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TV Personality, State Rep To Give Commencement Addresses

Nov. 28, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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An Emmy-nominated television personality and a “Republican Freshman of the Year” will address Sam Houston State University’s approximate 1,455 degree candidates during three winter commencement ceremonies on Dec. 16-17.

SHSU alumna and host of “Outlook Houston” for more than a decade Yolanda Green will speak at the Friday ceremony, for the Colleges of Education and Fine Arts and Mass Communication, at 6:30 p.m.

State Rep. John Otto will address Saturday’s graduates at 9:30 a.m. for the Colleges of Science and Business Administration and at 2:30 p.m. for the Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences and Criminal Justice.

All three ceremonies will be in the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.

Yolanda GreenYolanda Green, who is currently the manager of community investment for Comcast Houston, has worked in the media for nearly two decades.

She spent time as a radio announcer at Great Gospel Radio KYOK-AM before joining KIAH-TV Channel 39’s public affairs/programming department in 1994.

In less than two years she rose to the position of community relations director and host of “Outlook Houston,” endeavoring “to educate and empower viewers with information on critical issues facing the Houston community,” she said.

Many notable guests appeared on the show, including basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson; gospel recording artist Yolanda Adams; R&B legend Gladys Knight; and Houston mayors Bob Lanier, Lee Brown and Bill White; as well as federal, state and local elected officials.

Her weekly “Going Green with Yolanda Green” program—which highlighted businesses, commercial products, government programs and local initiatives making strides in ensuring communities are eco-friendly—garnered eight Emmy nominations in its first two years.

Green and her team also received numerous honors and awards for their efforts to bring environmental issues to the attention of Houston and the surrounding communities.

As a community pioneer and children’s advocate, Green also spearheaded a number of philanthropic efforts in the Houston area and has served on a number of boards for charitable organizations that advocate for women, children and the disabled.

During her tenure with KIAH-TV (CW 39) Green embodied the presence of CW 39 in the community while managing a more than $9 million grant that benefitted local non-profit agencies, she said.

In 2000 she took a bold step to address the growing need for adoption in Houston and Harris County, becoming the driving force behind a comprehensive broadcast Public Service Campaign that allowed children in foster care to be featured on Channel 39 in public service announcements.

The announcements resulted in more than 5,500 children finding adoptive homes.

This work has carried over to her current position, in which she is responsible for Comcast’s philanthropic efforts in the Houston area.

Green received her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from SHSU, where she was a member of the Mu Kappa Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

She has one adult daughter.

Rep. John OttoJohn Otto, a businessman, community leader and multiple-award winning state representative, was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in November 2004.

Otto has served on the house appropriations committee, including as chairman of the general government and criminal justice subcommittees; the conference committee for House Bill 1; and as vice-chairman of the house committee on ways and means.

In 2008 Otto was named by Speaker of the House Tom Craddick to chair the house select committee on property tax relief and appraisal reform and to serve as a member of the select committee on public and higher education finance.

He currently serves as vice chairman of the budget and revenue committee for the National Conference of State Legislators and is a member of the energy council.

His work has earned him several “Freshman of the Year” awards, including by members of the Texas House of Representatives and members of the House Republican Caucus. He has also been named "Most Valuable Freshman" by editors of Capitol Inside, and "Rookie of the Year" by Texas Monthly, which also named him one of the 10 “Best Legislators in Texas” in 2009.

During the 82nd session in 2011, Otto was recognized as the Texas Retailer’s “Legislator of the Year” for his work on the nexus bill for sales tax.

A Dayton native, Otto is a 1966 graduate of Dayton High School and graduated from Texas A&M University in 1970 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting.

While at Texas A&M University, he was a member of the Ross Volunteer Honor Guard, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band and was head drum major his senior year. He was also a distinguished military graduate, receiving his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation and reported to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana for finance officer training.

A certified public accountant, he worked on the audit staff of KPMG in Houston until 1975, when he and wife Nancy returned to Dayton to begin a CPA business and raise their two sons.

He currently serves as a director for business development for Ryan, the leading tax services firm in North America, and is very involved in his community.


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