Cathy Owen says that just because she’s retiring from the Lone Star College System, there’s no reason to count her out – you may see her popping up as a volunteer at one of the many organizations where she volunteered before.
“That’s what I’ve always done,” Owen said. “I have always enjoyed volunteering with these groups.”
Owen, director of the Community Leadership Institute, is retiring as of August 31.
Owen attended Southwest Texas College, now Texas State and Texas A&M at Kingsville. She had obtained her residential real estate license and worked in residential and commercial real estate early in her career. In 1987 she worked with the Humble Area Chamber of Commerce staff as a project and special events coordinator and left to join LSCS in 1992.
As director, Owen said it’s been a wonderful experience growing with the many programs under the Community Leadership Institute umbrella.
“We first started the Leadership North Houston program for adults in 1995,” she said. “It’s grown from there.
“To be able to be part of something from the beginning has been just awesome,” Owen said. “It’s been great.”
The Leadership High School program was added for both Harris and Montgomery counties, and then the Collegiate Leadership Program came along as well as the Leadership North Houston Alumni program.
“One of the huge advantages to these programs is that the people who attend really want to be a part of the programs,” Owen said. “That really makes for great programs.”
In addition to the leadership programs, Lone Star College System is also the host for the Texas Community Development Institute, an extensive certification program held annually for community professionals and volunteers who want to learn the latest in planning and organizing community-wide efforts. Professionals travel from all over the south and southwestern United States to attend these certification courses each year.
Owen is certified as one of about 150 Professional Community and Economic Developers (PCED) nationwide and also coordinates the annual CDI conferences. This year, she also serves as the 2009 chair of the board of the national Community Development Council.
Owen said she has most been proud of the fact that there has been close to 500 graduates of the Leadership North Houston program over the last 15 years.
"The pride that I have is that I would venture to say there’s hardly any non-profit in the north Houston area that doesn’t have a leader in it that hasn’t attended Leadership North Houston,” she said. “To me, that’s just amazing.”
Owen was one of only five in the U.S. to receive a national Preceptor Award this year from the Community Leadership Association, a national organization for leadership professionals, at its national conference in April.
She was also recognized as a distinguished leader by the Leadership North Houston program. In May, at the group’s graduation dinner, Owen received the John E. Pickleman Leadership North Houston Fellow Award from the Leadership North Houston Board of Directors.
Owen serves on the marketing committee for the Greater Greenspoint District, is an active member of American Business Women’s Association and is a past member of the Association of Texas Leadership Program’s board of directors and served two terms as president of that board. She was named Business Associate of the Year by the Greenspoint Chapter of ABWA in June 2006.
Owen volunteers her time each year with the Leadership North Houston Class community service projects.
She said one thing she would like to leave with her leadership class members is her mantra to live by that she tells them from time to time, which is a quote from John Wesley:
“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as you ever can.”
Owen, who is a native Texan, is married to husband Bill and enjoys spending time with her family, especially the 11 grandchildren.
What will she be doing first as part of her retirement?
“That’s a little bit unknown,” she said. “I’ll take care of some things at home … take care of things in my yard.
“At some point, I hope to do some part-time work again.”
Lone Star College System consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Center, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. LSCS recently acquired a 1.2 million square foot facility in northwest Harris County to serve multiple purposes, including a new university center, an instructional satellite campus, a Corporate College conference and training facility, and system administration and support space. With more than 51,000 students in credit classes last fall, LSCS is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and third largest community college system in Texas. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.