Three honored at Alumni Awards Gala

Appalachian State University and its Alumni Association honored three individuals at the annual Alumni Awards Gala held June 11, 2011 on campus, at the George M. Holmes Convocation Center.

Receiving awards were Brad Sparks of El Segundo, Calif., Doug Johnson of Lenoir, and Martha Guy of Newland.

Appalachian honored Sparks with its Young Alumni Award, which recognizes an individual's exceptional service to the university and/or career accomplishments.

Johnson received the university's Outstanding Service Award in recognition of his years of exceptional service to the university.

Guy received the Honorary Alumni Award, which recognizes individuals who have given unselfishly of themselves to Appalachian but did not graduate or ever attend the university.

The Alumni Awards Gala served as the finale to the 2011 Alumni Reunion Weekend, held June 10-11. Activities included campus walking tours, a wine tasting and tour of the Solar Homestead project, class meetings and a tour of the university's newest athletic facilities.

The Appalachian Classes of 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 gathered for reunions. As part of a new recognition program for classes celebrating their 50th reunion, the university inducted members of the Class of 1961 and all prior classes as the inaugural members of the Black & Gold Society.

Brad Sparks '97 '98

Brad Sparks is a director with the accounting firm KPMG LLP, working in KPMG Corporate Responsibility, a division of KPMG Forensic, in Los Angeles.

A 1997 graduate of Appalachian's Walker College of Business, Sparks earned a bachelor's degree in business administration. In 1998, earned a master's degree in accounting at Appalachian. He returned to graduate study at UNC Chapel Hill, where he completed his M.B.A. in 2004.

While an undergraduate at Appalachian, Sparks served as a student ambassador and was among the first group of student scholars to participate in the William R. Holland Fellows for Business Study in Asia program, helping establish Appalachian's long and close relationship with Fudan University.

At KPMG, one of the world's largest accounting firms, Sparks is responsible for the firm's internal climate changes strategy, which provides commitments to measure, report and reduce KPMG's carbon footprint. Sparks works with all KPMG member entities to establish greenhouse gas reporting protocols and to verify the data reported. In addition, he works with teams throughout the firm to implement emission reduction programs and reduce KPMG's environmental impact.

Sparks joined KPMG in 1998 as a staff accountant. He left the firm in 2000 to take a senior auditor position with Gateway Inc. While pursuing his master's degree in business administration, he worked as a consultant for the Kenan Institute Asia and completed an internship with KPMG in its Sustainability Services Group. He rejoined KMPG on a full-time basis in 2004.

Prior to his current position at KPMG, Sparks served as a member of the firm's forensic practice, assisting clients with corporate responsibility initiatives such as sustainability, reporting, supply chain integrity and codes of conduct.

"Brad Sparks has not only distinguished himself in the accounting and sustainability, he also has extensive international experience and embodies what we hope our alumni will become—global leaders," said Dr. Randy Edwards, dean of the Walker College of Business. "In addition, Brad is very willing to share his experience and inspire future business leaders by speaking to and engaging with ASU students and prospective students any time he has an opportunity. Despite his location on the West Coast, he has been more than willing to interact with our students and provide presentations that will have lifelong impact."

In 2009, Sparks established the Bullock/Sparks Explore Yosef Scholarship Endowment and has provided support to other scholarships in the Walker College of Business.

Doug Johnson '77

Doug Johnson is the chief executive officer of Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation, based in Lenoir. He is a 1977 graduate of the Walker College of Business, with a bachelor's degree in business administration.

Johnson joined Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation in 1979 as an energy management specialist. He advanced steadily working as director of energy management, manager of energy services, vice president of marketing, and interim general manager. He became the energy company's CEO in 1990.

His service to his alma mater includes being a member of the Yosef Club advisory board, Appalachian Summer Festival advisory board, Walker College of Business advisory board, and the Athletics Feasibility Study committee. His community service includes board of directors and chairman of Caldwell 20/20, board of directors of the Caldwell Community College Foundation, Bank of Granite board of directors, and member of the Caldwell County Industrial Revenue Bond Authority.

Johnson has provided significant support for Appalachian both personally and through his role as the leader of one of the region's most influential corporations. He and Blue Ridge Electric have supported the Hayes School of Music, Appalachian Fund, Department of History and Mountaineer Athletics. He has provided assistance to the Walker College of Business in forging new relationships with companies and individuals that share a common interest in education.

Since 1998, Blue Ridge Electric and Appalachian's Office of Arts and Cultural Programs have collaborated to present arts programming aimed at enriching the culture of western North Carolina and improving the quality of life for its residents. During that time, Blue Ridge Electric as the lead sponsor of the annual Appalachian Summer Festival has become synonymous with the month-long, regional cultural event.

The focal point of Blue Ridge Electric's festival sponsorship is the annual fireworks concert. The company's support has enabled the festival to bring many of the nation's finest performing artists to Appalachian, while maintaining affordable ticket prices. Johnson's leadership also has been instrumental in helping the festival secure additional sponsorships and financial support, making it the High Country's most anticipated summer event.

"Doug Johnson's service and commitment to Appalachian have been considerable. His leadership both on our campus and in the business community has been outstanding, and he is always available when Appalachian calls on him," said Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock. "Not only has he personally made substantial financial gifts to the university, but as CEO of Blue Ridge Electric, he has provided decades of significant support across the campus."

"Doug's vision and leadership has served as a wonderful example of the great things that can happen when highly respected business leaders in our community commit themselves to advancing the quality of life for the region they serve," said Denise Ringler, Appalachian's director of arts and cultural programs.

Martha Guy

Martha Guy is known throughout North Carolina and beyond as an icon and pioneer for women in the banking industry. A native of Newland, Guy served and led Avery County Bank for more than 60 years in every capacity from assistant cashier to president. She was inducted into the North Carolina Banking Hall of Fame in 2010 and has been honored by the North Carolina Bankers Association with its Legends in Banking Award.

Guy holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry from UNC Chapel Hill and an associate degree from Lees-McRae College. After firmly establishing her banking career, Guy emerged as a community leader and benefactor. She has served on the board of the Crossnore School since 1956 and received a governor's appointment to the Avery County Board of Education during the turbulent period of school integration.

Guy's leadership of and service to higher education has reached throughout the North Carolina Mountains. She served as a founding trustee of Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine. She also served on boards of directors and visitors at Appalachian State University, Lees-McRae College, Mars Hill College, Montreat College and Warren Wilson College. She has received honorary degrees from Appalachian and Montreat.

In addition to her time and wisdom, Guy also has given generously of her resources to higher education.

She is the founder of the Martha Guy Summer Institute for Future Business Leaders at Appalachian. Since 2004, the Martha Guy Summer Institute has brought some of North Carolina's top high school juniors to Appalachian for an unparalleled three-week opportunity to learn about business and develop leadership skills. She also has supported the university's Appalachian Summer Festival, Walker College of Business Dean's Club, Harlan E. Boyles Memorial Fund, North Carolina Bankers Association Professorship, Chair of Banking Endowment and others.

"The size of Martha Guy's collective gifts is indicative of her generosity," said Deanne Smith, director of the Martha Guy Summer Institute. "That is measureable; immeasurable is the way her institute has inspired students and future business leaders through learning experiences and travel. Regardless of their background, all of the Martha Guy Summer Institute participants, more than 160 of them, have said it was an opportunity of a lifetime, and Martha gave them that opportunity."

Some of her other notable contributions include the establishment of the Martha Guy Labs in the UNC Chapel Hill Physical Science Complex and several scholarship funds to support Avery County students pursuing higher education.