2021 Individual Award Winners
To celebrate our award recipients, we invite you to join us for our CASE District III Individual Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 20 from 5:30–6:30 PM ET.
Mary Nelle Chumley
Mary Nelle Chumley's relationship with Lipscomb University began during her childhood and nurtured during her school years. Mary Nelle would tell you there has never been a time when she has not been part of the Lipscomb community. Her introduction to volunteering for the school, then David Lipscomb College, occurred in childhood when her grandfather was named to the Board of Trustees. She graduated from Lipscomb’s high school, now Lipscomb Academy, in 1949. It was there she met her future husband, John C. Hutcheson, Jr., and both attended Lipscomb University as art majors.
Mary Nelle’s legacy of volunteerism at Lipscomb began when she and John returned to the university in 1958 after a period during which John taught in Indiana. In those days at small colleges, faculty had wide-ranging responsibilities beyond the classroom. As art department chair, John was responsible for decorating everything from Board meetings to dorm lobbies to Homecoming, and Mary Nelle was in the middle of—or out in front of— these extracurricular assignments. Mary Nelle was already a gifted floral arranger and quickly became recognized as the campus event decorator. But she contributed far more: for many years, she was the de facto showrunner for Homecoming, coaching participants on their roles and managing this and other events. Following John’s untimely death in 1986, Mary Nelle single-handedly created all of the floral arrangements for every on-campus event through the year 2000. She continues to create arrangements for several departments on campus, particularly the Department of Music and College of Pharmacy—she volunteers her time to prepare all of the arrangements for its White Coat Ceremony—and has served the university in this way for five presidential administrations.
As a young faculty spouse, Mary Nelle was concerned that students who could not afford to live on campus would choose not to attend Lipscomb at all. She and John opened their home, just a block away from campus, for many of these students to have a place to live. Mary Nelle saw the impact on and appreciation of these students, and as a founding member of the Associated Women for Lipscomb in the early 1980s, advocated for scholarships to be the central benefit of the nascent organization. It was Mary Nelle’s idea to use Avalon, university founder David Lipscomb’s historic, on-campus home, as a bed and breakfast or meeting space for campus visitors. Her vision was to use the proceeds to endow the Associated Women for Lipscomb-Centennial Scholarship. The administration granted that request and invested in restoring Avalon to its original configuration and modest, country splendor. Mary Nelle began serving as scheduler, host, and caterer—roles in which she continues to serve more than 45 years later. She and others volunteered their time in every role — including cooking meals for the visitors — so all of the proceeds would go to the scholarship. A campus publication from 2001 says that the Associates raised more than $23,000 that year alone from activities at Avalon. Today, nearly $414,000 has been generated for the Centennial scholarship endowment principal. In the past 20 years, 598 scholarships have been awarded from the A.W.L.-Centennial Scholarship fund. The success of the Associates’ Centennial scholarship led them to endow additional scholarships, and satellite chapters of the Associates also adopted scholarships as their primary focus. In the same 20-year period, a total of 1,627 Associates’ scholarships have been awarded.
In 2015, the Associates established the Associated Women for Lipscomb–Mary Nelle Hutcheson Chumley Endowed Scholarship. In recent years, Mary Nelle has served in the university’s Alumni Relations office, particularly with the Lifelong Learning and Senior Alumni programs. She is also a member of the Lifelong Learning Advisory Board and was recognized as Lipscomb University's Alumnus of the Year in 2006.
Nichole Dyer Fannin
A native of Trion, Georgia, Nichole Dyer Fannin has spent nearly a decade working to promote philanthropy and showcase the empowerment that comes from giving—for both the donor and recipient.
At the University of West Georgia (UWG), Dyer Fannin has served to enhance institutional visibility and success through the institution’s Strategic Plan Steering Team, helping to guide the stakeholder-based process involving more than 1,300 individuals from across campus and community, worked to position the university for success in receiving the Carnegie Foundation’s classification recognition for community engagement in 2020 as part of the Community Engagement Scout Team, and in helping to lead the UWG Foundations to success in the institution’s first-ever comprehensive campaign.
Before joining the UWG Office of Development, she served as regional director with Action Ministries, sales account manager for Southwire Company, and as the executive director for the Chattooga County Chamber of Commerce. She has been actively involved in many organizations and groups, including the UWG Alumni Association Board of Directors, Southwire 12 for Life Mentor Program, Historic High-Country Travel Association, Chattooga County Tourism Committee, Chattooga County Adult Literacy Group, Leadership Chattooga, and the Georgia Academy for Economic and Leadership Development.
In 2006, she was named Chattooga County Business Woman of the Year by the Women’s Organization of Cloudland, Georgia. In 2013, she was recognized in the inaugural class of UWG’s Thriving Under Thirty award recipients.
Dyer Fannin holds a bachelor of arts in political science and a master's in public administration from the University of West Georgia. Nichole is married to Cole Fannin, and they have three children.
Jere W. Morehead
President Jere W. Morehead began his tenure as the 22nd University of Georgia president on July 1, 2013. Under his leadership, the University has risen in the rankings of the best public colleges and universities and has completed a series of initiatives to enhance student learning and success, including a requirement for experiential learning for all undergraduates.
Additionally, the University completed the most successful capital campaign in its history, raising $1.45 billion, and launched an Innovation District initiative to create UGA’s campus of the future, where students and faculty will partner with industry to generate ideas and solutions to continue the University’s role as a powerful driver of economic development in Georgia. During President Morehead’s tenure, UGA has increased its research expenditures by 41% and has been ranked among the top five universities in the U.S. for research-based products reaching the marketplace for the past seven years. UGA was ranked No. 1 in the nation for FY2019 and FY2017. In keeping with his focus on student success, President Morehead launched the ALL Georgia Program to support students from rural areas and created the Double Dawgs program, which enables students to save time and money by earning an undergraduate and graduate degree in five years or less. A UGA education is in greater demand than ever, with a record 39,500 applications submitted for a spot in the incoming Class of 2025 and an admission rate under 39%. In addition, President Morehead has continually emphasized UGA’s core ideals of diversity and inclusion, and UGA has been awarded the INSIGHT into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for seven consecutive years.
President Morehead serves as co-chair of the University Leadership Forum, a national initiative led by the Council on Competitiveness. He also serves as vice-chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Board of Directors, a member of the NCAA Division I Administrative Committee, and a member of the NCAA Board of Governors. He previously served on the NCAA Presidential Forum; the Working Group on Name, Image, and Likeness; and the Federal and State Legislation Working Group. He is vice president of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and a member of the SEC Executive Committee, and formerly chaired the SEC Working Group on Compliance, Enforcement, and Governance.
Karen A. Sims, M.Ed.
Karen A. Sims is an experienced advancement professional skilled in fundraising and financial management, gift administration, policy creation, and staff development. She has served as a conference presenter and volunteer with CASE in varying capacities during her membership.
Sims is a 2018 CASE Minority Advancement Institute alumna. She assisted in developing NC State University Advancement’s Diversity committee that has transformed into the current Taskforce for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (T.I.D.E.). for which she serves as the committee chair. She was awarded the NC State University Advancement’s 2020 Extraordinary Leadership Award for her work and leadership with the T.I.D.E. committee.
Karen, along with over 100 other advancement professionals, contributed to the CASE book "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Advancement: A Guide to Strengthening Engagement and Fundraising Through Inclusion" (authors Angelique S.C. Grant and Ronald J. Schiller released in 2020). Karen serves as treasurer and a member of the executive leadership for NC State’s African American Faculty & Staff Organization (AAFSO). She serves with this group to help advocate issues concerning employment, recruitment, retention, professional advancement, equity, fairness, and the quality of life for the African American community at NC State University. She holds a bachelor's degree from DeSales University in management and marketing and a master's degree in educational leadership from Lehigh University. Karen is the chair of the 2020 Gifts & Records Workshop: Spring Session.
John W. Smith
John W. Smith started his career in university advancement at Tennessee Tech University in January 1995 as a graduate assistant while pursuing his master's in business administration. He was later hired as an analyst in July of that year providing IT, reporting, and administrative systems support. John’s movement into leadership occurred in 1999 when the division added prospect research and management to his portfolio of responsibilities, and he was promoted to assistant director for advancement services. John spearheaded the division’s move to Raiser’s Edge in 2005, the same year he was promoted to associate director assuming responsibility for all service-related aspects of advancement services. In 2014, Smith moved into the director’s role (and in 2016, promoted to executive director) assuming the full breadth of service and operational responsibilities for university advancement.
In 2009, Smith ventured into the philanthropy side of the advancement world having prospective donors assigned to him while maintaining his responsibilities in advancement services. During this time he successfully secured a $100,000 gift for a capital project as well as a $25,000 gift from a disenfranchised alumna whose father served as the dean of students in the late 1940s and early 1950s. From July 2020 to December 2020, John served a six-month stint as interim associate vice president for university development where he secured almost $500,000. In January 2021, the interim title was removed and the full-time associate vice president position granted to Smith.
Smith has been married to his lovely wife, April, for 22 years. The couple has two children: David, a sophomore at Tennessee Tech, and Lindi, a high school senior.