OLLU cultivates successful executives

Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013

OLLU produces leaders in business, banking, health and other fields 

A future Fortune 500 company president nurtured lofty business aspirations but faced a daunting challenge: time. 

Joe Gorder wanted an MBA to climb beyond his role as director of information systems at Diamond Shamrock in the late 1980s. But he was logging 50-plus hours a week at the office while juggling responsibilities at home with his wife and two children. 

What to do? Gorder enrolled in the Weekend College program at Our Lady of the Lake University. Today, he serves as President and Chief Operating Officer of Valero Energy Corp., the nation’s largest oil refiner. 

“The Weekend College provided flexibility of scheduling,” says Gorder (MBA 1992). “It allowed me to go to work during the week and attend classes on weekends.” 

Gorder is one of many OLLU alumni who have risen to executive leadership in business, banking, education, health and other fields. 

Here are other distinguished executives: 

• Harvey Hartenstine, President Broadway Bank, Austin Region 

Hartenstine wanted to go back to school. He had a wife, young daughter and a busy job: vice president in professional executive lending at Broadway Bank. He enrolled in Weekend College, earned an MBA in 1996, and recently became president of the bank’s Austin Region. “I took a lot of things I learned from the Lake, brought them into the workplace and use them to this day,” he says. 

• Karen Pitcher, CEO Warm Springs Specialty Hospital 

Pitcher was a contract administrator for a Fortune 500 healthcare company when she enrolled in Weekend College. Her MBA in health administration (‘93) led her on a journey to Warm Springs. “The master’s absolutely has opened doors for me that I would never have seen opened without it.” 

• Susan Galindo, NEISD school board president 

Galindo has served special needs children pretty much her whole life, most notably as head master of River City Christian School and as director of Special Needs Ministries at University United Methodist Church. She holds a master’s in Organizational Leadership. “The flexibility of the Weekend College allowed me to do that,” she says. 

• Andrea Marks, CFO, UT Health Science Center 

Two years after receiving her MBA from Weekend College, Marks became Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of an institution with $1.3 billion in assets. Today, at age 41, she manages the UT Health Science Center’s $739 million annual operating budget. 

• Jeff Flores, Superintendent, Henry Ford Academy: Alameda School for Art + Design 

Flores is a quick study in leadership. Two month into a teaching job at Blessed Sacrament Academy, he was promoted to principal. He holds a bachelor’s in history (‘95) and a master’s in education (‘98) and has spent 15 years serving students as a teacher, technical assistance provider, business operations manager, principal and superintendent in public, parochial and charter schools. 

• Richard Pena, Senior Vice President, CPS Energy 

Pena was serving CPS Energy as director of maintenance and engineering services when he enrolled in Weekend College. Six years after earning an MBA in business administration in 1995, Pena became an executive. As senior vice president of Energy Supply and Market Operations, he supervises four directors and says, “I wish all my directors could get MBAs from the Lake.” 

• Asia Ciaravino, President and CEO, The Playhouse 

An accomplished actor, large-scale national events coordinator and marketer, Ciaravino was seeking a way to tie her involvement in the arts, the non-profit world and business together. She completed the Master of Science in Nonprofit Management completely online in 2012. "The program gave me the depth and breadth to prepare to lead a major fine arts company in the seventh largest city in the nation." 

• Pamela Taylor, CEO, Dress for Success San Antonio 

Taylor and her daughter started a non-profit more than 10 years ago to help disadvantaged and abused women become self sufficient. Through Dress for Success San Antonio, they have provided business suits and an array of services, such as interviewing and resume writing skills, to more than 5,500 clients. Along the way, Taylor earned her bachelor’s in Liberal Studies in the spring. 

• Ruth Pina, Vice President, Valero Energy Corp. 

Pina was an HR manager at Pace Foods when she enrolled at Weekend College. After earning a bachelor’s in management in 1990, she joined Valero and rose through the company. Today, she serves as vice president of Human Resources and Company Relations and helps secure major gifts as an OLLU trustee. 

• John Valencia, Executive Director, San Diego Oceans Foundation 

Valencia has served as executive director of the non-profit San Diego Oceans Foundation since 2008. He earned a Master of Science in Non-Profit Management online in 2010. “With the education I received, I have been able to triple our revenue growth, cultivate volunteer participation from 3,700 to 30,000 volunteers, increase our membership base by 1,000 percent and obtain over $3.5 million in new grants and private funds.” 

• Matt Feehery, CEO, Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center 

Feehery manages the drug and alcohol treatment center for adults and adolescents at Houston’s Memorial Hermann, the largest non-profit healthcare system in Texas -- and the 10th largest in the U.S. He earned an MBA with a focus in healthcare management from the Weekend College in 2007. “I gained an expanded view of the healthcare industry,” he says. “I sing the praises of the University.”