As part of a series of Q&As spotlighting a member of the Roundtable Young Professionals, Winston Elliott — chair of the RYP advisory committee — talked about why he joined the young professionals group at the Baker Institute:
What drew you to the Baker Institute and the Roundtable Young Professionals (RYP)?
The Baker Institute has an amazing reputation both in Houston and throughout the country, but what really stood out to me about the RYP was the caliber of its members. After leaving the Army and entering the corporate world, I found it difficult to find others who were willing and able to have impassioned but civil discussions on public and global policy. The RYP is made up of a diverse array of people, all unified by their interest in and passion for focusing on issues bigger than themselves or their careers, and that excites me about the potential impact of this organization.
How does your RYP membership benefit your job or career?
I work primarily in the health care and insurance space, and my RYP membership has widened my lens to see how public policy and economics shape the health care landscape. It has also allowed me to expand my network to those outside of my industry, helping me to better understand the businesses and communities that I aim to serve.
What has been your favorite program or event at the Baker Institute?
One of my favorite programs was our RYP annual event with Secretary Baker. I was privileged with getting to moderate the event, and the whole time I was aware of what an amazing opportunity it was for our members to get to speak directly with one of the most influential figures in recent American political history. Given the political climate of the time (early 2020), it was extremely insightful and full of lessons about leadership and the political process.
What do you feel is the No. 1 policy issue of our time in the U.S.?
I truly feel that one of the most prominent issues currently, both locally and nationally, is political apathy and the lack of civility and respect among citizens and elected representatives. We are in dire need of citizens and leaders who, even with strong principles and opinions, can listen and show empathy toward others who hold opposing views. Even prior to Trump’s time in office, people would rather focus on divisive issues and incendiary rhetoric, often finding it easier to scream at each other than engage in conversation and debate.
What makes Houston such a great place for young professionals?
The food. A close second is the diversity in cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds. Houston is gritty, entrepreneurial and full of opportunity. It is a city that is less focused on where you come from and more interested in where you are going. Frankly I think that attracts the best kind of people to our humid little spot in Southeast Texas.
The Baker Institute Roundtable Young Professionals is a membership group dedicated to the institute’s mission of bridging the world of ideas and the world of action. Through a variety of social and informational events, the institute connects members to policy leaders while offering networking opportunities and engaging current and future supporters.
Fellow and future Roundtable Young Professionals held a membership recruitment, networking and open house event in Baker Hall's Doré Commons. Baker Institute Director Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, who is soon to retire, offered brief remarks.
Energy — Denis Potapov
Health and Biosciences —
Latin America and Mexico —
Public Finance — Nick Kurtenbach
Trending Policy — Matthew Beckmann
Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth —
Middle East — Elsharif Elhindi