Wilma Cairns Bowers (’83) graduated from JMU with a BS in Communications and a minor in Business.  Wilma was recruited from JMU into the Verizon management development program and rose through the ranks to become the VP of Corporate Advertising and Brand Management. Wilma led the national brand communications campaign to launch the Bell Atlantic brand after the acquisition of NYNEX and subsequently the Verizon brand after the acquisition of GTE. After a 20-year career at Verizon, Wilma joined her husband to grow their small business, Bowers Design Build in McLean Virginia. Bowers Design Build is a top-ranking architecture and construction firm and has won numerous national awards for exceptional, as well as, a national customer service award.   

Wilma has dedicated her philanthropic energy over the past 20 years toward student health and wellness. She served as an appointee to the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Council for Fairfax County Public Schools and was a PTA board member for 14 years.  Wilma was featured in the Washington Post article, In McLean, a Crusade to get People to Back off in the Parenting Arms Race . 

Wilma has also recently joined the marketing committee for Just Neighbors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing immigration legal services to at-risk immigrants.  Just Neighbors helps over 850 families in Virginia each year.

Wilma worked for JMU University Relations icon Ray Sonner while a student.  Wilma believes that her education and work experience at JMU prepared her well for a productive and successful life, but the greatest gift JMU gave her was the relationship with faculty and staff that mentored her….and the phenomenal women who remain her closest friends. Her involvement in Women for Madison is an impactful way to give back to the university that gave her so much. 

Wilma is also the proud wife of Bruce and mom of Sade (’17, BS Health Science) and Mary.  

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