UT Dallas - The LINK
March 2013

Alumni and University Supporters Celebrated for Accomplishments

A dynamic, talented group of alumni and UT Dallas supporters will be honored for their achievements in nearly every sphere—politics, business, education and the arts — at the annual Awards Gala on April 4. The gala features the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Green and Orange Award for Alumni Service, and the Gifford K. Johnson Community Leadership Award.

Gifford K. Johnson Community Leadership Award Honoree

William C. “Bill” Sproull is president and CEO of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce, the Metroplex Technology Business Council and the Richardson Economic Development Partnership. He has led the revitalization of Richardson's telecommunications-based economy by focusing on industry and technology expansion. In 2005, Sproull assisted a statewide coalition that passed legislation in Texas to create the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. He is on the board of directors for several organizations, including the UT Dallas Development Board and the North Texas Commission. Sproull serves as treasurer of the Friends of UT Dallas Political Action Committee.

Green and Orange Award for Alumni Service Honoree

David Williamson BS’98, MS’02, MS’03 began his career at ARCO International Oil Gas Co. He then became a mining geologist for Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. where he later became the division geologist and oversaw all exploration, mine planning, and reserves reporting for more than 50 quarries. In 2004, Williamson reentered the energy industry as a petroleum geologist at Pioneer Natural Resources. While at Pioneer, he and four other alumni created the Geosciences Alumni Energy Opportunity Fund for the Department of Geosciences. In 2012, Williamson accepted a position with Forge Energy, LLC in San Antonio as their vice president of geosciences.

Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees

Bryant Ambelang BA’90 is president and CEO of NatureSweet, one of the largest tomato producers in the country. Before NatureSweet, Ambelang held brand management and sales roles for Kellogg's, Pace Foods and Campbell Soup Company. He shared his experiences at NatureSweet with UT Dallas students during a visit to campus last year. Ambelang discussed the company’s operations in Central Mexico, where he said NatureSweet is creating wealth and advancing the standard of living for its associates by providing educational opportunities, affordable healthcare and opportunities for ownership.

Joseph P. Estrera MS’92, PhD’92 is a senior vice president and chief technology officer for L-3 Infrared Products, which designs and manufactures military and commercial thermal imaging cameras and modules. He was principal and co-principal investigator and system architect in several major U.S. military soldier night vision system development programs. Estrera, who serves on the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Advisory Council, was instrumental in facilitating a gift-in-kind of night vision goggles, valued at nearly $700,000, to the University from L-3. He has written numerous technical papers, secured patents, and won industrial corporate awards. Estrera has been an assistant adjunct professor of physics at UT Dallas since 1996.

Alan Govenar PhD’84 is an award-winning writer, folklorist, photographer, and filmmaker. He is the director of two dozen films and the author of more than 20 nonfiction books and 14 artist books. Govenar founded Documentary Arts, Inc., an east Dallas-based nonprofit organization which aims to present new perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures through innovative theatrical productions, exhibitions, publications, films, and interactive media. Govenar and his wife, Kaleta Doolin, also founded the Texas African American Photography Archive, located in east Dallas. In 2010, he was awarded a prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.

Seshu Madhavapeddy MS’87, PhD’91 is general manager for Texas Instruments, where he oversees the company’s global OMAP Applications Processors smartphone and tablet business. He started his career at Nortel Networks Corporation, where he was responsible for the company’s wireless systems engineering and wireless internet products team. In 2000, Madhavapeddy founded and was chief strategy officer for Spatial Wireless. By the end of 2004, Spatial Wireless was acquired by Alcatel-Lucent. Subsequently, he joined Sipera Systems as president and CEO. Sipera Systems products are deployed in Fortune 500 enterprises, such as Goldman Sachs. Madhavapeddy’s innovative work has generated more than 25 patents and 20 published research papers.

Susan Miller PhD’94 is principal and founder of Voicetrainer, LLC, a voice and communication consulting firm in Washington, D.C. There she specializes in presentation skills, refinement of the speaking voice, anxiety reduction, accent refinement and treatment of the injured voice. Miller has appeared on NBC, NPR, in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of Be Heard the First Time: The Woman's Guide to Powerful Speaking. She is an assistant professor of otolaryngology at the MedStar Georgetown University Medical Center, a scientific fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and a certified speech-language pathologist.

Neila Skinner Petrick MA’76 began her career at the Corsicana Daily Sun, where she was a writer and photographer. She later edited the Italy News-Herald and worked at the Dallas Morning News’ Southwest Scene Magazine. Petrick is author of Jane Long of Texas, Jane Wilkinson Long: Texas Pioneer and Katherine Stinson Otero: High Flyer. She has written and produced 13 plays, numerous radio programs and commercial films. Petrick wrote and produced “The Christmas Horse,” a video currently being considered as a novel. Currently she has completed the documentary, Dallas, Story of a City. Petrick and her husband, Tom, have created an endowed scholarship in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Before Jefflyn Williamson BS’83 became president and owner of her commercial real estate firm, she was a first-generation college student in the Naveen Jindal School of Management. A generous scholarship from the Northwood Woman’s Club made her education possible. With that generosity in mind, Williamson now strives to make a significant impact on society. This desire led Williamson to establish the Jefflyn Williamson Opportunity Fund and the Jefflyn Williamson Endowment for Women. She also has been actively involved in the establishment of the Jindal School’s real estate program and alumni advisory group. Today, Jefflyn & Company specializes in brokerage, development, acquisitions and property management. Williamson also manages the majority of Ebby Halliday’s commercial holdings.

To register for the gala or to learn more, please visit alumni.utdallas.edu/gala.

Information Box

2013 Awards Gala
April 4: Reception is at 5:45 p.m. with dinner and program at 6:30 p.m.
Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel 900 East Lookout Drive, Richardson, Texas
Tickets: $75 each. Registration is available online.
Past award honorees: alumni.utdallas.edu/honorees
More information: Office of Development and Alumni Relations, 972-883-2586

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