El Franco Lee
Commissioner El Franco Lee, is a native Houstonian, reared in Houston’s Kashmere Gardens Addition and a graduate of Phillis Wheatley Senior High School. Commissioner Lee continued his education at Texas Southern University (TSU), where he received a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Technology; completed related course work and postgraduate studies at the TSU School of Public Affairs, and at the University of Houston.
Commissioner Lee began his political career in 1979 when he was elected Texas State Representative for District 142 where he served for five years. In 1985, Commissioner Lee was elected and sworn in as the first African American Harris County Commissioner, where he is currently serving his seventh term in office.
Lee is a great advocate of partnerships. Through partnering with various entities, his precinct has benefited through the process of combining resources toward a common cause, thus resulting in the enhancement of quality services and an increase in the numbers served.
Much of Precinct One is made up of the inner city, and over the years, Commissioner Lee has worked hard to improve the quality of life for the residents in underserved areas. His emphasis on the inner city has had a far-reaching impact and has been instrumental in providing services and opportunities for youth and young adults through various initiatives within the Harris County Precinct One Street Olympics Program. In 1986, Street Olympics began as a Summer Youth Program, but has since developed into a network of recreational, educational, and health programs that include the Harris County Aquatics Program (HCAP), the Northeast Adolescent Program (NEAP), Bright Futures, and the Discovery Camp. Precinct One Street Olympics, Inc. now serves over 10,000 Harris County youth each year. Commissioner Lee has also helped the inner city through his participation in the SPARK Park Program, which upgrades inner-city school property for public park use. His participation in the SPARK initiative was the catalyst that led to the establishment of the ‘Finnigan Park Project’ that, to date, has been most successful in completing comprehensive park upgrades involving total renovations and new construction of some 9 parks within the precinct.
Although Lee has one of the most active Seniors Programs involving initiatives such as Health & Fitness, Arts & Crafts, Piano/Computer Tutorials, Gardening, Tours/Transportation, Annual-Holiday Celebrations, and other special programming such as the Seniors Drama Group, and the Seniors Readings and “In Our Own Words” Writing Workshops, he has continued his passion and emphases on youth initiatives through the creation and expansion of the Northeast Adolescent Program (NEAP) that started in 1990. NEAP is the result of a partnership between Harris County Precinct One, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston ISD, Harris County Hospital District, March of Dimes, Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services, Aldine ISD and North Forest ISD, created as a pilot program to address the high rates of teen pregnancy and infant mortality in the inner city. Currently in its fourteenth year, NEAP now serves several thousand youth each year through the teen health clinics that are located within his precinct area.
Not only has Commissioner Lee served the community well, he has also worked extensively on a number of substantive local, state and national committees and boards; serving as a member of the National Organization of Black County Officials, a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Counties, and secretary of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties, of which he currently serves as Chairman.
Aside from his official county duties, Commissioner Lee has been active in a number of community outreach programs. He has worked with the Urban Outreach Program, and the Northeast and Metro branches of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). He has also helped to raise funds for a number of charitable organizations, including the American Diabetes and March of Dimes Associations, and the Live Oak Fund.
Commissioner Lee and wife, Ethel Kaye have two children.