Gina Luna

Gina Luna is chairman of JPMorgan Chase in the Houston Region and chief executive officer of Middle Market Banking. She is active in recruiting, mentoring and leadership development programs within the organization. In January 2015, she began a one-year term as chair of the Greater Houston Partnership. 
 
 
HOUSTON WOMAN  MAGAZINE: You are often quoted as saying, “I love Houston!” Would you tell us one of the things you love most about our city?
 
GINA LUNA: I love Houston’s welcoming spirit. I came from a small town as a summer intern and immediately felt welcome. Houston embraces newcomers and helps those who are willing to work hard to succeed at what they are trying to accomplish. Houstonians take personal ownership of making our city a great place to live, work, raise a family and build a business.
 
HWM: You have a lot of responsibilities in your leadership role at Chase. Why have you so willingly and enthusiastically taken on the many additional responsibilities as the board chair of the Greater Houston Partnership? 
 
LUNA: I believe, as leaders in our community, it is incumbent on us to work together to ensure that Houston is a great place for our kids to grow up, and hopefully, choose to live in as adults. The Partnership is a great place for community-minded business leaders to come together to tackle our region’s unique challenges. I feel like my time invested with the Partnership is impactful to my business and the community. 
 
HWM: Houston has enjoyed and been recognized for many of its successes in recent years. Would you remind of readers about some of those most significant? 
 
LUNA: Houston has been on quite the roll lately, and not just for its economic success, but also its outstanding quality of life. A few examples includes Houston being named the Top City for College Grads, One of the Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs and America’s Most Diverse City. There is something for everyone in Houston, and that makes it a compelling story as our economic development team goes out to recruit companies to Houston.
 
HWM: The GHP works in many areas, including expanding Houston’s global reach. How are you going about doing that?
 
LUNA: We recently announced that Houston is one of eight U.S. markets selected to participate in the 2015 Brookings Global Cities Exchange. This program will bring Houston into a network of 28 U.S. cities, each developing unique regional export plans and strategies to increase Foreign Direct Investment. This prestigious program will make our region even stronger on the global stage.
 
HWM: We hear a lot about the UpSkill Houston. What is it, exactly?  
 
LUNA: Employers tell us every day they need more workers with better and more diverse skills. But, we are not training workers fast enough, contributing to a skills gap that impacts everyone.
 
UpSkill Houston brings together everyone in the workforce ecosystem, including employers, community colleges and training providers to invest in people and ensure that Houstonians have the skills needed to find success in high demand careers.
 
A strong workforce system is critical to our competitive stature among leading global cities.. And, it will change lives.
 
HWM: Are there other ways in which GHP is specifically investing in people?
 
LUNA: Yes, another way we are investing in people is through our new Talent Attraction Initiative. Launched in 2014, this initiative will utilize Houston’s new “City With No Limits” image campaign to help recruit college graduates from schools across the country. People around the country know about Houston because of our tremendous economic success. But, we need to do a better job of communicating the amazing quality of life you can have in Houston. 
 
Houston is a city filled with lush green spaces, great arts and cultural institutions and a world-renowned restaurant scene. These are all things young professionals are looking for when choosing a place to start their careers. We are specifically targeting professionals in energy, life sciences, technology and advanced manufacturing.
 
HWM: Tell me a little about the Early Matters initiative the Partnership helped start.   
 
LUNA: Early Matters is Houston’s early childhood education coalition. It is another program that affords us a tremendous  opportunity to invest in people and have a long-term, meaningful impact. As we explored the critical elements of the entire workforce pipeline, it became clear that a solid, early start is critical for success in life. The data shows that kids who are not reading at grade level by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.  This is the baseline education required for the training we are talking about in UpSkill Houston.  If we lose the kids early, it’s extremely difficult to get them back and help them become successful.  
 
HWM:  What are your thoughts about oil prices and their impact on our economy?
 
LUNA: No question that low prices are having an impact on our economy. No one has a crystal ball to tell us exactly how the story will play out this time, but thanks to the conscious efforts of many of our leaders who were here during the dark days of the 1980s, our economy is both more diverse and resilient. I expect that Houston will come out stronger as a result.
 
HWM: What is one of the GHP’s top priorities during the current Legislative Session?
 
LUNA:  State transportation funding, for sure. Much has been said about the $5 billion of new annual funding needed to keep pace with our state’s growth, and we are encouraged by the conversations now happening in Austin, indicating there may be a path forward to secure these dollars.
 
Locally, it’s time we join together, as a community, to take a hard look at our region’s overall mobility plan. Houston’s population growth rate leads the nation, and this puts a strain on our local roadways. Expect to see the Partnership play a leading role to convene the key transportation stakeholders and address this issue.
 
HWM: What is critical to the success of the Partnership during your year as chair and in the years to come?
 
LUNA: The key to the success of our organization rests on the shoulders of Houston’s business leaders and their collective willingness to join the effort and assume leadership roles in moving our region forward. These leaders must possess a willingness to collaborate, putting their own agendas to the side, to fight for what will make Houston greater.
 
Beverly Denver is the editor and publisher of Houston Woman Magazine. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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