Collins, Merlo among ‘Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2018’

Houston Woman Magazine has named Rice’s Kathy Collins and Gia Merlo to its list of “Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2018.”

Kathy Collins

Kathy Collins

Collins, vice president for finance, and Merlo, associate dean of health professions and founding director of the Medical Professionalism Program at Rice, were selected by magazine staff from nominations submitted by subscribers.

“Those selected as Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2018 are individuals with vast networks of social and professional connections,” said Beverly Denver, publisher of Houston Woman. “They have earned an enviable reputation for their expertise in a particular field or arena.”

Before coming to Rice in 1995, Collins served for seven years as budget director of the U.S. Department of Transportation and nine years in the White House Office of Management and Budget. After six years as budget director at Rice, she was promoted to associate vice president in 2001. In 2005 she became vice president for finance.

Collins holds a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Mount Holyoke College and a master’s degree in city planning from Harvard University. She is a trustee of Mount Holyoke College and serves as the chair of its finance committee.

Prior to coming to Rice in 2014, Merlo served on the faculty of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before transitioning to private practice in the Philadelphia area.

Gia Merlo

Gia Merlo

Merlo is a triple board-certified physician in psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry and lifestyle medicine who serves on the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. She is also a fellow at Johns Hopkins University and serves on the board of directors of the Academy for Professionalism in Health Care and of Child Advocates of Houston.

“The thoughts and actions of these women influence the thoughts and actions of others,” Denver said. “It is our distinct pleasure to introduce these remarkable women to our readers and to others in our community.”

The honorees were recognized at a celebration dinner Feb. 27 at the Junior League of Houston.

For the complete list of honorees, visit

About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is editor of Rice News.