FREEPORT — Director of Building and Code Kacey Roman has reached one of the high-water marks of her profession — being elected president of the Texas Environmental Health Association.
“It’s a wonderful organization comprised of public servants,” Roman said.
Members of the association, who number about a thousand, voted Roman into the position. The association includes code enforcement officers, health inspectors, animal control officers and other environmental health professionals.
Roman has been a member for over 20 years and had previously served in several offices, including as a governing council member and vice president. Her election was announced last month at the association’s annual Education Conference in Round Rock.
A Sweeny native who lives in Lake Jackson with her husband of 28 years and their family, said she more or less fell into the inspection game, but quickly grew into the role, Roman said.
“I worked for Lake Jackson for 17 years and I worked for Alvin for eight,” she said. “Over 20 years ago, when I became an inspector for the city of Lake Jackson, they sent me to TEHA for my education. For several years, I was just active, getting my education and getting to know the organization.”
Roman did not have building inspection in mind as a career, she said, but when the opportunity presented itself, she jumped at the chance to try something different, both for herself and for the people she worked with.
“Over 20 years ago, I was working for the city of Lake Jackson, but I was a secretary and I was going to school at night to get my degree for IT, a completely different field. Our code enforcement officer at the time unfortunately got cancer,” she said.
The public works director and the building official offered the chance to get her code enforcement officer license in order to help him and the city.
“That way he could keep his job and we could keep up the code enforcement in Lake Jackson,” she said. “Not many people can pinpoint the moment that your life changes, but that was it for me. I’m sure it looked like a deer-in-the-headlights moment.”
She told them she was very interested.
From that point, her career trajectory changed dramatically. Lake Jackson covered the cost of her license and degree and she provided a passion for public service.
“The most rewarding thing is that you realize you’re actually helping people,” Roman said.
When it came time to move on from Alvin, she became the first female building official in the history of the city of Freeport.
“I’ve been in Freeport just a little over a year now,” Roman said. “The city of Freeport is seeing a significant increase in building and development and I am honored to be a part of it. The new team at the city of Freeport is one of the best that I have worked with in my 25-plus years in city government.”
TEHA is a an affiliate of the National Environmental Health Association. The group’s mission statement says it provides continuing education for many required licenses and provides support and guidance to legislators regarding environmental health topics.
“Any issues that are about environmental health, we’re able to help educate the public and also help educate the educators,” Roman said.
She became involved in the association at the local level over 10 years ago and at the state level about seven years ago, she said. The Gulf Coast Chapter, of which she is a member, stretches from near South Padre Island to Beaumont and Houston. It currently provides five officers for the state organization.
The office will allow Roman influence beyond the state of Texas.
“When you are the president of the state organization, you are invited to be a member of several of the boards of the national organization,” Roman said. “So we have, also, local chapters that include several states and, fortunately, now with the Zoom and Teams, we’re able to get on those Zoom calls and be a part of them without having to travel as much as you used to be required to.”