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Meet the latest class of Strauss Award honorees for the first quarter of 2024

Collage of 6 winners' photos with the Diana & Richard C. Strauss Service Excellence Award logo and blue banner.

Congratulations to the latest class of Diana and Richard C. Strauss Service Excellence Award honorees, who work in Clinical Planning and Facility Development, Facilities Management, Critical Care Unit, Surgical Intensive Care Unit, and in UT Southwestern’s Workplace Violence Prevention Program.

First quarter recipients were celebrated during a May 17 virtual event hosted by Jonathan Efron, M.D., Executive Vice President for Health System Affairs.

Once each quarter, six Health System team members are nominated by their peers for exemplifying excellence and professionalism on the job.

Three things define Strauss Award recipients:

  • They excel at their jobs.
  • They serve as role models for the next generation of employees.
  • They share a spirit of volunteerism that strengthens our community.

Watch: Dr. Efron honors winners during the virtual event.

Benjamin “Ben” Barkley, M.B.A.

Senior Project Manager of Transition Planning
Clinical Planning and Facility Development

“Ben has shown a tremendous commitment to excellence, passion for innovation, and tireless effort, inspiring those around him and significantly impacting all the projects that he undertakes. His unwavering dedication, leadership, creativity, and perseverance serve as a beacon to all who work with him.”

– Strauss Award nominator 
Smiling man with dark receding hair and trimmed brown beard and mustache, wearing a brown suit and tie.
Benjamin “Ben” Barkley, M.B.A.

UTSW career: Mr. Barkley started here 15 years ago as Manager of Non-Clinical Support Services at the former St. Paul University Hospital and Zale Lipshy Pavilion. Later, he served as Assistant Director of Operations at UT Southwestern Moncrief Cancer Institute. His breadth of experience gives him a unique perspective about the inner workings of UT Southwestern.

In his role: Among the many projects he has coordinated is the renovation underway at Zale Lipshy Pavilion. It includes extensive construction work across seven floors and upgrades and modernization of operating rooms.

Driven to make a difference: “To me, it really goes back to the mission of the organization, which is something the people who work here really believe in. A lot of my time has been spent on the clinical side, and so I think anytime you have the opportunity to help people within your community, it’s quite rewarding. I’ve really enjoyed watching UT Southwestern grow from a place with only a presence on Harry Hines Boulevard to now having an expansive presence in Richardson, Plano, Frisco, Fort Worth. … It’s very meaningful to me to be a part of sharing what we have with the community.”

Everything according to plan: Mr. Barkley’s organizational abilities and communication skills are legendary, according to UT Southwestern leaders who have collaborated with him on projects. His skill set is key to making the enormous project at Zale Lipshy Pavilion manageable while still allowing for efficient patient care.

Off the clock: An avid hunter and golfer, Mr. Barkley coaches Little League sports and enjoys supporting projects organized by his church, including its special needs ministry for adults. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was actively involved with a mission project in Liberia, Africa, traveling for two weeks at a time to support a school and a home for children in need.

Victor Gerard De Vera, B.S.N., RN, CCRN-CMC

Critical Care RN II
Surgical Intensive Care Unit, 2 Orange

“It is evident that this nurse excels in his role as a health care professional and has a heart of gold plus a genuine concern for his colleagues’ well-being.”

– Strauss Award nominator
Smiling man with dark hair, wearing blue UT Southwestern Medical Center scrubs and dark-rimmed glasses.
Victor Gerard De Vera, B.S.N., RN, CCRN-CMC

UTSW career: Mr. De Vera has worked at UT Southwestern since 2020 when he began as a Patient Care Technician as he attended nursing school. A year later, he graduated and assumed the role of an RN in the same unit where he started.

In his role: In the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Mr. De Vera cares for a wide spectrum of patients, including those who receive liver transplants or who are recovering from cancer or vascular surgery. His supervisors often hear compliments from patients and their family members, citing his compassion and communications skills. His colleagues report that Mr. De Vera is always there to help with advice or to pitch in for a busy teammate.

A team player: He thrives on teamwork. “Sometimes our unit can take up five to seven surgeries a day and it can get really busy. A lot of issues come up. Some of the best days at work are when you are helping people resolve issues and are able to be a resource to others.

Sharing what he’s learned: Mr. De Vera helps to build up his teammates in many ways, including by working as a preceptor and mentor, demonstrating procedures, answering questions, and providing feedback.

Certifiably great: He holds certifications as a Critical Care Registered Nurse and a Cardiac Medicine Certified Nurse, and Mr. De Vera encourages and assists colleagues in earning their own certifications. He has created binders full of information about the process, which he lends to colleagues to aid them in their pursuit of career advancing accreditations.

Off the clock: In December, Mr. De Vera worked with the Unit Based Council to organize a toy and book drive to benefit local foster children. He also enjoys volunteering at Feed My Starving Children and The Stewpot, serving meals to people in need.

Lindsay Dumas, B.S.N., RN

Critical Care Unit-Based Educator
7 Blue

“Lindsay is a phenomenal and passionate educator and leader. We are beyond lucky to have her on our team.”

– Strauss Award nominator
Smiling woman with long brown hair, wearing blue UT Southwestern Medical Center scrubs.
Lindsay Dumas, B.S.N., RN

UTSW career: A team member at UT Southwestern for more than six years, Mrs. Dumas began her career here as a staff nurse, advancing to become a charge nurse, an ECMO specialist, and a lead on the Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion Team before accepting her current position.

In her role: Mrs. Dumas creates professional development plans to effectively fill any education gaps in her unit, ensuring nurses are well versed on the latest techniques and technology. She was instrumental in the opening of the Multispecialty Intensive Care Unit. There she educated ICU nurses unfamiliar with cardiac concepts and devices to care for patients with complex medical conditions.

Teaching with heart: “I really enjoy teaching about cardiac devices. I’m all about everything cardiac, but I am particularly inspired to know that there are things that you can do, especially when we have people with failing hearts; we can put them on devices that act as their heart. I also love being able to share that with other people through education.”

Among her many accomplishments: She is a co-founder of the ICU Lecture Series, a multidisciplinary, evidence-based best practices program that teaches fundamentals of intensive care nursing. The initiative won the poster presentation in the People category at the 2022 Celebration of Excellence. Mrs. Dumas has established several education programs, including the standardizing of a hands-on critical care device orientation program.

Off the clock: Mrs. Dumas has participated in medical mission trips and counts Zambia and Guatemala among her visits.

“Whether it’s overseas or locally, getting to interact with people and help them along their way is how I like to fill my cup,” Mrs. Dumas said.

Sini John, B.S.N., RN, CCRN

Critical Care Nurse
8 Blue, Medical Intensive Care Unit

Smiling woman with long black hair, wearing blue UT Southwestern Medical Center scrubs over a white shirt.
Sini John, B.S.N., RN, CCRN

“She has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving the quality of care for our patients, particularly in the area of skin care in the ICU.”

– Strauss Award nominator

UTSW career: With nearly a quarter century under her belt as a nurse, Mrs. John worked at hospitals in Asia and in the Middle East before arriving in the United States in 2018. She started at UT Southwestern three years later.

In her role: Working in the ICU, Mrs. John cares for patients with a wide range of medical issues. Her experience and expertise are invaluable, and she is especially renowned for her skill in wound care and treating skin issues.

More than skin deep: “Her leadership as a skin champion and her dedication to the Unit Based Council core principles make her an invaluable asset to our unit,” according to Mrs. Johns’ nominator. “This nurse’s proactive approach, combined with her friendly demeanor, not only improves patient outcomes but also fosters a positive and supportive work environment for her colleagues.”

Continuing education: She is generous in sharing the things she has learned with colleagues, conducting one-on-one education sessions and leading quality improvement projects focused on wound care orders.

Off the clock: Although she’s been around the globe, Mrs. John never tires of traveling. She said she loves the feeling of flying into an airport where she’s never been before. She’s also a self-taught artist who loves to draw and paint with watercolors.

Eric Spradling, B.S.N, RN

Behavior Response Nurse
Health System Nursing Operations, Workplace Violence Prevention Program

“I am grateful each day that Eric took a chance when we offered him the position. I cannot imagine someone more befitting this role. He seamlessly created what was needed, even better than we could have designed.”

– Strauss Award nominator
Smiling man with short brown hair, wearing a blue shirt over a white tee-shirt.
Eric Spradling, B.S.N, RN

UTSW career: Mr. Spradling was the first Behavior Response Nurse hired by UT Southwestern in October 2022, a position that he had to not only fill, but also develop and define.

In his role: Drawing on his previous experience as a nurse at a psychiatric hospital, he has a unique ability to assess highly charged encounters, determining the nature of the disturbance and the best way to de-escalate a situation to protect patients, visitors, and team members at UT Southwestern.

Exceptional expertise: Mr. Spradling provides support to the Emergency Department’s Workplace Violence Prevention and Behavior Health committees by serving as a subject matter expert in mental health and de-escalation. He is a member of the Workplace Violence Prevention Core Committee, a work group responsible for process improvement projects and other prevention and response initiatives.

Service that satisfies: Mr. Spradling said he finds it very rewarding to bring a sense of calm to a tense situation. When his colleagues feel safe, and the positive, healing environment of the hospital has been restored, he feels like he’s made a difference. 

Off the clock: A handyman at heart, Mr. Spradling and his family bought an older house that they’re restoring room by room. From sheetrock to siding and from wiring to plumbing, he gets a sense of accomplishment from fixing up his home. He puts his hammer and other tools to good use for others too, and through his church helps people whose homes are in need of repairs.

Ashley Woods-White

Supervisor-Work Control Coordinator
Facilities Management

“Her cheerful outlook is infectious, and everyone feels the positive energy she puts into everything she does.”

– Strauss Award nominator
Woman with long brown braids, wearing a white sweater over a red and orange print top and dark-rimmed glasses.
Ashley Woods-White

UTSW career: In April, Mrs. Woods-White celebrated a decade of working at UT Southwestern.

In her role: Among her many responsibilities are handling calls for service to UT Southwestern facilities, working with Finance and Procurement, and scheduling and coordinating her team’s biweekly safety meeting and communication. Mrs. Woods-White and her team handle more than 2,000 service calls every month and create an average of 1,800 work orders in support of 90 team members who keep the infrastructure at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital and Zale Lipshy Pavilion working properly for patients and staff.

Highly decorated for her service: She has earned the Hospital Services Quarterly Award for contributions to her team as well as the Meritorious Service Award. Mrs. Woods-White is a member of her department’s Employee Engagement planning team, returning the gratitude she receives by organizing projects, including the Summer Celebration Picnic.

Helping you to help yourself: “My favorite part of my job is the team I work with,” Mrs. Woods-White said. “I work with the engineers, project managers, and the different trades, to name a few people. It’s easy to forget all that goes into making a hospital run – from the elevators to the electricity. When I can give them what they need to do their job, that’s when I am happy.”

Off the clock: One of the most fulfilling things Mrs. Woods-White does when she isn’t working is serving as a teacher in her church’s nursery. “Even though I am supposed to be teaching them, kids will tell you the truth, whether you want them to or not, and I find that a lot of the time they’re the ones teaching me.”

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