President and CEO, Houston First Corporation
As president of the Houston First Corporation, Dawn R. Ullrich is entrusted with managing some of Houston’s most visible, most scrutinized, and most beautiful buildings.
Since 1991, Ullrich has exercised day-to-day administration of the George R. Brown Convention Center, Wortham Theater Center, Jones Hall and a host of other properties and parking facilities. In February 2002, she was named director of the Convention & Entertainment Facilities Department after serving as deputy director for 11 years.
In April 2004, she became president of the Houston Convention Center Hotel Corporation, which Houston City Council established in 2000 to finance and build the 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston hotel adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center. In July 2011, she became president of the newly formed Houston First Corporation.
In addition to her operational oversight of public facilities, Ullrich has been involved in negotiating lease agreements for Compaq Center, Bayou Place, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Talento Bilingue de Houston, the Downtown Aquarium, Toyota Center, and Discovery Green. She has also negotiated annual agreements with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Houston Arts Alliance and developed long-term agreements for goods and services and contracts with tenants and performing arts groups that lease City facilities.
She led department recovery efforts after Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and Hurricane Ike in 2008. In each instance, Ullrich’s administrative skills were critical in coordinating Houston’s response with state and federal officials. Ullrich’s experience in disaster recovery operations has made her a sought-after speaker in facility management forums.
Formerly a senior assistant city attorney for the City of Houston, Ullrich is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and the University of Houston Law Center. She and her husband, Lee, have three children.
Chief Operating Officer, George R. Brown Convention Center
Luther Villagomez, general manager of the George R. Brown Convention Center, has been associated with the facility since 1985. He has directed day-to-day operations at Houston's premier meeting place since 1990, was promoted to assistant director in 2000 and assumed his present title of deputy director/general manager in 2003.
Villagomez has been involved in many major events at the George R. Brown, beginning with its construction in the mid-1980s and its official opening in 1987. He has seen many shows, such as the International Quilt Show and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, grow along with the facility.
The George R. Brown hosts more than 40 major conventions and more than 200 other events annually. Among the high points during Villagomez’s tenure include the completion of a $165 million expansion project to virtually double the size of the convention center in 2003, hosting fan festivals associated with the 2004 Super Bowl, 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, 2006 NBA All-Star Game and successfully converting the convention center into a humanitarian shelter after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
His career with the city began as an event manager at Albert Thomas Convention Center, Jones Hall, Music Hall and Sam Houston Coliseum. Villagomez and his wife, Karen, have three children.