Martha G. Abbott ’72
Martha Abbott of Alexandria, Virginia, is executive director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). An educator for more than 30 years, she previously taught and coordinated language programs at all levels in Fairfax County Public Schools. In 2016, Abbott was appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Security Education Board, an initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. She served as chair of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in 1999, president of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in 2003 and member of numerous national task forces involving foreign language and new teacher standards, and performance guidelines. She also is a member of the steering committee for the National Assessment of Educational Progress Foreign Language Exam. Abbott received the Ovatio award for outstanding service from the Classical Association of the Atlantic States, the Robert Ludwig National Distinguished Leaders Award, and the ACTFL Florence Steiner Award for Leadership in K-12 Foreign Language Education. She earned a B.A. degree in Spanish with a minor in Latin from Mary Washington and a master’s in Spanish linguistics from Georgetown University.
Allida M. Black
Allida M. Black of Arlington, Virginia, is a distinguished scholar and human rights advocate who is managing director of the Allenswood Group, LLC, an organization founded to empower individuals and strengthen democracy through civic engagement, grassroots activism and education. She also holds the position as a research professor of history and international affairs at The George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C., and is founding editor and chair of the editorial advisory board for the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project. Black also served as executive editor of fdr4freedoms Digital Resource, an online education and advocacy program dedicated to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms. Black served as an advisor to documentaries prepared for PBS, the History Channel, A&E, and the Discovery Channel. She has authored seven books and multiple articles on women, politics and human rights policy. Black is a trustee for both the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Foundation, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, and has served on numerous other boards. Black is recipient of the Millennium Medal from GWU, the 2001 Person of Vision Award from the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women and the James A. Jordan Award for outstanding dedication and excellence in teaching from Penn State University, Harrisburg. In 2013, she received a “Best in Class” award for education and government with the Interactive Media Council and an Independent Publisher Book Award silver medal in U.S. history. Black holds a doctorate in history from GWU, a bachelor’s degree in political science from Emory University and a certificate in international humanitarian law from the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Sharon Bulova is chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, a position she has held since February 2009. Previously, she served as supervisor for the Braddock District in Fairfax County and was chair of the board’s budget committee. Bulova also served as chairman of the Council of Government’s “Greater Washington 2050 Coalition,” an effort that culminated in the adoption of the Region Forward Regional Compact planning initiative signed by all 21 of the COG’s jurisdictions. In addition, Bulova helped establish the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter rail system, and has served on the VRE operations board since its inception. The 2009 recipient of the Council of Government’s Elizabeth & David Scull Metropolitan Public Service Award, Bulova also was named the Virginia Transit Association’s 2012 Local Public Official of the Year award.
Heather M. Crislip ’95
First Term: 2015-2019
Second Term: 2019-2023
Heather Mullins Crislip of Richmond is president and CEO of Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc. (HOME), Virginia’s private fair housing organization. HOME seeks to ensure equal access to all through housing, counseling, policy advocacy and enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. Before her civil rights work, Crislip held several roles in higher education at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and the Chancellor’s Office at University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Crislip, a native of Blacksburg, Virginia, serves on the board of directors of Housing Virginia, a statewide partnership of public and private organizations devoted to affordable housing. A 1995 graduate of Mary Washington, Crislip received a juris doctorate with honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She serves as rector of the UMW Board of Visitors.
Devon W. Cushman ’93
Devon Williams Cushman serves as Director, Assistant General Counsel at Capital One in Richmond. She also worked as an attorney for Morris and Morris P.C. and for Hirschler Fleisher. Prior to building her law career, Cushman served as an account executive for GMMB in Washington, D.C., and has worked with Fortune 500 companies. In addition, Cushman has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. She currently chairs ChamberRVA’s Richmond Business Council Cabinet and Government Affairs Committee. Cushman received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Mary Washington and a juris doctorate from the University of Richmond.
Edward B. Hontz
Edward Hontz, a former Navy captain, is the vice president of Basic Commerce and Industries, Inc., in charge of the company’s Navy programs in Dahlgren, Va. During his career with the Navy, Hontz served a year in Vietnam and participated in numerous military operations. He also served various on-shore duties, including as commanding officer of the AEGIS Training Center in 1995. Active in the Fredericksburg area, Hontz was a member of the Stafford County Economic Development Authority and the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce board of directors. In 2015 he became a citizen member of the Mary Washington Healthcare board of trustees. A founding member of the Fredericksburg Military Affairs Council (MAC) in 2006, he served on its board of directors until 2012. While chairman, he took a lead role in promoting the establishment of UMW’s Dahlgren Campus, Center for Education and Research. Hontz also is recipient of the 2015 Prince B. Woodard leadership award given by the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, and afterwards he led the effort to establish a UMW student leadership cash award supported by an endowment funded by previous Prince B. Woodard award recipients.
First Term: 2014-2018
Second Term: 2018-2022
A longtime politician and educator, Edd Houck of Spotsylvania County represented the 17th District in the Virginia Senate from 1984 to 2012. In addition to his political duties, Houck worked in the public schools for 34 years, including as a middle school science teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal, and the director of student services for Fredericksburg City Public Schools. After his retirement from education in 2007, Houck served for six years as director of community and corporate programs for Mary Washington Healthcare. He received a bachelor’s in education from Concord College (Athens, W.Va.), and a master’s in education from the University of Virginia.
Patricia G. McGinnis ’69
Patricia (Pat) Gwaltney McGinnis is a distinguished professor of practice at George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. She also served as a White House senior advisor and president and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government. During the Carter administration, McGinnis served in the Office of Management and Budget. She has held senior posts with the Senate Budget Committee and the U.S. Department of Commerce and Health and Human Services. Founder and principal of public strategy firm FMR Group, McGinnis was a senior associate at international management consulting firm Cresap, McCormick and Paget. She is a member of UMW’s College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Advisory Board, an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a trustee of the Congressional Management Foundation and director of Caleres Inc., and LMI. McGinnis received a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Mary Washington and a master’s degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Leopoldo J. Martínez
Leopoldo J. Martínez of McLean, Virginia, is a Venezuelan-American business owner, international lawyer, author, social entrepreneur and former congressman. He has worked with large international law and accounting firms and has advised Fortune 500 companies, international businesses, nonprofit organizations and governments in more than 17 countries. As a congressman in Venezuela, Martínez developed significant experience within the inter-American system, participating in complex negotiations and initiatives for political reconciliation in extremely polarized political environment. He is the founder and principal of LMN Consulting LLC, a global strategic advisory and advocacy firm with extensive experience in U.S.-Spain-Latin America affairs, business and trade. He also founded and operates the Center for Democracy and Development in the Americas, an institution that provides a platform for leaders promoting progressive changes in the Americas. Martínez currently serves as board chair of the Latino Victory Project and as a member of the Virginia Small Business Commission. A member of the Democratic National Committee, he also serves on the Virginia Democratic Party Steering Committee. In addition, Martínez is an advisor to the Group of 50 Foundation, a nonprofit initiative composed of business leaders who promote openness, economic and social progress. He earned a law degree in Venezuela and Master of Laws degrees from both Harvard Law School and University of Miami. Martínez also did graduate work in public policy and economics at Princeton University.
Deborah Santiago ’90
An innovator, thought leader and educational visionary, Deborah Santiago of Arlington has initiated and led successful local, national and federal programs for more than 20 years. She directed policy and research efforts to support rising aspirations, improve enrollment opportunities and achieve increased rates of higher education completion for all students, especially those from the Latino community. Santiago is CEO and co-founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Excelencia in Education, which as become a trusted source of data and research on higher education policy and evidence-based practices for Latino student success. Her work has been cited in The Economist, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education and many other publications focused on higher education policy and practice. Previously, she was vice president for data and policy analysis for the Los Angeles County Alliance for Student Achievement, and a policy analyst at the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service on legislative issues in higher education. She also informed programmatic and budgetary efforts in the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education and was program manager at the ASPIRA Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the Latino community. As the deputy director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, Santiago worked with federal agencies and communities across the nation to improve awareness and education opportunities for Latinos. She serves on the advisory boards of TheDream.US and Higher Achievement. Her many honors include the prestigious Pahara Fellowship from the Aspen Institute. Santiago holds a B.A. from Mary Washington and an M.A. in urban studies and affairs from Virginia Tech.
Rhonda S. VanLowe
First Term: 2015-2019
Second Term: 2019-2023
Rhonda VanLowe of Reston retired as legal counsel to Rolls-Royce North America Inc., a position she assumed in 1999. Her previous positions include counsel for U.S. operations of Reebok International Limited and shareholder with Ginsburg, Feldman & Bress, Chartered. An alumna of Cornell University, VanLowe received a juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. In service to the community, VanLowe is an inaugural member of the Fairfax County Police Civilian Review Panel. She was also a member of the Goverenor’s Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response, and she served as board chair for the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program.
Deirdre Powell White ’91
Deirdre Powell White is founder and CEO of DPW Training and Associates, LCC, a software and training agency established in 2003 that provides technical training to agency employees of the federal government. She also is chairman of The DPW Foundation, which she founded to provide annual scholarships for high school seniors planning to attend college. Active in the local Fredericksburg community, White served on the UMW President’s diversity community advisory board. In addition, she was a member of the Leadership Fredericksburg Class of 2010 and the Fredericksburg Region Multiple Sclerosis Leadership Class of 2010. White has been named the “Outstanding Young Woman of America” and Empire’s Who’s Who “Executive of the Year.” She also received the Laurie A. Wideman Enterprising Woman’s Award sponsored by the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce. White is a 1991 graduate of Mary Washington College.