The Converse College Alumnae Association board awards several specific achievement awards. These awards are based on nominations from alumnae and graduate alumni and are presented to award winners during Reunion weekend each spring. The Recognition Committee of the Alumnae Association Board reviews nominations for awards during the fall of each year and determines the slate of award winners. Alumnae Awards are awarded to alumnae during their Reunion year.
The following awards were presented on April 13, 2013 in Twichell Auditorium.
Distinguished Alumna Award
Betty Reynolds Oare '63
The Distinguished Alumnae Award is given each year to a Converse alumna in recognition of outstanding achievement in her field, service to her community or society and loyalty to Converse. Converse is proud to present the 2013 aware to Betty Reynolds Oare, class of 1963.
Born the daughter of a Hall of Famer horseman, and having grown up in a house that overlooked the steeplechase course in Tryon, NC, Betty was no doubt predestined to spend her life working with horses. Although she majored in history while a student at Converse, Betty’s real passion was always riding. After graduating from Converse, Betty married her husband, Ernest Oare, an accomplished horseman himself and to whom she gives much credit for supporting her desire to work in the equestrian field. Betty and Ernie founded EMO Stables in Warrenton, VA, where they specialize in equine investments and events management.
Betty has become an accomplished professional Hunter/Jumper rider during her career and has been winning awards since 1958, such as the Junior Hunter Champion at the Washington International Horse Show (which she won during her Freshman year at Converse) and the Working Hunter Champion at Madison Square Gardens – twice! She has also been named the Horsewoman of the Year by the Virginia Horseshow Association, the American Hunter Jumper Foundation Sportsmanship Trophy, has been inducted into the Washington International Horse Show Hall of Fame and the Virginia Horseshow Association Hall of Fame and, most recently, was given the Virginia Horseshow Association Sportsmanship Award.
Betty has served on many equine boards in Virginia and beyond, such as the Virginia Horse Shows Association, the United States Equestrian Foundation, the Warrenton Horse Show and the United States Hunter Jumper Association. She currently serves as a Senior Judge with the United States Equestrian Foundation and has become one of the most notable and respected names in judging on the national equestrian circuit.
Betty has always held Converse near and dear to her heart and, in addition to consistently supporting the Converse Annual Fund since the year that she graduated, she has more recently contributed greatly to the reestablishment of the Converse College Equestrian Program, whose stables are located very close to where Betty’s passion for the sport began – in Tryon, NC.
Mae Elizabeth Kilgo Spirit of Converse Award
Patricia Hemingway Campbell '58
The Mae Elizabeth Kilgo Spirit of Converse Award is given to an alumna who, by her constant and loyal service to Converse College, has kept the college visible to other alumnae and her community. The 2013 most deserving recipient is Patricia "Trish" Hemingway Campbell, class of 1958.
Trish grew up in Andrews, SC and married her husband, Bill, the year that she graduated from Converse. They have now lived in Greenville, SC for over 40 years. Trish has been a tireless volunteer for many organizations in their community, such as Meals on Wheels, the Christ Church Episcopal School Board and Church Vestry, the Greenville YMCA Board, the Speech and Learning Center Board, and the Kanuga Board of Visitors.
In addition to many organizations she has served in Greenville, she has always been an advocate for her beloved alma mater and has passed the passion she has for Converse on to her family members, as well. She is a former member of the Converse Alumnae Association Board, the Converse Board of Visitors, and, more recently, her son, Billy, served on the college’s Board of Trustees. Trish and her family have been extraordinary cheerleaders for this institution and we are honored to be able to recognize her for the love she has always shown for Converse.
Community Service Award
Jane Bryant Block '63
The Community Service Award recognizes the alumna who displays the qualities of a vibrant citizen through her active involvement in her community, church and state. Converse proudly salutes the 2013 most deserving recipient, Jane Bryant Block, class of 1963.
Jane, a native of Hendersonville, NC, now resides in Houston, TX and, just like a true Converse woman, has been recognized numerous times for her devotion to her community. Among the many accolades she has received over the years for her assiduous service are the Houston Mayor’s Proud Partner Volunteer Award, the Women of Distinction Award, the Zoo Friends of Houston Award (which was named in her honor), and, most notably, the Yellow Rose of Texas Award, presented to her by former United States President and Texas Governor, George W. Bush.
In addition to her many community efforts, Jane is also the owner of Block Real Estate in Houston and has served in many leadership capacities such as the Advisory Board of the Houston Parks Board, The Zoo Friends of Houston Board, the Chrons and Colitis Foundation Board and the Volunteer Center Board. Her leadership was instrumental in the establishment of the $6.5 million John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo that opened in 2000.
Career Achievement Award
Elisabeth Marchant '68
The Career Achievement Award recognizes the alumna who has dedicated herself to excellence in her profession and has distinguished herself by notable achievements credited over a continual period of time. The 2013 most worthy recipient is Elisabeth Marchant, class of 1968.
From the moment she received her degree from Converse, Elisabeth has worked tirelessly to advance herself professionally and has reinvented herself many times over the years, performing in such roles as the Owner and President of her family’s manufacturing business, Marchant’s Inc., the publisher of Business to Business and b³ magazines, the founder of Atlanta Woman magazine, the Vice President of the Leadership Publishing Group Inc., and as an Executive Director at Multicast Media Networks. In 2009, Elisabeth launched Womenetics as an outgrowth of her lifelong passion to see women advance in the workplace, a passion stemmed directly from the education she received at Converse which fostered independent thinking women. She is an exemplary illustration of the power of a Converse education.
Converse 100 Award
Leslie Hale Weed '83
This award was first presented during the College’s Centennial Celebration, and is given to a representative alumna who clearly embodies the qualities of character and achievement that Converse alumnae hold as their ideal. Converse is honored to recognize Leslie Hale Weed, class of 1983, in 2013 with the Converse 100 Award.
A third generation Converse alumna, Leslie worked for many years as the President, owner and operator of Suits Me Fine, a ladies swimwear and resort-wear boutique with locations in Amelia Island and Ponte Vedra, FL. She and her husband, Bobby, are the proud parents of three beautiful daughters, Haley, Carly and Lanier. When their youngest daughter was diagnosed with severe autism over 10 years ago, Leslie’s life focus immediately changed. While blessed with being able to hire professionals to help with the care of their daughter in the home, Leslie and Bobby quickly realized that this was a luxury that many families facing their same struggles didn’t have. In 2004, Leslie and Bobby founded the HEAL (HEALing Every Autistic Life) Foundation. The HEAL foundation is located in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL and serves individuals and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Foundation serves as an outreach organization and has awarded nearly one million dollars in grants to support camps, education, community programs, ESE classroom enhancements, educational seminars and recreational and social events for families.
For more than ten years Leslie traveled to Washington, DC advocating for children with Autism on a national level. Leslie is a member of CoMeD, the Coalition of Mercury Free Drugs, and was instrumental in writing a FDA Citizens Petition designed to remove mercury from drugs and vaccines. She was mentioned in David Kirby’s 2005 New York Times best seller “Evidence of Harm” for her work with the FDA asking for the removal of mercury in vaccines. Nationally known in the world of Autism advocacy, she has helped change the lives of hundreds children affected by this developmental condition.
Joy Adams Bethea '93
The Star Award is given in recognition of an alumna who has actively and admirable served Converse in the area of student recruitment. Converse salutes this year’s recipient, Joy Adams Bethea, class of 1993.
Upon receiving a BA in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education from Converse, Joy went on to earn a Masters in Education specializing in reading from the University of South Carolina in 1996. Joy has taught off and on over the years at the prestigious Hammond School in Columbia, SC – educating young students in Kindergarten all the way through third grade and even created a class for children called “The Joy of Cooking” for Hammond’s Extended Day Program.
Joy has been an active member of the Junior League of Columbia, Eastminster Presbyterian Church and has assisted her husband, Rob, with his volunteer efforts for EdVenture, the children’s museum located in Columbia. She also earned her Master Gardener certification from the Clemson Extension in 2007 and volunteers for the Richland County Master Gardner Association.
Joy is a past member of the Converse Alumnae Association Board and has been passionate about referring students to her alma mater as well as corresponding with prospective students since she graduated in 1993.
Young Alumna Award
Valerie Naglich '03
The Young Alumna Award is given to an alumna within 15 years of graduation who embodies the qualities of character and achievement that Converse alumnae hold as their ideal. Valerie Naglich, from the class of 2003, is this year’s deserving recipient.
Valerie was a cum laude graduate of Converse with a double major in music and politics. From here she went on to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Georgia with a Masters in Public Administration. Valerie served as a Teaching Assistant at Georgia and in May of 2005 was awarded their “Outstanding Teaching Assistant” award in addition to the “Graduate Student of the Year” award. A month after graduating from UGA, Valerie went to work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, serving first as a Contracting Officer in the Procurement and Grants Office, then moving on to become a Grants Management Specialist, a Funding Resource Analyst, and in March 2011 became a Public Health Analyst at the CDC’s Center for Global Health in the Division of Global HIV/AIDS. During her tenure as a Grants Management Specialist, Valerie worked in Pretoria, South Africa and administered over 120 cooperative agreements for public health programs in South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, Senegal and Lesotho. In July of 2009, she was recognized as Employee of the Month for the CDC, an organization with over 14,000 employees!
In her spare time, Valerie volunteers for such organizations as the UGA School of Public and International Affairs, the Dearborn Animal Hospital and the Karabo Asara Orphanage, to name just a few. She has also maintained a strong connection with her alma mater, volunteering with the Alumnae Mentoring Program and assisting in the planning of the Alumnae Fun Run that many of you may have participated in this morning.