HLM Executive Committee

Christopher Browne, LEED AP 


Vice President, Practice Area Leader Planning & Visioning, EHRA Engineering 

Christopher Browne is a native Houstonian and graduate of the University of Houston College of Architecture. As EHRA's Planning and Visioning Practice Area Leader, Chris and his team dream up community concepts then create schematic plans, preliminary plats, and process plats for recordation to create new subdivisions across the Houston region. EHRA's clients have increasingly asked to be shown opportunities for new development thus the Planning and Visioning team works with other practice areas on tract feasibility studies that research potential land use, determine utility and drainage requirements and then predict density and project costs. He is currently Secretary for the Executive Committee of the Bayou Preservation Association, and Chair of Healthy Living Matters which is a childhood obesity prevention program with Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services. Chris chaired the Greater Houston Partnership's Parks and Greenspace Committee from 2010-2014, contributing to the birth of the Bayou Greenway Initiative and a new comprehensive outdoor activities website for the Houston-Galveston area called GetOutHereHouston.org. He previously served as Treasurer for the American Planning Association Houston Section and is now a member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Advisory Committee. Chris joined EHRA Engineering in 2007 and is celebrating 31 years as a land planner in the Greater Houston area this year. Outside of work, Chris is an exceptional tinkerer with dozens of little projects going at any time. His wife, Deann, never has to give him to-do's. They are planning their next overseas trip to Australia and New Zealand and hope to further their interest in diving, but will probably just eat lots of local cuisine. Chris will look for any excuse to eat at El Tiempo, just ask him.


Lisa Helfman


Founder and Board Chair, Brighter Bites & Director of Real Estate, H-E-B

Lisa Helfman is the Founder and Board Chair of Brighter Bites.  In the fall of 2011, Ms. Helfman and her family took part in a weekly fruit and vegetable co-op, and she watched her children’s eating habits transform—for the better.  So much so that her little boy rejected a piece of cake at a birthday party, asking for fruit instead!  She was inspired to replicate this type of positive change in underserved communities identified as “food deserts,” or areas with limited access to grocery stores.  Because nutrition education in these communities is often equally lacking,

Ms. Helfman's vision was to bring a produce co-op to schools in these neighborhoods that included an educational component while also making it fun. She created a collaborative partnership between the Houston Food Bank and Dr. Shreela Sharma at the University of Texas School of Public Health, and launched the program now known as Brighter Bites.  Four years later, Brighter Bites has delivered over 13,000,000 pounds of fresh produce to more than 30,000 families at over 100 participating schools in Houston, Dallas, and Austin with great research results, and is now expanding nationally. When she isn’t pushing kids to drink kale smoothies, Ms. Helfman is Director of Real Estate for H-E-B Grocery Company and is working on the company’s significant and innovative expansion in Houston.  Lisa received her JD Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston Law Center and her BA Cum Laude from Tulane University.


Marie Arcos 

Member At-Large

Chief Government Relations Officer, YMCA of Greater Houston

Marie Arcos is a native Houstonian and third-generation Texan. She has worked with the YMCA of Greater Houston for over 20 years and currently serves as the Chief Government Relations Officer. She has been with the YMCA of Greater Houston since 2001, and currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Government and Community Relations. In this role, Marie builds and strengthens partnerships with private and public organizations with the community and promotes our YMCA National and State Legislative agendas. She was born and reared in Houston’s Northside and remains very active in the community at large.  Ms. Arcos received her Masters of Social Work, specializing in political and community organizing, from the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.  Her undergraduate studies included Human Development and Family Studies.  Ms. Arcos began her professional career at Spindletop Charities, Inc., the largest oil industry related charity in Houston, while serving on the board of the Y.  

Ms. Arcos is committed to ensuring equity in education for children and health access for families and the aging population. She is engaged in activities that continue her family tradition of making significant volunteer contributions to our community by currently serving on the local boards of Avenue CDC , Healthy Living Matters, The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo,  and HISD’s Home Instruction for Parents of Pre School Youngsters “HIPPY”.  She also lends leadership to special committees that advance the quality of life for Houston which include Go Neighborhoods Northside/LISC, NCAA  Final Four Houston Local Organizing Committee, and served on Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Transition Team Committee.  In her spare time, Ms. Arcos enjoys travel, yoga, festivals, and exploring undiscovered areas of Houston. 


Ann Barnes, MD, MPH

Member At-Large

Chief Medical Executive, Harris Health System

Dr. Ann Barnes, is a native of Houston, Texas. She is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and the University of Texas School of Public Health.  Ann is currently the Chief Medical Executive for largest safety-net health care system in Houston/Harris County. Responsible for clinical care quality, patient safety, health informatics, medical affairs, and utilization management. Engaged executive sponsor for initiatives designed to promote health and to improve health system integration across health care settings, providers, public health entities, and social service agencies.  Dr. Barnes is an associate professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and maintains a clinical faculty position there. She is a board certified internist. Prior to her current role, Ann was the Medical Director of Weight Management Services and Disease Prevention for Harris Health System. 

Beyond her work in medicine and research, Dr. Barnes is involved in a variety of community efforts.  She is a senior fellow of American Leadership Forum Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter.  She writes and speaks to a wide variety of community and faith-based groups about health and wellness and serves on several boards (Early Matters, Communities in Schools Houston, Houston YMCA Association, Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute, Ardmore Institute of Health).  Additionally, Dr. Barnes is the immediate past chair of the executive committee of Healthy Living Matters, a local city and county-wide collaborative focused on addressing childhood obesity through smart policy efforts to improve healthy eating and active living among children and their families.  Ann is married to Matthew Barnes and has three children.

 Adeeb Barqaqwi 

 Member At-Large

 President & CEO, ProUnitas 

Adeeb Barqawi is the President & CEO of  ProUnitas, an organization that leverages the  power of technology to systematize how social  and health services are accessed in an efficient  and accountable process. The work of ProUnitas  began when Adeeb Barqawi, a 2012 Teach for    America Corps Member, became a physics teacher at Kashmere High School in Northeast Houston. During his time in the classroom, Adeeb was a recipient of numerous awards including the Kinder Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award as well as the State of Texas ACP Beginner Teacher of the Year Award. Prior to Teach for America, Adeeb worked for the pharmaceutical industry. Adeeb holds a master’s degree in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University as well as a master’s degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University. 

Adeeb is an alumnus of the Center for Houston’s Future Fall 2015 Business/Civic Executive Leadership Forum, and a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum Class XXXVII.  Adeeb’s conviction toward educational equity lead him to be recognized as one of five people who are most likely to shape Houston’s future by the Houston Chronicle. In 2017 Adeeb was appointed by the Texas State Board of Education to serve on the new Texas Long Range Plan for Public Education steering committee where he worked alongside exceptional leaders to set a new vision for public education for the State of Texas. Adeeb is currently a board member of Good Reason Houston and the Executive Committee for Healthy Living Matters.

Gwen J. Sims, MEd, RD, LD

Project Director     

Deputy Director, Harris County Public Health

Gwen Sims has been recently appointed as the Deputy Director for Harris County Public Health (HCPH). Before being appointed to this position, she was the Director of Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention (NCDP), a division established in September 2014 at HCPH which serves Harris County, Texas – the third most populous county in the United States.

Internally at HCPH, Ms. Sims serves as Champion for the Collaborative Activities, Recognition & Events (CARE) Workgroup, which focuses on engaging and improving employee morale. In addition, Ms. Sims provided oversight and guidance for other departmental work, including the Drug Abuse Prevention (DAP) Taskforce; the Chronic Disease Tag-Up, which monitors activities across the department; the Injury Prevention Tag-Up; the Social, Emotional and Mental (SEM) Well-Being Tag-Up; the Maternal & Child Wellness Taskforce; Obesity Reduction and Tobacco Cessation community projects; as well as Health Education, specifically school health programs. She serves as the co-project director for Healthy Living Matters (HLM), a collaborative addressing childhood obesity in Harris County through policy and environmental change by convening community partners to share and implement best practices related to nutrition and physical activity. She was also instrumental in the creation of the Serenity Room, which is available to employees for meditation, prayer, or pumping for breastfeeding mothers.

In an effort to build and maintain partnerships, Ms. Sims serves on the boards of Cancer Alliance of Texas (CAT) – Chair Elect, whose mission is “to engage organizations, agencies, institutions and individuals to work collaboratively to reduce the impact of cancer in Texas and promote the Texas Cancer Plan”; L.I.F.E. Houston (Vice-President), which provides emergency food and formula, as well as infant nutrition education to families in need; and Houston Recovery Center Technical Assistance Group (TAG). She was also a member of BridgeUp at Menninger and the Houston SNAP Taskforce, and she currently serves on the Improving Maternal Health Steering Committee. She is a Senior Fellow of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Leadership Forum (Class XLVI – Healthcare).

Ms. Sims is a registered and licensed dietitian who joined the health department in 1997. She is a graduate of Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Foods and a Master's Degree in Education.