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Honors Advisory Council


The Honors Advisory Council is part of the JMU Honors Program community, providing advice and links to resources to support the Program's overall vision and mission.


Resources, Relationships, and Reputation.

The vision of the HAC is to create lines of dialogue, engaging with the university community, prospective students, alumni, and the public leading to increased financial resources for the Honors Program, mentorships for Honors Program students, and an enhanced reputation for the program at the national level.


The HAC will be collaborative, communicative, and creative.

Collaborative - We value strong working relationships with JMU students, faculty and staff, alumni, donors, and fellow board members because those relationships are critical to the achievement of our vision.

Communicative - We value effective communication because the Honors Program's mission cannot be fulfilled unless the university community, prospective students, alumni, and the public hear its message clearly and often.

Creative - We value creativity and innovation because being open to doing things differently will enhance our potential for assisting the Honors Program.

HAC Video:


Steven D. BrownSteven Brown

Richmond, VA

Steve is currently Chair of the HAC. Steve graduated from JMU in 1984 with a degree in public administration and political science. Steve received his Juris Doctorate degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1990. Steve is a labor and employment lawyer with LeClair Ryan in Richmond, Virginia. Steve has tried numerous cases on behalf of employers in state and federal courts all over the United States. Steve provides legal and strategic advice to employers on discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour, trade secret, non-compete, employment agreements, severance agreements, FMLA, labor and employment due diligence and workplace violence matters. Steve has served on numerous community boards over the years and when he was the Chair of the Board of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, the Food Bank was recognized in 2009 as the food bank of the year in the United States. Steve lives in Richmond with his wife Alice ('83) and two children, Trish and Danny. Trish is a sophomore honors student/Dingledine scholar majoring in communication sciences and disorders. Danny is a sophomore in high school.

Vice Chair

Heather TedescoHeather Tedesco

McLean, VA

Dr. Heather Tedesco was a member of the Honors Program during her time at JMU, where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in psychology. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Maryland at College Park. Heather is a licensed Applied Psychologist with a private practice in McLean, VA. Heather's specialty is translating psychological research on motivation, behavior, and child development into actionable information for parents. She helps parents improve their family's daily functioning and shows them how to look long term to nurture the characteristics leading to children growing into happy, authentically successful adults. She also speaks frequently to schools, businesses, and community groups. Heather serves on the STEM Advisory Board for the Children's Science Center and on the Board of Directors for the Safe Community Coalition. She lives in McLean with her husband Joe, a fellow JMU grad, and their three children.


Kelly Brown LandsKelly Brown Lands

Arlington, Va.

Kelly Brown is originally from Delaware. She fell in love with JMU on her first visit while touring colleges. In 2006, she graduated magna cum laude from JMU as a Political Science major and a Writing and Rhetoric minor. Kelly was a subject-area (now designated Track II) Honors student. Following graduation she attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, for law school. Graduating from William and Mary in 2009, she currently practices disability law for the federal government in Arlington, Virginia. Her husband is also a proud JMU graduate.


Ken DriverKen Driver

Vienna, VA

Leila Afas

Leila Afas

Bethesda, MD

Leila Aridi Afas graduated summa cum laude from JMU as an Honors Scholar in 1998 with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and English. She went on to earn her Master’s degree in International Economic Policy from Columbia University. Currently, Leila is the Director for Export Promotion at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, where she helps U.S. companies export goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies. She previously served as USTDA’s Country Manager for the Middle East and North Africa and oversaw a multimillion dollar portfolio of projects throughout the region. Leila has also worked in the public and private sectors in London, Casablanca, New York, and Switzerland in diverse fields ranging from parliamentary aide to management consulting to banking.

Deborah Barnard

Manassas, Va.

Jim and Susan BurroughsJim Burroughs

Oakton, VA &

Jim graduated from JMU in 1977 with a degree in Political Science. From 1978-1982, he served on the JMU Board of Visitors. He earned graduate degrees in public administration and policy from George Mason and Virginia Tech. After earning his law degree at William and Mary, Jim worked as an attorney for the Federal government handling regulatory and legislative matters. He spent eight years as legal counsel for the National Propane Gas Association. Since 2000, Jim has been at George Mason University where he teaches graduate public administration and undergraduate law classes.

Susan Burroughs graduated from JMU in 1981 with Honors in chemistry and biology. She attended Medical School at the University of Virginia where she also did her residency in Family Medicine. Since 1988, she has worked at Fairfax Family Practice Center where she is Deputy Director of the Family Medicine Residency Program. She is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the Medical College of Virginia. Susan has been named as one of the region's top doctors by the Washingtonian Magazine.

Janet C. CarterJanet Carter

Virginia Beach, VA

Janet graduated cum laude from Old Dominion University in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration Management Information Systems. She is currently developing the Knowledge Management program for the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek. Janet is the former President and Owner of Marketing nSight, Inc., a marketing integration and design consulting company and also served as a Director of Marketing and IT for a maritime travel company in Virginia Beach. Her technology and marketing background extends to her experience as a network engineer, technology trainer and team leader for the Navy Space and Warfare Command, Norfolk. Janet proudly served as a parent volunteer for the Virginia Beach City Public Schools and PTAs for 15 years and has provided numerous pro bono marketing solutions for charitable organizations in Hampton Roads. She is also a 2013 graduate of the LEAD Hampton Roads Signature Leadership Program. Janet and her husband, Mark, have one son, Brandon, a junior ISAT major and Honors Program student at JMU.

Anne CollinsAnne Collins

Salisbury, MD

Anne Collins is a retired high school honors history teacher who taught for 36 years on the Eastern Shore of Maryland near her hometown. Ms. Collins received her BS in 1967 and MA in 1978 from the College of Arts and Letters at Madison. She maintains a close relationship with the History Department and serves on the recruitment committee of the Honors Advisory Council.

Katherine CookKatherine Cook

Richmond, VA

Scott C. FordScott Ford

Richmond, VA

Scott graduated magna cum laude from JMU in 1991. He received his Bachelor of Science with a major in political science and minor in public administration. He subsequently earned his Juris Doctor from Washington and Lee School of Law in 1995 graduating cum laude. Scott lives in Richmond, Virginia and works as a trial lawyer for the law firm of McCandlish Holton. He chairs the litigation practice and workers' compensation practice groups at the firm. Scott handles all aspects of commercial litigation and frequently represents employers and carriers with matters before the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission. He also currently serves as president of McCandlish Holton.

Stacy Fuller

Jack KayeJack Kaye

Annandale, VA

Jack Kaye is a scientist with nearly 30 years of research, management, and executive experience with the Federal government. His academic training is in chemistry (Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology), and he has been working in environmental science in his professional career addressing global environmental issues such as ozone depletion and climate variability and change. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society in 2010, and has twice been recognized as a Meritorious member of the Senior Executive Service. He has published extensively in scientific journals and government reports, and edited the book Isotope Effects in Gas Phase Chemistry published by the American Chemical Society. He lives in Annandale, VA, and is married to Dawn Bressler-Kaye. He is the father of three daughters, the youngest of whom is a participant in the Honors program at JMU (class of 2016).

Tom KobylskiTom Kobylski

McClean, VA

Tom holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of Scranton and an M.D. from Penn State College of Medicine. He completed both his adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry residency at Georgetown University. Currently Tom practices full time in McLean, VA and continues to teach and lecture, remaining on clinical faculty. He has given over 100 lectures in the areas of Mood, Conduct, and ADHD Disorders in Children and Adolescents and is a Past President of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Society of Greater Washington. Tom lives in McLean, VA with his wife Jennifer and two children Anna and Matthew. Anna Kobylski is currently a Honors student/music major at JMU and Matthew is a senior in high school currently applying to JMU.

Sean McCraeSean McCrae

Reading, PA

Sean serves as Senior Vice President at PharmaForce International, a global marketing and strategy consulting firm serving the pharmaceutical industry. In his current position, he serves as the executive in charge of all client relations and global project production for the firm, overseeing professional consulting teams on four different continents. A veteran of hundreds of global healthcare consulting projects, he has spoken at multiple industry conferences and has also been quoted in numerous industry publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Future of Pharma. In addition to serving on the HAC, he has served on the College of Business Executive Advisory Council and is a former president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the JMU Alumni Association. A former Honors scholar, Sean graduated magna cum laude from JMU in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in Management. His Senior Honors Thesis was titled, A True Mickey Mouse Operation: A Case Study of Successful Management Philosophies at The Walt Disney Company. He also holds an MBA in Marketing and Strategy from Tulane University. 

Cara Ellen ModisettCara Modisett

Roanoke, VA

Cara graduated from JMU in '96 and '98 with a B.A. in English education and a B.M. in piano performance, both summa cum laude, completing an Honors project for her B.A. (Houseguest Temporary, a collection of poetry). She has lived in Roanoke since 1998, where she combines her training in music and writing: editor at large (former editor) of Blue Ridge Country magazine, adjunct instructor in writing at Ferrum College, on-air announcer for WVTF public radio and music director of St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church. A performing classical pianist, she is also involved in arts programming, organizing and curating events including several performance and reading series. She completed a Masters of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction at Goucher College in 2012, and shares a home with her husband, Phil Atkins, and their two cats.

Jill NorcrossJill Norcross

Reston, VA

Jill Conroy Norcross graduated from JMU in 1991 with a BA in Communication. She received a Master of Regional Planning from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1996. Jill is the Executive Director of HAND, the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers, a nonprofit organization focusing on affordable housing and community development issues in the greater D.C. metro area. Jill lives with her husband, Jimmy, a JMU grad (‘90) and her two sons in Reston, VA.

Melissa Reed

Richmond, VA

Dan Richardson

Washington, DC

Julie SelbyJulie Selby

Ijamsville, MD

Julie graduated summa cum laude from JMU in 1980 with an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Accounting. She is a CPA and Manager of Physician Accounting for Frederick Regional Healthcare Systems in Frederick, Maryland. Julie lives in Ijamsville, Maryland and has two children. Wil is a 1st Lt in the USMC after graduating from the Naval Academy and MIT. Taylor is a 2013 graduate of JMU. She received her BBA in Accounting and is currently employed by Brown, Edwards and Company in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Tomalei Vess

Tomalei Vess

Blacksburg, VA

Tomalei Vess (‘95) conducted undergraduate research on salamanders with Dr. Reid Harris ( for three years at JMU, an endeavor that changed her career path from medicine to research and teaching. In 2002, Tomalei finished her PhD in Biology, studying ladybugs at Duke University. After a year of teaching high school at the North Carolina School of Science and Math, Tomalei returned to Duke as Director and then as Assistant Dean in the Graduate School. In 2009, she shifted her focus to undergraduate teaching and research as Education Director in Duke's Institute for Genome Science & Policy.

Tomalei joined Virginia Tech in July 2011 as the new and founding director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. She lives with her partner, 3 dogs, and 2 cats just west of Blacksburg in Newport, VA. She enjoys participating in sprint triathlons, kayaking, and feeding vanilla wafers to the neighbor’s seven (!) donkeys.