The Economic Development team has more than 100 years of combined experience. Learn more about our talented staff.
John Cook - Department Manager
John Cook leads the economic development efforts of CenterPoint Energy. As Department Manager, he has over 20 years of experience in economic development and is a Certified Economic Developer. John began his career with the company as a Project Manager in Economic Development and has played an increasingly integral role in the Economic Development Department. Prior to joining CenterPoint Energy, John was the National Sales Manager for two industrial plastics products and services companies, where he guided several new product launches.
John is a leader and an active member of the economic development community. He holds prominent positions in organizations such as the Texas Economic Development Council, Utility Economic Development Association and Texas Manufacturers Assistance Center. Beyond his professional interests, John is active in church and community volunteer activities. He also enjoys travel and amateur autocross.
Bill Banta - Manager, Southern Region
Bill Banta has over 15 years experience with the Economic Development Department and over 22 years with the company. He is tasked with developing the Southern Region of the service area as well as managing and developing relationships in the food manufacturing and distribution market. During his tenure with CenterPoint Energy, Bill's past assignments have included the identification and growth of non-traditional corporate revenue streams, development of a corporate systems data model, and demand-side management and modeling of an energy efficiency program.
Bill is active on the boards of numerous organizations such as the Brazoria County Economic Development Alliance and the Greater Houston Coffee Association. He is also an active member of the Houston Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association. In addition to his professional pursuits, Bill coaches youth basketball, is an avid golfer and is a former state-ranked tennis player.
Ken Courville - Manager, Western Region
A Certified Economic Developer since 1998, Ken Courville has over 20 years experience in Economic Development. He began his career with CenterPoint Energy in 1984, working as an account representative in the Industrial and Large Commercial Department. Since 1990, he has been with the Economic Development Department where he has leveraged an industrial engineering background and a 14-year tenure in the steel industry. For the Economic Development team, Ken covers the Western Region of CenterPoint Energy's service footprint. He also provides industry leadership and expertise to the manufacturing, office and professional services, and plastics processing markets.
Ken is a leader who has formed strong alliances with the organizations in his region, such as the Katy Area Economic Development Council, which he serves as Vice Chairman. He is an active board member of the Fort Bend Economic Development Council and holds leadership positions in other organizations including the International Economic Development Council and Team Texas. In addition, he chaired the Baytown Economic Development Strategic Planning Steering Committee in 2004. Ken is an avid history buff, dedicates himself to physical fitness and enjoys an active family life.
Karen Gregory - Manager, Northern Region
Karen joined the Economic Development team in 2007 but is a veteran within CenterPoint Energy. Her career with the company has spanned more than 26 years - 20 of which were spent working on energy efficiency programs. In addition to developing the northern region of the service area, she is responsible for developing projects and relationships in the distribution and logistics market. Karen is a devoted sports fan and enjoys running and yoga.
Dudley Van Ness - Manager, Region at Large
Dudley is Manager of State Economic Development for CenterPoint Energy's Economic Development team. He manages relationships at the state level with the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the Secretary of State's Office. He is also actively engaged with site location consultants in corporate relocation projects. Dudley participates in the strategic planning of the statewide Texas marketing plan and regularly travels with the Texas Secretary of State on national business recruitment trips.
Dudley has been with CenterPoint Energy for more than 40 years and has held management positions in Customer Service, Business Development, Conservation Activities and Economic Development arenas. Dudley represented the company as an attorney for 8 years, specializing in trial and major contracts work, and was the company's Credit Manager.
Dudley was appointed by the late former Governor Ann Richards as Executive Director of the Texas Space Commission, and for two years, coordinated marketing initiatives with aerospace executives and Gov. Richards all over the nation. These efforts resulted in the creation of 9,000 new aerospace jobs in Texas.
Dudley has served on the Board of Directors of the Texas Economic Development Council and was the founding chairman of the state's largest private marketing economic development organization, Team Texas - a joint effort incorporating the Governor's Office of Economic Development, Texas One and communities throughout Texas to market the state to new and expanding industries.
Gwen Wagner - Manager, Eastern Region
With over 20 years of experience, Gwen Wagner holds the designations of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and Professional Community and Economic Developer (PCED). Gwen helps drive economic development efforts in the Eastern Region. She manages and develops relationships within the aerospace, life sciences, nanotechnology, petrochemical and refining industries. Gwen began her career at CenterPoint Energy in 1989 in the Business Development Department. Having worked briefly in Residential Marketing, Gwen has spent the majority of her tenure with Economic Development.
Gwen is active on the board of the Texas Economic Development Council as well as several other organizations including the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, Economic Alliance of the Houston Port Region, Galveston County Economic Alliance, and Galveston Economic Development Partnership. She is also active in industry groups such as BioHouston and the Texas Healthcare and BioScience Institute. In her spare time, Gwen enjoys scuba diving, surfing, traveling and family activities.
Stephanie Wiggins - Manager, Real Estate Relations
Stephanie Wiggins joined our team in 2007 to drive initiatives and further our partnership with the local real estate community. In the short time since, she has become an integral member of the Economic Development Department. With over 20 years at CenterPoint Energy, she brings a depth of real estate knowledge from her 11 years in the Land & Right of Way Department, where she was a leasing agent and held the Senior Right of Way Agent (SR/WA) Certification. In that role, she was responsible for managing relationships with developers and assisting internal and external clients with land rights issues. Prior to CenterPoint Energy, Stephanie was a licensed professional for a private residential real estate firm.
Beyond her role in Economic Development, Stephanie embraces the outdoors and loves golfing, camping, traveling and hunting with her husband and daughter. She also coaches little league sports and is an active volunteer in her community.
Giovanni Edwards - Research Analyst
Giovanni joined the Economic Development Department in 2005 with the purpose of enhancing the team's analytical, research, informational and reporting capabilities to serve our external clients as well as internal needs. Having earned a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Texas at Austin, Giovanni has spent the bulk of his career in the financial services industry. He has worked as a financial analyst and consultant for such firms as JP Morgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, CS First Boston and Deutsche Bank in commercial mortgage backed securities, e-commerce, information technology and business development. When away from the office, Giovanni is a fitness enthusiast and enjoys music, art and film. He has completed several marathons and long-distance cycling events.
Ulondia "Lonnie" McDuell - Project Technician
As the Project Technician, Lonnie is responsible for creating graphic and presentation materials for Economic Development clients. She also manages real estate inquiries by providing custom maps and details on qualified sites and facilities. Lonnie began her career with CenterPoint Energy over 25 years ago in the Treasury Department. She has also worked in Compensation Benefits. She has been a part of the Economic Development team since 1995. In her spare time, Lonnie enjoys gardening, physical fitness and swimming. She has been an aquarium hobbyist for 30 years.