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Jonathan Alger
President, James Madison University


As the sixth president of JMU, Jonathan Alger developed a bold new vision to be "the national model of the engaged university: engaged with ideas and the world” and a strategic plan focused on engaged learning, community engagement, and civic engagement. This plan has included the development of ambitious new programs and initiatives across the institution, such as the Valley Scholars Program (for first-generation students from public schools in the region), the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement (which provides national as well as institutional leadership), the Economic Development Council (to support regional economic growth), the Madison Trust (to provide philanthropic support for innovative projects), the Engagement Fellows (a public service year program for recent college graduates), the comprehensive Task Force on Racial Equity, and a strategic partnership with the Republic of Kosovo among many others.

Mary Ann Alger
JMU’s First Lady, philanthropist, volunteer, mentor


Mary Ann Alger contributes in so many ways to the JMU community that she is sometimes referred to as the university’s top volunteer. She was a co-founder of Women for Madison in 2013 and is passionate about guiding young women to philanthropy. Using her skills in business and entrepreneurship, Mary Ann is an advisor to the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship, coaching startup companies and judging business plan competitions. Additionally, she is a frequent guest speaker in classrooms and at conferences. She is actively involved with the Valley Scholars program as a mentor and leader. Mary Ann is an active fundraiser and relationship-builder, serving on a variety of boards and advisory councils in the community. An honors graduate of Auburn University with degrees in international business and Spanish, Mary Ann received an MBA from the University of Miami and spent many years working in the venture capital sector in Latin America. The Algers support JMU philanthropically in numerous ways, most notably Valley Scholars (a program they launched), the general scholarship fund, athletics, faculty support, Women for Madison, and the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship.

Vonya Alleyne (’93)
Chief People Officer, Segra


Vonya Alleyne is the Chief People Officer for Segra. She is responsible for driving a work culture that embodies Segra's mission and core values and fosters employee satisfaction to maximize employee retention; developing, implementing, and aligning HR programs with business objectives to facilitate the company’s growth strategy; and serving as a strategic partner to the CEO and the senior leadership team while supporting employees in their day-to-day HR needs. Prior to Segra, Vonya worked for Segra’s parent company, Cox Communications for 14 years, serving in different leadership roles such as as Director of HR for Cox’s Northern Virginia operation, statewide Human Resources Director, and Vice President, People Solutions.
Vonya holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from JMU, a master’s degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix, a certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and is a Society for Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). She is a member of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT), Content and Connectivity Human Resources (C2HR), the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC).
Vonya is a member of class 42 of WICT’s 2020-2021 Betsy Magness Leadership Institute (BMLI).
In November 2018, Vonya graduated from Lead Virginia, a statewide leadership program focused on generating visionary solutions to statewide challenges. In May 2017, she graduated from the NAMIC Executive Leadership Development Program XVI and the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation Executive Education.
As the founding President of NAMIC Virginia, Vonya led a NAMIC expansion initiative serving the Hampton Roads and Richmond areas. With her guidance, NAMIC Virginia supports communications professionals in Hampton Roads and Richmond with reaching their diversity and inclusion goals.

Beth Bland
Director of Senior Services, Valley Program for Aging Services


Beth Bland has been with VPAS since 2012. In 2017 she took on the added responsibilities of Director of Development, overseeing the organization's development, marketing and communication activities. Beth graduated from Blue Ridge Community College with an AAS in Mental Health. As a non-traditional student, she has received certificates of gerontology and non-profit management from JMU. She is a co-host on the “Issues in Aging” monthly radio show. Beth was instrumental in establishing a partnership between VPAS and JMU IIHHS to ensure that the Caregivers Community Network program was able to continue when grant funding was lost in 2016.

Cannie Campbell (’95, ’20M)
Executive Director, Women for Madison; Associate V.P. for Constituent Engagement, JMU


Cannie Campbell, MPH, MA/EdS (’95, ’20M) is currently the Associate Vice President for Constituent Engagement at JMU. She has worked both in University Advancement and Student Affairs at JMU and is an adjunct faculty member at JMU, as well as for the Virginia Community College System. Cannie has spoken on the local, regional and national circuit on various topics regarding substance abuse, women’s issues, sexuality and leadership at conferences such as the National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association, the Association of Fraternity Advisors’ National Conference, the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association Annual Conference, Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control College Conference and the Bacchus & Gamma Peer Educators National Assembly. Her professional interests have led her to write and receive numerous grants on topics including alcohol, pedestrian/bike safety, social norms marketing and tobacco prevention.

As a woman in higher education, she is very passionate about the advancement of all women in higher education and creating meaningful leadership roles in their field. Cannie has a B.S. in Health Sciences from JMU and a Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Health Education/Promotion from the University of Oklahoma and completed a second master’s degree and EdS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at JMU in 2020.

Personally, she is involved in a variety of community service organizations both locally and internationally, serving as a local foster parent, sitting on several boards and advising student groups at JMU. She has two children, Grayson and Isaiah, and lives in Harrisonburg with her husband, Paul, who works at JMU as well.

Lindsay Czarniak (’00)
Sports Journalist, Fox Sports


Lindsay Czarniak (’00) is a sportscaster, content creator and podcast host, bridging the gap between sports stars, lifestyle and relatable themes that make a difference. She is an NFL sideline reporter for FOX sports, host of CBS’ SRX racing series and a variety of NBC Olympics coverage. She joined FOX sports in 2018, hosting the network’s NASCAR coverage and covering the NFL.

Prior to joining FOX sports, she spent six years as anchor of SportsCenter and field anchor/reporter for ESPN’s NFL pregame show, NFL Countdown. In January 2015 she became solo anchor of the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, having joined John Anderson as co-host of the program in 2012. As solo anchor, Czarniak hosted ESPN’s “SportsCenter on the Road” initiative, anchoring the network’s coverage at 6 p.m. from events like the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series and MLB All Star game.

Before joining ESPN, Czarniak served as sports anchor and reporter at WRC-TV (NBC4) in Washington, D.C., anchoring daily sportscasts, reporting from major live events and hosting Sports Final, Redskins Report and The Coach’s Show with Mike Shanahan. She covered the region’s professional teams and hosted and produced the sports-interview segment Lunch with Lindsay. She also worked for the station’s parent network, NBC, reporting from the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, and the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. During her time in DC, she was a protégé of WRC’s longtime sports anchor George Michael, who hired her as a reporter and weekend sports anchor in 2005.

Before being hired by WRC’s longstime sports anchor George Michael, Czarniak reached steadily climbed the ladder from her start as a JMU journalism major and studio art minor, interning with WUSA and CNN before going on air in Jacksonsville and Miami, Florida.

Dr. Veleka Gatling (’93)
Assistant V.P. for Diversity & Inclusive Excellence, Old Dominion University


Dr. Veleka S. Gatling (’93) is the assistant vice president for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence at Old Dominion University. She has committed her life to seeking opportunities for educators and community members to achieve excellence in their fields, while promoting visible equity. With over 27 years in public education, Dr. Gatling has served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, executive director of special and gifted programs, and executive director of professional learning. She has also served as an adjunct professor at ODU. Dr. Gatling speaks at state and national conferences, is a Qualified Assessor of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and is a Certified Trainer of Bold, Inclusive Conversations for public, private and non-profit organizations. Dr. Gatling was appointed by Former Gov. Ralph Northam to serve on the Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Education Practices Advisory Committee. She also served on the task force for Racial Equity at James Madison University. She currently serves on the state board of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

Vanessa Heatwole (’12), RDN, CDCES
Owner, Vanessa Heatwole Nutrition LLC


A native of Brazil, Vanessa Heatwole started her dietetics journey in South Florida after experiencing health issues of her own. She later transferred to James Madison University where she graduated with a BS in Dietetics and Nutrition. She completed her Dietetic Internship with the University of Northern Colorado and worked as a Registered Dietitian at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital in both inpatient and outpatient settings for over five years. Recently, Vanessa has been a part of the research and development team for Shenandoah Valley Organic and has also acquired her Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist credential. She is the proud owner of her own private practice in Harrisonburg, Vanessa Heatwole Nutrition, LLC, where she enjoys counseling clients on a variety of topics, including diabetes, weight management (both adult and pediatric) and eating disorders. Vanessa is also a consultant to various assisted living care facilities in the Shenandoah Valley, providing them with nutrition oversight for their residents on special diets.

Rev. Dr. Juna Mackey-Padilla (’89)
CEO & Founder, M.O.V.E. Empowerment Services


The Rev. Dr. Juna (Janay) Mackey-Padilla (’89) received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from James Madison University, and her Masters and PhD in Nursing Administration from George Mason University. She was bestowed an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities from Eastern North Carolina Theological Institute and is currently studying to receive her PhD in Ministry from Christian Bible College and Seminary. Her work within the Inova Health System for 17 years included Extern, Registered Nurse, Charge Nurse, Nurse Case Manager/Health Educator, Nurse Educator, HIV/Education Coordinator, and Congregational Health Partnership Director. She has been a faculty member at George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University as well. Dr. Mackey-Padilla, otherwise known as “Dr. Nay,” is the CEO and Founder of M.O.V.E. Empowerment Services designed to Motivate Others to Victory and Empowerment (M.O.V.E.). She is a local, national and international speaker, preacher, poet, conference coordinator and the author of four books As a JMU student, she was the first African-American President of the JMU Nursing Class, and she pledged Delta Sigma Theta the Iota Alpha Chapter through JMU and is a member of the Prince William County Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Rev. Dr. Mackey-Padilla was called to the ministry in college at JMU in 1988 and was licensed as an Associate Minister in 2003 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Woodbridge, VA.

Jamie Jones Miller (’99)
Dean & CEO of Northeastern University at Arlington, VA


Jamie Jones Miller (’99) serves as chair of the Women for Madison Executive Advisory Council, which she joined in 2018. Jamie was a keynote speaker for the 2019 Women for Madison Summit. She is a member of the JMU Political Science Alumni Board and served as president of the JMU Alumni Association from 2011 to 2014. She and her husband, Tim (’96, ’00M), who is JMU’s vice-president for student affairs, are proud donors and support various student scholarships, the Duke Club and JMU Athletics with an emphasis on women's basketball, and the Department of Political Science.
Jamie earned her BA in international affairs from JMU, where she played varsity basketball and was a member of Alpha Sigma Tau. After graduation, Jamie began her career in government relations before spending 13 years on Capitol Hill, where she held the positions of chief of staff to Rep. Robert J. Wittman and legislative director for Rep. J. Randy Forbes. Jamie subsequently served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for house affairs and principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs at the Department of Defense and was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 2020. The same year, she became a senior advisor with The Roosevelt Group, a bipartisan consulting firm providing strategic consulting, federal business development, advocacy and strategic communications services on a wide range of public policy issues. She is currently the inaugural dean and CEO of Northeastern University’s Arlington, VA campus. Jamie is the recipient of JMU’s 2020 Ronald E. Carrier Alumni Achievement Award and was featured in JMU’s Being the Change calendar in 2019.

Sarah Montana (’09)
Storyteller, Hallmark Media/TEDx


Sarah Montana is a screenwriter, writer and public speaker. She has written several screenplays for the Hallmark Channel, including “Love to the Rescue,” “If I Only Had Christmas,” “A New Year’s Resolution,” and the Christopher Award winning “Two Turtle Doves.” Her play, "The Girl, The Ghosts, and the Minotaur" was a winner of the Life Jacket Theater Company's Proof of Concept Reading Series. She has spoken at TEDx Lincoln Square and the AHA Women’s Speaker Series in St. Louis about healing, forgiveness and overcoming adversity. Her talk "Why Forgiveness is Worth It" is featured on She is a Gateless Writing Method certified teacher and teaches students of all ages how to fall in love with the creative process. She is currently working on her first memoir. 

Dr. Meg Mulrooney
History Professor, Senior Associate Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Equity, JMU


Dr. Meg Mulrooney is a JMU history professor and senior associate vice provost for Academic Programs and Equity, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. She received her Ph.D. from the College of William and Mary, focusing on American Studies.
Her fields and specialties include 19th-century to early-20th-century U.S. social and cultural history, especially race and ethnicity, as well as public history and collective memory. She teaches American studies, local and public history, and campus history. Her research interests include the history and culture of the Shenandoah Valley; the history of James Madison University; higher education; race relations in Virginia and North Carolina; collective memory in the South; and civic engagement.
Besides leading her students on several digital humanities projects focusing on periods of JMU history, Dr. Mulrooney has directed undergraduate theses examining JMU’s history as a segregated, single sex institution, and has worked with undergraduate and graduate students on a variety of other topics, as well as on alternative public history projects. She uses her blog to communicate some of her own research into JMU’s campus history. Blog posts have included: Confederate Heritage at JMU, Alumnae Scrapbooks and Collective Memory, and Blackface minstrelsy.

Joyce Nussbaum (’10)
Programs Director, Valley Program for Aging Services


Joyce Nussbaum (’10), Valley Program for Aging Services (VPAS) Programs Director, graduated from the Adult Degree Program at James Madison University in 2010 and has a degree in Social Sciences with a concentration in Gerontology and Family Studies. Joyce has worked for VPAS since July 2010 as Health and Wellness Coordinator, Senior Center Director, and most recently as Programs Director, supervising caregiver support, dementia education, VPAS Cafes, and Aging with Confidence programs. Joyce is a Master Trainer for several evidence-based programs including Chronic Disease Self-Management Education, A Matter of Balance, Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention, Tai Chi for Memory, and Dealing with Dementia.

Dr. Megan Ross (’96)
President & CEO, Lincoln Park Zoo


Megan R. Ross, Ph.D.(‘96) is the President and CEO of Chicago’s iconic Lincoln Park Zoo. As the first woman and first scientist to lead the urban zoo and science center, Ross drives the zoo’s mission and vision of being open, accessible, and welcoming for guests from all around the globe. Dr. Ross has had an extensive career of learning about and caring for animals that has taken her across the world, from China to Atlanta to right back in Chicago. Since joining Lincoln Park Zoo in 2000, she has served in several leadership roles in nearly every department. In 2016, she launched ZooMonitor, an animal-behavior monitoring app that gives insight into the needs and best possible care of animals, which has been downloaded by over 700 institutions. Dr. Ross is also widely regarded as an expert on zoo ethics as the former chair of the ethics board for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and now serves as an AZA board member. Dr. Ross has a BS in biology and psychology from JMU, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in psychology.

Dr. Angela Russell (’85)
Licensed Psychotherapist, Certified Life Coach & Retreat Leader


Dr. Angela Russell is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Certified Life Coach and Retreat Leader, specializing in individual, group, couples, and family therapy. She currently maintains a telehealth private practice in Prince Georges County, Maryland. With over 17 years of experience, she is currently serving as a private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are Anxiety, Depression, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Impaired Relationships. She joined Women for Madison’s Executive Advisory Council in 2019. Angela earned a BS in living sciences from JMU, where she was a member of the women’s track team. Afterward she attained her MA in counseling psychology from Bowie State University. She is a member of the Ole School JMU Alumni Scholarship Committee that was established in 2004 and a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which has served local and national communities for more than 100 years. She supports the College of Health and Behavioral Studies, Jonathan D. Davis Scholarship Endowment, Giving Day Campaign Challenge Funds, Furious Flower 25th Anniversary Gala, and AKA Lambda Chi Forever Scholarship Fund. Angela serves as a Family Team Meeting Unit supervisor with the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency. With over 14 years of experience, she is also in private practice in Largo, Maryland. 

Elaine Stephanos (’87)
Co-Founder, MoJo Life Coaches


Elaine S. Stephanos (’87) is a “Peak Performance” Mental Health Coach certified in Cognitive Behavior Therapy who facilitates rapid transformation in adults and students struggling with personal and professional life challenges. She guides her clients from “Weak Mojo” to “Peak Mojo” by educating and empowering them to clear out negative thoughts and beliefs so their best-self is unleashed. Drawing upon more than 20 years of education in Positive Psychology and Clinical Case Work, Elaine teaches a proven 5-Step “D.A.N.C.E” Formula so her clients can master their mindset and ultimately master their life, with the foundational message that: It's ALL AN INSIDE GAME...! Elaine delivers a unique perspective, blending her personal life experiences with her Tony Robbins training as well as training with various other mentors in the field of Positive Psychology.
Elaine provides Private VIP Coaching, Group Coaching, Workshops/Retreats, Online Events and several Products/Programs leveraging her mental health training, clinical case work, life experiences, and an on-fire desire to empower others to live the highest quality life they desire!

Sandra Tran Welsford (’12)
Founder & CEO, Nicecream


Sandra Tran Welsford (’12) earned a BBA in Marketing and is an entrepreneur with an appetite for growth…and for sweets. She is the founder of Nicecream, a handcrafted ice cream store with an ice cream catering business in the D.C. area. Welsford started her business selling freshly made ice cream at local farmers markets. In 2013, she opened her first brick and mortar location in Arlington, Virginia. Her ice cream gained the attention of The Washingtonian, CNN, The Post, among many other publications. She grew one location into four retail shops and a robust catering business. Welsford is passionate about growing a team of female leaders inspired to take the restaurant industry by storm. In addition to her ice cream business, Welsford invests in real estate and runs a small business consulting firm specializing in marketing and operations.

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