2017 Industry Impact Award Winner
Charlie Amato is the Chairman/Co-founder of SWBC. With more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of insurance operations, underwriting, and product development, Charlie is known in the business community for his innovative, relationship-building approach. Charlie received his Bachelor of Business Administration from Sam Houston State University. He is currently serving a second term as a Regent for the Texas State University System, a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (San Antonio branch), and is Vice Chairman of the Texas Business Leadership Council. Charlie is a member of the Lone Star Capital Bank board of directors and also serves as Chairman of the Lone Star Capital Bank Advisory Board, is Past Chairman of the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, past Chairman of the University of the Incarnate Word Board of Trustees and is the past Presiding Chair for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Foundation’s Campaign Cabinet. Charlie is an investor in the San Antonio Spurs and a Board Member for the Silver and Black Give Back.
Charlie has been recognized for his contributions to the industry and community. He is the recipient of the San Antonio Chamber’s Pathfinder Award in 2016, the North San Antonio Chamber’s 2012 Salute to Excellence Award, the San Antonio Business Journal’s 2012 Health Care Advocate Award, and the 2009 Beta Gamma Sigma Medallion for Entrepreneurship. He was also inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, the San Antonio Business Hall of Fame and the College of Business Hall of Honor at Sam Houston State University. In August 2015, Charlie received the Citation award from Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity.
In 2005, Charlie was recognized by the University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio with an Honorary Professor of Surgery in Cardiothoracic Surgery and in 2016 received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of the Incarnate Word.
Charlie is married and has two grown children
President of SHSU
Dr. Dana L. Gibson Hoyt became Sam Houston State University’s 13th president on September 1, 2010, following unanimous approval by The Texas State University System. She is the first female president in the university’s history.
Dr. Hoyt is a product of the Texas educational system, growing up and attending schools in north Texas. She also attended Texas universities, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in business-accounting and a Master of Business Administration at Texas Woman’s University and a doctorate in business at the University of Texas at Arlington.
A Certified Public Accountant since 1984, Dr. Hoyt began her career in private industry. In 1986, she joined academia when she was employed by Texas Woman’s University as a lecturer in accounting and management information systems. She was promoted to assistant professor in 1989, and later received tenure as an associate professor of accounting and management information systems.
In 1996, Dr. Hoyt was named TWU’s special assistant to the vice president for finance and administration. She was promoted to associate vice president for finance and administration and university controller and was named vice president for academic and information services in 2000.
She left Texas Woman’s University to become vice president for finance and administration of the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver (Colorado). After serving two years, she was named vice chancellor for administration and finance at the University of Colorado at Denver (and Health Sciences Center) where she oversaw a budget of more than $700 million with funded research of $300 million.
Dr. Hoyt returned to Texas as the vice president for business and finance at Southern Methodist University. After her service at SMU, she was selected as president of National University, the second largest not-for-profit university in California.
In 2009, she joined Sam Houston State University as vice president for finance and operations. Her responsibilities included the administration of many of the business functions of the university including the controller’s office, budget, auxiliary operations, procurement, property, public safety, parking, human resources, facilities management, construction and planning, information resources, and institutional research and assessment.
Dr. Hoyt’s research in accounting information systems has resulted in a number of professional papers, publications and presentations, and she has served as an associate editor and reviewer for several academic accounting journals.
Among her awards are Texas Woman’s University Distinguished Alumna and Southern Methodist University Administrator of the Year.
In addition to her professional work, Dr. Hoyt is active in civic and charitable causes. Dr. Hoyt is married to Mr. John M. Hoyt (SHSU '75).
Women's Head Basketball Coach
Brenda Welch-Nichols has taken the Sam Houston women’s basketball program to new heights in her 10 years as the Bearkats’ head coach.
Highlights of Nichols’ tenure at SHSU include the university’s first women’s Southland Conference championship and NCAA Division I post-season tournament appearances in the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) and Women’s National Invitational (WNIT).
Nichols’ players have combined to set 27 school records and have earned All-Southland Conference honors 12 times.
An all-league player and top scorer for the Kats’ first Southland Conference squad in 1988, Nichols returned to her alma mater as the University’s 10th women’s basketball head coach on August 23, 2006. The development of the program since that day has been amazing.
In Nichols’ first season in 2007, the SHSU women won only two conference games. The team suffered through a 1-27 season in 2008. But during those early years a strong and steady recruiting effort laid the foundation for record-setting seasons.
In 2013, Sam Houston earned its first Southland Conference regular season women’s basketball championship. The team followed up with its post-season tournament finals appearance in the program's 28 years in the league and an appearance in the Women's National Invitational Tournament.
The WNIT and WBI berths stand as Sam Houston's first ever NCAA Division I women's basketball national tournament appearances.
Sam Houston’s 18-14 overall record in 2012-13 marked the program's third consecutive winning season. Sam Houston had produced only two other winning seasons (in 1988 and 1996) in the University’s 27 years at the NCAA Division I level.
The 18 wins both in 2012 and 2013 equaled the school mark for most victories in one year (tying the 1996 squad). The 53 victories during the past three seasons mark the most in a three-year period for Sam Houston’s 31-year history as an NCAA program.
After taking the Bearkats from last place to first, Nichols earned Southland Conference "Coach of the Year" honors in 2013.
Nichols was the leading scorer for the 18-9 Sam Houston squad in 1988, coming to Huntsville after two years as an NJCAA All-American at Western Texas Junior College. Her 17.8 career scoring average stands as the second highest mark in Bearkat women's basketball history.
Prior to returning to Huntsville as Sam Houston head coach, Nichols was head coach at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.; served as an assistant at South Alabama and Memphis and was head coach at Okaloosa-Walton Community College and Western Texas.
Her first collegiate assistant coaching job came at Pensacola Junior College in Florida where Bob Marlin, who directed the Bearkat men's basketball program to three conference titles between 1999 and 2010, was then coaching.
Nichols and all the Bearkat student-athletes have become familiar faces around Huntsville due to their work in the community. The Kats participate in many community service activities including reading to elementary school children and giving talks to older kids about the importance of education and hard work.
Nichols earned her Sam Houston degree in physical education in 1989 and her master’s at West Florida in 1992. The Jennings, La., native has two sons, Brady and Brock, and a daughter, Brelee.
Men's Head Basketball Coach
Sam Houston State University has compiled eight 20-victory seasons in its 28 years at the NCAA Division I level. Jason Hooten has been a part of six of those eight seasons either as head coach or as an assistant.
Since he joined the staff in July 2004, the Bearkats have compiled a record of 225 wins and only 126 losses. The Sam Houston men have earned Southland tournament berths each of his 11 years in Huntsville (winning the event in 2010, also reaching the finals in 2006, 2014 and 2015 and the semifinals seven times).
Southland Conference champions in 2010, Sam Houston has finished among the top three teams in the league nine of the last 11 years. The Kats won three West Division titles and advanced to national post-season play twice.
Named head coach on April 2, 2010, Hooten has directed Sam Houston to a 98-69 overall record including back-to-back 20-win seasons with a 24-11 mark in 2014 and 25-9 in 2015.
The past two years, Hooten’s Bearkats have made their third and fourth NCAA Division I post-season appearance, reaching the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in both 2014 and 2015. Sam Houston’s victory over Alabama State in the first round represented Sam Houston’s first NCAA post-season victory.
The past two seasons have seen the Kats make their mark at the annual Southland tournament in Katy. Seeded No. 6 in 2013, Sam Houston battled its way to the semifinals, defeating No. 7 seed Central Arkansas 69-63 and No. 3 seed Oral Roberts 58-55 before falling to the eventual tournament champion Northwestern State 55-52. The past two years, the Bearkats have reached the Southland tournament finals with victories over Oral Roberts and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in 2014 and the Islanders again in 2015.
In his first season as Bearkat head coach in 2011, Hooten directed the Bearkats to their third consecutive Southland Conference West Division championship and the program’s seventh consecutive winning season. The Bearkats’ 18 wins represented the most victories by a first-year head coach in the program’s NCAA Division I history.
As an assistant coach, Hooten helped direct SHSU to a 127-59 record. The 2010 Bearkats won the Southland regular season and tournament titles to earn a berth the NCAA New Orleans regional.
Hooten joined the SHSU staff July 1, 2004. In 2009, RecruitingRumors.com selected Hooten as one of the top 100 NCAA assistant coaches and CollegeInsider.com named him Mid-Major Top 25 assistant coaches honorable mention. Previously, he was assistant basketball coach at Tarleton State University for Lonn Reisman. He helped lead the Texans to a combined 204-111 record.
A 1987 graduate of Killeen Ellison High School, Hooten lettered in basketball and baseball. He earned All-CenTex and All-Super CenTex honors. Hooten has been named as a Killeen ISD “Distinguished Alum.”
Hooten holds two degrees from Tarleton State, earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport studies in 1993 and a master’s in 1995. He is married to the former Kristen Miller. The pair have a daughter, Jadyn, and a son Jayce.