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Distinguished Alumna Award

Distinguished Alumna Award

About the Distinguished Alumna Award

The Distinguished Alumna Award was established in 1991 to honor alumnae whose contributions at the highest level in their fields reflect the spirit of excellence and the ethic of service for which a University of Virginia education stands. Recipients of the Alumna Award join a select group of advocates, public servants, journalists, athletes, researchers, and innovators who have received this honor over the past 25 years.

The Selection Process

Early in the fall semester, we ask that each dean of a school at UVA nominate an alumna who is deserving of this important recognition and who exemplifies the values that graduates of her School are bringing to their work across the U.S. and around the world. From the deans’ nominations, our selection committee chooses the alumna who has best demonstrated excellence, leadership, and an extraordinary commitment to her field, and who has used her talents as a positive force for change. The award is presented during the subsequent calendar year.


2017 Distinguished Alumna

Carolyn Miles (pictured above)
Our 2017 Distinguished Alumna, Carolyn Miles, a 1988 alumna of the Darden School of Business, currently serves as President and CEO of Save the Children. Under Miles’ leadership, the number of children Save the Children reaches has more than doubled, to 165 million in 120 countries, including the United States. Its programs provide nutrition, health, education and other services. Miles travels regularly to be involved directly in these programs, going to places such as Syrian refugee camps in nearby countries.

In a letter supporting her nomination for the honor, Scott C. Beardsley, dean of the Darden School, wrote, “Miles’ contributions to the world … reflect the spirit of excellence and the ethic of service for which a University of Virginia education stands.” He and former Darden Dean Robert Bruner also said she has been an active alumna, serving on the Darden School Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Past Recipients of the Distinguished Alumna Award

Recipients of the Distinguished Alumna Award, along with their title at the time of their award, include:

1991   Linda A. Fairstein (Law ’72), Deputy Chief, Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit of New York City
1992   Vivian W. Pinn, M.D. (Med ’67), Director, National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health
1993   Katherine A. Couric (Col ’79), Anchor, NBC “Today Show”
1994   Professor Kathryn C. Thornton (Grad ’79), NASA Astronaut
1995   Hanan Mikhail Ashrawi (Grad ’82), Peace Activist and Scholar
1996   RADM Mariann Stratton, USN (Nur ’81), Rear Admiral (retired), Nurse Corps, U.S. Navy
1997   Valerie B. Ackerman (Col ’81), President, Women’s National Basketball Association
1998   Elaine Ruth Jones (Law ’70), Director, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
1999   Rebecca Rimel (Nur ’73), President and CEO, Pew Charitable Trusts
2001   Hallam Hurt, M.D. (Med ’71), Chair, Neonatology, Albert Einstein Medical Center
2003   Lawton W. Fitt (Darden ’79), British Royal Academy of the Arts
2004   Janet A. Napolitano (Law ’83), Governor of Arizona
2005   Denise G. Sherer, PhD, RN, FAAN (Nur ’70), Director, US Division of Nursing, Health Resources & Service Admin.
2006   Dawn M. Staley (Col ’92), Olympic Basketball Gold Medalist
2007   Jill S. Tietjen (Engr ’76), President and CEO, Technically Speaking, Inc.
2008   Christine Painley Gustafson (Col ’82), Senior Vice President, UBS Financial
2009   Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (Educ ’76), Congresswoman, WV 2nd Congressional District
2010   Cheryl D. Mills (Col ’87), Counselor & Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of State
2011   Alexandra Arriaga (Col ’87), Human Rights Advocate
2012   Kimberly Dozier (Grad ‘93), Journalist
2013   Jacqueline Novogratz (Col ’87), Founder and CEO, Acumen Fund
2016   Elizabeth Garrett (Law ’88), President, Cornell University