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2011 News Releases
Four Longwood alumni honored with new Alumni Association awards that recognize citizen leadership
March 9, 2011
Four Longwood University alumni were honored recently with new Alumni Association awards that recognize citizen leadership.
Brig. Gen. Joe Bass '83 of Clifton, commanding general of the U.S. Army's Expeditionary Contracting Command (ECC), received the William Henry Ruffner Alumni Award, the highest and most prestigious award given by the Alumni Association. Dr. Jim Thornton '85 of Clarksville, superintendent of the Mecklenburg County public schools, and Lisa Brodie Williams '91 of Midlothian, an English teacher at the Maggie L. Walker Governor's School in Richmond and the author of two novels, received the Thomas Jefferson Professional Achievement Alumni Award. Ann McCants Carter '62 of Petersburg, an active community service leader in the Petersburg and Richmond areas, received the Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry Humanitarian Alumni Award.
"You have taken the lessons you learned at Longwood and beyond and are the embodiment of citizen leaders," Longwood President Patrick Finnegan told the alumni in presenting the awards during a dinner March 4. "Through your actions, you have distinguished yourselves with your professional success, outstanding involvement and commitment to your community and service to Longwood University. You have shown that success in your personal and professional lives means even more when you serve as leaders, mentors, and role models. You can be immensely proud of the work you have done and of being named as the first winners of the new alumni awards."
Bass, whose command is headquartered at Fort Belvoir, is believed to be the first Longwood graduate to attain the rank of general. He became a brigadier general Dec. 18, 2009, four weeks after he took over command of the ECC. He oversees more than 1,200 people around the world, has served in Iraq and Kuwait in contracting assignments, and has two master's degrees. He was featured in the Volume 9, No. 2, Summer 2010 issue of Longwood magazine. Bass, who wrestled at Longwood and was an ROTC cadet, was nominated by Jay Poole '82, a retired Army colonel who was his fraternity (Delta Sigma Pi) brother at Longwood.
"He is a true and caring leader and is the epitome of what a citizen leader should be," said Poole, now dean of education and outreach for the Army Logistics University at Fort Lee. "I have served with him a number of times during our careers, and I can attest that he is an outstanding mentor, coach and leader who exemplifies the finest qualities that Longwood would want from an alumnus. We've been the best of friends for over 30 years; he's probably my best friend."
Jim Thornton, who has a master's degree from Virginia State University and a doctorate from Virginia Tech, has been superintendent of the Mecklenburg school system since July 2010. Before that, he was with the Cumberland County school system for 19 years, the last six years as superintendent, and also was principal of the high school, athletic director and a math teacher. He was named the Region 8 Superintendent of the Year in 2007 by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. His wife, Mary Larkin Thornton '88, whom he met at Longwood, is a regional vice president with ARAMARK Higher Education and was Longwood's dining service director from 1993 to 1998. Thornton was nominated by Dr. Amy Griffin, superintendent of the Cumberland County schools, who is a Longwood alumna (B.S. '89, M.S. '95).
"Jim is a visionary who advocates putting students first with high expectation for all students and staff," Griffin said. "Jim continues to inspire those of us dedicated to public education to be leaders and make a difference in the lives of all children, not just a select few. He has 'grown' three current superintendents under his leadership, vision, and mentorship, including myself, for which I am forever thankful. I have to say that I really never planned to be a superintendent, but with Jim's encouragement and push, here I am."
Lisa Williams is in her third year at the Maggie Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies, and she taught previously at Clover Hill High School in Chesterfield County (12 years), Hampton (four years) and Memphis (one year). She achieved National Board Certification (NBC) in 2007 and has served as a mentor to NBC candidates. A 2009 winner of the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence, she will travel to Africa and to the Midwestern United States over the next two summers to further her studies in genealogy and African American history, which she studied in summer institutes at Yale University and Brown University last year.
Williams, the first member of her family to graduate from college, is pursuing a master of fine arts in creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has published two novels, Plight and Passion and Flight of Phoenix, and has published poems in collegiate literary magazines and articles in educational journals. She was nominated by LaToya Peace, her sister.
"Lisa has touched students' lives," said Peace. "Sure, she knows her subject, but it is more than that. She loves kids. She cares about their past, their present, and their future. She cares not only that they pass those SOL tests, but that they pass the test of life as well. So, she gives them tools, like confidence and perseverance. To many, she is a role model. They often come back for a surprise visit to let her know how college life is going. When they run into her in the grocery store, they stop to catch up. They remember what her class was like and their memories must be pleasant, for they are always smiling."
Ann McCants Carter, who has a master's degree from the University of Virginia, taught French and Spanish in Richmond, Hampton and Petersburg for many years, and she also was a school library media specialist at St. Vincent De Paul High School in Petersburg. She was recording secretary of the Medical College of Virginia's Hospital Auxiliary (MCVHA) from 2005 to 2010, and in April 2011 she will assume that position again. In 2009 she received a 10,000-hour service pin, the highest ever awarded to an MCV volunteer (the group didn't even have a 10,000-hour service pin, so they gave her two 5,000-hour pins), and as of mid-February 2011 she had logged 11,700 service hours. In April 2010 she received the President's Award, the highest award given by the MCVHA.
She was one of the founders, in 1999, of MCV's "Make It Happen" project, in which volunteers meet weekly in Richmond to make hats, teddy bears, quilts and other items for patients. The project, which Carter coordinates, started out for pediatric cancer patients but now includes all MCV patients. In 2010 Carter alone made 91 fleece blankets, 380 pillows, 36 hats, 150 surgical hats, 272 drainage bag holders, and 83 tissue packs, among other items. Carter was nominated for the Longwood alumni award by Dr. Nancy Vick, professor emerita of education.
"Ann has a long history of outstanding involvement, commitment, enriching the lives of others and improving the welfare of her community," Vick said. "For the Make It Happen project, on Wednesdays, she leaves her home in Petersburg at 5:20 a.m. and arrives in MCV's parking garage at 6. After a quick breakfast, she begins work in the Volunteer Services office where she picks up and sorts mail. She delivers Make It Happen items to various departments of the hospital. In the afternoon, she works in the patient/family library. She finds health information for patients or helps them find information using books, magazines, and computers. This work may involve helping with seminars, photocopying, faxing, setting up VCRs for individuals or groups. She arrives back home at 5:30 p.m. Ann is not new to her awards, but I believe this one, from her alma mater, will be her favorite."
The William Henry Ruffner Alumni Award is presented to alumni who have "achieved outstanding success and national distinction in both the recipient's personal and professional life - the embodiment of the Citizen Leader." The award is named for the educator (1824-1908) who was Virginia's first superintendent of public instruction and served as Longwood's first president after it became a state institution in 1884.
The Thomas Jefferson Professional Achievement Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have "distinguished themselves as significant contributors to their profession, who stand above their peers, and who are recognized within their profession as leaders and role models for future generations of citizen leaders."
The Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry Humanitarian Alumni Award honors alumni who, "through their outstanding involvement and commitment, have enriched the lives of others and improved the welfare of their community. The award recognizes personal achievements and the humanitarian ideals that reflect a selfless dedication to service for the good of others." Curry (1825-1903), who worked diligently for free education in the South after the Civil War, was the first president of the Longwood Board of Trustees beginning in 1884. Curry Hall is named for him.