Breaking The Glass Ceiling Award

The Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award

Established at the start of WELV, the Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award is presented to a woman who by her accomplishments and her appointments to a position or positions heretofore not held by women has provided new pathways for other women to follow. She has demonstrated outstanding leadership that has contributed to the quality of education in Virginia. Most importantly, she has broken the glass ceiling in her field. Listed below are recipients with notations on some of their “firsts”.This is not an annual award but is awarded by the Board of Directors when it deems that a recipient has “broken the glass ceiling in Virginia”.


Annette Gibbs, Ph. D. - First woman dean of students at UVA

Deanna Gordon, Ed. D. - First woman superintendent to be president of VASS (Virginia Association of School Superintendents)

Jo Lynne DeMary, Ed. D. - First woman in Virginia to be Superintendent of Public Instruction

Belle S.Wheelan, Ph. D. - First woman and first African American to be Virginia’s Secretary of Education, President of Central Virginia Community College and then of Northern Virginia Community College.

Virginia McLaughlin, Ed. D. - First woman to be dean of education at College of William and Mary

Margaret Blackmon, Ed. D. - First executive director of Women Education Leaders in Virginia

Patricia Cormier, Ph. D. - First woman President of Longwood University

Kathryn Thornton, Ph. D. - First woman astronaut at the University of Virginia

Teresa Sullivan, Ph. D. - First woman to be president of the University of Virginia

Judith Duncan, Ed. D. - First woman to be a superintendent of schools in Virginia

Purpose of Award: This award is presented to a women leader in Virginia who is the first to be selected or appointed to a significant position
of leadership not previously held by a woman in Virginia and through the “breaking of this glass ceiling”, she has increased significantly the sphere of
influence for all women leaders in Virginia.

Nomination Procedures: The nominator is to submit (1) a letter of nomination, referring specifically to stated criteria and citing examples, (2) a resume, and (3) two additional letters of recommendation from individuals who know well and can speak to the accomplishments of the nominee.

These materials are to be submitted electronically to the Executive Director ( by February 1.

Selection Procedures: The Nominations Committee of the WELV Board will review completed nomination packets and make recommendations, based on stated criteria, to the full WELV Board. The Board will make final decisions on the awards to be made at the upcoming Annual Conference.