Meet the 2016 Hometown Heroes
Honorees To Be Feted At The Woodlands Celebration Of Excellence Gala Oct. 1
Four individuals and one business have been selected as the 2016 Hometown Heroes. Bruce Cunningham, Robert L. Hibbetts, Kelly Hull, Dr. Debra Sukin and Strike are the honorees that will be recognized for their many contributions to the community at The Woodlands Celebration of Excellence Gala, benefiting Interfaith of The Woodlands.
The Gala, presented by Woodforest National Bank, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 1 at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. This year’s themed event, “A Night in the Orient,” is helmed by honorary chairs Dr. Stephen Head and Linda Leto Head, and will feature bid board items, a silent auction and sevearal live auction items.
The 2016 Hometown Heroes were chosen by a selection committee composed of Hometown Heroes alumni, a group which includes 105 residents of The Woodlands and 13 businesses that have contributed to the educational, civic, cultural and spiritual fabric of the community. The annual tradition of honoring Hometown Heroes began in 1999 as a part of The Woodlands 25th Anniversary Celebration and has continued ever since.
“Honoring The Woodlands Hometown Heroes allows our community to share their appreciation for the great work of the individuals and businesses that are dedicated to making our town a better place, leaving a legacy for the gifts each one has so selflessly left, ensuring the generations of tomorrow are continued to be inspired by the works of yesterday,” said Missy Herndon, president and CEO of Interfaith of The Woodlands.
Bruce Cunningham and his wife, Mary, moved to The Woodlands in 1986. They have four children and six grandchildren. They have played a significant role in raising two granddaughters, Carolina and Anna, whose father passed away. Bruce and his wife are members of Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church where he served on the Finance committee for 15 years. He also founded Aging in Place – The Woodlands, a nonprofit organization to help residents remain in their homes as they age.
Cunningham has been on the Grogan’s Mill Village Association since 2000 where he served in numerous capacities including president for seven terms; in his current position of vice president; founding committee member of The Woodlands Farmers Market; and many additional groups. He also mentored students at Hailey Elementary and Wilkerson Intermediate schools as well as being a board member for the South Montgomery County Friends of the Library. His love of cycling shows, serving as president for three terms for The Woodlands Cycling Club and a founder of Bike The Woodlands Coalition, partnering with The Woodlands Township to obtain Bicycle Friendly Community designation. Civically, he has served as a coordinator for The Woodlands Watch, board member of the Voter Awareness Council and member and president of the Montgomery County MUD 6.
“We believe there is no one more deserving of the title Hometown Hero than Bruce,” said Marie Brannen, President of the Grogan’s Mill Village Association, representing the entire Association Board. “Bruce’s role in the community is multi-dimensional, and he has had a positive effect on many residents and the community.”
Robert (Bob) L. Hibbetts and his wife, Pam, have two sons, one daughter and five grandchildren. Hibbetts began his legacy in May 1971, working as an entry-level accountant for GM&A, Inc. former name of Mitchell Energy and Development Corp. owned by George Mitchell, founder of The Woodlands. Hibbetts moved to The Woodlands in February 1974 to help set up the master planned community’s first water district. He was the third resident, volunteering his time to help create The Woodlands as we know it today. In addition to the water district, Bob also helped start the first volunteer fire department in The Woodlands. Hibbetts and fellow volunteer firefighter, George Robertson, drove the first fire truck from Elmira, New York to The Woodlands for the Grand Opening celebration on October 19, 1974.
As an Eagle Scout, Hibbetts served as both a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout leader for troops in The Woodlands. He also taught Sunday school at The Woodlands United Methodist Church. He coached both soccer and tee-ball teams for the YMCA and baseball teams for ORWALL. Hibbetts is a former member of The Woodlands Community Association Board. He is also an officer of The Woodlands Community Facilities Development Corporation which develops the parks and pathways in The Woodlands, and he he gives countless tours of The Woodlands. Hibbetts is now controller of residential accounting for The Woodlands Development Company, recently celebrating his 45th anniversary with the organization. He is The Woodlands’ longest-serving employee.
“The dedication and leadership that Bob has displayed through the years goes beyond his position in accounting. In fact, all of his volunteer efforts have nothing to do with accounting. Instead, the volunteerism has to do with all the qualities of a true hero,” said Randy Davis, chief financial officer for The Woodlands Development Company.
Kelly Hull and her husband, Brady, have been residents of The Woodlands for 30 years. They have three grown children – two sons and one daughter. Hull worked for Conroe ISD and has given selflessly to education including serving on the Board of Directors and an animal docent for David Elementary; Board of Directors for Collins Elementary; and an Upper School representative for four years for The John Cooper School. Hull is a licensed chemical dependency counselor, which allows her to help guide others at no charge. She also mentored engaged couples and assisted with premarital counseling for St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. Bilingual in Spanish, Hull has taught and mentored Spanish-speaking adults at Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church.
Hull volunteers with the Montgomery County Women’s Center in various roles including member of the Board of Directors, Crisis Hotline advocate and past WineFest chairperson. She volunteers with Interfaith Community Clinic as a patient service advocate, guest speaker on the topic of substance abuse and serves on committees. She also volunteers on committees for Interfaith of The Woodlands. Hull is a founding member and still volunteers for Memorial Hermann The Woodlands In the Pink of Health Luncheon and is a founding donor for Canopy, a Cancer Survivorship Center at the hospital. She is also a philanthropist helping many charities including Habitat for Humanity, Montgomery County Food Bank, Montgomery County Heart Association, New Danville and more.
“Kelly is a passionate volunteer and giver of time and her resources for so many worthwhile causes,” said resident of The Woodlands, Melissa Young. “Kelly does not ever seek recognition for the work that she does. She works quietly and passionately for all causes in which she is dedicated.”
Dr. Debra (Debbie) Sukin,and her husband, Dr. Steven Sukin, have lived in The Woodlands for 14 years, raising two sons here. As regional senior vice president and CEO of Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital, Sukin gives of her time and resources both in her field of expertise and beyond, sharing her experience and knowledge to many local nonprofit organizations. She often speaks on panels as an expert in the medical industry, CEO and female role model in the community. Over the years, she has served as Heart Ball chair and Heart Walk chair for the Montgomery Heart Association; Light the Night Walk chair for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; Interfaith Five Who Share Luncheon chair; and March of Dimes Signature Chef Gala chair to name a few.
Sukin is most passionate about the Angelman Syndrome Foundation and has served as the Houston Walk Chair for the past 11 years, raising more than $750,000 for research. Her 14-year old son, Jacob, was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome at 14 months, and she and her husband are committed to the organization. Sukin was recently appointed as chairman of the board of directors for The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership. She also serves as chairman of the board of directors for Interfaith of The Woodlands and Interfaith Community Clinic. In addition, Sukin serves on The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce board and the Lone Star Foundation board.
“Debbie is a phenomenal leader in the community, in her business and in everything she does. Without hesitation, she gives her time and talent to make a difference in the lives of others. She is a true Hometown Hero, and this community is so fortunate to have her,” shared Sarah Rhea, Executive Director with Leadership Montgomery County.
Strike, a leading North American provider of pipeline, facilities, fabrication, maintenance and integrity services, was founded in 2003 and moved to Hughes Landing in The Woodlands in early 2014. Strike Employees have given more than 35,000 hours of their time and resources to the local community.
Strike partners with local, regional and national charities and has started Campaign for Change, a community advocacy initiative. The Campaign has donated time and resources to nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Pregnancy Assistance Center North, the American Cancer Society, Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, the Wounded Warrior Project and more. Strike has been a presenting sponsor and sponsor for the March of Dimes annual March for Babies for several years. In 2015, Strike was the top fundraiser for the March of Dimes fundraiser with Steve Pate, CEO of Strike, serving as chair for the organization.
“Strike is a true Hometown Hero. From the top down, they embody a culture of giving. They proudly promote their Campaign for Change with all employees, as a community advocacy initiative,” said Gil Staley, CEO with The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership and 2013 Hometown Hero. “Strike has a strong reputation of partnering with local, regional and national charities to effect positive change in our community. We are proud that Strike calls The Woodlands home.”
The Celebration of Excellence Honoring Hometown Heroes is the largest annual fundraiser for Interfaith of The Woodlands, the primary social services organization in the community. The event is sponsored by many businesses and organizations in The Woodlands.
To purchase tickets or sponsorships, visit woodlandsinterfaith.org/gala or contact Meagan Jamaluddin, director of development at Interfaith of The Woodlands at 832-615-8230 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Interfaith programs visit woodlandsinterfaith.org.