.  Resources for immigration and deportation issues are needed.

Waltrip High School is having a bake sale on voting day, March 3 and the money raised will help purchase translation devices and this will help the school be more accessible to parents.  Need bakers and volunteers!  The JROTC has a Military Ball on March 28 and gently used dresses, formal or prom, please talk with Doris Aguilar at Waltrip.

CTE Showcase and Competition Day is Sat. Feb. 29th; come and explore what is going on. Kathleen Goerner of Pinspiration has great ideas and has the ability to partner with many schools as well as businesses for fun as her motto says, “Where community meets creativity.”

Willie Diefenbach-Jones with SendOutCards has great creative ways to build a business, extra money or for your agency or school fundraisers.  You cannot go wrong with Thank You cards and personalize your service.

 April Petronella with Petro-Fox Education has a super article about the schools coming out in the Leader Newspaper and this will be a monthly column titled “Campus Corner.” So, get your information to her,

Houston Highway Credit Union has great ways to help build character and values through financial education; Money Mammals, Money Bright and Biz Kids.  It is a free service that can be built in your school, agency or business!  HHCU also has adult financial literacy workshops, again free!  Check it out.

The chamber reminders include Crawfish Festival on March 7; come out and see great vendors, schools perform as well as Zydeco Dots.  Education Luncheon is May 19; the theme is “Explore.”  Scholarship Applications are accepted through March 15, 2020; get them in asap!  Teacher of the Year and New Teacher of the Year 2020 winners from each school are needed so we can honor and recognize them at the luncheon.  Please send that information to me asap at Thank you.

Come out and support education; we meet the third Wednesday of the month at 10:30 at Baptist Temple.  See you March 18, 2020.

Thank you,

Cindy Reibenstein, Education Committee Chair

17Jan, 2020

Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce Education Meeting January 15, 2020

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Wednesday, we had a full meeting with returning businesses and schools along with new businesses and schools. It is exciting to see our committee continue to grow and build partnerships.

April Petronella is working with The Leader to gain more exposure for our committee and the school needs and she is going to work with Chamber Intern, Kayler Walker, to locate grants to help fund some scholarships for our students.

All Saints Early Childhood Catholic Center partnered with Booker T. Washington Day Care providing toddler supplies.

Waltrip High School needs businesses to come and speak to classes (pick a class and time) about careers as well as they have volunteer needs (leading to potential job next year) in working with the Special Education Classes. A Vision Board workshop on Jan. 23 is open for the community with light dinner and the Spring Tours for the Middle Schools is beginning.

Space and Serenity, Tiffany Mensing, is building a format for schools to express their needs (clothes, prom dresses, decorations, etc.) so she can connect other organizers as they work with the different client’s items.

Roberto Zamora, HISD Wrap Around Specialist Manager for the North area, has needs for his eleven schools: shoes, uniforms and family resources.

Kathryn van der Pol of Liberty Hoepfl Garage, is opening a charter school, Heritage Classic Academy, beginning in 2021; it will focus on character building and citizenship through the study of classic materials; it will be located in the northwest area beginning with Kindergarten and going eventually to the 12th grade.

Houston Community College NE is having their Spring Registration Fest.

Huntington Learning Center-Heights is hosting a College GPS event at Heights High School on Feb. 1; all middle school and high school students and parents are welcome.

Helms Elementary is having their Western Dance for the Pre-K students on Feb. 28 from 4 pm-7; volunteers are needed.

Willie Diefenbach-Jones with SendOutCards is looking for parent groups and school organizations that wish to make a little extra money; great way to help send a student to camp or athletic needs.

Garden Oaks Montessori has their Externship Program for the 8th graders in March and needs business to partner with them for a student to shadow them for a day up to the whole week. The GOM UnGala is Feb. 25 and donations are needed to help with the event: Wine Pull, silent auction items and sponsors overall.

Katherine Smith Elementary needs new or used softball equipment as they are forming a team. Please donate.

Ryan Shumberg with Spark Soccer, an indoor soccer company, and new Chamber member, would like to partner with pre-schools and schools to help with soccer skills and teams.

Black Middle School is seeking donations for their silent auction/gala coming up in March; the theme is the Roaring 20’s.

Houston Highway Credit Union can host a financial reality event for your school and/or PTO (retirement planning, or budgeting).

The Chamber is giving back to the schools and non-profits through the pre-sale ticket program for the Crawfish Festival. If your group is interested, please contact me. You get $10 for each ticket sold. Great way to raise money to send a student off to Washington D.C. camp, soccer classes, or school supplies or organization needs.

As you can see there are many opportunities for your business to partner with a specific school need or make a longer partnership overall. You can grow your network through school venues and parents. If you need contact information for anyone above you can email me at and/or come to our next meeting on Feb. 19 at 10:30, Baptist Temple, Heritage Room.

15Jan, 2020

Louie Gill Becomes Chamber President

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The Chamber Board of Directors and members have welcomed Louie Gill as the new president of the Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce.

Gill brings extensive business and military credentials as he assumes the leadership of the more than 550-member Chamber. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Louie holds a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and a master’s degree from Saint Leo University in Florida. Prior to joining the Chamber, Gill was CEO, CFO and executive director of the Southeastern Georgia Habitat for Humanity. In addition, he was CEO/Director of Finance and Operations for Community Federal Credit Union.

Adding to his business experience is his additional military expertise as a veteran of the U.S. Army. His military titles included serving as Battalion Operations Sergeant Major/Chief Operations Officer in Phoenix, AZ and as Brigade Operations Sergeant Major/Director of Operations at Fort Knox, KY.

“I am deeply honored to be asked to lead the chamber.” “We have a strong base of dedicated members, successful events and strong ties to both the community and our local elected officials.” Gill’s hire came about two months after the chamber named a new chairperson for its board of directors. Teresa Briggs of Houston Highway Credit Union succeeded Dee Farino in October.

“I am excited about the future of the chamber with Louie at the helm,” Briggs said in a statement. “His previous civilian and military leadership positions will ensure the chamber’s continued growth and success, and help us stay focused on creating new and dynamic ways to provide value to our members and the Greater Heights area community.”

20Dec, 2019

Education Committee Values Contributors, Cites Needs and Seeks Additional Partnerships

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Great Partnerships are being forged through the Education Committee; Tiffany Mensing with Space and Serenity gathered the Christmas and holiday supplies to help make Heights High School Winter Holiday Festival spirited. In the past, Hermann and Sons donated uniforms to Waltrip Ladies Soccer and this one act has led to increased interest as well as dreaming of going further with their education. HEB Heights has great opportunities to build community service hours by being Super Bowl Caring ambassadors. Texas Charity Partners, a new chamber member, is looking to give away supplies for teachers (yea! No money out of your pocket). Katherine Smith has been the recipient of Imperial Guard Alumnae, a non-profit Chamber member, organized food bags for each child, coats and clothes for the children and toys from Houston Highway Credit Union. Waltrip High School and Booker T. Washington High School and Day Care program also were recipients of clothing donations from the Imperial Guard Alumnae and from the organizing by Space and Serenity. The Chamber Community Fund also contributed to the area children needs. Willie Diefenbach-Jones with Send Out Cards is working with the teachers and parents in the community, so they enhance their abilities to provide for the children as well as with area business to obtain scholarships for the graduating seniors.

So how can you participate in building partnerships with the schools? Contribute to the development of mentorship with the young men and women at Black Middle School, help raise the funds for a Spark Park dedicated to the younger children and community around Katherine Smith. Marshall Middle School needs clothes for their kids along with volunteers to help with the community closet. Reach out! Become involved; the Education Committee can be the venue for networking. Upcoming partnerships continue to build as Waltrip High School and Katherine Smith Elementary will be hosting a financial workshop by Houston Highway Credit Union; Garden Oaks Montessori is already participating. Come to our next meeting, January 15, 2020 at 10:30 in the Heritage Room at Baptist Temple, located at 230 West 20th Street.

2Dec, 2019

Chamber Annual “Economic Forecast” Luncheon on January 30

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One of the most highly anticipated Chamber events takes place on January 30 and that is the Economic Forecast Luncheon. The presentation features Dr. Bill Gilmer, Director of Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston’s Bauer Commerce. Dr. Gilmer’s forecast and projections provide a guide for planning and business operations in 2020.

His analyses factor in the Global and National economic outlooks and how the implications of those will impact the regional and Houston economies. Dr. Gilmer’s insights have been enjoyed and applied to business strategies by Chamber members for many years. Today’s local economic climate continues to be affected by energy companies, oil prices and employment trends. He will address the implications within the region of the ramping down on new and expanded chemical plant investments that have been completed along the Houston Ship Channel. Those completions will have a direct bearing on employment.

Citing national economic trends, Dr. Gilmer recently said in the Houston Chronicle: “The U.S. economy is still strong, which is helping the local economy continue to expand. However, with the global outlook souring amid trade tensions, growth is likely to moderate in the coming years as the U.S.- China trade war continues to takes its toll on business investments at the same time as a slowing global economy. “

It appears that many forces are at work that will impact the region and Houston’s economic outlook for 2020. Make your plans to hear Dr. Gilmer address these significant developments at the Chamber’s annual Economic Forecast Luncheon.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, click here.