As chief information officer for MHMR of Tarrant County, Diana Awde leads the technology needs for 2,000 employees to serve 65,000 patients with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Diana was a leader in new soft and hardware technologies to transition the MHMR workforce from face-to-face to virtual within weeks,” said Catherine Carlton, also with My Health My Resources of Tarrant County. “Diana is a leader and a solution-based problem solver for her team, the employees and the patients we serve.”
Awde is a dedicated, committed and bright leader at MHMR and through her culture, education, career and family life has demonstrated an incredible amount before turning 40, Carlton said.
During the pandemic, Awde found strategic partnerships, apps, platforms, tablets and ways to provide technology to patients and families that were sheltering at home with no way to connect with service providers.
“From providing tablets, mobile Wi-Fi and other technologies, Diana helped provide solutions to ensure continuity of care for physical therapists helping babies delayed in walking, psychiatrists providing medication management, family interventionists checking on youth in crisis and connections for residents in group homes that were restricted from seeing family members in person due to state regulations,” Carlton said.
– Paul K. Harral
Where did your first paycheck come from?
I got a job as a receptionist at Fort Worth Pediatrics one summer for $8 an hour when I was 17.
What movie, TV series, play or video game influenced you growing up?
I loved watching Disney classics and singing along. I also played Super Mario World on Super Nintendo and it really bonded me with my siblings. I watched most of the popular ’90s shows like family sitcoms and comedies that taught me the importance of laughter in our life.
Tell us about an influential person in your life, how they influenced you and why he or she was important.
My father, Khaled Awde. He sacrificed everything and suffered through a difficult process to bring us to a country where we would have opportunity away from war and no rights as Palestinian refugees.
In Beirut, he was a highly valued high school teacher of math, physics, and chemistry. In America, he learned many other professions and worked seven days a week non-stop with no time off.
The time we spent together just talking always lifted me up. He was intelligent, charismatic, and always showed extreme empathy towards all people. He made me want to listen to him because he thought so highly of me and I never wanted to disappoint him. He continuously talked about how proud he was and made me feel like I could achieve anything, always emphasizing the importance of an education and humanity towards all people.
Another value he taught me was that you have to love what you do no matter how hard to be good at it. I have taken that value to heart and let it guide me in my work. I attribute my confidence in my abilities to his continuous reinforcement.
When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
I was undecided well into college. I finally landed on technology instead of health care. I was new to coding unlike my classmates and this caused me to question my choice. When I entered the real world, I was relieved to see many technology opportunities where I could interact with people and implement systems without being the person actually building it! I really enjoyed that aspect.
What is your favorite song?
Feeling Good, Michael Buble version
Tell us about your photo shoot prop.
Before becoming American, I was a stateless refugee child. One of my props is a black and white piece of checkered cloth called a keffiye. It is a cultural symbol representing my Palestinian heritage. It symbolizes solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. My other props are a family picture, beach ball, TCU shirt and cooking utensils, representing things I love – family, the beach, Fort Worth and cooking.