American Dreams Lecture Series: Stories of Uncommon Valor & Career Success

“The ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.”

This new Lecture Series brings intimate portraits of challenges and triumphs the invited speakers have endured while pursuing their American Dreams.  American Dreams: Stories of Uncommon Valor & Career Success takes place in the fall and spring semesters and features alumni from Houston Baptist University as well as professionals from a variety of industries. Students and alumni as well as staff, faculty and business professionals are invited to attend this Lecture Series which is held in Belin Chapel.

The evening begins with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the reading of the speaker’s bio. The Director of Career and Calling formally introduces the speaker to the audience and commences to engaging the speaker with a series of questions ranging from the speaker’s faith-walk to the challenges of beginning and maintaining a career in the 21st century. After the interview, the speaker gives a short-talk focusing on parting advice regarding the American Dream.

The series began on October 25, 2016 with inaugural speaker, HBU Alumnus, Mayor of Sugar Land, Joe R. Zimmerman sharing his career story.

The American Dreams Lecture Series will continue on April 12, 2017 at 7:00pm in Belin Chapel. The featured speaker is Debbie Scanlon of BKD! 


7:00 pm– Associate University Minister leads opening prayer
7:03 pm– The Pledge of Allegiance
7:05 pm– Introduction of Debbie Scanlon
7:05 pm– Interview Begins
7:45 pm– Interview Wraps-Up
7:45 pm– Begin Audience Q/A
7:55 pm-Audience Q/A Ends
8:00 pm– Industry Networking Night Begins
9:00 pm– Industry Networking Night Ends

Immediately after the Question & Answer Session ends, everyone will be ushered into the Industry Networking Hour (8:00pm-9:00pm) where Debbie Scanlon will be in attendance to connect with the audience and for VIP guests and audience members to network! Attendees are encouraged to bring their business cards (OPTIONAL) as there will be raffles for prizes and more! Heavy Hors D’oeuvres (Delicious Appetizers), Sweet Desserts, and Refreshing Drinks will be served!


Questions regarding sponsoring the American Dreams Lecture Series can be directed to



  • Spring 2017 - Debbie Scanlon, Partner, BKD LLP

    Deborah S. Scanlon


    Debbie is a member of BKD National Financial Services Group and leads the Houston and Dallas financial services practices. She has more than 25 years of experience providing audit and consulting services to a variety of financial institutions, broker-dealers, investment advisory firms and funds.

    In addition to providing audit and attestation services to these organizations, her experience includes Sarbanes-Oxley implementations, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 internal control structure designs, implementations and reviews, regulatory compliance functions, mergers and acquisitions and developing internal audit programs and systems. Debbie educates boards and audit committees related to fiduciary responsibilities and trains financial accounting personnel and management teams in many types of financial organizations. Debbie has been recognized in the Houston community for her success leading teams. 

    Debbie is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants. She actively participates in the Texas Bankers Association, Subchapter S Bank Association and Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT). She is on the IBAT Leadership Division board and a recipient of the IBAT President’s Award.

    She also serves as the president of the board of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Houston affiliate.

    Debbie is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, with a B.S. degree in accounting.

  • Fall 2016 - Mayor of Sugar Land: Joe Zimmerman


    Zimmerman was elected the 10th Mayor of Sugar Land on June 11, 2016 after serving four years as the At-Large, Position 2, City Councilman. He serves on the Economic Development Committee, Sugar Land Development Corporation Board, 4b Board, TIRZ 4 Board and as the COSL alternate representative to the Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council. Prior to being elected to City Council, he was a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission for eight years, serving six years as Chairman. He is a 2015 graduate of the Sugar Land Regional Airport Academy.

    Professional, Civic & Community
    Mr. Zimmerman is the Director of Development for Cobb Fendley & Associates, Inc., a private civil engineering consulting firm founded in 1980. He has extensive business experience having served in senior management positions in a number of different industries including consulting engineering, water and wastewater operations, land acquisition/land development/homebuilding as well as an international assignment in Libya. Mr. Zimmerman served as Vice Chair of the Government Relations Committee for the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce from 2000-2001 and 2013-2015. He has served on the boards of the Literacy Council of Fort Bend, Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority and Beechnut Street, Inc., which is associated with Houston Baptist University.

    He and his wife of 40 years, Nancy, have lived in Sugar Land since 1990 and are active members of Second Baptist Church Woodway. Their daughter, Allison, her husband Chris Wallace, granddaughter Emmy, and grandson Campbell live in Houston.

    May 2016 – 2018

    Professional Engineer, State of Texas
    Houston Baptist University, MBA
    University of Houston, BSCE
    Sharpstown High School, Houston