Chief of Staff and Associate Vice President of Administration
As Chief of Staff and Assistant Vice President for Administration, Grace Hernandez reports directly to the President and serves as the liaison between the President and other members of the senior staff. In addition, Human Resources, Institutional Research, Payroll and the Office of Communications & Marketing report to Grace. She has a long history working in higher education and previously served as Chief of Staff and Affirmative Action Director at The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). Prior to UMKC, she served as the Director of Diversity & EEO Office at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Grace earned her B.A. in English from UTSA and received a M.A. in Human Resources Development from Webster University. She is also an active member of the Lubbock community and serves on the boards of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, the Science Spectrum and United Way.
Senior Assistant to the President for Regional Partnerships and Latin American Partnerships
Dr. Solis leverages his excellent network in the region to promote research, development, innovation, and education collaboration activities among public and private sectors from both Latin America and the U. S., especially with organizations in the state of Texas. Dr. Solis holds a Bachelor's degree in Electromechanical Engineering from the Technological University of Panama, a Master of Science degree and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Iowa. His experience bridges the academic and private sectors.
Solis helped to establish and served as Managing Director of the Georgia Tech Panama Logistics Innovation and Research Center, founded to strategically support decisions that help improve Panama's logistics and trade capabilities that enable Panama as the Premier Trade and Logistics Hub of the Americas. He was Director of Research and Professor of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at the Technological University of Panama; Senior Research Scientist and Adjunct Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Iowa and Director of the Modeling and Simulation Laboratory at the U. S. Department of Transportation sponsored National Advanced Driving Simulator, and Senior Research Engineer at the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center at the University of Iowa. In the private sector, Dr. Solis launched and served as President of Verde Power Corporation, and was the Director for Vehicle Dynamics, Design & Simulation Technology at Austral Engineering & Software Inc. Also, he held positions as plant engineer in the manufacturing sector in Panama.
Among service posts, he has been appointed as the University President Council Representative at the National Council of Directors of Panama's National Research System, and as a member of sectorial commissions responsible for developing Panama's National Strategic Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation. He has produced dozens of publications in journals and conference proceedings and has participated in many events as an invited speaker. Dr. Solis' research experience includes a strong component in Modeling and Simulation Science and Technology, Dynamics and Controls, Vehicle Dynamics, Traffic Simulation and Transportation, Renewable Energy Systems, and Logistics and Supply Chain System Analysis. He is also a certified Lean Supply Chain Professional.
In 1989, Dr. Solis was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and, in 2010, he was recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers with the inaugural McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising.
Executive Assistant to the President
Jessica Carrillo serves as the Executive Assistant to the President. In her role, she provides total support to the President, which is vast in responsibility. Jessica has been honored with the Top Techsan and Distinguished Staff Awards. She has been employed at Texas Tech University since 1996, working in the Department of Biological Sciences, the Natural Sciences Research Laboratory, and the Provost's office prior to transferring to the President’s office in the fall of 2000. Jessica received her bachelor of science in university studies in May 2012, and is currently working toward her MBA in management. Jessica enjoys spending time with her family who mean the world to her.
Director of External Relations
Suzanne Taylor serves as the Director of External Relations in the Office of the President. In her role, Suzanne coordinates community and governmental relations for the President. Prior to joining the President’s staff, Suzanne coordinated the Government & Public Service Internship Program and served as the Student Regent on the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents. She has past experience working for Congresswoman Kay Granger, the Appellate Division of the Lubbock District Attorney’s Office, and the Association for Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU) in Washington, D.C. She attended Texas Tech University where she received a B.A. in Advertising and recently graduated with her J.D. from Texas Tech University School of Law. Suzanne is married to Brandon Taylor, who works for the university in Undergraduate Admissions as the Manager for West Texas Recruitment and the Visitors Center.
Executive Administrative Associate
Mikki Swaffar serves as the Executive Administrative Associate and assists the Chief of Staff, as well as the Senior Assistant to the President. She supports many administrative functions, human resources needs, the university’s preparations for Board of Regents meetings, and executive position searches. Mikki has been with the university since 1996, working for vice presidents before transferring to the President's Office. Mikki is a graduate of Texas Tech with a B.A. in English. Her family, husband and daughters are the joy of her life.
Senior Administrative Assistant
Cheryl Stephenson serves as a Senior Administrative Assistant in the Office of the President. In her role, Cheryl is responsible for management of the front office. She is the initial point of contact for all visitors and inquiries, while also providing administrative support. Cheryl holds a bachelor's degree in English from Texas Tech, which she earned while employed on the Tech campus from 1976-1982. Prior to joining the president's staff, she worked for the Lubbock Conventions and Visitors Bureau as servicing director and staff writer, then for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal as editor of the Business and Industrial Review. Cheryl returned to Texas Tech employment in 2006 when she joined the staff of the CASNR Dean's Office. Cheryl has one daughter, Meagan, who is also a Tech alumna.
Coordinator of Presidential Services and Communications
Sarah Stracener is the Coordinator of Presidential Services and Communications. In her role, Sarah is responsible for managing the President’s events, public appearances, communications and outreach activities. Prior to her current position, Sarah worked as the Associate Director of Corporate Engagement for the Texas Tech University System. She has past experience working for the Development and Alumni Relations Office in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and serving as a student recruiter for the College. Wilson graduated from Texas Tech University in May 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in agricultural communications, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in agricultural education from Texas Tech. Outside of her professional interests, Sarah enjoys spending time with her family and friends, watching baseball, and being outdoors.
Executive for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Health Security Initiatives
Dr. Annette Sobel currently is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Education and serves as the Executive for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Health Security Initiatives, TTUHSC and TTU. She is residency trained in Family and Community Medicine and Aerospace Medicine and is a Hyperbaric Medicine Specialist. In addition, Dr. Sobel is a Human Factors Engineer, and her work has emphasized global disease surveillance and development of novel, interactive learning and educational platforms.
Dr. Sobel is trained as a military and civilian flight surgeon and was an Army Astronaut Candidate in 1989. After 20 years of military service, she retired as a Major General in the Arizona Air National Guard.