Ms. Kathryn J. Whitmire

(KNFP-15 Advisor)
Kathryn J. Whitmire Consulting
United States

Focus Areas

Community & Civic Engagement
Political Science
Public Sector / Government
Social Justice
Gender Issues


Kathryn Whitmire is the owner of Kathryn J. Whitmire Consulting, in Hauula, Hawaii. Ms. Whitmire served as mayor of the City of Houston, Texas, selected for five terms, from 1982 to 1992. First elected city controller in 1977 and reelected in 1979, she was the first woman elected to any city office in Houston. While mayor, she also served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Texas Municipal League. After leaving public office, Ms. Whitmire was on the faculties of Rice University, Harvard University, and the University of Maryland. She has lectured extensively on women’s leadership, local government, economic development, and community leadership to audiences throughout the United States as well as in various countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. She lives in Haleiwa, Hawaii. Long an advocate for scenic conservation, Ms. Whitmire received Scenic America’s 1990 Stafford Award for national leadership in beautifying America and chaired the board of directors of Scenic America from 2000 to 2002. She served from 2005 to 2007 as president of the board of directors of The Outdoor Circle in Hawaii, the oldest scenic conservation organization in the country. She has continued her work in higher education as current treasurer of the Excelsior College Board of Trustees. Ms. Whitmire has been a director or advisor for various foundations, corporations, and non-profit organizations including the Kellogg Foundation’s National Leadership Program and the American Leadership Forum. She also served six years on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange, where she chaired its Committee for Review. A native of Houston, Ms. Whitmire was educated in Houston’s public schools. She is a certified public accountant (CPA). Whitmire was a professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she taught political science classes in the Burns Leadership Academy. Whitmire was the daughter of Ida Reeves and Karl Niederhofer, a licensed electrician. She was married to James M. (Jim) Whitmire who died in 1976. Whitmire holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting and a Master of Accountancy from the University of Houston. Additionally, she is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Whitmire was the first female elected to Houston city government. She was first elected as City Controller for two terms and then mayor. She served five continuous two-year terms as mayor, partly during a downturn in the economy. She also served as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Texas Municipal League. She also served six terms on the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange. She was the first mayor to appoint an African American, Lee P. Brown, as Houston's police chief. Brown later would also become mayor. Brown was succeeded by the city's first female police chief, Elizabeth Watson. Whitmire also appointed the first Hispanic, Sylvia R. Garcia, as presiding judge of the Houston Municipal Court. Garcia later ran for Houston City Controller and Harris County Commissioner. Whitmire also drafted a major Monorail mass transit plan that was defeated by Bob Lanier, her successor. The Montrose area of Houston held the core of Whitmire's political support in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But in the 1991 Mayor of Houston election she garnered just a 40-percent plurality there.[1][2] Houston's 1985 mayoral election, in which Whitmire won reelection over former mayor Louie Welch and supporters of the "straight slate" ticket, attracted national attention.[3] In 2001, Whitmire was featured on VH1's I Love the 80s program because of her resemblance to Dustin Hoffman's character "Tootsie", a comparison that had been made while she was in office. In 2001, Whitmire moved to Hawaii, where she invests in real estate as of 2008.