The CAS Alumni Advisory Board was created in 2013, by Dean Richard Finkelstein, who recognized an opportunity to leverage the University’s Freshman Hall (Virginia) President; Student Government President network of alumni as a valuable resource with which to expand and articulate the value of a University of Mary Washington education and degree, in terms of reputation, student opportunities, career choices, and personal happiness and fulfillment after graduation. Thus, the CAS Advisory Board was established from UMW / MWC alumni who had achieved high levels of personal and professional achievement within industry, government and academia. These individuals continue to meet quarterly with the goal of looking at existing and envisioned programs within the College of Arts and Sciences, applying real-world perspective and experience, and providing advisory services with regard to how and where the College could improve and effectively articulate the superior value of the College.
Meet the Alumni Board Members:
At UMW: Majored in Computer Sciences, Masters in Information Systems
Crew Team at UMW, After graduation assistant coach of UMW Crew, current Adjunct Professor of Computer Science
Current Position: Director of Technology, Tech Wizards
“My time at UMW allowed me to make lifetime friends, prepared me for a career in Computer Science, and facilitated meeting my wife, so I couldn’t have asked for a better experience! UMW’s liberal arts education prepared me for a career where I feel prepared to accomplish any task, and allows me to be successful at whatever endeavor I tackle, including manage multiple projects primarily utilizing virtual reality and video game engines to create training applications for the navy, and coming back to UMW to teach computer science as an adjunct. The professors I had, especially in Computer Science, Art, and Speech, were invaluable!”
Sarah E. Amick, ’03
At UMW: Majored in English
Simpson Library student employee, Phonathon, MWC Ambassadors, Hall Council, Chorus, Baptist Student Union
Current Position: Administrative Assistant at VBH Foundation, LifeSpire of Virginia
Previously worked at VCU Libraries and Simpson Library, UMW Libraries
“I love everything about Mary Washington, especially my time there as student living on campus all 4 years. One of my favorite classes was my English Senior Seminar course with Professor Mary Rigsby. One of my many favorite spots to be on campus is under the trees lining Ball Circle. I also love the mysterious and magical feeling of the pathway, bridge, and staircase leading up to Melchers, DuPont, and Pollard from Campus Walk near the Eagle’s Nest. My newest favorite spot is the Zen Garden on the way to the Amphitheater!
Mary Washington is such a special, welcoming, beautiful, comfortable, and memorable place to call home as a student and as an alum forever!”
Dee Dee Becker, ’86
Virginia Beach, VA
At UMW: Majored in Psychology
Student Affairs – served as an RA
Current Position: President Becker Communications Dee Dee is a PR and crisis management consultant. Ask her about the time a Navy jet crashed in Virginia Beach (all survived), or when a hospital patient caused a shocking stir with a fake bomb threat – and present day, how she manages critical online coronavirus conversations for hospitals and health systems – her most powerful exercises in crisis management. Dee Dee also serves as a Facebook community partner, lead admin for the Virginia Tech Parents Facebook group and moderator for the nationally acclaimed and award-winning Grown and Flown Parents group. She is wildly exhilarated by sharing (and commiserating in!) the wiles and trials of other “Grown and Flown” parents – as the oldest of six girls, she never lacks inspiration for an entertaining story.
“Through outstanding faculty and lifelong college friendships, my time at Mary Washington taught me about the importance of forging relationships and building community, no matter how large or small. My memories are strong, and I highly value the education and experiences I received there. Mary Washington is the perfect place for students to grow and thrive in a liberal arts and science university.”
Linda Blakemore ’84
At UMW: Majored in Business Administration
Played Field Hockey
Current Position: President and CEO of The Gemini 3 Group, Inc.
Beth Craig ’77
At UMW: Majored in International Relations
President of Honor Council, member of the Honor Council, participated in Model United Nations, French Club
Current Position: Retired Senior Executive from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
“I loved Mary Washington. For me, it was the perfect balance of welcoming environment, challenging academics, and leadership opportunities. I made friends for a life time. I loved the small class sizes and how my professors believed in me and pushed me to work harder and be better than I thought I could!
I was on the Honor Council as a class representative for my first three years and then as the President my senior year. I felt truly supported by the Honor Council Faculty Advisor and by my fellow class representatives. What an opportunity to learn and work together. It was certainly an experience that you can get at only a very few schools!”
Trevor S. Daubenspeck ‘08
At UMW: Majored in Economics
SGA Student Senate; President of the Film Production Club; Economics Honor Society (Omicron Delta Epsilon); Economics Club; Hall Council
Current Position: Finance & Accounting Manager at Sands Anderson PC
Previously worked as Energy Analyst at ICF International; Finance Manager at LeClairRyan
“One of my favorite classes was Law & Economics with Professor Humphrey during my Sophomore year. I still had not declared a major and Prof. Humphrey had just arrived to UMW so both he and his students were really exploring the subject matter. The mix of students in the class was fantastic across all levels of economic thought with some amazing discussions and debates. This class cemented my love for Economics and likely changed my entire life trajectory as a result.
UMW provides such a different experience that is built around students and the educational experience that you do not receive at most other institutions. As a student you get to enjoy learning in a collaborative, supportive environment while still knowing you are attaching yourself to a network that keeps growing and expanding past graduating.”
Darnell Horio DeMasters ’84
At UMW: Majored in Psychology and Sociology
Current Position: Vice President, Federal Government Affairs; WEC Energy Group
“Mary Washington was the perfect school at the perfect time since my parents moved to Europe after my high school gradation. The size of the school and student body were perfect for that time in my life … far less intimidating than a larger school with a smaller, more intimate student body. I lived on campus all four years, loved the campus and social life, served on Class Council which allowed me to get to know many of my classmates and schoolmates, and made lifelong friends. I will always cherish my Mary Washington days and greatly appreciate the education I received, both inside the classroom and beyond.”
At UMW: Majored in Sociology and Political Science
SGA Vice President, Resident Assistant, Head Resident, UMW Rowing Team, Washington Guide, Mortar Board
Current Position: President of Cask Technologies, LLC
Kate is a 20+ year veteran of the Defense consulting community, serving in various roles throughout her career. Kate presently serves as the President of Cask Technologies, LLC, a Women Owned Small Business headquartered in Stafford, VA. Cask focuses on program management, cybersecurity, logistics, technology, business analysis and engineering services for the federal government.
Kate and her husband (Richard Ehrle, UMW ’85) live in Stafford County (since 1997), where they raise their three children and four dogs. In her free time, Kate is active in the Boy Scouts of America and various local community organizations. She enjoys playing golf, visits to the beach, and sampling new cuisines. Her favorite memories of her time at Mary Washington are Junior Ring Week and Halloweens.
“UMW offers such a broad curriculum, campus activities, and unique out of classroom learning opportunities. The location, between DC and Richmond, is ideal for internships and post college careers. The campus is stunning year-round, and the local town is a wonderful blend of local restaurants, unique shops, and historic landmarks.”
at UMW: Honor Council Vice President, SGA Student Senate, European Capitals Study Abroad, Summer Leadership Program, Washington Guide, COAR Volunteer, Head Resident, Resident Assistant
Current position: Senior Vice President & Human Resources Executive at Merrill Lynch
Jen brings 20+ years of experience in navigating organizational transitions and achieving operational excellence, with a focus on leadership coaching, talent development, and applying strategic expertise across various lines of business within Bank of America. She currently serves as the strategic HR partner to Merrill’s Chief Supervisory Officer and National Business Development Executive. Jen is energized by the dynamic nature of the financial services environment.
Jen is passionate about education and youth sports; most evenings and weekends you will find her on the sidelines of the soccer pitch. Jen has served in various capacities within the local club soccer community, including Club Board of Directors, Team Manager, Club Admin, and multi-year host family for Lionsbridge FC. She’s also spent 10+ years on various PTA leadership boards and volunteering in the classroom. Jen, husband Mark, and son Connor (Goalkeeper) make their home in Yorktown, VA, with two rescued dogs and two rescued cats. Jen and her family enjoy travel adventures and time at the beach. In addition to her excellent experience at Mary Washington, Jen earned a M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology & Personnel Administration from James Madison University (1998). Her favorite memories of Mary Washington are Honor Convocation, Halloweens, and Devil-Goat Day.
At UMW: Majored in German
2016 recipient of the UMW Distinguished Alumnus Award
Positions: Retired US Navy Captain, former Head of National Security Agency Senate Liason Team, Director of intelligence programs for the National Security Council under National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Special Intelligence, and Director of intelligence for the international military staff at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
“I attended Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia during a tumultuous time in the nation from the Vietnam War to the resignation of the President of the United States to great protests pro and con about the war. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated. Demonstrations abounded on campus but through it all, we learned to be independent thinkers, channeling our liberal arts education to be able to assess, discern and be independent of thought but always upholding our moral integrity, honor and the ability to think independently. The atmosphere on campus as well as the proximity to Richmond, VA and Washington D.C. provided a path to independent thinking. Professors encouraged free speech and debate. My many achievements and abilities to think “out of the box” in various situations years later were a result of what I learned at Mary Washington. I have lived and worked in several countries and have visited over 170 countries. That was the adventurous spirit I learned from so many classes and professors.”
Susan Leavitt, ’83
At UMW: Majored in Economics, Minor in French Literature
Honor Committee, played Field Hockey and Lacrosse
Current Position: McEnearney Associates, Inc.
“Professor to student ratio is so low …. my professors remembered me and wrote Grad school recommendations 15 years after graduation. My major had little to do with my career path – I left school and went to NYC to work on Wall Street. Mary Washington gave me the confidence, communication skills, and determination to make my path in finance. I created a position for myself on Wall Street by soliciting the US based foreign banks using my language skills and cultural knowledge to secure their confidence. Wall Street evolved into a career in real estate – which is using my same skills set of communication, the ability to weigh risks and probable outcomes, and a firm grasp of pricing analysis. I credit Mary Washington College with preparing me for the business world.”
At UMW: Majored in Art History; minor, English
SGA Senate/Committee Chair; Freshman Dorm
President, and Residence Hall Director (the late, great,
Betty Lewis Hall); Organized the first Earth Day activities on campus.
Current: Retired (but that’s a misnomer!) My career spanned experience in the US House and Senate, serving on the senior staff of: the House Science Committee; Majority Staff Director (first woman), of the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee; Senate Appropriations Committee; 8 years at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and, 14 years in the private sector, lobbying Legislative and Executive Branch offices and agencies regarding telecommunications, aerospace and defense-related issues.
I had myriad experiences at Mary Washington, and when I look back, it makes perfect sense that I ended up working in the public policy arena. I attended Mary Washington during tumultuous years for our country. Classmates lost boyfriends in Vietnam or had a parent or sibling in the conflict. Mary Washington was changing, too. My freshman year was the first time it was possible to wear pants (jeans!) to dinner or class. During my junior year, I remember going with a delegation to petition the University of Virginia Board of Visitors to change the “in loco parentis” policy governing Mary Washington at the time. We prevailed, but shortly thereafter, a court decision made UVa co-ed, and my class was the last to graduate from the Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia. I met so many wonderful people, classmates and professors, during my time at Mary Washington. Many have been life-long friends.
AT UMW: BLS ~ Business Accounting
Current Position: Workforce Analyst and Military Liaison Director
“The faculty was amazing, their industry expertise and approachable leadership allowed us to learn first hand about the chosen profession and industry of our dreams. I received offers from major accounting firms and the FBI, but I returned to active duty in the U.S. Marines. I’m truly appreciative for the opportunity and guidance UMW provided. My education at Mary Washington has allowed me to be a Comptroller Chief, Tax Director, Executive Director, and Entrepreneur thanks to the quality education I received.”
Mary MacPherson, ’71
At UMW: Majored in American Studies
President (Virginia Hall), played Lacrosse
2011 Recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award
Current Position: President M2Works LLC and President & CEO, Slovak-American Foundation
“Even decades later, my memories of Mary Washington often emerge, especially now in turbulent political times where our voices are so important. American Studies was the ultimate liberal arts major and provided me the broadest possible perspective and lens into our global world. I have had the opportunity to travel and work in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Eastern Europe as well as the US, and know that a good part of my interest in new adventures came from the approach to learning and exploring that I embraced at Mary Wash. I love being involved with the CAS alumni board and it has reconnected me to the campus and new and old friends. So honored to have received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2011.”
At UMW: Majored in English.
Current Position: Director of Content and User Experience, Major League Soccer
“I spend every day using what I learned at Mary Washington trying to make the internet a more humane and productive place (especially for soccer fans). I currently spend too many hours of the day as Director of Content and User Experience for Major League Soccer. Prior to joining MLS, I was a digital media consultant for news companies like The Washington Post, Charlotte Observer, and Sacramento Bee and for places like the National Education Association and U.S. Dept of State. Before all of the digital media work, I was an Assistant Dean of Admissions at Mary Washington from 1990 to 2002 and an Admissions Counselor from 1996 to 1997. But my very first job at MWC was as a student manager of food services at Seacobeck Hall (#indigestion).
Mary Washington is for students. From the broad and generous academic programs held in small classes lead by attentive faculty to the open and welcoming campus community there are endless opportunities to learn and grow as a person. Your time at UMW end with a set of diverse skills, friends, and memories that will last the rest of your life.”
Kathleen O’Neill, ’70
At UMW: Majored in American Studies
Freshman Hall (Virginia) President; Student Government President
Current Position: Discerning Ways LLC Principal
Legal Career in Airline / Travel Industry approachable
“The breadth of experiences open to women at that time at Mary Washington was of great importance (the college did not become co-educational until after I graduated). Whether it was editing the school newspaper, writing for the literary magazine, sports or student government—all doors were open. Without those opportunities, my goals would have been smaller and, perhaps, my efforts reduced.
The academic curriculum was of high quality, with engaged and supportive faculty members, and it remains a hallmark. This provided me with both the knowledge and the skills – interpersonal, organizational, verbal and writing– necessary for my professional career and my personal growth. I am a firm believer in the value of a small, liberal arts education. UMW continues to exemplify the best of such programs.
Finally, when looking back, I am filled with thankfulness, knowing that the friendships made back then continue to be among the most important in my life.”
Cassandra Pierandri, ’10
AT UMW: Majored in Geography
Other activities while at UMW – Washington Guide, SGA Student Senate, and Orientation Leader
Current Position: Executive Assistant, SigEp National Housing
“I chose Mary Washington for the small, tight-knit community, the outstanding faculty and hands-on academic programs, and not to mention the beautiful campus setting. Mary Washington will always have such a special place in my heart. It is where many lifelong friendships began for me, it is where I met my husband, and where I began my career. I am so proud to be a small part of this place, and I look forward to Mary Washington’s bright future ahead.”
AT UMW: Majored in History
History Department Student Representative, The Bullet
Current Position: Prints and Photographs Collection Specialist, Library of Virginia
“I had heard horror stories of History 299: Historiography. All potential history majors had to take that class before they could declare their major. I learned very quickly that the class was a means to weed out those who didn’t understand that majoring in history was more than just remembering dates/events, it was intense research and writing and analyzing facts. My class started with 9 people and we had 6 by the end of the semester. Our professor was tough and she demanded a lot out of her students. It was not uncommon to get a paper back covered in red pen. She pushed us to really focus on our writing and public speaking skills and would require us to record our presentations at the Speaking Center prior to giving them in class so she could compare how we improved. The course load was demanding and the class was very stressful. A classmate made us t-shirts at the end of the semester that said “I SURVIVED HIST 299!” I was never so happy to see the end of the semester as I was that year. For the rest of my time at Mary Washington and in the years since I have realized how foundational that class was to making me a better writer, researcher, and public speaker. When it came time to write my senior thesis and my advisor asked me tighten my focus half-way through, I remembered my Historiography professor and the stories she told about her time in grad school and I thought, “if she can do it, I can it!” I ended up winning the Joseph C. Vance award that year for best senior thesis.
The small class sizes really build a sense of community. It’s not uncommon, particularly in your major, to have the same group of students in many of your classes.”
Phyllis Quinn, ’77
San Francisco, CA
AT UMW: Majored in Chemistry
Chair, Judicial committee
MWC basketball and swim teams
Inducted into the UMW Athletic Hall of Fame, 2017
Positions: Forensic chemist, Richmond, VA. Naval Investigative Service Laboratory, Honolulu, Hawaii. DEA laboratory, San Francisco.
“My Freshman year, I thought I would like to major in Physical Therapy. But I was better in Chemistry than Biology. I had taken an advance Chemistry class in high school, so that put me on the path. My junior and senior years, Doctor Mahoney got me interested in Forensic Chemistry. I attended the Masters program at University of Pittsburgh and got my first job as a Forensic chemist in Richmond Virginia. I moved to Honolulu Hawaii to work at the Naval Investigative Service Laboratory and then spent the remainder of my career at the DEA laboratory in San Francisco. My mother is from the Northern California area, so many of my family is only a few hours away.
I wanted to get involved at Mary Washington, so I was on the Judicial committee and my senior year I was the Chair of this committee. This was a great experience for me since I had to work with other students and the administration to enforce the code of conduct fairly to all involved. I love sports of all types, so I played basketball at Mary Washington for one year. I was a lifeguard at Mary Washington for four years, so I also swam on the swim team.
After college, I continued to swim wherever I was living. I have been competing as a swimmer my whole life. In San Francisco, I have been a volunteer for swimming organizations as well as for my swim clubs. I have traveled the world, competing and meeting many great people.
Mary Washington gave a career, lifelong friends and a passion to be involved.”
Jay Sinha, ’07
AT UMW: Majored in Political Science
Student Government Association – President, S.E.E.D. – Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Class Council – Vice President, Student Senate, Student Aid – J. Farmer Multicultural Center, Hai Hung Foundation Scholarship Recipient, Citizenship Award for Diversity Leadership recipient
Current Position: Compliance Counsel-Information Security at Verizon Business Group
Served on Presidential Search Committee for President Troy Paino, 2019 Outstanding Young Alumni Award recipient, regular alumni speaker at Destination UMW, drafted Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Job Guides for current UMW students, Founder of UMW Legal Alumni Network, Alumni Association Board of Directors (two terms).
“UMW delivers on the promise of opportunity – and having enjoyed the opportunities that UMW provided me with, I’m grateful to serve on a Board that seeks to preserve and enlarge those opportunities for the future.”
Catherine E. Woteki, ’69
AT UMW: Majored in Biology and Chemistry
Current Position: Iowa State University
List of favorites at UMW:
Spot: The lab!
Classes: Biology, Chemistry, and Drama
“Why a student should come to Mary Washington: A great education!”