Alumnae/i Achievement Awards
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Alumnae/i Achievement Awards

Alumni Achievement Awards

The Alumnae/i Association Board recognizes and celebrates outstanding undergraduate alumnae and graduate alumni who demonstrate high levels of achievement and/or service in one or more of Converse’s Seven Core Values: Excellence, Integrity, Exploration, Diversity, Respect, Community, and Progress.

2019 Alumnae/i Achievement Award Winners

During the 2019 Converse Reunion the Alumnae/i Association Board recognized our outstanding Alumnae/i with the following awards:

The 2019 Undergraduate Distinguished Alumna Award presented to Susan Secord Marion ’80

Susan Marion came to Converse from Atlanta, Georgia and has made South Carolina her home. She graduated with a degree in Studio Art and a concentration in Interior Design in 1980. Photo of Susan MarionAfter graduation, she lived in Charleston and worked for The Historic Charleston Foundation and later for a design firm in Mt Pleasant.

In 1986, she and her husband, Doug, moved to Chester, SC, and took on the task of restoring a ca. 1845 historic home, starting a business and raising their three children: Sarah, a 2008 Converse graduate, Laura and Peyton. Susan owns an interior design business and has periodically taught art in both public and private schools. Through her business she also designs and creates custom floor cloths for clients.

In her community Susan has served on the YMCA Board, The Historic Preservation Commission and currently serves as the vice-chair of the United Way Board. She is a member of Chester ARP Church where she plays in the hand bell choir, teaches Bible School and began a flower ministry making arrangements to deliver to ill or homebound members of the congregation. Susan kept Converse close to her heart after graduation, and served the college in many ways, including chairing her Class Fund, helping at local admissions events, serving on the Parents Advisory Council and designing a tie featuring the Converse tower that was sold in the college bookstore.

She was on the Alumnae Board from 2010-2018 serving as both Co-Chair and Chair of the CARRE Committee. Through her service, her passion for reaching out to prospective students and parents only grew. She helped continue the tradition of send-off parties for incoming students during the summer months, served on admission event panels, engaged and encouraged current students with notes over their four years, and welcomed the senior class into the Alumnae Association at the Senior Candlelight Dinner.

The 2019 Graduate Distinguished Alumni Award presented to Joy G. Bertling ’05, ’07

Joy G. Bertling is assistant professor and team leader of art education at the University of Tennessee. She received a PhD in art education from the University of Georgia, and her MEd in art education from Converse College. Her research engages with various forms of ecologically-responsive pedagogies, such as place-based art education, and examines their implementation, impact, and potential for K-12 students.Photo of Joy Bertling

She has published articles in various peer-reviewed journals including the International Journal of Education & the Arts, International Journal of Education through Art, Art Education, and Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy. Her commentary, “Non-Place and the Future of Place-Based Education,” was featured recently in Environmental Education Research. She also regularly presents at national and international conferences, including the American Educational Research Association, the National Art Education Association, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and the Art Education Research Institute. She has received various sources of funding to support her research, including a recent grant from the National Art Education Foundation to fund survey research examining ecological integration within U.S. art teacher education.

In addition to research, Joy is involved in service and community outreach. She currently serves as Program Chair for the American Educational Research Association’s Arts and Inquiry in Visual and Performing Arts in Education Special Interest Group, and is on the editorial board of the National Art Education Association’s flagship journal, Art Education. She also reviewed for Environmental Education Research and International Journal of LifeLong Learning in Art Education. She serves on the Tennessee Art Education Association’s board and the Knoxville Museum of Art’s education committee.

In 2017, she was recognized as Higher Education Art Educator of the Year by the Tennessee Art Education Association. In her department, she chairs the Diversity Collaborative in Education and serves as Diversity Champion at the college level. She regularly works with local K-12 students as part of her research and teaching. She has taught art at the K-12 level for over a decade and is a National Board (NBPTS) certified art teacher.

The 2019 Community Service Award presented to Gabriella “Gabby” Chamberland ’15

As an undergraduate, Gabby won the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award. Among her many service activities were Amnesty

Photo of Gabriella Chamberland

International, where she advocated for women’s right to education and against domestic abuse, Habitat for Humanity, where she built houses in New Orleans and provided logistical support to the Spartanburg branch as a Bonner Leader, and Step By Step West Virginia, where she ran a summer school program for k-12 students in rural Appalachia and implemented a literacy through photography project for inner city youths.

Since graduation, she has served as co-director of an education program for street children in Jakarta, Indonesia, and worked with refugees through the International Rescue Committee of AmeriCorps in Oakland, California, and in Seattle, Washington. She is now on her Fulbright, teaching English to university students in Turkey. This summer she will volunteer or intern at an organization assisting refugee youth in either Turkey or Greece. In the fall, she will return to Seattle and begin graduate school at the University of Washington, where she will study social work and applied international studies.

The 2019 Mae Elizabeth Kilgo Spirit Award presented to Shannon Gosnell Bishop ’97

Shannon Bishop graduated from Converse College in 1997, earning her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing with an additional certification in elementary education.

Shannon Bishop

After graduation, she continued her education at Converse, earning her Masters in Education in Learning Disabilities in 2000 with an additional certification in Gifted and Talented. Shannon served on the Alumnae Board for several years and is the former Chair of the Records & Recognition Committee. She served as Converse Class Representative for a decade from 1997 until 2007.

Shannon is involved in the Spartanburg community, a former member of the Junior League of Spartanburg where she sat on the Board, and also served on Gramercy Park Homeowners’ Association Board. Shannon was selected as “Teacher of the Year” at RP Dawkins Middle School, and the Distinguished Reading Teacher of the Year from the Spartanburg Reading Council. She remained connected to Converse and was instrumental in the formation of the Spartanburg Alumnae/i Chapter, attending as many events on and off campus as possible!

Jane DempseyThe 2019 Career Achievement Award presented to Jane Dempsey ’91

After graduating from Converse in 1991, Jane started Jane Dempsey Studios, a creative consulting business, building themes, styled weddings and special events. Twenty-five plus years later, Jane Dempsey Studios continues to create exciting themed window displays for retailers and shop owners in different parts of the country, primarily in the wholesale merchandise industry.

Receiving a BFA in studio art was the perfect background for launching her small business in 1995, as it provided a strong understanding of multiple two and three-dimensional mediums. Jane says, “True success is loving what you do every day. Converse is the secret to this success!”

The 2019 Career Achievement in Music presented to Courtenay Collins ’84

Career Achievement in Music Award Courtenay Collins graduated from Converse in 1984 with a double major in Vocal Performance and Theatre, thanks to mentors Jane Rolandi and Hayward Ellis who helped her create specialized degree new to the College. She pursued an MFA at UGA, then headed to New York to attend The Juilliard School where she graduated from the Drama Division with The Michel and Suria Saint Denis Award.Courtenay Collins The day after graduation, she was cast as “Christine” in Ken Hill’s The Phantom of the Opera, which toured nationally and internationally for the next three years.

Courtenay’s professional career has consistently alternated between theatre and musical theatre, thus proving the value of her degree from Converse College! Courtenay lives in Sandy Springs, GA, where she is happily married to Michael Eckardt and has raised two sons.

She has worked as a professional actress at The Alliance Theatre since relocating back to Atlanta. She founded and ran a performing arts camp for 8 years (Show Camp USA), recorded four CDs, has a thriving private vocal studio, created a jewelry business (Vintage Spirit Designs), runs a small production company (Mamma Sez Productions), and performs and writes solo shows under the umbrella title “Courtenay’s Cabaret.” This year, she will remount her popular holiday show at the Alliance Theatre for their 2019-2020 season. After working in almost all types of theatrical venues, Courtenay is excited to be working on Broadway in her present job, playing the role of “Mrs. Greene” on Broadway in the Tony-nominated musical THE PROM! It premiered at The Alliance Theatre in 2016 and opened on Broadway this past November, receiving 7 Tony Nominations including one for Best New Musical, and will be featured on The 70th Annual Tony Awards in June. Courtenay was thrilled when 10 of her Converse Pink Panther classmates showed up in New York City to celebrate her journey to Broadway. Courtenay encourages everyone to see THE PROM at The Longacre Theatre in NYC (mention that you are from Converse, and she will bring you backstage for a picture and a hug!), as well as her special Home for the Holidays at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.

She is eternally grateful for this very special award, and wishes she could be in the Gee Dining Room to accept it properly with all of you!

The 2019 Young Alumnae Award presented to Holly A. Jordan ’06

Holly A. Jordan graduated from Converse in 2006 with a BA in Politics and a minor in Religion.  As an undergraduate, she was a member of Model Programs for all three years she was at Converse, serving as the first female Secretary General of International Model NATO and as the Chief Justice of the Arab Court of Justice at the National Model, both in 2006. It was through Model Programs that her passion for the Middle East began. After Converse, she completed her MA in Religion at the University of Georgia in 2009 focusing on Hellenistic Judaism. Holly JordanShe then earned her PhD in Political and Cultural Theory at Virginia Tech in 2016, with her dissertation focusing on the Arab-Israeli Conflict. She held a three-year non-tenured appointment in the Department of Religion and Culture at Roanoke College from 2014-2017 and has also taught in the Departments of Political Science at Virginia Tech and Radford University.

Dr. Jordan’s love of Model Programs did not end with her time at Converse. She established MAL teams at both Virginia Tech and Roanoke College and founded the Appalachian Regional Model Arab League Conference, all of which have survived her involvement with those programs. She participated in two National Council on US-Arab Relations study-travel visits, the first to Jordan in 2004 to study Arabic and Levantine politics and the second to Lebanon in 2012. She is the co-author of The Model Arab League Manual: A Guide to Preparation and Performance—the only textbook for the international Model Arab League program. Recently, she served as the keynote speaker for both the Southeast Regional Model Arab League and the National High School Model Arab League conferences.

The path that began at Converse has led Dr. Jordan to American Near East Refugee Aid (Anera), an international non-profit celebrating over 50 years of providing aid to Palestinian, Iraqi, and Syrian Refugees in Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan. At Anera, she serves as the New Business Development Manager and leads research efforts to identify potential funds and grant opportunities to support Anera’s mission of sponsoring and supporting schools, hospitals, infrastructure, and women’s empowerment within Palestinian and host communities. With her team of grant writers and support staff, she solicits grants from private foundations, government and multilateral agencies, and corporations within the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

The 2019 STAR Recruitment Award presented to Jennifer Minor Tuckwiller ’96

Jennifer was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated from Converse College in 1996 with a double major in Biology and Chemistry, and a minor in Environmental Studies. Jennifer TuckwillerAfter graduation, Jennifer moved to Beaufort, SC, to accept a position with DHEC Environmental Quality Control. In 1998, Jennifer married John Tuckwiller, a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserve and an avid scuba diver. In 2005, Jennifer began working at the family business, Carolina Air, Inc. due to a known deployment for her husband with the US Army Reserve for 14 months. She continued to work at Carolina Air as their Chief Administrative Officer during that time.

She and her husband continue to work together daily and have received Carrier’s President Award in 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019. They have two daughters: Anne Watts (18), who graduated from Beaufort High School and will be attending Marshall University in the fall of 2019, and Ellyn Grace (14), who has a passion for dancing and will start high school in the fall of 2019. They love to cruise as a family to all destinations in the Caribbean. Jennifer is extremely involved in her community. She was an elder at Sea Island Presbyterian Church (2008-2014), member of the Board of Directors of Sea Island Presbyterian Day School, a graduate of Leadership Beaufort in 2018, Board Chair of Beaufort-Jasper YMCA of the Lowcountry, and a Chapter Representative and Board Member of the SC Association of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors. Jennifer currently serves on the Board of Visitors at Converse College.

The 2019 Honorary Alumna Award presented to Margaret Moore

Margaret Moore, or as some know her, “Coach Moore” or “Miss S,” just completed her forty-sixth year at Converse College. As a young graduate of Queens University and the University of Georgia, she came to Converse in 1973 to teach physical education classes and to coach the tennis and field hockey teams. In the first few years of her tenure, she also started and coached the volleyball and basketball teams and eventually assumed the role of Athletic Director.Coach Margaret Moore

In the summer of 1994, when the Converse Board of Trustees discontinued the athletic program with the exception of the equestrian team (a club sport at the time), Coach Moore was asked to develop the “Collegiate Sports and Fitness Program” leading to stronger intramural and fitness programs. In 1998, Coach Moore once again assumed the role of Athletic Director (while still teaching) until 2007. During that time, she restarted the athletic program consisting of five intercollegiate sports, completed for the second time the NCAA five year probationary period and began seeking conference affiliation. Since 2007, Coach Moore has dedicated her energies to teaching, developing new courses and performing service to the college on various committees and in various leadership roles.

In 2017 she and Dr. Joe Dunn published an article describing the evolution of Converse College athletics and sport entitled The Ride of the Valkyries. While at Converse, Coach Moore has received several awards, including the Kathryn Amelia Brown Teaching Award and the Spirit of Converse Award. In 2012, she was inducted by her alma mater, Queens University, into their Athletics Hall of Fame, recognizing her lifetime achievement in athletics. She states, “At the time, that recognition meant more to me than any of my other awards, but being recognized as an honorary alumnae by Converse College tops that. I am so appreciative for the support and the opportunity to grow as a teacher and person that Converse has provided for me and I thank everyone who was involved in making this award possible.”