Make a Gift

Kevin J. Foyle, MBA, CFRE
Vice President
for Development

Norris, Zambra and Smith receive 2014 President’s Awards for Leadership

Published: April 11, 2014 by Jenna C. Taylor

Previous President’s Leadership Award Recipients

2006 – Robert J. Emery, DrPH
2007 – Paul E. Darlington, PhD
2008 – Ted D. Pate, PhD
2009 – M. Darla Brown
2010 – Carin A. Hagberg, MD
2011 – Brent R. King, MD
2012 – Charles A. Figari, Kay H. Williamson
2013 – Jodi Ogden, MBA, CRA, J. Timothy Bricker, MD

The President’s Awards for Leadership were expanded again this year and recognize three individuals: one each from classified, management/administrative & professional and faculty. This year’s award recipients are Debbie Norris, employee relations advisor, Human Resources; Jorge Zambra, director of management operations, Department of Pediatrics, UTHealth Medical School; and Mary Ann Smith, PhD, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health, associate dean for student affairs, UTHealth School of Public Health.

These prestigious awards, presented annually at the STAR Awards luncheon, honor the memory of the late Michael “Mike” Jimenez, former UTHealth vice president and chief human resources officer, and reflect the characteristics of a man who made an indelible mark on the university in four short years.

“The criteria for the awards are based on the qualities of leadership that Mike embodied: the consistent demonstration of leadership through service, compassion and ethical standards,” said Kevin Dillon, MBA, senior executive vice president, chief operating & financial officer. “I knew Mike. He was my friend. His brand of leadership was of the humble variety that inspired people to do their best through his example.”

President’s Award for Leadership: Outstanding Classified Staff, Debbie Norris

Debbie Norris

Debbie Norris

As a cornerstone of the Office of Human Resources, Debbie Norris exemplifies the coda of a true professional. One of her several nominators summed it up: “Debbie’s integrity, honesty, availability and sensitivity to confidentiality always allow me to use her as a sounding board and a coach.” Another states, “She is, in fact, one of UTHealth’s best resources. Her quiet demeanor belies the powerful positive impact she has had on so many of us at the university.”

Norris spoke of her admiration for Jimenez, in whose memory the President’s Leadership Award was created. “I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of working for Mike Jimenez. I was deeply influenced by Mike and his ability to lead others. I don’t know what I did to deserve this honor, but I know I try to live my life the ‘Mike way,’” said Norris. “In memory of Mike and the legacy he left for this great university, and for all classified employees who demonstrate and exemplify those qualities we so admired in Mike, I graciously accept this award.”

President’s Award for Leadership: Outstanding Management/Administrative and Professional, Jorge Zambra

Jorge Zambra

Jorge Zambra

“Jorge has the distinct honor of being nominated for the President’s Leadership Award by two different groups of coworkers this year,” said Dillon. “This is but one testament to his broad leadership across the Medical School.”

One nominator shared, “His personal interest in the success of employees at all levels is apparent in the relationships he has fostered with faculty and staff: he is a friend, an advisor, and a champion on your side.” Another colleague stated, “You want to do a good job for him not because he is your boss, but because you just hate to disappoint him.”

Dillon said in his introduction of Zambra, “Personally, there is no one I admire and respect more than Jorge,” said Dillon. “He proves that you can be kind, honest and ethical and still be effective and lead others.”

“UTHealth is more than the place where I work; it has become a home away from home. I am eternally grateful for the inspiration and opportunity I have found here,” Zambra remarked from the podium. “I am inspired by two things: one, our mission – we have the privilege to make a difference in people’s lives. Two: the people of UTHealth inspire me. It is a joy to work alongside each of you.”

President’s Award for Leadership: Outstanding Faculty, Mary Ann Smith, PhD

Mary Ann Smith, PhD

Mary Ann Smith, PhD

George Stancel, PhD, executive vice president for academic and research affairs introduced the third recipient, Mary Ann Smith, PhD, by describing the breadth of the respect she engenders. “Our faculty recipient is universally respected by colleagues and students alike, at all six regional campuses of the School of Public Health.”

From her nomination letters, Stancel recited, “'Dr. Smith’s career is distinguished by the number of people she has helped to do just that, whether by correcting performance problems, developing and advancing careers, or just providing a safe place to share a burden. ‘Another nominator stated, ‘Dr. Smith is quick to acknowledge the successes and contributions of not just her own staff, but of others throughout the school.’”

Smith, like her fellow recipients, passed along the credit to her own leadership and colleagues. "I am grateful for Dean Parcel and Cynthia Chappell who gave me the opportunity to participate in academic leadership. This was the launching pad for one of my most rewarding and meaningful experiences in my professional career," Smith said. "UTHealth has provided me with a safe space to grow and learn and I am privileged to work with colleague whom I respect and admire."

2014 President’s Leadership Award Nominees

Classified Nominees
Carlie Arabie
Auco Dang
Yvette Haas
Susan Kuether
Rosalind Myles
Ulysa Page
Crystal Perkins
Nermin Suljic
Cheryl Swift
Tressie Wallace-Jackson

Management/Administrative & Professional Nominees
William Adcox
John Greer
Ronda Mullane
Julie Page, CPA
Margaret Pung, RN, MA, NEA-BC
Kirk Roden
Eric Solberg, MA
Arlene Staller, JD

Faculty Nominees
Prakash Balan, MD, JD, FACC
Laura Benjamins, MD, PhD
Nancy Busen, PhD, FNP-BC, APRN
Patricia Butler, MD
Amy Calvin, PhD, RN
Atilla Ertan, MD
Walid Fakhouri, PhD
David Gorenstein, PhD
Andrew Harper, MD
Craig Johnson, PhD
Kevin Lally, MD, MS, FACS
Donald Molony, MD
Kevin Morano, PhD
Lemuel Moye III, MD, PhD
Donald Parks, MD
Diane Santa Maria, DrPH, RN, MSN
Richard Smalling, MD, PhD
Chris Smith, DVM
Charles Wade, PhD
James Wilson, DDS
Mary Joe White, PhD, RN