The Board of Regents established this award in 1997 to recognize outstanding professionals in the Texas A&M System agencies. Nominees must be full-time, senior level research or service-delivery professionals, with at least five years of service, who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in programs or projects with significant statewide impact.
Dr. Susan Ballabina
Associate Agency Director
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
When she became a regional program director for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in 2005, Dr. Susan Ballabina brought 11 years of experience as an Extension county educator, in both rural and urban counties, as well as education that included a B.S. in home economics and M.A. in communications. She completed her Ph.D. in public affairs at the University of Texas at Dallas in 2007. Dr. Ballabina ably employed her experience, education, and a vision for innovative, far-reaching Extension programs to fullfill the regional program director role to the utmost. Focused on programmatic rather than administrative oversight, Dr. Ballabina coordinates with Extension specialists and county agents in the agency’s 65-county East Region. She leads and strives to optimize efforts to identify, develop, implement, evaluate, and market educational programs that are relevant to the needs of Texas. This role was created as part of a major agency reorganization in 2003. Dr. Ballabina not only put the concept into action, but has succeeded in a way that affirmed the agency plan and path for the 21st century. Under her leadership, major program initiatives or improvements have been made in Extension’s nutrition and health education outreach, including such programs as Master Wellness Volunteers, Dinner Tonight, Walk Across Texas, Step Up and Scale Down, Winning with Nutrition, and Fuel Up to Play 60. Dr. Ballabina organizes professional development for the East Region county agents, helps to train volunteers and guide volunteer management, and searches continually for new program ideas, outreach strategies, resource support, and partnership opportunities. Partners that Dr. Ballabina has brought to the table include the Cooper Institute, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, and various healthcare systems and health insurance providers. Dr. Ballabina is a three-time recipient of AgriLife Extension’s highest employee honor, the Extension Superior Service Award. She was named a Distinguished Alumni by Tarleton State University in 2006 and has been recognized often by the Texas Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Dr. Stephen Green
Associate Professor and Extension Specialist
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
For more than a decade, Dr. Stephen Green has been an exemplary outreach educator in his role as associate professor and child development specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Programs developed by Dr. Green, such as Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED), Parenting Connections, and the Early Childhood Educator Online Training Program, have been shown to improve participants’ quality of life, build stronger family relationships, and enhance employment opportunities for professionals in the early childhood education industry. During his 13-year Extension career, Dr. Green has obtained more than $3.2 million in grants and contracts to develop and implement Extension education programs. He has delivered some 270 educational presentations, reaching more than 15,000 Texans. He has authored or co-authored more than 60 journal articles, book chapters, curricula, online courses, leader lessons, fact sheets, and newsletter articles. Moreover, Dr. Green has written more than 280 reports and program briefs in support of county-level Extension efforts. Award-winning curricula developed by Dr. Green have enriched the lives of thousands of families in Texas and beyond. His FRED program is widely regarded as one of the most effective ways to involve fathers in their children’s early literacy development, and has been implemented with tens of thousands of families nationally and internationally. His Early Childhood Educator Online Training Program is one of the leading online professional development platforms for early childhood educators in the nation. Since 2010, the tally of online course completions by child care providers and directors in the U.S. has exceeded 300,000. Dr. Green has served on numerous local, state, and national committees; was elected to serve a 2-year term as President of the Texas Council on Family Relations; and has received numerous awards during his career, including AgriLife Extension’s Superior Service Award in 2012. His education consists of a Ph.D. in Family and Child Development from Virginia Tech University, a M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Harding University, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Davis.
Dr. H. Brent Pemberton
Regents Fellow and Professor
Ornamental Horticulture and Plant Physiology
Texas A&M University
Dr. H. Brent Pemberton began his career at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton in 1982 with a major emphasis on field garden rose production in support of the strong local industry in East Texas. He has made major contributions in the areas of propagation, temperature stress physiology, cultural practices such as fertilization and spacing, and disease, weed, and nematode control. Dr. Pemberton’s research with roses has evolved over time with the changing needs of the industry as more and more plants are sold as flowering nursery container plants instead of the previous practice of dormant plant sales. His work has supported and continues to support the efforts of a campus-based rose breeding program with a goal of disease resistance. Another goal of this breeding project is heat tolerance. Dr. Pemberton is recognized nationally and internationally for his work with roses and bedding plants. He has authored or co-authored over 250 technical and popular articles and has secured over $900,000 in external funding for his program. He has presented papers at international meetings in Canada, France, Israel, Italy, and Japan. He has served as chair for the USDA-ARS regional working group “Production, Postharvest Handling, and Re-establishment of Woody Ornamental Crops”. He has been a Consulting Editor for the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science for 9 years and served as an Associate Editor for the Encyclopedia of Rose Science published by Academic Press in 2003. He served as convener of the 4th International Symposium on Rose Research and Cultivation and was editor for the resulting proceedings. He currently serves as chair of the Rose Working Group for the International Society for Horticultural Science.
Dr. Ari M. Michelsen
Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics
Resident Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at El Paso
Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Since joining The Texas A&M University System in 1999, Dr. Michelsen has been recognized worldwide as an expert in water resources management, water policy analysis, and other areas. “He serves as a highly effective conduit between the Center’s academic activities and the informational needs of Texas communities grappling with difficult water problems,” said Dr. Ray Huffaker, chair of the Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida. Dr. Michelsen’s research has resulted in over 140 publications, brought more than $3.5 million in research funding to the Texas A&M System, and has improved the use and management of water resources in Texas and beyond. As director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at El Paso, Dr. Michelsen oversaw the creation of collaborative, multidisciplinary research and outreach programs to address critical public policy needs in Texas and the United States. He played a key role in developing the curriculum for a graduate degree in water resources planning for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff. The curriculum was adopted by top graduate programs in the nation. Dr. Michelsen also has an impressive record of public outreach. He has given numerous presentations on water resources management for international, local, and state organizations, including the Texas Senate and House of Representatives. He has served on numerous advisory committees and editorial boards, including as president of the American Water Resources Association (2010) and the Universities Council on Water Resources (2001–2002), the major organizations in his field. Dr. Michelsen’s many honors include the Education and Public Service Award from the Universities Council on Water Resources in 2012 and the President’s Award for Outstanding Service from the American Water Resources Association in 2011.
Dr. Jackie Rudd
Project Leader, Hard Winter Wheat Breeding Program for the High Plains and Rolling Plains of Texas
Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo
Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Dr. Rudd, who joined Texas A&M AgriLife Research in 2001, leads one of the premier wheat breeding programs in the nation. Since Dr. Rudd’s arrival the program has released, among many other varietals, two wheat cultivars that produce the highest yields across the region under water shortage. Under Dr. Rudd’s leadership the program has conducted rigorous field studies to understand the mechanisms of drought tolerance in wheat, leading to the recently announced collaboration with Bayer CropScience. Overall, the cultivars that Dr. Rudd has worked to develop have had an enormous economic impact. Prior to his arrival at AgriLife Research, he led South Dakota State University’s wheat breeding program, helping produce the most planted spring wheat cultivar in the United States in 2000. In 2009, the high-yielding varieties produced by Dr. Rudd’s program at the Amarillo Center increased the net returns for Texas growers by $20.2 million and brought over $3.6 million in royalties to AgriLife Research; these cultivars continue to accrue royalties at $700,000 per year. Contributing to Dr. Rudd’s success are the connections he has forged with producers, millers, bakers, and consumers. He organizes and speaks at several growers’ field days every year. He presents research results to associations of growers, seedmen, millers, and bakers; interviews for news stories; and represents the wheat industry on visits to Washington and abroad. Dr. Rudd also trains students at every level and gives numerous invited presentations across the globe. The Texas Wheat Producers Board and Association recognized Dr. Rudd as Texas Wheat Man of the Year in 2010.
Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz
Professor and Extension Leadership Program Director
Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
During his 34 years of work with AgriLife Extension, Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz has become an internationally recognized leader in agricultural education and outreach. His exemplary record includes overseeing the Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership (TALL) program for the agricultural community and the San Antonio Livestock Exposition-Leadership Extension Program (SALE-LE) for AgriLife Extension professionals. For nearly 14 years, Dr. Mazurkiewicz has raised all the funds for these two-year programs, more than $2.3 million. He also conducts 605 teaching hours for both programs. Graduates of the competitive TALL program—which introduces participants to thousands of Texas, national, and international leaders and stakeholders—include the White House liaison for the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president, and the Texas Deputy Agriculture Commissioner. “Without Jim’s excitement and influence, the agriculture industry would be short many current and future leaders,” said Charles Ring, president of the San Patricio County Farm Bureau, director-at-large of the U.S. Grain Council, and TALL graduate. At the same time, graduates of the SALE-LE program hold 90% of AgriLife Extension leadership positions. Dr. Mazurkiewicz’s efforts have served as models for similar programs in Texas and worldwide, such as the Mexican Agriculture Leadership Program. The International Association of Programs for Agricultural Leadership presented him the Outstanding Leader Award in 2010. In 2011 he received the Medal of Honor from the Polish Minister of Agriculture and addressed a crowd of 10,000 in Skrzelew, Poland. Locally, Dr. Mazurkiewicz’s community leadership also helped to make possible the $30 million exposition center for Brazos County, which has generated millions of dollars in revenue and is instrumental in promoting The Texas A&M University System and the Brazos Valley.
Mr. George L. Gonzales
County Extension Agent–Agriculture and Natural Resources, Webb County
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Mr. Gonzales began his admirable career with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Bee County in 1980, moving to Webb County in 1984 as the county extension agent. As Webb County faced recurrent droughts, Mr. Gonzales developed programs that maximized ranching income and improved animal health. He helped landowners learn how to harvest rainwater and began a water quality screening program. He organized and trained Master Gardeners, starting a task force for water conservation. He led a major collaborative outreach effort to improve the condition of rangeland watersheds. Mr. Gonzales also foresaw 25 years ago that droughts would lead to a greater emphasis on wildlife management in Webb County. He initiated a variety of adult and youth programs in wildlife management. Today, wildlife leasing is an $18 million industry in Webb County. Mr. Gonzales also worked in international relations, building programs that fostered relationships between the farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, and educational organizations of South Texas and northern Mexico. He worked in colonias–the unincorporated subdivisions near the Mexico border that can lack utilities and roads–teaching residents about gardening, home improvement, financial management, and water quality. Mr. Gonzales’s educational programs also helped keep agriculture relevant to Webb County youth. Among other achievements, he has nurtured the Webb County 4-H program, enabling it to grow from 100 members to a current membership of above 500. “George Gonzales has a record of performance and achievement as long as it is impressive. He’s….synonymous with agriculture in this part of the state,” says Dr. Ruben Saldaña, district administrator, AgriLife Extension, Weslaco.
Mr. Paul Hannemann
Chief of Fire Operations
Department Head, Incident Response Department
Texas A&M Forest Service
Having worked with the Texas A&M Forest Service since 1981, in 2010 Mr. Hannemann stepped into the organization’s highestranking positions in both fire operations and incident response. As chief of fire operations and head of incident response, he coordinates the state’s efforts to protect its 254 counties from fires, hurricanes, floods, and a wide range of other emergencies. He also heads Forest Service efforts to assist other states with incident protection—a role for which he is greatly experienced, having served, for instance, as deputy incident commander during the recovery of the space shuttle Columbia . For his work during the Columbia recovery Mr. Hannemann received a Public Service Medal from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 2003. He has completed the necessary training to qualify as an Incident Commander Type 1, meaning that in a national-level emergency he can command the most highly trained and experienced incident response teams. He helps develop training guidelines for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Incident Management Team. Mr. Hannemann’s experience with hazards stems partly from working as a volunteer firefighter in Fredericksburg, Texas, his birthplace, since 1975. He also served in the U.S. Army, the Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve since 1974, retiring a lieutenant colonel. Among his military honors is a Meritorious Service Medal for coordinating the movement of equipment and troops from Fort Hood to the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War. Throughout his career at the Forest Service, Mr. Hannemann has remained an accomplished educator. He has taken an active role in training firefighters, overseeing wildlife management academies, speaking with the news media, and giving numerous presentations to workers in disaster management across the country.