Distinguished graduates recognized with Elon Alumni Awards

Five extraordinary alumni were recognized Friday during an awards ceremony as part of Elon’s Homecoming festivities.

The Elon community gathered Nov. 3 on Phi Beta Kappa Commons to recognize five alumni for their professional acumen, service to the community and dedication to their alma mater.

Susan L. Yow ’76, W. Cecil Worsley III ’86 P’14, Ashleigh J. Palmer Weathers ’08, Brandon S. Shore ’08 and Garrett A. McKnight ’94 were recognized during an awards ceremony as the campus welcomed hundreds of alumni for Homecoming 2017. 

You represent the best of what it means to be an Elon alum, said Brian Feeley ’03, director of alumni engagement, during his opening remarks. He added that since 1941, Elon’s Office of Alumni Engagement has presented awards to honor alumni who serve as active Elon partners, advocates and investors. 

President Leo M. Lambert congratulated this year’s award winners and entrusted them with the future of the institution. I’m optimistic about the future of this university because of our alumni, he said.

Recognized with the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards were:

Susan L. Yow ’76
Distinguished Alumna of the Year
This award is presented to an alumna who has distinguished herself in her profession and community and brought honor to Elon.

One of the most prolific athletes in Elon history, Susan L. Yow left her mark in women’s sports.

A native of Gibsonville, Susan graduated from Elon College in 1976 with a degree in physical education. She came to Elon in 1972 to play for older sister and head coach, the late Kay Yow. She was a two-sport athlete, earning letters in both women’s basketball (1972–75) and volleyball (1972–74) as a member of each inaugural team. She was a two-time all-state selection and was named a Kodak All-American. She still ranks second on Elon’s individual season-high records list for free throw percentage and fifth in career rebounds per game. Before her senior season, Susan transferred to North Carolina State University, where she completed her collegiate career. 

Susan was the first Elon women’s basketball player to be named to the Associated Press Division I First-Team All-America in 1975, an honor she repeated at NCSU in 1976. During that season, she led the Wolfpack in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and free throw percentage while serving as team captain. She returned to Elon and graduated in 1976 with a degree in physical education before beginning her coaching career that has spanned 40 years.

Her accomplished career includes head coaching positions at Queens University, Belmont Abbey College, Providence College, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Kansas State University, Drake University and East Tennessee State University. Besides her Division I and II coaching career, she also served as an assistant coach for five seasons in the WNBA league’s Minnesota Lynx, Charlotte Sting and Cleveland Rockers organizations. In addition, she has won three gold medals coaching with USA Basketball, once as a head coach and twice as an assistant. She was inducted into the Elon Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and was named to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2016, joining sisters Deborah (2006) and Kay (1989).

W. Cecil Worsley III ’86 P’14 (in absentia)

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year
This award is presented to an alumnus who has distinguished himself in his profession and community and brought honor to Elon.

Leadership and a keen sense of business have been constants in the life of W. Cecil Worsley III ’86 P’14.

At the age of 15, he started working for his family petroleum and convenience store business in Wilmington, North Carolina. He later attended Elon, where he met his wife, JoAnna Sutton Worsley ’87. He graduated with a degree in finance in 1986 and became chief executive officer of the family business, Worsley Companies, Inc., in 1994. Under his leadership, the company grew to manage more than 140 Scotchman convenience stores in North and South Carolina. The company, which was also a franchisee of Subway, Blimpie, Quiznos and Dairy Queen restaurants, was acquired in 2008 by Sun Capital Partners.

Always looking for a new venture, Cecil purchased the Port City Java coffee shop chain in 2011, which includes 13 corporate run cafes and 13 franchisees, including shops on the campuses of N.C. State University and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Cecil also runs Springer Eubank Oil Company, a wholesale fuel company, transport company and convenience store chain. He sits on the boards of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation, the Wilmington Family YMCA and the First Tee of Cape Fear in Wilmington.

A loyal supporter of Elon athletics and a former member of the golf team at Elon, Cecil donated funds to establish the W. Cecil Worsley III Golf Training Center on campus. Additionally, he committed $50,000 per year for three years to match donations from former student-athletes in an effort to increase alumni participation. He formerly served as a member of both the President’s Advisory Council and the President’s Athletic Advisory Council, and joined the Elon University Board of Trustees in 2015. Cecil and JoAnna are also members of the Phoenix Club IMPACT Circle and the Elon Society’s Founder’s Circle. They live in Wilmington and have three children—Cecil ’14, Susanna and Rebecca.

Ashleigh J. Palmer Weathers ’08
Young Alumna of the Year
This award is presented to an alumna who has graduated within the past 10 years and distinguished herself in a profession and in the community.

A motivated and driven professional, Ashleigh J. Palmer Weathers has carved a successful business career after graduating from Elon in 2008 with an accounting degree.

As an undergraduate, Ashleigh was involved with the Xi Omicron Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., the Gospel Choir, Residence Life and the SMART program. She also had a transformational experience during her study abroad in Brazil. Ashleigh is known for her engaging personality and as luck would have it, she met her husband, Walter D. Weathers ’08, during her first days at Elon.

Passionate about her career, Ashleigh pursued a master’s degree in accounting at Miami University of Ohio, a highly regarded and competitive program, graduating in 2009. She then joined Deloitte Tax LLP in Chicago and soon after was promoted to senior tax consultant. Ashleigh joined Ernst & Young LLP in 2014 and most recently has joined Warady & Davis LLP, where she serves as a tax supervisor. In that role, she provides planning, consulting and compliance services for high net-worth clients; manages and supervises staff and all aspects of compliance and planning for several clients; and manages more than 150 tax returns and compliance calendars. Despite her busy schedule, Ashleigh finds time to support and mentor rising professionals of varying backgrounds.

Always looking to make a difference in her community, Ashleigh has been an active volunteer with Ladder Up, a nonprofit that provides free financial resources and tools to low-income clients in the Chicago area, Chicago Day of Service, Chicago Cares and Cornerstone Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing scholarships to less fortunate individuals in Lake County, Illinois. While in college, she supported the JDRF walk in honor of her family members who have diabetes. She is a member of St. Paul AME church in Glencoe, Illinois, where she serves as choir director for the Voices of Joy choir and vice president for the St. Paul Youth Department. She and Walter have two children, Walter Jr. and Kayleigh. Ashleigh remains involved with her alma mater as a member of the Elon Black Alumni Network.

Brandon S. Shore ’08
Young Alumnus of the Year
This award is presented to an alumnus who has graduated within the past 10 years and distinguished himself in a profession and in the community.

Brandon S. Shore is entering his eighth season with the Miami Dolphins, having been named senior director of football administration in September 2016. Brandon previously served the club in various roles, including senior director of human resources and finance and legal affairs specialist.

Born and raised in South Florida, Brandon received degrees in accounting and business management from Elon University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law. During his time at Elon, he was a team leader of the intramural program on campus. He began his career with the Dolphins in 2010 as a football administration assistant.

In his current role, he serves as the team’s lead negotiator for player contracts and is responsible for managing the salary cap, day-to-day football administration matters, football operations budgets and club compliance with the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, and acts as the organization’s liaison on labor relations and league matters. His primary responsibilities include working closely with Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum, Head Coach Adam Gase and General Manager Chris Grier on all football operations and administration support functions.

In Brandon’s previous roles in human resources, he led the team’s efforts in building and cultivating a strategic human resources department designed to drive company performance and establish a consistent culture and value structure across the organization. As finance and legal affairs specialist, he was involved in a number of tasks including serving as the franchise’s business operations attorney, managing the club’s insurance programs and related business affairs. He also served as a liaison between football and business operations.

Always proud of his alma mater, Brandon is a member of the Young Alumni Council and supports both the Phoenix Club and Elon’s Greatest Needs fund. He lives in Cooper City with his wife, Alison, and their two dogs, Cooper and Lily.


Garrett A. McKnight ’94
Distinguished Service to Elon
This award is given to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service and advancement of Elon.

An accomplished businessman, Garrett McKnight is the managing director of private client advisory for the Northern Trust Company’s Phoenix, Arizona, office. In this role, he oversees a team of professionals who are dedicated to providing goals-driven advice and service to successful individuals, their families and businesses.

Garrett graduated from Elon University with a degree in communications in 1994. During his undergraduate years, he played baseball and was involved with ESTV and WSOE. Additionally, he is a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. After graduation, Garrett held roles at Bank of America in Virginia and Texas along with U.S. Bank in Wisconsin and Arizona before joining Northern Trust.

He has received several awards in recognition for his leadership, including the U.S. Bank Private Client Group National Guiding Principal Award Winner–Teamwork in 2006, U.S. Bank Private Client Group National Achievement Award–Client Satisfaction in 2007 and the Northern Trust’s West Region President’s Circle Award in 2015.

Garrett’s leadership goes beyond the business world. He is an active member of the Phoenix community, serving on the board of trustees of the Phoenix Art Museum and as a board member of the Banner Health Foundation. He has also served as past president of the Men’s Arts Council at the Phoenix Art Museum and former board member for Audubon Arizona. As an Elon alumnus, Garrett has remained active, currently serving on the Phoenix Club Advisory Board. He is also involved with the Kappa Sigma alumni chapter. Formerly, he has been a class reunion volunteer, alumni chapter volunteer and a member of the National Alumni Executive Board.

In his spare time, Garrett enjoys fly fishing and golfing. He even finds time to compete annually in the Duffers Cup, a four-day golf tournament created in 1993 by Elon Kappa Sigma alumni to celebrate their friendship and love of the game.