ALUMNI AWARD NOMINATIONS

Nominations Now Open

Since 1959, the Pfeiffer Alumni Association has recognized the extraordinary contributions of alumni by presenting two annual awards to deserving individuals. In 2015, the Office of the President created the Presidential Merit Award to recognize young alumni. These awards are presented during the Annual Alumni Gathering at Homecoming.

We encourage all alumni to nominate those deserving of recognition. The submission deadline for the Homecoming 2023 awards is April 30, 2023. Click below, on each award, to download nomination forms.


**Please note: Individuals may only be nominated for one award per year. The Board reserves the right to determine which award category is most appropriate/applicable for nomination in the case of an alumnus being nominated for both Outstanding and Distinguished Awards. Print and mail nomination forms to Pfeiffer University-Advancement Office P.O. Box 960 Misenheimer, N.C. 28109 or email to advance@pfeiffer.edu

 

2022 ALUMNI AWARDS

 

Heidi Honecker Grant '87 Named 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

To be awarded by the Alumni Association Board of Directors to honor excellence in one’s profession or community service.

 

  Heidi Grant  

On Sept. 11, 2001, one of four planes hijacked by Islamic terrorists flew into the Pentagon. Heidi Honecker Grant ’87, the recipient of Pfeiffer University’s 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award, was working there at the time, charged with overseeing the counter-terrorism budget for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The attack would profoundly shape her career for the next 20 years.

“Whenever I give talks on leadership, I always stress the importance of the ‘why’ in our lives — why we get up every day to do what we do,” she said. “I can trace my why to 9/11, which people around the world will never forget. On that day, I found my passion — to do what I could to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.”

Following a 32-year stint at DOD, Grant joined The Boeing Company in November 2021 as its President of Business Development for Defense, Security, Space, and Global Services — leading an international team of nearly 500 people. Prior to that, she served in defense-related positions of leadership for several governmental agencies, and much of what she did was international in orientation.

“We were dealing with a global challenge,” she said. “I found that we needed to help other countries build up their military capability, because the United States couldn’t do it all. So, that’s kind of where my passion went.

“For over 20 years, I’ve been fortunate to play a role in creating partnerships with militaries around the world that have helped nations protect their people and their interests. We’ve shown the resolve of the United States and its allies to protect the world order and the individual rules of law.”

Grant’s career direction would also enable her to make history. In July of 2020, she became the first civilian to lead the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which has been described as the Pentagon’s lead agency on foreign weapons sales. The work entailed encouraging America’s partners and allies to buy its weapons, which meant working with the State Department to get the sales cleared with the appropriate government entities. She oversaw 1,500 cases of military sales with more than 150 countries; the business was valued at more than $600 billion.

“My role at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency was the pinnacle of what I could achieve as a public sector leader dedicated to making the world a safer place,” Grant said. “I was leading the whole Department of Defense in its efforts to build up the militaries around the world by getting them the equipment and training they needed.” This opportunity was well aligned with Grant’s favorite George Washington quote, which has inspired her: “To be prepared for war is the most effective way to preserve the peace.”

Grant’s work before her agency appointment was no less impressive. Between 2002 and 2008, she served as the first civilian director of resources and analysis for U.S. military operations in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and Northeast Africa. This meant, among other things, that she led resource strategy and analysis for operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, working with senior military representatives from 65 countries.

Much of Grant’s career after the 9/11 attacks was in service to the U.S. Air Force (USAF). Beginning in 2010, she served for eight years as its Deputy Secretary of International Affairs, helping to arrange sales of USAF equipment around the world.

Grant received Pfeiffer’s Distinguished Alumni Award on October 1, 2022, as a part of Pfeiffer’s Homecoming festivities. She grew up near Washington, D.C., the youngest of three siblings in her family to attend Pfeiffer College. Her siblings are Kathy Honecker Uffelman ’84 and Mark Honecker ’85. Her husband, Greg Grant ’84, also graduated from Pfeiffer.

Grant has always gravitated toward roles and opportunities that enabled her to “serve the greater good.” At Pfeiffer, where she majored in business, she became active in student government, serving as both class president and as a leader on the College Union Board (now the Campus Activities Board), which booked guest entertainers. She also made numerous friendships, and she embraced a culture that encouraged her to lift up everyone, regardless of their faith or socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Pfeiffer planted the seeds for the person I’ve become,” she said.

After Pfeiffer, Grant became a student of leadership and has tried to pass on what she’s learned. When asked what younger women might do to follow in her footsteps, she urges them to find their passion or why, to build up a diverse network, and to keep learning. She advises them to stay true to their values. She highlighted her PARTNER values (Proactive, Accountable, Respectful, Transparent, Networked, Empowered, Representative).  

While working in Iraq, Grant said she also learned the importance of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone – another quality she urges aspiring leaders to adopt. In her personal example, Grant was given a military-looking uniform that enabled her to blend in with the troops, and she was issued a gun and taught how to use it for self-defense purposes.

“Because I was willing to do that, I was able to get into the war zone and ask the military what they needed,” she said. “One simple example illustrates the many valuable insights I gained: They said, ‘Well, we could really use some money to harden these dirt roads with asphalt to make it harder for the enemy to plant these bombs.’”

Grant returned to Washington, where she persuaded Congress to allocate funding for paving the roads, drawing on the credibility she gained from being onsite in Iraq and Afghanistan. “There’s no way I would have been successful if I hadn’t left my comfort zone,” she said. “That was a real turning point in my development as a leader.”


 

Bob Brietz '65 Named 2022 Outstanding Alumni Award Recipient

To be awarded by the Alumni Association Board of Directors to honor one’s significant contributions to Pfeiffer University.

 

  Bob Breitz  

Bob Brietz ’65 received Pfeiffer University’s 2022 Outstanding Alumni Award on October 1, 2022, during Pfeiffer’s Homecoming festivities.

“It’s a real honor and very meaningful to me,” Brietz said from his home near Charlotte, N.C., where he also grew up. “I’m very appreciative.”

Pfeiffer is also appreciative of Brietz. A longtime generous financial supporter of the University, he served with distinction on its Board of Trustees from 2009 through 2020. His tenure included service as Chairman of the Finance Committee (2015-2018) and Chairman of the Board (2018-2020), and his leadership played a key role in guiding Pfeiffer through several daunting challenges to a much sounder financial footing.

“Pfeiffer is very fortunate to have benefitted from Bob’s service as an alumnus and a trustee,” said Pfeiffer President Scott Bullard, who began his tenure as Pfeiffer’s 11th president during Brietz’s service as chairman of the Board of Trustees. “Many speak of being dedicated to something that they love such as their alma mater, church or other non-profit organization, but few people embody that love with as many hours and as much passion as Bob Brietz.”

In 2018 alone, Brietz logged over 400 volunteer hours on Pfeiffer’s behalf. That’s quite a commitment, and when Brietz reflects upon it, he says a strong desire to help strengthen his alma mater was his principal motivation.

Following graduation from Pfeiffer College with a B.S. degree in accounting, Brietz landed work as a Senior Accountant at Coopers & Lybrand of Charlotte, which became PwC after its 1998 merger with Price Waterhouse. He eventually moved to Bank of America where he held several Senior Vice President positions, concluding his successful career as Senior Vice President and Supervisory Support when he retired in 2021.

“Pfeiffer provided an excellent education for me to launch my professional path,” Brietz said. “It served me well during my 56-year career.”

Brietz’s love for Pfeiffer goes way beyond what it did for him professionally. It was on campus, for example, that he met his wife, Jane Cashion Brietz ’68, when she was a freshman and he was a senior. They got married at the end of Jane’s junior year.

“I messed up her college career,” Brietz joked recently. “But it worked out well because we’ve enjoyed 55 wonderful years of marriage.”

These days, Brietz is content to continue supporting Pfeiffer but in a manner that allows him “to slow down a bit.” He frequently attends home athletic contests, concerts, and other favorite events on campus. And, whenever he gets the chance, he encourages fellow alumni to give back to the University and stay involved. He’s following Pfeiffer’s evolution and recent accomplishments closely, with the pride of a former Board chair who wasn’t just content to lead from afar. “I love Pfeiffer, and the future looks bright,” Brietz said. “I’m privileged to have been a part of that.”


 

Jimmy Molina '14, '16 MBA, '19 MSL Named 2022 Presidential Merit Award Recipient

To be given by the President of Pfeiffer University to alumni who are 35 or younger,

who have excelled early in their careers, and who show potential for continued success. 

 

  Jimmy Molina  

On Oct. 27, The Local Room, a gastropub in Locust, N.C., will have been in business for two years. Jimmy Molina ’14, ’16 MBA ’19 MSL  — one of the establishment’s three founding partners and the recipient of Pfeiffer University’s 2022 Presidential Merit Award  — is in a celebratory mood.

“It’s mind-blowing to think we’ve had that kind of success,” he said. “The support of the community has been unbelievable. Before The Local Room came along, residents in Stanly County had to travel to Charlotte for a high-end dining experience; now, they can have one in their backyard.”

Molina believes The Local Room got off the ground at the just the right time: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, people were tired of being home and wanted to dine out in a safe environment (for a time, the restaurant enabled social distancing among diners by restricting patronage to 140 people, as opposed to a full capacity of 284). In addition, “everyone wanted to support small businesses,” he said.

Molina knows the favor that he and partners Matthew Harris and Matthew Klepp have found among certain diners in Stanly County will last only if “we’re figuring out how to get better.”

One way to get better has been to keep changing things up. The Local Room’s menu seldom stays the same for long, having featured such mouth-watering items as fire-roasted salmon and bacon-and-barbeque scallops.

Another way to improve is to keep being busiess-savvy. Molina thinks that restaurants often go under because they are not really treated as businesses but as showcases for people who love to cook. He remains vigilant about keeping costs under control and carefully managing the business operations.

When Molina got The Local Room off the ground, he was a banker by day. He still is, having joined Ameris Bank as a commercial banker this past May. Before that, he worked as a VP Commercial Lending Officer at Community First Bank – SC. At Community First, he was working with small businesses with annual revenues of $2 million or less. At Ameris, by contrast, he’s a commercial lender for businesses with revenues between $5 million and more than $50 million, helping them secure financing for things like the purchase of real estate or the acquisition of other companies.

“I made the change of employers so I can keep growing and I can keep learning,” Molina said. “I’ve made connections with people who can teach me a lot of things that I have never done before.” 

Molina, a native of Colombia, can trace much of his business acumen to his education at Pfeiffer. After attending the University as an undergraduate on a tennis scholarship, he graduated magna cum laude from the 3-2 program, earning a Bachelor of Science in business administration and an MBA in 2016. He later earned a Master of Science in Leadership from Pfeiffer, in 2019.

Molina, 28, received Pfeiffer’s Presidential Merit Award, presented to alumni under 35 years of age who have excelled early in their careers and show potential for continued success, on October 1, 2022, as a part of Pfeiffer’s Homecoming festivities. He credits much of where he is today with a willingness to take on new challenges, including those offered via multiple Pfeiffer-arranged internships that, ultimately, helped open doors.

Ways to pay it forward occupy much of his attention today, beyond what he has already done for business development in Stanly County — which also includes establishing The Brew Room this past May. The Brew Room, also in Locust, is just a few minutes away from The Local Room.

“Eventually I would love to create a partnership with Pfeiffer where I could provide internship opportunities because that’s how I started,” he said. “Also, at some point, I’d like to teach a class at Pfeiffer where I could share certain tactics and problem-solving strategies that would benefit future entrepreneurs.” 

 

Presidential Merit Award

To be given by the President of Pfeiffer University to alumni who are 35 or younger, who have excelled early in their careers, and who show potential for continued success. 

 

Chris MatthewsChris A. Matthews '12 MSL, '16 MFT is the founder, owner and clinical director of Relationship Counseling Group, LLC and Behavioral Health Intervention Center, LLC, which are two private therapeutic and mental health practices based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Chris is a licensed marriage and family therapist, (LMFT), licensed clinical addiction specialist, (LCAS), certified clinical supervisor (CCS) and approved supervisor for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

 

In 2012, Mr. Matthews graduated from Pfeiffer’s Masters’ of Science in Leadership and Organizational Change Management degree program.  The education Chris obtained from his master’s degree program awarded him the skills to leave his job and commit fulltime to the behavioral health company he founded a year prior in 2011. For more than a decade, as the founder and owner of Behavioral Health Intervention Center, LLC, Chris and his staff have provided substance abuse counseling and mental health services to more than 14,000 consumers in North and South Carolina. Behavioral Health Intervention Center plays a major role in keeping the public safe by providing treatment interventions to impaired drivers, employees who test positive for alcohol and drugs and misdemeanor offenders seeking deferred prosecution.  They are one of the preferred treatment providers for the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office and Atrium Health’s Employee Assistant Program. 

Mr. Matthews donates a portion of his business revenue to fund two scholarships. The Christopher Matthews Scholarship was established to provide scholarships to students enrolled in Central Piedmonts Community College (CPCC) substance abuse counseling program. CPCC students awarded with the scholarship use the money for tuition, books, and fees/materials which are related to the final 18 credit hours required for a certificate in substance abuse counseling. For current Pfeiffer marriage and family therapy students, he launched the Chris Matthews Marriage and Family Therapist Annual Scholarship, which provides $1,000 each semester for a male student in the MMFT program. The scholarship, which was first awarded during the 2020-2021 academic year, aims to support men who are looking past “feelings of isolation” to pursue a career in the female-dominated field of marriage and family therapy. It also calls for Matthews to mentor the scholarship’s recipient.

In 2013, Chris returned back to Pfeiffer to pursue a Master of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, after evaluating the next steps for his business. Currently, a large portion of Chris’s time in his business is delegated to grooming and developing clinical staff, so they can provide the highest quality of care to clients seeking substance abuse and mental health counseling.

In 2016, Chris founded a second business, Relationship Counseling Group. That same year he also made a choice to predominantly treat couples. Since that time, Chris has accumulated thousands of hours delivering counseling to intimate partners seeking healing from a variety of relationship issues. Through this journey, he used the experience and training as a marriage and family therapist, to author his first book, Finding Your Relationship Fix: The Four Reasons Couples Seek Counseling.

 

Mr. Matthews book provides readers with a crash course on how couples counseling works.  The book is broken up into four core sections that describe how couples’ counselors treat issues stemming around relationship security, communication, conflict resolution, joint decision making, and expressing love and care. Furthermore, Mr. Matthews used his book as a springboard to develop four online relationship counseling courses for individuals and couples who are dating, married, or for those who want to learn how to have a healthy relationship.  His online courses are accessible through Relationship Counseling Tools, which is the third business Mr. Matthews founded in 2020. Relationship Counseling Tools is a web-based platform committed to providing individuals, families, and organizations the resources needed to achieve and maintain healthy relationships.

 

PAST RECIPIENTS

1959 William H. Latimer ’49

          Wilson W. Woodhouse ’59

1960 Herbert S. Clarke ’47

          Kathleen Loop Eagle ’24

1961 Helen Boone Eller ’48

          Max K. Lowdermilk ’50

1962 Barbara Leonard Parker ’58

          Lloyd G. Lowder ’42

1963 Garmon B. Smith ’40

          Joyce Lathan Woodhouse ’59

1964 Richard S. Clark ’48

          William K. Quick ’52

1965 Ada Mae Bookman ’49

          Ernest A. Fitzgerald ’43

1966 Martha Peeler Stone ’47

          Edwin Woodhouse ’58

1967 Herbert Blackmon ’36

          Max L. Meeks ’44

          Earl W. Vaughn ’47

1968 Harold W. Beaver ’42

          Samuel H. Johnson ’46

1969 J.W. Braxton, Jr. ’63

          Melvin R. Martin ’63

1970 Robert L. Garmon, Sr. ’58

          Joseph A. Ross ’48

1971 J. Keith Crisco ’64

          William K. McNeill ’59

1972 L. Gordon Clark ’44

          D. Larry Crumbley ’63

          Maeburn B. Huneycutt ’42

          Hoyle M. Simpson ’64

1973 Frances McCulloch Gleichmann ’40

          Elizabeth Moore ’49

          John Trott, Jr. ’46

1974 Fred Falls, Jr. ’61

          Franklin D. Martin ’66

          Samuel H. Johnson ’46

1975 Anne Black Daniel ’67

1976 Joe R. Kluttz, Jr. ’60

1977 Thad Woodard ’68

1978 Russ Helderman ’27

1979 Edward B. Tyson ’64

1980 R. Andrew Murphie ’66

1981 C. William Barker ’60

1982 Frank E. Watson III ’71

1983 Juanita Lee Long ’46

1984 Lee W. Kinard, Jr. ’50

1985 Don Maddox ’64

1986 Claude E. McKinney ’49

1987 Richard B. McKenzie ’64

1988 Jane Williams ’66

1989 Warren D. Knapp, Jr. ’66

1990 Robert C. Gulledge ’68

1991 William K. Quick ’52

1992 Mary Nell Saunders ’70

1993 Gerry D. Martin ’63

1994 Robert G. Reasso ’73

1995 Wilbur S. Avant, Jr. ’63

1997 Carl M. "Buck" Hill ’58

          Thad Woodard ’68

1998 Henry Farmer ’60

1999 Monteic Sizer ’93

2000 James B. Long ’63

          Lawrence J. Wheeler ’65

2001 Joseph D. Armstrong ’82

2002 Herman A. Stone ’64

2003 Richard C. Knapp ’69

2006 Betty Mar ’69

          Tom Grady ’63

2007 Annabeal Lefler ’66

          Cecil Donahue ’77

          Jan Brittain ’77

2008 James G. "Jim" Griffith, Jr. ’58

          Dana Rader ’80

2009 Rick Thames ’75

          Jack Ingram ’77

2010 April Havlin ’76

          Sharon Bard ’79

2011 Kevin DeSanctis ’74

          Harold Mackie ’63

          Mary Earnhardt Eagle ’64

2012 Dr. Steve C. Dial ’59

          Michael W. Lowder ’76

          Thomas C. Lewis ’68

2013 Dr. Russ Sharples ’75

          Craig Estep ’83

          Dr. Sam Chewning ’08

2014 Al Rose ’63

          John Boggs ’75

2015 Patrick Duane Dunston ’97

          David Miller ’04

2016 George Singleton ’68

          David Melton ’76

2017 Dawn Harwood Allen ’81

          Alejandra Buchanan Miller ’03

          Marissa Shuffler Porter ’04

2018 Margaret Earley Whitt ’68

          Larry Monaghan ’68

          Ashley Zeek McMichael ’12

2019 Gary Weart ’71

          Frank Lea ’68

          Brittany Cox Hudson ’13

2020 Matthew Gianferante ’05

          Barry Roberson ’80

          David Barham ’11

2021 Reggie Hudson ’74

          Bob Gulledge ’68

          Chris Matthews ’12 MSL, ’16 MFT