Carl and Ruth Looney Humanitarian Awardees

2024: Susan Matthis Johnson
Susan Matthis Johnson, E&H Class of 1975, is an educator who taught AP English language and literature, speech, and broadcast journalism, and managed the only PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab in West Virginia. Before retiring in 2016, she was named the Nicholas County Teacher of the Year and the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism at West Virginia University named her West Virginia Journalism Teacher of the Year. She writes columns for the Nicholas Chronicle and the Charleston Gazette-Mail. In 2016, she began efforts alongside other Richwood, West Virginia community members to save the local high school after a devastating flood. Her efforts not only saved the school, but paved the way to make Richwood a thriving destination town.

2023: Dr. Rosemary Gray
Dr. Rosemary Gray, Emory & Henry Class of 1968 has spent more than 30 years in higher education, and at the time of her retirement was serving as chief diversity and inclusion officer at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. During her tenure there, Dr. Gray worked to promote and increase diversity, inclusion and retention of under-served and underrepresented students. She also was instrumental in helping to build the diversity of faculty and staff members. She has been a public school teacher, a diversity consultant, and a presenter for major conferences including the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME). In 2010, she received the Louisiana Most Powerful Woman Award from the National Council on Diversity. She holds an A.A. Degree in Liberal Arts from Morristown College, a B.A. in English from Emory & Henry, an M.A. Degree in Education from Catholic University, and an Ed.D. Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from East Tennessee State University.


2022: Charlie Phillips

A member of the E&H Class of 1960, Charlie retired from his own law firm, Phillips & Phillips, in Salem, Virginia, and immediately went to work. He volunteers pro bono on an almost full-time basis at Blue Ridge Legal Services. Since 2018, he has closed more than 900 cases – all pro bono. He was only the second person to ever receive the Richard Lee Lawrence Lifetime Service Award, and he was was awarded the 2021 Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award by the Virginia State Bar Association. 


2021: Rob Goldsmith

Rob Goldsmith, E&H Class of 1971, is President and CEO of People Incorporated of Virginia. People Incorporated is “one of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s largest and most successful Community Action Agencies. Now serving Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, Washington, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, Page, Frederick, Culpeper, Fauquier, Rappahannock, and Prince William Counties and the cities of Bristol, Manassas, and Manassas Park, People Incorporated offers almost 30 programs designed to, ‘give people a hand up, not a hand out.’” (People Incorporated website.)


2020: Kris Sheets

Kris Sheets is a 2002 graduate who currently serves as branch supervisor for the Saltville Public Library. She is a graduate of the Library Science program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is widely known throughout her community as a public servant who goes above and beyond to help children, older neighbors, and anyone in need of assistance. She does routine programming for children and has given away thousands of free books to children in the Saltville community.


2019: Mwenda Kazadi

Mwenda B. Albert Kazadi is a 2009 E&H graduate and Bonner Scholar. He is a Co-Founder and Director of Finance and Operations for Joy Givers International, an organization that seeks to establish after school programs for vulnerable youth in West Africa and Haiti. His career has focused on creating economic development opportunities in his home country of Liberia, and he has served as an investment consultant and advisor in the agribusiness & financial services spaces. He is currently the Cocoa Sector Manager for IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative, where he leads their investments and development activities in Liberia’s Cocoa Sector. IDH partners with companies, civil society organizations, and governments to support new economically viable approaches to realize green and inclusive business growth.


2018: Dr. Patricia Bear Huber

Dr. Pat Bear Huber is a 1976 graduate of Emory & Henry College. She is serving as president of New River Community College (NRCC), and is the first woman to hold that position.  She earned a master’s degree in education from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. in Community College Leadership from Old Dominion University. She began her career in the public school system, teaching in Smyth, Wythe, and Pulaski Counties, and served as an instructor and assistant professor at NRCC. She was Interim Vice-President for Academic and Student Services at Wytheville Community College, and has served NRCC in the role of Dean of Arts and Sciences, Vice-President for Instruction and Student Services, and Assistant Division Chair for Division of Arts and Sciences. She has received numerous teaching excellence awards, was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and was presented the Old Dominion University Distinguished Alumnae Award in 2017. She is a member of the Pulaski Rotary Club, serves on the Board of Directors for the New River Valley Community Foundation, and serves in leadership roles at Pulaski First United Methodist Church.


2017: Dr. Carolyn Widner Ward
Dr. Carolyn June Widner Ward graduated magna cum laude from Emory & Henry in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in geography.  She began her career as a park interpreter at Hungry Mother State Park and worked as an interpretive consultant for the U.S. Forest Service before earning her Master of Science degree and Ph.D. from the Department of Forestry Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She served as a college professor at West Virginia University and Humboldt State University, where she won Outstanding professor honors. In 2008 she was hired by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation as Project Director to implement the Kids in Parks program. She was named a Champion of Change by the White House in 2012. She has served as CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation since 2011.  She lives in Fairview, North Carolina, with her husband Alan and daughter Virginia.


2016: Dr. Greg McMorrow ’68

Dr. Greg McMorrow graduated from Emory & Henry in 1968. He received a medical degree from West Virginia University School of Medicine in 1972, and is now a retired physician from Nephrology Associates in Lexington, Kentucky. He is a member of Broadway Christian Church in Lexington Kentucky and has been a medical volunteer for Christian Flights International missions teams for over 30 years. He and his wife, Linda, have two grown children, Brian and Meredith, and three grandchildren.


2015: Dr. Mark Handy ’86

Mark finished at Emory & Henry with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, and graduated from East Carolina School of Medicine and the ETSU Family Residency Program. He is a family medicine practitioner in Abingdon, Virginia. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, the ISHN Board of Quality Assurance, is Medical Director of Hometown Hospice, and is Medical Director for Intrepid Home Health. He received the Board of Governors for East Carolina University School of Medicine. He is President and CEO of Abingdon Medical Arts, President and CEO of Triple H Farms of Alleghany, President and CEO of William M. Handy, MD, PC, and Associate Professor of Medicine at University of Virginia.  He is a past winner of the Teacher of the Year Award at UVA, the Resident Teacher Award, and was named Medical Director of the Year for Emergency Medical Services.  He is an accomplished banjo player and champion clogger, and is a member of Mountain Park Old Time Band and Tune Town Band, which won Vocal Group of the Year at Blue Ridge Acoustic Uprising in 2014.


2014: Gary Reedy, ’78

Gary M. Reedy, ’78, earned a bachelor of science degree in Biology from Emory & Henry and presently serves as  Vice President, Government Affairs and Policy for Johnson & Johnson.  Gary is the immediate past chair of the American Cancer Society National Board of Directors and a board member of The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. He is a past member of the American Cancer Society Foundation Board of Trustees, and has served as Chair of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. He previously served on the Boards of BioNJ and C-Change. Gary is a charter member of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer and is Founding Chairman of the CEO Cancer Gold Standard Task


2013: Becky Kurtz, ’84

Becky Kurtz graduated from Emory & Henry in 1984, was the winner of the E&H Snavely Prize, the 1984 Outstanding Senior, and was a summa cum laude graduate in Sociology and Political Science.  She finished at Columbia University School of Law in 1988, and her first professional position was Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of New York Law Department in New York City. From 1994 until 2010 she was the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman for the State of Georgia. She currently serves as the Director of the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs housed within the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington D.C.


2012: Lt. Col. Lewis “Bucky” Burruss, ’65

Lt. Col. Lewis “Bucky” Burruss, E&H ’65, is retired from the U.S. Army. He worked with the late Colonel Charles Beckwith to help form and train the first Special Forces Operational Detachment (known as Delta Force). He completed the British Special Air Service Selection Course, volunteered for the Special Forces, and was assigned to Special Forces’ Mobile Strike Force. He was awarded the Silver Star, four Bronze Stars, the Air Medal, and three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry. He retired from military service in 1987 to pursue a career in writing and is the author of several novels and works of history. He is an active supporter of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation which serves to support surviving children of fallen soldiers. The organization had its beginnings when Mr. Burruss served as a participating member of Operation Eagle Claw (the attempted rescue of Iranian hostages in 1980).


2011: David G. Foster, ’81

David G. Foster, E&H ’81, is Executive Director of the American Cave Conservation Association (ACCA) located in Horse Cave, Kentucky. At Emory & Henry he received a B.A. degree in Music Theory with a minor in Geology. He earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree in Geology at Mary Washington College, and studied at Western Kentucky University. He has received the Cave Conservancy of the Virginia’s Award for Volunteer Achievement in Cave Conservation and Management, and under his leadership the ACCA was named the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education’s Organization. He also won first, second and third place honors in the National Cave Ballad contest in 1979. He is a member of the National Speleological Society, the National Caves Association, and is a past Commissioner for the Hart County Tourism Commission.


2010: Gina Horton Fimbel, ’98

Gina Horton Fimbel earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Emory & Henry in 1998. She has served as a social worker at a homeless shelter for women and children in Fairfax, Virginia. She also worked for Child Protective Services in that same city. She is currently serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Wilmington, North Carolina. She is the founder of Andrew’s Toybox; an organization that provides toys for children with life-threatening or chronic illness.


2009: Jennifer Murphy, ’00

Jennifer Murphy, E&H ’00, earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at E&H and a Ph.D. in environmental microbiology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is conducting her post-doctoral research, focusing on methods for identifying and purifying contaminated drinking water, through the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Global Public Health. Ms. Murphy has recently made presentations to the NATO Working Group on Field Water Standards in Ottawa, Canada, and the United States Department of Defense Joint Medical Field Water Subgroup Meeting, Hampton, Virginia. Jennifer’s time in Cambodia was spent researching means of providing clean drinking water to residents of developing countries.


2008: Elizabeth Crowgey Young, ’34

Elizabeth Crowgey Young, E&H ’34, was a history major at Emory & Henry, a debater in the Thalian Literary Society, and a member of the women’s basketball team. She was a public school librarian in Bristol, Virginia, and in Dade County, Florida, until her retirement. Mrs. Young holds a master’s degree in education from East Carolina University. She and husband, Jack (Class of 1936, deceased), have two daughters. Elizabeth, although well into her 90s, continued to volunteer several times a week with Alzheimer’s patients at the local Veteran’s Hospital.


2007: Dr. Tal Stanley, ’83

Dr. Tal Stanley graduated summa cum laude from Emory & Henry College in 1983 with a B.A. degree in history. He received a M.Div. degree in 1986 from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. In 1996 he received a Ph.D. in American studies from Emory University. He is the director of E&H’s Appalachian Center for Community Service and chair of the Department of Public Policy and Community Service. Tal showed remarkable dedication to community enhancement that resulted in a new medical facility in downtown Meadowview.


2006: Dr. Paul Brown, Jr. ’64 & The Rev. James Dougherty, ’62

Dr. Paul Brown, Jr., is a 1964 E&H graduate. He earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia with a medical residency at Tuft’s University St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Brown is a clinical professor of medicine at the James H. Quillen School of Medicine and is a staff member at several hospitals in the Tri-Cities (Tennessee) region.


The Rev. James Dougherty is a 1962 E&H graduate. He received his master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree from Emory University. An ordained United Methodist minister, Rev. Dougherty served the New York and the Holston Conference for 40 years.


The two received the award jointly for their years of devotion to a medical mission to Mexico.


2005: Mark R. Graham, ’85

Mark R. Graham, E&H ’85, is shareholder and director at Boucher, Hutton, Kelly & Graham, P.C., Attorneys at Law in Abingdon, Virginia. He received a J.D. from T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond in 1989. Mr. Graham is a member of the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges and a former board member at Virginia Highlands Community College. He is assistant governor for District 7570 of Rotary International and was named a Paul Harris Fellow in 2000. Mr. Graham was chair of the Washington County Democratic Committee and was recognized as a “40 Under Forty” business leader by the Tri-Cities Business Journal in 2002. An active Rotarian, Mark made a personal commitment to secure a college education for a Bolivian Rotary exchange student who successfully graduated from Emory & Henry College.


2004: Rev. Marcus F. West, ’56

Rev. Marcus F. West, E&H ’56, is in private practice as a marriage and family therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is also the adjunct minister of counseling at Providence United Methodist Church. He received his B.D. in 1959 from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and pursued a Ph.D. degree from Florida State University. His hobby of pen and ink sketching also has become a ministry and cottage business.


2003: Elizabeth McKee, ’63

Elizabeth McKee graduated from Emory & Henry in 1963 and served the Washington County school system for 25 years as a teacher and librarian. She is active with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Washington County and Town of Damascus Tourism Committee, Adopt-A-Highway, People, Inc., Washington County Habitat for Humanity, Virginia Clean Washington County Committee, and the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc. Mrs. McKee has been a leader and participant in the Washington County 4-H program, the Rock School auditorium renovation, school and town beautification projects, and the District 3 RSVP Board. She is a lifetime member of the Damascus Rescue Squad, was given the Local Hero Award from the Damascus Little League, and has received countless certificates of appreciation from area community organizations. Mrs. McKee served as the Mayor of Damascus for many years.


2002: Brian K. Spencer, ’87

Brian K. Spencer, E&H ’87, is an area supervisor for Shoney’s Inc., and is responsible for restaurants in Hillsville, Galax, and Dublin, Virginia. In 1998, he established the Etoile Berry Children’s Art Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to generate funds for the purchase of art supplies for local elementary schools and to provide scholarship assistance for college students pursuing art degrees. Nearly $23,000 has been raised for the foundation through a collaboration between the Hillsville restaurant and local artists.


2001: Dr. David T. St. Clair, ’73

Dr. David T. St. Clair, E&H ’73, is a United Methodist minister who has served Holston Conference churches in Knoxville, Morristown, Maryville and Chattanooga, Tenn., and Smyth County, Va. He served as chaplain of Emory & Henry College from 1991 to 2000, strengthening the campus religious life program and serving as counselor and pastor to the E&H community. Dr. St. Clair was the College’s first Bonner Scholars coordinator. He currently serves as pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Bristol, Tenn.


2000: Rick & Sarah Gruver Poland, ’81 & ’80

Rick and Sarah Gruver Poland graduated from Emory & Henry in 1981 and 1980, respectively. Mr. Poland received his master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mrs. Poland holds a bachelor of arts degree from Emory & Henry and a bachelor of science degree from Old Dominion University. She is a home educator for the six Poland children, four of whom are adopted. The Polands currently operate a family farm that welcomes persons in transition from prison to mainstream society.