2020 IPMI Industry Professional of the Year: Maria Irshad, CAPP
Assistant Director, ParkHouston
Maria Irshad, CAPP—known as “the parking lady” around Houston—is dedicated, well-respected by colleagues, and known for her innovation. ParkHouston manages about 9,500 paid parking spaces and 19 off-street surface lots; the enforcement of all parking codes; and the administration of various permits. Irshad leads a team of 75 and provides parking policy recommendations to the Mayor’s Office.
Irshad holds a master’s degree in public administration. In 2015, she spearheaded Accredited Parking Organization (APO) recognition for ParkHouston, and the organization earned APO with Distinction in 2016. In 2017, she organized a committee of private parking operators to provide parking for the Super Bowl in Houston through the My Fan parking app. In addition, she’s been very close to the arts community. She collaborated with Houston Arts Alliance to create the nation’s first art parking meter sculptures, which were featured in the 2016 Sculpture Month Houston tour.
She was successful in being awarded a $3.2 million federal grant to establish a public-private partnership for an automated parking guidance system for downtown Houston, which launched the first on-street car-share program in the city.
She worked with stakeholders to develop master parking plans uniquely designed for some of Houston’s most densely populated communities, including Montrose, the Museum District, and Rice Village.
Her latest project is the creation of the Community Parking Program, which would authorize the issuance of permits that exempt residents and employees of businesses in designated areas from the on-street parking restrictions (meter and/or time limits). The program will be deployed in mixed-use areas where multiple establishments rely on the curb space.
Irshad is heavily involved in the parking and mobility industry. She is the current president of the Texas Parking & Transportation Association, a member of the International Parking and Mobility Institute (IPMI) Accredited Parking Organization Board of Directors, co-chair of the IPMI Professional Recognition Committee, and a past IPMI Parking Solutions judge. She has served on several other committees, including Professional Recognition, Parking Research, and Data Analytics, and is a past president of Women Professionals in Government. In 2014, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration recognized her with a Spotlight Award for her contributions toward solving public sector problems.
Outside of work, Irshad chairs the Houston Shifa Services Foundation, which offers low-cost medical and dental services to the community. The Shifa Women’s Center provides a safe haven and resources for survivors of domestic violence.