The School of Education Distinguished Alumni Award honors alumni who have made significant contributions to the profession and to the community, as well as for distinction as a partner, advocate and investor in the work of the School of Education. Recipients are selected by the faculty and invited to campus for a ceremony in their honor.
The inaugural School of Education Alumni Awards were given in spring 2013.
Angela D. Leonard '89
Executive director at Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center, Virginia
Although her career began as an elementary school teacher, Leonard's role has evolved into a leader in her community and champion for special needs education.
After teaching for 10 years in public education, she and husband Alan had a son, who was diagnosed with autism at age 2. Leonard quickly realized there were no resources in her community for families dealing with autism, something that led her to create the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center in 2002. What she began with a $25,000 budget and two employees at a local church is now a center that serves more than 150 students across three locations in Virginia and local public schools.
Her efforts have paved the way for other community programs in the Ronoake area and earned her recognition, including being appointed by Gov. Bob McDonnell to represent individuals with special challenges on the Virginia Interagency Coordinating Council.