About US

Julia C. Hester House
Our Mission

What We Stand For

Our mission is to enhance the quality of lives in the Fifth Ward and the surrounding community through programs and services promoting self-empowerment.

We are a long-standing community center in the Fifth Ward area, serving over 1,500 residents annually. Through our mission we empower, build and sustain the Fifth Ward community by offering an array of support mechanisms that focus on youth development, senior services, social services and workforce development.

About us

The Julia C. Hester House has been enhancing the quality of lives in Houston’s Fifth Ward since 1943.

The organization is named after Julia C. Hester (1881–1940), a teacher, who opened her home to neighborhood youth. She and her husband, A.Z. Hester, were leaders in the Fifth Ward community, and, although having no children of their own, provided a safe place for all children in the community.

The organization was named to honor Ms. Hester for her contributions and dedication to youth.

Established by a diverse committee led by attorney William M. Ryan, the first President of the Board of Directors, Hester House was originally located at 3605 Lyons Avenue. After a city-wide campaign to construct expanded facilities, a new building was opened in 1949 at the present location, 2020 Solo Street, on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. S.M. McAshan, Jr.

Our Board Members

Jeremy Brown
Jeremy Brown

Chairman

The Honorable Harold Dutton, Jr.
The Honorable Harold Dutton, Jr.

Board Member

Lester Byrd, Jr.

Lester Byrd, Jr.

Board Member

Dr. Valerie Jackson

Dr. Valerie Jackson

Board Member

Johnnie Means

Johnnie Means

Secretary

Jamaal Smith

Jamaal Smith

Board Member

Dr. DoVeanna Fulton

Dr. DoVeanna Fulton

Board Member

William M. Ryan Advisory Board

Mark Crossland

Mark Crossland

Advisory Board

Deborah Tyler Dillard

Deborah Tyler Dillard

Advisory Board

Dr. Mark Ryan

Dr. Mark Ryan

Advisory Board

Mark Dini

Mark Dini

Advisory Board

Our Staff

Dr. Marlon A. Smith

Interim Executive Director

Dr. Marlon A. Smith has over 20 years’ of experience working with community, nonprofit and faith based organizations in the area of program planning, community development and outreach, particularly in poor and underserved communities.

Prior to coming on accepting the role as Interim Executive Director for Hester House, Dr. Smith worked as both a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant and as the Senior Manager of Policy and Engagement for Baker Ripley (formerly Neighborhood Centers Houston). Prior to working for Baker Ripley, Dr. Smith served for seven years as the Texas State Reentry Manager for the Innerchange Freedom Initiative (IFI). IFI is one of the oldest and largest faith-based pre-release prison reentry programs in the country under Prison Fellowship Ministries. As the reentry manager, Dr. Smith developed partnerships with local, state, and national public officials, educators, and advocacy organizations to impact the rate of incarceration in communities of color, and developed programs and policy initiatives to address the challenges previously incarcerated men and women face when they leave prison and jails. While at IFI Dr. Smith helped to reduce the recidivism rate of program graduates to thirteen percent, and increased the number of men enrolled in a college degree program by over 65 percent.

Dr. Smith attended Texas Tech University and the University of Houston, earning a Bachelors’ Degree in Journalism/Public Relations with a minor in African American Studies. He went on to earn his Masters’ Degree in Theological Studies from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. He later earned his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, majoring in Humanities and Culture with a Specialization in Martin Luther King, Jr. Studies, from Union Institute & University. Dr. Smith continues to teach and lecture in the area of African American Studies and racial equity and is the author of two books: Black Lives Houston: Voices of our Generations and Reshaping Beloved Community: The Experiences of Black Male Felons and Their Impact on Black Radical Traditions

ADMINISTRATION

Irene Tapner
Executive Assistant

Calvin Williams
Facilities Manager

PROGRAMS

Ashley Khan
Youth Development and Services

Marie Mure
Community and Social Services

Brian Purnell
Wellness Center

Tessa Rose
Aquatics Center

Employment & Internship Opportunities

We currently do not have any open positions. Please check back often for new postings.