Alumni fill leadership roles at Health Science Center

Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012

(Left to right) Angelica Ramirez (BA ’96 and MBA '01); 
Sabrina Paniagua (MBA '10); Natalie A. Gutierrez (BA ’92); 
Gerard E. Long (PhD '12); Ginny Gomez-Leon (MBA '08); 
and Andrea M. Marks (MBA '08)
The business office at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio boasts an executive brain trust with a remarkable post-graduate story. 

At the young age of 39, Andrea M. Marks rose to Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of UTHSC-SA – an institution with $1.3 billion in assets – two years after receiving her MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University in 2008. 

Now 41, Andrea manages the Health Science Center’s $739 million annual operating budget with the help of two OLLU alumni – assistant Vice President for Budget and Financial Planning Ginny Gomez-Leon (MBA ‘08) and assistant Vice President for Business Affairs Jerry Long (PhD Leadership Studies ‘12). 

“You have three individuals in three key positions who are outstanding executives and they all went through the OLLU program,” says Delbert Gonzalez, the institution’s former Assistant VP for Budget and Financial Planning who now serves as Executive Director of Financial Services at Holy Cross High School. 

“The Health Science Center ranks in the top three percent of all institutions worldwide receiving federal funding. The $736 million operating budget supports eight campuses in four cities – San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. It also supports a workforce of 5,500, more than 3,300 students, 1,090 residents and is the chief catalyst for the $24.5 billion biosciences and health care industry in San Antonio. To have a CFO of this institution who is 41 is remarkable.” 

Gonzalez is an OLLU graduate himself (MBA ‘95) who retired from UTHSC-SA in 2010 – but not without a legacy. Before leaving, he encouraged Marks and Gomez-Leon to pursue graduate studies at OLLU. 

“He really promoted the Lake’s program to us,” Marks says. “He encouraged us to pursue it because it was convenient, accessible, doable – something we would get a lot out of. Delbert encouraged other folks who have gone to The Lake and come back to work here.” 

Marks, Long and Gomez-Leon are just three of many OLLU alumni who work for UTHSC. Other Lake graduates include Sabrina M. Paniagua, director of Donor Relations; Natalie Gutierrez, director of publications in the Office of Communications; Angelica M. Ramirez, Development Resource Coordinator; Anne Price, Pediatrics Programmer Analyst 1; Carolina Nava, Information Systems Operations Manager; Sofia E. Pina, Assistant Dean in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; and Ralph Terpolilli, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine. 

Natalie Gutierrez (BA Communication Arts ‘92) works on the third floor of the Academic and Administration Building at UTHSC-SA. Angelica Hernandez (BBA CIS ‘96, MBA ‘01) works on the fourth floor, as do Marks, Gomez-Leon and Paniagua (MBA ’10). “We stay in touch, help each other and network,” Gutierrez says. “It’s like family that we’re close to forever.” 

Gomez-Leon arrived in the Internal Audit Department at UTHSC-SA 15 years ago, thinking the position would be temporary. Her accounting and leadership skills made her a mainstay. “The various projects I managed began to extend beyond the finances,” she says, “and I was able to see firsthand the impact the University has on San Antonio and the South Texas region through its delivery of education, patient care, research and community outreach.” 

Gonzalez encouraged her to pursue an advanced degree at The Lake. The flexibility of the Weekend College MBA program attracted Gomez-Leon. One semester after she enrolled, Marks followed. 

Around the same time, Long decided to pursue a doctorate at OLLU in Leadership Studies. Gonzalez nodded and smiled. “Once he heard that I was enrolled, he encouraged me along the way,” Long says. “All six years.” 

Marks, Long and Gomez-Leon say OLLU equipped them well for the positions they hold today. “The course of studies gave me a greater understanding of leadership and how it influences followers,” Long says. 

The three alumni share a unique and compelling history. They grew up together at UTHSC-SA, secured advanced degrees at The Lake and rose to the top of the business office. 

“Jerry and Ginny are brilliant accounting professionals,” Marks says. “The education they got at The Lake is the gravy on top. They’ve honed their skills through their employment and their advanced degrees. I could not do what I do every day without those two.”