Women for Madison’s Spirit of Philanthropy Award is awarded during the Women Who Amaze Summitt which is held every two years. The award is named for Leslie Flanary Gilliam (’82) who served JMU in many capacities but most notably on the Board of Visitors. She was a founding member of Women for Madison and an inaugural member of our Executive Advisory Council. Leslie strongly believed in the power of women rallying around a common purpose to effect positive change.

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“When women come together with a goal … great things will happen.”

Leslie Flanary Gilliam (’82)


Past Winners

2023: Judy Strickler

At the 2023 Women Who Madison Amaze Summit, JMU celebrated the indomitable spirit of women’s philanthropy embodied by Judith Shreckhise Strickler (’60). Alongside her late husband Charles, Judy’s contributions to the university community, in terms of financial support and personal dedication, exemplify the true essence of giving back. 

Read the complete article HERE

2019: Kathy Thomas

On May 11, 2019, Kathy Mueller Thomas (’78) received this prestigious award. Her daughter, Julie Thomas, along with President Jon Alger and First Lady Mary Ann Alger, presented it to her at the Women for Madison Summit. She and her husband, Mike Thomas (’76, ’77M), have been key philanthropic partners with the university, and in 2016 they established the Dukes Pay It Forward scholarship program at JMU. 

2017: Leslie Gilliam

Leslie Flanary Gilliam (’82) was a member of the JMU Board of Visitors, a founding member of the Women for Madison Advisory Council, and a founder of The Madison Trust. With her husband, Richard, she was a major donor to the university. Leslie died in December 2016. She embodied compassion in action and believed in the power of women working together to effect positive change. She once said, “Rallying around a common cause increases our sense of community and helps us accomplish big goals.” The inaugural Spirit of Philanthropy Award was presented to Leslie Gilliam posthumously in 2017. 

Celebrating Women • Supporting Students • Sustaining JMU

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