The South East Texas Regional Planning Commission (SETRPC) hosted its Annual Dinner Meeting Wednesday, Jan. 19 at the MCM Elegante’ Hotel in Beaumont.  Over 500 elected officials, community and business leaders, volunteers, and local citizens attended the event.  The primary purpose of this 39th Annual meeting was the installation of the 2011 SETRPC Officers. 

The evening culminated with the presentation of the Don Kelly “South East Texan of the Year” Award.  This Award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the growth, cooperative spirit, and prosperity of the region.  Mr. Don Kelly, former Executive Director of SETRPC for 30 years before his retirement in 2000, presented the award.

Ms. Gisela Houseman of Orange was the recipient of this prestigious award.  Ms. Houseman was honored for her work on behalf of Southeast Texas. 

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Gisela became a U.S. citizen in 1956. She was married to Orange County developer Tony Houseman and together they have four children.

Gisela is the owner of the Houseman Companies and Tony Houseman Homes. Before moving to Southeast Texas in 1987, Giesla was an insurance professional for 25 years with a background in accounting and finance, including CLU and ChFC designations from the American College.

She is a graduate of Leadership Texas, Leadership American and went to China to help establish an international leadership program.

Gisela is on of the founding members of Leadership Southeast Texas over 19 years ago.

This program currently has over 800 alumni and invovles nine counties in the region.
She has received number awards including the Athena Award of Orange County, J.C. Penny Golden Rule Award, and Lone Star Proud for Kids Award for her work with CASA for abused children. She was inducted into the Women’s Commission of Southeast Texas Hall of Fame in 1991 for business and finance and was asward the Frances Monk Award for Leadership.

She is active on numerous charity boards and foundations, including Salvation Army and CASA. She serves on the board of the Better Business Bureauy, LIT Foundation and Lamar State College-Orange Foundation.

“I’ve had a huge respect for Don Kelly for years. He was one of the first people I worked with on a board. To get an award with his name on it and to be recognized for that was pretty awesome,” Houseman said.

Other nominees for the award included:  Bill Leger, KFDM TV News Anchor; Jerry
Thompson/Libby Arnold, Community Care Prayer Outreach, Nederland; Brother Terry
Wright, Nehemiah’s Vision, Main Street Ministries, Vidor; Raynaldo “Fat Cat” Jones,
Pop Warner Football, Port Arthur; and Lawrence “Larry” David, Catholic Charities of
Southeast Texas, Orange.

The Frances K. Monk “Regional Leadership” Award was presented to an elected official who exemplifies regional leadership in South East Texas.  This Award was named in honor of Mayor Monk, former Mayor Port Neches, a past-president of SETRPC and an active supporter of regionalism not only locally, but also statewide and nationally.
John Wasser, City Councilman, City of Port Neches was the recipient of this prestigious award.  Councilman Wasser was recognized for his work on behalf of South East Texans and his promotion of regionalism.  Mr. Wasser passed away in November, 2010 and the Award was accepted by his wife Dana and his son Aaron. 

Other nominees included Mayor Ray Long, City of Vidor; Councilman Alan B. Coleman, City of Beaumont; and Mayor Rebecca M. Ford, City of Bevil Oaks.

The slate of officers includes:

President                   Commissioner Everette “Bo” Alfred – Jefferson County
1st Vice-President     Commissioner Ken Pelt – Hardin County                    
2nd Vice-President    Commissioner David Dubose – Orange County
3rd Vice-President     Mayor Glenn Johnson, City of Port Neches
Treasurer                   Mayor Fred Williams, City of Kountze
Secretary                   Mayor Kirk Roccaforte, City of Bridge City
Legal Counsel           Ronnie Turner, Provost Umphrey, LLP