Ashley Hall Alumnae Association Annual Awards | Charleston, SC

2024 Ashley Hall Alumnae Association Awards

The Ashley Hall Alumnae Association is pleased to announce the 2024 Alumnae Association Award Winners including the Dewar Gordon Holmes ’26 Distinguished Alumna Award. Please join us in congratulating these alumnae who embody the mission of Ashley Hall both professionally and personally.

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2024 Alumnae Award Winners

Given to an Ashley Hall alumna who exhibits outstanding volunteer and community service, this award honors Fern Karesh Hurst, Class of 1964. 


Retirement for Susanne Emge has been anything but quiet. An active resident of Charleston’s Bishop Gadsden (BG) Retirement Community, Susanne was recently nominated by BG for the Leading Age South Carolina Volunteer of the Year Award, a prestigious and well deserved recognition. Leading Age South Carolina is a membership organization representing 36 not-for-profit and mission-driven senior living providers. Each year, member organizations can submit nominations for awards in five categories, and in 2022, BG happily submitted Susanne Emge for Volunteer of the Year.

Susanne has been a resident of BG since 2016. Very quickly Susanne became ingrained in her community’s culture. She has a true heart for service. From committee leadership within the BG Residents’ Council, including leading the 2019, 2020, and 2021 Charitable Mission Committee, to serving as the 2022 Resident Council Chair, Susanne believes in the mission of BG.

When she is not leading meetings, Susanne focuses on connections. From playing music for general entertainment, or for chapel services in BG’s assisted, memory and skilled communities, to introducing new residents to others who have a common interest, she is always thinking of others.

Susanne’s recent pet project is her work on the BG Together Volunteer initiative, again providing connections within the community, it is clear Susanne is working nearly every day to connect people and create positive outcomes. This focus on connecting with people, especially during challenging times, is at the heart of who Susanne is as a person and volunteer.

Given to an Ashley Hall alumna who exhibits outstanding achievement in her chosen profession, this award honors Crandall Close Bowles, Class of 1965. 


Dr. Lisa Sanders is the Medical Director of Yale University’s Long Covid Multidisciplinary Care Center. In addition to her work as a physician and teacher, Lisa writes the popular “Diagnosis” column for the New York Times Magazine and the “Think Like a Doctor” column featured in the New York Times blog, “The Well.” Her column was the inspiration for the Fox program House MD (2004-2012) and she served as a consultant to the show. In 2010, Lisa published a book titled Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis. In 2019 she collaborated with the New York Times on an eight-hour documentary series on the process of diagnosis for Netflix. Her most recent book is a collection of her columns and is titled, Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries.

Lisa’s path to medicine was anything but traditional. As an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary, she majored in English, wrote for The Flat Hat, the college paper. After graduation she took a job with ABC at Good Morning America. Less than 10 years later, while working for CBS News, she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Coverage of a breaking news story for coverage of Hurricane Hugo as it slammed into her hometown of Charleston, S.C. By then, Sanders said, she was ready to move on professionally and decided that of all the subjects she covered as a journalist, medicine intrigued her most. After two years at Columbia University’s Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program, Lisa was accepted to the Yale School of Medicine. In addition to her time in the hospital, Lisa is currently researching clinical decision making and the way diagnostic decisions and errors are made. She has also published two books on weight loss and food choice, The Perfect Fit Diet: Combine What Science Knows About Weight Loss With What You Know About Yourself in 2004 and The Perfect Fit Diet: How to Lose Weight, Keep it Off and Still Eat the Foods You Love in 2005.

Given to an Ashley Hall alumna who has been recognized by her peers for outstanding work in the performing or visual arts, this award honors Mrs. Martha Rivers Ingram, Class of 1953.



Frances Roosevelt painted as a child and continued as a Studio Art and English Major at The University of Virginia where she graduated with High Distinction in 1977. Utilizing her art background, she pursued a career in architecture earning a Master’s in Architecture from The Yale University School of Architecture in 1981 and was the recipient of the Eero Saarinen Award for design excellence. She practiced architecture in the offices of Cesar Pelli  in New Haven, CT, Robert Venturi in Philadelphia, PA, WG Clark in Charleston, SC and Lyman Perry in Paoli, PA before establishing a private practice in residential design which provided the flexability to raise her family.

In the years since returning to full-time painting, Frances has participated in group and solo shows at Anglin Smith Gallery and the Corrigan Gallery in Charleston, SC. Her work has also been shown at the Annual Barn Show at Scarlett Thicket Farm in Unionville, PA and at Blue Streak Gallery and Carspecken Scott Gallery in Wilmington, DE.

Given to an Ashley Hall alumna, 35 years old or younger, who personally and professionally exhibits the mission of the School, this award honors the memory of Tonisha Bell Alston, Class of 1999 whose life and independent spirit embodied the key pillars of the Ashley Hall mission. 


Artist, jeweler, and female entrepreneur, Mariana “Mini” Hay Avant ’09 is a natural nomination for the Tonisha Bell Alston ’99 Young Alumnae Award. A member of a long line of dynamic Ashley Hall women, Mini grew up in the jewelry business as the great granddaughter of the founder of Croghan’s Jewel Box.

Ten years ago Mini launched her own jewelry line, the Goldbug Collection, that celebrates the Charleston Lowcountry lifestyle at an affordable price. Due to the success of her “bugs”, Mini recently opened her first brick-and-mortar location in Charleston. This will compliment the collection’s successful e-commerce presence.

As an art major, Avant said her mother, Croghan’s co-owner Mariana Hay, challenged her to create something unique to the region. The result is necklaces, earrings and rings at costume prices that feature Lowcountry-inspired icons like okra, peanuts, lanterns and palm fronds. Avant further puts an emphasis on engravable items with her own hand-drawn fonts and silhouettes.

The Dewar Gordon Holmes award honors an alumna who has demonstrated dedicated time, insight, talents and volunteer service to Ashley Hall.




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Ashley Hall is a K-12 independent school for girls, with a co-ed preschool, committed to a talented and diverse student population. We consider for admission students of any race, color, religion, and national or ethnic origin.