HPU Announces Strickland Women’s Leadership Council Inaugural Members

HIGH POINT, N.C., Jan. 4, 2021 – High Point University has announced the inaugural members of the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Women’s Leadership Council. 

The Strickland Women’s Leadership Council was founded on Strickland’s belief that the empowerment of women in business and leadership is a life skill worth pursuing. The desired outcome is to provide inspiration, mentorship and opportunities for young women to achieve their dreams. The Strickland Women’s Leadership Council will develop seminars and programs focused on issues relevant to women in business, leadership and entrepreneurship.

“As the father of two successful female entrepreneurs, the husband of a woman who has made such an impact on our community and HPU, I have seen firsthand how important leadership and growth opportunities are for young women as they pursue their dreams,” says HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein. “HPU is fortunate to have many enterprising young women in our community. The creation of the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Women’s Leadership Council will shine a light on the caliber of mentorship that offers our female students a differential advantage as they prepare for the professional world. The impact of Betty Strickland and the Women’s Leadership Council will be felt at HPU for generations to come.”

Last August, in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees a woman’s right to vote, Elizabeth “Betty” Strickland made a $12 million gift, the largest endowment gift in the history of HPU. The gift established the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Women’s Leadership Fund, the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Women’s Leadership Council.

“Empaneling and empowering the Strickland Women’s Leadership Council to study, program and deploy resources for women is a demonstration of High Point University’s leadership,” says Strickland. “I am thrilled to witness High Point University’s commitment to acknowledging women and inspiring them to be confident in their capabilities.”

The inaugural members of the council are as follows:

The members of the council are highly successful in their field, dedicated to the mission of the council of inspiring and mentoring young women as they prepare to enter the professional world. The Council is chaired by Cinny Strickland Graham, with Deborah Kennedy Kennard serving as vice chair.

Elizabeth Miller Strickland

Elizabeth M. “Betty” Strickland was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. Her father was an officer in the Navy/Coast Guard, requiring her family to live in several states including Seattle, Washington, and North Carolina. She attended High Point College where she was crowned “Miss High Point College” in 1952, and in the same year married Robert Louis “Bob” Strickland.  Before moving to North Carolina in 1957, Betty served as executive assistant to the President of Serta, Inc., in Massachusetts. Bob, who passed away in 2018, began a lifelong work association with Lowe’s Companies, Inc., in North Carolina. 

The Strickland’s love of learning and their entrepreneurship beliefs led them to support the North Carolina Community College System and University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Betty developed, designed, and operated Oxford Antiques and Gifts for many years in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This unique and successful business donated its profits to charity and donated more than $1 million dollars of support to local charitable organizations.

The Strickland Scholarship Plaza, named in honor of Betty Strickland, celebrates HPU graduates, honors and inspires past and future donors who invest in young men and women. Betty’s hope is that scholarship investments now will empower HPU’s young women and men to become inspiring and great leaders.

Betty and Bob have two children, Cynthia (Cinny) Strickland Graham, and Robert (Rob) E.M. Strickland.

Cynthia Strickland Graham

Cynthia (Cinny) Strickland Graham graduated from Princeton University with an A.B. in Politics in 1981, and from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a B.A. in Drama in 1987. She has worked in sales with the International Herald Tribune, in public relations for Lowe’s Companies, Inc., and is currently the executive director for the Strickland Family Foundation. She is the daughter of Robert L. and Elizabeth M. Strickland.

Cinny is a professional actor and a member of Actors’ Equity. She has enjoyed performing in professional regional theatres across the country. Favorites include Triad Stage, the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Charlotte Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, and Bristol Riverside Theatre.

She is married to retired District Court Judge, William Graham. They live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 

Christine B. Cottrell

Christine B. (Christy) Cottrell was born in Richmond, Virginia, where she has lived her entire life. She is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in Psychology. Cottrell started her career at Richfood, a regional grocery wholesaler as an intern during her college years, where she held several management positions including director of pricing. 

Her passion for excellence and personal drive led her to found Retail Data Services in 1988. She started the company in a closet in her garage with a $10,000 line of credit on an American Express card. RetailData is now the premier retail intelligence company in the United States. Cottrell was awarded the Virginia Entrepreneur of the Year in 1998 and the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999. RetailData is now an international company with over 1,500 employees. Cottrell continues an active role in the company as a board member and advisor.   

Cottrell has served on the boards of several charitable organizations including the Richmond SPCA, Massey Cancer Center at VCU Health and Make-a-Wish Foundation. Cottrell’s current board positions include Board of Trustees at High Point University and the Richmond Community Foundation.

She is married to David Cottrell and they have a daughter, Leah C. Rose, a graduate of High Point University’s Class of 2017.

Sue A. Downes

Sue Downes, CEO and Co-Founder of MyEyeDr., had an extensive career in the eye care industry prior to starting the company, and has worked in almost every area of the eye care field for more than 30 years.

From one office in 2001, she has led the MyEyeDr. brand to add over 600 locations across 25 states and the District of Columbia, with more practices joining every month. In addition to her work leading the MyEyeDr. team, she is the recipient of several prestigious honors including, Montgomery County Chamber’s “Spirit of Free Enterprise” award, the 2011 Most Influential Woman award, the 2012 Smart CEO award for Entrepreneurial Spirit, the 2015 ACG Corporate Growth Award, and was named the Optical Women’s Association 2016 winner of the Pleiades Award. Most recently, Sue was named the 2018 Person of Vision by Prevent Blindness. 

Downes has been an active volunteer working with Prevent Blindness and she provides volunteer support to various organizations including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, Foundation Fighting Blindness, and the Alzheimer’s Association. Downes’ proudest accomplishment is raising her two sons. Her son, Grant Healey, is a member of High Point University’s Class of 2021. She lives in Northern Virginia with her beloved husband, PJ.

Betsy A. Fleming

Betsy Fleming is passionate about advancing gender equity in the world. She is an early-stage investor in women-led companies and an executive coach who works to develop and equip women as leaders, entrepreneurs and individuals. She has served in various leadership roles including President of Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, from 2005 to 2016, and executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston.

Fleming is on the Board of Directors of Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina and CTE, a privately held company in North Carolina. She also serves on the boards of the Aspen Institute, Davidson College, Phillips Exeter Academy, and Spoleto Festival USA. 

Fleming earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and an M.A. from Royal College of Art in London, as well as a Ph.D. in Art History from Yale University. In 2016, she was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, for her transformative leadership in education, the arts, and civic and business development.

A native of South Carolina, Fleming is married to Ed Weisiger, Jr. and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Laurna Godwin

Laurna Godwin is a native of New Jersey and earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton and a master’s in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. For more than 40 years, Godwin has used her communication skills to educate people about issues affecting how they live, work and play. 

She is owner/president of Vector Communications Corporation, a communications and engagement consulting firm which she co-founded in 1998.

During Godwin’s career, she was recognized with the prestigious Emmy for her broadcast journalism on three different occasions. She has received many awards including the Individual Legacy Builder Award – Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri; The Hellenic Spirit Athena Award; Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award; the Quest Award; Women of Achievement Award; Women of Distinction Award; and, many others. Most recently, she was honored by the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis with its 2020 Making a Difference Award.

Godwin is married to Samuel C. Hutchinson, Jr., who owns Interface Construction Corporation, and they live in St. Louis, Missouri. She has served on several civic boards in the St. Louis region. She is Chair Emeritus of the St. Louis Community Foundation, and currently serves on the boards of the St. Louis Police Foundation and the Regional Business Council.

Heidi E. Hatfield

Heidi Hatfield graduated from Salem Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1977 and from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill with a BA in 1981. After college, she worked with Knoll International in New York City, a major furniture and design company, as a sales associate. Hatfield was a member of the Wine Society of America in New York, a start-up focusing on direct mail retail wine, and served in a variety of roles as the business grew into America’s first mail order wine club. Hatfield has worked in real estate with Shannon and Luchs Real Estate and Pardoe Real Estate, both in Washington, D.C. 

She currently works with Washington Fine Properties, in the D.C. area, part of a three-sister team of real estate agents focusing on residential sales and investments with more than $1 billion in sales to date. She is also managing partner with Hatfield Holdings, managing a portfolio of family commercial real estate holdings in North Carolina’s Triad region.

Hatfield lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Daniel Duff, who is an attorney.

Deborah Kennedy Kennard 

Deborah Kennedy Kennard was born in South Carolina and has lived in Washington, D.C. and Brussels, Belgium. She is a graduate of Yale Law School and received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Duke University, magna cum laude.

Kennedy Kennard is a former managing counsel for Mobil Oil Corporation (now Exxon Mobil Corporation). In that position, she supervised lawyers located in the U.S., in London and Singapore who handled legal matters related to the global supply, trading and transportation operations of the company and its affiliates.

She has served on various boards in Washington, D.C., and currently serves on the following nonprofit boards in Charleston, S.C. — Spoleto Festival USA; the Gibbes Museum of Art; WINGS for Kids; and the Charleston-to-Charleston Literary Festival. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Gibbes Museum of Art and co-chairs the Gibbes’ Distinguished Lecture Series. She has also served on the board of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the Storm Eye Institute of the Medical University of South Carolina. 

Kennedy Kennard is married to William E. Kennard, former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union. They live in Charleston, South Carolina, and have one son, Robert, who is a member of High Point University’s Class of 2023.

Lindsay D. Scott

Lindsay Danielle Scott grew up in Connecticut and graduated cum laude from High Point University in 2013 with a B.A. in Human Relations. After graduation, she worked as an assistant store manager for Vineyard Vines in New Canaan, Connecticut. 

Joining HPU in July 2015, Lindsay served as the employer relations specialist in the Office of Career and Professional Development. She was responsible for creating boutique recruitment events, career and internship expos, and partnering with other university departments to provide professional development opportunities. In October 2019, Lindsay was selected as the founding director of the Department of Corporate Relations at her alma mater where she was responsible for developing and maintaining partnerships with employers to provide internships and full-time jobs for more than 5,000 students. 

Scott most recently began as the talent development manager at Coca-Cola Consolidated in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she is responsible for both the internship and management trainee program.

Betsy L. Turner

Betsy L. Turner grew up in New York and received a B.A. from Lake Forest College. She is the senior vice president-senior portfolio manager at Northern Trust Bank in Palm Beach, Florida. 

Previously, Turner served as partner-senior portfolio manager at Carl Domino Associates and Investment Manager at Island National Bank, both in Florida, and as assistant equity trader at National Westminster Bank in New York, New York. 

Turner also serves as vice president for the Palm Beach Island Hospice Foundation, Trustee and Panel Chair-Funds Allocations for the Town of Palm Beach United Way, director of the Mary Alice Fortin Foundation and the Barker Welfare Foundation, and is past board chair of the Madeira School, and past member of the Women’s Advisory Committee for the New York Historical Society. 

She lives in Palm Beach, Florida, with her husband, Wallace (Wally) Turner, who is senior global advisor for Sotheby’s International Real Estate.

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