Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First Corp., the quasi-public government corporation that oversees the Greater Houston CVB (Visit Houston) and other major convention and tourism entities in the city, was dismissed on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, a week after announcing her plans to retire at the end of the year.
News of the dismissal was reported by the Houston Chronicle and other local news organizations.
The Chronicle also reported that Ullrich has retained a lawyer to challenge the decision made by Houston First Board of Directors Chairman David Mincberg, which led to the early dismissal, claiming that only Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has the authority to terminate her employment.
According to the Chronicle report, Mincberg said in an interview on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, that he did not want a “lame-duck CEO” presiding over the organization for the next 11 months.
Ullrich reportedly then responded with an email that said she had notified the board of her retirement plans out of courtesy, characterizing her treatment as “unlawful, discriminatory and retaliatory.”
Besides Visit Houston, the control of which it assumed in 2014, Houston First also manages the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Hilton Americas-Houston and various performing arts venues.
Ullrich, who has worked for the city for four decades and led Houston First since its founding in 2011, has shepherded Houston’s convention and tourism industry through numerous achievements and challenges, including hosting the 2017 Super Bowl, the renovation of the George R. Brown Convention Center and the opening of the Marriott Marquis Houston convention center headquarters hotel.
She also was in charge during Hurricane Harvey, which caused extensive flooding in August 2017. Ullrich made the decision to open Houston’s convention center as an emergency shelter for flood victims.
Check out the full report from the Houston Chronicle for more information.