Education Pioneer to Headline DETCOG Annual Meeting


One of the America’s most accomplished educators will be the keynote speaker for Annual Membership and Awards Luncheon of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments and Economic Development District (DETCOG) May 23 in Lufkin. The event will be held at Noon at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center.

Dr. Ruth Simmons rose to become the first African-American President of an Ivy League University, serving as President of Brown University from 2001 to 2012. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal. In 2001 Time Magazine named her the nation’s best college president. Dr. Simmons was lured out of retirement to become President of Prairie View A&M University in 2017.

She also happens to be a native of Deep East Texas. Ruth Jean (Stubblefield) Simmons was born on July 3, 1945 in Grapeland, the youngest of twelve children whose parents were sharecroppers.

“Dr. Simmons’ story is even more inspirational because she is one of us,” said DETCOG President and Houston County Attorney Daphne Session. “She is a pioneer in the field of education and she leads by example. I know she will bring us a message of hope and inspiration – a very timely and meaningful message for our local government leaders, community leaders, and citizens to hear.”

Another highlight of the DETCOG annual meeting is the presentation of the Ralph W. Steen East Texan of the Year Award. The Steen award was named in honor of the beloved past president of Stephen F. Austin State University. It honors an individual who has played a major role in leadership and service to Deep East Texas. The recipient is chosen by those who previously received the recognition. Former Congressman Jim Turner, last year’s recipient, will make the presentation of the 2019 Steen Award. Several other awards will recognize DETCOG staff, board members and partners.

DETCOG, organized in 1966, is a voluntary association of local governments in the 12-county region encompassing all of Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler counties. At 10,383 square miles, it is one of the largest rural councils of government in the nation.

DETCOG was established in November of 1966 as an Economic Development District under the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. In 1968 the organization also became a political subdivision of the State of Texas as a Regional Planning Commission under state law. Current membership includes 12 counties, 36 cities, 40 school districts, four river authorities, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, special purpose districts, and a number of other sustaining members.

“Above all, DETCOG is an organization of, by, and for the local governments of Deep East Texas,” said Executive Director Lonnie Hunt. “We exist to support our member governments and serve their residents.”

Luncheon tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door. RSVPs are appreciated, and reserved tables are also available. Anyone needing information may contact Cynthia Trowbridge at the DETCOG office in Jasper at (409) 381-5254 or (800) 256-6848 extension 5254.