Discovery Green Conservancy President Kathryn Lott announced this week the promotion of two conservancy staff members.
Susanne Theis, who served as programming director since 2007, is now artistic director. Theis was feted during the 2022 Gala on the Green in advance of her scheduled retirement. With this promotion she commits to postponing her retirement for two years. As artistic director, Theis will now have an executive leadership position that will oversee the artistic direction of the organization. Together, Lott and Theis will act as the external representatives of Discovery Green in the community.
“Susanne has been a hero of mine since the early 2000s because of her creative genius. I wanted to maximize the opportunity to work with Susanne for the window of time we have with her before she ultimately retires. Together, Susanne and I will help guide Discovery Green build upon her incredible legacy,” said Lott.
During her tenure at Discovery Green, Theis created and managed nearly 600 free events a year including cultural festivals, concerts and large-scale art installations. Her work supported the growth of Discovery Green into an iconic Houston destination that serves over 2.1 million visitors a year. Prior to joining Discovery Green, Theis served as executive director of the Orange Show for Visionary Art where she helped create the Art Car Parade, acquire the Beer Can House and get The Orange Show listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jose Leal, who has served as finance and admin director at the Discovery Green Conservancy since September of 2022, is now the chief operating officer. Leal will oversee the day-to-day operations of the park and will work with Lott to maintain the fiscal health of the organization, implement new administrative strategies, and optimize the overall efficiency of the workplace.
“Jose is a natural leader. He instinctually sees the potential of the Conservancy and is passionate about realizing what-will-be the new era of Discovery Green. I look to Jose as my partner in administrative decision-making and am so fortunate to have someone with his diverse skillset and experience to exercise sound judgement and leadership.
Leal has over 20 years’ experience in nonprofit management including roles at renowned Houston institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston Botanical Garden and the Memorial Park Conservancy. He holds degrees from Rice University and University of Houston-Downtown and certificates from Leadership Houston, Central Park Conservancy Institute for Urban Parks, the FMA institute and Rice’s Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives Program.
The promotion of these two staff members will provide the organization a strong and well-balanced executive team, Lott added.
“The triangle is the strongest leadership structure because it creates a wide, solid base,” Lott said. “To each side of the base is the Conservancy’s vital missions: Operations, to ensure our green space is healthy and resilient. And artistic to ensure our programs continue to reflect the Houston pride our community holds dear.”
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