Annise Parker worked hard in both the private and public sectors before taking a shot at the mayoral office in the nation’s fourth-largest city. She spent two decades in oil and gas, worked as a gay rights advocate and served three terms as city comptroller.

Last fall, she ran a clean, honest campaign for mayor. She ran with integrity, and she ran on a smart platform that Houstonians believe will help the city continue to weather the recession better than most U.S. cities.

In December, Parker entered a runoff race against Gene Locke, whose supporters circulated campaign material suggesting her sexual orientation made her unqualified for the job. Parker secured the mayoral seat, and Houston won prominence as the largest city in the country to elect an openly gay mayor.

In her inaugural speech Jan. 4, WiG’s hero said her election marked a milestone, but “today is simply one step toward a tomorrow of greater justice.” Parker’s partner Kathy Hubbard held the Bible upon which Parker took her oath of office.