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Dawn Smith Barnes (’93) served on the JMU Alumni Association Board of Directors 2005-2011 and joined Women for Madison’s Executive Advisory Council in 2016. Since 1993, she has served on the Executive Board for the Black Alumni Chapter. Dawn earned her BS in Public Administration from JMU’s College of Arts and Letters. She then went on to get her MS degree in Human Resource Management  from American University in D.C.

Dawn supports the Black Alumni Chapter Scholarship, Furious Flower Poetry Center and Madison Vision Fund, and she helps fund JMU scholarships through Madison for Keeps, Dolley Madison–Dukes Pay It Forward and Madison Forever. She has also contributed to the Dolley Madison Pay it Forward Circle and the Furious Flower Poetry Center 25th Anniversary.  Dawn believes it is her duty as an alumna to give back to JMU to show appreciation for the Duke experience and to give a student an opportunity to have a similar experience. Her hope is that she and others can continue to give enough to make a strong impact on the university and it's student community. 

Dawn is currently VP of People & Culture at Rapid Finance.  She has been an HR leader for over 25 years overseeing human resources functions in various industries: Finance, Government Relations, Manufacturing and Dating Services/Social Networks.  She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  

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