Community Relations Efforts Ensures Houston Airports Maintains a Strong Voice and Presence in the Local Community
June 29, 2022

“Houston Airports believes that a well-informed community strengthens relationships with customers and neighbors.” 

So says Rhonda Arnold, Houston Airports Chief Community Relations Officer who leads the airport system’s extensive efforts to stay connected and involved with the communities in which its leaders and staff proudly live and work.   

“As the central source of contact with civic, business and community leaders, HAS Community/Business Relations promotes and educates the community regarding the Houston Airports and our economic importance to the region,” Arnold said. 

She spends a considerable amount of time promoting civic outreach, education, and other initiatives that accentuate the airport system’s great strengths.   

Pride Houston Festival & Parade

The rainbow colors filled Downtown Houston to commemorate the 44th Pride Houston Festival and Parade. Houston Airports joined the party, sported multicolor shirts, and waved the rainbow flags to celebrate with Houstonians. The annual festival took place on June 25th, outside Houston City Hall, where thousands enjoyed the performances of local artists and delicious eats from the city's favorite food trucks. Our team marched alongside the Houston Airports float and handed goodies to the parade attendees. Houston Airports has been part of the Pride Houston Festival and Parade for many years. This year, Houston Airports continues to stand for equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Civic Outreach

In the area of civic outreach, Houston Airports assisted the Jazz Houston Youth Orchestra in its recent trip to New York on June 13. Arnold said the highly acclaimed orchestra is “one of Houston’s greatest initiatives for our youth.” Houston Airports helped to escort the orchestra members and their instruments, assisting them in having a  seamless and pleasant travel experience that culminated with a residency and joint performance with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra in New York City. 

Jazz Houston performs thrilling music from all eras of jazz’s rich history along with contemporary works. Jazz Houston promotes the cultivation of jazz music globally through Performance, Education, and Community Outreach, and honors Houstonians and Texans who have and continue to be major contributors to jazz through the celebration of their legacies and the performance of their works.  


Arnold also discussed community relations’ tireless and ongoing efforts with regard to education. She discussed the principles associated with S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) and how these principles provide an educational pathway that teaches Houston youth how to think critically and use technology to solve problems in innovative and imaginative ways. 

Houston Airports partnered with the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy at Houston Airports June 13 -18 and again June 27 – July 2 (ongoing).   

“This program, which Houston Airports has hosted annually, is a key element in OBAP’s ongoing efforts and long-term focus of fostering increased employment and contracting by minorities with airports and other aviation entities,” Arnold said. 

This year’s academy for high-school students is devoted to developing an in-depth understanding of airport functions, including the fundamentals, the role of air traffic control, weather impacts, required training for airport/aviation jobs, routine airport operating requirements, and more. The summer camp is endorsed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  

OBAP has played a leading role in establishing ACE Academies nationwide to introduce, educate and guide diverse students towards careers in aerospace. 

Juneteenth Activities 

Houston Airports was proud to be part of Mayor Sylvester Turner's 9th Annual Acres Homes Juneteenth Parade & Celebration. Various employees of the airport system got to participate and ride the Houston Airports float to celebrate freedom and equality.

On June 1, St. Joseph Medical Center in Houston hosted a 135th anniversary celebration and pavilion dedication ceremony honoring Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. The events included remarks from hospital leadership and Rep. Jackson Lee, as well as an exhibition of memorabilia and photographs that depicted the hospital’s rich history of service. St. Joseph Medical Center dedicated the main pavilion building on the hospital’s campus to Rep. Jackson Lee in honor of her decades of service to Texans and the region.  

Congresswoman Lee has been instrumental in securing infrastructure funding in aviation. She also supports a resolution for the designation of International Black Aviation Professionals Day, which would encourage the observation of the day through recognition and celebration of the contributions of Black aviation professionals. 

St. Joseph Medical Center opened its doors to serve the community on June 1, 1887. 

Houston Airports partnered with the Emancipation Park Conservancy in hosting a Juneteenth 150th celebration, also on June 1!  Emancipation Park was founded in 1872 by four local freedmen (emancipated slaves) and the community as a place for unity, empowerment, remembrance and the celebration of emancipation and Juneteenth. This initiative and celebration were used to educate underserved youth in math and science through S.T.E.A.M concepts, improve grades and graduation rates, and encourage students and parents to pursue S.T.E.A.M. careers as well as careers in aviation.  The Emancipation Park Conservancy increases organizations’ visibility in the community by supporting the advancement of youth, women, gender diversity and inclusion.  

Additionally, Arnold discussed United Airlines and BEACON, UA’s Black Business Resource Group that invited Houston Airports to commemorate Juneteenth on June 16 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. United operated a “Juneteenth flight,” delighting 100 students from Houston-area schools on a first-time flight fly over Galveston, where the last of enslaved people were notified of and granted their freedom on June 19, 1865. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston Airports’ Senior Staff, and External Affairs team members attended this event along with United leaders and partners. Students also were given a pre-flight program denoting the importance of Juneteenth.  

Arnold’s continuing efforts have been instrumental in ensuring and assuring Houston Airports’ strong presence and participation in the local community.