Betsy Carr ’68 and Jennifer Boysko ’89
In 2009, Betsy Carr ’68 became the first Hollins alumna to be elected to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates. Jennifer Boysko ’89 followed in her footsteps. Voters in the 86th district, which encompasses sections of Fairfax and Loudoun counties, elected her as a delegate last fall.
On Boysko’s first official day in the Virginia Capitol, Carr, who represents parts of the City of Richmond and the County of Chesterfield, presented her with a Hollins pennant. Boysko considers herself lucky to have had an immediate connection with a more experienced peer.
“She’s someone who’s a steady, thoughtful, calm person who I love to go to for advice about how to handle things,” Boysko says.
Carr, who majored in English at Hollins, didn’t take a direct route to her political career. Working as outreach director at Richmond’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Carr was a founder of the Micah Initiative, a program that organizes members of congregations to mentor, tutor, and volunteer with students in public schools.
Being a familiar face at area schools came in handy in the spring of 2006, when a member of the Richmond School Board resigned after being caught with three joints in his luggage. Carr was tapped to finish his term. She enjoyed the work so much, she ran for the seat the following November and won.
When a 33-year incumbent for the 69th District representative in the House of Delegates stepped down, Carr threw her hat in the ring. “You learn all you can locally, then you can take that knowledge to serve the people on a different level,” she says.
Carr feels she’s making a difference in her seat and has no D.C. political aspirations. “I’m intent on doing what I’m doing here,” she says.
Boysko majored in psychology and French at Hollins, but found herself in politics immediately after graduation, working in the U.S. Senate office of Richard Shelby from her home state of Alabama. Later she took a job at a D.C. government-relations firm as a legislative assistant.
Boysko later paused her career to be a stay-at-home mom to her two daughters, but stayed busy volunteering for Democratic campaigns. She was Virginia director for the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean when her girls were in elementary school. “They came with me everywhere,” she says. “They went to fundraisers. We did door-to-door together.””
In 2008, Boysko took a job as a liaison to the town of Herndon for a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “I would see where we weren’t getting resources to help people who desperately needed it,” she says.
Over the years, Boysko had grown increasingly frustrated by the politics of Tom Rust, the representative for the House of Delegates in her district. In 2013 she ran against him, losing by 32 votes. When Rust’s retirement created an open seat in 2016, Boysko ran again and won. She credits EMILY’s List—founded by Ellen Malcolm ’69—with providing financial and logistical help in both of her elections. “I’m a big fan,” she says.
Boysko isn’t sure what her political future holds. “I want to get through this first full term, and then figure it out,” she says. “I would like to be able to serve for a long time if I feel like I’m being effective.”
Photos by Sharon Meador
Brinton Lykes ’70
Brinton Lykes had a good reason for not making it to the 2015 reunion to accept the prestigious Hollins’ Distinguished Alumnae Award.
In May of that year, Lykes had joined feminist icon Gloria Steinem and two Nobel Peace laureates as part of a faction of 30 international activists who crossed the demilitarized zone dividing South and North Korea as a symbolic gesture of peace.
The activists, who named their group Women Cross DMZ, spent several days visiting North Korea before undertaking the crossing. Lykes, associate director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice and professor of community cultural psychology at Boston College, found she was less shocked by the country’s political climate than some of the other women in the group because of what she experienced as an 18-year-old traveling to the former Soviet Republic of Russia during the summer of the year she spent at Hollins Abroad–Paris.
“They were both countries that were highly hierarchal and organized and disciplined,” she says. “So your time was not your own, meaning you couldn’t just wander around and look at things, but you were invited to go to certain places and to be with certain people.”
After the trip, Women Cross DMZ selected Lykes to serve as a member of the executive committee, which works to keep the group moving closer to its goal of “deepening relations” between North and South Korea.
“It is a very tiny, tiny piece in a much, much bigger struggle,” Lykes says of the efforts of the peace activists. “I absolutely think it’s critical for women to be involved in these processes because I think our own experiences offer us different opportunities than men have.”
After receiving a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School and a Ph.D. in community and social psychology from Boston College, Lykes focused her research on such subjects as human rights policy and mental health interventions, participatory action research, and psychosocial effects of state-sponsored terror and organized violence.
Lykes’ humanitarian efforts and scholarship were recognized in April when she finally was able to accept the Distinguished Alumnae Award at a Hollins event in Boston. The prize recognizes alumnae who’ve brought distinction to themselves and to the school “through broad and inspiring personal or career achievements.” It’s been awarded to a diverse group of alumnae, including conservationists, scientists, artists and leaders.
“It’s humbling to recognize how many people in the world are working to improve our quality of life and to redress injustices and inequalities,” Lykes says of joining this impressive league of women.
Alumnae profiles by Beth JoJack ’98