NACD Board Leadership Conference NACD Chapter System

3/10/17 Houston | Building the Strategic-Asset Nonprofit Board

March 10, 2017
Houston, TX



The NACD Texas TriCities Chapter hosted its annual program focusing on building exemplary nonprofit boards.  The chapter welcomed local nonprofit executive directors and board members to convene to hear the latest insights from exceptional nonprofit leaders who have served on countless community and corporate boards.  This year’s program included references to the new NACD Onboarding Guidebook, Blue Ribbon Commission Report on Board Refreshment, and past NACD Nonprofit Governance Survey.  Each offer new insights on matters important to nonprofit organizations for benchmarking your board’s strategic priorities, identifying areas for improvement in current governance practices, including, board composition, structure, director recruitment, and onboarding.  


This seasoned program panel consisted of Ann Lents, Chair of Texas Children’s Hospital, Joe Cleary, well-respected community activist and President of D.E. Harvey Builders, Inc. and Will Williams, Chair of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, took a hard look at why some feel term limits are so critical.  Moderated by Deborah Cannon, former CEO of the Houston Zoo, discussions also included insights concerning best practices in attracting the right board candidates, the importance of board diversity and other best governance practices. 


To see the program in its entirety, click HERE


  United Way Nonprofit Boards
  Master Bios_031017
  Key Takeaway Board Considerations

Location and Time


The Junior League of Houston
1811 Briar Oaks Lane
Houston, TX 77057

7:00 am Registration / Networking / Breakfast Buffet Opens
7:30 am Breakfast / Roundtable Introductions and Topic Discussion
7:50 am Program Presentation Begins
8:30 am Audience Q&A
9:00am – 10:00am  Non-profit/Director Meet and Greet

Speaker Spotlight


Deborah Cannon, Moderator

President & CEO, Houston Zoo (Retired)
Director, Bancorp South, Greater Houston Partnership, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Physicians Referral Services

Deborah M. Cannon became President and CEO of the Houston Zoo in February 2005 following a long career in banking. At the time of her retirement, she was directing business in ten states in the Southwest, Midwest, and Texas and serving as President of Bank of America in Houston, the senior banking executive for community and civic activities in Harris County.

Ms. Cannon gained consumer, commercial, corporate, and international financial services expertise in a wide range of assignments. Ms. Cannon directed banking operations in Brazil for nearly four years, served as district manager for the Midwest division of Corporate Banking, and was president of a former subsidiary bank, as well as overseeing a number of other subsidiary banks. Ms. Cannon was also responsible for managing the Texas Commercial Bank.

Ms. Cannon was the first woman to represent the Bank overseas; she was the first woman president of a subsidiary bank; she was the founding Chairman of the Women’s Enterprise National Council, and was the first female chair of the Greater Houston Partnership. Ms. Cannon also founded the women’s mentor program at the Bank that is now active across the country.

Ms. Cannons has overseen tremendous growth and revitalization of the Zoo during her tenure as CEO. The zoo has .grown admissions by more than 50%, Member households fourfold and revenues threefold and also doubled the staff. Additionally, the zoo has made more than $125 million in capital improvements, bringing the Zoo from a fairly mediocre one to one of the top zoos in the country.

Active in the Houston community, Ms. Cannon serves on a number of boards of directors, including the Greater Houston Partnership; Memorial Hermann Healthcare System Board, the Physicians Referral Services Board ( which manages the retirement funds for the M D Anderson Physicians) and Bancorp South. She previously served on the M D Anderson Board of Visitors, as well as the boards of the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast, The YMCA of Greater Houston, The Houston Technology Center, The Houston YET Center and the Houston Business Development, Inc. She was the founding member of the Executive Women’s Partnership of Houston. In 1998 she was presented the Women of Excellence Award by Women’s Enterprise Magazine and in 2004 was the recipient of the Leadership Houston Award for Outstanding Leadership and the Houston Area Women’s Center Making a Difference Award.

A long-time resident of Texas, Ms. Cannon attended Georgetown University and graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BBA. She has completed International Lending Studies at the University of Virginia; the National Commercial Graduate School of Lending at the University of Oklahoma, and the Management of Manager’s course at SMU.

Joseph Joe Cleary

President and Director, D.E. Harvey Builders, Inc.
Director, Houston Zoo, Texas Children’s Hospital, The University of St. Thomas, The Salvation Army of Greater Houston, and River Oaks Country Club

Joe Cleary was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While growing up in Philadelphia Joe was involved in football, baseball and swimming. After graduating from Temple University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Construction Technology, Joe moved to Houston to work for Harvey. His first Harvey project was the Foster Wheeler III Office Building.

Joe and Cathy have a blended family with four children, John, Joe III, Randi and David, daughter-in-law, Brigid, son-in-law, Jeff and grandbabies Tanner and Jack. When Joe is not busy at work, he enjoys golf and traveling.

Willoughby Will Williams

Managing Director/Senior Healthcare Industry Executive, J.P.Morgan
Director, Kinkaid School Endowment Fund, and the Hope & Healing Center & Institute

Will serves as the senior Healthcare Executive within J.P. Morgan’s Commercial Bank Healthcare practice. Based in Houston, Will works with our national team of Healthcare Bankers and Product specialists and their clients on growth strategies and product solutions. Prior to this role, Will served as Vice Chairman of J.P. Morgan in Houston and served as National Product Executive for the Government, Not-for-Profit and Healthcare Banking Group, focusing on strategy, product development and partnership throughout the firm.

Will received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance from the University of Texas in 1974. He joined Texas Commerce Bank after graduation and has held a variety of leadership roles in Corporate Banking, Commercial Banking and Private Banking. In 1981, Will was elected President of Texas Commerce Bank - Tanglewood, a position he held until assuming responsibility for a Commercial Banking region in the greater Houston area. In 1995, Will joined the Private Bank as Managing Director with primary responsibility for business development across Texas. In 2003, Will was appointed Vice Chairman of J.P. Morgan Houston office with responsibility for our Government, Not-for-Profit and Healthcare Banking Group in the South and West Regions of the U.S.

Will has served on the board of directors and in leadership positions of a number of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations in Houston and in Texas. He served three years as Chairman of the Board of Memorial Hermann Health System until January 2017 and he has served in a variety of leadership roles with Memorial Hermann over the past 30 years.

Will served in leadership roles with the YMCA of Greater Houston for the past 25 years and is the former Senior Warden of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and Chair of the St. Martin’s Senior Council. He currently serves as a member of the board of directors of the Kinkaid School Endowment Fund, and the Hope & Healing Center & Institute.

Will is married, has two adult daughters and six grandchildren and he and his wife Mary are active member of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

Ann Lents

Chairman, Texas Children’s Hospital
Director, Houston Parks, Memorial Heights Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #5

Ann Lents, a native Houstonian, retired in 2008 as President & CEO of the Center for Houston’s Future, a not-for-profit policy planning organization. She continues to work as a volunteer in the civic and policy arenas and serves as Chairman of the Board of Texas Children’s Hospital and on the boards of the Houston Parks Board (Executive Committee and Chair, Advocacy & Outreach Committee), and of the Memorial Heights Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #5 (Chair). She was one of the founders of the Quality of Life Coalition and served as its Co-Chair throughout its approximately 11-year existence.

Ms. Lents earned a B.A. with honors from Wellesley College and a J.D. with high honors from the University of Texas School of Law. She practiced law with Vinson & Elkins from 1974 to 1990, where she was a partner focusing principally on commercial litigation and antitrust.

Past civic activities have also centered on children and environmental issues, and include service on the boards of The University of Texas Law School Foundation, The Center for Women in Law at UTLaw, The Kinkaid School, Houston Wilderness, DePelchin Children’s Center, and Trees for Houston. She served as a member of the State Parks Advisory Committee of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission, and as a member of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on ReBuild Houston. Ms. Lents has received the Kinkaid School Distinguished Alumnus award (2015), Citizens’ Environmental Coalition Synergy Award (2004), The Park People Synergy Award (2008), the Scenic Houston Scenic Visionary Award (2011), and the Garden Club of America’s Zone IX Civic Improvement Award (2013).

She and her husband David Heaney have two children, David Lents Heaney and Mary Elizabeth Heaney Ziccardi.



Question about this Event?

Contact NACD Texas TriCities Chapter 5773 Woodway Dr, Box 258, Houston, TX, 77057 phone: 832-369-7110 email: