Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

January 4, 2007

Contact: Contact: Mike Emery
713.743.8186 (office)
713.415.6551 (pager)

Houston’s Vallone, Wilson Among Honorees Recognized at Jan. 26 Star Awards

HOUSTON, January 4, 2007 – Mavens of merchandising will soon converge on River Oaks to salute a select group of their leading luminaries during an event benefiting the University of Houston’s Department of Human Development and Consumer Sciences (HDCS).

The 2007 Merchandising Star Awards (MSA) will be presented during a luncheon ceremony at noon Friday, Jan. 26 at River Oaks Country Club. This event honors members of the retail community for exceptional contributions to the profession. Proceeds from MSA will support the HDCS Consumer Sciences and Merchandising (CSM) program that prepares UH College of Technology undergraduates for retail and human resources careers.

KPRC-TV anchor and UH alumna Dominique Sachse will serve as the event’s emcee. Roz Pactor, former fashion director for Foley’s and UH alumna, is the MSA chairperson.

“This event spotlights prominent and worthy individuals who have been a part of the local retail scene for some time,” Pactor said. “It also helps generate funding for student scholarships and for the development of an online degree program. It’s a win-win for everyone, with UH students coming out as the biggest winners.”

The following recipients will be honored:

  • Arlene Baranda, owner of Artisan Designs in Rice Village, will receive the Merchandising Star Award. As owner of a fashionable boutique, Baranda continues to be an innovator in Houston’s fashion merchandising scene.
  • April Hinkle, associate publisher and senior vice president of sales and marketing for Texas Monthly magazine, is being honored with the Media Star Award. A native of Dallas, Hinkle has spent 17 years at Texas Monthly cultivating close relationships with high profile clients Neiman Marcus, Foley’s/Macy’s, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany’s, Nordstrom, Dillard’s and many more.
  • Donna Vallone, co-owner of Vallone Restaurant Group, will receive the Community Service Star Award. A UH alumna and former music educator, Vallone has long been an integral part of the success of popular Houston eatery Tony’s. She finds time to serve on the boards of the Galleria Chamber of Commerce, Theatre Under the Stars and the Maxine Messinger Multiple Sclerosis Clinic. She also volunteers at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital and St. Anne’s Catholic Church.
  • George Wilson, retired vice president of Foley’s human resources, is this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Star Award. Wilson’s distinguished career spanned 40 years at Foley’s. Wilson is a longtime supporter of UH’s merchandising programs and has recruited many students for internships and full-time careers.

The Emerging Star Student Scholarship Award will be presented to UH student and CSM major Chris Goins.

“This event is a retail celebration,” said Shirley Ezell, associate professor of HDCS. “Every day our distinguished honorees come to work and make an impact in their community and the retail marketplace. UH merchandising graduates have the best of all worlds – a retail community that embraces innovation coupled with a professional education and limitless opportunities for managing dynamic global retailers.”

The Merchandising Star Award Endowment was established in 2004 to provide funds for CSM undergraduate and graduate scholarships, continuing education programs, program and student enrichment, and the expansion of the first online merchandising degree in the nation. Fashion designer Victor Costa and philanthropist Rose Cullen, both UH alumni, shared the first MSA. To learn more about the event, call 713-743-4920 or e-mail or contact Pactor at 713-526-4325 and

HDCS is a part of UH’s College of Technology. The multi-faceted department offers a unique curriculum focused on merchandising and human resources. Working with professionals in the retail communities has provided the UH program with educational opportunities for students to expand their creative retail intelligence. Students are challenged to reinvent retail processes, to build entirely new markets that meet untapped customer needs and to execute the right ideas and bring them to market in record time.

About the University of Houston
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