John Wilburn Director of Strategic Initiatives, Center for Houston’s Future

John Wilburn joined the Center for Houston’s Future in August 2024 as Director of Strategic Initiatives. His career spans print, broadcast, and online journalism, primarily in Houston.

Wilburn spent a decade at the Houston Chronicle, serving five years as managing editor and four years as opinion editor. Before joining the Chronicle he piloted newspapers and magazines in all three of Texas’ big cities: as managing editor of Houston City Magazine, creator and editor of Viva (the Sunday magazine of the San Antonio Light), managing editor of Dallas Life (the Sunday magazine of The Dallas Morning News) and founding editor of the Houston Press.

Following his tenure at the Press, Wilburn spent four years as a reporter and producer for Talking With David Frost, the PBS television interview program that featured such diverse personalities as Ross Perot, Garth Brooks, George Bush, Benazir Bhutto, Carlos Salinas, Luciano Pavarotti, and Bill Gates.

Wilburn then enjoyed a five-year sojourn in new media, first as founder and executive producer of Microsoft’s MSN Sidewalk/Houston, then as news and operations manager of, the website of Houston’s CBS television affiliate.

He began his career as a fact checker for Reader’s Digest, and more recently had a hand in launching Houstonia magazine as editor in chief.

Wilburn holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William & Mary and a master’s in history from George Mason University, where he serves on the dean’s advisory board of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

He enjoys reading history and biography, walking his dogs in Houston, exploring other cities on foot, and playing banjo and tin whistle. He is married to the writer Mimi Swartz. They have one son, Sam.

Lightning Round
Center for Houston’s Future

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