Courtney Heard excels at work, and as a community volunteer
Courtney Heard says she got the volunteer bug from her mom.
Turns out it’s a very large bug.
When Heard isn’t working as a subsurface production supervisor for Chevron’s Mid Continent Business Unit, she’s pitching in as a board member and volunteer for several local charitable organizations: the Bush Tennis Center, United Way of Midland and the Centers for Children and Families. And yet, somehow, she still fits in time to go for a run around town and an occasional stop at her “go-to” dining spots, the Cork & Pig Tavern and Red Oak Kitchen.
Heard is humble about her commitment to her job and community.
“A lot of it was probably just something for me to do, just helping out where possible,” she says.
In truth, Heard is the type of person who never sleeps on an opportunity to make a difference, whether she’s on or off the clock.
Raised in Sugar Land, a suburb of Houston, Heard graduated from Fort Bend ISD before attending the University of Texas at Austin, where she pursued a degree in Petroleum Engineering because, she quips, “at the time oil prices were pretty high.”
Within a few months of being on campus, Heard scored an internship with Chevron with help from a career fair. She worked three separate internships with the company during her time at UT-Austin. Her first summer internship was in Midland in 2014, where as a rising sophomore she was already pursuing opportunities to volunteer in the local community.
During her internships, Heard was exposed to Chevron’s employee networks, which empower workers to network with each other, to embrace and celebrate diversity throughout the company and to work to make a difference in local communities. Through those networks, the driven intern was exposed to various opportunities to support local communities.
After graduating from college in 2017, Heard joined Chevron as an employee starting out in Houston. It didn’t take her long to find a Chevron website that lists community volunteer opportunities for its employees. While in Houston, she helped immigrants fill out citizenship applications and supported groups like Habitat for Humanity, among other efforts.
By the time Heard’s career led her to move to Midland in 2019, the volunteer bug had long set in.
A manager in Houston recommended that Heard consider the Generations Program operated by the Nonprofit Management Center. She applied for the program, which trains its students on how to become an effective member of a nonprofit organization’s board of directors. The program involves a course lasting several months that “teaches you the ins and outs of being a board member, what that responsibility is, and some of the nonprofit basics,” Heard said.
One of the requirements at the end of the course is to sign up for a nonprofit board, which led her to her role on the board of the Bush Tennis Center, which enables affordable access to tennis courts and programs in the Permian Basin. Additionally, she’s participating annually on the education review panel for United Way Midland, advising on how the organization’s funding is used. If that weren’t enough, Heard also joined the board for the Centers for Children and Families, an organization providing counseling resources for families throughout the Permian. The Centers’ services are critical “especially in times like COVID when there are high stressors,” Heard said, adding, “And just in general counseling services are hard to come by.”
As a volunteer with the Center’s Kids First program, Heard also helped non-custodial parents see their children on a regular basis in a supervised environment.
Her volunteer workload “ebbs and flows,” and it’s all worth it, said Heard, who loves seeing kids interact with their parents. She says she also enjoys seeing how nonprofits operate and likes being part of programs that make a difference, like the Bush Tennis Center’s ongoing relationship with the Bynum School for kids with special needs.
“I think the biggest thing about the Permian Basin is how nice people are. You go to the grocery store, people are friendly and strike up a conversation. Our neighbors were super open and welcoming when I first came.” — Courtney Heard
“They host several different activities, allow for those kids to be really engaged through sports,” she said. “It’s one of those cool facets of a tennis center you’d never think about.”
Asked how one gets the “volunteer bug,” Heard says, “I guess it’s how I was raised, you just help people when you can and do the best and most you can with what you have.”
“You get to a point in your life when you see your own experiences and others’ experiences, and you realize, oh wow, I’m kind of fortunate,” Heard said. “I’ve got a good job, I have free time, I’m not really overwhelmed with anything, so I might as well give back to the community while I can.”
Heard says her community activities get “a lot of support” from her supervisors at Chevron. In her day job, Heard helps manage processes that aim to optimize production in Chevron’s operations.
“It’s been a fantastic learning experience, I get to work with smart people who have a ton of experience,” she said. “It’s been amazing to get to out to the field and see the work that’s being done.”
And the care and attention going into perfecting operations on the oil fields, is very much the kind of care and attention being paid at nonprofits also operating in the Permian Basin, according to Heard.
She describes her professional role as aiming to “really understand, OK, this is the way we may design things, and here’s why it may be effective, or not effective, based on how it gets implemented or put back into the whole.”
Her work at Chevron has been a source for connection in her community, and her ongoing work in the community is only growing that network. There’s another reason Heard feels compelled to help out.
“I think the biggest thing about the Permian Basin is how nice people are,” she said. “You go to the grocery store, people are friendly and strike up a conversation. Our neighbors were super open and welcoming when I first came. And with the oil industry being as big as it is here, with so many people connected to it, it’s easy to find common ground with my neighbors.”