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The Rising Star award, established in 2004, recognizes alumni within 10 years of their graduation who have been successful professionally and have helped strengthen the McCombs Alumni Network. The school celebrated this year’s honorees at the annual Hall of Fame Gala in November.

The 2008-09 selection committee members were Nikki Hanley, BBA ’04; Rick Harsch, BBA ’81; Cindy Highlander, BBA ’81; Kevin Judice, BBA ’80; Don Maranca, BBA ’93, MPA ’93; Neal Meadows, BBA ’95, MPA ’97; Kathleen Motheral, MBA ’07; Anne Robillard, BBA ’77; Rohan Singal, BBA ’06 and Amanda Yates, MBA ’07.

M. Christina Clayton, BBA ’02, MBA ’06 (University of Oxford)

As an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton’s organization and strategy team, Christina Clayton works with clients to address complex organizational challenges, providing support with business process reengineering, organization design, strategic communication, human capital and change management.

Clayton currently supports the Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force Acquisitions. Prior to her graduate studies, Clayton worked as a legislative assistant to Congresswoman Kay Granger in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2004, she was selected to travel to China with a congressional delegation focused on health care and education issues.

Clayton graduated with an MBA from the University of Oxford Said School of Business in 2006. She earned her BBA from McCombs in 2002. Clayton is a certified project management professional and is currently pursuing a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification.

She remains actively involved in pro-bono consulting work for nonprofits such as the Wesley Housing Development Corporation of Virginia and the Arlington Academy of Hope. In 2008, Clayton volunteered for the Costa Rica Orphanage Mission Project, traveling to a small village outside San Jose to help build a housing campus for orphans.

“I always knew Christina would turn out to be a fine consultant,” said Michael W. Brandl, senior lecturer in finance at McCombs. “It is nice to see that she is now spreading her knowledge and insight to people and firms around the world. Christina is a living example of the university’s motto, ‘What starts here changes the world.’”

Gregory H. Johnson, B.S. ’84 (Air Force Academy), MBA ’05

A retired colonel from the United States Air Force and NASA astronaut, Gregory H. Johnson is chief of the Astronaut Safety Branch and has been a primary player in all phases of astronaut safety. Johnson will pilot of one of the final shuttle missions, STS-134, in July 2010 to deliver the last module to the International Space Station. He piloted the STS-123 Endeavour flight in March 2008, a 16-day flight that was among the longest shuttle missions ever.

As a member of the investigative team for the 2003 Columbia accident, Johnson aided in the discovery of the potential for foam debris to inflict critical damage on shuttles during ascent.

Johnson earned his MBA from McCombs in 2005. He was selected for Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, graduating in December 1994. Johnson received a Guggenheim Fellowship to earn his M.S. degree in flight structures engineering at Columbia University in 1985, and he graduated with a B.S. in aeronautical engineering with honors from the Air Force Academy in 1984.

During his decorated career in the Air Force, Johnson has garnered 13 medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. He flew 34 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm and 27 in Operation Southern Watch.

“Greg’s career as an Air Force officer, a pilot, an astronaut and now a NASA executive reflects his commitment to excellence and to his organization’s mission,” said David Jemison, professor of management at McCombs. “While he was an executive MBA student, Greg brought out the best in his classmates through his quiet leadership, his dedication to everyone’s success and his ever-present smile.”

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