Staff Advisory Council seeks nominations

The UT Health San Antonio Staff Advisory Council (SAC) is seeking nominations through April 30 for 16 open positions. The SAC is the advocacy group non-faculty employees can rely on to answer questions and concerns, and to bring suggestions to university leadership.

Chair-Elect Andrea Trease and Chair Rebecca Mendez.

Established Sept. 8, 2004, the 24-member group represents all areas of UT Health San Antonio, including the Regional Campus in Laredo.

The election will be held in May and the new, two-year council terms will begin Sept. 1. Look for more information soon about nominations in your email.

SAC leadership

This year’s SAC officers include:

  • Chair Rebecca Mendez, assistant coordinator for the Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Program in Purchasing
  • Chair-Elect Andrea Trease, manager of faculty support in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine
  • Secretary Margo Martinez, training specialist for transition solutions in Information Management and Services
  • Treasurer Jennifer Cerecero, director of radiation safety in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety
  • Historian Betty Guzman, manager of academic programs for the residency program in the Department of Family and Community Medicine
  • Past Chair Jo Yvonne “Bonnie” Moreno, office manager for UT Teen Health in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Visit the SAC website to see all the current SAC members.

Regular meetings

The SAC membership meets monthly to discuss employee concerns and ongoing initiatives, and to hear UT Health San Antonio speakers on relevant topics. For example, in late April the SAC will receive an update on the EDGE initiative from Andrea Marks, MBA, CPA, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, and hear a presentation on the “Effects of COVID on Travel and New Initiatives” from Julie Wilbers, MA, director of the Office of International Services. In May, the SAC will welcome Francisco Cigarroa, MD, professor of surgery and director of the University Health Transplant Institute, to discuss the Transplant Institute and Work-Life Balance. The Transplant Institute is a partnership between University Health and UT Health San Antonio.

In addition, SAC officers meet monthly with a group from the university’s executive committee including Heather Adkins, MS, vice president and chief marketing and communications officer; Mary DeLay, MBA, vice president and chief of staff; Marks; and Amy Tawney, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, vice president and chief human resources officer.

Council officers also meet every quarter with President William L. Henrich, MD, MACP.

A sounding board

With the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic, many of this year’s questions were related to COVID-19.

“In the beginning of the pandemic, some of the concerns were, ‘What are the safety protocol changes throughout the campus,’ ‘How do I manage child care issues’ and ‘What do I do if I’ve been exposed to the virus,’” Mendez said. More recent questions have focused on the return-to-campus plan and how family members can get vaccinated at UT Health San Antonio.

Many good suggestions have come through the SAC, added Moreno, the past chair.

“At one time someone had a concern about the safety of a crossing area behind Parking Garage A over by the ALTC. We were able to bring that concern to the UT Police Department’s attention and the issue was resolved,” she said.

“There are many types of concerns that people might have that we can field. If there’s something happening on campus and you can’t seem to get an answer, we want people to know that they can contact us through our email address,,” Moreno added.

New initiatives: Employee discounts, leadership podcast

The SAC also mounts its own initiatives for the benefit of employees. One of the initiatives is to promote a list of local businesses that offer discounts to UT Health San Antonio employees. The list is expected to be available on the My UT Health intranet later this summer.

What the group is most proud of, however, is the new Leadership Podcast.

“This is a SAC project where we visit with one of our UT Health leaders about their career, where they started and how they got to where they are now,” Trease said. Marks will be the guest on the first podcast, expected to be released in May.

UT System representation

Two staff members also serve on the UT System Employee Advisory Council. Albert Contreras represents Human Resources and Natalina Martinez Pizzi, MBA, is the current representative for the SAC. Contreras is manager of human resources service delivery and Pizzi is director of finance and administration in the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Upcoming election

Trease invites employees to nominate themselves or another willing employee to serve on the SAC.

“What we’re hoping is to generate interest from people like ourselves who are go-getters and active participants who want to make a difference,” she said.

The SAC is looking for people who have a desire to serve the university above and beyond the work they do on a daily basis.

“It is possible to balance work and SAC initiatives, and it is extremely gratifying to see the progress that is made at the end of the fiscal year,” Mendez said. “There is something pretty special about knowing you were part of the team that made it happen.”

Visit the SAC website and Facebook page for more information.

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