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Community College Philanthropists Honored with 2019 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy

Richmond – The Virginia Community College System and Chancellor Glenn DuBois has presented Mrs. Mary W. Lawson of Richlands, Virginia, with the 14th Annual Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy. She was nominated for the award by Southwest Virginia Community College.  

Mrs. Lawson was recognized along with two dozen other individuals, families, and businesses from around Virginia for their exceptional support of Virginia’s Community Colleges. The awards were presented at a luncheon sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education in Richmond on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019. As part of the award, each college will be given funds for the Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship, to be named in honor of the college’s 2019 Chancellor’s Award recipient. 

Now in its 14th year, the Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy recognizes outstanding leaders who have helped support Virginia’s Community Colleges and their respective foundations. This year, among those to be honored are four members of VCCS faculty, all of whom have made contributions that have helped their colleges and their students grow. This year’s class of distinguished philanthropy leaders has contributed a combined total of more than $18 million dollars to Virginia’s Community Colleges. 

Mary Lawson served as the Executive Director of the SWCC Educational Foundation for more than 25 years and her efforts ensured that SWCC became and has remained the largest foundation in the Virginia Community College System. She was instrumental in establishing the Appalachian Arts Center and is the founder and champion of the Festival of the Arts. She has given to countless campus and community efforts and has recently established a legacy gift to support Music, the Arts, and Scholarships at SWCC.   

“We can’t thank Mary enough for her proud commitment to Southwest Virginia Community College, the community, and the region. Her efforts have shown brightly in the countless initiatives that she has graciously volunteered with or led. The relationships that Mary has helped establish and cultivate along with her successes in arts initiatives will pay dividends to Southwest Virginia for years to come. Mary is a true champion of Southwest Virginia and our entire region,” said Dr. Tommy Wright, President of SWCC.

Donald Graham, keynote speaker and Chairman of the Board at Graham Holdings Company and Co-Founder of TheDream.US, spoke about the importance of Virginia’s Community Colleges and the ways that the philanthropists have contributed to the Commonwealth. 

“We are in this room today to tell you, whether you work for one of the colleges or have given to one of the colleges, that what you are doing is absolutely right,” Graham said during his remarks. “I am so proud of this crowd for what you’re doing, and I hope you are proud of yourselves and your fellow donors and of the leaders and teachers at the community colleges you serve.” 

Recipients of the 2019 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy: 

BLUE RIDGE Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth D. Bowman 

CENTRAL VIRGINIA Donna Schewel Clark Charitable Lead Annuity Trust 

DABNEY S. LANCASTER Stephen and Donna Vaughn 

DANVILLE Danville Kiwanis Club Foundation 

Lions Club of Danville Foundation 

EASTERN SHORE Tom and Page Young* 

GERMANNA Mary Jane Pitts O’Neill 

J SARGEANT REYNOLDS Mitchell F. Haddon and Sabine Neumann 

JOHN TYLER Amsted Industries 

LORD FAIRFAX The Jenkins Family – Russell, Elta Rae, Rodney and Karen 

MOUNTAIN EMPIRE Ralph T. and Shirley M. Fisher 

NEW RIVER Dr. and Mrs. Lee Wheeler 

NORTHERN VIRGINIA Dr. Glenn Fatzinger 

PATRICK HENRY The Harvest Foundation 

PAUL D CAMP Charles R. Henderson, Jr., Bank of America Foundation 

PIEDMONT H. Gordon* and Mary Beth Smyth 

RAPPAHANNOCK Rick and Sue Farmar 


SOUTHWEST VA Mary W. Lawson 

THOMAS NELSON Newport News Shipbuilding 

TIDEWATER Stanley Black & Decker 

VIRGINIA HIGHLANDS David and Schéry Collins 

VIRGINIA WESTERN Maury and Shiela Strauss Family 

WYTHEVILLE Floyd and Hilda Jonas 

VFCCE The Petters Family Foundation 

*honored posthumously 

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 241,000 students each year. For more information, please visit

About the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education:  Working hand in hand with Virginia’s 23 community colleges, the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education seeks to guarantee financial assistance to all students who dream of attending college. The foundation is building an endowment that is already generating interest to provide full scholarships to selected community college students; helping more Virginia foster youth pursue and complete higher education through the Great Expectations program; and leading a partnership to improve rural Virginia’s education pipeline through the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative. Learn how the Virginia Foundation for Community College is building the future of Virginia. Visit

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