Incredible ECU Women
In 2007, the Women's Roundtable honored 100 alumnae recognized by their peers as outstanding leaders in their respective fields at an event called A Legacy of Leadership: 100 Incredible ECU Women. In 2010, six more women were added to this list of outstanding women. These amazing women are listed alphabetically below.
Jane S. Ranum, JD
Jane S. Ranum, JD, is the assistant Hennepin County attorney in Minnesota. She served five terms in the Minnesota Senate, where she was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and chief senate author of the Crime Net legislation, a national model for integration of criminal justice information. Chosen as one of the five top senators by the St. Paul Legal Ledger
, she also received Parent Magazine's
Family Advocate Award, the Brain Injury Association's Elianor Hand Award, and the Public Citizen of the Year Award from the National Association of Social Workers, Minnesota Chapter.
Nina B. Repeta
Nina B. Repeta played Joey’s (Katie Holmes) sister, Bessie Potter, on the WB hit series Dawson’s Creek. She appeared in George Lucas’s Radioland Murders, and costarred opposite Daniel Roebuck and Randy Travis on Andy Griffith’s television series, Matlock. She was also featured in The Angel Doll and The Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood. Repeta is a multitalented actress, singer, songwriter, and musician. She was crowned queen of the North Carolina Azalea Festival in 2000.
Lucy E. Roberts
Lucy E. Roberts is the chief consultant for the Primary Section of the Division of Elementary Education with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She directs and coordinates statewide leadership in developing, maintaining, and enhancing curriculum for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. She was chosen Onslow County Outstanding Woman of the Year, is a four-time winner of the Outstanding Principal of the Year, was recognized with ECU’s Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award, and was a finalist for the Terry Sanford Educator of the Year.
Under Sandy Rowe’s leadership as editor, Portland’s The Oregonian has garnered five Pulitzer Prizes. She is a member of the Medill School of Journalism Board of Visitors at Northwestern University and served as the president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Earlier in her career she was executive editor and vice president of The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. She has been inducted into the Virginia Journalism Hall of Fame.
Coretha M. Rushing
As corporate vice president and chief administrative officer for Equifax Inc., Coretha M. Rushing is responsible for providing strategic and operational leadership for human resources, corporate communication, special events, and physical security. Prior to Equifax, Rushing was the owner and senior consultant for Cameron Wesley, LLC, and a senior vice president for the Coca-Cola Company. Rushing has had extensive experience in human resources with several other companies, and she recently served on the board of directors of the Cornell University Center for the Advancement of Human Resource Studies.
Brenda M. Ryals, PhD
Brenda M. Ryals, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders at James Madison University where she conducts research that focuses on auditory plasticity and the neural and functional consequences of hair cell regeneration. Since 1984, her research has been funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the NIH and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Ryals has published more than 100 scientific articles and abstracts, written eight book chapters, and has given more than 75 presentations worldwide. She is past president of the American Auditory Society and is currently editor-in-chief for the journal Ear and Hearing.
Lynn M. Schubert
Lynn M. Schubert is president of the Surety and Fidelity Association of America, a trade association of insurance companies that write fidelity and surety insurance. The SFAA serves as a statistical organization for the states and represents its member companies in matters of common interest before government agencies. She was the first woman and youngest chair of the Fidelity and Surety Law Committee of the Tort and Insurance practice Section of the American Bar Association. Schubert was the founding executive director of the International Surety Association. She has presented educational programs on the industry for numerous organizations, including the International Chamber of Commerce. Recognitions include the Women Builders Council Champion Award and the Private Sector Leadership Award of the Jamaica Business Resource Center in 2008. Both were for leadership in assisting women and minority contractors to come bondable businesses.
Mary C. Schulken
Mary C. Schulken is associate editor of The Charlotte Observer.
She was previously the editorial page editor of The Daily Reflector
in Greenville, North Carolina, and chosen Writer of the Year by Cox Newspapers. She has led decades of stewardship for debate in her community and state advocating open government, equal access to opportunity regardless of geography, race, income, or gender, and for policies that assist citizens who are often overlooked. She was the chair of the North Carolina Editorial Writers Conference and has appeared on public television’s North Carolina This Week.
Ruth G. Shaw, PhD
Ruth G. Shaw, PhD, retired from her position as president and CEO of Duke Power Company in 2006. During her tenure as president, she led the Duke Power team to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and financial results. Shaw joined Duke Power in 1992, leaving the presidency of Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. She also served as president of El Centro College in Dallas, Texas. She continues to make contributions to higher education and economic development in the Carolinas. Shaw has received numerous leadership awards including the Outstanding Alumni Award from ECU. She is currently semi-retired, serving as an executive advisor to Duke Energy.
Lindsay C. Shepherd
Lindsay C. Shepherd, a dancer for Holland America Cruise Lines, choreographed a piece entitled Onomatopoeia, which won the National Gala at the American College Dance Festival. She also received the award for Best Student Choreographer 2004 from the American College Dance Festival Association/Dance Magazine, the highest honor possible for university student choreography. Her piece was chosen to be in the Best of Dance Chicago-New Dances in 2005. She is currently a member of Especially Tap Chicago, a professional dance company. A tireless volunteer, Shepherd walked 20 miles to raise money at the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Betty S. Speir
Betty S. Speir, a founding member of the East Carolina University Women’s Roundtable, has served on the ECU Board of Trustees, the ECU Board of Visitors, the North Carolina State Board of Education, the North Carolina Museum of History Board, the North Carolina Crime Commission, and the National Democratic Party Executive Committee. She has chaired the Women’s Forum of North Carolina, the North Carolina Democratic Party, the Board of the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Communities in Schools of Pitt County. Speir founded the Pitt County Education Foundation and was the first woman chair of the Pitt County Democratic Party. She is an ECU Distinguished Service Award recipient.
Mary Rose Stocks
Mary Rose Stocks, retired educator with the Pitt County Schools, was named to the ECU Educators Hall of Fame by the Pitt County Association of Educators in recognition of 50 years of service to the children of Pitt County. In 2004, she was awarded the John G. Clark Jr. Memorial Award by Sheppard Memorial Library for outstanding efforts to promote and encourage reading, including recruiting community volunteers to tutor children in reading at three Pitt County schools. Stocks received the Pitt County Schools ABCD Award (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty) in 1994 and 2005. She has been active in several education associations and education honor societies.
Shelby S. Strother
Shelby S. Strother received the Distinguished Service Award and the Outstanding Music Alumni Award from ECU. She has served as president of the East Carolina Alumni Association Board of Directors, president of Chowan Hospital Volunteers, and has sat on the Medical Foundation Board of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine. Strother was a member of the State Board for Hospital Volunteers and is a former president of both the Music Alumni Society and the Friends of Joyner Library. She retired after teaching 32 years of music education. From teaching a deaf student to play the guitar and sing, to performing an entire concert at the North Carolina School for the Deaf in sign language, she has successfully taught young people of all ability levels.
Kathy A. Taft
Kathy A. Taft was an educator, policy maker, and community volunteer. She served on the Women's Roundtable board of directors, the Arts Council board of directors, the Boys and Girls Club board, the Communities in Schools board, the Medical Care Commission, the Governor’s School board, the Public School Forum board, the PTA Council, and Exceptional Children’s Council. In 1990, Taft was elected to the Pitt County Board of Education, serving as vice chair. In 1995, she was appointed to the State Board of Education and reappointed in 2003. She was inducted into the ECU Educators Hall of Fame in 2003. She passed away in 2010.
M. Louise Thomas
M. Louise Thomas was the first female officer among Associated Merchandising Corporations’ affiliate stores. As senior vice president of Thalhimers, she pioneered merchandise development and continuous importing from war-impoverished countries, seeing cottage industries grow into major manufacturers and exporters. Thomas made an exploratory trip to Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Hong Kong with five other executives from AMC stores in 1976, and annually made buying trips to Europe, even attending couture shows in Paris. An expert on Asian markets, she accompanied buyers to import fairs in Hong Kong every January until her retirement.
Rosalynn "Rosie" Thompson
Rosalynn "Rosie" Thompson is the ECU associate director of athletics/senior woman administrator. As the leading scorer and rebounder for both women and men in the history of ECU basketball, she is also the only female to have her jersey retired. Thompson was inducted into the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame and was chosen as the Most Dedicated ECU Athlete for 1979–80. She played professional basketball for the Women’s Basketball League and was the head women’s basketball coach at ECU from 1992 to 1995.
Kenya T. Tillery
Kenya T. Tillery was a songwriter and producer. She was named one of Filmmaker magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” and was featured by ASCAP’s Playback magazine with the title “Composer with Class.” Her music extended from classical composition study to creative endeavors in the world of film and television music to the craft of songwriting. Tillery’s film and television credentials include collaboration with such directors as Regge Life (A Different World, The Cosby Show) and B. Mark Seabrooks (The Steve Harvey Show). Her original theme songs can be heard weekdays on Lifetime Television. She wrote and produced songs for her band, the Mojo Affair, and was nominated for the 2007 Los Angeles Music Awards for “Best Pop Song” for her tune, “The Man.” She passed away in 2008.
Emilie M. Tilley
Emilie M. Tilley is a hearing officer with Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Being in the forefront of girls’ athletics in the city of Virginia Beach, she was an outstanding field hockey coach and the principal of Frank W. Cox High School. Tilley serves on the Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ Education Foundation Board and the ECU College of Health and Human Performance Advancement Council. Two scholarships have been established in her name to honor her commitment to teaching young people as her life’s work.
Linda Lynn Tripp
Linda Lynn Tripp founded Carolina Court Reporters Inc., a private court reporting agency headquartered in Greenville, North Carolina, in 1992. The firm has affiliates throughout North Carolina, eastern South Carolina, and Virginia. In 2004, as an expansion of Carolina Court Reporters, she created Carolina Specialized Imaging Inc., a specialized media production company. Prior to 1992, she was CEO of Americom Production Group Inc., where she became co-producer of the TV show On the Rebound. Tripp was the 2005 Greenville-Pitt County Citizen of the Year and has received the East Carolina Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award. She is currently the president of Carolina Court Reporters Inc.
Beth B. Ward
Beth B. Ward is a retired school principal and current lecturer in the ECU College of Education. Her years of experience teaching both children and adults, administration, and working with budgets, all laid the foundation for her role as the first female chair of the Pitt County Board of Commissioners. She has also served on the Pitt Community College and Pitt County Memorial Hospital Boards of Trustees, and on the East Carolina Alumni Association Board of Directors. Most recently, she was appointed by the North Carolina Legislative Senate President Pro Tem to the Fiscal Modernization Commission which reviews resources for North Carolina counties and the state. She has received the ECU Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award.
Margaret C. Ward
Margaret C. Ward serves on the East Carolina University Board of Trustees, chairing the athletic committee, and is a member of the executive and finance and facilities committees. She is also a member of the ECU Foundation Board. Ward is a past president of the East Carolina Alumni Association Board of Directors and is a member of the ECU Educators Hall of Fame. She is a member of the North Carolina Film Council, a past member of the Greensboro Symphony board and past chair of the Board of Visitors at Elon University. She has received the East Carolina Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award.
Edith D. Warren
Edith D. Warren is a representative in the North Carolina General Assembly. She was the first woman to be a full-time principal with the Pitt County Schools and the first woman elected to the Pitt County Board of Commissioners. She was a leader in helping obtain funding for the East Carolina Heart Institute and in the efforts to establish an ECU School of Dentistry. Warren played a major role in the passage of an education bond referendum for university and community college construction. She was awarded the Pitt County Principal of the Year, the Farmville Citizen of the Year, and the Pitt County Principals Association Special Service Award.
Rhonda J. Warren
Rhonda J. Warren is executive vice president of Swaim Inc., a high-end furniture manufacturer of upholstery and occasional goods, located in High Point, North Carolina. Upon graduation from ECU, she joined the company which was founded by her grandfather in 1953. Since then she has gained experience in every aspect of the business. She now directs the marketing of new designs as well as Swaim’s extensive array of fine fabrics and wood finishes, sometimes traveling the globe to identify new design opportunities. Warren is a member of the International Furnishing Design Association.
Linda L. Willis, M.D.
Linda L. Willis, MD, a Rocky Mount radiologist, is a founder of Camp Rainbow, a camp for kids with cancer and blood disorders. More than 20 years ago, as a physician's assistant at PCMH and the Brody School of Medicine in hematology and oncology, she saw the need for recreational activities for patients and their families. A skating party and pool party evolved into a one-day camp experience, which then became a week long. Though she is not volunteering with the camp now, she supports it generously. While attending ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, she also founded an indigent clinic. Her new venture is the establishment of an ECU endowment for children who have survived cancer to attend college.
Annette B. Wysocki
Annette B. Wysocki is a professor specializing in wound care in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing at the University of Mississippi. An ECU Outstanding Alumni Award recipient and a Harvard Macy Scholar, she has also served as scientific director at the National Institute of Health. Wysocki is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a leader in the Girl Scouts, USA. Along with envisioning and implementing new educational programs, she has mentored hundreds of future scientists and professionals in the medical field.
Sandra Kay Yow
Sandra Kay Yow, former women’s basketball coach at North Carolina State University, was one of the most admired and respected coaches nationally and internationally. Averaging 20 wins per year over 31 years, she guided her teams to 19 of 25 NCAA Tournaments and the Final Four in 1998. Yow was named National Coach of the Year eight times and was an inductee of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. She also represented her country in the Olympics, coaching two USA Basketball teams to gold medals. In conjunction with the Jimmy V Foundation she started the Jimmy V Classic, the first of its kind to donate money to cancer research in the game of women’s basketball. She passed away on January 24, 2009.