Spotlight on Sheila Lidstone, Chief of Staff

Jan 20, 2016, 14:27 PM by

sheila_lidstone

Sheila Lidstone (second from left) with her daughter, Faith; husband, Chris Webber; and son, Austin. Sheila and her family are renovating a 1906 abandoned cottage in Galveston’s midtown, saving what can be saved, and bringing new life to the 700-square- foot bungalow.



Sheila Lidstone serves as chief of staff to UTMB President David L. Callender. A fifth-generation BOI, she graduated from Ball High School and completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Houston—the first in her family to complete college. Her 35-year career in communications and executive-level administration has spanned various aspects of business, from the offshore drilling industry to public education and not-for-profit sectors as well as health care. She joined UTMB’s Cancer Center in 2007, later moving into the chief of staff role in Business and Finance. She assumed her current role in the Office of the President in 2013. She has served in volunteer leadership roles for numerous community organizations including the Galveston County Food Bank, the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, the Galveston Historical Foundation, the Advocacy Center for Children and Galveston County Children’s Protective Services.

She is married to Chris Webber, a member of UTMB’s Revenue Cycle team, and they have two grown children and a pair of bad cats.

What does the Road Ahead look like for you?

Age has certainly altered how I view life and work. The ambition, goals and five-year plans of my youth have been replaced by a very simple desire to serve and contribute.  I hope My Road Ahead is a path of good health, high energy, continued curiosity and an enduring desire to be in the thick of things here at UTMB and in our wonderful community.

What is your role as chief of staff to President David Callender? 

Dr. Callender’s job is extraordinarily complex, encompassing all aspects of UTMB’s mission in education, research and patient care.  Add to that finance, legislative and policy concerns, UT System directives, goal setting and growth strategies, construction, communications, fundraising, community responsiveness and a myriad of other issues, and you begin to understand the weight of his responsibilities at UTMB.  He views the chief of staff role as an “extender” of the president, and I do my best to stay current and to provide support for the issues he’s navigating. Some days, the job feels like “air traffic control” because of the sheer volume of information and requests flying in and out our door!  Ultimately, we, in the President’s Office, consider it our job to provide Dr. Callender the information, the resources, the support and the time he needs to make the best possible decisions for all of us at UTMB.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Interacting with all the diverse and fascinating people is the best part of the job. We have it all at UTMB: hard workers, bright leaders, ambitious students, brilliant scientists, competent and caring health care providers, and some of the most dedicated employees I’ve met in my career. As aide to the president, I get to meet so many of them. That is truly my good fortune.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

“Junking” is a favorite pasttime I share with my daughter and some of my friends. We’ve found everything from fabulous vintage jewelry to one-of-a-kind art to antique furniture in need of repair.  It’s all about the hunt and the reward of turning something old into something fresh and cherished.

I’ve expanded this hobby recently with the purchase of two sad and dilapidated cottages in Galveston. One of the houses had neither electricity nor plumbing when my husband and I bought it, but it is shaping into a very cozy little bungalow; the other had Christmas lights burning brightly over the holiday season! 

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

I worked in the oil industry during the heyday of the 1980s. I spent many nights on offshore rigs out in the middle of nowhere, and I flew on helicopters, in seaplanes and even once on a cargo plane carrying drilling equipment to the Pacific Ocean. Women were quite the novelty in the offshore drilling business back then. I learned some valuable lessons about earning trust and acceptance in a workplace where you didn’t initially fit in or feel welcome. It was an amazing adventure for a 20-something.

What’s something you always wanted to do but have not done yet?

My kids and I have been batting around the idea of starting a small, nonprofit organization, but we just haven’t brought any of our ideas to fruition yet.  Nonprofits are a powerful way to fill gaps and meet needs in a community, without a lot bureaucracy. They are genuinely important to a community. 

What is your favorite book? 

If the goal of literature is to move its readers, then Mark Twain’s final work, “The Mysterious Stranger,” tops my list.  Both mysterious and strange, it awakened thoughts and emotions in me, at age 17, that I was not really prepared to have. I’ve read it twice since then, and its themes remain transcendent for me.