Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Meet Mary Lee Witherspoon - 2012 Christina Richard Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Mary Witherspoon, a retired educator, has infl uenced students at a variety of schools such as Bearden School in Knoxville, the University of Tennessee, Maryville College, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Hope Academy.

As a civic leader in her community, Witherspoon has contributed her time and talents to many organizations. She is currently on the governing board for Covenant Presbyterian Church and has served as secretary and board member for the Social Justice Ministry Team of the Interfaith Mission Service. Since 1995, she has been a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She is also an advocate for organizations such as Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform, Alabama Arise and Interfaith Mission Service.

Witherspoon has received multiple honors and awards, such as the Liberty Bell Award in 1995 by the Huntsville Bar Association, the Christine Richard Award in 1997 from the Huntsville-Madison County Mental Health Association, the Valiant Woman Award in 1999 by Church Women United, and the Social Justice Award in 2012 from Interfaith Mission Service of Huntsville and Madison County.

For the past 25 years, Witherspoon and her husband have been involved in hosting and arranging speaking engagements for international peacemakers from the U.S.S.R., Hungary, Northern Ireland, India, Burma, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Somalia, Angola, the Philippines, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, China, South Africa, Sudan, Pakistan and Indonesia. She believes that personal interaction with people who have been involved in working for peace in war-torn parts of the world helps us understand the ravages of war so we can strive to avoid it.

Witherspoon received her bachelor’s degree from Maryville College, her master’s from the University of Tennessee and certifi cation of teaching from the University of Alabama.

Witherspoon says, “Change comes slowly, and it is only through working with others that one can maintain the commitment to seeking a peaceful and just world for all people.”