Moderated by Alberta Phillips, Austin American-Statesman
Rose MZ Gowen, MD, Brownsville City Commissioner
Shannon Jones, III, Travis County Central Health Board of Managers
Ann Kitchen, City of Austin Council Member
Jeff Travillion, Travis County Commissioner
About the Participants:
Rose M.Z. Gowen, M.D. was elected to the Brownsville City Commission in 2009, and re-elected in 2013 and 2017. As a commissioner, Dr. Gowen focuses on smart growth, quality of life projects and health-related issues such raising awareness of the region’s high levels of obesity and related chronic disease.
Partnering science, city government, and the community has resulted in a rich integrated network of policy and programing throughout the city that enables and invites a healthy living. One partnership that Dr. Gowen forged is with the University of Texas School of Public Health-Brownsville to improve nutrition and accessibility of healthy food choices in the city. Through that work, she was instrumental in the design and development of the Brownsville Farmers’ Market. Dr. Gowen served as the first Chairwoman of the Board of Directors and led the market in becoming a Texas certified farmers’ market. The Brownsville Farmers’ Market was recognized as a model of excellence by the Texas Department of Health and the U.S. Mexico Border Health Commission.
By establishing a working relationship between the UT School of Public Health, many city departments and business entities, Dr. Gowen spearheaded the city’s efforts to provide family-oriented active living programming such as its cycloBia series. Brownsville has hosted cycloBias since 2012 with as many as 12,000 in attendance at each event.
Building a vibrant Brownsville in a healthy way is Rose’s mantra as she goes about creating capacity and momentum with programs like the Vibrant lecture series to create a community that is economically bustling with people-friendly spaces that are health promoting. Speakers have including the Complete Streets Coalition, Jason Roberts and the Build a Better Block initiative, Gil Penalosa from 8-80 Cities, and Dan Burden.
In 2014, Brownsville was recognized out of 250 cities across the country by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a Culture of Health winner. Most recently, she and her team have included bicycle tourism in their toolkit to encourage regular activity in their own people while attracting bicycle tourism to the unique eco environment that is her home. Rose was a leader in designing and developing the Lower Rio Grande Valley Active Plan, which leverages active tourism and active transportation strategies to improve the health and wellness of the region. The project was recently adopted as a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy TrailNation™project.
Rose serves on the board of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the nation’s largest trails and active transportation organization, representing more than 22,000 miles of rail-trail and 30,000 miles of multi-use trails nationwide. The organization works to connect trails and create healthy, thriving communities nationwide.
Shannon Jones, III served as the Director of Austin Public Health with the City of Austin for two years before his retirement in April, 2017. Under his oversight, the department achieved accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), and was one of the first five accredited public health agencies in the State of Texas. He was previously Deputy Director of Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department from August 2011 to April 2015, and had served on the department’s staff since July 1999.
The Central Texas African American Family Support Conference awarded Mr. Jones the 2015 Garnet F. Coleman “Eternal Flame” award, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a strong commitment in their careers and everyday lives to raising awareness about mental health and health disparities.
The Obama Administration appointed Mr. Jones to serve as chairperson of the national Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis (ACET) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from January 2011 until January 2014. He also served as member of the CDC’s National Study of Determinants of Early Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment of Tuberculosis (TB) in the African-American Community.
Mr. Jones served as the Chair of the Austin/Travis County Community Health Assessment and Improvement Planning (CHA/CHIP). In this role, he coordinated and organized the collaboration of the major local health care and public health agencies along with many of the social services, transportation and various other public/private agencies in the region. The CHA/CHIP will serve as the first major comprehensive planning effort to address the key identified social determinants of health that impact the Austin/Travis community.
Mr. Jones might be best known in the community as founder of the local radio talk show “Health Talk” on KAZI FM 88.7, which for more than 11 years has focused on improving the health of residents of Austin and Travis County.
Mr. Jones holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia, a Master of Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, and has completed course work towards the PhD in Management and Policy from The University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. In addition he is a Woodrow Wilson Administrative Fellow and an Associate in the American College of Healthcare Executives.
The Travis County Commissioners Court appointed Mr. Jones to a four-year term on the Central Health Board of Managers in January 2018.
Jeffrey W. Travillion, Sr. was elected Travis County Commissioner of Precinct 1 on November 8, 2016 and took office on January 1, 2017. Previously, he spent sixteen years at the City of Austin retiring as the Interdepartmental Team Lead for the Neighborhood Enhancement Team in the Austin Code Department. He was responsible for developing protocols addressing code compliance issues within City of Austin health, safety, and welfare codes.
He has more than thirty years of experience providing management solutions in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. During his career, he has conducted extensive operational reviews of State agencies and City Departments, and worked on teams producing recommendations adopted by the Texas legislature that saved the State of Texas more than $8 billion. He has analyzed, designed, and implemented organizational improvements that have enhanced the effectiveness of several non-profit organizations. He has also developed and presented policy recommendations at the local, state, and national levels.
Jeffrey received his undergraduate degree with honors from Jackson State University and participated in the University’s W.E.B. Dubois Honors Program. He was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow who studied at the Carnegie-Mellon University Heinz School (formerly the School of Urban and Public Affairs), the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, and received his Masters Degree at the University of Texas at Austin, LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Jeffrey is involved in a number of civic activities, including Deacon at the Abundant Life Community Baptist Church, Graduate of Leadership Austin, Chairman of the Communications Committee for the Texas State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Member of the Board of Directors of the Austin Project. He is married to the former Perri McKinney and they have three children, Jeffrey, Jr., Paige, and Andrew.
Ann Kitchen, Councilmember for District 5 (South Austin) Chairs the City of Austin’s Mobility Committee, is a member of CAMPO, the regional transportation planning body for Central Texas, and serves on Capital Metro’s Board of Directors. Council Member Kitchen is a former assistant attorney general in the consumer protection division and a former State Representative, with experience working on transportation issues as a member of CAMPO.
Ann is an attorney and health care consultant, with an expertise in improving access to health care services for women and families, including hospital district programs, county indigent health care programs, CHIP, Healthy Kids, and Medicaid, family planning, women’s health, health care reform and other programs. She has over ten years of state service- as a Senior Medicaid Policy Advisor with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, an Assistant Attorney General with the Charitable Trust Section of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, and a caseworker for special needs children at the Texas Commission for the Blind. She is also an expert on health information technology and was Executive Director of the Integrated Care Collaboration (ICC) for five years.
Ann’s public service is driven by a recognition and deep commitment to creating and supporting sustainable policy. A core component to achieving that is protecting and conserving our natural resources and environment. Ann has been a leader in the Smart Cities arena, sponsoring resolutions to advance and expand Electric Vehicle and accessible charging stations for public and private fleets. She consistently supports advancing bike infrastructure, tree and aquifer protections, water conservation, growing Austin’s renewable energy portfolio and implementing sustainable land and transportation planning. She knows its important as it will all add up to providing better quality of life and healthier outcomes for us all.
Moderator: Alberta Phillips is an associate editor with the Austin American-Statesman. Her duties include writing daily editorials and frequent columns. She joined the American-Statesman in 1986, but has been a member of the editiorial board since July 2000. She writes on a variety of topics, but specializes in politics, education, juvenile justice, public school financing and education, religion, health, racial issues, social justice and Texas politics. Phillips also writes a regular column. Her columns reflect many of the issues people grapple with on a regular basis; race relations, parental responsibility; community values; and culture. She has twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and has won many prestigious journalism awards over her career, including first place for editiorial writing from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and first place for column writing from Headliners Foundation of Texas. Prior to joining the Statesman, Phillips worked for various African American and weekly newspapers in the country.
She has been a member of advisory board for Salvation Army and for African American Harvest Foundation.