Carrin F. Patman
Carrin F. Patman is chair of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. She is METRO’s first woman chair, appointed in 2016 by Mayor Sylvester Turner. She previously served on the board from 2010 to 2013.
Carrin was a partner of Bracewell where for three decades she worked as a trial lawyer representing diverse clients in major litigation involving commercial disputes, securities matters, antitrust and competition issues, and regulatory compliance. She was the first woman elected to the firm’s seven-member Management Committee. Carrin retired from Bracewell in 2016.
Carrin graduated from Duke University (with honors) and from the University of Texas School of Law (Texas Law Review).
In 2014, Carrin completed a year‐long Advanced Leadership Fellowship at Harvard University. One area of focus concerned transportation (including urban transit) and infrastructure. She is also an American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow (Class XXIX).
Carrin’s civic involvement reflects her passion for community service. Currently, she is on the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Development Board. She is a founding board member of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas School of Law and a senior trustee of the UT Law School Foundation.
Some prior activities include serving as a board or executive committee member of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Legacy Community Health Services Endowment, Texas Appleseed, Girls Inc. of Greater Houston and Sheltering Arms Senior Services. Carrin was vice chair of the Houston Bar Foundation, and former president of the University of Texas Law Alumni Association and UT Law Review Association.
Carrin has chaired or co‐chaired fundraising events for worthy causes, including for Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, American Leadership Forum, the Texas Defender Service, the Houston Area Women’s Center, Girls Inc. of Greater Houston, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and the Houston School for Deaf Children (now the Center for Hearing and Speech).
Carrin’s awards for professional achievements and community service include becoming the first woman to receive the Karen H. Susman Jurisprudence Award, given by the Anti‐Defamation League Southwest Region. In 2000, she was selected as a Woman on the Move by the Houston Chronicle, Channel 11 and Texas Executive Women. In 2012, she was inducted into the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame.
Beginnings of Battleground Texas
On November 30, 2012, half a dozen wealthy Texans—all of whom had donated to the Obama cause and were in Washington to attend the early flurry of holiday parties—gathered in Ben Barnes’s downtown office to talk about how to turn their state blue. Among them were Dallas progressive activist Naomi Aberly, Austin realtor Kirk Rudy, and Adrienne Donato, the Obama campaign’s chief Texas fund-raiser. Donato had organized this meeting. With her was a nerdily dashing and fast-talking 34-year-old named Jeremy Bird, who had found his way in life from a trailer park in Missouri to Harvard Divinity School to a job as the South Carolina field director for Barack Obama’s 2008 primary campaign to a subsequent job as the national field director for Obama’s 2012 reelection. Which is to say that standing before this group of hungry Texas Democrats were the brains behind the greatest national field organization that American politics had ever seen.
The subject of Texas had been in the back of Bird’s mind for years. Like many top Obama campaign staffers, it didn’t make sense to him that the state was so dependably red, given its demographic trends. During the summer of 2008, when the Obama campaign had literally more money than it knew how to spend, Bird had given some thought to investing in a few Texas events, but he’d lacked the time to plan them. In 2012 his field operation had the opposite problem: time but no money. Every dollar was needed in the battleground states. Nonetheless, Bird remained transfixed by Texas and its 38 electoral votes. The only state with more was solidly Democratic California. Added together, the two had 93 electoral votes, an all but insurmountable margin. While talking to field organizers or big donors, Bird would stand beside a map of the United States and sketch out pathways to victory from the West Coast to the East. Invariably his finger would fall on the Lone Star State and he would say, Someday we’re going to have a different kind of conversation about Texas. That day had now arrived.
Still giddy from the reelection, the Texans in the room swore to Bird that their state was within reach, if only someone with his field wizardry would coordinate the crusade. They told him how the state’s wealthy liberal donors were itching to spend their money back home. The effort would need a catchy name. Somebody—no one seems to remember who—blurted out “Battleground Texas!” and everyone buzzed with excitement. Bird had never met most of the attendees before, but he was impressed by their unity and enthusiasm. He walked out of the meeting thinking, We can do this.
Five days later, at an office on Capitol Hill, Bird and Donato convened a second meeting, with a much larger group of Texans. This time, Bird did much of the talking. He explained to them that a twenty-first-century grassroots operation no longer meant simply knocking on doors and making calls—it would involve heavy use of digital resources and data analytics. He also walked them through the state’s enticing population trends but said, to the surprise of some of the donors in the room, “You can’t just wait for a big demographic shift to happen. That’s not enough to turn things around.” By the end of this meeting, it was evident to Bird that Battleground Texas would be his new project. What he needed next was seed money—and he knew who to call on to get it.
On the morning of January 14, Bird and Donato arrived at the home of Amber Mostyn and Steve Mostyn. The hosts had remained big donors since the debacle of 2010—they’d given $9.8 million to Democrats nationwide during the 2012 cycle—but defeat had made them wary. Now the couple and their political adviser, Jeff Rotkoff, listened to Bird make his pitch. He wanted $250,000 to start up Battleground Texas. His hosts wanted to know how he planned to generate Obama-style enthusiasm in Texas without a candidate as charismatic as Obama.
“We’re going to do a lot of research, focus-group our own activists, and figure out what worked that we can transport to a new effort,” Bird assured them.
“When can we see a budget?” Steve Mostyn asked—by which he meant not a one-page summary but a detailed spreadsheet.
“I’ll get that to you right away,” Bird said. Less than two weeks later, the Mostyns received a lengthy itemization of anticipated expenses, right down to office supplies and monthly health insurance costs. They cut Bird a check, as did Naomi Aberly, longtime state Democratic activist Aimee Boone, and Houston attorney Carrin F. Patman, among others. In late January word went out to the state and national press: the Obamaites were coming to Texas, and they intended to stay.
Battleground Texas Advisory Board, 2018;
Board Chair Jenn Brown, Naomi Aberly, Jeremy Bird, former Dallas Mayor and Ambassador Ron Kirk, Congressman Joaquin Castro, community leader Eric D. Johnson, Austin Ligon, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, volunteer leader Jennifer Longoria, labor leader Marvin Ragsdale, Eddy Morales, Amber Mostyn, Carrin Mauritz Patman, Carrin F. Patman, Kirk Rudy, and Lynda Tran.