March 21, 2023

UMNAA Celebrates 2023 Award Winners at Homecoming Luncheon

The UM National Alumni Association recognized its 2023 Homecoming award winners at their annual luncheon Feb. 11 in Anna Irvin Dining Hall.

Hon. Beth Chapman ’84 received the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award, which is the UMNAA’s highest annual honor.

Cindy Clark Greer ’88 received the 2023 Nathalie Molton Gibbons Alumni Achievement Award, which is given annually to an alum age 35 or older whose career and community contributions have reflected positively at the local, state or national level. Heather Buckner ’14 is the recipient of the 2023 Nathalie Molton Gibbons Young Achiever’s Award, which is given annually to an alum age 35 or younger based on the same criteria as the Alumni Achievement Award.

Hon. Beth Chapman

Chapman, a native of Greenville, Alabama, and a Hoover resident, is a member of the University’s Board of Trustees and served two terms as the state of Alabama’s 51st secretary of state upon her election in 2006.

“Truly I belonged (at the University of Montevallo),” Chapman said, “and I’m so grateful that I still do. The University of Montevallo equipped, enabled and empowered me to be able to live what we know as ‘The American Dream.’”

Chapman was the first woman in the state to serve as a cabinet member as appointments secretary for a governor and later as press secretary for a lieutenant governor. She was elected state auditor in January 2002.

As secretary of state, Chapman received more votes than any constitutional officer in state history. She helped create online business filings, the office’s first voter fraud task force and the development of electronic military voting.

One of Chapman’s many nominators for the award said she is highly regarded for her skill in leading and working with others to make a difference.

“Beth advocates for Montevallo at every opportunity and is one of the University’s most well-known ambassadors,” a nominator wrote.

Chapman received her bachelor’s degree in communication from UM and earned a master’s degree in education from The University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1990. She is a 1996 graduate of Princeton University’s Women Executives in State Government Management Institute and a 2013 graduate of Harvard University’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government.

Chapman retired from public office in 2013 and owns and operates Beth Chapman & Associates, LLC, a political and public relations consulting firm.

Chapman was the first recipient of the UMNAA Nathalie Molton Gibbons Young Achiever’s Award in 1997.

Cindy Clark Greer

Greer, a Montevallo resident, served as the former executive director of Owens House, Shelby County’s child advocacy center, from 2009 to 2021 at the end of a three-decade career in social work.

“This University helped to grow my passion for the world and give me the things that I needed to be able to minister in the world and reach out to people that were different than me and to be able to hopefully impact their lives,” Greer said.

Greer, who graduated from UM with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, served as a child abuse and neglect social worker at the Shelby County Department of Human Resources or nine years. She became the Shelby County Department of Human Resources child abuse and neglect unit supervisor in 1999 before starting as executive director at Owens House.

Greer was named the Child Protective Services Supervisor of the Year by the Department of Human Resources, serving as treasurer and secretary of the Alabama Network of Child Advocacy Centers from 2015 to 2019 and leading the Shelby County Child Death Review Team from 1999 to 2021.

“She is a shining example of what it means to be a Montevallo educated woman, being the embodiment of our alma mater; “Seeking Right, and Freedom’s way…Steadfast virtues win thee fame.”  a nominator wrote.

Heather Elaine Buckner

Buckner, a Bessemer native and Atlanta resident, currently serves as a senior editor of Atlanta Magazine.

“Like lots of folks with similar backgrounds, I struggled with imposter syndrome,” Buckner said. “But I always felt like I belonged here (at the University of Montevallo).”

After graduating from UM with a degree in mass communication, Buckner became the managing editor of the Fort Payne Times-Journal in June 2014 and served in the position until February 2017 when she became managing editor of Atlanta Magazine.

While at Montevallo, Buckner worked as a copy editor and then editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, The Alabamian, and in the University Relations office as an assistant editor, copy editor and writer.

“Heather is one of those phenomenal talents that you don’t meet very often,” wrote one of Buckner’s advocates for the award.