When you first meet Tonya Visor, two words immediately come to mind: energetic and passionate.
As a senior communications specialist at UTMB’s Angleton Danbury Campus, she has made it her mission for more than 17 years to embed herself in the local community and spread awareness of the critical health care services offered in a small-town setting. Whether it’s representing UTMB at a health fair or assisting local newspaper reporters with a story, she brings a vibrant enthusiasm with her everywhere she goes.
And it’s evident even at 5:30 a.m. That’s when I meet up with her on a Wednesday morning. I’m still half asleep, chugging coffee; she’s getting ready to instruct a spin class at ADC’s Wellness Center.
“I’m so glad you showed up!” she exclaims, as she helps me adjust an exercise bicycle seat and turns up some high-tempo music.
For years, Visor has taught exercise classes four mornings a week at the center, which serves UTMB employees and community members. It’s not part of her formal duties as a senior communications specialist—it’s volunteer work that has become another way to engage with the community and promote health and wellness.
“I really get true joy out of leading these classes,” says Visor, whose other joy includes spoiling her three grandkids. “I don’t need coffee—I really don’t! I bounce out of bed. I love helping each person meet a goal and encouraging them to do something good for themselves. If I weren’t employed at ADC, I’d be a fitness instructor. I get the best of both worlds here, so it turned out perfectly.”
After sweating my way through her spin and aerobics class, I catch my breath as she runs home for a quick wardrobe change.
The rest of the workday is just as active as the morning, with a health fair to attend, a tour of the hospital to give and a photoshoot to coordinate with the Brazosport Facts newspaper. In between events, she’ll squeeze in work on the redesign of the ADC patient handbook and update the latest faculty profile sheet. Also on the agenda is an evening meeting of the board of directors for the Angleton ISD Education Foundation. It’s mind-boggling how many boards and charitable organizations she serves on.
“What don’t you do?” I ask her. She replies with a smile, “I don’t do anything clinical [laughs]. But seriously, you can’t be part of your community if you sit on the sidelines.”
As the only senior communications specialist at ADC, Tonya is anything but on the sidelines.
“Even before Angleton Danbury Medical Center became UTMB Health Angleton Danbury Campus, it was just me. It was marketing: party of one,” Tonya says. “Since the transition in 2014, I’ve learned how to ask for help, because when you are accustomed to doing everything and working by yourself, you don’t know how to ask. It’s pushed me to expand myself a little bit more, and I can call on my friends in Marketing and Communications in Galveston to help with things like graphics and proofreading when I need it.”
But today, she doesn’t even have a chance to ask for help, as a group of UTMB medical students interested in public health careers show up for a tour. She quickly turns into tour guide mode, sharing interesting facts about the hospital, which was originally established in 1969 and was the first trauma-designated facility in Brazoria County.
Afterward, she grabs a quick bite of lunch before gathering marketing collateral for a health fair in Pearland, where she expects several hundred people.
“We’ve done 15 health fairs in the last year,” says Visor. “We use many different mediums to reach people, including social media, newspaper advertisements, health fairs—a little bit of everything. But sharing the services that we have readily available with others is my favorite part.”
We say our goodbyes as Visor boards a bus wrapped in colorful pictures and a very fitting motto: “Working Wonders in Our Community.” With her trademark energy and passion, she explains that it’s part of an 1115 Medicaid waiver project with ADC’s Patient Navigation Team—and it’s headed to Pearland to spread the word about improving health.
“I always considered this bus my rolling billboard, even though it’s not mine,” she laughs. “I always want to know where it’s going!”
Before I leave, I run into Ann Varghese, director of Ambulatory Operations at ADC, and Katrina Lambrecht, ADC vice president and administrator. They both eloquently sum up the special role Visor fills on campus.
“Really, in any big initiative that we have going on here, Tonya has a hand in it,” says Varghese. “Although it may not be considered a traditional marketing or communications role, it is a ‘Tonya role’ over here. She’s invaluable.”
Lambrecht adds, “Tonya is the epitome of how things in this service area are different. You have to wear many hats and she does it with ease and grace. I tell other areas of the institution that if they have any interest in doing anything in this market, engaging local leadership is absolutely essential—and you can’t find a better connected, more engaged person than Tonya. She is the face of UTMB in so many ways and really embodies the ability and desire to do everything she can for the greater good of UTMB and Angleton.”
Visor with Ann Varghese (left) and Katrina Lambrecht (right).