Alumni Advisory Board

In 2013, Dean Richard Finkelstein recognized an opportunity to leverage the University’s 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:

John C. Anstey, ‘93

Roanoke, VA

At UMW: Majored in English

Honor Council President; Staff Writer for Mary Washington Bullet; COAR volunteer; Admissions tour guide (specializing in the 8 a.m. Saturday morning tours)

Current Position: President and Founder, Anstey Hodge Advertising Group

Earlier in his career, John worked in the Corporate Communications Department of Reliance Insurance Company in Philadelphia.  A former board member of the Public Relations Society of America, John has won awards from the International Association of Business Communicators and the Public Relations Society of America.  In 2004, John was named to the “Top 20 Under 40 List” by the Blue Ridge Business Journal, which recognized young, up-and-coming business leaders.

I love the commercial-grade toaster oven at Seacobeck Dinning Hall, where I met my wife while toasting a bagel one morning before an 8 o’clock class in 1990.

Mary Washington is one of the top public liberal arts and sciences universities in the nation.  Its small class size and emphasis on personal attention has prepared thousands of students for successful careers since 1908.

Diane Christopher Bridge ’80

Fairfax, VA

At UMW: Majored in Spanish

Took several classes in music, accounting, psychology, and economics.

Current Position: Starbucks

Diane previously worked as a paralegal and case manager for over 33 years in litigation.  She managed several large intellectual property and international litigation and arbitration.  Some of the firms she worked for were Covington & Burling, Chadbourne & Parke, and Baker Botts.

I loved the small classes and outstanding faculty. I also loved the friendliness of the students, the Honor System, and the beauty and residential aspect of the college.  My undergraduate years were a very important part of my personal and intellectual development and enabled me to successfully transition to an independent adult.

 Mary Washington continues to be an outstanding liberal arts and sciences university.  The stellar faculty, fantastic students, friendly environment, beautiful campus, and small classes allow it to remain a great place to learn. 

Trevor S. Daubenspeck ‘08

Richmond, VA

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.

Susan Leavitt, ’83

Washington, DC

At UMW: Majored in Economics and French Literature

Honor Committee / Played Field Hockey / Lacrosse

Current Position: McEnearney Associates, Inc. (Real Estate)  

Favorite Spot – Sunken Road and Framar (senior year residence) & Favorite Classes – Economics (Dr. Rycroft), and French (Mme. Blessing)

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.  

Kara Matala, DO, ‘94

Roanoke, VA

At UMW: Majored in Biology

Equestrian Team at UMW, was a 50-50 Mentor and worked as a Biology lab aid

Current Position: Family Practice Physician at Roanoke Partners in Health

Previously worked at Bedford Medical from 2001-2011, graduated from PCOM-Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1998 and completed a one year osteopathic internship and Delaware County Memorial Hospital/Crozer Chester Medical Center in Philadelphia 1998-1999. I completed my family practice residency at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, VA from 1999-2001.

I loved UMW and the small class size where I was able to know all my classmates and work with my professors one on one and the professors knew my name and I was not just a number in class.

Gale A. Mattox, ‘72

Annapolis, MD

At UMW:  Majored in Political Science and German

Junior Year Abroad in Munich, Germany; Political Science Honors Student/thesis; United Nations Model UN

Majored in Political Science Professor, US Naval Academy, and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown U. Graduate School for Strategic Studies.

Distinctions: 2016/17 Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Summer 2017 Fulbright Senior Scholar in NATO Strategic Studies, Brussels; 2009 Distinguished Fulbright Scholar, Netherlands; State Department Policy Planning Staff;  State Dept. Office of Strategic and Theater Nuclear Policy as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow as well as a NATO Research Fellow, Fulbright PhD Scholar, Robert Bosch Young Leader; President; and American Council on Germany Young Leader. Mary Washington Alumni of the Year 1994.

“I loved my dorms and classmates especially Willard Freshmen Year and Framar Senior Year. Loved the support Mary Wash gave me for Junior Year in Munich at a time when many colleges did not offer credit (UMW continues to support hugely activities abroad, in DC, elsewhere adding to your college experience). Loved being close to DC and able to being involved in the politics of the city. AND loved Prof. Kramer’s seminars on great leaders and leadership!!!

 UMW is one of the most beautiful campuses with dedicated and approachable faculty across the curriculum. It encourages and supports campus activities from athletics to wide ranging clubs as well as experiences outside Fredericksburg from study tours abroad to biological exploration to theater excursions in NYC.”

Mary Bradley MacPherson, ’71

Reston, VA

AT UMW: Majored in American Studies

President, Virginia Hall; Lacrosse team

Current Position: President, M2Works LLC and President & CEO, Slovak-American Foundation

Spent several years in entrepreneurial ventures and tech, including Apple Computer, MCI, Blackboard and shifted to the nonprofit sector with a focus on entrepreneurship at the Morino Institute and Vital Voices Global Partnership.

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.


James Platner ’10

Arlington, VA

AT UMW: Majored in Economics

Orientation Coordinator, Finance Committee, Disaster Relief Club, Omicron Delta Epsilon (Economics Honors Fraternity), President of Psi Upsilon Fraternity, and Cycling Club.

Current Position: Contracting Officer, United States Navy, Washington D.C.

Previously worked as Contract Specialist, United States Navy, Dahlgren, VA

Economics of Poverty and Affluence taught by Dr. Rycroft was my favorite class at UMW. That semester we received grant money from the Sunshine Lady foundation to distribute to local non-profits in the community. We took the process from beginning to end, creating a request for proposals, evaluating proposals, and awarding grant money to deserving non-profits in the Fredericksburg community! Getting to take a project like that from inception to completion in a semester, and give actual grant money to non-profits helping the local community, is something that could only happen at UMW.

Two words: Class Sizes. Fantastic dedicated teachers and small class sizes set Mary Washington apart from its peers. Instead of lecture halls with hundreds of students taught by TAs, you have the opportunity to have classes taught by professors with less than thirty students. Professors who are not afraid to send you a text asking why you were not on time to lecture!

Dana Puga’02

Richmond, VA

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.

Alumni Board Recognition