Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Christella J. Chavez honored by Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

"Most prestigious national award presented by SHPE to a SHPE member"

At Visteon in Nashville, employee since 1998

Won Visteon Summit Award in 2004

West Point Class of '89

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) issued this press release announcing the individual and corporate winners for the 2007 SHPE Technical Achievement Recognition (STAR) Awards, one of which is Christella ("Chriss") Chavez of Nashville:
Christella J. Chavez of Visteon/Ford Motor Company in Nashville was selected to receive the Jaime Oaxaca Award, the most prestigious national award presented by SHPE to a SHPE member. Chavez is being honored for her unselfish and outstanding contributions to the fields of engineering and science and to the Hispanic community. Chavez has established two new professional chapters in Oklahoma and Tennessee and was instrumental in establishing SHPE student chapters at the University of Tulsa, Tulsa Community College, Oral Roberts University and Tennessee Technological University. She has served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserves for the past 18 years and is dedicated to SHPE and a number of other Hispanic initiatives.

“On behalf of SHPE, I would like to extend my congratulations to all of our STAR Award winners and thank them for the excellence they bring to the engineering field and to the Hispanic community. As the source for quality Hispanic engineers and technical talent, SHPE is committed to increasing the pipeline of Hispanic talent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is so rewarding to honor outstanding Hispanic achievement in these disciplines each year,” said Diana Gomez, National President of SHPE. All awards

The annual awards recognize the year’s highest level of achievement in Hispanic engineering in several different categories and will be presented at the 2007 SHPE Conference in Philadelphia on Oct. 31-Nov. 4.
Chavez was the previous recipient of Visteon's Summit Award in 2004:
Chriss Chavez, a manufacturing superintendent with Visteon Corporation's (NYSE: VC) Nashville (Tennessee) Glass Plant, has been honored with the company's Summit Award for her outstanding commitment and dedication to the community, as well as her leadership abilities.

An employee since 1998, Chavez has been helping the local community through such activities as the United Way, the Corporate Challenge program, Executive Women International, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Formerly an employee of the Tulsa Glass Plant, Chavez works as a manufacturing superintendent in the Gravity Sag windshield manufacturing area of Visteon's Nashville Plant.

"Chriss' dedication and passion for reaching out and helping the community is a great example of the kind of spirited, enthusiastic employees we have at Visteon," said Mike Johnston, president and chief operating officer. "Through the Leading the Way program, we are focused on identifying those individuals and teams that go above-and-beyond, and then recognizing them for their efforts."

Chavez's passion for participating and dedicating her time to local organizations not only earned her a Leading the Way award, she is also one of six individuals and/or teams being recognized with a 2003 Leading the Way Summit Award. "I feel it's critically important to give of your time and talent to make the world a better place," said Chavez. "Each of us was provided with certain skills and abilities and it's up to each one of us to put them to good use."

Putting her talents to work is what Chavez has been doing for the past five years supporting the Tulsa Glass Plant's United Way fund-raising campaigns, coordinating the United Way Day of Caring activities and other philanthropic events sponsored by the plant.

During her time at the Tulsa Glass Plant, Chavez's passion to support local organizations didn't end at the four walls of the plant. She was also active in sponsoring the Corporate Challenge program in 2000 (a city wide corporate physical fitness competition), and earned a Gold Medal in the Most Physically Fit category for the Tulsa Glass Plant. Chavez also represented the Tulsa Glass Plant in the local chapter of Executive Women International for three years, serving as the Public Relations committee chair and volunteering on several other committees.

In 2000, she helped found the Oklahoma Professional Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE-OK), where she served the first year as president. She later held the role of treasurer of SHPE-OK. In 2003, she was recognized by the SHPE regional organization with a leadership award for her work in the local and national organizations. Chavez volunteered at the Tulsa Engineering Challenge, where local engineering groups provide an opportunity for children in grades 6-9 to compete in engineering build competitions at the Tulsa Technology Center.

Chavez brought the plant into the Greater Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and helped plant management recognize the business value in understanding Hispanic culture and language, which is especially important since Visteon continues to conduct business in many Latin American countries. In 2003, she was selected to the position of vice-chairperson of the Board of Directors and was slated to be the next chair. In addition to working closely with the Greater Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Chavez served on the Hispanic American Foundation's Board of Trustees, which provides scholarships and educational awareness to Hispanic students. She acted as chair of several community fund-raising projects that benefited local Hispanic charities and also served on the Board of Directors for the YWCA in Tulsa.

As a single mother of two boys, it might seem that carrying out her job at Visteon while participating, supporting, coordinating and sponsoring so many community activities would leave Chavez with little time for herself. Although she admits it was a challenge to juggle her schedule and her two son's schedules, she managed to further her education by completing a master's degree in business administration from the University of Tulsa in August 2002. Chavez earned her undergraduate degree in engineering and political science from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1989. She is also a military police officer in the United States Army Reserves, holding the rank of major.

"My maternal grandmother went to college and raised her three young daughters by herself after her husband passed away," said Chavez. "She believed in hard work and a good education to get ahead in life … she truly was an inspiration."

Chavez's enthusiasm for helping people extends to her job at the glass plant.

"Working out on the floor with the teams is a terrific experience," said Chavez. " Helping them realize they can make a difference is what makes me most proud. It's very rewarding for me to be able to work side-by-side with the employees in an effort to bring about positive changes in processes and in helping to contribute to the bottom line."

Launched in 2003, the Leading the Way recognition program honors employees who demonstrate exemplary performance, accomplishments or behavior that is significantly above-and-beyond expectations, or results that produce noticeable improvement in areas such as quality, value to the customer, speed and people. The Summit Award is granted annually and is the most prestigious award associated with the Leading the Way program.

Visteon Corporation is a leading full-service supplier that delivers consumer-driven technology solutions to automotive manufacturers worldwide and through multiple channels within the global automotive aftermarket. Visteon has approximately 72,000 employees and a global delivery system of more than 200 technical, manufacturing, sales and service facilities located in 25 countries.
Chavez is a 1989 graduate of West Point.

Photo by Zickie

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