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.
Andrew C. Benjamin
H | Leesburg, Va.
Joined BOD | July 2, 2015
Andrew has more than 30 years of experience in the financial service industry. He 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 was operation manager for Card Establishment Service for seven years. He then joined NeuralTech as director of implementation services for three years, where he worked with banks automating their back office operation. Then he co-founded Merlin Solutions LLC and was the Chief Operation Officer. In 2007, Total Systems (TSS NYSE) finalized the purchase of Merlin Solution LLC. Andrew has remained with TSYS as the director of operations where he manages one of the highest margin divisions. In 2019, TSYS was purchased by Global Payments and Andrew was promoted to vice president of global chargeback operations, with staff reporting to him from around the world. The division he is responsible for has annual revenue in excess of $32M with a margin in excess of 70%.
Andrew became involved with Sweet Briar when his daughter became a member of the Class of 2018. He has actively supported the IHSA , ANRC, and NCEA teams by cheering athletes on at competitions throughout 2014-2018. Andrew was and is committed to the success of Sweet Briar College. His hope is that someday his granddaughter(s) will be able to attend SBC.
He became part of the parent/student case against the former Sweet Briar board. The outcome of that case was a six-month injunction preventing the previous board from disposing of the school’s assets. There was not a week that went by that the previous board did not reach out to ask permission to sell the assets of the college. It was the tenacity of saying “What part of ‘No’ do you not understand?” that prevented further deterioration of the school during the process. Furthermore, he attended every in-person meeting in Richmond with Attorney General Mark Herring and Sweet Briar College counsel as well as the final court hearing and participated in the final signing ceremony.
During Andrew’s five-year membership on the board, he has been a member of the finance committee and chair of the audit committee. He is currently vice chair of the Sweet Briar Board of Directors. He was also a member of the presidential selection committee. He has attended several fundraising events for both alumnae and riding events.
Marianne “Mimi” C. Fahs ’71
H | New York, N.Y.
Joined BOD | July 2, 2015
Mimi Fahs is a health economist, with more than 30 years of experience. She holds a joint appointment in the City University of New York as a professor of health policy with the Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and professor of economics with the Graduate Center. 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 NYC, where she pioneered the first cost-effectiveness analysis of cancer prevention strategies among older women in the US. She has authored numerous articles and consults regularly with the National Institutes of Health.
Mimi received her B.A. from Sweet Briar College in international relations, and her M.P.H. and Ph.D. from the School of Public Health, University of Michigan. Married, with one adult son, she divides her time between Manhattan and Orient Point, Long Island.
Kelley M. Fitzpatrick ’85
H | Mountain Brook, Ala.
Joined BOD | July 2, 2015
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
H | Austin, Texas
Joined BOD | Oct. 13, 2015
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.”
Sally Mott Freeman ’76
H | Bethesda, Md.
Joined BOD | April 14, 2018
Sally Mott Freeman, author of the current bestselling book “The Jersey Brothers,” is an accomplished speechwriter, public relations executive and nonprofit leader of more than 30 years. Her book is a critically acclaimed Smithsonian top history book of 2017 and an Amazon Best Book of 2017 in both the History and Memoir categories. After penning speeches for an FCC commissioner and later its chairman, Mott became FCC’s spokesperson and news media division chief following the court-ordered breakup of AT&T. She was also a vice president for telecommunications at FleishmanHillard, a global public relations firm, as well as communications vice president for two technology trade associations. After four terms as chair of The Writer’s Center, the premier independent literary center in the Mid-Atlantic, Mott is now Board Chair Emerita. She also has served on the boards of Washington Shakespeare Company, American Diabetes Association, The Washington Tennis Foundation, Saving Sweet Briar Inc., St. Anne’s-Belfield School and the Sweet Briar College Alumnae Alliance. She is a member of the Monticello Cabinet.
Mott graduated from Charlottesville’s St. Anne’s-Belfield School, which honored her with its 2017 Distinguished Alumna Award, and from Sweet Briar College (English literature), which honored her with its 2016 Distinguished Alumna Award.
H | Roanoke, Va
Joined BOD | March 27, 2020
Bob Goodlatte represented the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives for 26 years, the longest term of service of any representative of the district. He was a leader in national conversations on immigration, criminal justice, technology and the collection of personal data by the government. He served as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and Chairman of the House Republican Technology Working Group. He was Co-Chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus and the Congressional International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus. He served two terms on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and served on the Subcommittee on Higher Education. He was founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus and in 2019 the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities presented Bob its Award for Advocacy of Independent Higher Education.
Before going to Washington, DC, Bob founded his own private law practice in Roanoke then later was a partner in the law firm of Bird, Kinder and Huffman. He is a graduate of Washington and Lee University School of Law, with an undergraduate degree in Government from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.
He resides in Roanoke with his wife of over 45 years, Maryellen. They have two adult children, Jennifer and Bobby; a son-in-law, Matt Barblan; and two granddaughters.
Lendon Gray ’71
H | Bedford, N.Y.
Joined BOD | April 12, 2019
Lendon Gray was in the Sweet Briar College Class of 1971, majoring in Greek and Latin. While at Sweet Briar, she was active in the riding program and taught riding there for 3 1/2 years after graduation. A few years after college, she started to specialize in dressage, made two Olympic teams and represented the U.S. internationally for many years. For over 45 years she ran successful training stables in Maine, New York and Florida. She became very active in the U.S. Dressage Federation, where she chaired many committees geared toward education, and was a founding examiner for Instructor Certification. She was on the board of directors of the U.S . Equestrian Federation and the U.S. Pony Clubs, also serving on various committees. She is now on the board of the USA Equestrian Trust, is secretary of The Dressage Foundation’s Board, and is president of Dressage4kids Inc., an organization she started 22 years ago, and which is now recognized internationally as a top program for educating young people in dressage. Gray has been inducted into Sweet Briar’s Athletics Hall of Fame, the Maine Sports Hall of Hall and the U.S. Dressage Federation Hall of Fame, was honored as the American Riding Instructor Association Master Instructor, a USPC Legend and an EquineAffaire Exceptional Equine Educator, and received a Pony Club Master Achievement Award.
Fred “Buzzy” Griffin
H | Houston, Texas
Joined BOD | April 14, 2018
Buzzy Griffin, former chairman of Space Center Houston, is a successful real estate developer from Houston, Texas. He met his wife, Betsy Pearson Griffin ’62, at Sweet Briar College. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington & Lee University and went on to earn an MBA from the University of Texas. Thereafter, he was hired by the Friendswood Development Company, a subsidiary of Exxon, where he began his career in real estate. He played a key role in the purchase, planning and development of Kingwood, Woodlake, Greenspoint, Copperfield, Clear Lake City and other substantial projects throughout the greater Houston area. In 1980, Griffin left Exxon to form Griffin Partners, a full service real estate development company. Through the years, the company and its related affiliates have built or acquired projects encompassing approximately 11.2 million square feet of space with an aggregate value of $2 billion.
Griffin continues to serve on the board of directors for Space Center Houston as well as Houston Grand Opera, Central Houston and the Bay Area Economic Partnership.
Martha Holland graduated from Sweet Briar College, with a BA in Physics, in 1972. She began her career working in the federal government for the Federal Energy Administration (now the Department of Energy) and then the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Martha then turned to a legal career, graduating from Georgetown University School of Law in 1980. She worked in the legal department of the Detroit Edison Company and served as a lawyer for ANR Pipeline Company in Detroit during that decade. Since then, Martha has served as a prolific volunteer and fundraiser.
For the last thirty years, Martha Holland has been a key supporter of Sweet Briar College. In addition to supporting the College with significant gifts, Martha serves as a member of the Class of ‘72’s prolific fundraising team. She served as Co-chair of the Class of ‘72’s 30th reunion, and as the Treasurer of the Sweet Briar Club of Washington, D.C. She, also, volunteered and raised funds for her children’s elementary and high schools: National Presbyterian School, National Cathedral School and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School. She served as PTA President of National Presbyterian School and as an ex officio member of its Board of Directors.
H | Poquoson, Va.
Joined BOD | Feb. 23, 2018
Karen Jackson is the president of Apogee Strategic Partners, a Virginia consultancy helping companies and organizations address their most daunting challenges in cyber security, autonomous systems and smart communities. She formerly served as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s secretary of technology. Prior to that, she was the Commonwealth’s deputy secretary of technology and vice president of broadband programs at the Center for Innovative Technology. Jackson served as a senior advisor to Gov. Terry McAuliffe on technology matters including innovation, data analytics, telecommunications, cybersecurity, unmanned systems and smart communities. She also was responsible for overseeing Virginia’s IT infrastructure. Jackson has been actively engaged in federal policy initiatives, including the development of the National Broadband Plan. In 2009, she received an IP3 award from Public Knowledge for her work in information policy. She was named to Government Technology’s 2010 list of the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers; to The Governing Institute Women in Government Leadership Program Class (2015); one of State Scoops’ GoldenGov State Executives of the Year (2016); and one of State Scoop’s Top Women in Technology (2017). Jackson and Gov. McAuliffe were jointly recognized as 2017 Difference Makers in Cyber Security by the SANS Institute, and her office received an Excellence in Government award from the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council.
Jackson has served on a number of boards, including the Center for Innovative Technology, the Virginia Research Investment Committee and the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP). She also served as Gov. McAuliffe’s representative to the FCC’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee and co-chaired Virginia’s Cyber Security Commission.
She holds a B.S. in business management from Christopher Newport University and an MBA from William & Mary.
Keenan Kelsey ’66
H | Larkspur, Calif.
Joined BOD | April 14, 2018
Keenan Kelsey was a Sweet Briar legacy student, daughter of Howell Lykes Colton ’38. Although officially retired as a Presbyterian pastor, she was named pastor emerita at Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco, Calif., and continues to preach and teach as needed. She is a strong advocate of single-sex education — having graduated from both Sweet Briar College and Emma Willard School — women’s empowerment and the liberal arts. Before ordination, she worked for a forestry magazine, as a Head Start teacher, a team member for the first Earth Day, an environmental educator and, for more than a decade, as the owner and manager of a bird shop in San Francisco.
An active volunteer, Kelsey has served on the board of Peoples Gas and currently serves on the Board of the Lark Theater. Kelsey has been a resident of Larkspur, Calif., for 20 years and enjoys having her two children and three grandchildren nearby.
H | Princeton, NJ
Joined BOD | July 22, 2020
Richard Myers serves as Deputy Provost for Resource Planning at Princeton University, advising the Provost and other senior leaders on the alignment of Princeton’s operating and capital budgets with the University’s longer term priorities and strategy, assists in the implementation of strategic initiatives, and promotes a robust analytical environment to support decision-making and planning. Prior to Princeton, Richard was Senior Associate Dean in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia, where he served as the chief operating officer for the school and coordinated academic and administrative planning. He has also served as the chief planning and budget officer at Smith College and as associate provost at Williams College. Richard was born and grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and holds three degrees, including a Ph.D., from the University of Virginia. He has been active in community and professional service, including contributions as a church school teacher and vestry member in the Episcopal Church, service as an elected school board member, and numerous roles on accrediting and consulting teams for colleges and universities.
H | New York, N.Y.
Joined BOD | Aug. 25, 2017
Gillian Munson is the chief financial officer of XO Group (The Knot, The Bump, The Nest, ticker XOXO). Munson joined XO Group in November 2013 from Allen & Company LLC, where she was managing director leading the firm’s principal investing and outreach activities with early-stage technology-oriented companies. Munson was also a vice president for business development at Symbol Technologies from 2003 to 2007, aiding in the company’s multibillion-dollar turnaround, M&A processes, strategy, and eventual sale and integration with Motorola. Prior, Munson was an executive director and senior equity analyst at Morgan Stanley, where she covered the mobile, storage and personal computing sectors. Munson began her career as a research associate at Hambrecht & Quist. She was previously a member of the board of directors of Monster.com. Munson and her family live in New York City.
John L. Nau, III
John L. Nau, III is Chairman and CEO of Silver Eagle Beverages, one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the nation. Silver Eagle Beverages employs over 500 employees who service a territory that includes the greater San Antonio area in Bexar County and extends over 12 additional counties in southwest Texas. In addition, Silver Eagle Beverages distributes Grupo Modelo beers, a broad selection of national and local craft beers and several non-alcohol beverages and waters.
Nau’s commitment to service is apparent through a broad spectrum of participation in civic, community, and philanthropic organizations in Texas and throughout the country. His current involvement includes Chairman of the Texas Historical Commission, National Park Foundation Board of Directors, American Battlefield Trust Board of Directors, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation Board of Directors, Baylor College of Medicine Board of Trustees, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Board of Trustees, University of Houston Board of Visitors, Honorary Trustee of Texas Heart Institute, Honorary State Trustee for the San Antonio Parks Foundation and Advisory Council member to the Center for Big Bend Studies. He also serves as a Board Member for Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park, Houston Police Foundation, San Antonio Zoo and The Admiral Nimitz Foundation.
He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and previously served on the Board of Visitors, a position appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is founder and President of The Nau Foundation.
Michelle O’Neill ’85
H | Washington DC
Joined BOD | March 27, 2020
Until recently, Michelle O’Neill was the Executive Vice President and Chief External Affairs at Alcoa Corp., based in Washington D.C. In April 2020, Michelle assumed the role of vice president of global government affairs for Corning, Inc. At Alcoa, Michelle was accountable for global government affairs, community relations, and communications, in addition to driving sustainability across the company. She also oversaw the Alcoa Foundation, one of the oldest corporate foundations in the US with an endowment of $130 million, and $6.5 million in annual grantmaking. Prior to joining Alcoa, Michelle served in the US Government for 25 years, culminating in her role as Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade at the US Department of Commerce.
Michelle graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1985 with degrees in international affairs and Spanish. She earned her master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin.
Holly Philbin ’95
Executive Committee Member at Large
H | Dallas, Texas
Joined BOD | Aug. 10, 2018
A Sweet Briar College legacy student, Holly Philbin graduated cum laude in 1995 with a B.A. in environmental studies. Her grandmother Elizabeth Perkins Prothro, aunt Kay Yeager and cousins Elizabeth Yeager and Linda Yeager all attended Sweet Briar. Her aunt also served on the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors, as did her father, Mark Prothro, as well her grandfather Charles Prothro.
Following graduation from Sweet Briar, Philbin had a successful career in marketing. She is currently an active volunteer in her sons’ schools, having served as PTA president for their pre-schools and elementary schools. Following six years as a co-chair of the Mad for Plaid Campaign for the Highland Park ISD, she now serves as vice president for development of the Highland Park Education Foundation. Philbin is a board member of the Perkins Prothro Foundation in Wichita Falls, Texas. She has served on numerous boards and committees in her community, including Highland Park UMC and Southern Methodist University.
Philbin lives in Dallas with her husband, Phillip, and their three boys. In her free time, she enjoys travel, reading and photography.
Mason Bennett Rummel ’83
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.
Stephen P. Smiley
H | Dallas, Texas
Joined BOD | April 12, 2019
Stephen Smiley is the managing partner of Madison Lane Partners LLC, a private advisory firm in Dallas, Texas. Smiley was a member of the board of directors of, and an advisor to, Signature Family Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisor, from 2009 until the firm was sold in 2018. Headquartered in Norfolk, Signature serves high net-worth families and manages in excess of $4 billion.
From 1996 to 2010, Smiley was president of Hunt Private Equity Group Inc., the private investment group associated with the Ray L. Hunt family of Dallas. Prior to joining Hunt, Smiley was president of Cypress Capital Corporation, a private equity firm he co-founded in 1991. Smiley started his professional career working for Citicorp/Citigroup for 15 years in New York and Dallas in various corporate lending and private equity capacities. Smiley is the former chairman of the board of managers of the Alumni Association at the University of Virginia. He is a member of the board of directors of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation and the Arts Council at the university. He is also on the board of trustees of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.
He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1971 with a B.A. in English literature. Following college, Smiley served as a weapons officer in the U.S. Navy aboard a guided missile cruiser. He received an MBA from the College of William & Mary in 1976.
Smiley is married to the former Clara MacKenzie of Portsmouth. They have two married children and four grandchildren. His hobbies include golf, hunting, fishing and collecting outsider art.
Georgene M. Vairo ’72
Chair of the Board
H | Santa Barbara, Calif.
Joined BOD | July 2, 2015
Georgene M. Vairo is the David P. Leonard Professor of Law Emerita at Loyola of Los Angeles Law School. She began her tenure there in 1995. Concurrently, since 2007, she has served as 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 was awarded the Distinguished Alumna award in 1997. 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.
Claude Becker Wasserstein ’82
H | New York, N.Y.
Joined BOD | Feb. 23, 2018
Claude Becker Wasserstein ’82 is the founder and CEO of Fine Day Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm investing in innovative and impactful technology, specifically fintech, medtech, aerospace, cybersecurity, AI and energy.
Born in France, Wasserstein is a graduate of Sweet Briar College and attended graduate school at the Sorbonne and the Ecole du Louvre in Paris. Prior to her investment career, Wasserstein was a producer for CBS News, where she worked in the network’s Dubai, Belfast, London and Paris bureaus. During her time at CBS News, she won an Emmy for an investigative series. Wasserstein began her career as a journalist for Newsweek, working out of the publication’s Paris bureau.
Wasserstein is a trustee of the King Hussein Cancer Center Foundation and the American Hospital in Paris Foundation, a member of the Metropolitan Museum International Council and the Brookings Institution, and a life trustee at WNET Channel 13. She is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and was recently awarded France’s Insignia Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
She resides in New York City with her two sons and her niece Lucy, Sweet Briar College Class of 2022.
President of the College
H | Sweet Briar, Va.
Joined BOD | May 15, 2017
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.