Send your updates to the alumni website
Nancy Dillingham released a collection of poetry entitled Colloquy in Black and White in October 2009. She also recently served as co-editor of the new anthology Clothes Lines from 75 Western North Carolina Women Writers.
Zollie Stevenson Jr. received the 2010 Outstanding Contribution to Educational Assessment Award by the National Association of Test Directors. Stevenson serves as director of Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs for the U.S. Department of Education.
Hands in Harmony: Traditional Crafts and Music in Appalachia (W.W. Norton & Company, October 2009) by Tim Barnwell was released last fall. It is Barnwell’s third book of black-and-white fine art photographs.
See feature article
Lee Rosen was selected by the American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section as the recipient of the 2010 James I. Keane Award for his innovations in the use of Web-based technology through his law practice. Rosen, who holds a law degree from Wake Forest, is founder of Rosen Law Firm in Raleigh.
Michael Cogdill, South Carolina’s 2009 television news anchor of the year, has released his first novel, She-Rain: A Story of Hope (Morgan James Publishing, March 2010).
New York Times Best-Seller author Ann B. Ross has released the 11th book, Miss Julia Renews Her Vows (Viking Adult, April 2010), in her popular Miss Julia Series. (Turn to page 30 to read more.)
Ann Ross: Distinguished Alumna of the Year
When it comes to Southern fiction writers, few authors have followed their muse like Ann B. Ross ’84, UNC Asheville’s Distinguished Alumna of the Year. In April, the Hendersonville native released Miss Julia Renews Her Vows, the 11th installment in her New York Times Best Seller fiction series.
After completing a degree at UNC Asheville in Literature, Ross went on to earn a doctorate in Old English from UNC-Chapel Hill. After a decade of intense academic work, Ross says she was left with a voice in the back of her head. That voice, it turned out, was Miss Julia’s.
“All of a sudden, I realized there was something in my mind,” Ross said. “I had all of these comments that I could just not say out loud myself.”
Not long after this voice appeared, so did a mental image of a slender, older woman in a white winter coat holding the arm of a small boy. “Finally, I put those two together and realized that this woman had something to say. I was hearing her voice.”
From that image came Julia Springer, a fiery Southern widow who speaks her mind and has an opinion on nearly everything. Her adventures in the fictional North Carolina town of Abbotsville have been published to widespread acclaim in the United States as well as Germany, Japan and Poland.
“Finally, I put those two together and realized that this woman had something to say. I was hearing her voice.”
Ross prefers not to compare herself to her protagonist, saying she often keeps disagreeable comments to herself, while Miss Julia is inclined to point out whatever is bothering her. Her spunky attitude is what makes these books appealing to readers, Ross said.
“I get all these e-mails that say, ‘She is saying exactly what I’ve been thinking,’” Ross said. “A lot of people in my generation grew up expecting to be housewives and nothing else. They expected to keep their mouths shut and agree with everybody. But there were a lot of people who were thinking things underneath. Julia says a lot of things that they can’t say themselves.”
While she always wanted to be a writer, Ross never imagined it would turn into the career that has developed. Between her studies at UNC Asheville and returning to graduate school in her 40s, she published three novels, which she admits “didn’t set the world on fire.” But her love for literature drew her back into the classroom. Ross attributes her confidence and desire to attend graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill to the foundation she received at UNC Asheville.
“When I realized that there were people there from Stanford, from Harvard, from the University of Chicago, I thought, ‘I am out of my depth.’ As the semesters went along, I realized I had as good an education or better than most of those other students,” Ross said. “I was very proud of what UNC Asheville had done for me.”
New York Times Best-Seller author Sarah Addison Allen has released her third novel, The Girl Who Chased the Moon (Bantam, March 2010).
William Bryan White and Joy Noel Reese were married in August 2009. They reside in Taylorsville.
Margot Broaddus and her partner Stacy Robinson welcomed the birth of their son, August Robinson Broaddus, in August 2009. They reside in Oakland, Calif.
Shannon Davis and Frank Hirtz welcomed the birth of their daughter, Alexandra Lillian Hirtz, in November 2009. They reside in Virginia
Kelly and Mike Wilson ’98 welcomed the birth of their third child, Samuel James Wilson, in January 2010.
Tiffany Drummond Armstrong and Michael Lee Armstrong ’01 welcomed the birth of their son, Vincent “Fisher” Armstrong, in August 2009. They reside in Garner.
Alumni profile: Amber Munger
In 1997, Amber Munger ’00 traveled to the Caribbean, but this wasn’t a bucolic beach outing. Instead, Munger felt called to visit the poverty-stricken Republic of Haiti. And it changed her life forever.
Munger established a deep connection to the island country. She traveled to Haiti several times to volunteer with rights-based organizations while completing degrees at UNC Asheville and the University of Oregon School of Law. In 2008, Munger became a full-time resident of Haiti’s remote desert region, Anse Rouge. There, Munger, who is fluent in Creole, worked with grassroots organizations to tackle social issues including women’s rights, sustainable agriculture and health care.
When the devastating January 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, Munger’s resolve to help Haitians was redoubled. She reached Port-au-Prince just hours after the quake to help excavate friends trapped beneath the rubble. As she scanned the streets filled with the wounded and dead, she knew just what to do: she rolled up her sleeves and went to work helping Haitians rebuild their lives.
She organized native Haitians and small relief organizations to form the Haiti Response Coalition. This non-profit organization is unique in that it gives those who need help a voice in how aid is distributed.
“We formed this group the day of the earthquake,” Munger said. “It’s Haitians supporting Haitians.”
She’s also been vocal about the need for aid further afield. She held several live interviews from Port-au-Prince, which were broadcast via the Web directly to UNC Asheville in the days following the quake. Just weeks later, she traveled to Asheville to meet with students, give public talks, raise money and conduct media interviews to raise awareness about the ongoing need in Haiti.
“I am exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing,” Munger said. “I feel so privileged.”
For more information, visit haitiresponsecoalition.org
Wiley Cash co-authored This Louisiana Thing That Drives Me (University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, September 2009), a coffee-table book examining the unique connection that author (and UNC Asheville honorary degree recipient) Ernest Gaines has had with the state of Louisiana. All royalties benefit the Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, an international center for scholarship on Gaines and his work.
Ali Lingerfelt-Tait has been appointed to the License to Give Trust Fund Commission by North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue. The commission works with the Department of Transportation and the Division of Motor Vehicles to maintain a statewide online organ donor Web site.
Jason Boyles and Kristy Fairherst were married in October 2009. They reside in Charlotte. Larhonda “Tonie” Carlton currently works as a NovaNET instructor in Lenoir, N.C.
Tabitha Renaldi received a Masters of Arts degree in education from Ashford University June 2009. She married Darrel Dawson Daniels III in March 2010.
Rachel Strivelli and Edmund Dugas were married in August 2009. In February 2010, Strivelli completed a Master of Science in soil science from the University of British Columbia.
Alumni Profile: Steve Green
In tough economic times, it’s comforting to know someone is on your side— working to improve our economy, helping citizens navigate government bureaucracy and finding solutions to all kinds of challenges.
In North Carolina, that someone is Steve Green ’01. Green serves as director of economic development for Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).
Green’s wide range of responsibilities includes working to attract new industry to the state by leveraging North Carolina’s assets and resources. His office also hosts regular educational programs and workshops to inform small businesses and entrepreneurs about the various forms of assistance the government can provide.
“Folks tend to really appreciate knowing that there are things out there that they didn’t know even existed,” Green said. “Whether it’s low-interest loans, grant opportunities, foundations that can provide money to nonprofits—North Carolinians are really looking for ways to help make ends meet.”
The most rewarding part of the job, Green says, is interacting with the individuals in the many small communities that make up North Carolina. One of his fondest memories is helping launch the Honor Air Program to take World War II veterans to the memorial in Washington, D.C. The program began in Hendersonville and now has spread nationwide.
“I got to help with some of the basic logistics of that, and that was rewarding to help veterans see the World War II memorial,” Green said. “That sounds small, but to me it was important because they did a lot for their country. It meant a lot for me to have them be appreciated for that day.”
A self-described “news junkie,” Green says it’s important for citizens to be informed and take a daily role in their government. A love for learning about the world and other cultures drew Green into politics while at UNC Asheville. He continued his education at Georgetown University, earning a master’s degree in social and public policy
. His liberal arts education from UNC Asheville prepared Green for both graduate school and his current profession, where he deals with everyone from farmers to aerospace engineers. Being able to analyze problems from a variety of angles is what the liberal arts is all about, Green says.
“The liberal arts creates critical thinkers,” Green said. “That’s what UNC Asheville gave me and why I am so appreciative of my degree.”
Lien Buchanan and Matthew Bailey were married in September 2009. They reside in Charlotte. Jean-Paul Deshaies resides in Ann Arbor, Mich., and works as a software engineer for the McKesson Company.
Melody Lindsey is a full-time English instructor at Blue Ridge Community College. She resides in Hendersonville, N.C.
Joseph B. Howard II is priest-in-charge of St. Joseph of Arimathea Episcopal Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.
Brian McElreath has joined the law firm of Young Clement Rivers LLP in Charleston, S.C., as an associate attorney. He works in the firm’s workers compensation and longshore and harbor workers practice groups. McElreath holds a law degree from the Charleston School of Law.
Jenny Bowen and Richard Zerbe welcomed the birth of their first child, Astrea Nova Rose, in December 2009. They reside in Asheville.
Samantha Bowers received the Women You Should Know Award from 96.5-FM radio in October 2009. She works as an executive assistant at the City of Asheville’s Housing Authority.
Kristin Mills is the choral/musical theater director at Asheville Middle School. She obtained National Board Certification in 2009. Mills is also a singer-songwriter who has released an album entitled Across The Blue Ridge Mountains.
Sean Pace has opened the Sean Pace Gallery in downtown Asheville. Pace, who goes by the pseudonym Jinx, works in repurposed items to create mixed media sculptures.
Amanda M. Rhodes received a Master of Architecture degree in June 2009 from the University of Oregon.
Jess Wells is a technical director at an Atlanta theater company.
Rheannon and Stephen Chalfa welcomed their first child, Gabriel Robert Chalfa, in October 2009. Casey Crowley and Loring Watkins were married in July 2009.
Stephanie Hedrick Mann and her husband Robert Mann welcomed the birth of her daughter, Katelyn Brooke Mann, in March 2009.
Debra Holmes is attending graduate school at UNC Greensboro.
Emily Lancaster operates a small farm in Pittsboro with her fiancé Farrell Moose. She also works for the non-profit Animal Welfare Institute.
Lachlan Smith is a lighting designer at a theater in Atlanta.
Ann Lenore Taylor and Frank Paul Bileci IV were married in November 2009.
Natalie Jones and James Keech were married in July 2009. Jones recently earned a master’s degree in communication studies from UNC Greensboro and is an adjunct instructor at Guildford Technical Community College. They reside in Greensboro, N.C.
Jessica Kammerud works for the North Carolina Stage Company in Asheville.
Sandra Michelle Porter and Andrew Walker were married in October. They reside is Salisbury, N.C.
John Westby-Gibson opened Asheville Artists’ Workshop in downtown Asheville. The space includes a gallery, studio and classroom and is open to the public..
Angelia Carrier and Nick Ferris welcomed the birth of their son, Nicholas Connor Ferris, in May 2009. They reside in Savannah, Ga.
Jonathan Felsen completed his first Ironman Triathlon in Tempe, Ariz., in November 2009.
Mary Hes and Austin Thompson ’06 were married in May 2009.
Rachel Elizabeth Nidek and Bryan Charles White were married in October. They reside in Asheville.
Angela Ramsey welcomed the birth of her daughter, Arabella, in August 2009.
Michael Brandon Searcy graduated from basic training in the National Guard as the Distinguished Honor Graduate. This award is selected by drill sergeants for the best-in-class soldier.
Megan Williams and Christopher Blackmon ’09 were married in October 2009.
Katie Bachmeyer received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue an English teaching assistantship in Republic of Macedonia. (See page 22 to read more.)
Kelly Carroll received the 2009 Hugh T. Leffler Award from the Historical Society of North Carolina. This prize is given for the best undergraduate research paper related to state history.
Lisa Huie is a professional stage manager at a theater in Washington, D.C. Karen Moriarty is a teacher at Claxton Elementary School in Asheville.
Amanda Jane Phillips and Jeffery Ray were married in September 2009.
Ben Reid received a $15,000 National Windgate Fellowship in support of his art research. (See Honor Society .)