Emory & Henry College changes perspectives and prepares its students to change the world, according to a 1974 E&H graduate who serves as executive director of the Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society.
"Emory & Henry fosters aspirations toward a more just and abundant tomorrow," said Larry Harley, an Abingdon resident who has spent most of his 32 years as an attorney working for legal aid. Under Harley’s leadership, three legal aid offices in Southwest Virginia were combined into a single agency covering 8,700 square miles and providing legal services to Galax and Bristol, Va. and the counties of Washington, Smyth, Wythe, Bland, Grayson and Carroll.
Harley said he takes pride in his profession as an attorney. "I chose this path as a means for fighting for social change. I care about justice and human dignity. This is what I am."
Harley spoke to a large crowd gathered in the E&H Memorial Chapel to celebrate the 172nd anniversary of the granting of the College charter by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The celebration honors the College's past by recognizing those individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to the college and region.
In acknowledgement of community members who are instrumental in the establishment of the institution and to recognize those persons and institutions making significant contributions to the region today, the College presents Charter Day citations. This year's recipients include Ecumenical Faith in Action, in recognition of the Christian mission's outreach to the citizens of Southwest Virginia, and Pam Kestner, a member of the E&H Class of 1983, in recognition of her career in community service and non-profit work.
Ecumenical Faith in Action distributes more than 25 tons of food each month to over 5,000 families each year in its food pantry. Faith in Action supplies clothing, household goods and provides free medical care and medication to the uninsured or underinsured through Crossroads Medical Mission.
Kestner serves as president of the Roanoke Council of Community Services, which assists several charitable and non-profit agencies in the Roanoke Valley. Kestner lists the creation of the Nonprofit Resource Center for Western Virginia as one of the highlights of her career. The center helps nonprofits with grant and networking opportunities, internal management structure and tools to be viable during tough economic times.
Annually, the Emory & Henry Alumni Association chooses notable alumni and one faculty member to be recognized by the Association for outstanding professional and volunteer contributions. The following individuals were honored during Charter Day for their outstanding achievements:
David Foster, Class of 1981, the Carl and Ruth Looney Humanitarian Award: Foster serves as executive director of the American Cave Conservation Association, which is located in Horse Cave, Ky. Under his leadership, the ACCA was named the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education's Organization of the Year. He also won first, second and third place honors in the National Cave Ballad contest in 1979.
Dr. Karen Westerfield Tucker, Class of 1976, Distinguished Achievement Award: Westerfield Turcker is a professor of worship for the School of Theology at Boston University. She currently serves as president of Societas Liturgica and is editor-in-chief of Studia Liturgica, an international ecumenical review for liturgical research and renewal.
Todd Woodall, Class of 1994, Fred Selfe Distinctive Service to Emory & Henry Award: Woodall is an executive customer representative for Merck Pharmaceuticals. He is a member of the Emory & Henry Prelude to Performance Campaign Committee and was named 12th Man for the E&H football team, in recognition of his support of the athletic program.
Robert W. Thomas, Class of 2001, A.L. Mitchell Young Alumnus of the Year Award: Thomas is a manager in the U.S. Secretary of State's 24/7 Operations Center. He has served with the U.S. Department of State since 2001 in Nouakchott, Mauritania, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. He has been published in the American Foreign Service Journal.
Dr. Ed Davis, Professor of Geography, James A. Davis Faculty Award: Davis joined the E&H faculty in 1991. He is an active member of the Upper Tennessee River Roundtable, helps organize the annual C.R.O.P. Hunger Walk and presents educational programs for area school children on conservation issues.