16:26 PM

Magical 2022 Staff Awards Ceremony Recognizes ‘Downtown Treasures’

When staff entered the Academic Building’s Special Events Center on November 30 for the 2022 Staff Awards Ceremony, they were mesmerized by the transformation of the space into an elegant affair worthy of any TV awards show. The room was cast in dark blue with tiny white lights descending from the ceiling, giving the illusion of a magical, star-filled sky. Hosted by UHD Employment Services & Operations and titled “Downtown Treasures,” the event featured more than 30 door prizes from UHD partners as well as local community members.

“Our annual staff awards ceremony is really just a way to shine a spotlight on how UHD’s caring culture is evident in every department across our University,” said President Loren J. Blanchard. “Through the care shown for one another and especially in their support of our students, the UHD staff epitomizes excellence in service that is second to none.”

“There is no secret in that we (Staff Council Executive Board) are aiming for Staff Excellence,” said Tremaine Kwasikpui, Director of Student Activities and Staff Council President. “The Staff Awards served as a first step toward accomplishing this goal!”

Kwasikpui quoted entrepreneur Ari Weinzweig: ‘If you don’t create a great, rewarding place for people to work, they won’t do great work', which emphasizes the environment we are looking to create. Staff Excellence through meaningful engagement. I personally want to applaud Ms. Ivonne Montalbano and the entire ESO staff for going above and beyond for this program.”

This year’s awards cycle featured the greatest number of staff nominated for awards in a single year—more than 60 nominations—a testament to the significant impact employees have on their campus partners.

Richard Simonds received the T. Chaney Anderson President’s Distinguished Staff Service Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the University to a non-faculty employee who has served the University in an exemplary manner.

Courtney Schroeder and Alex Hernandez were recognized with Staff Excellence Awards for individual excellence achieved in their roles with the University. The award recipients demonstrated continued productivity beyond the normal job description, initiative that results in a benefit to UHD, positive attitude that affects fellow coworkers and the public, dependability, responsibility, and stability. Recipients of this award must provide at least three consecutive years of service at UHD in a full-time benefits-eligible position. See below for the entire list of staff awards recipients.

“I’m extremely pleased with the Staff Awards Ceremony, where we celebrated our ‘Downtown Treasures,’ UHD’s amazing staff, and their many accomplishments throughout Fiscal Year 2022,” said Ivonne Montalbano, Vice President for Employment Services and Operations. “In recognition of such a special occasion, the Special Events Center was transformed into a stunning and sophisticated venue, with perfectly dressed tables, beautifully designed centerpieces, carefully selected awards, and fantastic door prizes. And this was all possible thanks to the amazing ESO team who worked countless hours to make this event very special for our staff. My heartfelt congratulations to my awesome team!”


  • Wyvorna Marie Stone-Gates
  • Kong Yin


  • Rocio Beiza
  • Ruben A. Diaz
  • Tiffany Luong
  • Ivonne Montalbano
  • Miguel Ruiz
  • Jacqueline Smith


  • Dr. Liza Alonzo
  • Ashley Andrus
  • Edith Arredondo
  • Nikhil Bhatt
  • Vincente Esquivel
  • Maria Estrada
  • Trevor Jones
  • Khoa Phan
  • Debra Shouldice
  • Marc Williams


  • Denise Bland
  • Debora Evans
  • Bernice Guillen
  • Crystal Guillory
  • Erick Hipolito
  • Janet Ibarra
  • John Lane
  • Spencer Lightsy
  • Anselmo Martin
  • Saile Palacios
  • Cherilyn Pearson
  • Vanessa Rojas
  • Michael Sheiman
  • Paul Tichenor
  • Chloe Tran
  • Vanessa Turner
  • Joshua Wood


  • Samuel Bible
  • Dr. Ashley Blackburn
  • Premalatha Chinnasami
  • Jennifer Cornavaca
  • Julissa Disla
  • Helen Figueroa
  • Ghanem Ghanem
  • Dale Higginbotham
  • Amelia Jimenez
  • Stephen Kidd
  • Kathy Knapp
  • Natasha Nowlin
  • Nikky Oliver
  • Evelyn Paige
  • Angela Parrish-Leonard
  • Reginald Pickens
  • Kimberly Solomon
  • Sydnecia Zenon


  • Destiny Anderson
  • Courtney Banks
  • Steven Bracken
  • Ashley Carter
  • Tream Charvis
  • Martin Chavez
  • Jonathan Contreras
  • Timothy Coulter
  • Jose Delgado Cardoza
  • Edgar Diaz
  • Princess Ephriam
  • Teresa A. Estrada
  • Santi Flores
  • Darlene Hodge
  • Katisha Houston
  • Tuyet Huynh
  • Deionne Jackson
  • Tristan Jackson
  • Jason Jones
  • Chelsea Koutroulis
  • Emily Leffler
  • Michael Manuel
  • Carol Marsh
  • Luis Martinez
  • Nick Martinez
  • Danielle Mitchell
  • Andrew Nguyen
  • Dr. Sharon Noel
  • Thomas Perez
  • Stephen Quander
  • Tabitha Rivera
  • Mark Samudio
  • Paul Siglock
  • Jacquelyn Simms
  • Tamika Small
  • Sheryl E. Taylor
  • Marcelino Torrio
  • Steven Villano
  • Brenette Whitaker


  • Beatriz Alvarado, Bachelor of Arts, Media & Public Communication, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Brenda Duran, Master of Business Administration, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Ryan Gealow, Master of Education, University of Houston-Victoria
  • Ikea Jernigan, Associate of Arts, Liberal Arts, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Chelsea Koutroulis, Master of Education, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Lamar University
  • Krystal LeBlanc, Master of Business Administration, Accounting, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Stephanie Porter, Master of Business Administration, Leadership, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Elena Rodriguez, Bachelor of Science, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Eric Zett, Bachelor of Science, Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Houston-Downtown


  • Bill Davis
  • Grace Davila
  • David Deleon
  • Patricia Ensor
  • Cindy Evans
  • Elena Geilikman
  • Lois Green
  • G.V. Krishnan
  • Andrew Kuzmick
  • Sam Lai
  • Beverly Moses
  • Kim Ngo
  • Roberto Romo
  • Donald Wicks
  • Johanna Wolfe


  • Rookie of the Year: Christian Purdy
  • Whistle While You Work: Michelle Jones
  • Goes the Extra Mile: Kim DeClouette
  • Best Boss: Debora Evans
  • Rising Star: Christian Purdy
About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.