ABOVE: Carolyn Moore Wright with Mayor Whitmire and City of Houston Solid Waste staff
History-making City of Houston employee Carolyn Moore Wright retires after 40 years of service
When you think about public service, there are so many people that have given their lives to improve the quality of life for others. Public service can take many shapes, forms, and fashions, and is not just limited to being an elected official or a non-profit leader.
Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, famously said:
“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”
Edelman’s quote resonated with many others, such as world-champion boxer Muhammad Ali and legendary politician Shirley Chisholm, who both said respectively:
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
“Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.”
Here in the city of Houston, there are many public servants who can be highlighted, but very few have the distinction of having devoted 40 years as a dedicated City of Houston employee.
The City of Houston recently honored longtime city employee, Carolyn Moore Wright (affectionately known as ‘The First Lady of Solid Waste’) for her 40 years of dedicated public service, exemplary leadership, and lasting impact on the City of Houston and its residents.
Recently elected mayor of the City of Houston, John Whitmire, held a ceremony at Houston’s City Hall to proclaim January 31, 2024, as Carolyn Moore Wright Day in the City of Houston.
In a statement from Mayor Whitmire’s office, via X (formerly Twitter), Wright was commended for her stellar commitment to public service and to the City of Houston.
“Thanks Carolyn Wright for 40 years of dedicated service to the @HoustonTX Solid Waste Department. I believe we’re all going to be judged someday and asked what we did with our public service. She’s an example of someone who did excellent work! Congrats and Happy Retirement!”
Wright is a native of the city of Houston, having graduated from Phillis Wheatley High School in the historic Fifth Ward community. She continued her formal education studies at Texas Southern University and the University of Houston-Downtown.
Wright began her City of Houston career exactly 40 years ago, starting with the Houston Public Library. She later joined the Solid Waste Management Department in 1986 and finished her career with more than 38 years of professional solid waste management experience.
Wright served as more than just a City of Houston employee. She was a proven leader, having showcased her exceptional leadership as the first female Interim Director of the Solid Waste Management Department, and by contributing significantly to the city through various challenges, including natural disasters, COVID-19 pandemic, and various community projects.
Back in December 2020, the Forward Times featured an article spotlighting Wright’s historic appointment as the first female Interim Director of the Solid Waste Management Division, by then-Mayor Sylvester Turner. She was appointed to fill the role vacated by the retirement of former Solid Waste Management Division Director Harry J. Hayes.
At the time of her historic appointment, Wright was serving as deputy director of the city’s north side collection activities, which was comprised of over 240,000 single and multi-family homes. Her career experience in the solid waste management department includes serving as the Human Resources Division Manager, Deputy Assistant Director at the Thomas M. Buchanan Northwest Service Center, and Deputy Director of North Operations.
Wright’s career is full of other historic and notable milestones and achievements.
Wright was the first female Deputy Assistant Director, Assistant Director, and Deputy Director of North Operations, of the Solid Waste Management Division.
Wright’s invaluable contributions during several major crises, such as Tropical Storm Allison, several major hurricanes (Rita, Katrina, Ike, Imelda, and Harvey), kept the city moving forward and enhanced the quality of life of its residents. She was also a major contributor to city-wide anti-litter abatement projects and was deeply committed to ensuring the success of her passion project—the annual Solid Waste Management Department’s Christmas Bike-Give-Away event.
Under her leadership, the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department launched HTX Collects in August 2021, which is a mobile app that allows residents to stay better connected with the City of Houston’s waste and recycling collection programs.
Wright’s other career achievements include receiving the Mayor’s Bravo Award and the Director’s Achievement Award, which both exemplify her outstanding service and recognition within the City of Houston. Her active involvement in various organizations, such as the Solid Waste Association of North America and National Forum for Black Public Administrators, highlighted her commitment to professional growth and community engagement.
Her robust career achievements, commitment to community welfare, and history-making resume reflect the dedication of Carolyn Moore Wright and showcases her trailblazing spirit.
Wright plans to continue to remain active in the community and donate her time and skills toward the enrichment of neighborhood programs and other initiatives, such as serving as proud president of the alumni association at her beloved alma mater— Phillis Wheatley High School.
Congratulations Carolyn Moore Wright on your retirement and thanks for giving the City of Houston and its residents 40 years of the best in public service excellence!