“Rallying around a common cause increases our sense of community and helps us accomplish big goals. That is where we get our heart and where we get to dream about what we can do together.”
- Leslie Gilliam

Spirit of Philanthropy Award Honors Leslie Gilliam ('82)

It is with great pride that the inaugural Leslie Gilliam Spirit of Philanthropy Award is presented to Leslie Gilliam posthumously. We believe it is fitting that Leslie receive this award to set the standard by which future recipients can aspire. This award, named for Leslie Flanary Gilliam '82, is given to recognize a James Madison University contributor who inspires the next generation of philanthropists at the university. The recipient will be a woman who models beneficence and leadership at JMU. 

Leslie was a member of the JMU Board of Visitors and a founding member of the Women for Madison Advisory Council. She was also a founder of The Madison Trust and she and her husband Richard are major donors to the university. Sadly, Leslie died in December 2016 after bravely battling cancer.

Winners of the Leslie Gilliam Spirit of Philanthropy Award are people who commit to significant and ongoing philanthropy directed to JMU through financial, in-kind and/or volunteer support. Support from the award recipient will have had a measurable impact at JMU, and have served as an inspiration to others.

Leslie truly was compassion in action. She believed in the power of women rallying around a common purpose to effect positive change. She once said that “Rallying around a common cause increases our sense of community and helps us accomplish big goals. That is where we get our heart and where we get to dream about what we can do together.” Everything Leslie did, she did with warmth, energy, humor and enthusiasm. She believed deeply in the power of education to change lives. 

Leslie was intellectually curious and exemplified the joyfulness that we’ve all come to love about the JMU community. 

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