2007 Profile in Courage Award recipient Mayor Bill White with Caroline Kennedy, May 21, 2007.

Background

As the Mayor of Houston, Texas, Bill White marshaled the resources and goodwill of his city to provide refuge and essential services to hundreds of thousands of people who fled the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. White led a community-wide effort that included diverting convention and event business to open the region's convention center and public facilities to tens of thousands of evacuees. When the federal emergency response faltered in the days and weeks following the crisis, White mobilized more than 100,000 Houstonians in the public, private, business and faith-based communities to help evacuees rebuild their lives with independence and dignity. Houston offered innovative programs to provide more than 100,000 evacuees with long-term housing, job placement services and public education. White, a former businessman and attorney who served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy from 1993-1995, risked substantial public criticism to meet the challenges of a sudden, massive influx of evacuees and the subsequent large, permanent increase in Houston's population. White was honored with the 2007 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in recognition of his political courage in leading a compassionate and effective government response to the disaster.