Houston Port Director Is Appointed By Texas Governor To Coastal Protection Board

Roger Guenther, executive director of the Port of Houston, is one of six people named by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to the Gulf Coast Protection District board of directors.

Abbot also appointed Sally Bakko, Michel Bechel, Robert D. “Bob” Mitchell, Lori J. Traweek and Michael VanDerSnick to the board; all six appointments are for terms set to expire on June 16, 2025. Additionally, Abbott named Nicole Sunstrum as the temporary executive director.

The Gulf Coast Protection District (GCPD) was created by the Texas Legislature to operate and leverage funding to build the unique flood control and surge protection needs for coastal communities. When completed, the Coastal Texas study will be the largest civil works project in U.S. history. The creation of the district provides the opportunity to leverage almost $30 billion in federal dollars to protect the ports of Beaumont, Harris County and Galveston from storm surges.“Strengthening our coastal regions and ports is vital not only to Texas, but to the entire nation,” Abbott said. “This project will go down in history as one of the most significant measures to protect coastal Texas, its citizens and the economic activities this region provides.”

Sally Bakko of League City is the director of policy and government relations for the city of Galveston. She previously served as a senior policy analyst for the Harris County Commissioner’s Court Analyst’s Office and as the legislative coordinator for the city of Galveston Attorney Office.

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Michel Bechtel of Morgan’s Point is president of Bechtel Exploration Company and currently serves as the mayor of Morgan’s Point and serves on the Board of Pilot Commissioners for the Ports of Harris County. He is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and the New Orleans Geological Society. He is a member and past president of the Harris County Mayors and Council Association and a board member of the Bay Area Coastal Protection Alliance, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region. Additionally, he is a member of the Chambers County Mayors Coalition and Port of Houston Commissioners Community Advisory Council.

Roger Guenther of Galveston is the executive director of the Port of Houston Authority and has served in various positions with the Port of Houston over the past 33 years. He is a board member of the National Association of Waterfront Employers and an executive board member of the Texas A&M University at Galveston Board of Visitors.

Bob Mitchell of Pearland is president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and has served in various positions with the partnership for more than 20 years.

Lori Traweek of Seabook is retired as the CEO and general manager of the Gulf Coast Authority, having served more than 27 years. She is a member of the Texas Water Conservation Association, member and past chair of the Galveston Bay Estuary Program and a stakeholder council member of the San Jacinto Galveston Basin and Bay Area Stakeholder Committee. She is a former member of the Water Environment Association of Texas and the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council and a former board member of the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region. Additionally, she is president of the Texas Conservation Fund Trash Bash and a board member of Texas Water Trade.

Michael VanDerSnick of Houston is senior vice president of Americas manufacturing for LyondellBasell. He previously served as senior vice president of health, safety, environment and security, and he served as senior vice president of manufacturing for the company’s Europe, Asia and international regions. He is a board member of the Texas Chemical Council, former board member of the East Harris County Manufacturers Association and former member of the American Chemistry Council Responsible Care Committee.

Nicole Sunstrum of Austin has served in the Texas Legislature for more than 15 years in a variety of roles in both chambers. She is a mentor with the University of Texas Alumni Mentoring Program. Previously she served as vice president of the Texas Water Foundation Young Professionals Board and as a commissioner on the Austin Urban Renewal Board.