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Newsmakers: Balcom promotion, hire

🕐 7 min read

Newsmakers 7-18-16

Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations

Balcom Agency promoted Alyssa Barr to account executive and media specialist and hired Harrison Abanilla as junior interactive developer. Previously an account coordinator and media specialist, Barr will now manage campaigns and projects for such clients as Pine Cellular and Kubota Tractor Corp., while continuing to serve on the agency’s media buying and planning team. Barr joined Balcom in 2014 as director of first impressions. Abanilla, previously the first web development intern at Balcom, will build and update websites and interactive applications for such clients as Dairy MAX and Sinclair Oil, support the agency’s transition into Drupal 8 and help the team continue to refine website development processes.


Triumph Group Inc. named MaryLou Thomas executive vice president of its aerospace structures business unit. She will be based in Arlington. Thomas has more than 30 years of experience in the aerospace and defense industry. She joined Triumph in 2003, previously heading the company’s composites, structures and interiors business area with operations in the United States, Mexico, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Thomas began her career in the U.S. Air Force before joining Lockheed Support Systems to specialize in nuclear weapon and military aircraft modifications and technology. She joined Boeing in 1990 and in her 13 years there, she earned roles of increasing responsibility. She served as executive general manager of Boeing’s Spokane Fabrication Operation and also led Boeing’s benchmarking of the Toyota Production System (Lean).

Boards & Organizations

New officers for the National Association of Corporate Directors North Texas for 2016-2017 are: President Rhys Best, chairman of MRC Global and Austin Industries and board member for Cabot Oil and Gas, Commercial Metals Co. and Trinity Industries; Vice President/Vice Chairman Maribess Miller, board member for Zix Corp., Midmark Corp. and Triumph Bancorp; Treasurer Max Carrier, managing partner of KPMG’s Southwest Area audit practice; and Secretary Todd Murray, a partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP. New board members include Lou Grabowsky, Juniper Capital Management; Craig Jimenez, Eco Centri LLC; Yon Jorden, Maxwell Technologies and Methodist Health Systems Dallas; Pat Priest, Dallas Regional Chamber; and Jim Skinner, Neiman Marcus.


Suzanne Sears is now leading Texas Woman’s University’s libraries in Denton, Dallas and Houston. Sears, who was a key player in developing strategic plans for the University of North Texas library system, will expand the libraries’ community outreach and guide the strategic planning to meet the research and teaching needs of the university’s libraries system at all three TWU campuses. Sears brings more than 30 years of experience leading innovative projects in large library settings. She comes to TWU following nine years at the University of North Texas, where she most recently served as associate dean for public services. She also was a member of the Dean’s Council for the UNT Libraries. She is a member of the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries.

Zui Pan, an Ohio State University College of Medicine esophageal cancer researcher who has earned national recognition for her work toward discovering biomarkers for the disease, will join the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation in August as an associate professor of nursing. Pan has published numerous journal articles and has two patents. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the American Diabetes Association, among other sources. She received bachelor and master’s degrees in biophysics from Nankai University in China and a doctorate in molecular biology from the Institute of Biophysics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. She was a post-doctoral research fellow in physiology at Case Western Reserve University and had faculty appointments in the departments of physiology, biophysics and pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine. At the medical school, she also served for nine years as director of confocal microscopy and cell imaging core. Pan’s appointment is made possible in part by a grant from the University of Texas System Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention, or STARs, program. At UTA, Pan says she plans to continue to pursue her research into finding strategies for extending the lives of esophageal cancer patients.

Honors & Awards

Matt McKee, a senior applications engineer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, is a 30 Under 30 honoree, recognized by SME’s Advanced Manufacturing Media. McKee is featured in the July issue of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.

Kevin Miles, CEO of Zoe’s Kitchen Inc., was honored with the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 Retail Award for the Southwest Region. The award is in recognition of his commitment to excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to the company and communities. Under his leadership, the brand has accelerated its development, growing from 20 restaurants in 2009 to more than 180 locations across 19 states.

McDonald’s U.S.A. surprised 9-year-old Kenya Delgado from Haltom City with a trip to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Delgado will travel to Brazil with her friend, April Borjas, 11, from Minnesota. The girls met in 2015 when the Delgado family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Upper Midwest facility in Minneapolis while Kenya’s brother received a bone marrow transplant at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. The two girls quickly became friends and relied on each other for support while their respective brothers received medical treatment. Delgado, Borjas and nearly 100 other children from around the world will participate in the Olympics opening ceremonies on Aug. 5.

The cancer program at Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth won the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer’s 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award. Texas Health Fort Worth is one of only 27 hospitals in the country to receive this honor, and is the only one this year to have received it for four consecutive survey cycles.

Texas Health Arlington Memorial received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award, along with the Heart Failure Silver Quality Achievement Award. Both recognitions highlight the facility’s commitment and success for delivering quality heart and vascular care.

Tarrant County winners of Wine Spectator’s 2016 Restaurant Awards, which recognize outstanding wine programs, include: Bob’s Steak & Chop House, Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Del Frisco’s Grille, Grace, Next Wood Fired Bistro & Vino Bar, Bizzi’ Bistro & Wine Bar, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Grand Cru Wine Bar & Boutique; Le Cep Restaurant, Old Hickory Steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Capital Grille, The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Truluck’s, and Winewood.

Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. was recognized as one of the top 10 breweries in the country in the 2016 U.S. Open Beer Championship; it is the only North Texas brewery on the list. Rahr & Sons also won medals for three beers: The Regulator, gold; Summertime Wheat, gold; and Rahr’s Blonde, silver.

Nonprofit Organizations

Kristine Mellgren is the new vice president of human resources and chief human resources officer at the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth. Mellgren comes to Texas with 14 years of experience in human resources, eight of those with the YMCA. She served with the YMCA of Greater Long Beach in California, serving as HR director, and since 2010, vice president of human resources. Prior to that, Mellgren had positions at Sheraton Pasadena Hotel and Red Robin in Medford, Ore. She has certifications in SHRM-SCP as well as YMCA and other training. In addition, Mellgren counts employee relations and coaching, legal and regulatory compliance, and organizational development and training among her areas of expertise.

Lena Pope named Renee Permann as chief financial officer. Permann most recently served as the manager of financial planning and analysis at Pier 1 Imports Inc. for the past three years. She also served as the vice president of supply chain management, treasurer and chief information officer of Sonic Corp. for seven years. Prior to Sonic, Permann was the assistant vice president of information systems for Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and a senior auditor with Grant Thornton LLP.

MaryAnn Means-Dufrene will resign from her position as executive director of Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth on July 29. Means-Dufrene served as deputy chief of staff, mayor and council office for the city of Fort Worth from May 2012-October 2014 before being named director of the local affiliate in October 2014.

Real Estate

Antonia Lugat has become an affiliated sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s Colleyville office. Lugat was previously a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Texas.

Send newsmakers to Betty Dillard at

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