At Founders’ Day Convocation on Sept. 23, 2016, Mary Pope M. Hutson ’83, vice president for alumnae relations and development, presented the Outstanding Alumna Award to two recipients: Debra Elkins ’93 and Sarah von Rosenberg ’72, co-chairs of the Alumnae Alliance Council.
The Outstanding Alumna Award is presented to a graduate alumna who has been out of the College for at least 15 years. The award recognizes outstanding service to Sweet Briar in a volunteer capacity. No more than three Outstanding Alumna Awards may be given in any year.
Since September 2015, Elkins and von Rosenberg have led the Alumnae Alliance, a national network that unites all alumnae in focused engagement for Sweet Briar. Deeply involving alumnae in crucial areas such as recruiting, fundraising, networking among alumnae and with current students, and solidifying the bonds among classes and clubs has advanced the College while elevating Sweet Briar’s volunteer efforts to a new paradigm of commitment.
Elkins and von Rosenberg’s awards came as a surprise; they did not realize they were the recipients until they stood next to Hutson at the podium in Murchison Lane Auditorium in Babcock Fine Arts Center.
Debra Elkins (left) and Sarah von Rosenberg (center) were surprised to learn they were receiving the Outstanding Alumna Award, not presenting it.
“Their leadership has been vital to our renaissance as a college and their work will be recognized well into the future,” Hutson said of Elkins and von Rosenberg’s contributions to the College.
Elkins is a division director at HHS/ASFR/Office of Finance in Washington, D.C. In addition to her service as co-chair of the Alumnae Alliance Council, Elkins is an alumnae admissions recruiter and member of the Pink Rose Society, is on the Reunion Gifts Committee, the Friends of Athletics Board, the Strategic Initiatives Committee, and was the 2010 commencement speaker at Sweet Briar. She graduated from Sweet Briar summa cum laude with a degree in mathematical physics, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and an Emilie Watts McVea Scholar. Elkins also received a master’s degree in mathematics and a doctorate in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University.
Von Rosenberg, who graduated from Sweet Briar with a degree in English, works in finance and policy sciences with her husband, Stanley Smoote, in Brazoria, Texas. Along with her responsibilities as co-chair of the Alumnae Alliance Council, she is a member of the Silver Rose Society, an alumnae admissions recruiter, and serves on the Major Donor Advisory Committee, the Strategic Initiatives Committee, and the Reunion Gifts Committee. She received a master’s degree in hospital and health care administration from Texas Woman’s University and a doctorate in community health, policy and law from the University of Texas School of Public Health.
President Phil Stone commended Elkins and von Rosenberg on their awards: “Their leadership of the Alumnae Alliance Council during these turbulent times, helping the impassioned and energetic alumnae to channel their creativity, ingenuity, and offers of assistance into a coherent model is an invaluable gift to the College.”