Rising Star award winners announced, inaugural class is all women


Harrisonburg, Virginia-- The Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management at James Madison University is pleased to announce the inaugural winners of the Rising Star Award: Brianna Keefe (Hospitality Management), Amanda Allshouse (Sport and Recreation Management) and Stevie Shickel Lee (Sport and Recreation Leadership).  Rising Star Awards recognize individuals who are fewer than ten years from graduation but have already made a tremendous impact on the industries in which they work. Women’s History Month is the perfect time to recognize that the first winners of the Rising Star Awards are all women.

Brianna Keefe is the founder of Toastique, a gourmet toast and juice bar in Washington, DC.  As a Division 1 athlete at JMU, Brianna saw the need for more healthy meal options that would help keep her energy up while on the go.  In only three years, she opened four locations and a sister restaurant and now has signed 37 franchises.  With over 1,200 customers a day, Brianna expects Toastique to see almost $7 million dollars in revenue in 2022.  Perhaps this is why Forbes just named her on their 30 Under 30 list for Food & Drink.  Brianna is to be commended for taking her passion and love for healthy living and finding a way to share that with others in a way that is profitable.

Amanda Allshouse, the Rising Star from the Sport and Recreation Management Undergraduate Program works currently for the National Basketball Association.  Amanda was an outstanding student who has continued to excel throughout her career.  She understood the importance of gaining experience and had internships with an independent baseball team, intercollegiate athletics and the NBA.  Upon graduating, she worked for a media buying agency before returning to the NBA in 2012.   She is an engaged alumna, mentoring students, donating auction items to the Hart School, and traveling all the way from New Jersey to be a guest speaker.  Perhaps her most impressive contribution to the Hart School has been her involvement in Dr. Anaza’s course.  Each semester, she provides guidance and input for students completing their WNBA projects for that class.  This project continues to be one of our most memorable in-class student experiences. 

The Rising Star from JMU’s Sport and Recreation Leadership Graduate Program, Stevie Shickel Lee, stayed close to her alma mater upon graduation.  Stevie is the founder and creative spirit behind Appalachian Forest School, an outdoor preschool for 3-5 year olds.  In just three years, Stevie turned her summer pilot program, "Little Explorers Club," into a thriving year-round program in two locations, Harrisonburg and Staunton. Their mission is to inspire whole-child development through wild, messy, uninterrupted outdoor play.  In 2019, Stevie was awarded the Innovation Award by the JMU Graduate School.  Like Brianna, Stevie found a way to turn her passions, this time for the outdoors, the environment and experiential education, into a profitable business venture.


Contact: Ginny Cramer, cramervm@jmu.edu, 540-568-5325

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Published: Monday, March 14, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2024

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