Letter from the president

Hello everyone, and welcome to the new issue of Engage. With this publication, we mark four years of reaching out to the Sullivan Foundation community to share stories of our schools, our students, our alumni, and our friends.

As I look through the stories we’re presenting in this issue, I’m struck by how they reflect the ways our people contribute to the world at every stage of life. We have a story of students engaging in social entrepreneurship even while still finishing their degrees. We have stories of very recent graduates already making waves in the service world and giving back to their schools. We have the story of a professor who has made service central to his teaching for more than 40 years.

We even have a brief story on Eugene Watson, a Foundation Trustee who served in the 40s and 50s. Watson died more than half a century ago, leaving a bequest to the Foundation that is only just now beginning to pay dividends that will allow us to do the work we do in even more effective ways—our awards, our retreats, and our campus initiatives, just to name a few.

We also look back, in our ‘Did You Know’ column, at how the sheer generosity of Algernon Sydney and Mary Mildred Sullivan inspired friends and acquaintances to preserve their memory by passing on that generous spirit to future generations. I know how much the Sullivan family gives back to the world, and I thank you for that, while encouraging you to keep living into that spirit by giving back wherever you can—to your schools, your communities, even to the Foundation itself.

Thanks, as always, for everything you do. Please enjoy the new issue.

Steve McDavid


Did you know?

Before the Sullivan Foundation and New York Southern Society, Sullivan’s legacy was maintained by a group of his friends

The Sullivan memorial horse trough fountain in Van Courtlandt Park in the Bronx burrough of New York City. It contains an inscription remembering Sullivan as well as a bronze portrait.

Sullivan succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 61. He had never enjoyed particularly good health, so his death was not much of a surprise to those that knew him. It was, however, a cause for unanimous public grief. In New York City, where Sullivan lived out the latter half of his life, the New York Times even ran a full tribute, saying:

The announcement that Algernon Sydney Sullivan is dead will prove a great shock and a cause of honest regret not only to his friends and acquaintances, who are many, but to the public at large, for he was looked upon as a man of great ability, of a kindness of heart that could not be measured, of never-ending desire to promote such projects as were for the benefit of the people, and more than all, he was considered a politician who was absolutely pure.

Two plaquettes given to New York law schools. Only five to ten of the plaques are known to still be in existence. The first bears the inscription “He reached out both hands in constant helpfulness to his fellow men.” The second reads: “As one lamp lights another nor grows less, so nobleness kindleth nobleness.”

The Times wasn’t the only paper to memorialize him—many other New York papers ran their own tributes, along with others as far away as New Orleans. The world didn’t want to forget Sullivan, so a group of his friends, associates, and admirers formed the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Memorial Committee in order to ensure his memory would live on.

Over the course of some three-and-a-half decades, the committee did a number of different things to remember Sullivan. In 1906, they erected a public horse fountain bearing his portrait at Van Courtlandt Park. It is one of only a very few horse fountains still in existence in New York—and it still works. The committee also gave a bust of Sullivan to his college fraternity. They presented memorial plaques to New York law schools and other civic institutions.

None of these remembrances would do what the committee had set out to do, however—make sure Sullivan would live on long after all of them were gone. In 1925, they found their solution, and the Sullivan Award was born.

The committee partnered with the New York Southern Society to get the award off the ground, and a year later—their work finally done—the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Memorial Committee was disbanded.

Five years after that, in 1930, Sullivan’s wife, Mary Mildred, and son, George, secured the charter for the Foundation, to ensure the Award would go on even after their own deaths. Nearly 90 years later, it appears they succeeded.

The art of progress

Berea College brings the AIR Institute to Kentucky to promote Appalachian crafts

Berea College has long been known for its Berea College Crafts program, a one-of-a-kind institution that promotes and sustains Appalachian crafts. The program has been in operation for 124 years and employs more than 100 students. Not only do those students practice in the traditions of Appalachian design excellence, respect for materials, and the honor that comes from hard work, they also learn how to market and distribute their crafts.

Now, a new chapter has opened for the crafts program as Berea has acquired the intellectual property of the AIR Institute and relocated it to its campus in Berea, Kentucky. The institute, originally known as the Arts Incubator of the Rockies, was originally based in Colorado and had the broad mission of supporting artists and nonprofit arts organizations. Ultimately, they made the decision to relocate to Kentucky and to Berea based on the college’s long-established dedication to Appalachian art.

“Berea College saw value in the AIR programs and knew they could help serve their commitment to helping Appalachian communities,” says Beth Flowers, the institute’s director. “The AIR Board of Directors also believed that being at Berea College would be the best opportunity for AIR to achieve its long-term vision to raise the value of art and creativity in every community nationwide. The mission and vision alignment was ideal.”

AIR aims to raise the value of art and help artists connect with business so that their work can be profitable. It takes practical steps toward a modern vision for the Appalachian crafts revival that has been a core focus of Berea’s for so long.

“Berea College believes that the AIR programs provide a sustainable future for the American Craft movement, the work of creatives, and vibrant, creative communities nationwide,” says Lyle Roelofs, the college’s president.

Flowers also emphasizes the collaborative approach of AIR as a way not only to empower artists, but create a sustainable art economy.

“Our programs are not just for artists,” she says. “We help small business owners, community groups, and creatives discover common ground so that they can work together, understand each other better, and make new, exciting collaborations that help grow their culture and economy.”

The new iteration of AIR is in its infancy, but is well positioned to provide a springboard into a new era of promoting art and improving the art economy in the Appalachian region.

“We connect art and business and community so that everyone thrives,” says Flowers. “The vision of AIR is to achieve systemic change that raises the value of art and creativity in every community.”

The only shirt that educates

Hampden-Sydney college students discover social entrepreneurship and start a career while getting an education

Hampden-Sydney college is unique in many ways. It is the tenth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, oldest private college in the South, and one of the few remaining private colleges for men. Hampden-Sydney’s motto is to “form good men and good citizens in an atmosphere of sound learning.” It’s a humble and noble goal—one that complements the Sullivan Foundation’s own mission beautifully.

Cheng and Beck meet local kids during a trip to the Dominican Republic

Two Hampden-Sydney students have decided to put the College’s motto into action in a manner every bit as unique as the college itself—by launching a philanthropic business while maintaining full academic loads. Although many young entrepreneurs launch their first ventures while still in school, few take on such a risky and time-consuming project with the primary goal of raising money for charity. But Jacky Cheng and Tanner Beck, both members of the class of 2018, did exactly that in the spring of their junior year. Inspired by their participation in college-sponsored mission trips and motivated by the philanthropic work of several Hampden-Sydney alumni, Cheng and Beck launched Pan, a clothing company “on a mission to eliminate illiteracy.”

Meeting a need

For Beck, the emotional bond he formed two years ago with a young Haitian refugee, Ubi, on a Hampden-Sydney trip to the Dominican Republic turned into a commitment to the child’s education.

“I decided that the most significant thing I could do for Ubi’s family was to pay for his school fees and books,” Beck says.

Educating just one child wasn’t enough, though. After a second trip in January 2017, he was determined to make basic education a reality for even more children.

“Ubi’s parents were so incredibly thankful that their son could go to school,” Beck says. “Their response made me realize that, in many parts of the world, education is not readily available, yet I believe it’s the key to long-term impact.”

Cheng’s belief in the power of education to transform lives comes from his own personal experience. The son of Chinese immigrants, he knows first-hand how valuable his educational opportunities are—opportunities that his parents and grandparents never had, but were determined to give him.

“When my parents moved to America, they could barely speak English, but they worked hard to provide me with the best schooling and activities they could,” Cheng says. “From a young age, I knew how much they valued education, and now I have the chance to be the first in my family to graduate from college.”

Now Cheng wants to use his own education to help others.

“Knowledge is so powerful; ultimately it’s the tool that will give people opportunities and help communities create jobs.”

A process of discovery

Cheng and Beck, both economics majors, originally thought that law or public policy, rather than business, would be their avenue for making a positive change in the world. But a chance meeting last fall with class of 1985 Hampden-Sydney alum Toby Usnik—well-known in the business world for his work at Christie’s International, the New York Times Company, and American Express—changed Cheng’s perspective.

Usnik’s passion for corporate philanthropy and social responsibility convinced Cheng that partnering a business with existing charities might be the fastest way to make an impact. Usnik was on campus to address students about purpose-driven careers, but when he talked with Beck and Cheng, he found that they were one step ahead of him.

“These young men were already practicing what I was preaching—defining their purpose and integrating it into their careers…and making the world a better place in doing so,” Usnik says.

In May, after further mentorship from Hampden-Sydney alumni and faculty, the two students launched a month-long Kickstarter Campaign to fund Pan, a socially responsible clothing company that donates five textbooks for every item of clothing it sells. They managed to raise over $13,000. They’ve also formed a partnership with Hope for Haiti, a well-established charity that already has an active book program and staffs 24 schools on the island.

Putting in the hours

While both students admit that starting a business from scratch is far more work than they ever imagined, they feel that, at this stage in life, they have very little to lose. Preparing to launch the business just two weeks before final exams, Beck noted, wasn’t easy, but that wouldn’t deter him.

“There’s no better time to do this than now,” he says. “Of course, the time management has been difficult, since we both spend about four hours a day working on the business on top of our academic work, but we’ve learned so much about the world beyond the classroom.”

The simple, 5-books-per-shirt formula is designed to offer customers a direct understanding of how their purchases make a difference. Their motto is a little more modern in tone than Hampden-Sydney’s. It’s “the only shirt that educates.” Their mission, however, is very much in line with the timeless one embraced by their alma mater.

Beck and Cheng hope the business will grow quickly, but their primary goals go far beyond that of traditional entrepreneurs.

“I don’t think success is measured in profit, but in finding purpose and fulfillment,” Cheng says. “We’ve found something meaningful in our lives and we’ve decided to pursue it.”

A match made in service

Laura Young and Nick Ruxton, both 2014 Sullivan Award recipients, marry after seven years together

On August 5, 2017 Laura Young and Nick Ruxton were married at Westhampton United Methodist Church, the culmination of an eight-year courtship that began in high school, weathered four years of separation as the pair attended different colleges, and included a very special surprise when they reunited.

On May 10, 2014, Ruxton received a Sullivan Award at his graduation ceremony at Shenandoah University. Just a few weeks later, Young did the exact same thing, at Randolph-Macon College.

“I had to send him a message to let him know because he was abroad and we could not talk on the phone,” Young says. “I said to him ‘I know you have always wanted to name our first dog Sully, and now we really will have to, because we are both Sullivan award winners.’”

Living apart, living fully

Young and Ruxton began dating the summer before their senior year of high school, while serving on a church youth council that planned retreats and other youth group activities.

“We began talking as friends and it went from there,” Ruxton says. “We have never broken that text chain since we began talking.”

There was bound to be some difficulty, as the couple planned on going to different colleges while continuing to date, so they made a pact to stay together while still getting the most of their respective experiences.

“One commitment we made to each other was that we would not hole ourselves up in our respective dorm rooms and go visit each other every single weekend,” Young says. “We both decided we would get involved in school and soak up our college experience, while still making time to see each other when we could.”

That commitment meant that Young and Ruxton would often go stretches of 4 to 6 weeks without seeing each other in person, but they agree it provided the best experience possible.

“For both of us to win the Sullivan Award really said to me that we kept our commitment to each other and to ourselves to be active in our school and community, and that is something I am really proud of,” says Young.

An honor earned

Ruxton kept his promise to Laura from his first day at Shenandoah, located in Winchester, Virginia. He helped with meal time at the local Salvation Army, delivered food to homeless shelters during cold months, and, along with his friend Emily Howdyshell, led a mission trip to the Bahamas to work for Bahamas Methodist Habitat, which does home repair and disaster relief work.

Young, meanwhile, dove into campus life, finding her place as a leader among Randolph-Macon students. She served in student government as president of the class of 2014 all four years of her college career.  She also served as president of the college’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society, which emphasizes service to others as one of its five pillars. Through her sorority (for which she also served a term as president), she participated regularly in service projects.

A match worth waiting for

Their engagement, carefully orchestrated by Ruxton, took Young by surprise with the help of a little innocent trickery. Ruxton, who works as a videographer for the United Methodist Church, brought her along to an ecumenical center where he claimed to have work to do. The plan made sense, as they were going out to dinner with Young’s parents immediately afterward.

Little did Young know her parents weren’t the only ones planning to attend the dinner. Employing a fake text message, Ruxton claimed a co-worker inside had warned him to wait before coming in to avoid interrupting a prayer. How would they kill the time? There happened to be a beautiful overlook, offering a vista of the city of Richmond below, right nearby.

The moment they reached the overlook, Young knew she’d been duped, but couldn’t have been happier. Ruxton’s brother Stephen and sister-in-law Karley were hiding around a corner to capture the proposal. Afterwards, the Young and Ruxton families went out for a celebratory dinner.

Just over three years after that fateful May when Young and Ruxton received their Awards, they made it official. Their passion for service even shone through at the wedding reception where, in lieu of favors, donations were made to charities of importance to the specific guests at each table.

An attitude of gratitude

Neither Ruxton nor Young have forgotten the feeling of being recognized for their dedication, despite all the other exciting life changes since their Sullivan Awards.

At Shenandoah, the recipient of the Award isn’t even revealed until the ceremony, at the very moment it’s bestowed, so Ruxton was truly in for a surprise.

“I was in shock when my name was read at graduation,” he says. “I knew this award was given out at graduation and those who had won it before me were very influential members of the Shenandoah University community. I never thought my name would be listed with theirs.”

For Young, it was a validation of the commitment she and Ruxton had made in high school, to stay committed while not letting a long-distance relationship diminish what college could be.

“There are so many students at Randolph-Macon who are involved and dedicated, and to be recognized among them was very humbling,” she says. “I have always seen college as being about so much more than the grades on your transcript, so to be recognized for being a well-rounded student with a heart for service was really special to me.”

As individuals, Young and Ruxton have bright futures ahead of them. As a pair, the Sullivan spirit will shine even brighter within them, perhaps just as it did for Algernon Sydney and Mary Mildred Sullivan when they married more than 150 years ago.

Sullivan Flashback: Robert Gates

Robert Gates is a household name for most Americans, given his tenures as United States Secretary of Defense and as head of the CIA. Most people don’t know, however, that his political career has been interspersed with work in academia. He spent most of the nineties as a lecturer—at such storied colleges as Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Georgetown, and his own alma mater, the College of William and Mary. He even served for a time as president of Texas A&M University, just before returning to government when he was appointed to the cabinet by President George W. Bush.

Gates would go on to serve under both the Bush and Obama administrations before retiring in 2011. He is the only Secretary of Defense ever to serve under presidents of different parties, owing to the wide bipartisan respect he cultivated in Washington. His nomination to the post was confirmed by the Senate 95-2.

Upon Gates’ retirement, President Obama bestowed on him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That medal is the highest award that can be received by a civilian in the United States. The first major award Gates won, however, may have been a sign of the career to come. When he graduated from William and Mary in 1965, Gates received the Sullivan Award.

President Barack Obama presents Gates with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the Pentagon in 2011

What’s more, this storied Sullivan alum is now back where it all began, serving as chancellor of William and Mary, where he has said he gained “a calling to serve—a sense of duty to community and country that this college has sought to instill in each generation of students for more than 300 years.”

As an undergraduate, Gates was an active member of Alpha Phi Omega, among the most well-known college service organizations, where he worked to promote service-based leadership and community development. He even led the chapter during his senior year.

Gates made the most of his college years, mixing his service work with work as a dorm manager and an orientation aide. He also managed the William & Mary Review, a literary magazine.

Gates awards the Secretary of Defense Medal
for Outstanding Public Service to First Lady Laura Bush in 2009

While his return to William and Mary has lent a satisfying symmetry to his career, the college has never been far from Gates’ heart—he has returned for commencement speeches and other appearances over the years, served as a trustee, and been active in the alumni association. The college has even recognized his work with both an honorary doctorate and the Alumni Medallion, the alumni association’s highest honor.

At age 73, and with such a long and varied career already behind him (in addition to his academic and government work, he’s been president of the Boy Scouts of America and written three books), retirement might seem like the next logical step for Gates. His drive to serve his country, his college, and his community, however, points toward the possibility of a long road yet to go for this dedicated servant leader.

A servant’s homecoming

Less than a year after graduating, Erskine alum Elinor Griffin returns to promote refugee outreach

Elinor Griffin, left, poses with Kay Burklin, a refugee liaison for Mission to the World, during her campus visit in May. Burklin shared the stage with Griffin to speak at Erskine’s Lesesne Auditorium

Erskine College is a small and picturesque liberal arts campus in South Carolina. It’s also a member of the Sullivan Foundation’s network of member schools, and like all Sullivan schools, turns out a lot of graduates who go on to lives of service. Even the most impressive students at Sullivan schools, however, would be hard pressed to do as much as Erskine alum Elinor Griffin in as little time.

Griffin graduated from Erskine magna cum laude in 2016. In March of 2017, she was already returning to campus to speak to her alma mater about her job as Refugee Ministry Coordinator for Outreach North America—and “to challenge the idea that success has to look like a big paycheck, or a fancy job title, or everyone knowing your name, or an easy life.”

She’s gotten off to a quick start.

An education in empathy

Griffin’s first introduction to refugees was during a 2015 Winter Term internship at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Baltimore, Maryland, after she had spent part of the summer in 2014 with a ministry called the Rafiki Foundation in Mojo, Ethiopia.

Griffin’s passion for service is heavily informed by her Christian faith, which she credits with opening her eyes to the suffering of others.

“The Lord used my time overseas to break my heart as the global refugee crisis rapidly worsened that summer,” she says. “For the first time, I grasped so vividly that the thousands of people who were fleeing for their lives were not just numbers or statistics; they were real people, and each one had a name and a face and a story.”

The current refugee crisis is the largest since World War II, with more than 21 million men, women and children affected, and in addition to those who are clearly refugees, Griffin says, “Another 43 million are displaced in some way because of violence and persecution.”

A rousing call

In her talk, Griffin eloquently made the case to Erskine undergraduates—a group she was a part of at the same time the year before—to pay attention to the crisis, noting it takes, on average, 18 months to two years, but sometimes can take decades for refugees to be resettled:

That means that there are people our age who have never known life outside a refugee camp.

Imagine with me for a moment that tomorrow you are airdropped into Uzbekistan. You do not know a single person in the country. You do not know the language. You do not know the culture, the historical context, the climate, the industry, or the political scene of the country where you will spend the rest of your life.

All you know is the name of a city you can’t pronounce and can’t spell, and you are now vulnerable to mistreatment and misinformation unless you happen to find a friend or an advocate to help you.

Griffin recalled the fear she felt as a college senior, not knowing what to do after graduation, and said that she would have to take the fear she experienced at that time “and amp it up by about 1,000” to come close to the terror and trauma of refugees who have had “family members, home, life’s work, belongings, and memories…ripped away.”

The Erskine campus

Making the transition

In preparation for her job with refugees for Outreach North America here in the United States, Griffin spent some time in Greece, and a church planter there told her that refugees’ biggest need is community.

“That need that they are trying to meet in Greece is also a need that we can meet here in the United States,” Griffin says. “They need people who are willing to just open up our daily lives to refugees and share our normal lives with them. They need people who will sit and listen and give refugees the dignity of sharing their story.”

Griffin stressed that special skills in languages or other areas are not necessary.

“It takes being willing to step past the awkwardness of a different culture and be a friend and a support,” she says. “And that can take shape in any way that you are gifted or interested.”

Griffin has known people who have started community gardens, sports leagues for children, and sewing clubs, and she believes one’s own gifts and interests can be a means of building a bridge.

“It’s not always easy. It’s not always pretty. But it’s love in action,” she says

The big questions

In making her impassioned plea for more refugee outreach to students, Griffin wasn’t afraid to put forward bold questions:

As you graduate, is there a category in your definition of success for caring for vulnerable people?

For speaking out against injustice? For being content…to forgo the big paycheck and fancy job and prestige for the sake of investing in the lives of those around you …whatever career you’re going into or whatever degree you will have?

For many in the room, especially seniors, these were questions that would soon have to be faced. For Griffin, who only too recently wrestled with those very same thoughts, the answers clearly came quickly. Her servant spirit has surely been lifechanging for the refugees she’s worked on behalf of. Perhaps, by sharing her inspiration with students, Griffin can multiply her impact by creating new classes of servant leaders.


This article was adapted from a story that originally appeared on Erskine College’s news website. To read the original piece and to learn more about Erskine, visit news.erskine.edu.

What he’s all about

2017 Sullivan Award recipient Dr. John Kline builds a legacy of service at Troy University

Dr. John Kline (left) accepts his Sullivan Award from Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University, at the 2017 commencement ceremony

The path to academia was not a straight one for John Kline. Today, he is a professor as well as the director of the Institute for Leadership Development at Troy University in Troy, Alabama. He got his professional start, however, on a farm.

“I was a farmer in Iowa, where I grew up, for six years after high school,” says Kline. “I was told I wasn’t college material.”

Obviously, he proved the nay-sayers wrong. Not only did he go on to earn a Ph.D. and become a professor, he distinguished himself as an excellent teacher and mentor to countless students and a devoted community servant both on campus and in his community. Now, his 17 years as a vital asset to Troy have been honored with a Sullivan Award.

As a professor of communication and leadership, teaching has always been a major passion for Kline—he’s won plenty of awards for it. The recognition for service, however, was a new high point in his career.

“I thought I’d received the best award I would ever receive, and that was the classroom teacher award,” says Kline, referring to Troy’s Ingalls Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching, the university’s highest teaching honor. “This means more, though. It really does. It’s for service, and service is what I’m all about.”

An unexpected life

After his stint as a farmer, Kline eventually found himself at Iowa State University, a half decade older than most of his peers, and at first felt ill-prepared.

“I got a 16 on the English portion of the ACT. I go off to college and get a ‘C’ on my first paper,” Kline says. “I told my teacher, ‘I don’t talk good and I don’t write good.’”

He turned things around quickly and majored in English and speech education. After finishing his undergraduate work, Kline went on to get both his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Iowa. He completed all three degrees, astonishingly, in a total of six and a half years.

Kline found work after graduate school, serving as a professor at the University of New Mexico and at the University of Missouri-Columbia, before opening the next major chapter of his life. A mentor suggested he apply to the United States Air Force Air University. He thought he had no chance at getting the job. A surprise was in store for Kline.

“Dog-gone if they didn’t hire me,” he says.

Kline and Hawkins pose for a photo with the two 2017 student winners of the Sullivan Award,
Maxwell Herman and Sarah Talbot.

He became a professor, teaching communication and leadership, and spent the next 25 years with the Air Force, rising to the top civilian position as University Provost and Chief Academic Officer.

A teacher of leaders

The Air Force had brought Kline to Alabama, and it turned out he was destined to stay. His next job was at Troy, where he cultivated a reputation as an attentive and astute teacher, as well as an excellent example for his students of how to be engaged with a community.

As director of Troy’s Institute for Leadership Development, whose stated mission is to facilitate “development of ethical, responsible leaders who want to use their leadership abilities at school, on the job, and to serve society,” Kline fosters what he calls “Servant Leaders” through conferences, courses, and campus partnerships. Citing his religious faith, he says the greatest servant leader who ever lived proclaimed 2000 years ago that he “came not to be served but to serve others.”

The impact of his work has left a lasting impression on many students. Sam Moody, a Troy student majoring in Risk Management Insurance with a minor in Leadership Development, has been profoundly impacted by Kline. For Moody, he exemplifies the Sullivan spirit.

“Dr. Kline has maintained a level of integrity, honesty, and servitude that far surpasses anything I have seen from another professor,” he says. “I have never had another professor that genuinely cares as much about the well-being of his or her students.”

And Kline’s service involvement goes far beyond his care for his students. He is active in his church, teaching Sunday school and holding other leadership positions. He works with the Special Olympics and the state’s Youth Leadership Forum for High School Students with Disabilities. He served as president of Montgomery, Alabama’s Partners in Education program for three years. And for many years both Dr. Kline and his wife, Ann, have been volunteers at the Wesley Gardens Assisted Living Facility in Montgomery.

A radiating impact

Kline with his wife, Ann. The couple lives in Montgomery, Alabama

These are only a few of the service efforts that make Kline a worthy Sullivan Award recipient. After 17 years at Troy, not to mention the rest of his tremendous career and the years still to come, the impact he’s made on his students and the larger communities where he’s lived and worked, is impossible to measure.

His biggest legacy, however, may be in the many Servant Leaders he has helped form, whose impact will radiate out into the world from the Troy campus and continue impacting the world long after he retires.

“Dr. Kline has played such an instrumental role in my time at Troy,” says Moody, a junior and the Vice President of Campus Activities for the Student Government Association. “I know that our relationship is something that will help me grow for years to come.”

Sullivan Superstar

Berry College’s Elly Rusia takes advantage of all the Foundation has to offer and uses it to make a difference

When recent Berry College graduate Elly Rusia thinks back on her experiences with the Sullivan Foundation, she has a little trouble remembering exactly how it all started.

“It’s hard to pinpoint,” she says. “The whole thing just felt so natural.”

Her best guess is a workshop she attended on the Rome, Georgia, campus earlier in her college career. Spud Marshall, the Foundation’s Director of Student Engagement was there along with Alan Webb, a frequent facilitator at the Foundation’s “Ignite” retreats. The purpose of the workshop was introducing students to social entrepreneurship and filling them in about the ways the Foundation could help them.

One of Rusia’s advisors encouraged her to go to Ignite. She took the advisor’s advice… four times over. Rusia attended four retreats over the next couple of years and took the things she learned back to improve her campus, serving as one of the Foundation’s Campus Catalysts. The Catalysts’ goal is to create a team of students that work to make their campuses more dynamic places to learn about social innovation. It all started with Ignite!

“The retreats that Sullivan hosts are so amazing,” Rusia says. “They build this community in a short weekend, and I really come back feeling recharged and ready to take on the world.”

Reaching out and branching out

Her work as a catalyst and status as a retreat attendee are plenty to make Rusia a superstar in terms of her engagement with the Foundation, but it doesn’t end there. After her Junior year, she really wanted to do something unconventional instead of the same typical internships most students seek.

“I didn’t want to be in a place where I had to be in an office or corporate America,” she says.

She’d pinpointed where she wanted to be—Latin America—and how she wanted to get there. The nonprofit Social Entrepreneur Corps program sends students to Latin American countries to work as consultants with other local nonprofit agencies. The only problem for Rusia was that she didn’t have the funds to go. Sullivan had done so much for her in the past to further the goal of social engagement, so she decided to reach out.

She wrote an essay detailing her passion for the work and the good she thought it would do for her as well as the good she could do while there learning. She was given a grant, and was on her way.

“I can’t fully express how thankful I am to the Sullivan Foundation and how they’ve impacted me and encouraged me throughout my time with them,” she says.

Bringing it back home

Resources spent on Rusia have turned out to be a great investment for Sullivan. In addition to her work abroad, she enriched the Berry campus with several projects that helped bring the Foundation directly to the students.

With the help of a team she assembled at Berry, Rusia organized an ongoing series they call “Changemaker Chats,” which she describes as a sort of mini-Ignite retreat where likeminded students can get together, share and critique ideas, and build a true social innovation community.

From there, Rusia’s team dove into a second project—the Social Impact workshop. The workshops are designed to give participants a toolkit to help them get started with social ventures, teaching practical skillsets from interpersonal communication to business models.

The workshops center on particular social issues. The first one was called “Stigmas of Mental Illness.” The team put lots of effort into the preparation, but Rusia had no idea how much interest there would be.

“We didn’t plan for the amount of people that actually did show up, and there was a lot of talk on campus,” she says. “We had to get extra chairs.”

A maker of changemakers

Rusia is a perfect example of the kind of changemaker the Foundation hopes to mold, and now, she’s a maker of changemakers herself. Less than a year out from graduation, the road ahead for her could go just about any direction. She’ll always remember where it started, though.

“I’m so thankful to the people that have really invested in me,” Rusia says. “People like (retreat facilitators) David and Spud and Alan and Chad and Alexis. They do so much prep and they work so hard to have a wonderful, packed, amazing weekend. I’m also thankful for (Foundation president) Steve McDavid. I know he works hard to oversee all the operations behind the scenes. It’s truly been a wonderful time that I’ve had with them.”