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People: Nov. 30, 2015

Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations

Balcom Agency promoted Ashley Freer to group director, a new management position within the agency. Freer brings more than 16 years of marketing experience to the position, in which she will drive communication strategies for clients and help build and mentor a group of account service team members. Since joining the agency in 2009 as an account director, Freer has managed award-winning campaigns and projects for clients including Dairy MAX, Cook Children’s Health Care System, Southwest Bank, Mrs Baird’s Bread, Southwestern Seminary and Bennett Benner Partners, while also serving as public relations specialist for the agency. In addition, Freer will oversee all PR efforts for Balcom, including hiring and training staff, managing the agency’s PR coordinators and specialists, and overseeing PR planning for the agency and its clients.

Freer serves on the boards of Fort Worth Sister Cities International and Common Ground. She is a member of the Greater Fort Worth Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and the Junior League of Fort Worth, and will serve as the Junior League’s community vice president in 2016-2017.

Banking & Finance

Steve Ellis, the former CEO of Asurion and worldwide managing director of Bain & Co., joined TPG as managing partner of the global operations group and portfolio business building. Ellis is based in the San Francisco office. He serves on the board of Charles Schwab, Asurion and The Bridgespan Group. He also is an adviser to the chancellor office of the University of California at Berkeley and has served on the advisory committee for the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he is a regular guest lecturer.

Boards & Organizations

Dr. Francesco Benazzo, a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, lecturer and researcher, joined the medical device and clinical materials advisory board for CoorsTek Medical. Benazzo is chairman of the orthopedic and traumatology department at the University of Pavia, San Matteo Hospital, and also chairs the program of residency in orthopedics and traumatology. Since 1981, he has been involved in the care of top athletes of the Italian track and field national team. In 2005, he became president of the European Federation of the National Sports Traumatology Societies. He is a member of the International Cartilage Repair Society and the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, and is the secretary of the Italian College of Professors of Orthopaedics and Traumatology. Benazzo also serves as visiting surgeon and instructor for Zimmer Biomet.


The University of Texas at Arlington appointed Jon Weidanz, founding chairman of the department of immunotherapeutics and biotechnology in the School of Pharmacy at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, as associate vice president for research and professor of biology. Weidanz’s research has focused on immuno-oncology – therapies and treatments aimed at helping a patient’s immune system to combat cancer, including using soluble T-cell receptors and T-cell receptor-mimicking antibodies for targeting tumors. He also engineered T-cell receptor molecules that recruit and activate immune cells to kill tumor cells. He also has been active in the field of vaccine research and development. Weidanz has more than 40 issued, pending and provisional patents for his work.

UT Arlington named Rosalinda “Rose” Youngblood, a senior development director at Baylor University, as the assistant vice president for development and university initiatives. During her decade with Baylor’s Office of University Development, Youngblood has been a leader in managing the university’s frontline development staff and a program that raises more than $100 million annually.


The City of Fort Worth named Dakisha R. Wesley as interim municipal court services director until a permanent selection and placement is made. Wesley has more than 16 years of financial/organizational analysis, staff development, management and professional leadership experience in nonprofit and municipal government. She has experience from the cities of Allen and Grand Prairie and has been with the city of Fort Worth for nearly 11 years, where she was municipal court services assistant director for five years. Wesley is a North Central Texas Council of Governments Urban Fellow and a member of the Leadership Fort Worth Leading Edge Class of 2012, the Executive Leadership Development Institute Class of 2008, American Society for Public Administrators, National Forum for Black Public Administrators and the Texas Municipal Courts Association.

Health Care

Orchard Park, a senior living community providing assisted living and memory care in Murphy, has unveiled its new name, Lynridge Senior Living, after Sagora Senior Living acquired the location in August. Sagora Senior Living also operates two communities in Carrollton: Lakeview at Josey Ranch and Briarview, which is under construction and slated for completion in the spring.

Honors & Awards

Texas Rangers Manager Jeff Banister has been named 2015 American League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Banister won the award after leading the Rangers to a 21-game turnaround and an AL West title in 2015 in his first year as a major league manager. Banister became the only manager in franchise history to guide the club to either a first place finish or a postseason berth in his first year. The Rangers’ 88 wins also were the most ever by a franchise first-year manager.

The Score A Goal In The Classroom School Incentive Program honored Alissa Clark with the 2015 Bayard H. Friedman HERO Award as outstanding special education teacher in North Texas. Clark has taught physically challenged students at Chisholm Trail High School in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District for six years. In addition to the HERO Award, the Mary Potishman Lard Trust presented Clark with a $1,000 honorarium.

Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital recently achieved the Stage 7 award for electronic health record adoption from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. Stage 7 is the highest level on the Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model, which is used to track patient progress at hospitals across the country.

For the second year in a row, Ben E. Keith Foods has won Shareholder of the Year from Distribution Market Advantage. The award recognizes the shareholder making the most significant contribution to chain operators and the DMA organization as a whole. Criteria include the shareholder’s overall customer satisfaction scores, support of developing markets, sales growth, strategic leadership and sales leadership.

Baylor Scott & White Health has been ranked 10th healthiest employer in America by Healthiest Employer LLC, based on its culture and employee wellness programs.

The U.S. Chamber awarded Grapevine Chamber of Commerce a 5-Star Accreditation for its sound policies, effective organizational procedures and positive impact on the community. There are 31 accredited chambers in Texas, and Grapevine is one of only 12 in the state with 5-Star Accreditation.


Forshey Prostok LLP hired Juan Mendoza as an associate with the firm. Mendoza’s practice will focus on bankruptcy, business reorganizations and commercial litigation. Prior to joining Forshey Prostok, Mendoza was a law clerk for Judge Robert L. Jones, U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Northern District of Texas, based in Lubbock. During law school, Mendoza interned for U.S. Bankruptcy Judges Margaret Murphy of the Northern District of Georgia and Laurel Isicoff of the Southern District of Florida. His experience also includes a summer associate position with the Atlanta offices of Hunton & Williams LLP. Mendoza is licensed to practice law in Florida and Georgia. His admission to the Texas Bar is pending.

Nonprofit Organizations

New chief development officer at Helping Restore Ability is Debbie McGee. McGee has been vice president of resource development since 2012 at United Way for Greater Austin. Prior to that, she was vice president of major gifts and volunteer engagement from 2007 to 2012 at United Way of Tarrant County. McGee worked nine years for JPMorgan Chase as vice president of national accounts in Houston.

Send newsmakers to Betty Dillard at

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