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Texas Leadership Awards

The 2016 Texas Leadership Award Winners

Outstanding Texas Leader: The Outstanding Texas Leader award exemplifies the leadership spirit of John Ben Shepperd who advocated that all Texans have a responsibility to serve their state. Nominees must demonstrate significant and sustained leadership while exhibiting character and high standards of ethics. Their actions generally have consistent statewide reach and impact.

The 2015 recipient of the Outstanding Texas Leader award is Ms. Marilyn Gambrell.

Marilyn K. Gambrell is a graduate of Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminology and Corrections and is a Certified Anger Resolution Therapist. She was a State Parole Officer for approximately ten years for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and an administrator of two correctional facilities for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She has received both national and international media coverage for her work. A Lifetime Movie Original: “Fighting the Odds – The Marilyn Gambrell Story” was released in August, 2005. She was named the Sam Houston State University Alumnus of the Year for the College of Criminal Justice in 2008. She has received numerous awards and was the recipient of the McGovern Award from the University of Texas, School of Public Health in 2014. The program is now in five public high schools in Houston ISD. The No More Victims program began in January, 2000 at M. B. Smiley High School, North Forest ISD. She is also an author and a playwright. Ms. Gambrell and the students make presentations around the country regarding this most at risk population raising awareness regarding addressing the needs and issues of children experiencing the trauma of parental incarceration.

Outstanding Local Leader: The Outstanding Local Leader award exemplifies the leadership spirit of John Ben Shepperd who advocated that all Texans have a responsibility to serve their local communities. Nominees must demonstrate significant and sustained leadership while exhibiting character and high standards of ethics. Their actions generally have consistent local or regional reach and impact. However, many Outstanding Local Leaders have also served in state and federal roles as well.

The 2015 recipient of the Outstanding Local Leader award is The Honorable R.E. Spradlin III.

Spradlin, RE 2R.E. Spradlin III is in the forefront of insuring growth, economic prosperity and quality of life for the citizens of Kilgore and East Texas. His public service, philanthropy, business experience, integrity, work ethic, volunteerism and respected leadership exemplify the qualities conjured by the term “Outstanding Local Leader.” He champions all segments of his community, region and state. R. E. “Ronnie” Spradlin’s leadership spans a spectrum of cultural, educational, professional, political and philanthropic endeavors throughout Kilgore and East Texas. For decades he has worked tirelessly to improve life for his family, friends, neighbors, fellow businessmen, community members, youngsters and the less fortunate. His footprints are found all over town, sometimes as a quiet volunteer serving alongside fellow citizens and sometimes as the bold beacon who organizes visionary efforts to address deficiencies in the community. Ronnie’s leadership brings individuals of diverse environments together to create synergy that enhances everyone’s quality of life.

Shepperd Pathfinder: The Shepperd Pathfinder award recognizes young Texas leaders in the age group of 21 to 40 years old. John Ben Shepperd believed in encouraging young people to “get off the sidelines” and learn to contribute early in their careers. Nominees demonstrate break-through, 21st century type leadership while exhibiting strong character and impeccable ethics.

The 2015 recipient of the Shepperd Pathfinder award is The Honorable J.Ross Lacy.

J.Ross Lacy successfully led the charge to ban Texting While Driving in the City of Midland which went into effect on October I, 2015. On June 2015 he was elected by his peers to become the President of the Midland Spaceport Development Corporation. Realizing now that the sky is no longer the limit in Midland, J.Ross continues to expand the presence of the Midland in the aerospace industry and has been successful in recruiting additional companies to relocate to Midland’s Spaceport. He has been instrumentally involved in the revitalization of downtown Midland which starting next year will see the start of construction of a $100 million dollar boutique hotel and the construction of a new $40 million dollar Midland Center. This is all in conjunction with the complete renovation of Centennial Plaza truly transforming this portion of Midland into a City Center. J .Ross serves has the council liaison on numerous city boards: Airport Planning & Development Board, Permian Basin Airport Board, Parks & Recreation Commission, Zoning & Airport Zoning Board of Adjustments, Building Codes Review Committee, CDBG Committee, and numerous sub-committees dedicated to select projects around the city that are appointed by the Mayor. His dedication to serve continues to impress and inspire others to strive for more and give back to their community.

Shepperd Trailblazer: The Shepperd Trailblazer award recognizes the demonstrated leadership behaviors of young Texans in their Junior or Senior year of high school. The nominee must be a Texas High School Junior or Senior, and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher at the time of the award presentation.

The 2015 recipient of the Shepperd Trailblazer award is Mr. Asa Bishop.

Asa Bishop was part of the first cohort for Presidio’s early college high school (ECHS). He currently is ranked first in his class with an accumulative GPA of a 4.28. Asa is involved in many student organizations. He is the president of National Honor Society for three years in a row, is a member of student council and previously president of STUCO in the 2013-14 school year, participates in robotics, rocketry, STEM challenge, Solar Car, Presidio’s first student lead Writing Center, and Presidio’s first debate team in conjunction with Solomon’s Adventures. His list of accolades recently include 5th place in the State competition for Algebra II, judge’s choice award for engineering design challenge, 2nd in state for robots, regionally 1st for pre-calculus (STEM), 1st for anatomy and physiology (STEM), and 17th place in the Presidio’ s first solar car challenge. Regarding the Writing Center, Asa helped work with other students to collect pertinent data showing that Presidio students would benefit from a program where teens teach teens.

The JBS Texas Leadership Forum Awards Banquet takes place on Saturday, February 27, 2016 at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. It starts promptly at 6:00 PM. Both the 2015 Outstanding Texas Leader and the 2015 Outstanding Local Leader will also be inducted into the Texas Leadership Hall of Fame. The event is open to registered Texas Leadership Forum conference attendees. To register for the conference, please visit: http://shepperdinstitute.com/events/texas-leadership-forum/texas-leadership-forum-registration/

The John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute is the state’s Center of Excellence for public leadership education, ethics, and public service. It prepares young Texans in these areas and conducts on-site leadership training at schools and organizations throughout Texas. The JBS Institute is co-located and part of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB). Information about the Shepperd Institute and the Texas Leadership Forum is available at www.shepperdinstitute.com .


Past Award Winners

Take a look at our past award winners.