Annise Parker, former mayor of Houston and the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city, shares her of love of H-Town.

By Tanner Saunders
April 07, 2021
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Mayor Annise Parker
Credit: Courtesy of LGBTQ Victory Fund

Reflecting on the last year, it's safe to say we've all been through a lot. From hunkering down during the coronavirus pandemic to patiently waiting for our turn to get the vaccine so we can all travel safely again, the last year is truly one we won't forget. But, in the midst of it all, we at Travel + Leisure released our first podcast, Let's Go Together, to highlight how travel changes the way we see ourselves and the world. 

In the show, our pilot and adventurer host Kellee Edwards introduced listeners to diverse travelers who are showing that travelers come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. From the first black woman to travel to every country on Earth to a man who trekked to Machu Picchu in a wheelchair, we met some incredible folks. And now, with our first episode of our second season, Edwards is back to introduce you to new people, new places, and new perspectives. 

In the first episode, listeners are introduced to Annise Parker to help understand how Houston, Texas became one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. Parker, who served as a former councilwoman and controller of the city, was also its mayor — the first openly LGBTQ+ person to do so in a major U.S. city. It's safe to say Mayor Parker knows Houston pretty well. 

"Houston has been a boom town in terms of jobs and economic opportunity — but it's more than that. It is a very friendly, very liberal, livable city. And every city is going to tell you that, that they are unique," Mayor Parker told Edwards. "But the interesting thing about Houston that surprises folks from outside is how international it is."

As Parker explains, one in every four Houstonians is actually foreign born, weaving a rich cultural fabric in the city, the fourth largest in the United States. "We are actually technically, from a demographic standpoint, considered one of the most diverse cities in America and the place where America will be in the future," she added. 

In the show, Mayor Parker shares her experience in Houston, and specifically her history as an activist and member of its queer community, eventually serving the city as its first openly gay mayor. "We have a commensurate LGBT community, but we have as a city long been part of the broader LGBT movement," she noted, reflecting on the significance of Houston's nighttime Pride Parade. 

The pair also discuss the communities that make up Houston, including some of the nation's largest Vietnamese populations and Latinx communities; how Houston's economic infrastructure keeps attracting new people to the city, and why it deserves a spot on travelers' bucket lists. And that all adds up considering the best part of her job, Mayor Parker said, was "being head cheerleader for the city."

Hear more from Mayor Parker and Kellee Edwards about Houston and all its glory on Let's Go Together, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Player.FM, and everywhere podcasts are available.

-----Transcript-----

Kellee:  Hi, my name is Kellee Edwards...and this is Let's Go Together, a podcast from Travel + Leisure about the ways travel connects us, and what happens when you don't let anything stop you from seeing the world.  Welcome to the first episode of the second season of Let's Go Together. I'm so excited to be back to share more stories of diverse travelers and dynamic destinations. We have an amazing season lined up for you, so let's get started.  On today's episode, we travel south to Houston, Texas to chat with our guest Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston and the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected mayor of a major US city! During Annise's tenure as mayor, Houston was officially named one of most diverse cities in the United States, in some studies, even overtaking cities such as New York and Los Angeles.  We sat down with Annise to talk Houston 

Kellee: So thank you so much for being here. You were actually born and raised in Texas. What was it like for you growing up in Houston?

Annise Parker:  When I was growing up and I have a Wikipedia page, there's no secrets. I'm 64 years old. I grew up in a kind of a rural Texas. I grew up in the suburbs of Houston and had a semirural upbringing in the shadows of the big city that doesn't exist really anymore. In Houston, you have to go farther and farther away because the city is just sprawled outward.

Kellee: Very much so, actually, I have some family who recently relocated to Houston. They're like, come here, everything's booming, and you could get three and four times the size of your property in California here for half the cost. And I'm like, goes to Zillow and looks up these beautiful estates. And I'm like, oh, should I consider. Well, let me let me think about that. What is it about Houston that made you stick around? Why do you think it deserves to be known as one of our country's top cities?

Annise: Well, it's not just I that chose to stick around. Houston just keeps growing. And the simplest answer is that people follow jobs in the economy. And Houston has been a boom town in terms of jobs and economic opportunity. But it's more than that. It is a very friendly, very liberal, livable city. and every city is going to tell you that that they are unique. But the interesting thing about Houston is that surprises folks from outside is how international it is. we're America's largest foreign port. Everybody thinks of New York or Long Beach or New Orleans, but Houston actually does more foreign business than those other ports. So you've got the energy industry, you have the port. And we were the home of NASA and aerospace. And these are all very international businesses. And so it's not a surprise when you find out that one in four Houstonians is foreign born. And in fact, the majority of Houstonians were born more than 100 miles away. So being a born Houstonian who stayed. I'm a minority in my own city because of the growth and the real international flavor here.

Kellee: Oh, very much so. One of the things that I think about when I think of Houston actually to Beyonce and.

Annise: A lot of us think of Beyonce.

Kellee: Yes, yes, yes. Beyonce and I think of NASA, you know, as a person who loves aviation and aerospace, that's something that, you know, I've always been, you know, truly fascinated by. And I do know that that has its origins, in the great city of Houston.

Annise: You know, the Rockets didn't leave from here, but they were controlled from here. And the astronaut corps lives here and still trains here.

Kellee: Indeed. Indeed. Before you became a public servant, you owned and operated a bookstore that cater to the LGBTQ and feminist communities. Tell us a little bit more about your experience starting that bookstore in the late 80s and how you've seen the community grow since then.

Annise: So I've been an out lesbian activist since I was in college since the early 70s. I attended my first LGBT organizing event in 1975. I'm not quite old enough for Stonewall, but I'm not that far behind it. And I've been doing that work for a long time, and I was one of the founders of my university's LGBT student group in 1979. I graduated, went off, went into the oil industry to to earn my living and actually spent 20 years working in the oil and gas industry in Houston before I was elected to office. And as part of that time in industry, I was working very hard to build community for. LGBT Houstonians. I was an officer or a board member of probably a dozen state and local LGBT organizations, but a friend of mine and I realized that we had a void here where we were a big city, but we didn't have a bookstore focused on our community. We decided that we would open Inklings Bookshop and we called it a lesbian feminist bookstore.

Annise:  Oddly enough, we went from a vacuum where there was nothing right around the time we opened inklings to other bookstores focusing on the community, one Crossroads market, which was a sort of more of a general interest in gifts and books, and then Loba books, which was targeted gay men and had erotica and so forth. So we had three of us open at about the same time. My business partner and I had the store for 10 years. I kept my job in the oil industry. She actually quit her job and became a full time manager of the store. It was a wonderful experience. I feel I helped provide a safe space, a coming out place, a community benefit. But it was not a place to. We didn't lose money, but I will just say we didn't make money.

Annise: You know, the problem with retail, particularly things like bookstores, the big chains, this is the Wal-Mart phenomenon. The big chains could sell at prices lower than we could buy wholesale. And the economics weren't there. So after 10 years, I was elected to city council and we decided that we would shut it down. We sold the name in the inventory and went our own way. But it was a great experience.

Kellee: Absolutely. And one thing that I noticed that you were referencing is that it was like a place of refuge because, you know, I don't know how to say this, but just to be blunt about it, it seems as if belonging to the LGBTQ community is a lot more accepted now than it definitely was during that time. And so anyone who can identify with people who are like them and to be able to have a sense of community is great no matter what.

Annise: Well, our space was used for meetings and, you know, book signings and sort of became a center for the community.

Annise: But because we were very much believed we and in our mission, it was to provide this both the safe space and the books for the LGBTQ community, but also the feminist community. So we had a very large children's section as well, which is a funny story. When I ran for council, one of my opponents took me to task at a public meeting about what he thought was a salacious book. And the name of the book was Koko's Kitten. It was the largest selling book that we had. And Koko is the gorilla.

Kellee: The gorilla, the gorilla with the kitten.

Annise: Gorilla with the kitten and they completely missed the mark because they didn't understand what kind of bookstore we were. than they were. They were equating us with sort of, you know, the porn bookstores and. Yeah, no it wasn't.

Kellee: Yeah, they heard kitten and they took it too far. Oh holy smokes. Oh man. Houston is actually the home to one of the largest LGBTQ communities and the fourth largest pride parade in the nation. I mean, I live here in Los Angeles, right near West Hollywood. And so I know how beautiful and huge and amazing, this experience can be for, you know, a city. Can you give us a sense of what it's like in Houston, having the pride parade and, being one of the largest communities?

Annise: Well, the city of Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. Chicago is just a little bit bigger. Philly's just a little bit smaller. But the three cities or almost the same size. So we're definitely a big metropolitan area. And of course, we have a commensurate LGBT community, but we have as a city long been part of the broader LGBT movement. There's a lot of activities, a lot of engagement. And we had one of the earliest pride parades and still do. But we had the first nighttime parade. I was actually a city council member. I've been a city council member controller. And then mayor, when I was council member, we made the decision and had to rewrite city ordinance to allow us to do a nighttime parade. And it is a very, very different and exciting event to do it at night.

Annise: Part of the reason, you know, pride is in June and I love my hometown and it's a beautiful place, but it is freaking hot here. And it was the heat was dangerous. A lot of the Texas cities, they've moved their pride parades to other times of the year. We were determined to be in June, as is traditional, but by taking it, even though it's not that much. Cooler, you don't have the sunburn and  the real extreme heat, so it makes it a much more pleasant experience and then this freedom at night. 

Kellee: Oh yeah. 

Annise: There are folks who will who will come to a nighttime parade and enjoy that anonymity that they wouldn't be comfortable doing it during the daytime. And fortunately, knock on wood, we've never had an incident day or night that was dangerous or disruptive. It's really a it's a very family friendly, fun and festive parade.

Kellee: [00:18:52] That's so awesome. So you have a long and storied career in local government serving as city councilor controller and finally the mayor of Houston and each sounded like six years apiece.

Annise: Yeah, we have term limits. So it was a three term council member. Term limited, three terms controller, term limited, three terms mayor, term limited. I would have been happy to stay at each one of those positions a little bit longer. Obviously more fun as mayor. But and we also had two year terms, so it was a total of 18 years. The new mayor has a four year term. I went to the voters and changed the charter for the new mayor. But Texas cities were kind of peculiar. We they all had two year terms, which means that you were constantly running and constantly in front of the voters. And it's kind of hard to get stuff done.

Kellee: I was going to say that exact thing. It's like, right when you're starting to get your bearings and like, trying to get things, pushed and moved and the needle moving, it's like, oh, got to run again. Hold on one second. Like, I could see how that could be definitely challenging, especially in politics, to really, really get something done, because just to try to push a policy through takes, it seems like forever and a day.

Annise: Well, a major construction project from the recognizing the need and then building it out and designing it and then beginning it into construction, it takes years. So it was, it put us at a disadvantage to have the two year terms. But we don't we don't really like politicians in Texas. So we want them to run a lot. 

Annise: Yeah to vet them and to get their attention.

Kellee: What experiences led you to decide to run for public office and what gave you the confidence in your community to put yourself out there and become the first elected openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city?

Annise: I had already been an activist for my entire adult life and through college, the first 10 years after I graduated from college, I was Miss. Gay and lesbian, everything, and then, you know, you get older, you buy a house, you start thinking about other things. And then I became Miss Civic Association, everything. I was a president of my civic association. I was the president of a community development corporation working on affordable housing. I was a United Way volunteer in senior services. And every time I turned around, I got frustrated at the city and I thought kept thinking somebody ought to do better. And I finally figured out that I could do better. And I also realized that I was going to work every day and I actually spent 10 years, well, two years working at one oil company and then 18 years working for a conservative Republican oil man, Robert Mosbacher. And I was going to work every day to support my volunteer habit. I was spending as much time as a community volunteer as I was at work. And I thought, you know, there's something wrong with this. If I can do what I am passionate about, that's my job. My life would be so much better. And I was successful in running and I did, and it was.

Kellee: Annise won that campaign and went on to serve Houston for 18 years as a councilwoman, controller, and mayor. After the break we ask Annise about her thoughts on diversity in Houston and get some of her recommendations on places to visit.

----------Music interlude---------

Kellee: I'm Kellee Edwards, and this is Let's Go Together from Travel + Leisure. My guest today is the former mayor of Houston, Annise Parker. Under her tenure, the city of Houston made great strides towards building a reputation as one of the nation's most diverse cities. I asked Annise why she thinks Houston has been able to grow as an international city.

Annise: The four big sectors of our economy are all internationally based, and particularly the medical center and oil and gas industry, they have protocols that rotate their employees through. So if you're at a multinational oil company, for example, in Houston headquarters for world oil and gas, your execs, they come to Houston, they might go to the Netherlands, they might go. To South America, they rotate, so you have a lot of expats that that come through. Same with the medical center then you have. We're a city with a lot of refugees, we were for a while the largest refugee resettlement area in America, different parts of America get settled with different types of refugees. Houston has one of the largest Vietnamese populations in in America, but other refugees, again, because a welcoming community and frankly, our climate appealed to a lot of folks who are coming from South Asia. And then we have. A fairly large Asian population, so you could spend all day in Houston and speak nothing but Korean or Vietnamese or Urdu, we have a really large Indian and Pakistani communities, too. And those of you have know resident communities, those attract in migration and for those communities. And then, of course, we are about 40 percent Latinx from all over South and Central America. it's a really interesting mix. And unlike some places where everybody sort of stays in, you know, a certain part of town or a certain area where with no zoning and the way we move around, everybody just sort of fuses together, and it is made for an interesting multinational dynamic. We are actually technically, from a demographic standpoint, considered one of the most diverse cities in America and the place where America will be in the future with the know the mix of communities and cultures. Both my parents were just born in Houston, but we lived for a time in Charleston, South Carolina, when I was growing up and you know, you have to have been a Charlestonians for generations to be a Charlestonians. You are a Houstonian the day you arrive. Oh, proclaim yourself a Houstonian. And it has a reputation around the globe as a place that anybody can come and be successful and it attracts people who want to build their fortune. So you have a, you know, sort of a fluid social structure and constant influx of new people and a mindset that Houston's a place that everybody's welcome come in, work hard, and you can be a success and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Kellee: How did it feel to you when Houston was named one of the most diverse cities over places like New York and L.A.?

Annise: So I had actually had words one time with Spike Lee, who felt, the director Spike Lee, who felt that he had to defend New York. He was in Houston for something and we were talking and he just couldn't believe it. And the problem is for New York City. It's very diverse, depending on but it's its more enclaves. And Houston is we're a medley. And then the Manhattan skews the dynamics of New York. It's wonderful. I mean, it's something that we all sort of know and appreciate in Houston. The fun thing is we all celebrate all of the ethnic festivals and international days. And there's always something, you know, at our festival sites are our major community gathering sites, is always something going on from a different community. And we get to we get to celebrate all of it. I don't want to sound like it's a continuous party, but in a way, there's always there's always a reason that, yeah, let's have another drink or let's go let's go to a party because there's always something to celebrate.

Kellee: Well, you did say that, you know, people come there, they work hard, they build their fortunes. And I feel like anyone who's been able to do that or who has this, like that great work ethic deserves to be able to party and to have a great time. And so there's nothing wrong with that at all.

Annise: I love my city and in my time as mayor, particularly my part of my job was being head cheerleader for the for the city. But I'll acknowledge the challenges. And that is that we do attract the best and brightest from around the world, which is why native Houstonians are a minority. But we don't do a good enough job. The one thing that we have failed for a long time is educating our kids, putting the money into the local education that we need to. And because we are the traditionally the petrol metro, there's a ring of refineries around Houston and we weren't as environmentally conscious as we should have been and could have been. So we had a less than stellar reputation in terms of air quality. And we are very much like L.A. In that fact, Houston and L.A. are the sprawl capitals. It's all about freeways and cars and traffic. And so that is that is a legitimate criticism. Now, other people complain about the weather we have we have two weeks of winter and, you know, comes like one day at a time. And we have maybe three months of wet sauna. And the rest of the time it's really nice. Our two weeks of winter happen to come, four days of that happen to come, just in February of this year, the wet Sauna months can be a bit much. But that's what air conditioning is for.

Kellee: Absolutely. Absolutely. What are what are some of your favorite things about Houston that you wish that more people knew about?

Annise: Houston is a foodie destination. I mean, truly, because we have probably the highest concentration of James Beard chefs outside of New York. We are also an international arts destination. Art, museums, collections and some really interesting and vibrant art competitions attract folks to to Houston. And I mean, we're a big city. We have all the major professional sports teams. We have all of the performing arts troupes, professional troupes. We have NASA and museums around NASA and the wonderful Houston Zoo and all of that, but. The hidden thing is that we are a huge arts community, known probably better internationally than in the US, and the food scene is pretty wild.

Kellee: Well, as a person who's about to get off of this silly, you know, L.A. fast, oh, all I'm thinking about is food right now. So thank you so much for reiterating how amazing the food is, because I have eaten food in Houston and I definitely agree.

Annise: Well, in the way we just we borrow from each other. I mean, the Texas barbecue and Korean barbecue are different, and yet some of the practitioners of Korean barbecue put out some of the best Texas Q you can eat and those kinds of that kind of cross pollination has for some interesting food experiences, so it is a you know, I'm the Trinity in Texas, you get to have believe it or not, it's barbecue, it's Mexican and it's Vietnamese.

Kellee: Oh, for sure. For sure it seems as if, you know, Texas is known, you know, for better or worse, for individualism. Everyone's got their own flavor and conservatism.

Annise: Yes, yes and yes and no, because the big cities are progressive islands rural Texas is a different place. However, the entire state is very much buys into the idea of we care more about what you can do than who you are or as we say in the South, who you people are.

Kellee: Who your mom and them is? 

Annise: Yeah, it's who you are. And that benefits all of us. But in terms of the politics of the state, the rural parts of Texas are one thing. And then there's the big cities, which are Big Blue Islands in the in the deep, deep Red Sea. And Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, Austin, I think that's the order they go in in terms of size, they are all in Austin, sort of off in it's own land, its way off to the left. I mean, the only two industries in Austin are the Texas legislature and the University of Texas, basically, and a little bit of it, a little bit of tech is kind of skewed that way left. But the rest of the state, the cities are open, welcoming places. And again, because Houston is so international, it has that international flavor to it just doesn't feel like the rest of Texas in terms of his politics. I know when I was elected mayor, the whole world was like, how did a lesbian get elected mayor of Houston? And. Well, the short answer is, by the time I was elected mayor, I'd already been elected six times citywide by the citizens of Houston. But the other is that Houston is not the rest of Texas. Right. And it's also you touched on something that. OK, so I was the first LGBT mayor of a major American city, but I was only the tenth woman in American history to lead a top ten U.S. city. Right. There have now been, I think, 12, maybe 13. And the 13th is Lori Lightfoot.

Kellee: Yeah. From Chicago.

Annise: Yes. She took she took both my titles, you know, biggest city with a lesbian mayor, big a city with a woman mayor. But the factoid that I was going to go to was that half of the women on that top 10 list were Texas mayors, two women mayors of Houston, two women mayors of San Antonio, two women mayors of Dallas and New York. Never had a woman mayor. L.A. has never had. I will never I don't believe Philly had a woman mayor. And so how is it that Texas has elected women to these positions sooner than these liberal icon cities? And that is that attitude of what can you do? And if you can get out there and compete with everybody else, you can be successful.

Kellee: It's actually really ironic for me to hear this from the source. In a lot of ways that as conservative as Texas as a whole is to the world in the nation. It's actually really progressive by the facts that you just stated with, you know, all of the women who have been elected officials. And that's actually pretty eye opening. Surprising. And I actually I can appreciate that.

Annise: It's a little bit of the, a little bit of the frontier attitude, because, you know, if you're if you're out on the frontier and you're building a new world, it's all about the skill sets. It's not about peripheral things like, you know, where you're from or what language you speak originally or are you are you a woman or not?

Kellee: For our listeners who are able to travel when it's safe again. Can you give us your best pitch as to why we should visit Houston? What are some of the people and places that we must visit to experience Houston that you know and love?

Annise: To anyone who cares about space exploration, Houston has to be a destination, NASA in Houston, Johnson Space Center is the home of the astronaut core. Mission Control is there. I think human beings have a hunger to know what's on the other side of the river, around the mountain, over the mountain, across the ocean. Well, space is the ultimate frontier.

At the same time and very close, We have the flight museum, which is one of the premier collections of vintage planes in America and a great destination. So I love space. I love NASA. I've been to Space Center Houston and I've also toured NASA. And I, I geek out. I'm a complete space geek. And the fact that the first word heard from the surface of the moon is Houston. Right. Houston, Tranquility Base here. The eagle has landed.

Kellee [00:44:17] Not Houston. We have a problem.

Annise: No, and that was but that's a completely different thing. And well, it makes Houstonians nuts because. You know, that was Apollo 13 and they were up in space saying, Houston, we have a problem here on the spacecraft. Can you help us? It gets completely mixed up. But space, I could go on and on about space, but the other, we have, I think right now the premier paleontological exhibit, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, anywhere in the world. It's a few years old now, but it's still top notch if you're a fossil geek again. And I'm a fossil geek, too. It is worth just spending a day at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. There's a lot of other cool things there. And then we are we have to be on the list for any person who really cares about the arts, whether it is our biennial photo fest, which is the place to be if you care about photography or our annual huge mural fest where the greatest graffiti artists from around the world show up and decorate approved buildings in Houston to the Menil Museum, to the Museum of Fine Arts, which just completed a three hundred million dollar privately funded overhaul and upgrade and expansion, just you have to do it. But there's also cool nesh museums like the Museum of Printing History or the Funeral Museum, which is kind of funky. And then and then the final pitch is that Houston is a city that you can be outside. You know, at least 11 months of the year, you might sweat a little bit at certain times of the year, but you can you can play golf every day. You could, you know, hike, bike, walk. There's no there's no mountains. We're 50 miles from the ocean. But we are we are green and growing and it's a great place to be outside.

Kellee: I love that. And I don't mind sweating a little bit because I equate sweat to calories. And if you're going to eat that much, you know, it's your life.

Annise: You're definitely going to eat if you go that year. And that's for sure.

Kellee: And finally, you're the CEO of the Victory Fund in the Victory Institute and have seen a lot of success recently helping to elect members of the LGBTQ community into public office. Tell us a little bit about what you're working on now and what we can expect from Annise Parker in the future.

Annise: It was hard for me to figure out what I wanted to do next after I was term limited out of office. I didn't lose a political race. I couldn't, I wasn't allowed to run again. I am banned for life, actually. I can't run for anything in Houston. So I did several different things for two years. But for three years now, I've been out of office five years, three years now I have run the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Victory Institute, and we are the only national organization focused solely on LGBTQ leaders, we the fund endorses LGBTQ candidates for public office, every state, every level. And the institute works to train people on how to run for public office and then supports those leaders in elected and appointed office after they're there. We're very engaged right now in presidential appointments initiative, trying to place LGBT leaders into the Biden administration very successfully, I might add. And it returns me to my roots. You know, I started out in college as an LGBT activist, and now I'm back doing that again. And the best part of the job is that I have been reinvigorated and I guess reinspired as to the future politics. I got to say, Donald Trump was the tough. Because he was the antithesis of everything I believe, about public service. But the people I work with, the hundreds of candidates of victory worked with across the country from the LGBTQ community who are standing up and saying, if no one else is going to make the change, I'm going to make the change, I'm going to be the change I want to see in the world. And they care. They care deeply. And whether or not they win their races, just the fact that they are open and out and honest about who they are is changing hearts and minds and helping move America. And we have a real responsibility over the next few years to make sure that the trans community is protected and supported and lifted up because they are actively being targeted. Particularly trans women and trans women of color, and I am glad to be a part of organized leadership that is working to make that change.

Kellee: Well, I want to say first and foremost that I went, you know, on the website for the Victory Institute, and I was very impressed at how streamlined the information was. Like, if you wanted to get into politics, if you want to, you know, see this as a career, you know, these are the things that you should be doing. And I thought that that was really beautiful because a lot of times where do you even start? So I definitely want to, give praise to the work that you're doing. And most importantly, I want to thank you for being the change that you wanted to see because your work is beyond impressive. And I know that you've made a lot of change within your community and beyond. So thank you.

Annise: Well, I appreciate that I. I'm excited to go to work every day and. While I often say this kind of in a joking way, but truthfully, to no job I will have will be as exciting as being the mayor of my hometown. But just as I was when I was in public office, I am excited to go to work every day because I know I'm making change in the world and I'm working with people who are the change that I want to see in the world. And that's a great feeling.

Kellee: Thank you so much, Annise.

Kellee: That's all for this episode of Let's Go Together, a podcast by Travel + Leisure. I'm your host, Kellee Edwards. You can follow our guest Annise Parker on twitter at @anniseparker and check out her work for the Victory Fund and Victory Institute at victoryfund dot org and victoryinstitute dot org.

Thanks to our production team at Pod People: Rachael King, Matt Sav, Danielle Roth, Marvin Yueh [yu-eh], and Lene [Leen-ah] Bech [Bek] Sillisen [Sil-eh-son]. This show was recorded in Los Angeles, edited in New York City, and can be found wherever you get your podcasts.

You can find out more at travel and leisure dot com slash podcast. You can find Travel + Leisure IG @travelandleisure, on Twitter @travelleisure, on TikTik @travelandleisuremag, and you can find me at @kelleesetgo.