Letter from the President

Hello to all, and welcome to the 11th issue of Engage. As always, it’s an exciting time here at the Sullivan Foundation. Our Ignite retreats and faculty summits saw record attendance in 2018, and we’ll continue to expand our offerings in 2019. Our faculty fellows have used our resources to do amazing things on campuses and around the world. And our award winners are inspirational people making real, tangible changes in lives and communities.

You’ll meet some of these outstanding people inside the pages of this issue. Whether it’s Randolph-Macon College travelling to support a community in Guatemala, award recipient Cindy Jackson’s inspiring work to treat burn victims all over South America, or the quietly inspirational life of late alumnus Ray Bottom, who dedicated himself to his own community for decades at Randolph-Macon—it’s the work of people that make this community the amazing thing it is.

As always, we want to hear your stories, so feel free to send us one if you have something you wish to share. We might just be able to feature it here or on our website.

Speaking of the website, we’ve revamped it with a new design and new features to make it more informative and useful for members of the Sullivan family. Drop by and take a look when you get a chance. It’s at sullivanfdn.org.

Thanks as always for your interest in the work we do and for doing the outstanding work that you do. You continue to make us proud.

Stephan L. McDavid,


Taking on the world

A Sullivan Award recipient from Chad overcomes a language barrier. Now he plans to take on malaria back home

For many people, graduating from college and landing that first job is the ultimate goal. For 2018 University of Kentucky grad Esias Bedingar, his ultimate goal is a little bigger—he wants to eradicate malaria in his home country of Chad.

The grand scale of his humanitarian ambitions has earned him many honors at UK, including a Sullivan Award.

“It’s a big issue, with so many consequences on the economy and social aspect of the Chadian population,” says Bedingar. “I really want to combine my clinical and research experiences together to try to do something about it.”

It’s a seemingly herculean task, but those who know Bedingar know this goal is not out of his reach. The native French speaker knew absolutely no English when he came to UK from N’Djamena, Chad in 2014. Four years later, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public health (with a minor in neuroscience) and began the master of public health program in global health and population health at Harvard University that fall. After Harvard, he plans to attend medical school.

Esias Bedingar’s father, Touba Bedingar, graduated from UK 30 years before his son.

A family tradition

Bedingar first came to UK because of his father, Touba Bedingar, who earned master’s and doctoral degrees in agricultural economics from UK 30 years ago.

“It’s thanks to UK that my father became successful,” says Bedingar. “I hope to be as successful as he is right now. Getting a degree here at UK means a lot to me. I came here with no English, now I’m graduating from college here at UK, and I’m going to Harvard. It’s just like a dream.”

Bedingar spent his first semester at UK in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. After that, he officially began his UK coursework. While he knew he eventually wanted to go to medical school and study the brain, he also wanted to find a way to combine medicine with population health. After a visit home to Chad in 2016, his goals became even more clear.

“The prevalence of malaria in Chad is 30 percent, and 40 percent of all deaths in Chad are due to malaria,” he says. “So I said, ‘I think I can do something about it.’”

Bedingar works with his mentor, Associate Professor Yang Jiang of UK’s Department of Behavioral Science, to study Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia to further his knowledge in the medical field

Delivering the medicine and the message

It was then Bedingar founded Motocross for Malaria, a nongovernmental organization that provides antimalarial treatments and educational materials to people in rural areas of Chad.

“Right now, we’re working on prevention, specifically developing booklets in order to educate people on how to protect themselves from malaria using mosquito nets and other kinds of malaria vector controls,” he says. “Motocross for Malaria fills my heart with joy because I can dream of a better country. Eradicating malaria will stimulate economic growth and unlock human potential in Chad, and that is why it has become my lifetime goal.”

Bedingar presents his research on Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia

Servant Scientist

During his four years at UK, Bedingar took on many leadership positions, including president of the African Student Association, senator in UK Student Government, and ambassador with the UK International Center. He also founded a chapter of the American Mock World Health Organization on campus.

As a Chellgren Student Fellow and student in the UK Lewis Honors College, Bedingar discovered his passion for research. He spent his last year studying how cerebral malaria can be a future risk factor for different types of neurodegenerative diseases.

“I was trying to link infectious disease and chronic disease — this is something that no one did before,” he said. “I want to try to see if malaria can be a source for the development of brain disorders or brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia or other types of neurodegenerative diseases.”

Bedingar worked on an honors thesis with his mentor, Associate Professor Yang Jiang of UK’s Department of Behavioral Science, studying Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia to further his knowledge in the medical field. By using electrophotography, he learned how vascular dementia can affect memory and learning capacities.

“It’s because of all of those experiences that now I can combine public health and neuroscience together,” says Bedingar. “UK is pretty intensive in terms of academic preparation. I feel like that’s why I’m not scared to go to Harvard, because I feel like I am prepared to study there thanks to the education that I got here at UK. Academically, I think I’m ready.”

T Esias Bedingar receives a Sullivan Award from Sullivan Committee member Larry Grabau during UK’s University Honors and Recognition Awards Program April 11, 2018. Photo by Mark Cornelison of UK

Honors well-earned

In addition to his Sullivan Award, Bedingar received UK’s Otis A. Singletary Outstanding Senior Award. He participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University, the World Bank Group Youth Summit, and volunteered in hospitals in both Lexington and Chad.

In the face of adversity, Bedingar says having his father as his role model, along with his faith and the desire to help people, keep him motivated.

“Looking at (my father) working hard, and not complaining about what happens in life—everything happens for a reason and you just have to move forward and work hard,” he says. “I cried and asked why, but you work hard and finish the thesis, or learn English. It’s just believing in yourself, that you can do it, and then you will do it. This is simply how I did it.”

This article was adapted from a piece that originally appeared on the University of Kentucky’s news site. To read the original, or learn more about UK, visit uknow.uk.edu.

Award Spotlight: Cindy Jackson

1981 South Carolina grad wins community Sullivan Award for her heroic response to personal tragedy

Engineering a Community

Randolph-Macon students, faculty, and community members make a difference for a Guatemalan Village

Students and volunteers work on the difficult project of digging a drainage ditch

Schools in the Sullivan Foundation network tend to be all about learning through community and action, taking education beyond classroom walls and into the world. Randolph-Macon College excels at providing students these life-changing experiences. One group of students—those enrolled in Professor James McLeskey Jr.’s course, Engineering for Developing Areas, got just such an experience in 2018.

McLeskey’s students journeyed to Xeabaj II, a village in Guatemala, in January to survey a community soccer field that had severely eroded due to rainwater runoff. They were accompanied by Randolph-Macon College Chaplain Kendra Grimes and Dr. Ray Martin, a licensed civil engineer. After creating a topographical map of the area, the students created a plan to help mitigate the erosion.

The Xeabaj II soccer field

A Community Gathering Place 

Saving the field was about more than soccer, though. For the residents of Xeabaj II, the field is a place where neighbors gather

for all sorts of purposes.

“The soccer field was created in 2015 by hand by local volunteers who excavated material from the sides of a valley and filled in the central portion and lower end of the valley to form the field,” says Martin. “Rainwater runoff from about 15 acres of farmland above the field was originally planned to drain around the soccer field—but the ditch hadn’t been properly excavated, and runoff water drained across the field, instead of around the ditch, causing two large erosion holes.”

Without intervention, the holes would continue to grow, eventually ruining the entire field.

Volunteers begin laying a base layer of old tires, which were repurposed for much of the construction

Reusing Resources 

The students developed a plan that called for the construction of a drainage ditch and a gravity retaining wall comprised of hundreds of used tires filled with compacted soil—providing a useful purpose for old tires, which are an environmental problem in the area.

“The plan also reduced the cost of remediation and was an approach that the local community could construct,” says Martin. “Students designed the gravity retaining wall and lining using geology and civil engineering principles.”

A group consisting of Grimes, Martin, Randolph-Macon student Kerstin Mayes, and volunteers from Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church (DMUMC), traveled to Xeabaj II once again last summer to implement the plan. Financial support came from the church as well as the Highland Support Project, a non-profit that supports women’s cooperatives that create opportunities for Mayan women. With the help of the locals, they built the new structures in just four days. The field is not only restored, it is now durable, and should last for many years to come.

The hills of farmland above the Xeabaj II soccer field drain large quantities of rainwater onto the land below

A Community with Heart

“The children and adults of the community find such joy on that field,” says Grimes. “We will always treasure being a part of preserving the space they worked so hard to create.”

Mayes, an English major and education minor who had never been on a mission trip, was deeply affected by the residents’ “heart for community, their sweet spirits, and the fact that they were happy as could be with what little they had.”

Despite the physical challenges of the trip—”getting dirt in our eyes, having aching backs, and being exhausted each day”—she is happy that she made the trip.

Mayes is also a member of Randolph-Macon’s soccer team, so she felt a special connection to the project.

“When I heard that we were going to be fixing a soccer field, I thought it was a call from God,” she says. “This trip allowed me to escape myself and fall into the hands of service for others. It was a blessing.”

The retaining wall tops out, ready to protect the field from erosion

Collaborative Servanthood

Grimes, who has traveled to Guatemala eight times, says the project illustrates the power of commitment and community.

“Randolph-Macon College has had a partnership with Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church for many, many years—one that includes the participation of countless students and alumni,” she says. “This latest collaboration shows that wondrous things happen when people come together and work toward the common goal of serving others. Our engineering physics students had the knowledge to design the ditch and retaining wall; the church funded and supported the project with volunteers; and the community members in Xeabaj II did much of the back-breaking work side by side with our team.”


This story is adapted from an article that originally appeared on Randolph-Macon College’s news site. To read the original piece or learn more about Randolph-Macon, visit rmc.edu/news-and-calendar.

A new way to MBA

Mary Baldwin’s new graduate business program teaches both profit and positive change

Joe Sprangel, Dean of Mary Baldwin’s College of Business and Professional Studies

When professor Joe Sprangel arrived at Mary Baldwin University in 2010, leaders there wanted to add a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program to the university’s offerings. He didn’t think it was a good idea, because there was such a glut of MBA programs nearby—the competition for students was too intense.

To make the idea workable, Mary Baldwin would have to have something unique to offer. A few years later, Sprangel learned about the B-Corporation business model, in which a company remains for-profit, but must have a positive social or environmental impact on the world in addition to making money. He had found the niche he needed.

“This approach resonated with me as it addressed many of the issues I had seen with the status quo of business in nearly 30 years in the automotive industry,” says Sprangel. “I began doing scholarly research in this area. The more I learned the idea to frame an MBA around this approach began to emerge.”

MBA student Philip Holbrook explores a possible experiential learning location on a trip to Haiti sponsored by the program

The Sullivan boost

Serendipity intervened, as it was right around this time that Sprangel became acquainted with the Sullivan Foundation and its Faculty Fellows program. He began developing a proposal for the new degree and got in touch with the people in the program about his idea. In 2015, he became a member of the second class of Fellows.

Having a diverse and talented group of peers to bounce his ideas off while in the program helped Sprangel fine-tune his idea, particularly program leader Christopher Gergen, the CEO of Forward Impact and a social entrepreneurship fellow with Duke University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiative. Sprangel attended two Sullivan retreats in the fall and spring of 2015 and 2016.

“Access to someone of the caliber of Christopher Gergen was the greatest benefit of the fellowship for me,” he says. “His breadth of knowledge and experience were integral in the further development of the initial approach to developing the MBA program. The other fellows were also a valuable source of information. Each of the retreat meetings led to me having a long list of resources to further research that were recommended by the various participants.  I gained more knowledge in a few hours than I could have done in a month on my own.”

Sprangel shakes the hand of Mary Baldwin alum Susan Nolan Palmer, whose gift supported the launch of the new MBA degree

Breaking the mold

Now in its second year, the program has 39 enrolled students (Sprangel hopes to see that number hit 100 in the next year). The program is all-online in order to allow for a wider range of types of student and lasts four eight-week semesters. Enrollees are spread out from the east coast all the way to Hawaii.

Rather than beginning with courses like finance or marketing, students study the different elements of the B-Corporation assessment (corporations must meet requirements to achieve a B-Corp designation). Those elements are the community, customer, environment, governance, and worker.

After that, students move on to learn the elements of a business plan for a new social enterprise and, ultimately, do a final project in which they must either prepare a strategic plan for an existing business or develop a plan for a new one.

“We look to attract students who want to see business as a force for making the many social and environmental changes necessary to undo damage done by the business sector,” says Sprangel. “This could be those in the for-profit sector who have seen too much emphasis on the financial bottom line. Alternatively, it could be those who have been working in the non-profit sector that are being challenged to provide more evidence of the impact their work is having for the population they serve and to develop alternative revenue streams as it has become more difficult to land and manage grants and giving.”

Beth Beal, a student in Mary Baldwin’s MBA program

Serving those who wish to serve

Those students have found in the program an educational experience that nurtures their desire for service and meets them where they are in their lives.

For Beth Beal, who currently works at the University of Virginia’s Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, an advanced degree was important to advance her career, but she didn’t have the liberty to take a break from that career midstream. As such, the all-online setup of Mary Baldwin’s MBA suited her needs. Even more important, however, was the content of the program.

“Mary Baldwin’s MBA curriculum was designed in a manner that would allow me to think outside the box,” says Beal. “This form of divergent thinking was exactly what I was looking for to take me to the next level as a business leader who is prepared to use change management and the power of business to solve tomorrow’s problems.”

The same is true of Becky Benton, who also maintains a full-time job and is about a third of the way through the program. Benton is among those students who have already started a venture and are looking to push their efforts to new heights.

“With this MBA degree from MBU, I plan to foster and grow the LLC I created to assist businesses in their quest to foster corporate sustainability, environmental sustainability, while being socially responsible,” she says.

The power of business

Through this special MBA program, and, more importantly, the innovative social ventures its graduates will some day start or contribute to, Mary Baldwin is promoting a business world that is less about the ruthless pursuit of personal gain and more about taking care of oneself while also taking care of the highly-interconnected world that surrounds.

“My sincere hope is that this approach to teaching students to do business from the for-benefit approach becomes common place by all business schools,” says Sprangel. “For MBU in particular we want to see students put their dreams into action where they can make a meaningful difference in the world through the power of business.”

A life in mission

Hampden-Sydney College mourns the loss, celebrates the life of Ray Bottom

Ray Bottom in 1966

When Ray Bottom graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1951, he was poised for a lifetime of servanthood. He had earned the Keating Medallion, Hampden-Sydney’s honor for service and dedication to the college, as well as a Sullivan Award. He would go on to a long life of proving just how deserving of that award he was.

Bottom died in February 2018 at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy worthy of the Sullivan name. At Hampden-Sydney, the oldest of the few remaining all-male campuses in the United States, he was a role model for the younger generations.

“Ray Bottom believed strongly in our mission to form good men and good citizens, and for his entire life he remained a steadfast and enthusiastic supporter of his beloved alma mater, the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest, and the Kappa Alpha Order,” says College President Larry Stimpert. “We will miss Ray’s counsel and friendship, and we are ever grateful for all that he did for the men of Hampden-Sydney.”

Bottom poses with a photo of and plaque dedicated to his sister, Dorothy Rouse-Bottom at the Hampton History Museum, which commemorated her life and public works.

A study in generosity

A native of Hampton, Virginia, Mr. Bottom was the single most generous financial supporter in the history of Hampden-Sydney College, and was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1973.

“I have never known a man more generous, more humble, and more willing to do anything to help his alma mater,” says Dean of Admissions Anita H. Garland. “When I came to the College 38 years ago, he was one of the first alumni I met, and he has been an integral part of my life and that of our office since that time. I can’t quite imagine recruiting a class of Hampden-Sydney men without him.”

The former chairman and editor-in-chief of the Daily Press newspaper of Newport News, Virginia, Bottom later served as chairman and chief executive officer of Centennial Communications, Inc. He earned a degree in physics from Hampden-Sydney College and served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, retiring from the Air Force Reserves after a decorated 27-year career. Bottom remained an avid pilot throughout his life, often donating the use of his plane for charitable causes. He was also a passionate supporter of the Virginia Peninsula USO and the Virginia Air & Space Center, where he had served as a director.

“There is no one who loved this College more than he,” says Director of Admissions Jason Ferguson. “Through his generosity and relentless recruiting efforts, he is responsible for countless young men having the opportunity to walk this campus and learn to share in his adoration for this special place.”

Bottom (left) with fellow Times-Herald owner William R. Van Buren.


Bottom actively encouraged many young men in the Peninsula area of Virginia to attend Hampden-Sydney, in addition to generously supporting scholarship aid, which was a family priority: The Raymond B. and Dorothy Rouse Bottom Scholarship, established by Bottom’s parents, provided need-based scholarship aid to Peninsula-area students at the College.

“He was our star recruiter,” says Garland. “Poring over local newspapers for stories about students who would ‘fit’ us, speaking with those students about Hampden-Sydney, and bringing them to the campus to show them the place that changed his own life. Yearly he sponsored events for students and parents so that they could meet alumni and see in practice the brotherhood of Hampden-Sydney College.”

Bottom not only wanted young men to attend Hampden-Sydney, he wanted to make sure that none of them would be turned away for lack of funds. Even in death, he was able to contribute to that cause. The sad news of Bottom’s passing elicited an outpouring of tributes from college alumni and friends whose lives he touched.

“He believed that every person deserved the right to a great education and that money should not prevent a person from receiving such an education, which is why he donated plenty of resources to the College to make sure students could finish what they started,” says Rusty Foster, a 2004 graduate. “He taught me to be selfless. He was for sure a role model.”

Captain Ray Bottom (right) poses in his Air Force uniform in 1965.

A friend to all

Bottom’s selflessness wasn’t limited to Hampden-Sydney—it extended far beyond college-related endeavors.

“I’ll never forget when my 4-year-old daughter needed special medical care, and Ray took us in his plane to the Mayo Clinic,” says Tayloe Negus of the class of 1988. “As odd as it sounds, we found a way to have a wonderful time together during these trying days in Rochester, Minnesota. Truly memorable. And truly life changing. Because of the incredible care and consultation she received at the Mayo clinic, my daughter is thriving today.”

The gravity of the loss reverberated across the Hampden-Sydney community. Bottom’s legacy and selfless spirit will live on there, in all whose lives were graced by his friendship and generosity, and in the Sullivan family, where his example is a perfect fit for the Award he received so many years ago.

“Ray Bottom was the absolute finest embodiment of a Hampden-Sydney man,” says Dr. Herbert L. King, Jr., the College’s vice president for institutional advancement. “He loved this college, her students, her alumni, and he worked tirelessly to promote Hampden-Sydney in all that he did. We are an infinitely stronger institution because of his care and devotion, and hundreds of young men have strong lives today because Ray Bottom introduced them to Hampden-Sydney. We will dearly miss him.”

This article was adapted from a piece that originally appeared on Hampden-Sydney College’s news site. To read the original, or learn more about the college, visit hsc.edu. Additional photos provided by the Newport News Daily Press. Visit them at dailypress.com.

Did You Know?

The Sullivans established themselves as ambassadors for the West and South in New York

Algernon Sydney Sullivan in 1859, at the age of 33.

When the Sullivan family arrived in New York City in 1857, it was amid a massive wave of immigration—of the then 800,000 residents, one-quarter had Irish roots. These new New Yorkers didn’t only come from Europe, however. Many had, just like the Sullivans, come from the West and South.

The main purpose of the family move was to cash in on the booming economy of New York to pay off debts Sullivan had amassed in a giant economic crash back in Cincinnati. The competition was fierce, and Sullivan received only one offer of employment. He chose instead to go it alone, opening up his own one-room firm.

Sullivan discovered a niche for himself as a lawyer, representing Southern and Western interests in New York, and found he made friends and connections quickly. His reputation began to build.

Mary Mildred Sullivan in 1858, at the age of 23.

His most conspicuous act during this time may have been chairing a committee to move President James Monroe’s remains, which at the time were buried in Manhattan, to his native Virginia. Sullivan was successful, and, as he watched a parade escort the former President down Broadway en route to the South, he cried, knowing how much the event would have pleased his father, a great admirer of Monroe.

In under a year, Sullivan was a fixture of New York society, but that didn’t stop him from maintaining his service work. He was superintendent of his church’s Sunday School, where a stained-glass window was dedicated to him with the inscription “A reminder of a life worthy of emulation in every way.” He also frequented the area of the Lower East Side known as “five points,” then a depressed area and hotbed of gang activity, to speak at a mission dedicated to lifting the area up and improving living conditions for the poor.

Community LINX

Clinton School of Public Service students craft a plan for a bistro to provide opportunities for the recently incarcerated

Reggie Ballard, Christine McCall, Terry Mazany, Karen Zuccardi, and Nick Stevens.

The Clinton School of Public Service is one of the more unique institutions in the Sullivan family of schools. Part of the University of Arkansas system, it is located at President Bill Clinton’s presidential center in Little Rock.

The center offers a Master of Public Service program known for its hands-on approach. In 2018, as part of adjunct professor Terry Mazany’s Social Entrepreneurship class, four University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service students got a chance to dive head first into that hands-on ethos. They created a business plan for a new concept for a full-service casual dining restaurant in Little Rock. The plan culminated with a presentation at The Venture Center in Little Rock.

Reggie Ballard, Christine McCall, Nick Stevens, and Karen Zuccardi worked together to create the plan for LINX Bistro, a restaurant with a mission to employ formerly incarcerated men and women and provide them with the professional work and life skills needed to reintegrate into society.

The students present the concept for the LINX Bistro.

“Each of the students in the class had identified a social challenge and had developed a social enterprise to tackle that challenge,” says Mazany. “After they developed those prototypes, for the last third of the semester they deliberated and decided they would support the restaurant idea, and from there it took another round of development to create a business plan.”

The social challenge and business solution came from McCall. She attended college and lived in Boston where Haley House, a non-profit with a similar mission to LINX Bistro, has thrived for more than 50 years.

“If you have a cool restaurant, like Haley House, with artwork on the walls, musicians who visit, programs for kids, you’re going to have different people come in because that’s the place to be,” says McCall. “That’s the meeting place, the melting pot, It’s called LINX Bistro because we want to link different people and communities together.”

The first step in the process was to document the need. In this case, it was necessary to see what was already being done in terms of services being offered to address the challenges of recidivism. Thirty-two percent of individuals released from prison in Arkansas will return within a year. Formerly incarcerated individuals often struggle to find work and reintegrate into normal society and community life.

Next, the students researched similar enterprises and conducted interviews. The group reached out to other restaurants with similar business models, including Café Reconcile in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Haley House Bakery Café in Boston Massachussetts. Clinton School alum Jordan Butler, who is currently in the planning phases of Refill Café in Jackson, Mississippi, also offered advice.

Christine McCall with Grandma’s Bread.

The students interviewed individuals who could benefit from these services, including potential employees and customers. This process led to a clear profile of the need, workforce, and the customers of the restaurant. From there, a marketing plan and budget were built.

“It was intentionally structured to be a real business plan,” says Mazany. “It was designed to be pretty close to something that you could use as the basis for the proposal to a foundation.”

Partnerships with employee recruitment and training were identified. Organizational structures and financial projections were set. Different areas of Little Rock were scouted as potential locations, including University Plaza, Main Street, and West 12th Street.

“Looking at Haley House, Refill or Reconcile, the purpose of these places is to represent the community,” says McCall. “The people working there, we want them to feel comfortable. And the customers, we want them to come to a neighborhood and connect with people that they might not see or interact with on a daily basis. We want to link people together and provide a space where everyone feels like a part of the family.”

Finally, the plan included a menu, complete with starters, entrees, and desserts featuring healthy twists on American classics. The team even offered one menu item—Grandma’s Bread—at Wednesday’s presentation.

“LINX Bistro’s concept is all about nurturing fresh options, for your personal life, for your professional life, and the community at-large and linking all of those together,“ says McCall.

“The presentation went fabulous,” says Mazany.

This story is adapted from an article that originally appeared on the Clinton School’s news site. To read the original piece or learn more about Randolph-Macon, visit clintonschool.uasys.edu.