Could one well-answered question tell the world who you are? Perhaps not. But if answered with passion and honesty, it may shed light on how you’ve navigated life’s journey.

Each year, the University of Houston Alumni Association celebrates alumni who are making outstanding strides in their career and community. This year, we are celebrating nine dynamic people who share a passion for life and the University of Houston.

We asked the 2019 honorees one question each, ranging from their life philosophy to their personal achievements — and at times, simply about where their passion lies. We invite you to get to know each of the 2019 honorees in our One on One.

Thasunda Brown Duckett (’96)

Distinguished Alumni Honoree

Thasunda Brown Duckett (’96)Thasunda Brown Duckett (’96) is the chief executive officer of JP Morgan Chase Consumer Banking. She oversees a banking network with more than $800 billion in deposits and investments, 5,000 branches and over 48,000 branch employees — serving 23 million households nationwide. Duckett was named one of the most powerful women in banking by American Banker magazine and one of the 50 most powerful women in corporate America by Black Enterprise magazine. Duckett holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing from the University of Houston and a Masters of Business Administration from Baylor University. She is married, has four children and resides with her family in Connecticut.

Q: What led you to your passion?

A: My passion has always been to inspire others and to make an impact. Everyone needs an accessible role model, whether it’s a peer, a manager or someone outside of the workplace. Young women in particular, no matter their aspirations, need to see that “people like them” have been successful. In this role, I hope to show women that, yes, it’s possible to be a great leader, as long as one has passion for what they do.

Hanneke Faber (’90, M.B.A.’92)

Distinguished Alumni Honoree

Hanneke Faber (’90, M.B.A.’92)Hanneke Faber (’90, M.B.A. ’92) is the president of Europe for Unilever, the company known for brands such as Dove, Magnum, Ben & Jerry’s, Hellman’s, Knorr and Lipton, and for being a global sustainability pioneer. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Bayer AG, a German life sciences company.

Q: What was the accomplishment that you consider the most significant in your career?

A: I believe the most significant accomplishments of my career consist of the diverse leaders and teams that I have built. As the first woman to head up Unilever Europe, I believe diversity of thought is critical to win — whether one is selling Pantene shampoo, building on-line grocery stores or growing a portfolio of brands across 35 European countries. Throughout my career, I’ve proudly appointed women and people from different countries and backgrounds to leadership roles on my teams. And while that’s been great to grow the business, it’s been even more awesome to watch them grow!

David Ashley White (’68, M.M. ’74)

Distinguished Alumni Honoree

David Ashley White (’68, M.M. ’74)David Ashley White (’68, M.M. ’74) is a professor of music at the University of Houston Moores School of Music. He served as director of the Moores School from 1999 to 2014. In July 2015, he was awarded the Raabe Prize for Excellence in Sacred Composition for his work, “Spirit Moving over Chaos.”

Q: Who is your role model and why?

A: To become a professional musician, having a role model is natural, and for most musicians, a number of mentors are absolutely essential. Those critical for my development include my junior and senior high school English teachers in Alice, Texas who gave me a love of poetry and great literature, which played into my eventual focus on composing choral music. Then there were college professors who inspired me to compose: Eugene Bonelli at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, with whom I worked while still in high school; Michael Horvit at UH, my teacher for both my degrees; and Kent Kennan at UT Austin, my amazing mentor who constantly stressed attention to detail. Not to be overlooked are my many students who not only inspired me but also taught me as much as I hope I taught them. And, finally, my wonderful parents, Josephine and Melvin, and my brother, Daniel, were always extremely supportive and encouraging, even though they were not musicians themselves.

Jim P. Wise (’66)

Distinguished Alumni Honoree

Jim P. Wise (’66)Jim P. Wise (’66) was appointed to the UHS Board of Regents in 2006 by Governor Rick Perry, serving through 2011. Wise is managing director of Haddington Ventures L.L.C., a collection of private equity funds representing the midstream energy sector. Regent Wise is a CPA with over 55 years of executive management experience with Transco Energy Company, Templeton Energy Inc., Sterling Chemicals and Houston Natural Gas, among others. Wise retired in 2015 as managing director of Haddington Ventures.

Q: What’s been the single best lesson that you’ve learned in life?

A: The single best lesson I have learned in life is to love others and treat every human being with dignity and respect, regardless of their station in life.

Preston Johnson, Jr. (FS ’87, UHCL M.B.A.’83)

Distinguished Service Honoree

Preston Johnson, Jr.Preston Johnson, Jr. (FS ’87, UHCL M.B.A. ’83) is currently the president of Executive Business Consultants, specializing in executive coaching, talent management and change leadership. Johnson received his bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston – Clear Lake. As a Sam Houston student, he was the founding president of the Iota Sigma chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma. Johnson has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from UH Clear Lake and Sam Houston State University. Johnson studied law at UH from 1985 – 1987.

Q: What have you been the most satisfied about in your life?

A: The best part of my life thus far has been to be surrounded by great faith, family and friends. This triad has always directed me toward achieving a purpose that is greater than myself. Everything that I do is about being a “giver” and not a “taker.” I have hopefully left people and situations better than they were before me.

Michael Alcorn (’07)

Outstanding Volunteer Honoree

Michael Alcorn (’07)Michael Alcorn (’07) is currently the industrial sales manager for Aspen Aerogels. He is responsible for chemical plants and refineries throughout the Gulf Coast Region. Alcorn has served on the Hilton College Alumni Association Board since 2013, serving as president from 2015 to 2017.

Q: Some people have a word or motto they live by; what is yours?

A: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

It’s the advice that I have given others time and time again, and, as a result, it has been a theme in my life. Even if one doesn’t subscribe to spiritual things, approaching life with a positive mindset never hurts. Life really does have a funny way of working out. The evolution of my life has been so much better than the way I planned it. Lost jobs opened doors to better opportunities. Failed relationships prepared me for a great marriage. Even apparent failure in the first attempt at college paved the way for an experience beyond a degree. None of it was perfect, but it absolutely worked out. If life has taught me one thing, it’s that it always does work out.

Ted Estess

Chair’s Honoree

Ted EstessTed Estess led the UH Honors College, first as its director, and then as its dean, for 31 years. He received his undergraduate degree from Baylor University, a Master of Divinity from Southern Seminary and his Ph.D. from Syracuse University. Estess continues to teach in the Honors College at the University of Houston.

Q: What will you consider your legacy?

A: My legacy lies in the students who have been in the Honors College, all of whom I treasure, some of whom are close friends. They are like pearls of great price, who, in a multitude of ways, are helping to make the world a better place — as parents and teachers, engineers and accountants, as attorneys, artists and physicians. They shed light on the College, the University, their professions and their families. They make us proud, for sure!

Alexander W. Obregon (’09, M.B.A.’14)

Rising Star for Achievement Honoree

Alexander W. Obregon (’09, M.B.A.’14)Alexander Obregon (’09, M.B.A.’14) is the city of Houston deputy city controller. Prior to joining the city, Obregon was a consultant for Deloitte & Touche L.L.P., the largest professional services firm in the world. He was a Global Energy Management Institute scholar while earning his M.B.A. at the C. T. Bauer College of Business.

Q: What would you tell the next generation is the meaning of success?

A: Success starts with doing something you love and can mean different things to different people. There is no secret sauce to success, but success is not accidental. Build meaningful relationships, develop a strong work ethic and become an expert in something. If you do those three things—success will find you.

Stephanie Sherrodd

Chair’s Honoree

Stephanie SherroddStephanie Sherrodd is president and chief executive officer at TDECU Credit Union. She is a graduate of the University of Wyoming. She serves on the Board of the Texas Bowl, the Executive Committee for the Brazoria County Economic Development Alliance and the University of Houston Board of Visitors.

Q: What advice were you given in your past that you still follow?

A: My dad told me early in college that “You can’t get through college based upon what you learned in high school.” His message was loud and clear — you have to keep learning to stay relevant. I’ve continued to prioritize my own personal learning throughout my career. We can’t rest on what we already know to take us into the future.