Elizabethtown College presents highest honor to three alumni
November 14, 2014   //   By:   //   Campus & Community, Campus and Community, Service

The highest honor Elizabethtown graduates can receive from the College and its alumni association recently were presented to James H. Buford, St. Louis, Mo.; Nancy (Zwally) Dering Mock, Ponte Verde, Fla.; and the late Rachel Jones Williams. The Educate for Service Awards were given by Elizabethtown College President Dr. Carl J. Strikwerda and President of the Elizabethtown College Alumni Association Elizabeth O. Romaine ’02 Friday, Oct. 24, at the College’s President’s Dinner. The awards,  a tradition since 1966, acknowledge the recipients’ dedication to service in one of three areas: Service through Professional Achievement, Service to Humanity or Service to the College.

“Alumni are doing amazing things all throughout the world, and it is terrific that we significantly lift those up who have continued to embody Elizabethtown’s mission in wonderful ways,” said Mark Clapper ’96, director of Alumni Relations at the College. “The Educate For Service Awards are the highest honors that alumni of the College can receive, and the Alumni Council—the governing body of the Elizabethtown College Alumni Association—is extremely proud to support the selection and conferral of these awards every year.”

Alumni are doing amazing things all throughout the world, and it is terrific that we significantly lift those up who have continued to embody Elizabethtown’s mission in wonderful ways.”

Dering MockThe 2014 Service through Professional Achievement was awarded to Nancy (Zwally) Dering Mock ’76. Dering Mock’s ability to motivate and teach others in ways that have led to greater success and achievement, positively impact countless others across numerous professional sectors. After her graduation from Elizabethtown in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in professional studies, she earned her master’s degree—with highest honors—from Temple University in 1982.

She founded The Dering Consulting Group, serving as president from 1986 until 1999; the client list included Fortune 500 companies, educational and health care institutions and nonprofit organizations. She worked with all levels of government, as well as with projects involving Argentina and Zimbabwe, and was president-elect of the National Association of State Personnel Executives. She was the organization’s 2006 recipient of the Eugene Rooney Award for Leadership in Human Resources. Dering Mock was an adjunct faculty member at the H. John Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University and an accomplished author. She wrote a series of six books that were published in 2003.

“From a leadership perspective, Nancy’s experience an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and volunteer and list of accomplishments are quite impressive,” said Clapper. “Her genuine giving spirit and desire to encourage others to achieve greater successes also enable her to use education as a tool for serving others on both large and small scales.”

The alumna was an officer and member on numerous leadership boards and executive committees in the Harrisburg region. She earned numerous awards and prestigious designations — the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the YWCA Tribute to Women of Excellence in 2004, Harrisburg Magazine’s 2006 Movers and Shapers, Harrisburg Regional Chamber 2006 Athena Award, acknowledgement by Central Penn Business Journal as a 2012 Women of Influence, a 2013 American Society for Public Administration Central PA Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the United Way of the Capital Region 2013 Volunteer Leadership Award.

She now advances leadership and organization development as principal in her consulting practice, Nancy Dering Inc.

Buford James H. Buford ’80 was presented with the Service to Humanity award for his quarter of a century career as a civil rights leader in the state of Missouri.

Buford earned an associate degree from St. Louis Community College and a bachelor’s degree in professional studies in human services administration from Elizabethtown College in 1980. He joined the Republican National Committee to elect Ronald Reagan, which culminated in a six-month service position in the White House. In 1985, Buford began a 28-year career as leader of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. Initially supporting a few thousand people with a $2.5 million budget, he guided the Urban League to annually serving more than 66,000 citizens through a $13 million budget.

He created the Urban League Guild and youth auxiliary, established service regions in St. Louis County, St. Louis City and St. Clair County, and assisted with a partnership to operate a national $5-million Head Start program in St. Louis City with the YWCA. “It is amazing to think of the positive impact that Jim has had—and continues to have—on the lives of so many people,” noted Clapper. “Without question, the greater St. Louis region has been transformed because of Jim’s tireless efforts to broaden the scope of the Urban League and the Alumni Association is very proud to honor him with this award.”

Buford served as an officer or board member of local and regional leadership groups and was nominated to serve on the Harris-Stowe State University Board of Regents to assist with developing policies and providing oversight to the university’s administration and operation.

In light of recent tragic events in Ferguson, Mo., and continuing unrest in and around the region, Buford was selected to serve on a task force aimed at promoting healing and reconciliation throughout the communities of the greater St. Louis area.  He has received numerous awards, honors and accolades for his efforts to promote inclusion and fairness for minorities and disenfranchised citizens in the St. Louis and surrounding communities—especially African-Americans, including honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degrees from Harris-Stowe State College, the University of Missouri–St. Louis, Webster University and Eden Theological Seminary.

Jones WilliamsLinda Jones-Williams, mother of Rachel Jones Williams ’06, attended the President’s Dinner to accept her daughter’s Service to the College award, presented posthumously by the Alumni Association.

Jones Williams attended the College as a traditional student at the age of 34. While studying history and women and gender studies, she founded the Noir black student society and was an active member of the Intercultural Board and the Integrity Committee. In 2005, as president of Noir, she rallied the entire campus community to host the first Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, ensuring that the College would continue to sponsor programs connecting Dr. King’s dream to contemporary issues.

After graduating in 2006, Jones Williams earned a master’s degree in museum studies at the Cooperstown (New York) Graduate Program for History and Museum Studies. Throughout her graduate work, Elizabethtown remained a priority; she never refused a request to visit to conduct a class lecture or assist with programs.

Upon being elected to the Alumni Council in the fall of 2011, Jones Williams became involved with the governance of the Elizabethtown College Alumni Association and lived and loved the Elizabethtown College Alumni Association’s slogan “Blue Jays. Always.” Affectionately referring to the College as “the E,” she wore her beloved “E”-logo pin on and off campus, literally and figuratively holding Elizabethtown close to her heart at all times. She rarely missed the Elizabethtown College traditions of Homecoming, the student Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Commencement and was firmly positioned at graduation, greeting students and serving as a role model for minority students as testament to and affirmation of their achievements.

“RJW was one of the most joyful volunteers that I have ever met,” Clapper said, “and, in all ways, exemplified the “true blue” advocate for Elizabethtown College.  As long as it benefited the College in some way, she never felt that there was a task too large or small to take on.  As a recipient of this award, her special model of selfless service to E-town will now live on in perpetuity.”

Rachel Jones Williams died in October 2013 at the age of 44.

About the Author :

E.A. (Elizabeth) Harvey is the communications manager and news editor at Elizabethtown College. She has worked in the Office of Marketing and Communications since 2008, after more than two decades as a newspaper feature writer. She holds a bachelor's degree in corporate communication from Elizabethtown College.

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