Antelope Intros: Dr. Lisa Smith and Debbie Accomazzo

September 11, 2015 / by / 0 Comment

Antelope Intros is a recurring GCU Today feature that introduces some of our new employees to the people around them in a way that is fun and informative. Employees are eligible to be featured in the month following their orientation.

Dr. Lisa Smith

Dr. Lisa Smith


Job title: Associate professor, lead faculty for graduate nursing programs

Job location: Main campus, Building 19

What attracted you to GCU? Ten years ago we received a phone call from friends who were missionaries in China. Their daughter was here in Phoenix and attending the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions at GCU. They asked us if we would come out and check on her. So we did. We came to campus and spent time with her over two days. She loved the nursing program, and we were so impressed with the campus (and that was 10 years ago). She went on to graduate from GCU, obtained her nursing license and returned to China. At the time, my husband said to me, “You should think about applying at GCU.” But I was established in my job and not really looking. However, the thought never left me. So here I am, 10 years later.

What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I really enjoy physical fitness. I like hiking, mountain biking and kayaking when the temperatures are a bit cooler.

What are you passionate about? I find a great deal of satisfaction speaking to other women to help them find their place in life and help them discover who they truly are in Christ. I really enjoy mentoring, so on my first day here at GCU I signed up to be a mentor for a nursing student in the Honors program.

What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? Scottsdale Fashion Square — I do love to shop. But I also like going to Cave Creek for the rodeo and, yes, more shopping. Canyon Lake is so beautiful, and I love to go there as well. If my husband is with me and we are out and about, then I pretend to like going to the Harley Davidson shop and Cabela’s. But don’t tell him I said that.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I was captain of the varsity cheerleading squad in high school.

What are you most proud of? I am most proud to see how my son is raising his son in the ways of the Lord. They say you never know how well you have done at parenting until you see how your children raise their children. My husband and I are blessed to serve the Lord as a family.

Debbie Accomazzo

Debbie Accomazzo


Job title: Community outreach manager, communications and public affairs

Job location: Main campus, Building 3

What attracted you to GCU? Some things are just meant to be. It all started years ago, with our family attending volleyball tourneys/clinics on campus with our daughter. Over time, we returned as guests at several very meaningful charity events hosted by GCU, and I then had an awesome opportunity to work on a nonprofit-related project with Dr. Kimberly LaPrade, dean of GCU’s College of Education. The next step (of course) was that our daughter targeted GCU as her No. 1 college of choice, and we became Lope parents. Who knew it could get even better and I would land a dreamy role, representing GCU in the community as part of the legacy of guiding students and employees to become socially responsible, compassionate servant leaders. It seemed that all paths have been leading me to GCU, and, really, who could resist the “wow factor” of the expansive growth of the campus and its impact in west Phoenix? It’s my honor to be part of the GCU family.

What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I’m a girl who loves fresh air and sunshine, so hiking and biking the city trails of north Phoenix have my heart.

What are you passionate about? Having spent over 15 years working on nonprofit initiatives, my goal is to leave this world better than I found it and to unite others in that same purpose. I believe we have the capacity to meet the vast needs of our community — it’s just a matter of sharing stories and connecting champions. It’s not simple, but it’s well worth the effort.

What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? I love discovering and supporting the many locally owned businesses and restaurants in the Valley — particularly at outdoor festivals during the magical months between fall and spring. The more family and friends I have along for the ride, the better.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I haven’t always been such a rule follower and had a bit of daredevil in me — most notably when I jumped out of a perfectly sound airplane. Four times. Skydiving. By myself. (What was I thinking?)

What are you most proud of? That I have learned to embrace myself and the world around me, including all of the great and the not-so-great, and to use that power to help others do the same. I love my family fiercely and hope that I’ve demonstrated that self-love to my children so they can take that gift forward and share it with others, too.

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