Each year, Pomona College recognizes an alumnus, alumna or alumni for their selfless commitment and ongoing volunteer service to the College. The Alumni Distinguished Service Award was inaugurated in 1991 and recipients are selected by the Committee of Past Presidents of the Alumni Association. This year, the winners are Faye Epps, Lisa Prestwich Phelps ’79, P’12 and Susanne Garvey ’74.
Faye Epps (honorary)
“Bedrock” and “heart and soul” are terms that have been used many times, by many people, to describe Faye Epps and the essential role she has had as an administrator within the alumni relations programs at Pomona College.
Over four decades, first in the Development Office, then in Alumni Relations and most recently in Alumni and Parent Engagement, Faye has contributed immeasurably to the alumni community at Pomona. With a critical role in establishing Alumni Weekend and the Alumni Association Board as we know them today, and a firm hand in supporting an incredible range of events and programs, Faye has touched the lives of countless alumni, staff and students.
For generations of reunion volunteers, Alumni Board members and regional leaders, Faye has served as a skilled partner and a caring collaborator—and by many she is considered a dear friend. In honor of Faye’s commitment to the Pomona community, reunion committees from three separate classes—the Class of 1958, the Class of 1963, and the Class of 1977—have named Faye an honorary class member.
Faye retired from Pomona in January and has been spending her time travelling, working part time for the San Bernardino Valley College MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) Program and playing many rounds of golf.
Lisa Prestwich Phelps ’79 P’12
Lisa Prestwich Phelps grew up hearing Pomona College Glee Club songs and attending Pomona Football games. As the daughter, granddaughter, niece and cousin of Pomona alumni, Lisa has long appreciated the College as a place that values relationships, lifelong learning, growth and change.
“My dad, Bruce Prestwich ’54, could not have attended Pomona without the financial aid he received—as well as the encouragement of professors, coaches and deans,” Lisa says. “His career at IBM, many lifelong friendships and commitment to Pomona’s need-blind admissions policies are all responses to the educational opportunity he was given.”
One of Lisa’s own lifelong friendships sparked at Pomona with a song dedicated to her by KSPC deejay Mark Phelps ’78. The two eventually married—“despite his crazy dance moves”—and settled in Seattle, Washington. They have three daughters: Katie works in animal welfare, Erin ’12 works with the Freedom Fund, and Hannah begins graduate school in speech language pathology this year.
At Pomona, Lisa majored in American studies. Her most transformational learning experience came from a criminology course which placed her as a volunteer at the California Youth Authority in Chino, tutoring young inmates in literacy.
After Pomona, Lisa worked in development for several non-profit organizations before shifting her focus to her family and to volunteering in schools. She currently serves as the Director of Early Childhood Ministries at Bellevue Presbyterian Church and recently returned from Guatemala, where she supports the Nicolas Fund for Education.
Lisa’s interest in intergenerational friendships and alumni service motivate her to stay involved with the Alumni Association. In the 1980s Mark and Lisa both served as regional Alumni Association leaders for the College’s Seattle chapter, and Lisa joined the Alumni Board again in 2014. She loves making new friends of all ages and hearing from current students about their passions, challenges and areas of activism.
In 2015, Lisa served on the original alumni planning committee for the College’s 4/7 Celebration of Sagehen Impact. Every year since, she has invited Seattle Sagehens to serve together on local projects and has enjoyed watching friendships bloom among alumni across generations.
Lisa appreciates that today’s students share her dedication to serving community, local and abroad, as part of their Pomona education. She is equally thankful for the ways Pomona is changing: “We’re becoming a more diverse community, providing educational opportunities to first generation college students, and still remaining a college where relationships and individual stories are prioritized and honored.”
Lisa currently serves as co-chair for her 40th class reunion. “I look forward to remembering our years at Pomona and celebrating how we have grown and changed. I hope my friends have a chance to talk with current students and are as amazed as I am to hear about their dreams, challenges and adventures.”
Susanne Garvey ’74
Born in Northern California, Susanne was drawn to Pomona after hearing wonderful stories about the college from her grandmother, Madeline Willard Garvey, who graduated from Pomona in 1911. Her great uncle, Stephen H. Willard, also attended Pomona before leaving to become a professional desert photographer in 1913.
A very generous California State Scholarship enabled her family to send her to Pomona. She regularly performed in Professor Hypes’s spirited modern dance recitals and was the Fine Arts editor of The Student Life during her junior year, often writing under the pen name “Plethora Dearth.” She was also an unofficial member of the “Pink Bunny Gang.”
After graduating from Pomona with a degree in English (Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar Board), Susanne received her M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Virginia and entered
the Ph.D. program. While at UVA, she derived great pleasure from teaching undergraduate composition classes and tutoring in the African-American summer preparation program. She later spent a year in the U.K. organizing a college-level semester abroad program.
In 1980, Susanne moved to Washington, D.C., where she coordinated a college- level semester-in-Washington program before changing course and managing corporate sponsorships in support of national STEM programs reaching thousands of K-12 students.
From 1992 to 2017, she was director of external affairs for the Carnegie Institution for Science. At Carnegie, she organized public science outreach programs and worked closely with some of the nation’s most brilliant astronomers, earth scientists, biologists, and environmental scientists to secure private foundation funding in support of their groundbreaking scientific research.
Since 2008, Susanne has hosted a number of Pomona alumni events at the Carnegie Institution’s historic Beaux Arts building in Washington, D.C., and has served as an Alumni Admissions Volunteer. She was a member of the Pomona Alumni Board for two three-year terms, serving as its president during the 2012-2013 academic year. She and her husband live in a neighborhood of California-inspired mid-century modern homes in Alexandria, Virginia.