Members of the Board of Trustees
Chair | Anne Frances Bleecker ’76
Vice Chair | Rhett Ramsay Outten ’82
Secretary | Eric Strickland
Treasurer | Kurt Palmer
Lilla Lane Clark ’01
Sara E. DeWolf
Gautam Ghatnekar, PhD
Kendra Y. Hamilton, PhD ’76
Lenna S. Kirchner
John E. Marko, Jr.
M. Ann Riopel, MD ’83
Rowan G. P. Taylor
Dana Van Hook
Mary Agnes Burnham Hood
Martha Rivers Ingram ’53
Patricia T. Kirkland
Hugh C. Lane, Jr.
Elizabeth Rivers Lewine ’54
Karen Jenkins Phillips ’79
Heidi Ward Ravenel ’74
Jerry Reves, MD
Conrad Zimmerman, Jr.
From Chair of the Board Anne Frances Bleecker '76
I am honored to be serving as the chair of the Ashley Hall Board of Trustees. Having come full circle at this venerable institution – as student (Class of 1976) and parent – I know firsthand the significance of an Ashley Hall education. Now as Board Chair, I take great pride in witnessing how our school community continues to persevere and find strength through an enduring mission.
What It Means to Be an Ashley Hall Alumna
My memories of Ashley Hall go back almost as far as those of my family; and I have both to thank for the lessons of ethics, hard work and service that have guided me throughout my life.
Like the magnificent oak tree on our beautiful campus, the principles exemplified by Ashley Hall’s teachers and administrators have been a towering source of strength for me at every stage of my career as a lawyer, a mother and a volunteer.
I’d like to share a few examples.
As early as first grade, Mrs. Drayton taught us to be prompt, organized and kind – valuable guidance I still take to heart. My sister Hope Bleecker Stucker ’80 followed me four years later. All of us at Ashley Hall were privileged to be surrounded by extraordinary role models – women of integrity who were accomplished, generous, and dedicated to our future.
It’s no surprise then, that as alumnae we felt confident to speak up and, quite often at that time, as the only woman in the room.
I did a test-run of that experience as an Ashley Hall Senior when I was part of the first class of Leadership Charleston. Prominent members of our community, such as the legendary attorney Gedney Howe II, would meet with the Leadership Charleston class to discuss issues of the day. I would prepare questions for the speakers the night before so that when I stood up to ask a question, the men there would remember what I had to say.
This training served me well, from the time I interned for the Secretary of the Interior in Washington, throughout law school, when founding my own practice here in Charleston, and today in working alongside my female colleagues to get fair resolutions for families.
But that is only part of the legacy of Ashley Hall. What made the academic and professional rigor meaningful was the sense of purpose that our teachers and mentors brought to everything we learned and did.
They taught us that service to others is both a responsibility and a privilege.
I look around today and see these values exemplified by so many fellow alumnae and friends – Dr. Doe Jenkins ’76, MUSC neonatologist; Dr. Kendra Hamilton ’76, Ashley Hall Board of Trustees and Associate Professor at Presbyterian College; and, of course, Dr. Anne Weston ’73, eminent education leader and now Ashley Hall Head of School.
And our alumnae networks are vibrantly alive – evidenced by the tremendous success of our Alumnae Weekend, informal gatherings in cities across the country, and the knowledge that an Ashley Hall alumna will always pick up the phone or open her door to you.
This heritage of training, values and friendship is why I moved back to Charleston when my daughter Annie Vangilder ’09 turned two – so that she could attend Ashley Hall. It’s also why I enrolled my son, Joe, in the EEC.
It’s why I have been humbled over the years to support our civic leaders and nonprofits on behalf of Charleston’s vulnerable seniors and families. Why, along with other cancer survivors, I speak to nursing and medical students to share stories of advocacy and empathy.
And why, when I had the opportunity to chair the Ashley Hall Board of Trustees, I embraced the chance to thank the school that has given me so much and help guide it to a remarkable future.
Our young women graduates are well prepared to lead and will enjoy the same path of meaningful roles that generations of alumnae have experienced.
What does it mean to be an Ashley Hall alumna and lock arms with sisters, teachers, and mentors across time? The answer is lifelong joy.
Anne Frances Bleeker ’76
Chair of Board of Trustees