Texas State honors award recipients at 2022 Distinguished Alumni Gala

Alumni Impact

Charlcee Cervantez | October 14, 2022

The Texas State University Alumni Association has bestowed its highest honor upon four notable Texas State alumni for 2022. Robert Habibi, Pablo Mercado, Bruce Smith, and Mitchell O'Neal Ward are this year's recipients of the association's Distinguished Alumni Award. 

The Alumni Association also named two Young Alumni Rising Star Award recipients, Lindsey Coutler Estetter and Joslyn Johnson. 

Additionally, the Alumni Association named the 2022 Denise M. Trauth Outstanding Leadership Award recipient — Brian McCoy.

First given to President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Distinguished Alumni Award is the Alumni Association's most prestigious honor. Award recipients are Texas State graduates who have distinguished themselves in their chosen occupations and whose leadership serves as an example for the Texas State community. 

This year's honorees represent a range of degree fields, professions, and accomplishments.

Habibi, class of 1981 and 1983, began his professional career at Burroughs Corp. While at Burroughs Corps, he earned numerous business awards and paved the way for his next move with Sun Microsystems in Silicon Valley. After 2000, he assumed various senior leadership roles in running public and private companies, including several startups. Habibi developed a reputation as the "turn-around executive," restructuring unprofitable business units of public companies or re-launching small and promising technology companies to reach their potential.

Mercado, class of 1996, has spent the last 15 years leading technology efforts at Vox Media, first as a startup founder and engineer and then as chief technology officer.. Mercado led the technology and engineering teams that propelled Vox Media as it grew from a few individuals in a basement to an industry-leading modern media company. Before founding Vox Media, Mercado worked as a tech lead on political campaigns, built wayfinding systems for MD Anderson Cancer Center, and engineered e-commerce and commerce supply chain solutions for Sony Latin America.

Smith, class of 1987, is the founder, president, and CEO of Safety Vision LLC. In just 29 years under Smith's leadership, Safety Vision has grown to more than 100 employees with locations throughout the United States and headquarters in Houston. With revenues of more than $70 million per year to 40-plus countries worldwide. In addition to Safety Vision, Smith is one of the founders and shareholders of Global Filtration, Omni Logistics, The Jewelry Building, founder of three banks, commercial and residential real estate, and an investor in multiple private equity funds.

Ward, class of 1989, is the chief executive officer and chairman of Dallas-based MW Logistics,  a company he founded in 2001. MW Logistics designs business logistics and transportation solutions by working with asset-based partners to secure shipping capacity and services across multiple transportation modes, including road, rail, and bulk/tanker options. MW Logistics has emerged as one of the leading third-party logistics providers in North America.

The Young Alumni Rising Star Award was created in 2015 to honor Texas State alumni who are under the age of 40. Recipients of this award demonstrate a level of excellence that positively represents the university and serve to inspire current students and other recent graduates to excel in their work and recognize the important impact of their experience as a student at Texas State. 

Estetter, class of 2010, 2012 and 2014, is a microbiologist on the molecular pathology team in the Infectious Diseases Pathology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her expertise is in nucleic acid extraction, molecular testing, and assay development for formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues obtained from autopsy and biopsy specimens. Estetter has been an author of several peer-reviewed publications for her molecular work on the Zika virus and SARS-CoV-2.

Johnson, class of 2017, has more than 10 years of student and academic affairs experience. She has supported residence life, career education, student success, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Johnson has been recognized as a thought leader in the field as a Career Leadership Collective Fellow, National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy Fellow, and a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory. She serves as a cabinet member of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan, is an instructor in Stanford's Continuing Studies Program, and operates as a consultant to national organizations, helping them rethink diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies.

The Denise M. Trauth Outstanding Leadership Award was created in 2021 to honor its inaugural recipient and the ninth president of Texas State University, Dr. Denise M. Trauth. The award celebrates Trauth's two decades of outstanding leadership at Texas State and recognizes those who carry her legacy forward through integrity, compassion, resiliency, and innovation.

McCoy has demonstrated exceptional leadership within his company, McCoy’s Building Supply, and the McCoy College Foundation at Texas State. McCoy and his family have consistently given their time, talent, and treasure to McCoy College of Business and Texas State. Since 2012, he has served as president of the McCoy College Foundation board. His leadership has led to remarkable foundation growth. McCoy and his company have made many positive contributions across campus, including fine arts, engineering, Bobcat Build and the Distinguished Alumni Gala.

The 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award, Young Alumni Rising Star Award, and Denise M. Trauth Outstanding Leadership award honorees will be recognized Oct. 21 at the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Gala. 

For more information, visit the Texas State Alumni Association at https://alumni.txstate.edu/gala.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922