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

Leslie Flanary Gilliam (’82)


Women for Madison is pleased to recognize women philanthropy leaders during the Women Who Amaze Summit. We want your nominations for the women you see making consistent and ongoing contributions to JMU through their time, talent, treasure and ties. Nomination deadline is Friday, April 7, 2023.

Spirit of Philanthropy Award

Women for Madison’s Spirit of Philanthropy 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.

Objective of this award: To recognize a James Madison University contributor who inspires the next generation of philanthropy at the university. The recipient will be a woman who models beneficence and leadership in relation to JMU.

Criteria for this award: 

  • Significant and ongoing philanthropy through financial, in-kind and/or volunteer support
  • Evidence that their philanthropy has inspired others
  • Measurable impact to James Madison University
  • Members of the Women for Madison EAC are not eligible while they are seated on the council.

Nominate someone for the Leslie Gilliam Spirit of Philanthropy Award using this button:

Submit Nomination

Outstanding Young Philanthropist Award

Women for Madison is pleased to open nominations for the inaugural Outstanding Young Philanthropist Award.

Objective of this award: To recognize a James Madison University young alumna who shows promising success in exemplary, creative and innovative philanthropic work in their communities, by helping to raise funds, inspire other donors and volunteers, while also giving back to those in their community.

Criteria for this award:

  • JMU woman graduate of the last 10 years
  • Promising and growing philanthropic work through financial, in-kind and/or volunteer support in their communities
  • Evidence that their philanthropy and engagement has inspired others
  • Women for Madison EAC members are not eligible while they are seated on the council.

Nominate someone for the Outstanding Young Philanthropist Award using this button:

Submit Nomination

Selection Process:

Nomination deadline: Friday, April 7, 2023
Award presented at the May 20, 2023 Women for Madison Summit. Recipient must be available to receive the award in person.

About 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. That is where we get our heart and where we get to dream about what we can do together.” The inaugural Spirit of Philanthropy Award was presented to Leslie Gilliam posthumously in 2017. 


Kathy Thomas receives 2019 Leslie Gilliam Spirit of Philanthropy Award

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. This important initiative was inspired in large part by Kathy’s experiences in college, when the support of others was crucial to her completing her degree. “I can’t pay anyone back,” Kathy has said, “but I can pay it forward.” 

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