Distinguished Alumni Awards

Excellence in Our Ranks

Meet Our 2020 and 2021 Award Winners

Get to know all of the award winners being recognized at this year's award ceremony.

About the Distinguished Alumni Awards

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


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.


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

  1. The service must have been of significant value, although it may have attracted little public attention or recognition.
  2. 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.)


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

  1. The nominee must have attended Berry within the past twenty years.
  2. Outstanding distinction in one's career and/or community will characterize the recipient.
  3. 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."
  4. 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.


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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)

2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners


Berry Alumni Award Bridgette Stewart

Bridgette Stewart (98C)

A forward-thinking leader in higher education whose 20-year career has focused on promoting students’ professional and personal growth; founding director of Wolf Wellness Lab at the University of West Georgia (UWG) and program director of UWG’s Health and Community Wellness degree, providing curriculum and experiential learning for whole-person wellness; 2017 recipient of Circle of Leadership Award presented by the National Wellness Institute, where she is a board member.


Berry Alumni Award Hester Parks

Hester Parks (95C)

An entrepreneur and former senior financial analyst whose event planning firm, Park Avenue Events, creates memorable experiences for a wide range of clients and occasions, including weddings, television and movie premieres, birthday parties, grand openings, nonprofit galas, and more; named top “Best of Atlanta Event Planner” in 2016 and 2017 by the Atlanta Tribune; co-author of Atlanta Weddings for the Modern, Stylish, Chic Bride; holds MBA from Kennesaw State University.


Berry Alumni Award Pat Jackson

Patricia Jackson (82C, FFS)

A longtime educator recognized for teaching students with disabilities and supervising special education training programs in Cobb County, Ga.; tireless volunteer at Smyrna Presbyterian Church, including service as president of the women's organization and leader of the women's circle; Tribute Honoree in 2018 as part of liveSAFE Resources' Women of Achievement program; supporter of numerous charitable organizations in addition to her work on the Berry Alumni Council, where she currently serves as president.


Berry Alumni Award Carson Kay

Dr. Carson Kay (16C)

A rhetorical scholar and faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.; holds a Ph.D. from the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, specializing in rhetoric and public culture; academic honors include 2017 nomination for Excellence in Service to Students Award presented by the National Society of Leadership and Success; credits Berry with preparing her to complete a Ph.D. by age 25.

2020 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners


Berry Alumni Winner Dr. Beverly A. Smith

Dr. Beverly Smith (69C, FFS)

An educator and active civic leader whose passion for inspiring others and strong belief in fair play and respect led her to excel in 38 years of multifaceted leadership roles for Floyd County public schools before joining her alma mater — where she was one of the first two African American graduates — as director of the Pathways to Teaching program; sits on multiple community boards, including the Floyd Polk Health Foundation.


Berry Alumni Award Karen Houghton

Karen Houghton (01C)

An accomplished entrepreneur who currently serves as founder and CEO of Infinite Giving, a new startup firm that assists nonprofits in automating their investment strategy and increasing giving; previously impacted thousands of lives as vice president of Atlanta Tech Village, one of America’s largest technology startup hubs; earned recognition as Woman of the Year from Women in Technology Atlanta in 2019; provides leadership as vice chair of the Berry College Board of Visitors.


Berry Alumni Award Dr. Melanie Bliss

Dr. Melanie Bliss (96C)

A clinical psychologist who has dedicated her life to promoting awareness of violence against women and children and serving the underserved; actively seeks to create systemic societal change through public speaking and writing, training police officers, educating juries, and testifying in courtroom cases and depositions; works in private practice at the THRIVE Center for Psychological Health in Decatur, Ga.


Berry Alumni Award Chad Michael Nash

Chad Michael Nash (13C, FFS)

A creative nonprofit professional who first was the engine behind Berry’s Save a Student Scholarship and Young Alumni Partnership Program and then raised direct-mail revenues 200% for EARTH University, a school based in Costa Rica dedicated to educating young leaders from developing nations about sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurship; now works as manager of corporate relations and individual giving for Park Pride, helping Atlanta communities activate the power of neighborhood parks.

Meet our previous Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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)

Nominate a Berry Alumna/us

To nominate a deserving alumna/us for one of the four annual 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 October 31 to be considered for that academic year. Winners are announced and inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame during Alumni Weekend each year, 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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