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College recognizes four individuals with top alumni awards

College recognizes four individuals with top alumni awards

For Immediate Release
Sep. 8, 2017

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Birmingham-Southern College will honor its 2016 Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni at its Homecoming celebration Oct. 13-14.

The Distinguished Alumni awards recognize alumni who have achieved outstanding success in their chosen professions. The college will award the distinction to Rev. Traci Satisfield Blackmon ’86, Betty Hawk ’81, Dr. Robert Lerer ’66, and 2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Award honoree Erin Kendrick Stephenson ’01 on Friday, Oct. 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Bruno Great Hall of the Norton Campus Center.

Tickets are $20 per person and may be purchased online at

2016 Distinguished Alumni Award winners:
Rev. Traci Satisfield Blackmon ’86
Rev. Blackmon has built a powerful platform through her dedication to community engagement and change. She is executive minister of Justice and Witness Ministries with The United Church of Christ and senior pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Mo. In August, Blackmon was among clergy who traveled to Charlottesville, Va., to bear witness at the Unite the Right rally. She also gained national attention for her communal leadership and response to racial tensions in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Mo. Blackmon was appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and co-chaired the Municipal Governance and Court Reform workgroup. During the presidency of Barack Obama, she served on the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships. She also received the White House President’s Volunteer Service Award, and she was recognized in the 2015 Ebony magazine Power 100. A native of Birmingham, Blackmon earned a bachelor’s in nursing from BSC; she has more than 25 years of healthcare experience. Blackmon also earned a master of divinity and an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary.

Betty Hawk ’81
As vice president for 3M’s Materials Resource Division, Hawk was one of three female division vice presidents and one of the youngest overall. As she rose to leadership positions—she worked in manufacturing, research and development, technical service, and marketing in both the U.S. and Europe—Hawk made it a point to serve as a mentor and role model for women in the workplace. She is a member of the American Chemistry Council, the Industrial Suppliers Association, and the Georgia Tech Chemistry and Biochemistry Advisory Board. She has served as a mentor in the Menttium 100, the first cross-company mentoring program. Now retired, Hawk has been named president of the 2017-18 BSC Alumni Board. Previously, she has served on the Norton Board and the Urban Environmental Studies Advisory Committee, funding the Betty Hawk Internship. UES Internships provide paid, summer positions for students to work with environmental organizations. Hawk, a native of North Alabama, received her bachelor’s in chemistry and sociology.

Dr. Robert Lerer ’66
Lerer is associate professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and is one of the longest serving health commissioners in the state of Ohio. After graduating from BSC magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, he received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Lerer has been in practice for decades serving in pediatrics and also volunteers at remote, underserved, and poor areas around the world. For the past 20 years, he’s made medical mission trips to Haiti, India, and Nicaragua, and treated thousands of patients through organizations including Christian Medical and Dental Associations and Equipping Ministries International; Lerer’s nonprofit, Caring Partners International, has provided more health care services to the government of Cuba than any other organization. He has also made faculty exchange trips to teach healthcare providers in Cuba, China, India, and Ukraine. Lerer says he is especially interested in helping children, because as a boy, his family had to move first from Poland after the Nazi invasion, then to Paris, Havana, and to Birmingham; he currently resides in Fairfield, Ohio. In 1991, he and his wife established the Lerer Scholarship Fund at BSC, which provides aid for Hispanics and other minority students pursuing careers in the medical and dental fields.

2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Award winner:
Erin Kendrick Stephenson ’01
Stephenson, who earned her bachelor’s in English literature, is vice president and director of client community relations for the Alabama market, PNC Bank. Prior to accepting her position at PNC in February, she served an 11-year term as vice president of development at the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. During her term, foundation assets grew from $131 million to $253 million. Stephenson, a Birmingham native, currently is serving a term on the Homewood Board of Education. She also has held volunteer positions with the YWCA of Central Alabama, the Rotaract Club of Birmingham, and Trinity United Methodist Church. While attending BSC, she worked for The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham. Stephenson’s first full-time job was at Habitat for Humanity. She is a former Birmingham Business Journal Top 40 Under 40 honoree.

About Birmingham-Southern College:
Birmingham-Southern College is a four-year, private liberal arts institution in Birmingham, Ala., founded in 1856 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It enrolls about 1,300 students from more than 30 states and 15 foreign countries. Learn more online at