(L to R): Alumni Association President Jen Shelton, Alumna of the Year Terri Cofer Beirne, President Ángel Cabrera, Alumni Association President-Elect Sumeet Shrivastava. Photos © John Boal Photography.
The reward of service was the theme of the George Mason University Alumni Association’s 2019 Celebration of Distinction, the only university-wide celebration of Mason alumni and the many ways in which they serve and support their alma mater.
This annual event, a 30-year tradition, not only celebrates outstanding alumni from every school and alumni chapter, it also honors a faculty member of the year and senior of the year.
Terri Cofer Beirne, BA Government and Politics ’88, was honored as Alumna of the Year. Beirne is Eastern Counsel for the San Francisco-based Wine Institute, representing the California wineries on policy issues before governors, ABC boards, and legislatures. After serving on the Board of Visitors from 2007 to 2011, she currently is vice chair of the George Mason University Foundation Board of Trustees, and will become chair on July 1.
Beirne attended Mason with the help of Pell grants, student loans, and an on-campus job. As a trustee, Beirne has been instrumental in last year’s launch of Geo. Mason wine, sales of which have raised thousands of dollars to support student scholarships. She resides with her husband and daughter in Midlothian, Virginia, where she is a board member on the Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority.
Caroline Sutter, MSN ’01, DNP ’12 and Rebecca Sutter, MSN ’01, DNP ’12, shared the Outstanding Service Award. The twin sisters are the co-founders and current directors of the Mason and Partners (MAP) Clinics, which serve as active learning labs for Mason students while serving vulnerable populations in Manassas Park and Fairfax County. The MAP Clinics are nationally recognized as models for community health care access and navigation.
Rebecca and Caroline spent their early careers as registered nurses in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., before returning to school for their master’s and doctoral degrees. They pride themselves most on being associate professors in the School of Nursing at Mason, where they educate and inspire the next generation of public health leaders. [Read more about their work as nurse practicioners].
Lisa Gring-Pemble, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Business, was honored as faculty member of the year. Since joining Mason in 2000, Gring-Pemble has pursued teaching and research around global impact and engagement, argumentation and persuasion, and political communication and legislation. As Mason’s director of global impact and engagement, Gring-Pemble supports community partnerships and university-wide initiatives that engage students of all majors in social enterprise. She is deeply involved with sustainability initiatives, and is the co-founder of the cross-disciplinary Honey Bee Initiative.
Alexander Walters, BS Mechanical Engineering ’18, was named Senior of the Year. Walters, who came to Mason as a transfer student, completed his engineering degree in two years. For the yearlong mechanical engineering capstone course, he and his team developed a storm drain inspection system for Mason’s Office of Facilities Management.
The Celebration of Distinction was held Thursday, April 25, at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, Va., with Alumni Association president Jen Shelton introducing the honorees. The full list of alumni honorees is below.
Distinguished Alumni Awards
Hannibal Jackson, BA Communication ’99 / Black Alumni Chapter
Thomas Snee, MEd Education Leadership ’06 / College of Education and Human Development
Theresa Siggins, MEd Curriculum and Instruction ’94, PhD Education ’05, MS Nutrition ’15 / College of Health and Human Services
Thomas LeGro, BA English ’98, MFA Creative Writing ’01 / College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Joseph Sakran, BS Biology ’99 / College of Science
Deborah Jones, BA Art ’78 / College of Visual and Performing Arts (Thomas W. Iszard IV Award)
Ryan Sheehan, MA English ’15 / Lambda Alumni Chapter
Rodrigo Velasquez, BA Communication ’16 / Latino Alumni Chapter
Leonard Bennett, BS Finance ’89, JD ’94 / Antonin Scalia Law School
Varun Nikore, MA International Transactions ’93 / Schar School of Policy and Government
Leila Peterson, MS Conflict Analysis and Resolution ’99 / School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Jenny Herrera, BS Accounting ’95 / School of Business
Paul Anderson, PhD Information Technology ’93 / Volgenau School of Engineering
May 1, 2019