Board of Directors

Sweet Briar Institute was made possible by the Last Will and Testament of Indiana Fletcher Williams, which directed that her assets be used to create and operate a women’s college in Amherst County, Va., to be held in trust in perpetuity. Sweet Briar Institute (known and operated as Sweet Briar College) was incorporated as a non-stock corporation by an act of the General Assembly of Virginia approved Feb. 9, 1901, for the purpose of implementing the trust in the Williams will. The College has been operated continuously since that time as a private liberal arts women’s college.

Following a March 3, 2015, announcement by the previous board of directors that the College would close effective in August 2015, alumnae, students, faculty, parents and other friends of the College joined forces and achieved their goal of keeping the College open. A new slate of directors was elected as part of a settlement agreement, approved by court order June 23, 2015, to carry on the mission of Sweet Briar College. The current board consists of the committed individuals listed below.

Andrew C. Benjamin

Andrew C. BenjaminE |
H | Leesburg, Va.

Andrew Benjamin has more than 27 years experience in the financial service industry. He was operations manager for Card Establishment Service for seven years. He managed the chargeback department and was one of the key managers to bring automation to the unit. He then joined NeuralTech as director of implementation services, where he worked with banks automating their back office operation. Then he co-founded Merlin Solutions LLC and was the chief operation officer. Merlin supplied automated chargeback processing service to banks and acquirers throughout the U.S. In 2007, Total Systems (TSS NYSE) finalized the purchase of Merlin Solutions. Benjamin has remained with TSYS, managing and growing the division as director of the Operation Contact Center, where he manages one of the highest-margin divisions.

Benjamin became involved with Sweet Briar when his daughter became a member of the class of 2018. He has actively supported the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and American National Riding Commission teams by cheering the riders at competitions throughout the 2014-2015 year.

Benjamin was recently a settling party in the litigation involving Sweet Briar College. He is committed to the success of Sweet Briar College so that his daughter, Makayla Benjamin ’18, can complete her engineering degree and so that no future students will have to face this issue again at this outstanding college. Benjamin is a graduate of Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, with a B.S. in industrial management and a minor in industrial engineering. He is married to Janice Benjamin.

Jacquelyne “Jax” Bullett ’15

Jacquelyne "Jax" BullettE |
H | Ashburn, Va.

Jax Bullett graduated from Sweet Briar College in May 2015 with a B.A. in government and a minor in Spanish. While at the College, Bullett played on the soccer team and served as ICC secretary and senior class vice president.

She is currently employed in the human resources field and works for Eliassen Group on a contract with General Dynamics.

Leah A. Busque ’01

Leah A. BusqueE |
H | San Mateo, Calif.

Leah Busque has 15 years experience building and creating technology products that have reached millions of people around the globe. She started her career at IBM as a software engineer in the software group, working on Lotus Notes and Domino. In 2008, Busque founded TaskRabbit, the leading on-demand service marketplace in the world.

A vision for revolutionizing the way people work led Busque to pioneer the concept of “service networking.” Her passions for product innovation and devotion to user experience have propelled TaskRabbit into a leading role in the collaborative consumption movement. Busque has expanded the company internationally, raised nearly $40 million in venture funding from venerated investors such as Shasta Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures and Founders Fund, and inspired legions of startups to launch in the collaborative and service networking space. Fast Company named her one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” and her achievements have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Wired and Time. Under her leadership, TaskRabbit has gathered accolades including being named “The Next Big Thing in Tech” by the New York Times.

In 2014, Busque was inaugurated into the Forum of Young Global Leaders, a prestigious group of fewer than 1000 people around the globe recognized for their bold, brave, action-oriented entrepreneurial ventures. The arts and creating opportunities for women in technology are important to Busque, who also serves on the board of the Silicon Valley Ballet and enjoys speaking engagements for organizations such as Girls Who Code and Tina Brown’s Women In the World Summit.

Busque resides in San Mateo, Calif., with her husband, daughter, son and highly energetic black Labrador retriever. She graduated magna cum laude from Sweet Briar College, where she earned a B.S. in mathematics and computer science. She served on the board of directors from 2001-2003.

Alice Dixon ’82

Alice DixonE |
H | Richmond, Va.

Alice Dixon was born in Charlotte, N.C., and was graduated from Charlotte Country Day School. After graduation in 1982 from Sweet Briar College with an A.B. in biology, Dixon earned a Master of Humanities from the University of Richmond. Dixon moved to Richmond to take a job in the pharmaceutical industry. Following a long career with Carter Wallace, Dixon entered the field of residential mortgage lending, where she earned the prestigious Certified Professional Mortgage Specialist designation. Proving that a graduate with a liberal arts degree can do anything, Dixon decided that teaching is her true passion, and is now a chemistry teacher at the Collegiate School in Richmond.

While at Sweet Briar, Dixon served as Student Government Association president, junior class president, and freshman class president. In her sophomore year, she was on the Judicial Committee. Dixon was a QV and an Earphone, and played field hockey, basketball and lacrosse all four years. She was named in the 1982 edition of Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.

In her community, Dixon has been active with her church and was a longtime member of the Junior League board, and a member of its executive committee. Dixon also was very active in the Richmond chapter of the Sweet Briar Alumnae Association, serving as the club’s president for a number of years.

William B. Drake Jr.

William B. Drake Jr.E |
H | Lexington, Ky.

William Drake is managing partner of an enrollment management and accreditation consulting firm (2012-present). He is a former president of Midway College in Midway, Ky. (2002-2012), a private liberal arts college for women encompassing a traditional residential women’s college coupled with online and off-campus adult degree completion programs. The college is located on a 200-acre rural campus surrounded by an equine farm with more than 80 horses of various breeds used in academic programs. During his tenure, Midway nearly tripled enrollment, established an online college, and developed four permanent off-campus sites. Additional accomplishments include the addition of master’s and associate’s degrees.

Drake was a member of the board of the Women’s College Coalition. He is also a former SACS trustee. Drake holds M.Div. and D.Min. degrees from Lexington Theological Seminary in Old Testament and in pastoral care and counseling, respectively. He received his B.A. in biology from Transylvania University. He is a Chartered Life Underwriter and Chartered Financial Consultant.

Marianne “Mimi” C. Fahs ’71

Marianne "Mimi" C. FahsE |
H | New York, N.Y.

Marianne “Mimi” C. Fahs, Ph.D., M.P.H., is an internationally recognized health economist, with over 30 years experience in health policy and public health. Fahs holds joint appointments in the City University of New York (CUNY) as professor of economics and public health with the doctoral faculty of the Graduate Center, and as professor of health policy and management with the School of Urban Public Health at Hunter College. She was the founding research director of the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging of Hunter College, and the founding director of the Health Policy Research Center at the New School in New York City. Prior to that, she directed the Health Economics Division at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. While at Mount Sinai, she pioneered the first cost-effectiveness analysis of cancer prevention strategies among older women in the U.S., contributing to congressional passage of Medicare’s inaugural screening benefit for cervical cancer.

Fahs has served on numerous national, state and local advisory committees, including the National Advisory Panel on Payment for Preventive Health Services of the U.S. Congress, the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the New York State Governor’s Statewide Advisory Council and the New York City Mayor’s Advisory Committee. Her scholarly interests center on cost-effective strategies to improve health, economic productivity and quality of life. She has developed and led multi-million dollar public health initiatives, both publicly and privately funded, and is experienced in multi-disciplinary consortium building across academic institutions, departments, public agencies and the private sector. She teaches research methods and policy analysis at the master’s and doctoral levels, and she is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications.

Fahs received her B.A. from Sweet Briar College, and her M.P.H. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She serves on the boards of the Orient Yacht Club, the Ashokan Center and the International Alliance for the Advancement of Children. Married, with a 24-year-old son, she divides her time between New York City and Orient on New York’s Long Island, where she is an avid sailor and fiddler in a local string band, the Mudflats.

Kelley M. Fitzpatrick ’85

Kelley M. FitzpatrickE |
H | Mountain Brook, Ala.

Kelley Manderson Fitzpatrick, Class of 1985, majored in economics/business management under Reuben Miller and spent the ’80s working for Credit Suisse First Boston in New York as the result of an internship arranged by Sweet Briar. Her economics education at Sweet Briar taught her to believe in the power of ethical capitalism.

Kelley has worked in social services benefiting the elderly and has been a community volunteer in many capacities. She has served on several nonprofit boards, including the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the YWCA of Central Alabama and the Birmingham Museum of Art Advisory Board.

She is the president of her family foundation, which supports education, environmental issues and the promotion of mental and spiritual well-being. Through the foundation, she and her husband recently endowed the Value Investing Program, research library and trading room at the University of Alabama. The Manderson family also endowed the university’s graduate business school. She is the mother of two sons and lives with her husband in Birmingham.

Carol McMurtry Fowler ’57

Carol McMurtry FowlerE |
H | Austin, Texas

A native Texan, Fowler graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1957 with high honors. She then attended the London School of Economics. She has been a newspaper reporter and editor, a political campaign organizer, manager and speechwriter for public officials, including a governor. She has also served as chief locater of escheated funds division in Texas; as a legal assistant to a law firm and as executive assistant to the board chair of the State Board of Insurance.

She was married to Dudley Fowler, an attorney, for 50 years before his death in 2014. Fowler notes that as a student, Sweet Briar College taught her that she was an adult and responsible for herself and her future. Intellectually, her brain was set on fire at Sweet Briar, and that fire has never gone out. “What a gift the College gave me — gave many other women.”

Charlene W. “Suny” Monk

Suny MonkE |
H | Amherst, Va.

Suny Monk is recently retired from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, an international artist community in Amherst, where she served as executive director since 1997. She continues to serve as a board member of VCCA Abroad, focusing especially on VCCA’s satellite program in Auvillar, France. Prior to moving to Amherst, Monk was head of school at Aylett Country Day School in Millers Tavern, Va., from 1982-1997. She is trained as a ceramist and for the last 20 years has produced one-of-a-kind wearable art.

Monk has served as a consultant or panelist for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Randolph College, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology. Most recently, she served on the selection committee for the Virginia Governor’s Awards for the Arts. She was named Woman of the Year in the Arts by the YWCA of Central Virginia Academy of Women. She has served as a board member of the Academy Center of the Arts, the Alliance of Artists Communities and Lynchburg Fine Arts Center.

Currently, she serves on the board of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, is immediate past chair of the board of directors of New Vistas School, and president of Second Stage | Amherst, an emerging local nonprofit seeking to establish a cultural and community center for Amherst County. She is an advisory board member of Endstation Theatre Company and a partner at Oxide Pottery, a fine craft gallery in Lynchburg, Va.

Monk earned a bachelor’s degree from Marietta College and a master’s from Ohio University. She lives in Amherst with her husband, Joe, a retired professor of studio art at Sweet Briar College.

Bernard Niemeier

Bernard NiemeierE |
H | Richmond, Va.

Bernie Niemeier is the president and publisher of Virginia Business, a 30-year old monthly magazine that serves as the leading source of business intelligence for top executives and government leaders across Virginia. He spent 30 years in the newspaper business, including 17 on the corporate staff of Media General Inc., one of the largest publicly traded newspaper companies in the United States. At Media General, Niemeier was a division vice president in charge of strategic planning, market research and newspaper acquisitions.

Community involvement is a key aspect of his success. Niemeier has worked with non-profits and professional associations throughout his career. He is a past board chair of LEAD Virginia and has also served on the board of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

Bernie graduated cum laude from Macalester College, received an MBA from the University of Richmond, and has attended executive development programs at Northwestern University, Babson College and The University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business. Bernie is married to Lisa Gray Niemeier. He is the father of Sweet Briar alumna Kathryn (“Katie”) Niemeier ’05.

In January of 2007 he became publisher of Virginia Business, adding small-company entrepreneurial experience to his public-company corporate background. In September of 2009, he led a private equity-funded purchase of the magazine from Media General, to reach the ultimate goal of running an independent company.

Frank W. Roach

Frank RoachE |
H | Richmond, Va.

Frank Roach recently retired as the CEO of Ferguson, the largest wholesale distributor of residential and commercial plumbing supplies and pipe, valves and fittings in the U.S. The company is also a major distributor of HVAC/R equipment, waterworks and industrial products and services. Ferguson has 1,400 locations throughout the United States and more than 22,000 associates.

Roach joined Ferguson in 1976 as a management trainee, and throughout his career has been responsible for a number of operational roles, including branch manager in Richmond, vice president of the U.S. mid-Atlantic region and senior vice president of the Residential Business Group. In 1995, Roach was appointed to Ferguson’s board of directors, and in 2006 to the board of directors of Switzerland-based Wolseley, Ferguson’s parent company. In his leadership role at Ferguson, Roach has continued the expansion within the company’s existing businesses, dedicated focus and resources to develop Ferguson B2B and B2C e-commerce capabilities, and continued to diversify the company’s portfolio into adjacent industry segments. He has placed significant emphasis on the continued development and training of associates, and supported the transformation of Ferguson’s operational business model. Ferguson’s success is defined by world-class associate and customer satisfaction.

Originally from Warrenton, Va., Roach received a B.A. from Hampden-Sydney College and an MBA from the College of William and Mary. Roach also attended executive management programs at the University of North Carolina, Duke University, the International Institute of Management Development and the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

Roach and his wife, Mary Reid Roach ’74, live in Richmond. They have two grown daughters and two grandchildren. Frank is active in the community, serving on the Peninsula SPCA board of directors, GO Virginia business leadership committee, Peninsula NOW executive committee, and Virginia Living Museum chairman honorary committee. Roach is a former trustee for Hampden-Sydney College and the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC).

Mason Bennett Rummel ’83

Mason Bennett RummelE |
H | Louisville, Ky.

Since 2010, Rummel has been president of James Graham Brown Foundation Inc., whose mission is to cultivate progress and civic pride through philanthropic investments that promote the image of Kentucky and Louisville and the well-being of its citizens. She has been employed by the foundation since 1989. Previously, she served on the staff of the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture and as a press officer at the White House Office of Management and Budget. She has been a board member and held other leadership roles in a great number of philanthropic, cultural, educational and civic organizations.

Mason graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1983 with a B.A. in English and earned an M.A. in philanthropic studies at the Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indiana University. She is married to Rick Rummel and they have three grown children.

Caville Stanbury-Woolery ’06

E |
H | Silver Spring, Md.

Caville Stanbury-Woolery is a certified professional engineer and project management professional whose career has focused on design and analysis of water collection and distribution systems. She is employed as an engineer/project manager and liaison for private development-related pipe construction projects in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland. She previously was an engineer/project manager in Georgia.

Caville majored in physics with minors in engineering science and mathematics at Sweet Briar, graduating with honors in 2006. She was the student representative on the Advisory Board to implement the College’s new engineering curriculum.

After graduating, she pursued a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the Johns Hopkins University. While there, she served as the community outreach officer for the engineering school’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

She is a member of the Water Environment Federation, Chesapeake Water Environment Association, Society of Women Engineers, Georgia Association of Water Professionals and the National Society of Black Engineers.

Caville is committed to Sweet Briar and strives to ensure that the legacy of providing high quality education in an environment of sisterhood remains available to other young women.

Allison “Allie” Stemmons Simon ’63

Allison "Allie" Stemmons SimonE |
H | Irving, Texas

Allison “Allie” Stemmons Simon is a native of Dallas, Texas, and has lived there and in the suburb of Irving, Texas, her entire life (except her four years at Sweet Briar College). Simon worked as special events coordinator and food service at the Apparel Mart in Dallas from 1964-1975. In 1976, she formed two companies with her husband, Quadrant Clubs (men’s athletic and dining clubs) and Bebo Travel Service Inc., a mid-sized commercial agency in the heyday of airline ticketing. She began as a temporary business manager, eventually learned the business, bought out her partner, and owned and managed it until 1993. As the company evolved, she developed a side clientele of luxury leisure travelers and began specializing in independent European travel. After closing the agency in 1993, Simon kept her own client list, and since then, has worked by herself as Allison Simon, Travel Consultant Inc. She will be closing that business and retiring at the end of this year. She also has served as president of Stemmons Foundation since 1991 — a small family foundation supporting primarily charities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Simon is a graduate of Hockaday School in Dallas. She graduated with an A.B. degree from Sweet Briar in 1963 and pursued graduate studies in music at Southern Methodist University.

She served briefly on the board of The Episcopal School of Dallas. Simon served on the Sweet Briar board from 1981 to 1994, the last eight years as vice-chairman. She has served in various roles with her local Sweet Briar alumnae group, including class president for her 25th and 50th reunions and as secretary for many years, a position she still holds. In 1999, Simon was selected as Sweet Briar’s Outstanding Alumnae.

She is married to Heinz K. Simon and has two adult daughters. Karen, the eldest, is an investment banker with J.P. Morgan, currently based in New York City. Kimberly lives in Basalt, Colo., and teaches third grade at Aspen Elementary School. Allie and Heinz also have four-footed children — Kodiak, a beloved 14 1/2-year-old golden retriever, and Shadow, an energetic and friendly young gray cat recently acquired from the local shelter. Allie and Heinz now split their time between Irving, Texas, and their second home in Snowmass Village, Colo.

The Honorable Teresa Pike Tomlinson ’87

Teresa Pike TomlinsonChair of the Board

E |
H | Columbus, Ga.

Teresa Tomlinson was elected as the 69th mayor of Columbus, Ga., on Nov. 30, 2010, with 68 percent of the vote. On Jan. 3, 2011, she was sworn in as the city’s first female mayor. On May 20, 2014, she was re-elected to a second term with 63 percent of the vote, making her the first mayor since the city’s consolidation in 1971 to win re-election in a contested race. She has four times been named to Georgia Trend’s 100 Most Influential Georgians, and she holds a National Security Secret Clearance with the Department of Defense.

Tomlinson moved to Columbus in 1994 from Atlanta and married Wade H. “Trip” Tomlinson, who was raised in Columbus. For 16 years she practiced with the law firm of Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick, Morrison and Norwood LLC, where she specialized in complex litigation and was the firm’s first female partner. She served from 2006 to 2010 as executive director of MidTown Inc., a nonprofit community renewal organization. Tomlinson is a 1983 graduate of Chamblee High School in Atlanta, a 1987 graduate of Sweet Briar College, and a 1991 graduate of Emory University School of Law, in Atlanta. She was the Sweet Briar College commencement speaker for graduation exercises on May 16, 2015.

Georgene M. Vairo ’72

Georgene M. VairoVice Chair of the Board

E |
H | Santa Barbara, Calif.

Georgene M. Vairo has been the David P. Leonard Professor of Law, Loyola of Los Angeles Law School, since 1995. Concurrently (2007-present), she has been president of Auswin Realty Corp. where she manages a family-owned residential and commercial real estate firm in New York City. Prior to her current positions, she was associate dean of the Fordham University School of Law and Leonard F. Manning Professor of Law. From 1988 to 2000, she chaired the board of trustees for the Dalkon Shield Claimants’ Trust, a court-appointed position (appointed by Judge Robert R. Merhige Jr., U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia), and helped design and implement the plan to distribute over $3 billion to more than 200,000 claimants. Since 1994, Vairo has been on the editorial board of Moore’s Federal Practice, and has authored numerous books and articles.

Vairo graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1972 and has since won the Distinguished Alumna award. In 1975 she received an M.Ed. from the University of Virginia in social studies. She graduated first in her class from Fordham University School of Law in 1979. She was law clerk to the Honorable Joseph M. McLaughlin, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (1981-1982) and associate at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom from 1979 to 1981, specializing in antitrust litigation.

CeCelia E. Valentine ’95

CeCelia E. ValentineE |
H | Phoenix, Ariz.

CeCelia Valentine is assistant public defender for Maricopa County, Ariz., since 2013. Previously she was assistant public defender for Harris County, Texas, from 2011 to 2013, and Pima County, Ariz., from 2005 to 2011.

Valentine graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1995, and South Texas College of Law in 2001. She was law clerk for the Honorable Raner Collins, U.S. District Court of Arizona, from 2003 to 2005, and from 2001 to 2003 was law clerk for the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

Elinor “El” H. Warner ’85

Elinor "El" H. WarnerExecutive Committee Member
Secretary of the Board

E |
H | Easton, Pa.

El Warner has broad expertise and proven success in marketing, branding, business development and targeted media outreach. She was a national marketing director for several nonprofits, including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She is currently chief marketing officer of Three Wire Systems LLC.

Warner is a 1985 graduate of Sweet Briar College, where she served as editor of the Sweet Briar News and was Student Government Association president. She earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English literature from the University of Virginia. Before her career in marketing communications, she taught English literature at William & Mary and at Lafayette College. Elected to the Easton City Council in 2007, she was Easton’s vice mayor from 2010 to 2014.

Meredith Woo

President of the College

Meredith WooE |
H | Sweet Briar, Va.

Meredith Woo is president of Sweet Briar College. Formerly, she was director of the Global Higher Education Program for the Open Society Foundations, based in London, where her program supported more than 50 colleges and universities over the past 20 years, mostly in the former Soviet bloc countries.

Woo previously served as the University of Virginia’s dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; held appointments at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Northwestern University; and consulted with the World Bank, the U.S. Trade Representative, Asian Development Bank and the MacArthur Foundation.

An expert on international political economy and East Asian politics, Woo has written and edited seven books, and was the executive producer of an award-winning documentary film, “Koryo Saram: The Unreliable People,” about Joseph Stalin’s ethnic cleansing of Koreans living in Far Eastern Russia during the Great Terror.

A native of Seoul who was educated in Seoul and Tokyo through high school, Woo came to the United States to study at Bowdoin College in Maine. She completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in international affairs, Latin American studies and political science at Columbia University.

Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, M.D. ’68

Marshalyn Yeargin-AllsoppE |
H | Atlanta, Ga.

Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, M.D., is a developmental pediatrician and works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Sweet Briar College in 1968, received her medical degree from Emory University in 1972 and is board-certified in pediatrics and neurodevelopmental disabilities. She served on the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors from 1981 to 1989 and received the Sweet Briar Distinguished Alumna Award in 1992. She holds a faculty appointment in the Emory University Department of Pediatrics; publishes extensively on the epidemiology of developmental disabilities; and speaks to audiences across the country and internationally about CDC’s work. She remains committed to making an impact on the lives of children, no matter their level of ability, and maintained her clinical experience by serving as the medical director of the Clayton Early Intervention Program in metropolitan Atlanta from 1985 to 2013.

Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp lives in Atlanta with her husband, Ralph. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her children and grandchildren and volunteers with several community service organizations in Atlanta.