Jindal School Alumnae Recognized for Success in Business

By By Jimmie Markham and Sarah Ganbat  |  October 12, 2020

The Dallas Business Journal recently selected three alumnae of the Naveen Jindal School of Management as recipients of business awards.

Sheena Payne MS’15 and Patti Niles, who earned an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Governance from the Jindal School in 2017, were among 30 honorees of the DBJ’s annual Women in Business award. Kelley McClain MBA’10, managing vice president at Capital One, was honored Sept. 30 as one of Dallas Business Journal’s top 25 women leaders in North Texas technology.

Payne is the director of community affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Niles is president and CEO of Southwest Transplant Alliance, a nonprofit organ procurement organization. Both believe their education at the Jindal School played a role in advancing their careers.


Sheena Payne MS’15 was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as a recipient of the 2020 Women in Business Awards.

Payne’s experience at UT Dallas began in 2009 when she enrolled in the Jindal School’s academic certificate in executive and professional coaching program. At the time, she already had a distinguished career in the airline industry with stints at TWA and American Airlines. She wanted to get into human resources to cap off her professional career but knew she would need additional credentials to make the transition. Payne also wanted to become a professional coach, so she decided to enroll in the certificate program which she completed in 2010.

“Living in Allen, I knew UT Dallas had a great reputation, and I knew I wanted to be in an accredited program related to organizational consulting and behavior,” Payne said. “The certificate program at the Jindal School allowed me to learn about the different coaching models and network with a lot of people.”

A lifelong learner, Payne enjoyed the certificate experience so much that she went on to earn her master’s degree in management science at JSOM.

Patti Niles took a similar path to gain the tools she needed to succeed in leading a company that recovers transplant organs and tissues for 10.5 million residents across 89 counties in Texas and one in Arkansas. Since the organization she leads operates with a governing board and an advisory board, she wanted to gain knowledge related to those interactions.


Patti Niles, who earned an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Governance from the Jindal School, was also recognized by the DBJ as a 2020 Women in Business award recipient.

“As CEO, getting that certificate provided insight into what’s required when my boards and I discuss fiduciary responsibility,” Niles said. “It helped me help them. It’s made me more well-rounded, as it gave me some skills and knowledge that I really didn’t have before.”

DBJ fêted Payne, Niles and other honorees of the 13th annual program at a live virtual event last month.

Kelley McClain has worked at Capital One for 19 years, progressing from front-line operations management to a variety of executive roles before moving into her current position. McClain notes that the opportunities she has been given to work in diverse executive roles have been instrumental in her success. Being recognized by the Dallas Business Journal has been a highlight of her career.

“This achievement has validated my belief that we must continue to learn and take risks to enable our full potential,” she said.

As vice president of loan servicing for Capital One Auto Finance, she led the transformation of the organization’s technology, including core systems, user interfaces, data architecture, cloud migration and robotic processing automation. Earlier, as vice president of home loans fulfillment operations, she spearheaded the digital transformation for loan originations.

In an effort to continue learning and advance her career, McClain chose to pursue an executive MBA at the Jindal School.


Kelley McClain MBA’10 was named a Women in Technology Honoree from the Dallas Business Journal.

“The program was a game-changer for me both personally and professionally,” McClain said. “The executive coach feature of the program was life-changing — I still have several fond memories of Dr. [Richard] Miller and Dr. [David] Springate’s course offerings. Throughout my time at the Jindal School, I gained confidence, established executive presence, learned to collaborate and enhanced my critical thinking skills.”

McClain said that this award has encouraged her to continue to learn and take risks in order to reach her full potential.

“It’s motivated me to continue pushing forward, even when the journey ahead is unknown,” McClain said.