West Houston Leadership Institute (WHLI) was formed in 2004 when then Board Member, Chuck Wolf, of the Houston West Chamber of Commerce’s Board Development Committee saw specific leadership gaps in the organization. It was his charge to attract corporate and community leadership to join the Board of the Chamber. Further, he was charged with succession planning for the Chamber’s future leadership. Chuck had been a graduate of other leadership programs, including the Center for Houston’s Future, and realized that most corporate and community leaders invest in leadership training – with this thought in mind,
Chuck, pulled together a small group of West Houston leaders to strategize how to attract other West Houston leaders to join the Chamber’s Board. What came out of discussions was the development and implementation of leadership program in West Houston about West Houston. Chuck got the first class in 2004 kicked off but then set off on another venture. This left a huge void that Freddy Hurst of Allegiance Bank (formerly Sterling Bank) stepped in to fill. Freddy thrived as the “unofficial” leader of the WHLI for many years. As time went on the WHLI became stronger and more recognized and the WHLI formalized its operations, Freddy was named the first WHLI Board Chair and stayed in that position until his death on October 29th, 2013. The first class consisted of 20 West Houston leaders including notable alumni Jeannie Bollinger, Zach Hodges, David Gilkeson, Billy Cooke, Bill Meador, Carmelo Mauro, Scott Van Beck, Sherra Aguirre, Herb Johnson, Randy Nerren and Ken Arnold.
Today WHLI continues to be guided by those founding principles. Businesses of all types and individuals at or on a path to leadership roles rely on WHLI’s experiential civic programs to gain social capital, expand their commitment to our community and develop a deeper understanding of issues with the potential to propel our region forward.
WHLI is governed by a Board of Directors made up of alum representatives from the graduating classes.