HISD Facilities Planners Help Create Vision for 2012 Bond Program

HISD's Facilities Planning team members (from left): Kedrick Wright, LaJuan Harris, Princess Jenkins, and Dave Funk.

Growing up, Kedrick Wright wanted to be a construction worker because he loved building and remodeling things around the house. He eventually chose a different career, but as HISD’s new senior manager of Facilities Planning, Wright will be using his childhood interests to help replace or build 40 schools across the city.

Wright, who joined HISD on March 18, oversees a team of facilities planners recently hired to guide school officials, parents, and community members through the process of creating 21st century schools as part of the $1.89 billion 2012 bond program.

“We selected people with backgrounds that will bring different perspectives when evaluating spaces,” said Sue Robertson, HISD’s general manager of Facilities Planning. “I think that diversity provides richness to group.”

Prior to his start with the district, Wright was a Construction Coordinator for the Houston Housing Authority for a year and previously worked for the Pasadena, Calif. firm F + A Architects as project coordinator.

“Kedrick’s direct experience in architecture and designs for schools in addition to his experience in other types of facilities will help him be a leader in terms of looking at spaces and how they’re used,” Robertson said.

Wright’s team of facilities planners will work with the 2012 bond schools’ Project Advisory Teams, educators, and community members, helping them create the school’s vision for 21st century learning. His goal is to make sure facilities planners are involved in every aspect of the process from beginning to end, he said. He and his group will be spending a lot of time on bond campuses in coming months.

Kedrick Wright

“Our vision is to communicate more clearly with architects and not neglect our responsibility to HISD and the students,” Wright said.

Wright also will lead the team in creating the district’s education specifications (ed specs), which gives architects design guidelines on their projects. The district is changing its ed specs from the dense reports compiled in large binders to the online program Prezi that presents information through a virtual interactive platform, allowing users to navigate through text and photos.

“We’re really doing something different,” Wright said. “We want the architects to have the freedom to be more creative with how they solve problems.”

Using his previous experience as an architect, Wright said he hopes to leverage his knowledge to communicate with architects in their language.

Wright is no stranger to HISD. Before earning his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in Environmental Design and his master’s in Architecture from University of Southern California, Wright was a Worthing High School graduate. He also worked on 2007 bond projects at Hamilton Middle School and Browning Elementary during his time at Ambrose and House Architects from 2008-2011 as an architectural project coordinator.

Although he has only been working with the district for a few weeks, Wright already has decided on his leadership approach – to offer support, but to also give his team space to grow and work independently.

“Sue has built a team of self-starters,” Wright said. “We’re all expected to do a job, and I hope we can allow our personal styles to meet those needs.”

The district’s new team of facilities planners includes:

Dave Funk

Dave Funk

New in his role as a facilities planner, Funk previously worked with the district as communications project manager for the 2012 bond campaign. Before joining HISD, Funk was a director for a compressed natural gas distribution company.

He holds a bachelor of arts in Communications from Rosemont College and a master’s of Business Administration from Smeal School of Business at Penn State University. Funk brings more than 20 years of experience in financial services, banking, and alternative energy.

LaJuan Harris

LaJuan Harris

Harris holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Southern University and a master’s in Engineering from the Department of Construction Engineering and Project Management at University of Texas at Austin.

She joined the facilities planning team after working with the district as a construction services coordinator and SPARK park coordinator. In both roles, Harris coordinated with contractors, designers, and school officials with renovation and special projects.

Harris has more than 30 years’ experience in architecture, construction management, construction program and project scheduling, change order management, and litigation support preparation. Her former project experience includes airport terminal and gate expansion, hotel casinos, commercial office buildings, park developments, and interior building renovations.

Princess Jenkins

Princess Jenkins

Recently hired as a facilities planner for the 2012 bond program, Jenkins is a three-year HISD employee with a master’s in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy. Jenkins currently is pursuing a second master’s in Geographic Information Systems and Technology.

Jenkins comes to the facilities planning team with classroom experience as a former afterschool program coordinator at Crockett Elementary and Apollo 20 Math Fellow. In her current role, she hopes to use 21st century schools as foundation to make lasting changes in the lives of students.