Pierce Bush first got involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in 2009 as a big brother himself. Coming from a family rooted in public service, he learned the importance of mentorship and being a role model at an early age. When Pierce took the reins of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lone Star in 2015, he quickly set to work implementing a strategic plan to turn around the affiliate that covers about half of Texas for the nonprofit. Today, the organization is serving nearly 30% more young people than it was three years ago, with a goal to double that figure in the next two years. Under Pierce, the Lone Star affiliate also recently completed work on a 21,000-square-foot, purpose-built headquarters building that will serve Houston for years to come.
Where are you from originally and when did you arrive in Houston?
I was born in Denver and we moved to Houston when I was five. We settled in a neighborhood near Memorial Park.
Who has most inspired you in your life and why?
I’ve been inspired by a number of mentors in my life. Of course my grandfather, George H.W. Bush. He’s a tremendously inclusive, positive leader. My grandmother as well and my dad. I can’t tell you how much my life has been impacted by mentors. Another example is my board chair, Steve McDaniel, who mentors me so selflessly; he gives so much of his time. I’m grateful for the knowledge and wisdom people want to pour into me and pour into others. That’s what’s inspiring.
When you arrived at Big Brothers Big Sisters, the financial situation was far from optimal. Talk about what you found and how you approached a fix.
The organization I run covers about 50% of the state…While we have to adhere to certain standards and practices of the national office of Big Brothers Big Sisters, we are independently governed and our boss is our board…There were some problems with the way things had been centralized, staffing was based around function and the organization wasn’t able to adapt programs to the needs of local communities.
Recognizing that, we were able to restructure the way we approached our eight individual markets. We hired market presidents and created more autonomy at the local level, which has led to more ownership. We also cleaned up our internal accounting and decided to totally open up our books to show our staff how our system works and empower them to report on critical program figures, revenue and expense numbers. That accountability is what’s helped drive efficiency. We’ve now rebuilt our financial health, grown our programs and created an incentive plan for staff to hit program goals.
What does living with purpose mean to you?
Any definition of success, in my opinion, is living a life that will benefit others. That’s just as true in the corporate world as the nonprofit world. It’s important to have that double bottom line. In any career, to wake up and be excited to do something that’s going to have a positive outcome for others, it makes such a difference. I think we’re all capable of that.
How do you like to start your day? Any consistent rituals?
I travel a lot, but when I’m in Houston, I really love to take a morning walk. We live in Montrose and I’ll take our dog Winston Moose for a walk around the neighborhood, stopping at some of our favorite spots like Mercantile or Taco Deli.
If I’ve got enough time in the morning, I like starting off with a morning journal routine. It’s simple, writing down three things you’re grateful for, three things that would make the day successful and three affirmations. It sets the tone for the day.
How would you sum up the character of Houston in a few words?
What makes Houston genuine is that it’s a working person’s town. People purposefully come here for opportunity, they choose to live and work here. Houston is city of opportunity that gives people chances, embraces diversity and culture. It’s a city that’s all about finding a solution. Not complaining. I think when you have a community formed around such ideals it tends to matter more.
Where else in Houston might we find you in your free time?
I love the Houstonian [Hotel]. Our Montrose neighborhood has so many great places. We also love Steak 48 and B&B Butcher. And I really enjoy running around Memorial Park.
Follow Pierce on Twitter at @PierceBush
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