Miller with barrel

(Photo courtesy of The Winchester Star)

Business is sweet for couple cooking up  barrels of ‘wildcrafted’ hickory syrup 

“If we can just sell these 48 bottles, we’ll be happy.”

That’s what Joyce Miller Miller ’75 and her husband, Travis, were thinking on the way to their local farmers’ market in 2011, their car loaded down with hickory syrup they made themselves. They sold out, launching what has become perhaps the largest operation of its kind in the country.

Falling Bark Hickory Syrup is still run by just the two of them, though they now have four distributors and sell more than 2,500 gallons a year. They make and bottle every drop in their Berryville home and refer to the syrup as “wildcrafted,” a term they coined to describe foraging for food and/ or medicinal plants.

The syrup, which comes in seven flavors, is sold in stores and under private labels at several historic sites, including Mount Vernon—where the couple does a demonstration on George Washington’s birthday every year— and Monticello. The business has been profiled by CNN, National Public Radio and The Washington Post.

“The production team is just Travis and me, and we’re still married,” she said with a laugh. “We make it work.”

It takes four to five days to make each batch of syrup, yielding about 34 gallons. They first char the bark (most of their hickory comes from shagbark hickory trees), cook it in water under pressure, let it rest a couple of days, filter it to remove sediment and finally use a hydrometer to get the correct balance.

“We never take a day off. We say every day’s a holiday,” said Miller. 


Louise Scolamiero Liddle ’75 was named chair of the board of trustees of Destination Imagination Inc. (DI) in October 2018. DI is a global volunteer, nonprofit educational program dedicated to inspiring the next generation of innovators, leaders and creative problem solvers. Liddle previously taught at Montevideo Middle School in Rockingham County for 28 years and for the past three years has been a librarian at Spotswood High School, also in Rockingham. She became involved with DI when she was hired as the gifted education resource teacher at the two schools. She has a master’s degree from James Madison University.


Alumni board president reflects on successes as her term ends

As Tammy Bird Jones ’81 finishes her term as president of the Alumni Board, she views with pride the increased visibility the board has achieved through campus and regional events, participation in volunteer projects and engagement with students.

She is especially pleased with the Welcome to the City events around the state for new alumni and the Ring Ceremony for juniors and seniors.

The board has become more involved in outreach through volunteer projects with several Farmville-area charities and social programs. “We try to do a volunteer project in conjunction with each of our meetings,” she said.

In an effort to engage with students, the board has invited the SGA president to its meetings for the last two years to provide an update on student government-sponsored activities. Last year the board used social media to express its enthusiasm for Longwood’s annual Day of Giving.

Jones’ two-year term as president, and seven-year stint on the board, ends in June. “I’ve worked with great people on the board and in the Office of Alumni and Career Services. I’ll miss it. It’s been a great experience.” 


John Hudson ’80, who lives in Berryville, is a male vocalist for Yesterday Swing Orchestra, vocalist and keyboardist for Dixie Rhythm, vocalist for the Clarke County Community Band and, since age 16, a member of the Senior Choir of Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church in Berryville. He has released several CDs, both as a solo artist and with various ensembles, featuring his vocals. He is the author of two nonfiction books (histories of the town of Boyce and of the Bank of Clarke County, where he is senior vice president and marketing director) and a self-published novel, Dust to Dust.

Johnel Brown Reid ’85 was appointed vice president of public affairs for Centerstone, a Nashville-based not-for-profit health care organization, in July 2018. She oversees Centerstone’s marketing and communications efforts and strategic brand management. Reid has 15 years of experience in health care communications and strategic planning, having worked previously for Community Health Systems, based in Franklin, Tennessee, and Nashville-based HCA.

John Schlesinger ’87 ran for the Portsmouth School Committee (the equivalent of a school board) in Rhode Island in November 2018. Schlesinger is an IT project manager for NTT DATA Services and an IT consultant. He has a master’s degree from Virginia Tech.

Tuan Truong ’89 retired as a U.S. Army colonel after 30 years of service in November 2018. Truong, who began his military career as an ROTC cadet at Longwood, has deployed on numerous assignments to South Korea, Germany, and Iraq. He has served in roles ranging from platoon leader to brigade commander. He has an MPA from Michigan State University.

Jewell Grinnell Tunstall ’89, a special education instructional assistant at Rural Point Elementary School in Hanover County, was recognized as her school’s Support Employee of the Year in November 2018. Before joining the Rural Point faculty in 2014, she was a first-grade and special education teacher in Hanover from 1989-2000 and taught at church-affiliated preschools in North Carolina from 2004-14. She is the author of Forever Family, a children’s book about the process of adopting her two children. Her husband, Chris Tunstall ’88, is assistant vice president for human resources at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The couple lives in Mechanicsville.

Alum finds fulfillment in working with victims of human trafficking

Melissa Sorensen Milam ’96 recently received one of the U.S. Department of Justice’s highest honors for her work with severely traumatized victims of sex trafficking, forced labor, and other civil rights crimes.

Milam, victim services coordinator for the criminal section of DOJ’s civil rights division, received the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Legal Support, presented by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in October 2018. Milam provides support to victims of human trafficking, hate crimes, law enforcement misconduct, and violations of freedom of access to clinic entrances, with sex trafficking and forced labor making up the majority of her caseload. Her support extends from the point when victims are interviewed before trial through post-sentencing; the average case takes about a year.

“I try to put all of my resources at their reach and hope that they are able to take advantage,” said Milam, who has a master’s in social work from Catholic University and is a licensed clinical social worker.

“These are people who have experienced severe trauma and prolonged exposure to violence and need support. I have the absolute best job. It’s super meaningful work. The joy of my work is in being a part of the journey these people are on, going from victimization to being survivors.”

Milam has been in the job, which involves frequent travel anywhere in the United States, for four years. She worked in the sex offense and domestic violence section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for 11 years and before that worked with at-risk youth for the Fairfax County juvenile and domestic relations court.


Chris Mitchell ’91, head coach of the Randolph College equestrian team, served as a coach and clinician at the 2019 College Preparatory Invitational Florida Horse Show in January in West Palm Beach. Before joining Randolph College in 2012, Mitchell was the riding coach for 13 years at Cornell University, where his teams claimed 27 horse show team crowns and four Ivy League titles. He serves on the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association board of directors and was a member of the NCAA steering committee for equestrian sport.

Dr. Wendy Lyle-Jones ’92, principal of the Buckingham and Dillwyn correctional centers and Rustburg Field Unit, was guest speaker at a South Boston observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day sponsored by the Halifax County Business and Professional Council. Before going into correctional education nine years ago, she was principal of Cumberland High School, assistant principal of Dinwiddie Middle School and taught Spanish for 12 years in Cumberland, Prince Edward and Dinwiddie counties. She is an ordained elder with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and author of The Father Factor: The Missing Link Between God and Our Sons. She has a master’s degree and a doctorate from Virginia State University.

Dr. Tara Temple Roane ’94 was appointed an interim member of the King William County School Board, representing the Fifth/Mangohick District, in October 2018. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2019. Roane has been director of special education and student services for the Essex County schools for four years. She previously worked in the King William County and Essex school systems. She has been youth minister at Total Praise Worship Center in Ashland for 22 years. Roane has a master’s degree from Regent University, a post-master’s from George Washington University and a doctorate from Walden University.

Charlaine Coetzee Hirst ’95 became a U.S. citizen in November 2018 after living in this country for 27 years. The Cape Town, South Africa, native took the oath of allegiance in Durham, North Carolina, and described the ceremony as “very moving and emotional.” A four-time All-American who led the Longwood women’s golf team to national championships in 1993 and 1995, Hirst is a Class A LPGA teaching professional who is a self-employed, full-time golf instructor at the Country Club of Whispering Pines, North Carolina. She played golf professionally for nine years on the LPGA Futures Tour until 2004, when she began her teaching career. She is a member of the Women’s Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Longwood Athletics Hall of Fame. The magna cum laude graduate received the Dan Daniel Senior Award for Scholarship and Citizenship at her commencement. Active in alumni affairs, she is a member of the boards for the Alumni Association and the Lancer Club.

Rohsaan Settle ’95, director for student conduct at Virginia Tech, is serving as interim director for Fraternity and Sorority Life for the 2018-19 academic year. He has worked since 2000 at Virginia Tech, where he received a master’s degree, and has been the chief conduct officer since 2014. He received the Advisor of the Year Award for 2002-03 from the South Atlantic affiliate of College and University Residence Halls. He was assistant director for student organizations and leadership development at Gannon University from 19982000. He is a member of Longwood’s alumni board.

Kim Cowles Turner ’96, director of New Kent County Parks and Recreation, was elected president of the Virginia Recreation and Park Society (VRPS) in November 2018 and began her one-year term in January. Turner, who served as VRPS vice president in 2018, has been involved with the organization since she was a Longwood student. She received the VRPS’s 2016 Distinguished Service Award. Before switching to a career in parks and recreation, she practiced therapeutic recreation in mental health and long-term care facilities. Her husband is Jason Turner ’95. She visited Longwood last year with her mother, Farron Davis Cowles ’68, who attended her 50th reunion.

Dr. Arkena Dailey ’98 was elected president of the Virginia Board of Physical Therapy in August 2018. She is serving a one-year term after two terms as vice president. She was appointed to the board by then Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2015. She was appointed in January 2017 to a three-year term on the Education Committee for the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Dailey, who lives in Hampton, is a physical therapy clinical specialist for Sentara Health System and an adjunct instructor in Old Dominion University’s physical therapy and athletic training department. She has a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of St. Augustine for Life Sciences.

marathon runners

Friends don’t let friends stop running marathons

The friendship between Danny Baty ’02 (right) and Garret Green ’04 has not only lasted 20 years—it’s also endured 26 miles.

After becoming best friends at Longwood, where they roomed together and were tennis teammates, the two inspired each other to run the most recent Chicago Marathon.

“The day after running the Marine Corps Marathon [in 2017], I posted on Facebook that I was going to retire from marathons,” said Green. “But Danny texted me and said, ‘You inspired me; we’re going to run the Chicago Marathon together.’”

In October 2018 the two ran—and finished—the 26-mile event side by side.

When Baty’s left knee locked up at mile 12 (“I didn’t think I could finish”), he told his friend to go on ahead without him, but Green said he would stay with him. A month earlier, when Green didn’t think he could finish a joint practice run, Baty had agreed to stay with him.

They also have run two half-marathons together.

The duo’s participation in the Chicago Marathon was a fundraiser for the Semper Fi Fund, which helps post-9/11 wounded/injured Marines and their families. Green has raised more than $25,000 for the fund since 2017, and he plans to continue raising at least $5,000 a year. He became involved through his work (he owns and manages a fitness center) with a friend, a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, who was injured in Afghanistan.

It was the first marathon for Baty, who lives in Chesapeake, and the second for Green, a Fredericksburg resident, who’s apparently forgotten he decided to retire from marathons. He plans to run the Big Sur Marathon along the California coastline on April 28. 


Community college leader makes Top 40 Under 40 in Hampton Roads

Amanda Renwick Lloyd ’04 was named a 2018 Top 40 Under 40 honoree in Hampton Roads by Inside Business in October 2018. The award recognizes professionals whose work and volunteer efforts make Hampton Roads a better place to live.

Lloyd, who lives in Norfolk, is director of the Academy for Nonprofit Excellence at Tidewater Community College (TCC), where she has been an adjunct history instructor for 10 years. Previously she held multiple administrative positions for the city of Norfolk for nine years, mostly in training/organizational development and programming, and before that she worked in marketing at Old Dominion University for three years.

In November, she was appointed by the governor to the Historical Records Advisory Board. She is president-elect of the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach (she becomes president in June) and a member of Longwood’s Alumni Board and the Norfolk Public Library board of trustees. She created the Norfolk Public Library volunteer program, a model effort duplicated by libraries across the nation.

Lloyd, who says becoming president of Longwood University is her ultimate career goal, has a master’s degree from ODU and is pursuing a Ph.D. at Hampton University.


Corrine Richardson Louden ’02 was hired in August 2018 as deputy inspector general of the Virginia Office of the State Inspector General. She is the No. 2 person at the 40- person agency, created in 2012 to investigate waste and identify inefficiencies in the executive branch of state government. Two coworkers are fellow alums: Taylor Woody ’16, who works part time in communications, and special agent Katrina Moulton Goodman ’97, M.S. ’01. Louden was previously hotline investigations supervisor for the Virginia Department of Corrections and a senior internal auditor with the Virginia State Police. She is treasurer of Longwood’s College of Business and Economics Alumni Advisory Board and is active in the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). She was vice president of the AGA South Atlantic Region from 2017-18 and is a member of the AGA journal’s editorial board and secretary of the Richmond chapter’s executive committee. Louden and her husband, James “Jay” Louden ’01, a sergeant with the Richmond Police Department, live in Chesterfield County.

John Masi ’02, a singer-songwriter based in the Washington, D.C., area, released his first solo album and third overall album, Capture the Heart, in September 2018. Before going solo in 2010, he was the front man for the Richmond-based Jubeus, which released the albums Two Tone Circles and Natural Mood. Masi lives in Alexandria.

Jeffrey Mitchell ’02 of Bluegreen Vacations won the 2018 Best Resort Assistant Manager award from the American Resort Development Association. The award recognizes Mitchell’s work as assistant manager at Laurel Crest resort in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and at Shenandoah Crossing in Gordonsville, where he was guest services manager from 2015-17. He has managed two oceanfront resorts in Bradenton Beach and Homes Beach in Florida since July 2018.

Brandie O’Neill ’06 joined Kinsale Insurance Co., based in Richmond, as a claims examiner in September 2018.

Josh Holder ’07 joined South State Bank of Richmond as a member of its commercial banking team in December 2018. Holder, who had been with Sonabank of Richmond, also in commercial banking, provides consultative banking solutions to operating companies in central Virginia. He is a graduate of the Virginia Bankers Association School of Bank Management.

Adam Russo ’07 has been director of the Office of School Food and Nutrition Services for the Prince William County schools since June 2017. He oversees a $50 million budget and 1,000 employees at 101 schools and centers. Russo was previously director of food services for the Hanover County schools and a district supervisor with the Norfolk schools. He is a former restaurant owner.

Ashley Greene Webb ’07, curator of collections and exhibitions at the History Museum of Western Virginia, is scheduled to give an Art After Dark presentation at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts in March. Webb’s topic, “Yesteryear’s Pantaloons: The Preservation of Historic Costumes,” is related to her business, Bustle, a museum-quality preservation company that focuses on wedding dresses, historic textiles and other family-related textiles. She was the LCVA’s collections manager from 2009-13 and also has worked at the Harrison Museum of African American Culture and the William King Museum of Art. She has a master’s degree from Bournemouth University in England and is married to Michael Webb ’07.

Dr. Melissa Ridley Elmes, M.A.’09, assistant professor of English at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, was one of 109 St. Louis-area educators who received Emerson Excellence in Teaching Awards in November 2018. Recipients are selected by their schools’ administrations for their accomplishments and steadfast dedication to the teaching profession. Elmes is vice president of the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship and a member of the Modern Language Association executive forum for Celtic Studies. Her husband is Nick Elmes ’04.

Diondra Mercer ’09, M.S. ’11, married DeSean Finney on Nov. 10, 2018. Tiffany Mayo House ’09, M.S. ’12, served as matron of honor; Janene Hudson ’09 was maid of honor; and Tiffani Vasquez ’09 was a bridesmaid. Mercer lives in Essex County and is a school counselor at Essex High School.


Sunflowers are the secret in tasty dips, spreads created by new company

Steven Valdez ’14 co-founded and is chief of finance and strategy for a new company that makes sunflower-based dips and spreads that are nondairy, all-natural, gluten-free and vegan.

Products made and marketed by SSUPP Foods (SSUPP stands for Sustainable Sunflower Urban Plant Powered) are made from the first budding stage of a sunflower plant, which is called a microgreen. Microgreens are the most nutrient-rich forms of a plant and, in the opinion of the folks at SSUPP, the most delicious.

Founded in May 2018 by Valdez and two others, the company began selling its products in February in boutique markets in Richmond and Charlottesville. One, which features the base ingredient SunPower, is frozen and for wholesalers. The other three, in chickpea and jalapeno flavors, are refrigerated and packaged for retail sale. Valdez expects the product line to be available in large chain grocery stores by late this year. ed and is chief of finance and strategy for a new company that makes sunflower-based dips and spreads that are nondairy, all-natural, gluten-free and vegan. Products made and marketed by SSUPP Foods (SSUPP stands for Sustainable Sunflower Urban Plant Powered) are made from the first budding stage of a sunflower plant, which is called a microgreen. Microgreens are the most nutrient-rich forms of a plant and, in the opinion of the folks at SSUPP, the most delicious. Founded in May 2018 by Valdez and two others, the company began selling its products in February in boutique markets in Richmond and Charlottesville. One, which features the base ingredient SunPower, is frozen and for wholesalers. The other three, in chickpea and jalapeno flavors, are refrigerated and packaged for retail sale. Valdez expects the product line to be available in large chain grocery stores by late this year.


The micro-sunflowers are grown urban vertically indoors, which “drastically increases sustainability and transparency in the supply chain,” said Valdez. The growing and manufacturing are year-round at Hatch Kitchen RVA, a commercial kitchen incubator in Richmond. The facility is just two miles from SSUPP’s corporate office in Capital One’s 1717 Innovation Center as part of the selective Startup Virginia high-growth incubator.

Valdez and fellow co-founders David Peyton and Kyle Rosen-Long are making a name for their company, sharing their business philosophy and progress in presentations at Longwood’s College of Business and Economics and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business iLab.


(Photo courtesy of Kellie Adamson/Suffolk News-Herald)

BFFs since 9th grade now teach at same school

Christyna Mencarini ’17 (right) and Hope Mounie ’17, M.S. ’18, have been apart for only one year since becoming best friends in the ninth grade.

After being classmates in high school and at Longwood—where they lived together all four years—they are now fourth-grade teachers at Hillpoint Elementary School in Suffolk, where both did their student teaching. Their classrooms are across the hall from each other.

“They didn’t do that deliberately, but it was probably a good idea—they knew we would be in each other’s rooms all the time,” said Mounie with a laugh.

They met at John Yeates Middle School after Mencarini moved to Suffolk in the eighth grade, but they didn’t become close until the next year at Nansemond River High School. Their only separation occurred when Mounie stayed at Longwood to earn her master’s degree in the reading, literacy and learning program. She joined the Hillpoint faculty in fall 2018, a year after Mencarini.

“People call us partners in crime; they say you can’t find one without the other,” Mounie said. “We’re like an old married couple.” 


Dr. Cristina Valdivieso Bain ’10 graduated with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology in August 2018. That month, she and her husband, Jacob Bain ’09, welcomed twin boys. She is a staff psychologist with Primary Mental Health Care at the Hampton Veteran Affairs Medical Center.

Heather Sutherland ’11 was one of five glass artists whose work was featured in the Fresh Masters exhibition Jan. 23-March 9 at UrbanGlass, a Brooklyn, New York, art studio for glass artists and students. The biennial, jury-selected exhibition highlighted outstanding work by recent MFA recipients across the country. Sutherland’s work “examines presentations of intersectional femininity in popular culture by showcasing their trappings and what often goes unseen,” said an UrbanGlass news release. Sutherland, who received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin in 2017, recently completed a residency with the Creative Glass Center of America with WheatonArts.

Rebecca Weinberg Van Huss ’12 joined Kinsale Insurance Co. as a claims services assistant in October 2018. She had been a claims assistant with Alfa Alliance Insurance Company. Van Huss volunteers with a rescue organization in Ashland that is finding homes for greyhounds affected by Florida Constitutional Amendment 13, which will effectively end greyhound racing by 2021. Her husband, Nathaniel “Nate” Van Huss ’14, is a bodily injury claims adjuster with James River Insurance Company.

Megan Crowe ’14, M.Ed. ’15, was first runner-up in the 2019 Teacher of the Year competition for the Richmond Public Schools, announced in November 2018. Crowe is a Title I reading teacher at Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School, where she has taught since 2015. She is the school-wide literacy lead and previously was the lead teacher on the first grade team.

Sharonda Claiborne ’16 appeared in Halifax Community Theatre’s production of the comedy Christmas Belles in November 2018. Claiborne portrayed the society matron Patsy Price in the play, performed at The Prizery in South Boston. Claiborne, who appeared in several Longwood Theatre productions, is an elementary substitute teacher.

Katerina “Kati” Hall ’16 joined Seneca Resources, LLC, in Richmond as an account manager in November 2018. She had previously been a professional recruiter with Apex Systems.

Terron Watkins ’17 joined the Richmond-based development office of Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services in July 2018. His primary responsibilities are online giving, special events, Christmas programs, the Young Professionals Society and assisting the vice president of development with fundraising and communications projects. Jackson-Feild provides psychiatric residential treatment for adolescents who have experienced severe emotional trauma in their lives. Watkins previously worked in development at Grace Place, an adult daycare services facility in Richmond.

For Kaydan Ferguson ’18 and Aaron Burstein ’19, the show must go on—especially when honoring the memory of their friend and fellow theatre major Denise Martin ’18.

They were organizing a playwriting festival last year when Martin, who had planned to write a play for the festival, died shortly after graduating. For that and other reasons, they initially canceled the festival before reviving it as a fundraiser for a scholarship fund in Martin’s memory.

The two-day, six-play festival in Lynchburg was put on in January by Unified Theatre Company—Ferguson is the company’s founder and artistic director—and another Lynchburg company, InTuition Theatre Group, started by Burstein. The event raised about $1,000, of which $200 went to the scholarship for theatre majors.

Ferguson plans to hold the festival every year as a scholarship fundraiser and to donate 5 percent of the proceeds from each of her company’s shows to the scholarship. In addition, 10-15 percent of the proceeds from each of the company’s shows go to a selected nonprofit.

Melvin Johnson ’18 was named supportive services director of STEP (Solutions That Empower People) Inc. in December 2018. Johnson oversees and manages the agency’s homeless-prevention, re-entry and volunteer tax-assistance programs. He joined STEP in 2017 as re-entry coordinator. Previously he served as a member of the Re-entry Council for Martinsville and Henry County, and he has worked with clients at Grace Network. Before that he was a student and community outreach specialist at Patrick Henry Community College, where he earned an associate’s degree.

Haley Mitchell ’18 joined Capital Interior Contractors in Richmond as its marketing and workforce development chair in January. She had been a courtroom clerk with Henrico County circuit court.

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