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Kudos! Sept 2023

September 6, 2023
By W&M Alumni Magazine

Congratulations to William & Mary alumni who are making moves in the world! This is where we celebrate awards, job changes, promotions, recognition and other career and civic engagement news we collected between June 1 and Aug. 31. For more updates from your classmates, check out the Class Notes at and in the print edition of the W&M Alumni Magazine! 

If you would like to submit an item for Kudos, email the W&M Alumni Magazine staff at

Awards and Recognition


Julia Keith Comfort ’02 was recognized as an Editor of the Year in Ragan & PR Daily’s Communicators of the Year Awards. Julia works as a communications specialist at Ferguson Enterprises, the largest U.S. distributor of plumbing supplies, PVF, waterworks and fire and fabrication products.

Thomas H. Cook Jr. J.D. ’87 has been named the Best Lawyers® 2024 Tax Law Lawyer of the Year for Raleigh, North Carolina. Also, Chambers USA, a prominent ranking agency for law firms and lawyers, has listed him as a leading tax lawyer in its 2023 edition. He works with Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP in Raleigh.

Colleen R. Smith J.D. ’15 a litigator at Stris & Maher LLP, was recently named one of the American Bar Association’s Top 40 Young Lawyers. Specializing in complex litigation, intellectual property and high-stakes federal appeals, Colleen is also dedicated to civil rights cases and serves on the ACLU Idaho Legal Panel in her home state.

Job Changes and Promotions


Michael W. Crowder ’88 who works within the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Miami University, co-authored a paper titled “Characterizing bourbon whiskey via the combination of LC-MS and GC–MS based molecular fingerprinting” that was published in the scientific journal Food Chemistry. His findings could help the industry identify fraudulent products.

Susan Forbes Dewey ’78, M.B.A. ’80 is set to retire as CEO of Virginia Housing on Dec. 31 after 24 years heading the Richmond-based authority. Prior to leading Virginia Housing, Susan served as state treasurer from 1996 to 1999 and was also an ex-officio member of the Virginia Housing Commission.

Larry Griffith ’86 was promoted to executive vice president for programs and student services at United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Larry’s leadership propelled UNCF to become the nation’s largest provider of scholarships to Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students.

Angelo Letizia Ph.D. ’14 is now an associate professor of education at Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore. Angelo is also the department head of initial teaching programs, where he helps to oversee teaching interns in addition to teaching classes in history and philosophy. He has published five academic monographs and a recent collection of poetry.  

Michele Niles ’95 accepted a position with Weichert, Realtors – Coastal Properties in Bluffton, South Carolina, where she has been a resident for 23 years, after living for four years on Hilton Head Island. She and her husband own Custom Marine Finishes in the heart of Old Town Bluffton. 

Jennifer Palestrant M.B.A. ’97 was announced as senior vice president, public affairs – offshore wind for Invenergy LLC. In this role, she will work with developers, suppliers and local, state and federal governments to envision and execute the development of Invenergy’s offshore wind portfolio. 

Chris V. Rey J.D. ’10 was appointed president of Barber-Scotia College, a historically black college in Charlotte, North Carolina. Chris runs a consulting firm and is a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard. A native of Spring Lake, North Carolina, he also served as the town’s mayor from 2011 to 2017. He is a member of the W&M Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Ken D. Tyler ’87, M.A.Ed. ’89, P ’20 was named vice president for athletics at Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina. He will oversee Barton College’s athletics program and be responsible for leading nearly 720 student-athletes, in addition to coaches, administrators, athletic trainers and support staff.