My Montrose: Tammi Wallace
Tammi Wallace is the founder and president of EnFocus Strategies. In August 2015 she joined the board of directors of the Montrose Management District.
Why did you join the Montrose District board?
I used to work with Houston city councilwoman [and mayor pro tem] Ellen Cohen—I was her chief of staff when she was in the state legislature—and she’s the one who introduced the legislation for the West Montrose Management District. So I’m certainly very familiar with management districts, having worked in the legislature. I’ve been involved with a lot of community organizations, but I also like thinking from a business perspective, which is what the management district does.
What’s something that’s surprised you from your time on the board?
Just the level of work that’s going on. Everything from the lighting of the bridges to the esplanade work, and everything in between.
What are some common misconceptions about the district?
One thing a lot of people don’t understand is that the management district is funded through property assessment fees on businesses. I’ve been to a lot of homeowners associations, and people always ask why the district isn’t doing this or that for the neighborhood. You have to educate residents that there are a lot of things going on that indirectly benefit them, but our focus is really on businesses.
You’ve been the executive director of the Houston Equal Rights Alliance, the chief growth officer at KIPP Public Schools, chief of staff for Ellen Cohen, and before that worked in the financial services industry. How does your work with the management district fit into your career?
I think if you look at my career, there are a couple of threads running through it. I’ve always tried to make my community a better place to live and work, both within the LGBT community and in Montrose more generally. And there’s a part of my heart that’s focused on social justice. Always has been, since I was young. It’s a requirement for me to be involved in the community. I can’t complain about something unless I’m part of the solution.
What is it about Montrose that makes you so attached?
This August will mark the 30th year that I’ve lived here. Houston has been really, really good to me. It’s the kind of city where you roll up your sleeves, you work hard, and you can make things happen. That’s certainly been the case for me. Having grown up in a small town in Mississippi, coming to Montrose 30 years ago was quite an eye-opener. What I saw was the diversity of the city, and the opportunities available. So I want to make sure the people who come behind me have the same opportunities.
What are your top priorities as a board member?
I’ve had an opportunity to participate and visit with the different committees. The Public Safety Committee is one I’m attending on a regular basis, because that continues to be an issue in Montrose. It will continue to be, to a certain extent, because we’re close to the urban core. That said, the neighborhood has definitely benefited from the patrols we offer.
What would you consider a perfect day in Montrose?
It’s funny, my wife jokes that my second office is at Canopy. That’s my go-to place. You can pretty much find me there every day. One of my very favorite spots when I need quiet time is the Rothko Chapel. It’s a very spiritual place, a place of connection for me. And the Menil is another favorite place, as is Menil Park. On a really nice day I could be sitting out there under a tree, writing. That’s a perfect day for me.