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Alumni Award Recipients

Congratulations to our deserving alumni who are the recipients of the 2020 Alumni Awards. Due to COVID-19, we have yet to be able to recognize these individuals and we are pleased to take this year's occasion to do so. The alumni awards program was temporarily suspended in 2020-2021 due to COVID-19.

Emily Vance Pancake Smith Medallion

Lyn McDermid '95Margaret E. "Lyn" McDermid '95

Award description: The Emily Smith Medallion was named for Emily Vance Pancake Smith, a graduate of Mary Baldwin Seminary in 1906. This award was created by the Mary Baldwin Board of Trustees in 1964 and recognizes alumni who have shown exceptional commitment to the University, churches, communities, and beyond. 

Margaret E. “Lyn” McDermid has been a trail-blazer and forward-thinker throughout her career, bringing her talents in engineering, business, communication, and technology to the companies and organizations she has served. Not having access to college after she finished high school in the early 1970s, McDermid became the first woman to complete the Patternmaker’s Apprentice Program in the shipyards of Newport News. She went back to school through Mary Baldwin’s Adult Degree Program, graduating in 1995, and later earned her MBA from the University of Richmond. She has held positions at Stone and Webster, working on engineering for nuclear plants; Dominion, where she started as director of administrative services in 1986 and rose to the position of senior vice president and CIO before retiring in 2012; and the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, where she is currently chief information officer. McDermid served for 13 years on MBU’s Board of Trustees, becoming the first Adult Degree Program graduate to become Board Chair. She received an honorary doctor of humane letters at MBU’s Commencement in 2015 in recognition of her service to the university.


Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award

Louise McNamee '70Louise Rossett McNamee '70

Award description: The Emily Wirsing Kelly Leadership Award is named in honor of former Alumni Board president, Emily Wirsing Kelly ’63. This award was created in 1986 by the Mary Baldwin University Alumni Association and honors alumni who have demonstrated outstanding service and excellence on behalf of Mary Baldwin University.

A few years after graduating from Mary Baldwin with an English major, Louise Rossett McNamee entered the New York advertising industry, directing research for the Nason-Univas Agency. A freelance project led her to leading advertising agency Della Femina, which she joined in 1979 as vice president and research director, eventually rising to the rank of president and CEO. In 1989 she became the first woman to have her name added to a major advertising agency: Della Femina McNamee WCRS. McNamee went on to serve as president and partner of MVBMS Euro RSCG, a $1 billion plus advertising agency. Among her clients were Nestle, Dannon, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Schering-Plough. McNamee devoted decades of service to Mary Baldwin’s Board of Trustees, including serving as Board Chair. She also gave the Commencement address two times, and at the 2009 ceremony, she was awarded the university’s highest honor, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, and also an honorary doctor of humane letters.


Career Achievement Awards

Janet Byington '75Janet Farrar Byington '75
Janet Byington believes in the power of the liberal arts, not just in regards to her education, but also in her career. Pursuing her varied interests, she has held a number of different positions throughout her working life. Most recently, she spent 12 years serving as the district director in Georgia for a United States congressman. She also worked through the years in fundraising and development for a number of nonprofits, including a private Catholic school. Also an author, Byington has written two books for children. She received Rome, Georgia’s Heart of the Community Award for people who give back to the city through volunteerism, and she also served as the grand marshal of Rome’s Christmas parade. As a professional and a mother, Byington strove throughout her career to find balance. She always worked, even when her children were little, including volunteer work, which provided an outlet for her talents outside of the home. Janet is spending her “retirement” going back to her passion for flipping houses, Janet Byington Homes, Inc. Homes are for either “starters or finishers” – young couples looking for their first homes or retirees looking to downsize. In her spare time, she does agree to travel extensively around the world with her husband of 31 years and grandma sit her 6 grandchildren. Janet is a big believer in the saying "Don't waste 10 seconds."


Anita Filson '83Anita D. Filson '83
When Anita Filson was a child, her cabinet-maker grandfather made her a gavel to play with, and she would bring the household to attention saying “order in the court!” She’s not certain why her grandfather chose this particular item, since no one in her family was a lawyer, let alone a judge. Little did he know that in 2001 his granddaughter would become the first woman elected by the legislature to any judicial seat. She was elected to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations (JDR) District Court in Virginia’s 25th judicial district … and her grandfather's gavel sat on her bench the entire time she served. A graduate of Mary Baldwin through the then-named Adult Degree Program, Filson went back to school to earn her undergraduate degree while working full time as a paralegal and raising her young son. She went on to attend law school at Washington and Lee, and practiced with a firm in Lexington and then on her own for 15 years. In addition to JDR, she also served three years as a Circuit Court judge, where she was again the first woman elected to serve on the bench. She considers her JDR work to be the most important in her career, because the relationships between children and family members lie at the heart of the communities she served.


Service to Community Award

Laura Schultz '75Laura Lee Johnson Schultz '75
For 30 years, Laura Johnson Schultz worked as an elementary school teacher and high school counselor. She also supported her husband’s service in the Marine Corps through volunteering with the Key Wives, the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society and as an active volunteer in every community at every duty station.

In 2002 as casualties were returning from Afghanistan and Iraq with severe injuries, Laura recognized a vital need to provide better support to these critically wounded Marines and Sailors during their treatment, recovery and rehabilitation. Her work to provide necessary services and personal items to servicemen arriving with nothing in their possession led to the foundation of the Wounded Warrior program at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital. She directed the program for 5 years, recruiting hundreds of volunteers and soliciting millions of dollars of supplies for thousands of soldiers and their families.

In 2007 Schultz was recognized for her exemplary service with the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest recognition of a civilian by the Secretary of the Navy. She is one of only a few women to receive this honor. Her years of volunteer service speak to her commitment to making a difference in the lives of the men and women who are wounded in the service of our nation.


Service to Community of Faith Awards

Kristen Barner '90Kristen Barner '90
The Rev. Kristen Barner takes daily inspiration from a benediction that she heard her parents — who are both retired Presbyterian ministers — recite every Sunday, especially the line that says to “love and honor all people.” Barner now brings that declaration to life in her work as a wedding minister, guiding and supporting couples of all faiths, sexualities, cultures, and nationalities in her home of Charleston, South Carolina, and around the country. She has received the Couple’s Choice Award from WeddingWire for six years running and has also earned Best of Weddings awards from The Knot. She is an active clergy advocate and spokesperson supporting marriage equality, and she is also a member of the Patient Family Advisory Council and a Family Faculty member for the Medical University of South Carolina. After receiving her master of divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, she worked in non-profits, youth ministry, and as a hospital chaplain at UVA. She was then ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the United Church of Christ, serving as an associate pastor in Phoenix, Arizona, for four years before starting her own business for wedding ministry in 2012.


Lisa Nichols Hickman '93Lisa Nichols Hickman '93

Lisa Hickman is thrilled to begin a new call at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC where she serves as Associate Pastor for Children and Families. Prior to this call, she was dedicated to the community of First Presbyterian Church in Sharon, Pennsylvania, where she served for almost five years. Centered in the Rustbelt, the church rises to the challenge of spreading joy, beauty, and hope to others. Hickman especially enjoyed helping to host a bi-monthly fellowship group for single moms and a Bible study for adults with disabilities. She has also recently received a pastoral study grant from the Louisville Institute to support her work in revitalizing Rustbelt communities through worship, faith, and education. While earning her PhD in theology from Duquesne University, Hickman researched “moral injury” in veterans returning home from conflicts. The author of several books, including Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible, she leads workshops and retreats across the country. Giving her special pride is her 20-year marriage to Jason Hickman and their two amazing daughters, Caitlyn and Leah.



Quick Facts

1842 1842 University Founding
WWII WWII Time of First Apple Day Celebration
19,000 17,000 Number of Living Alumni Worldwide