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Bauer Alumni CEOs Recognized by Houston Business Journal

Recognized for career Achievement, Company Success and More

Published on November 25, 2021

Each year, the Houston Business Journal (HBJ) selects CEOs from private and non-profit sectors who are known for their outstanding contributions to company success, civic involvement, career achievement and more. Four C.T. Bauer College of Business alumni were among those named to the prestigious group selected for 2021, a year in which business leaders faced unprecedented challenges for business.

Like the larger group of CEOs who were honored, the following Bauer College alumni excel in a wide range of fields: Health care, workplace staffing, the arts, and real estate development.

David L. Callender, M.D. (MBA ’95)

Memorial Hermann Health System

Callender joined Memorial Hermann Health System as president and CEO in 2019. He is responsible for leading and overseeing a network of more than 270 hospitals, diagnostic and specialty centers, with more than 29,000 employees and 6,500 affiliated physicians.

Callender is an ENT surgeon with expertise in head and neck cancers, who has also been a successful healthcare leader over the course of his career. He excels in forward-thinking strategic planning, making improvements in the delivery of high-quality and high-value health care, fostering strong leadership development, engaging employees and enabling physician collaboration.

Prior to joining Memorial Hermann, he was President of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB Health) for 12 years. Other previous roles include Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer for the UCLA Hospital System and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for MD Anderson.

A native of Wichita Falls, Callender received his medical degree from and completed his residency at Baylor College of Medicine. He also completed an oncology fellowship with MD Anderson.

Marge Costello (BBA, ’79)

Riverway Business Services

Costello is the founder and president of Riverway Business Services, a full-service recruiting agency. Riverway provides assistance to companies in all aspects of administrative/clerical, call center/customer service, accounting, human resource, engineering, oil and gas, professional, and information technology recruiting. Riverway opened in 1990, but Costello has more than 45 years of experience in the staffing industry.

“The Most Admired CEO award is a massive honor, as it is an award that I am only able to earn because of all the incredible people I have the privilege of working with each and every day,” Costello said.

“When I started Riverway Business Services over 30 years ago, it was based on a vision that talent partners can truly change the trajectories of both their clients’ businesses and candidates’ lives. Now, to have an entire dedicated team who sees the same value of that vision, and does the work to make it a reality, is incredibly humbling. Plus, receiving recognition from HBJ feels huge. I am lucky - I have the best job in the world because I get to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives, while working with a team that pushes me to be better each and every day. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Mohammed Ali Dhanani (’90)

Dhanani Group, HAZA Group

After graduating from the Bauer College with a degree in accounting, Dhanani helped drive the expansion of his family’s business concerns in oil and gas distribution and real estate. With his ability to identify and capitalize on market opportunities, the businesses have flourished, growing into one of the largest oil and gas distribution networks for corporate giants Shell and Exxon. Dhanani also utilized his passion for innovation and entrepreneurship in helping to shape the future of the food and beverage industry. He is President/CEO of HAZA Group, which manages over 275 Wendy’s and Taco Bell restaurants in eight different markets.

“It feels good to be named an HBJ Most Admired CEO. Who doesn’t like to be appreciated and validated?” said Dhanani.

“More so, I look at it as it’s good for the people who work for me and the teams that I lead. It’s surety for them and for the future. It also puts more responsibility on my shoulders, to continue being an admired CEO.”

James Nelson, (BBA ’99)

Houston Ballet

Nelson has been an administrative leader of Houston Ballet for two decades, serving as executive director since February 2012.

Nelson has led Houston Ballet through a period of transformational growth and acclaim. During his tenure, Nelson has pursued an aggressive initiative of building large-scale, full-length ballets and expanding Houston Ballet's international exposure.

Houston Ballet's revenues have grown from $19.2 million to $34.5 million in the most recent pre-pandemic fiscal year, and Houston Ballet Foundation’s endowment has grown from $52.9 million to more than $100 million, as of April, 2021.

Nelson began his career as a dancer, and received his professional dance training from Houston Ballet Academy from 1983-1986. He was named general manager of Houston Ballet in August 2000. In 2005, Nelson was selected for and attended the Stanford University Graduate School of Business Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders.