Home : ALUMNAE : Accomplishments : Alumnae Awards : Distinguished Alumnae Award

Alumnae Relations
Hollins University
P.O. Box 9629
Roanoke, VA 24020-1629
(540) 362-6498


Distinguished Alumnae Award

Established in 2006, the Distinguished Alumnae Award recognizes individual alumnae who have brought distinction to themselves and to Hollins through broad and inspiring personal or career achievements, volunteer service, or contributions to society.


Mary Catherine Andrews '86 Mary Garber '38 Mildred Emory Persinger '39
Boyce Lineberger Ansley '68 Ellen Goldsmith-Vein '84 Annette Polan '67
Valer Clark Austin '62 Elizabeth Fentress Goodwin '69 Shannon Ravenel '60
Patricia Thrower Barmeyer '68 Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey '60 Mary K. Farmer Shaughnessy '72
Betsy McSpadden Bennett '65 Mary Beth Hatten '71 Pamela Jo Howell Slutz '70
Jennifer Berman '86 Lyda Hill '64 Lee Smith '67
Georgia Berner '64 Caroline Hipple '77 Jane Bassett Spilman '53
Nancy Nash Campbell '58 Elizabeth Vann Hobbs '58 Evelyn Dickenson Swensson '49
Blanche Capel '68 Helen Gugenheim Jacobson '28 Stella Ferguson Thayer '62
Ann Compton '69 Elizabeth Brownlee Kolmstetter '85 Carol Semple Thompson '70
Caroline Arnold Davis '60 Carol Lawrence-Beswick '73 Neely Paul Towe '63
Annie Dillard '67 Lucinda Hardwick MacKethan '67 Jane Gentry Vance '63
Julia Voorhees Emmons '63 Ellen Reighley Malcolm '69 Nancy Albert Wolf '56
Julie Fischer '92 Margaret S. "Tog" Newman '58
Charlotte Fox '79 Florence Fowler Peacock '59  


At Reunion 2014, Hollins presented the Distinguished Alumnae Award to: Evelyn Dickenson Swensson '49, Georgia Berner '64, Carol Lawrence-Beswick '73, and the Distinguished Young Alumna Award to Meghna Das Thakur '04 - read more here.

Evelyn Dickenson Swensson '49

Evelyn Dickenson Swensson '49 is a prolific composer, having conducted over eighty productions including thirty for OperaDelaware at Wilmington's Grand Opera House. During her ground breaking forty year career as a composer and conductor for OperaDelaware and Delaware Children’s Theatre, she wrote twelve musicals in twelve years, including The Enormous EggThe Adventures of Beatrix Potter, and Anne of Green Gables.

Georgia Berner '64

Georgia Berner '64 is owner and CEO of Berner International Corporation and Berner Energy Recovery, Inc., both are privately held companies focused on indoor air quality and energy conservation.  She is a recognized advocate for energy conservation, social programs and philanthropy in Pennsylvania, as well as nationally. 

Carol Lawrence-Beswick '73

Justice Carol Lawrence-Beswick '73 serves on the Supreme Court in Kingston, Jamaica, and was recently appointed to Jamaica's Court of Appeal by Governor-General Patrick Allen. After graduating from Hollins with a degree in biology, Beswick earned her bachelor of laws at the University of the West Indies.

Tog Newman '58

At the September 30, 2013, Winston-Salem, NC, alumnae event, President Gray presented the Distinguished Alumnae Award to Margaret S. "Tog" Newman '58. Newman has spent her life in dedicated public service to and leadership of North Carolina’s arts and cultural organizations. Some of her numerous leadership roles include: chair of the statewide board of directors of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits, chair of the N.C. Arts Council and trustee emeritus, past president and a board member of the Southern Arts Federation, president of the board of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and founding president of the Association of Symphony Orchestras of North Carolina. She has received several public service awards, including in 2010, Governor Beverly Perdue presented her with the North Carolina Award, the highest civilian honor the state bestows.


Jane Gentry Vance '63

Jane Gentry Vance '63 received the Distinguished Alumnae Award on September 9, 2013. Vance is an honored poet, teacher, literary critic, and keeper of the cultural history of storytelling. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Hollins in 1963 with a degree in English. She completed her M.A. at Brandeis University and Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina. She has published two full-length collections of poetry, a chapbook, a short history of her hometown of Athens, Kentucky, and her work has appeared widely in journals, literary magazines, and reviews. Since 1972 she has served on the faculty of the University of Kentucky, where she has also distinguished herself as full professor in the honors program and on the English graduate faculty. She was given the University of Kentucky Alumni Association’s Great Teacher Award. In 2007 the governor of Kentucky appointed Vance the state’s Poet Laureate, the highest honor bestowed upon a writer in the Bluegrass State.

At Reunion 2013, Hollins presented the Distinguished Alumnae Award to: Julia Voorhees Emmons '63, Neely Paul Towe '63, Patricia Thrower Barmeyer '68, and Brandy S. Culp '98 (Distinguished Young Alumna Award - read more here).
Julia Voorhees Emmons '63

Emmons is the architect of the largest 10K road race in the world, the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta with 55,000 runners. After a 16-year career as Associate Professor of Library and Information Science at Emory University, Julia became the first woman executive director of a track club in the United States. During her 22 years as head of the 10,000-member Atlanta Track Club, she was extremely active on the national running scene. She is in numerous sports halls of fame and has received many awards for her leadership, including the Race Director of the Year by Road Race Management in 1988, the first woman so honored. She also served a four-year term on the Atlanta City Council and on numerous non-profit boards.

Neely Paul Towe '63

Upon graduating from Hollins in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Towe found that many divinity schools would not admit women. When her youngest child began school Towe began her journey at Yale Divinity School, earning her Master of Divinity degree in 1987. She served as pastor of Stanwich Congregational Church in Greenwich, Connecticut, from 1987 to 2007. In 1990 she became the first woman senior pastor for any denomination in Greenwich and surrounding Fairfield County. In 2004 she was appointed to the Duke University Divinity School’s Board of Visitors.

Patricia Thrower Barmeyer '68

Barmeyer is a leading environmental attorney. She earned her law degree from Harvard in 1971, cum laude. For 17 years she worked on environmental and natural resource cases as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Georgia. In 1990, she joined the Atlanta office of King & Spalding. Today she is partner and head of the firm’s environmental practice and has been named one of the Best Lawyers in America for more than ten years. She was named the 2010 Atlanta Environmental Lawyer of the Year, has served on area environmental organizations’ boards, and been appointed to the board of governors of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.



Ellen Goldsmith-Vein '84

Ellen Goldsmith-Vein '84 was presented with the Distinguished Alumnae Award on January 23, 2013, for her outstanding career as an investment banker, talent manager, movie producer, and business owner. In 1994 she founded The Gotham Group, which quickly grew into the largest representation firm in the world, focusing on creative talent in the animation and family entertainment business and recognized as the powerhouse management firm in the animation industry. Her work in the industry has garnered an Emmy nomination and recognition as one of the Most Powerful Women in Entertainment by Hollywood Reporter. She has also recruited students for Hollins, even while attending UCLA, and supported Hollins as a volunteer and donor. President Nancy Gray presented the award at an alumnae event hosted by Ellen and her husband, Jon Vein, at their home in Los Angeles. Read more about Ellen here.

At Reunion 2012, Hollins presented the Distinguished Alumnae Award to: Valer Clark Austin ’62, Lucinda Hardwick MacKethan ’67, Mary K. Farmer Shaughnessy ’72, Caroline Hipple ’77, and Julie Fischer ’92. Hollins also presented the Distinguished Young Alumna Award to Lillian Potter '97; read more here.

Valer Clark Austin ’62

Austin is an internationally-known champion of environmental conservation through her work to preserve and restore the borderland region between the U.S. and Mexico. She and her husband, Josiah, established the foundation Cuenca de Los Ojos, which translates to “Watershed of the Springs.” Their wide network of educators, scientists, ranchers, and governmental agencies has brought to fruition more than 20,000 rock dams to slow flooding rainfall and repair grasslands. Austin is a frequent lecturer on her work, and has received numerous awards for her commitment to protecting wildlife, land, and water.

Lucinda Hardwick MacKethan ’67

MacKethan, one of the nation’s leading scholars in Southern literature, retired after 37 years as director of the creative writing program and Alumni Distinguished Professor of English at North Carolina State University. She has published numerous monographs and edited books, including The Companion to Southern Literature, named the 2002 Best Reference Book by the American Library Association. She chaired the North Carolina state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is a senior consultant for the NEH award-winning website, Scribblingwomen.org. She has received numerous awards for her scholarship and service to North Carolina State University and lectures locally and nationally on the culture of the Old South.

Mary K. Farmer Shaughnessy ’72

Shaughnessy is a prize-winning equestrian, philanthropist, and attorney. She has won many ribbons and trophies in the ring, including 2012 reserve champion of the entire Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in adult hunter over fifty-one. In addition she has served on the board of directors of the Hampton Classic Foundation, supporting one of the largest outdoor horse shows in the U.S. She has supported Hollins’ riding program tremendously, donating seven outstanding horses as well as gifts to the riding program and scholarships. She has served on the Hollins Alumnae Board in addition to service on numerous educational, arts, and human service organizations.

Caroline Hipple '77

Hipple is a leading furniture industry executive, climbing the corporate ladder at This End Up to become executive vice president of sales, merchandising, and marketing and later becoming president of Storehouse Furniture. In 2007 she established HB2 Resources with two partners to investigate investment opportunities within the home furnishings industry and to provide consultancy services to organizations looking for change management. Specializing in the creative and strategic alignment of sales, merchandising, and marketing functions, HB2 has been engaged by such clients as Jaclyn Smith Home, Hickory Hill Furniture Co., The Atlanta History Center, Domain Home Fashions, and Bassett Mirror Company.

Julie Fischer '92

Fischer is a leader in the field of global public health, providing vital research and support for the world’s public health infrastructure. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Hollins and earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Vanderbilt. She served as a senior research fellow at the University of Washington and an independent consultant to a Thai-U.S. collaboration fighting emerging infections. She is a former Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow and American Association for the Advancement of Science Congressional Fellow. Currently Senior Associate at the Henry L. Stimson Center, Fischer’s work focuses on global health policies, promoting health in poor nations, and health issues with defense and diplomacy.












At Reunion 2011, Hollins presented the Distinguished Alumnae Award to Nancy Albert Wolf '56, Mary Beth Hatten '71, Mary Catherine Andrews '86, and Jennifer Berman '86.


Wolf was a founder of the Environmental Action Coalition which started New York City's first Earth Day celebration in 1970. For 13 years she was the executive director of the EAC, focusing on solid waste and recycling, energy conservation, and urban forestry. Upon retirement from the EAC, she started her own company as an environmental education consultant and coauthored the book, Plastics: America’s Packaging Dilemma.



Hatten's specialized research into brain development has broad significance for human genetic studies on brain diseases. She has served on the faculty of the New York University School of Medicine and the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. She joined Rockefeller University in 1992 and was appointed the first female full professor in the University's 91 -year history and became the first female to lead a research laboratory there.



Andrews, a former advisor to President Bush and the World Bank, has been a strategist and consultant to corporate, public sector, and non-profit clients all over the world. In 1995 and 1996, she lived in Macedonia and instituted a new management structure for the Open Society Institute Macedonia. She joined the Bush Administration in 2001 as the Director for Democracy at the National Security Council, and was appointed Special Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Global Communications in 2004. Currently, Andrews is Vice President and Senior Advisor for ViaNovo, a Washington, D.C. consulting firm, focusing on projects with international scope.



Berman is an internationally renowned expert and pioneer in the field of female urology and female sexual medicine. One of the few female urologists in the United States, she was awarded a two-year research grant from the American Foundation of Urologic Disease to perform basic science and clinical research in the physiology of female sexual function and dysfunction. She co-founded the Female Sexual Medicine Center at UCLA and founded The Berman Women's Wellness Center in Beverly Hills. She has appeared regularly on Good Morning America and been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, and 48 Hours as well as many other television and radio shows and leading magazines and newspapers.



Pamela Jo Howell Slutz '70, a career Foreign Service officer and current U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi, was presented with the Distinguished Alumnae Award on October 19, 2010. Slutz was formerly U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia. She has also served as Deputy Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, chief of the political section in Jakarta, director of the Office of Regional and Security Policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and deputy director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs. Earlier in her career, she was a political officer in Shanghai, Jakarta and Kinshasa, and served in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs and as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Nuclear and Space Talks with the USSR. In 2010 Slutz broke ground on a new U.S. embassy compound in Burundi, the largest foreign construction project there since the 2005 end of its twelve-year civil war, and provided assistance to this summer’s elections, the first time in more than fifteen years that Burundi directly elected a president. She has been a champion for women’s rights around the globe, providing programs and channeling assistance for women’s entrepreneurship, health issues, and combating violence against women and girls.










At Reunion 2010, Hollins presented the Distinguished Alumnae Award to Betsy McSpadden Bennett '65, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey '60, Elizabeth Brownlee Kolmstetter '85, and Carol Semple Thompson '70.


Bennett is the accomplished director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. During her tenure, she helped bring to life the largest natural history museum in the Southeast – the seven-story, 200,000-square-foot $70.5 million complex that opened to great acclaim in 2000. The museum has awed millions of visitors; their holdings have increased to 1.8 million specimens – including the only dinosaur heart in the world.



At Hollins, Hailey studied abroad in Paris, an experience that helped inspire her first novel. A bestselling sensation based on her grandmother's journals, A Woman of Independent Means has delighted millions of readers and was made into an Emmynominated TV mini-series starring Sally Field. Her next three novels, Life Sentences, Joanna's Husband and David's Wife, and Home Free, met with equal triumph and praise. She was Hollins' writer-in-residence in 1998 and was awarded the Hollins Medal in 2004.



Kolmstetter is the Deputy Associate Director of National Intelligence for Human Capital within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. With a Congressional mandate, Kolmstetter was tapped to help start the new Transportation Security Administration after 9/11. She was directly responsible for establishing and managing the standards and hiring system that resulted in the largest civilian workforce mobilization in U.S. history – the hiring of more than 65,000 security screeners at 430 airports across the nation in less than one year. She served on the keynote panel for Hollins' 2009 Conference on Role Models for a New Century: Women and Leadership in Science and Mathematics, and is a class reporter.


Thompson is one of the top women amateur golfers of all time. She is a veteran of more than 100 United States Golf Association (USGA) championships, and owns seven national titles that include the 1973 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship and four U.S. Senior Women's Championships. Thompson has competed a record 12 times in the Curtis Cup, compiling a record eighteen match victories in the most prestigious women's amateur team competition. She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008, elected to the National Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007, named the 2005 PGA First Lady of Golf, and was given the 2003 Bob Jones Award, the highest honor awarded by the USGA, in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. Thompson was among the first to be inducted into Hollins' Athletic Hall of Fame, and served as Commencement speaker.


Mildred Persinger


Florence Peacock


Elizabeth Goodwin


Ellen Malcolm


Charlotte Fox


At Reunion 2009, Hollins presented the Distinguished Alumnae Award to Mildred Emory Persinger '39, Florence Fowler Peacock '59, Elizabeth Fentress Goodwin '69, Ellen Reighley Malcolm '69, and Charlotte Fox '79.
Persinger has been a dedicated activist on behalf of local, national, and international women's rights, civil rights, and human rights since the 1940s. She served on several U.S. presidential commissions on women and represented the YWCA and the World YWCA at the United Nations. She chaired the first planning committee for the Non-Governmental Organization UN Decade of Women, and helped organize several international conferences and fora.



Peacock is a classically trained soprano singer and voice teacher who has performed to critical acclaim all over the world. She has been a frequent soloist at Oberlin College’s Baroque Performance Institute as well as the Classical Music Workshop at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. She was presented in recital in Oxford, England; Tokyo, Japan; Jogjakarta, Indonesia; and Saratov, Russia, and was one of fifteen singers selected to participate in the Franz Shubert-Institute at Baden bei Wien, Austria.



Goodwin is the co-founder of the National Down Syndrome Society, whose purpose is to educate, provide funds for research, and advocate at all levels on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome. In 2004 her family was honored for 25 years of involvement at the National Down Syndrome Society with the renaming of the NDSS Information and Referral Department to The Goodwin Referral Center. She remains a leader in the Down syndrome community as an active member of the board of the NDSS.



Malcolm is the founder and president of EMILY's List, a network of more than 100,000 women and men from all across the country committed to recruiting and funding viable women candidates, helping them build and run effective campaigns, and mobilizing women voters to help elect progressive candidates nationwide. In 2007, she was named national co-chair for the Hillary for President Campaign, and as such campaigned across the nation for fourteen months.




Fox is an internationally known mountain climber with a long and impressive climbing resume, including being the first American woman to reach the summit of three 8,000-meter peaks: Everest, Cho Oyu, and Gasherbrum II. For more than two decades she has worked as a professional Ski Patrol and as an Emergency Medical Technician.

Lyda Hill Lyda Hill '64, a business woman, volunteer, philanthropist, and environmentalist, was presented with the Distinguished Alumnae Award on March 10, 2009. Three years after graduating from Hollins, she started her own travel company and turned it into the largest travel agency in Texas. From there she managed other family owned businesses, including Colorado Springs" Seven Falls, Kissing Camels Estates land development, and the Garden of the Gods Club. Hill is a savvy business and community leader and fundraiser whose vision, dedication, organizing skills, and hard work have benefitted numerous educational, medical, environmental, and cultural organizations in Texas and Colorado. She founded the Garden of the Gods Foundation, to preserve and maintain the Registered National Natural Landmark in Colorado Springs, and has been involved in the Friends of the Katy Trail, which is dedicated to creating a great American park in the most densely populated area of Dallas.
Blanche Capel Blanche Capel '68, a highly regarded researcher and professor of cell biology at Duke University, received Hollins' Distinguished Alumnae Award on January 30, 2009. She is known for her work testing the role of SRY, the Y-linked male sex-determining gene, in the organogenesis of the testis. She earned a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Pennsylvania and did post-doctoral research in mammalian development at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. She is director of admissions in the Developmental Biology Training Program, member of the Executive Committee of the Graduate Faculty, and the Committee for Women at Duke. Her laboratory research team discovered a previously unknown mechanism in the formation of blood vessels that may help scientists better understand how a tumor rallies a blood supply to its aid. In March 2009 she will be a panelist for Hollins" 2009 Conference on Role Models for a New Century: Women and Leadership in Science and Mathematics.
Annette Polan Annette Polan '67, an internationally known portrait artist, received Hollins' Distinguished Alumnae Award at the 1842 Society weekend held in Washington, D.C., in November 2008. Polan conceived and organized Faces of the Fallen: America's Artists Honor America's Heroes, an award-winning exhibition of original portraits of the 1,323 American service men and women who lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2004. For her efforts, Polan received the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Outstanding Public Service Award, one of the highest honorary awards for recognition of exceptional public service. Polan served as chair of the painting department at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, where she currently serves as a professor specializing in portraiture. She has painted the official portraits of leaders of industry and government as well as Hollins' tenth president, Nora Kizer Bell.
(Photo by Taisie Berkeley '70)


Jane Bassett Spilman


Nancy Nash Campbell


Elizabeth Vann Hobbs


Boyce Lineberger Ansley


At Reunion 2008, Hollins presented the Distinguished Alumnae Award to Jane Bassett Spilman '53, Nancy Nash Campbell '58, Elizabeth Vann Hobbs '58, and Boyce Lineberger Ansley '68.

Spilman was the first woman to serve as chair of the Hollins Board of Trustees. During Hollins' last campaign she helped raise $47 million, and the third floor of the Wyndham Robertson Library is named in her honor. She has been an active volunteer and philanthropist throughout the state, including for the Virginia Literacy Foundation and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where she was chair from 1999 until 2004.



Campbell is a national leader in the field of historic preservation and former member of the Hollins Board of Trustees. She is chair emeritus of the National Trust for Historic Preservation after serving as chair and vice chair for six years. She served on the Planning Commission for the New York Metropolitan Area, vice chair of the Jamestown 400th Commemoration Commission, and a trustee for the Seventh Regiment Armory conservancy and Historic Hudson Valley. She is active with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation where her husband, Colin, is president and chairman.



Hobbs has a long career of volunteer service to her church, the Episcopal Church Women, and the many communities in which she has lived. She attended the United Nation's Fourth World Forum on Women's issues in Beijing, China as part of the Anglican Women's Network. Recently, she traveled to Suriname to celebrate with a hospital auxiliary she helped start there 25 years ago. Another former Hollins trustee, Hobbs' gift to renovate Bradley Hall as a new home for the Batten Leadership Institute was done in honor of the Class of 1958.



Ansley is a community volunteer, fundraiser, and historic preservation leader. She has served on the boards of the Atlanta Opera, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the Atlanta Preservation Center, the Trust for Public Land in Georgia, the Atlanta Girls School and many others. Last year, Ansley was named regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, with whom she has been involved for the past 20 years. Ansley, the daughter of a Hollins alumna and mother of another, also is a former trustee and current member of the Campaign Cabinet.

Caroline Arnold Davis Caroline Arnold Davis '60 received Hollins' Distinguished Alumnae Award at a luncheon in New York on October 22, 2007. Davis is the founder of the Carlisle Collection and co-founder of The Worth Collection, Ltd., one of the country's leading women's luxury fashion companies. Worth has more than 750 sales associates and annual sales exceeding $95 million and many Hollins women can be found in the management and sales ranks of Worth. Davis' civic activities include serving on the National Board of the Association of Junior Leagues International, as Chairman of the Board of the William Beaumont Hospital Corporation, and as a Trustee of Lenox Hill Hospital. She has also served on the Hollins Board of Overseers, as the first Celeste Koger Hampton Alumna-in-Residence, Heritage Society Chair, and a panelist at Founder's Day. Her daughter, Lucy Davis Haynes, is a 1984 alumna and current member of the Alumnae Board.



Lee Smith


Shannon Ravenel


Stella Ferguson Thayer


Annie Dillard


In 2007 Hollins presented the Distinguished Alumnae Award to bestselling novelist Lee Smith '67, editor and publisher Shannon Ravenel '60, attorney and Thoroughbred racing enthusiast Stella Ferguson Thayer '62, and writer Annie Dillard '67.

Smith has published 11 novels and three collections of short stories over the past 40 years. Her 2001 novel The Last Girls, based on a Mississippi River journey she took as a Hollins student, was a New York Times bestseller, a "Good Morning America" Book Club selection, and co-winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award. On Agate Hill, her latest book, spans life in the South from Reconstruction through the Roaring Twenties and has received wide acclaim.



Ravenel has been called "the patron saint of Southern literature" due to her mentorship of talented Southern writers. She inaugurated the New Stories from the South series and went on to co-found Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, where she nurtured young writers who could not otherwise get a foot in the publishing door. In 2001, she started her own Algonquin imprint, Shannon Ravenel Books.






Thayer is a prominent attorney, civic leader, and philanthropist. She is also a lifelong Thoroughbred horse enthusiast who has brought her expertise to bear as President of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York, and as co-owner of Tampa Bay Downs racetrack. She served as a Hollins Trustee for six years and has many relatives who are also alumnae.



Dillard has said "I attribute everything I learned about writing to Hollins." As a student she began writing what would become her Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. She received her M.A. at Hollins as well, and taught in the English department. She is professor emeritus of Wesleyan University and has served as scholar-in-residence at Western Washington University. Her newest work, The Maytrees, is a short novel of lifelong love in marriage, set on Cape Cod.

Dillard was named one of four finalists for the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She was recognized for her second novel and eleventh book overall, The Maytrees, published by HarperCollins. Founded in 1980, the PEN/Faulkner Award is the largest peer-juried prize for fiction in the United States. Dillard was honored during the 28th annual PEN/Faulkner Award ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Helen Gugenheim Jacobson

On October 5, 2006, President Nancy Oliver Gray presented Hollins' Distinguished Alumnae Award to Helen Gugenheim Jacobson '28.

Jacobson has been a lifetime advocate for civil rights, religious harmony, women's rights, and civic improvement. She volunteered her services - gratis - to Miss Matty Cocke as Hollins' first publicity director and led the college into a new era of prominence by spearheading the first endowment campaign. She served as the leader of the San Antonio alumnae group and an admissions volunteer for many years. She was also a writer for news and special events with NBC Radio in New York - the first woman in network radio to hold such a position.

In her hometown of San Antonio, Texas, she founded or led many prominent organizations, serving as Chair of the Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women, President of the San Antonio Public Library, and the Women's Committee of the Ecumenical Center for Religion and Health. She served the nation as Chair of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, member of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF, United Negro College Fund, and a Delegate to the White House Conference on Children.

Ann Compton Ann Compton '69 received Hollins' Distinguished Alumnae Award on September 28, 2006. Compton's award-winning broadcast career was launched at Hollins with her junior year internship at television station WDBJ-7 in Roanoke. She was elected president of the White House Correspondents Association, and has been named to the National Radio Hall of Fame and the Journalism Hall of Fame. She joined ABC News in 1973 and has been assigned to the White House since 1974. On September 11, 2001, she was the only broadcast reporter permitted to remain onboard Air Force One during the dramatic hours following the terrorist attacks on our nation when President Bush was unable to return to Washington, D.C. for national security reasons.
Mary Garber

A ground-breaking sportswriter, Mary Garber '38 received Hollins' first Distinguished Alumnae Award on May 25, 2006. Garber, who worked for more than 40 years for the Winston-Salem Journal and the Twin City Sentinel, was the first woman sportswriter to cover the Atlantic Coast Conference. Garber overcame many obstacles to become a sportswriter: she was not allowed to enter locker rooms and had to sit with players' wives instead of in the press box. Because she was a woman, the Atlantic Coast Sportswriters Association and the Football Writers Association refused her membership for years. However, Garber persevered and went on to win more than 40 writing awards during her career, including becoming the first woman to receive the Red Smith Award from the Associated Press Sports Editors.

In May 2008, she was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, as a pioneer among female sportswriters. Read the New York Times article, which calls Garber "a legend."