Founders & Directors
Harris County Sheriff’s Office Foundation
Tracy W. Krohn is an entrepreneur, business mogul and auto racing enthusiast.
Tracy W. Krohn has served as Chief Executive Officer of W&T Offshore since he founded the Company in 1983. He also served as President from 1983 to 2008 and again since 2017, as Chairman since 2004, and as Treasurer from 1997 until 2006.
Prior to founding W&T, Mr. Krohn was senior engineer with Taylor Energy. From 1996 to 1997, Mr. Krohn was also Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aviara Energy Corporation in Houston, Texas. He began his career as a petroleum engineer and offshore drilling supervisor with Mobil Oil Corporation. He graduated with a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from Louisiana State University in 1978.
John Speer, BBA, CPA, MBA, has been involved in the home building and mortgage industries for over 40 years. He has participated in the construction and/or financing of more than $7 billion of real estate, including over 40,000 homes. Currently, John builds under the Travis Homes name.
John established Withers Energy Group, LLC in 2010 as an entrée into the energy industry. Since its inception, Withers energy has been immensely successful and profitable. John also co-founded Withers Capital Partners, LLC to bring his financial expertise to play in his new-found energy forum. Its primary investment is in Orca LNG, LTD (a Canada-based company) where he serves as Chairman. Orca LNG’s is licensed to export 27.6 million tons of LNG per year, comparable to about 4.2 BCF/day of natural gas, ultimately generating over $10 billion of revenue per year.
Mr. Speer has investments in real estate, construction, energy and ranching.
John Houghtaling is managing partner and majority owner of Gauthier, Houghtaling LLP, a law firm with a 42-year-old legacy that paved the way to the $358 billion U.S. tobacco settlement in 1998 and won settlements and verdicts in an additional $4 billion.
Houghtaling has personally collected hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients in his career, and his business development legal work has been responsible for ongoing infrastructure development of more than $8 billion.
He practices in three main fields: 1) property insurance; 2) catastrophic personal injury; and 3) project developmental strategy and enforcement in the oil, gas and energy sectors.
He is the only attorney in Louisiana who has ranked as one of CityBusiness Magazine’s top 50 lawyers in New Orleans for five consecutive years, and he was named Louisiana SuperLawyer from 2010 through 2014.
Lawrence M. Blackburn
Vice President and Treasurer
As a CPA, Mr. Blackburn currently serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for AF Global having joined the company in late 2017. He formerly served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Goodman Global, Inc. since September 2001, as and was appointed to the Board of Directors in April, 2008.
Mr. Blackburn previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Goodman Global, Inc. since September 2001. Before joining Goodman Global, Inc., Mr. Blackburn served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Amana Appliances from February 2000 to July 2001, when substantially all of the assets of Amana Appliances were acquired by Maytag Corporation. From April 1983 to August 1999, Mr. Blackburn was with Newell Rubbermaid, Inc. and previously Rubbermaid, Inc., where he had been President and General Manager of its wholly owned subsidiary, Little Tikes Commercial Play Systems, Inc. Mr. Blackburn contributes significant industry-specific experience and financial expertise.
Mr. Blackburn and his wife, Deana, are active in the Houston community supporting their children’s schools, church, the arts and numerous other local needs including as a Founding Member of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Foundation.
Vice President and Secretary
Franco Valobra was born in Lugano, Switzerland and grew up in Torino, Italy, where he trained at the Valobra family’s 100 year-old Jewelry Atelier. After earning a degree in Accounting, he moved to the United States in 1982 to open the first Valobra Jewelry showroom outside of Italy. The new location at 333 Royal Street is in the heart of the French Quarter and is the continuation of a multi-generational business, which was started in 1905 by his great-grandfather Vittorio Valobra, who was the official Jeweler to the Italian Royal Family, the Savoias. A graduate of the Gemological Institute of America, Mr. Valobra opened a new Jewelry showroom in Highland Village in Houston, Texas, in 2006, and in Lugano’s world-renowned Via Nassa in 2012. Valobra Jewelry creations have been prominently featured in Vogue and W magazines and have adorned celebrities at the Oscars and the Emmys.
Mr. Valobra was the founder of the Ferrari Club of Louisiana in 1999, for which he serves as president. He is also the founder and co-organizer of the French Quarter Classic, a world-renowned fundraising event organized in New Orleans to benefit cancer research. For 10 years, he organized and chaired the Highland Village Ferrari Festival in Houston, an annual event that benefits the Texas Children’s Hospital Cancer Unit. He recently received the title of Cavaliere della Repubblica, a knighthood bestowed by the President of the Italian Republic.
Today Franco Valobra shares his time between New Orleans, Houston and Lugano. In addition to running the three Jewelry Ateliers, he is heavily involved in fundraising for UNICEF, Citizens for Animal Protection, Pin Oak Charity Event, Krist Samaritan Center, Boys and Girls Harbor, March of Dimes and several other worthwhile causes, with a particular emphasis to children’s health and well-being-focused charities. He is also a founder and a board member of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Foundation and serves on several boards, including the President’s Council of the Methodist Hospital Group, the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce and several others. Franco Valobra is married to his wife Nancy, and they have two children.
Mrs. Arnim serves as the Executive Director on behalf of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Foundation. Katrina has been instrumental in collaborating with the Founding Members of the HCSO Foundation regarding the design and construction of the HCSO Fallen Peace Officers Memorial Garden dedicated in May 2017. Additionally, Mrs. Arnim has been instrumental in coordinating annual fundraising events for the HCSO Foundation to raise the funds necessary to underwrite the donation of specialized equipment and training for the deputies at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Mrs. Arnim formerly practiced law with a nationally recognized litigation boutique firm with an emphasis in complex, multi-party and class action commercial and product liability matters including: defective consumer products, pharmaceutical, medical device litigation, aviation disasters and toxic tort matters. Additionally, she has worked within the professional talent acquisition industry including at a Houston based search firm with a national presence and on behalf of global companies.
Katrina is an ardent supporter of Houston’s cultural and performing arts community and other charitable organizations. She is actively involved in numerous philanthropic endeavors including: having served on the Houston Ballet Foundation Board of Trustees, as past President of the Houston Ballet Guild, past Board President for City ArtWorks, special advisor to the Houston Symphony League Board, and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Houston.
Katrina is a graduate of South Texas College of Law, Houston, TX and completed undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin and American University, Washington, D.C. She is married to Cecil H. Arnim III, Executive Vice President of Veritex Bank.
- David Baggett
- Devinder Bhatia, MD
- W.A. “Beau” Bisso, IV
- Jerry Caroom
- Roberto Contreras
- Greg Curran
- David DeLeon
- David Dunlap
- Richard Fant
- Jay Fields
- William Harrison
- Butch Mach
- Steve Mach
- Mike Mann, MD
- John Moritz
- Amber Mostyn
- Michael Plank
- Matthew Rigdon
- Charles Reimer
- John W. Sinders, Jr.
- Alan Stein
- Ugo Tombolini
- Hallie Vanderhider
Emeritus Founding Members
- W.A. “Cappy” Bisso, III*
- Patrick Burk
- Steve Mostyn*
- John Schiller
- Joe Rubbo
Honorary Founding Members
- Anurag Dandiya
- Jerome Bocuse
- Daniel Boulud
- Thomas Keller