He completed two terms of service as Waco’s mayor on Nov. 17, but showed remarkable leadership in being front and center with the city’s response to the pandemic. He was among the first city leaders statewide to call for shelter-in-place and other restrictions in mid-March to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease at its early outbreak. He continued to keep residents updated about the disease locally at weekly press conferences and urged residents to be diligent about safety protocols.
The executive director of the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty has fought against food insecurity for more than a decade, but 2020 saw its reach grow considerably. The Meals-to-You program begun by the collaborative expanded from 12 to 35 states plus Puerto Rico to feed rural low-income children. It was especially critical with schools shutting down because of COVID-19. A $930,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will launch a pilot program to encourage the purchase and consumption of milk.