Lynn Gardner Heffron is equal parts entrepreneur, advocate, consultant and mentor.

All of those roles serve one principle: shaping a more inclusive and diverse world—an idea that was forged in her mind as an undergraduate in the 1960s.

“I was at Longwood when the public schools were closed, and it struck me that in our college classrooms we were being taught that all children deserve an education while the community outside was narrowing the scope of who could learn,” she said. “That experience set my mind to look for opportunities to help others and to promote the things I believe in. There’s a very clear link from my time at Longwood to my professional work on diversity, finding opportunities for women in the workplace and multicultural initiatives.”

Heffron began her career as a secondary school teacher, then moved into the private sector, working for NBC Universal and Lockheed. It was at NBC Universal that she co-authored one of the benchmark publications in the world of business: Diversity Primer, which is still an industry standard. That led her to found her own company, Diversity Spectrum, which consults with business, education and nonprofit leaders around the globe on diversity issues.

Heffron now lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as an AVID tutor, returning to her classroom roots as she works with 9th-, 10th-, and 11th-graders to keep them on pace for higher education. She also is the co-president of the American Association of University Women for New Mexico, a learning specialist with the Institute of American Indian Art and a delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

The Distinguished Citizen Leader Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have achieved outstanding success and national distinction in both their personal and professional lives. It is the most prestigious award bestowed by the Alumni Association.

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