Distinguished Alumni Awards

Excellence in Our Ranks



Berry Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Robert Carpenter

Robert Carpenter (87C)

Robert Carpenter's life is a testament to the faithfulness of God and the profound impact of his experiences as a Chick-fil-A employee and inaugural WinShape Scholar. A severe stutterer from age 9, he found community at Berry where "people accepted me for who I was regardless of how I talked." After graduating, he stepped out in faith, enrolling in a master's program and applying for the Navy Chaplain Corps. What followed was a decorated career for the retired Captain spanning 31 years as a chaplain with the Navy and Marine Corps, two Doctor of Ministry degrees and 27 of pastoral ministry, all demonstrating "the power of what God has done."


Robert Swarthout (04C)

From a partnership launched while a Berry student, Robert Swarthout has honed his business acumen while demonstrating his ability to think creatively, take calculated risks and capitalize on unique opportunities. The seasoned tech founder boasts 18-plus years of experience creating, leading and selling multiple start-up SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses, the most recent with more than $10 million in annual recurring revenue. Today, he serves as CEO and portfolio manager of Teton Crypto Capital. A Berry trustee since 2020, he and wife Tessa Frye Swarthout (07C) regularly support student entrepreneurs.


Berry Alu2022 Distinguished Service Award Winner Mark Banta

Mark Banta (82C)

Atlanta Magazine regularly ranks Mark Banta among the city's most powerful leaders, citing the Berry agriculture major's work as president and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy. After previously excelling as general manager of Centennial Olympic Park, he led an impressive resurgence at Piedmont Park, with annual attendance increasing from 4 million to more than 6 million during his tenure. When he retired in late 2023, Banta left a stable organization with such strong financial footing that it is now considered one of America's most successful conservancies. He is married to Anita Marion Banta (81C).


2023 Outstanding Young Alumni Award Winner: Caroline Gettis Huffaker (09C)

Caroline Gettis Huffaker (09C)

A student volunteer post at the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia ignited a passion for advocacy and launched Caroline Gettis Huffaker's career aiding victims and survivors in their pursuit of justice. She led formation of victim services units for the Hamilton County (Tennessee) and Chattanooga police departments and today works at the National Policing Institute to promote equitable public safety outcomes. She recently partnered with Berry staff including fellow alumna Ashley Demonbreun-Chapman (10C, FS) on the BRAVE Project to raise awareness about gender-based violence and promote healthy relationships.

Previous Award Winners

Distinguished Achievement

Given for outstanding leadership within a local or a national organization or for distinguished accomplishments within an occupational field. The nominee must have achieved success far beyond what might be recognized as normal or average.

  • 2023: Robert Carpenter (87C)
  • 2022: Genny Castillo (08C)
  • 2021: Bridgette Stewart (98C)
  • 2020: Dr. Beverly Smith (69C, FFS)
  • 2019: Alexander "Whit" Whyte Whitaker IV (81C)
  • 2018: Dr. C. Randall Clark (67C)
  • 2017: Kelly M. Fite (68C)
  • 2016: Roger W. Lusby, III (79C)
  • 2015: David L. Grindle (93C)
  • 2014: Dr. Rayford H. Boyett (58C)
  • 2013: Angela R. Dickey (75A, 79C)
  • 2012: T. Ray Fewell (58C)
  • 2011: Dr. Jimmy T. Bell (60C)
  • 2010: Karen Holley Horrell (74C)
  • 2009: J. Lowell Loadholtz (60C)
  • 2009: H. Oliver Welch (52H, 56c)
  • 2008: Dr. Joe A. Elder (63C)
  • 2007: J. Barry Griswell (71C)
  • 2006: Jack A. Jones (57C)
  • 2005: Dr. John Barge (88C)
  • 2004: Dr. Philip D. Whanger (59C)
  • 2003: W. Buford Jennings (58C)
  • 2002: Dr. E. Dwight Adams (53C)
  • 2001: Dr. L. Doyle Mathis (58C)
  • 2000: B. Leon Elder (54C)
  • 1999: Dr. Natholyn Harris (61C)
  • 1998: Dr. Jerry W. Young (57C)
  • 1997: Dr. James K. Miller (53C)
  • 1996: Dr. James R. Scoggins (52C)
  • 1995: Dr. Ouida Word Dickey (50C)
  • 1994: Reba Shropshire Wilson (35c)
  • 1993: Dr. Koji Yoda (65C)
  • 1992: Norman D. Burkett (46c)
  • 1991: Dr. Quincey L. Baird (52C)
  • 1990: W. Joseph Biggers (45H)
  • 1989: Dr. E. Kay Davis (57C)
  • 1988: Leland R. Dean (41C)
  • 1987: John Lie-Nielson (54H)
  • 1986: Rear Admiral Lewis A. Hopkins (39C)
  • 1985: Drs. Kenneth (53C) and Betty Whitten (60c)
  • 1984: David E. Estes (39C)
  • 1983: Dr. Milton S. McDonald (38C)
  • 1982: Dr. Horace D. Brown (39C)
  • 1981: Amile Chastain Graves (29C)
  • 1980: Roy Richards (30H)
  • 1979: Herman A. Watson (24H)
  • 1978: Dr. Ann Fite Whitaker (61C)
  • 1977: Charles T. Ray (48C)
  • 1976: J. Dewitt Purcell (31H, 36C)
  • 1975: E. Grant Fitts (34H)
  • 1974: Dr. Dale Purcell (38H)
  • 1974: Dr. Clayton C. O'Mary (43C)
  • 1973: J. T. Parker, Jr. (37H)
  • 1973: Dr. Reavis C. Sproull (30C)
  • 1972: Joseph A. Shropshire (30H)
  • 1972: Dr. J. Kenyon East (35C)
  • 1971: Dr. J. Theodore Phillips (29H, 33C)
  • 1970: Dr. T. Latham Smith (12H)
  • 1970: Dr. Thomas W. Gandy (39H, 42C)
  • 1969: Dr. John L. McDaniel (39C)
  • 1969: General George A. Carver (28C)

Distinguished Service

Honors selfless service to humanity over and beyond one's normal obligations. The service must have been of significant value, although it may have attracted little public attention or recognition.

  • 2023: Mark Banta (82C)
  • 2022: Stewart Fuqua (80A)
  • 2021: Patricia Jackson (82C, FFS)
  • 2020: Dr. Melanie Bliss (96C)
  • 2019: Rebekah "Bekah" Fortney Baxter (18C)
  • 2018: Jennifer Dickey (77A, 80C)
  • 2017: Cecil "Buster" Wright III (73C)
  • 2016: Joy Bernice Ogle Whaley (53H)
  • 2015: Joy Padgett Johnson (73C)
  • 2014 : John Shahan (64A, 69C)
  • 2013: F. Mack Gay (59C)
  • 2013: Walter O. Maine (59C)
  • 2012: Amy M. Williams (03C)
  • 2011: Jack A. Jones (57C)
  • 2010: Dr. Harlan L. Chapman (58C)
  • 2010: Ruth King Martin (65C)
  • 2009: Dr. Larry G. McRae (60C)
  • 2008: Robert L. Huff (51C)
  • 2007: W. Glenn Cornell (62C)
  • 2006: Jerry W. Shelton (58C)
  • 2005: Gayle G. Gmyrek (67C)
  • 2004: Carolyn T. Smith (53C, FFS)
  • 2003: Tim Howard (82C)
  • 2002: Nettie Ruth Brown (52C)
  • 2001: Linnie Lane Gibson (51C)
  • 2000: Frances Denney Barnett (49c)
  • 1999: Lillian C. Farmer (42C)
  • 1998: Earl D. Tillman (52H)
  • 1997: W. Milton Chambers (78A, 82C)
  • 1996: Ellen McGehee Doughtery (52C)
  • 1995: John R. Lipscomb (40H, 44c)
  • 1994: Virginia Webb (44c)
  • 1994: Billy Smith (39H)
  • 1993: W. Carl Paul (36C)
  • 1992: G. Monroe Guyton (30H)
  • 1991: Earl W. Williams (41C)
  • 1990: Albert Lawton Dean (39C)
  • 1989: Dr. Herchel H. Sheets (49C)
  • 1988: Mary Sheffield Banks (36H)
  • 1987: Geneva Craig Jarrett (31H, 36C)
  • 1986: James Noble Finley (42C)
  • 1985: Paul E. Smith (48C)
  • 1984: Leary Bell Doss Finley (44C)
  • 1983: Talmadge R. Tucker (35C)
  • 1982: Ehrman H. Young (20H)
  • 1982: Mildred McWhorter (51C)
  • 1981: Wallace (39c) and Frankie Hopkins (39H, 43c)
  • 1980: Kankakee Anderson (25H)
  • 1979: A.B. "Gus" Jarrett (33C)
  • 1978: Martha Page Cousins (37C)
  • 1977: Benjamin F. Wardlow (35C)
  • 1976: Dr. Garland M. Dickey (42C)
  • 1975: Raymond E. Henderson (23H)
  • 1974: Sam W. Gray (24H)
  • 1973: Dr. George G. Young (35c)
  • 1972: Eugene P. Gunby (19H)
  • 1972: Mary Alice Barnes (18H)
  • 1971: Walter A. Johnson (12H)
  • 1970: John C. Warr (37C)
  • 1970: Dr. Inez Wooten Henry (21H)
  • 1969: H. Grady Hamrick Sr. (12H)

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Recognizes and honors alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to turn a dream into reality, the vision to create an enterprise, the courage to assume risks, and the ability to make changes and take advantage of new opportunities.

  • 2023: Robert Swarthout (04C)
  • 2022: Joy Schmidt (11C)
  • 2021: Hester Parks (95C)
  • 2020: Karen Houghton (01C)
  • 2019: Tim B. Lusby (84C)
  • 2018: Alton H. Christopher (61c)
  • 2017: Jim Johnson, Jr. (85C)
  • 2016: Tricia M. Steele (09C)
  • 2015: Jeff M. Jahn (07C)
  • 2014: Andreas Economopoulos (97C)
  • 2013: Sheryle J. Bolton (68c)
  • 2011: Richard Lee Jennings (85C)
  • 2011: Dr. Lisa D. Miller (83C)
  • 2010: Dennis J. DaSilva (74A, 78C)
  • 2009: Nona Sparks Patterson (58C)
  • 2008: Robert H. Williams (62H)
  • 2007: Roy N. Miller (58C)
  • 2006: Ty Tomack (87C)
  • 2005: J. Ronald Thornton (61C)
  • 2004: Steven J. Cage (74C)
  • 2003: Karen Christensen Fenaroli (83C)
  • 2002: Faye Junkins Gibbons (61C)
  • 2001: Richard E. Pickering (84C)
  • 2000: Frances E. Richey (83A, 87C)
  • 1998: Fontaine McFerrin Souther (71C)
  • 1997: Arthur E. Pugh (52H, 56c)
  • 1995: Harold D. Kilpatrick (60c)
  • 1994: T. Mack Brown (82C)
  • 1992: R. Wayne Shackelford (55C)
  • 1991: Smith R. Foster (49H)
  • 1989: Forrest H. Ingram (39c)
  • 1987: Billy Smith Sr. (39H)

Outstanding Young Alumni

Recognizes and honors young alumni (graduated in the past 20 years) who have distinguished themselves by unusual success and significant accomplishment.

  • 2023: Caroline Gettis Huffaker (09C)
  • 2022: Aaron Chastain (15C)
  • 2021: Dr. Carson Kay (16C)
  • 2020: Chad Michael Nash (13C, FFS)
  • 2019: Adam Newton (07C)
  • 2018: Aitana Vargas (03C)
  • 2017: Ashley Harp Sheppard (01C)
  • 2016: Christopher R. Hayes (04C)
  • 2015: Brin Enterkin (12C)
  • 2014 : Heather Henderson (03C)
  • 2013: Beth Collins Earnst (93C)
  • 2012: John W. Coleman (04C)
  • 2011: Casey T. Smith (00C)
  • 2010: Michael D. Williams (03C)
  • 2009: Jonathan T. Trapp (99C)
  • 2008: Brian Brodrick (97C)
  • 2007: Timothy J. Goodwin (03C)
  • 2006: Celeste Creswell (93C)
  • 2005: Mark W. Maguire (95C)
  • 2004: Jason E. McMillan (98C)
  • 2001: Allen Bell (95C)
  • 2000: Bart Cox (92C)
  • 1998: M. Scott Breithaupt (91C, 96G)
  • 1997: Kendra D. Grimes (93C)
  • 1996: Dr. William R. Holcomb (86C)
  • 1995: Leigh E. Patterson (86C)
  • 1994: Dr. Dante L. Tomaselli Jr. (85C)
  • 1993: Gregory R. Hanthorn (82C)
  • 1992: Patty J. Etchison (77C)
  • 1992: Timothy R. Howard (82C)
  • 1991: D. Frank Pitts (76C)
  • 1990: G. Bert Clark Jr. (82C)
  • 1989: Elise Alewine Baggett (81C)
  • 1987: Karen Holley Horrell (74C)


On an annual basis, the Berry Alumni Association solicits nominations for five Distinguished Alumni Awards. Learn more about the requirements for each of these awards below.

Distinguished Achievement Award

This award shall be given to a nominee who has achieved success far beyond average.

Distinction may be interpreted as: Notability for outstanding leadership or success within a locale, recognition or honors within an occupational or professional field, or outstanding leadership within a significant organization above local level.

Distinguished Service Award

This award shall be given for selfless service over and beyond normal obligations. Requirements are as follows:

  • The service must have been of significant value, although it may have attracted little public attention or recognition.
  • The length of involvement in this type of service shall be noted. (For example, a service rendered over forty years would have more weight than service for a period of a year.)

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

This award shall be given to an outstanding young alumni based on the following criteria:

  • The nominee must have attended Berry within the past twenty years.
  • Outstanding distinction in one's career and/or community will characterize the recipient.
  • The recipient shall have made contributions to the general welfare of his/her community and represent Berry's motto of "not to be ministered unto; but to minister."
  • Service contributions to Berry will be considered. These contributions may include involvement in alumni chapters, participation in alumni events, volunteer service in various projects, and /or membership on the Alumni Council.

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

This award shall be given for significant contribution to the advancement of a business or enterprise with the following criteria:

  • This individual demonstrated a commitment to turn a vision into reality, the courage to assume risks, and the ability to make changes and take advantage of new opportunities.
  • The length of time the individual has been involved, as well as the role played, will be considered. (For example, involvement over a period of years would be more significant than involvement for a year.)

Ouida Word Dickey Heritage Award

The Berry Alumni Association gives the Ouida Word Dickey Heritage Award in memory of Dr. Ouida Word Dickey—Berry alumna, long-time faculty/staff member, and the longest continuously serving member of the Berry Alumni Council, having served as historian, President-elect, President, Past-President, elected member, committee chair, Vice-President, and volunteer.

Recipient(s) should:

  • Exhibit the exemplary character and integrity reflected by Dr. Dickey throughout her life.
  • Support the work of the Alumni Association, and like Dr. Dickey, act as an ambassador for preserving Berry's past to ensure a future of excellence in the education of its students.
  • Promote the preservation of Berry's history through any of the following means: research, publication, education, time, service, and/or financial support.

Alumni, alumni organizations/affiliates, Berry faculty/staff, students, trustees, donors, and friends are eligible for the award. This award is to be considered unique and not necessarily awarded on an annual basis.

Nominate a Berry Alumna/us

To nominate a deserving alumna/us for one of the five Distinguished Alumni Awards, complete and submit the nomination form below, or print, complete and mail the form to the Office of Alumni Relations at P.O. Box 495018, Mount Berry, GA 30149-5018.

Nominations should be submitted before March 31 to be considered for that academic year. Award recipients will be honored at a special luncheon each fall in conjunction with an Alumni Council meeting, and nominees not selected remain on the Distinguished Awards slate for a period of three years.

I've Been Nominated

If you have been nominated for an alumni award, please complete a nominee information form:


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