Up Close With Jodie Jiles
If there was an award for friendliest Houstonian, Transwestern director Jodie Jiles would be a strong contender. He’s been given practically every other community award already. And there's some serious punch behind that smile. As a former chairman of the Greater Houston Partnership and board member on countless other leadership committees, few people pull the strings of Houston business as much as Jodie.
Jodie's hyper-involved in shaping Houston. He’s serving on the executive committee of the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital and the Texas Business Leadership Council, in addition to board service on the UT Development Board, the Greater Houston Partnership and the Grand Parkway Association Board—and those are just his current appointments. His full list of previous leadership positions is exhaustive.
So are the high-level recognitions he's received. In 2005, he won Alumnus of the Decade from TSU and the NAACP Mickey Leland Humanitarian award. In 2006, he was given the Bob Onstead leadership award. Jodie was given the Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of Texas in 2011 and received an honorary doctorate from TSU in 2014.
And yet, his favorite discussion of choice is his adorable grandniece, Roux (rocking stylish shades above).
In his role as GHP chairman, Jodie was instrumental in bringing about employment diversification, which he credits for softening the slowdown. “The biggest area is healthcare. The Medical Center and Dr. Bobby Robbins specifically have created a great collaborative environment, culminating in TMC 3.” Jodie sees TMC 3’s importance to Houston as valuable as the Port was in the beginning. “Houston is on the map in life sciences, the ball is rolling. Its effect will be profound.”
As a Houston native (he grew up in the Fifth Ward), Jodie has seen firsthand how the area has struggled to provide suitable affordable housing. Jodie says much of the development in Houston prices out members of the community who live on a fixed income. Property taxes can sink retired senior citizens, forcing them to leave houses they’ve lived in their entire lives. Jodie admires what he calls the true grit of homeowners sticking it out through development.
Despite the challenges, Jodie thinks the planning commission has done a good job. “The biggest area they’ve improved on is density. Density and efficient land use is essential.” Jodie sees great progress in bringing the issue of quality of life to the forefront of development.
Education is a big part of Jodie’s life to this day, and not just because he's on the Wall of Fame at his alma mater, Phillis Wheatley High. He’s a former KIPP board member, and his wife, Sonny (they're here with one of their sons), now serves on the board. Both of his sons went to KIPP. Jodie tells us, “Education is an equalizer. If you get a great education, you have the ability to compete.” Jodie and Sonny make a great team. She’s served as CEO of the Houston Defender Media Group for the past 35 years. She was among the first African-American females doing talk shows, a pioneer in her medium. They’re both active members of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church.
Of course, Jodie's got a big day job, too. He joined Transwestern in 2012 after a 26-year career in municipal finance and investment banking, where he guided public finance clients and municipal issuers throughout the state. It was one of Jodie’s sons who convinced him to go into commercial real estate. At Transwestern, he serves as director of business development, working across all service lines within the firm.
Through it all, Jodie has always put God, people and service first. Jodie is proud of how far Houston has come, and his steadfast leadership is one of the driving forces for that change. If only he wasn’t a Longhorn.*
* This article written by an Aggie.