Faculty and staff exemplify values

The You FIRST program’s RIITE Role Model awards recognize faculty and staff for the outstanding work that they do, built around the College values of Respect, Innovation, Integrity, Teamwork and Excellence. Three individuals and one team are the latest awardees.

The program awards faculty and staff on a quarterly basis for high performance and exceptional contributions that directly advance the College’s values and overall mission. Faculty and staff are nominated for the awards by their peers in one of five categories that align with the College’s values, and a review panel evaluates all entries and selects winners. Winners receive points that are redeemable through the RIITE Rewards website, a trophy and a luncheon that includes their department chair, center director or supervisor, as well as an invitation to the RIITE Role Model of the Year ceremony.

Read more online about the RIITE Role Model program, including nomination instructions. Winners for Fiscal Year ’17 Quarter 2 are listed below, along with highlights from their nomination.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Kimberly Henderson

Project Manager

Graduate School of Biomedical Science

Nominated by Cathy Le

Kimberly Henderson joined Baylor College of Medicine in 2015 as a grant and contract associate in the Office of Research’s Sponsored Programs. She reviews and submits grant applications, funding agreements, progress reports, change requests, no-cost extensions and closeout documents, as well as develops and maintains incoming and outgoing subcontract agreements for more various departments and sections of the College. The small staff in Sponsored Programs work with all the principal investigators in the College to assist in making sure the College receives federal funding, which in turns supplies the indirect costs for our institution.

I am nominating Kimberly Henderson for Excellence because of the manner in which she handles herself in the work environment with doctors and administrators alike. Her customer service and communication skills are beyond excellent. She is conscientious and diligent. Her organization skills are superior and helps to make sure things are done efficiently and effectively. These attributes are paramount to working with others in the College in a team to get things completed in a timely manner.


Dr. Paul Checchia

Professor of Pediatrics – Critical Care

Nominated by Lindsey Gurganious

I would like to nominate Dr. Paul Checchia for the RIITE Role Model award in the area of Leadership. Dr. Checchia is the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) medical director at Texas Children’s Hospital and he leads a team of more than 25 CVICU attending physicians, as well as instructors, advanced practice practitioners, nurses, techs and other staff members who give their all in the CVICU. Dr. Checchia consistently goes above and beyond the call of the medical director role. He is seen as a mentor to the many junior level providers and more importantly, a friend and partner. His door is always open (literally) and he will always put his team members first day or night. As his administrative coordinator, Dr. Checchia treats me as his partner and he has helped to mold me into the professional that I am today. I know I speak for dozens of the CVICU Team members when I say that Dr. Checchia makes people better at what they do by inspiring greatness and hard work. No task is too small or too large and he would never ask someone to do something that he himself would not be willing to do. He is present, visible, and available for anything from a coffee mentoring session to major patient care emergencies. No matter your role, title, education or background if you are a part of Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital then you matter to Dr. Checchia. His leadership does not start and end in the CVICU; he is a collaborator and he bridges the gap between his own area and others. Probably the most admirable attribute he has is that he shares his knowledge and experience with others so that they may succeed as he has.


Alex Espana

Clinic Coordinator

Texas Children’s Genetics Clinic

Nominated by Deanna Erwin

Alex has been a great addition to the clinical team. Even though he has only been a member of the team for 1 1/2 years, he has greatly improved the efficiency in his role and has helped our Genetics Clinic to provide better quality care to all of our patients. Alex is constantly striving to improve the clinic flow and brings a positive and fun personality to our clinic. Our patients have consistently given him positive reviews on the Press Ganey survey, noting his conscientious personality. He also frequently suggests ways for our clinic to improve our Press Ganey scores and shows a real interest in improving the clinic. For example, Alex developed and streamlined a system for our clinic to help our medical team review records in a timely and efficient fashion. He also is the first clinic coordinator to complete a spreadsheet that notes the most efficient way to request records, so he can spend his time more effectively following up with prior authorizations. Alex is a great team player and is willing to help with many roles, as needed, to make the clinic run smoothly.


Ophthalmology Administrative Team

Robin Caldwell; Idalia Covernale; Michael Flores; Pam Frady; Kim Harano; Ann Koval; Celeste Lockhart; Ruthie McNeill; Liting Ren; Anquenette Taylor; Maria Torres; Betty Villanueva; Renee Young

Nominated by Barbara Link

The administrative team in the ophthalmology department is made up of tremendously dedicated, highly skilled and hard-working, trustworthy and honest employees who exemplify the Baylor College of Medicine values of Respect, Integrity, Innovation, Teamwork and Excellence. Each has an open-door policy, is willing to listen and offer support and encouragement for any of the others to be successful. Each offers a set of extensive skills and expertise, working synergistically to make the department and BCM successful. And as a bonus, they make it fun to work here.