The Dean’s Advisory Council consists of executives from Houston and the Coastal Bend area. Members advise Dean Niroomand on key issues affecting the school, and help to ensure that the SBA is meeting the needs of the business community.
Michael T. Willis has made a career of responding to unrecognized needs and opportunities with creativity and vision. Repeated success in building and managing high performing organizations to prominence in the staffing and recruiting marketplace secured Mr. Willis’s position among the industry’s leading figures and innovators. Consistent value for clients, exceptional customer experience, and the engaged employees and consultants that make it possible have been the product of his talent for building client-centric cultures and healthy organizations.
Over his career, Mr. Willis has founded and managed some of the largest and most admired firms in the staffing, managed services, and information technology industries. Within the staffing and managed services communities, he is a recognized innovator whose influence and ideas have shaped the industry at large. As the first to deploy computer systems in the staffing environment in the early 1980s and as a leading figure in the development of the staffing vendor management concept in the early 1990s, he has maintained a consistent position at the leading edge and a reputation for innovation.
Mr. Willis’s endeavors and innovations were instrumental in driving fundamental change in the staffing industry and include his leading edge role in the introduction of Vendor Management (VMS) and Managed Services (MSP) to the space. The sophistication and scalability of those next generation services resulted in a more efficient and predictable means of acquiring quality contract resources at the enterprise level. These improvements in stability and efficiency were a tipping point for acceptance and widespread adoption of contract labor as an integral part of a best practice workforce strategy.
Since 1971, Mr. Willis has grown firms both organically and through acquisition and led multiple public and private companies up to $1 billion in size. Having grown multiple businesses and successfully integrated nearly 100 companies during his career, Mr. Willis’s industry knowledge and business acumen are a tremendous asset to Willis Group and its companies.
Dr. Jeff Blodgett came to the University of Houston-Victoria as Associate Dean in 2011. He received his PhD in Marketing from Indiana University, and over the years has taught at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels. He was on the faculty at The University of Mississippi from 1991-2004, and has been at University of Illinois at Springfield (2004-2007), and North Carolina A&T State University (2008-2011). He enjoys teaching courses such as Marketing Management and Brand Management, and makes extensive use of cases and business simulations.
Dr. Blodgett has co-authored numerous papers on customer satisfaction and complaining behavior, advertising, online auctions, and other topics in Journal of Retailing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Service Research, Psychology & Marketing, Journal of Consumer Marketing, and other leading journals. He is also on the editorial review board of the Journal of Service Research and the Journal of Consumer Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction & Complaining Behavior.
Dr. Blodgett has worked closely with industry constituents and has valuable experience with program development including SACS and AACSB accreditation standards.
John O’Dell is a native Houstonian whose career has spanned higher education, entrepreneurship, and business development.
O’Dell currently serves as Director, Strategic Business Development for WG Consulting, a full service consulting firm delivering solutions to complex business challenges across the industry spectrum with a special focus on financial advisory services to CFOs and U.S. regulatory compliance and the systems companies require to maintain compliance. Particular depth in the Energy sector has made the WGC team a trusted source for energy related compliance, business process improvement services, energy trading platforms, Dodd Frank compliance and more. www.wgconsulting.com
O’Dell also serves as Chairman of Connections Intelligence, LLC whose software, “Cink” guides business development professionals to increased productivity and effectiveness through more purposeful interaction with connections available to them and by providing mapping tools to impact geographic efficiency. Cink also provides organizations such as Chambers of Commerce, Alumni Associations, and Professional Associations outstanding mapping tools to bring membership and prospective members visibly to life via Cink Maps and aide in connecting with each other. www.GetInCink.com
From 2004 through mid 2012, John served as Director, Alumni Development, for the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. Bauer College has approximately 50,000 alumni. A 1969 graduate of the school, he has served on the Honors College Advisory Board, the Houston Athletics Foundation Board, Bauer College’s Accounting Advisory Board, and in many volunteer capacities.
O’Dell has also served on boards of Chambers of Commerce and was a founding board member of the Houston Angel Network in conjunction with the Houston Technology Center.
John is married to UH alumna Brenda O’Dell and has two grown children and four grandchildren.
Jenny Tektiridis is the Executive Director, Research Planning and Development in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In this role, she is responsible for leading the development and implementation of division research initiatives with a focus on programs of the Duncan Family Institute for Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment, including its Integrative Health clinical services program. She is engaged with MD Anderson’s cancer control initiatives as a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Platform and as a past co-leader of the Energy Balance Comprehensive Cancer Control Workgroup.
Prior to her current role, Jenny was the administrative leader for the NCI-funded Cancer Center Support Grant, which supports 19 research programs and 24 core laboratory resources, and was renewed with a 15% increase in funding, for a five-year total of more than $52.7 million, following an “Outstanding” peer review rating. She was recognized as a Rogers Award for Research finalist for her contributions.
Jenny joined MD Anderson in 2002 as the first Executive Director for the Gulf Coast Consortia, responsible for developing and administering this six-institution collaborative interdisciplinary bioscience research and training programs. Prior to joining MD Anderson, Jenny held various executive leadership positions with responsibility for business operations, information technology and quality management functions in organizations ranging from a laboratory supplies distributor to a retail energy start-up. She spent several years with a major consulting firm, providing process and IT planning and implementation expertise to companies in consumer and commercial service industries.
Jenny has a BS in Geology and Spanish from Dickinson College, an MS degree in Business with a concentration in Accounting from Rollins College and has been admitted to candidacy in the PhD program in Health Management at The UT School of Public Health - Houston campus. She is a State of Texas licensed CPA.
Zhao, H, Tektiridis, J, et al. (2012). "Cancer Prevention Health Services Research: An Emerging Field." Journal of Cancer Education 27(0): 149-156.
Denton, KA., Smith, CR, Scroggs, S, and Tektiridis, JH, “A Lean Survivorship Program” Abstract, UT System Building Bridges Clinical Safety and Effectiveness Conference, October 26, 2011.
Denton, KA., Smith, CR, Scroggs, S, and Tektiridis, JH, “A Lean Survivorship Program” UT MD Anderson Cancer Center Clinical Safety & Effectiveness Program, July 2011 (recognized with a Gold award).
“Cancer Prevention and Health Services Research Future Directions,” (co-author), poster for the American Society of Preventive Oncology Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, 2010.
“Collaboration – Challenges and Opportunities,” (co-presenter), Research Centers in Minority Institutions Annual Conference, Houston, TX, 2005.
“Total Quality Management – Tools and Techniques,” Workshop Co-facilitator, Pre-conference Workshop, Clinical Laboratory Management Association – National Conference, 1993.
“The Team Approach to Quality Improvement” Tech Sample – Management and Education No. MGM-4, American Society of Clinical Pathologists (co-author), 1993.
Total Quality Management in Environmental Laboratories – Module 1 and 2 (Curtin Matheson Scientific, Inc., internal publication), 1991.
Dean Farhang Niroomand earned a PhD in International Economics from Michigan State University. Before coming to UHV as Dean of the School of Business, he served as Associate Dean and was Professor of Economics and International Business at the University of Southern Mississippi. He was the recipient of USM's Excellence in Teaching Award in 1987 and 1993. He was recognized as the BellSouth Outstanding Faculty Member in 1990 and received the Louis K. Brandt Faculty Publications Award in 1999.
Dean Niroomand's list of professional accomplishments include his appointment as Executive Secretary-Treasurer of Omicron Delta Epsilon, one of the world's largest academic honor societies. He was also the Project Director for "From Local to Global: The Internationalization of Business in Mississippi," a Title VI-B Grant from the United States Department of Education. In 2008, he was selected for inclusion in the 2008-2009 Princeton Premier Registry.
Dean Niroomand has published articles in several academic journals, including Economic Development and Cultural Change, Economic Letters, Review of World Economics, Journal of Economic Studies, Applied Economics, Journal of World Trade, Journal of Developing Areas, International Trade Journal, Journal of Economics and Finance, Competitiveness Review and Journal of Global Business. His extensive knowledge and research in the fields of International Trade and Finance make Dean Niroomand a foremost authority and well-known leader in these industries
Faculty, University of Southern Mississippi, Dept. of Economics and International Business (1984-2009)
Farouk Shami came to America in 1965 with $71 in his pocket and through determination achieved the American dream. He is the Founder and Chairman of Farouk Systems, Inc. a multinational corporation that manufactures the world renowned brands BioSilk and CHI. These lines are currently sold in 106 countries which has given Farouk a unique perspective on global business and how to succeed in the 21st century.
Farouk's story begins more than 44 years ago when he came to the United States on a scholarship. Originally, he intended to follow in his father's footsteps and pursue a career in Education. While enrolled, he began working part time as a hairdresser and discovered his true calling when he became a salon owner. Being an entrepreneur and small business owner gave Farouk an opportunity to create better, more efficient tools to perfect his craft. In 1986, he enjoyed a major breakthrough, the first of many, when he invented the first ammonia-free hair lightener and coloring system. From that moment, Farouk’s mission became environment, education and ethics, creating a company that is environmentally responsible, promoting education and adhering to the highest ethical standards. It is how Farouk lives his life and the quality of the products that his company makes reflects his passion for perfection.
What has followed is a truly American success story with the invention of the CHI line of ceramic thermal tools, hairdryers with low EMF (electromagnetic fields) and a line of hair tools that features nano silver, which eliminates up to 650 forms of bacteria, making salons healthier for customers and stylists.
In December 2007, Farouk made one of the riskiest decisions of his career when he shifted his manufacturing to Texas. By July 2009, the CHI USA plant in Houston was complete. He also made the long term business decision to partner with factories all over Texas, in order to create jobs all over the state. Farouk is a brilliant businessman who has done what many said was impossible, manufacturing high quality products in America. Farouk also has three ranches in Texas. He planted 10,000 olive trees at his ranch in Uvalde and uses them as ingredients for the CHI Organics line.
As a humanitarian who fervently believes that generosity is repaid many-fold, Farouk has donated to numerous charities and organizations worldwide without making it public knowledge. After September 11th, Farouk went to New York to personally help those who were affected by the tragedy, especially his fellow hairdressers. After Hurricane Katrina and Rita, he donated millions to the shelters set up in Houston to provide for our friends and neighbors. When Galveston and Houston were devastated by Hurricane Ike, he responded immediately by giving care packages to his employees and partnered with the City of Galveston, sending truckloads of hygiene products they lacked. Farouk and his business partner, John McCall, demonstrated their commitment to ending childhood diabetes by creating a research center at the City of Hope in California in memory of his father, Sheik Mohammed Shami. He also built a school in honor of this father to educate the young women of Palestine in the sciences.
Farouk has received numerous awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year and, on behalf of Farouk Systems, the Apollo Green Award for bringing jobs back to America.
Frank Yonish currently Executive Vice President/ Chairman of Fort Bend County for Bank of Texas. He has been in banking since 1982 in Houston, and is responsible for managing the Commercial Lending Group for the Houston market.
Frank has lived in Fort Bend County since 1982, when he moved from Detroit, Michigan after graduating from the University of Michigan – Dearborn with a dual degree in Economics and International Studies. He also obtained an Associate’s Degree in Accounting from Houston Community College.
Frank has been active in Fort Bend County, and is a former City of Missouri City Councilman, former chairman of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, and a former board member of the Fort Bend Child Advocates. He currently is a board member of Fort Bend County LID #15 and a member of the Knights of Columbus Council #11343 at St Laurence Parish.
Frank is married to Jane Yonish. The couple has two children: Lauren Yonish, a 3rd year law student at the University of Mississippi; and Lindsey, a junior at St Agnes Academy.
Atul Vir is a serial entrepreneur, inventor and guerilla marketer. He is the President of Equator Advanced Appliances, a manufacturer of innovative household products. His foremost contribution has been in the development and marketing of residential laundry appliances, specifically combo washer-dryers that wash and dry in one integrated unit. His innovations have led to the development of 16 patents. The latest model is called the Super Combo and has the ability to offer dual venting options in one portable unit. It is used in apartments, condos, recreational vehicles and boats.
Vir’s products have won awards from the Appliance Manufacturing Association, American Society on Aging, Consumers Digest, and have been featured on CBS News, HGTV and Oprah, in addition to being published in Fortune, Popular Mechanics, New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Equator has been three times in the Houston 100 list of fastest Growing Companies, Wells Fargo Bank selected him twice as the Entrepreneur of the year and he was an Ernest and Young finalist.
Atul was educated in India where he did his Masters in International Business. He subsequently gained significant work experience in Europe, Africa and China, which has contributed to his insight into international trade, logistics and management.
He is also the Principal of Shangri-La Contemporary Arts Foundation, an organization that promotes international art.
Atul is involved in community work and contributes his time to local activities. In addition to serving on the Business Committee of Newspring, he is a Judge for the HCC Business Plan Contest and volunteers in teaching Art Business to high school students.
Atul Vir is married and has two children. In his spare time he plays a classical musical instrument called the sitar, enjoys tennis and experiments with cooking
Dr. Steve Ferguson came to the University of Houston-Victoria as its first Executive in Residence in 2013. Dr. Ferguson has more than 30 years experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, consultant, university faculty member and military officer. Dr. Ferguson’s expertise focuses on business growth, executive leadership development, and strategic, organizational transformation. His business perspective is founded on achieving the both the goals of the enterprise and the needs of its customers. He has held C-level positions including chief executive officer and has served as a member of the board of directors for a publicly held company.
Dr. Ferguson is a managing director with Endeavor Management. His consulting practice is focused on boards of directors’ effectiveness and organizational transformation. Consulting engagements include companies in oil & gas, financial services, federal natural resources agencies, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and information technology industries.
During his career in banking, Dr. Ferguson was a member of the board of directors of Compass Bank where he also served on the Management Committee. He was President and CEO of River Oaks Bank and Trust Company, a $10 billion financial institution.
He earned a PhD in organizational development from the University of Washington and has completed executive education programs from the Harvard School of Business. He earned his bachelor’s degree from The Citadel.
PhD - University of Washington, Organization Development, 1981
MS - Tarleton State University (Central Texas), Information Systems, 1976
BA - The Citadel, History, 1973
Heber S. Lacerda was born in Pocrane, Brazil in 1962. The oldest of a family of two brothers and three sisters, Mr. Lacerda first became a manager at a manufacturing business while still in high school. Upon completion of high school, Mr. Lacerda enrolled and attended the Northeast Adventist College. In 1984, after two very successful college years, he was recruited at the age of twenty-two to attend the Southwestern Adventist University in Keene Texas, near Fort Worth. After entering and excelling in the school’s ESL Program, Mr. Lacerda obtained two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in theology and a Bachelor of Business Administration.
Upon his graduation from college in 1988, Mr. Lacerda was hired as an accountant for American Realty Consultants, Inc. in Dallas, Texas. In 1993 he co-founded Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers and shortly afterwards obtained certification as a CPA and completed training to become a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator. In the fall of 1994, Mr. Lacerda relocated his family from Dallas and headquartered his business in Victoria. Currently, he is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.
Mr. Lacerda is active in community affairs and has served on the University of Houston-Victoria Business Advisory Council, as well as the Board of Directors for Victoria Economic Development Council and the Victoria Country Club.
Mr. Lacerda and his wife Bethany have four children; Heber Blake, Ashley, Brian-Andrew, and Brittany-Anne.
Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, Inc. manages a conglomerate of over 100 limited partnerships and corporations. The concentration of its business is long-term healthcare and the organization currently manages twenty-nine nursing facilities in Texas. The corporate office, located in Victoria, maintains a staff of 90 individuals who develop policies and procedures for both clinical and administrative sectors of the operation.
Victoria Ai Linh Bryant graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy in 1998. After graduation, she served as a critical care pharmacist for the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affair Medical Center.
In 2003, she started a home care agency, Ambassadors Caregivers, serving seniors, the disabled and elderly population in the greater Houston area. Other founded companies include SeniorVantage (healthcare marketing firm), Hubmed, Inc. (healthcare communication software), and recently Ambassador Foundation (501c3 nonprofit) helping seniors live well.
Dr. Bryant volunteered on multiple medical missions to Vietnam from 1997 – 2008. In 2010, Dr. Bryant helped to form and is currently serving as the secretary and treasurer for Voice to The Nations Foundation, a 5nonprofit organization that helps orphans around the world, especially in Southeast Asia and Brazil.
Dr. Bryant serves on Houston West Chamber of Commerce health & wellness committee, Board of Advisor to UH College of Education Dean’s Advisory Council, MHSW Hospital Women’s Advisory Council, and a board member of TARC. Currently, she is the president of the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce of Houston.
She is a Leadership Houston Class XXI Alumni. Dr. Bryant continues to foster business transactions, promote free enterprise and build relationships in hope to serve the people and the business community. Her hobbies and interests include real estate, running, traveling, spending time with loved ones and blogs on subjects of business, healthcare and fashion.
Dr. Bryant supports the arts/theatre, and sings on the praise team.
Steven Kaufman, CPA, MsEDE, is a principal in Zeus Mortgage where he has coordinated over a billion dollars in real estate financing for companies like American Express, Hewlett Packard, and Exxon Mobil. Zeus Mortgage is the 37th fastest growing private financial service firms in the US according to Inc. Magazine. Steven is frequently interviewed by local and national news organizations like FOX, ABC, CBS, CNN, and Bloomberg on the current financial markets. Steven has personally acquired dozens of investment properties and has been involved in several large real estate projects. Steven completed the Strategic Marketing Management Program at Harvard Business School and has a Masters Degree in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship from the University of Houston. His unparalleled finance experience has made him the leading expert on mortgages and real estate financing.
A 1999 inductee into the business honorary Beta Gamma Sigma. A 2002 inductee into Who's Who in the United States, 2010 inductee into Who's Who for Executives, a 2006 National Leadership Award recipient, and a 2006 Honorary Chairman of the Business Advisory Council of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Steven is a 2007 recipient of the Business Leader of the Year Award by the NRCC. Steven sat as an officer of The RICH Club (The Realty Investment Club of Houston) Board of Directors for 9 years, has been a Director for the Greater Houston Association of Mortgage Professionals, and sits on the Dean's Advisory Council for the University of Houston School of Business. Steven recently accepted a board position with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently ranked Steven as one of the "Top 40 Most Influential Mortgage Professionals in the United States" and the Houston Business Journal recently ranked him as one of the "Top 40 Under 40 in Houston". Steven is co-author of the nationally acclaimed bestselling book “Off the Coast of Zanzibar”, he is a 5 time state bench press record holder, 2010 World Bench Press Champion, the 2011 and 2012 World Bench Press Champion Runner-up, and 2013 Golden-Tiger VII powerlifting competitor in Ekaterinburg Russia. Steven is a co-founder and current President of The Fanatical Change Foundation, and he is the Houston Astros August 2012 Hometown Hero.
Steven can be reached at 800-ASK-ZEUS (275-9387) or log-on to WWW.ASKZEUS.COM.
|1964 – 1967||University of Texas||Austin, TX|
|Doctor of Jurisprudence|
|1960 – 1964||University of Notre Dame||Notre Dame, IN|
|Bachelor of Arts – History|
|2010 – date||University of Houston Victoria
|2010 – date||Post Oak Bank, N.A.
|Executive Vice President and General Counsel|
|1993 – 2010||Fiesta Mart, Inc
|General Counsel and Secretary. Responsible for all legal matters, risk, claims, safety and loss prevention|
|1990 – 1993||Dickerson, Carmouche and Jones
|Partner. Mid-sized law firm based in Houston|
|1989 – 1990||Walsh, Squires and Tompkins
|Partner. Mid-sized law firm (28 attorneys) based in Houston.|
|1975 – 1989||Dickerson, Early, Pennock and Carmouche
|Partner. Mid-sized law firm based in Houston with office in Albuquerque; merged with Walsh, Squires and Tompkins|
|1973 – 1975||HoweHowell Corporation (NYSE)
|Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel. Small publicly traded petroleum company.|
|1967 – 1973||.TeleTeleCom Corporation (NYSE)
|Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel. Small public company in trucking business and investments.|
Allison Wen is the owner of Safari Texas Ranch, a full service event facility in Richmond, specializing in wedding ceremonies, galas, bar/bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras, corporate meetings, company picnics, and holiday parties. He also chairs the Fort Bend County Global Initiatives, whose mission is to encourage cultural, educational and economic exchange; and ultimately enhance our quality of life,”
Ten years ago, Allison Wen, owner and general manager of Safari Texas Ballroom at Safari Texas Ranch, made a decision to give back to the Fort Bend community by underwriting one fundraiser each year in a Salute to Fort Bend, with the recipient of the funds raised decided by each year’s committee.
The beneficiary of the first Salute in 2002 was the new Cinco Ranch Branch Library. The second Salute, in 2003, raised funds for the Fort Bend CORPS. In 2004, the committee decided to incorporate recognition and assistance for working with the future of the county — the youth, so funds raised went to Boy Scout programs in Fort Bend County. In 2005, the Salute’s Cookie Diva Gala raised funds for Girl Scout programs in Fort Bend County, and in 2006, the Salute’s DreamBuilders was very successful in raising and bringing in both funds and extra baby/child necessities for Casa de Esperanza de los Niños’ programs in Fort Bend County. The 2007 Salute’s Spirit of Caring raised funds for Common Threads (Lamar CISD) and Shared Dreams (Fort Bend ISD). Last year, the Salute’s Community Connection benefited Volunteer Fort Bend.
Allison and Cassandra Wen have shown extraordinary generosity in committing to underwriting a fundraiser to assist a Fort Bend organization each year, and that is of great benefit to the Fort Bend community. The Wens, the Safari Texas Ranch staff and the event committee work very hard to make the event a success, and each year the Salute becomes one to “top” the following year.