Outstanding Alumnae of 2018

Distinguished Career

Margaret VanDeman Blackmon ’63

M_Blackmon.jpg

Margaret VanDeman Blackmon ’63 earned a B.A. in history. After graduating from Agnes Scott, she became a teacher and went on to earn an M.A. in history from Texas Christian University and an Ed.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from the Curry School at the University of Virginia. Blackmon has dedicated her career to public education through teaching, supporting public schools and mentoring educators, particularly women, to become leaders.  

Blackmon worked in the Virginia public school system for 18 years, becoming the first woman superintendent for the Prince Edward County Public Schools, a position that she held for nine years. Her impressive career includes serving as president of both the Virginia Association of School Superintendents and the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. She was a member of the Statewide Advisory Council at the University of Virginia’s School of Continuing Education and helped create the Statewide Communities of Practice for Excellence, which became a model for the professional development of local school leaders. Recognition for her achievements range from Most Outstanding Teacher (1969) and Distinguished Achievement Award (1999) to Superintendent of the Year Region VIII (2001) and Spheres of Influence University of Virginia (2016). 

True to her Agnes Scott heritage, Blackmon’s passion has been to encourage and support women to assume leadership roles in education. She was a founding member of Women Education Leaders in Virginia, has served on its board of directors since its founding, and continues to act as a leadership coach for women throughout Virginia. 

Service to the College

Audrey Grant ’77

audrey_grant.jpgDr. Audrey Grant ’77 was always active in campus life and she didn’t skip a beat after graduation—she continued to be involved and engaged with her alma mater and her classmates, even through medical school and into her busy career as a physician. She has served the college tirelessly for over 40 years and has been an active voice for women of color. She served as class president for two terms (10 years) and as a member-at-large on the Alumnae Association’s Board of Directors. Grant then served the college as a steering committee member for the Bold Aspirations capital campaign, serving on the D.C.-Baltimore Campaign Committee. Grant then served two terms on the Agnes Scott Board of Trustees from 2003–2011.

While participating in her other service to the college, Grant was also involved in keeping the network of Washington, D.C., area alumnae connected with each other and the college through serving on the chapter’s Steering Committee and hosting events in her home. Most recently, Grant served as campaign co-chair for the D.C.-Baltimore Campaign Committee for The Greatness Before Us campaign that raised over $115 million for the college.

Of note, Grant recruited two of her nieces to attend and graduate as Scotties, making “Aunt Audrey” very proud.


Outstanding Young Alumna

Kate Chapman Kauffman ’02

K_Kauffman.jpgKate Chapman Kauffman ’02 has dedicated her life to working and volunteering for nonprofit organizations making a difference in our communities. Kauffman’s entire professional career has involved working to advance the missions of many great Atlanta area nonprofits, including the Girl Scouts, Shepherd Center, Wesley Woods and Georgia Tech. She has made strategic and role-expanding career moves, all of which prepared her to launch her own philanthropy consultancy in March of 2016. In her last role before starting her own company, Kauffman served as vice president/chief marketing and development officer for the Piedmont Park Conservancy, and was responsible for raising more than half of the organization’s operating budget.

At the same time Kauffman was giving her days to incredible organizations, she was giving her lunch hours, nights and weekends to a variety of other worthy causes through her volunteerism. She has given over a decade of service to both the Junior League of Atlanta and Agnes Scott College. Additionally, she has served on the boards of organizations including: the Marfan Foundation Atlanta Chapter, the DeKalb County Library Foundation and the Ashford Park Elementary School Advisory Council. Noted by many for her selfless gift of time to mentor and care for others, Kate is also recognized as an expert by her peers, being frequently asked to speak on topics ranging from volunteer engagement to fundraising and donor stewardship.

When asked how Agnes Scott played into her success, her immediate answer was “leadership.” Agnes Scott encouraged her not to sit back and let other people fix the things she felt were wrong in the world, but to roll up her sleeves and do the work herself.

Service to the Community

Helen Roach Rentch ’68

new-Helen-Rentch-photo_200x133.jpgA native of Kentucky, Helen Roach Rentch ’68 has lived a life of public service. Friends who know her say she has been first to identify an injustice, first to step in and address it and first to gently encourage others to do the same. Rentch had two significant careers—as a community organizer and as a public health nurse—but her service to the community truly stands out.

Following her graduation from Agnes Scott, where she received her B.A. in sociology, Rentch went on to do graduate research in rural sociology at the University of Kentucky. She then began organizing for miners, rallying for benefits for those disabled by coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (also known as black lung disease). This began her long association with the Mountain People’s Rights Association.

In 1999, Rentch began a 16-year journey to develop, fund and see built The Homeplace at Midway, a living community for the elderly built on the Green House model. The Homeplace at Midway is a person-centered care community that serves as a model for deinstitutionalizing long-term care and enhancing the lives of seniors, and is the only such community in Kentucky.

Rentch’s commitment to addressing injustices and inequities continues. She is a member of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Human Rights Commission, a trustee of Frontier Nursing University, an ambassador for Midway University, and she serves on the board of the Woodford County Community Foundation. In 2010, she was interviewed for the oral history project “Voices from the Past/Kentucky Women in the Civil Rights Era.”

Rentch is one of 10 women in her family who have graduated from Agnes Scott, and she will be the second in her family to receive this award.