Sweet Briar College has announced that Everett “Ben” Howerton Jr. of Richmond has been elected secretary of its board of directors. He takes on the responsibilities of the office in addition to those as chair of the Committee on Directors responsible for submitting nominees for the board, its officers and committees.
He has served in the latter post since the board was created on July 2, 2015, when new governance took over following a thwarted attempt to close the College by its previous board and administration. Georgene Vairo ’72, who served as secretary during that time, was elected vice chair, leaving the position open.
Howerton is active in the Richmond nonprofit arena and is a former Virginia education executive and recognized authority in matters related to educational law and policy. Now retired for the third time, he remains sought after to assist with searches for executives and higher education leaders — assets he brings to bear in his roles on Sweet Briar’s board.
“As chair of the Committee on Directors, Ben has been invaluable to us for his ability to identify exemplary individuals who are a good fit for Sweet Briar and committed to our success. Service on any board is a big undertaking, and members give generously of their time and talents. Now we’re asking even more of Ben and he has characteristically stepped up,” says Phillip C. Stone, president of Sweet Briar College.
“Both Georgene and Ben have brought unwavering devotion, as well as their considerable talents to their service on the board, and we are grateful.”
Howerton most recently retired as director and professor of policy and leadership studies at The George Washington University, where he was honored with the Distinguished Emeritus award for his many contributions to the field of public policy and educational law. He began his career as a math teacher and subsequently served as an executive educational administrator at the local and state levels in Virginia, serving for 15 years in the capacities of assistant state superintendent, chief deputy state superintendent and coordinating state superintendent for Special Schools. During his public service career, he served on numerous legislative, governors’ and congressional commissions.
Howerton served earlier in his career as a member of the faculty at the University of Virginia and as an executive with the Virginia School Boards Association. He was selected in 1984 as one of 14 Washington Fellows, assigned to the U.S. secretary of education. He was also elected to the Jefferson Society, Heritage Society, Lawn Society and the Society of the Emeriti, the Thomas Jefferson Society, The Cornerstone Society, Phi Delta Kappa and Who’s Who in America.
He was president of the Virginia Information and Education Utility, and president and chief executive officer of Synergy Group Inc. He also served as a public sector educational grievance mediator.
Howerton was a board member of Read to Them, New Visions, New Ventures and The Healing Place. He further served as a board member of CARITAS, and the National Advisory Council for The George Washington University. He was appointed in 2009 as trustee of the Science Museum of Virginia, chairman of the board of trustees for the First Freedom Center, and as a board member of the Valentine Richmond History Center. He served earlier as a founding board member for the Education Foundation at the University of Virginia.
Howerton holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Virginia. He is a native of Lynchburg and resides in Richmond.