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The purpose of the Distinguished Alumni Award is “to bestow recognition and appreciation for outstanding achievement.  The award is a meritorious reflection on the school and provides inspiration and encouragement for our young people. 

Make plans to join us on Saturday, October 19, 2024

Candidates will have distinguished themselves through personal or professional achievement, must have attended or graduated from Maclay, and may not be a current member of the Alumni Board. 
This award will be given to recognize Maclay alumni for any or all of the following areas:

  • Notable achievement in a professional field
  • Service to his or her community, state or nation
  • Service to the arts, sciences, or humanitarian causes
  • Loyal member of the Maclay Community

The Alumni Board, in conjunction with the Alumni Office, will solicit nominations each year from alumni, parents, trustees, faculty, staff, and friends of Maclay School.  From those alumni nominations, a Selection Committee reviews the names and determines the most appropriate person for that year.  The Selection Committee submits a slate to the Alumni Board and the Board votes on the slate.  The approved slated is submitted to the Head of School for final approval.  There will be one Distinguished Alumni Award recipient each year who will be honored at a ceremony on the Saturday after Homecoming each year.

Nominate an Alum

Established in 2014, the Maclay School Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest award presented by the Maclay School Alumni Association.

The Selection Process

The Distinguished Alumnus Award winner is determined by a selection committee with a vote of the Alumni Board and final approval by the Head of School. Sitting on that committee are: Alumni Association Executive Board members (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer), an At-Large Alumni Board member, and Administrators/Faculty members, current or retired, and the Alumni Coordinator.  The Executive Board members serve a two year term; the At-Large Board member is elected by the Board each year at their February meeting; and the Administrator/Faculty members serve 3 year terms with the option to renew.  The Selection Committee submits a slate to the Alumni Board.  The Board votes on the slate and the approved slated is submitted to the Head of School for final approval.


Ever since returning to Tallahassee after graduating law school at the University Florida, Jennifer Parker LaVia has asserted herself into the Tallahassee law and general community like few others. From practicing trial law, to being a published author, to assisting with countless volunteer initiatives involving the Tallahassee community, LaVia has made it a priority to help those in need.  LaVia founded the Kearney Center legal clinic, where she volunteered from 2012-2017, and then joined Mobile Law for All as a volunteer lawyer in 2018. Currently, in addition to her legal volunteer efforts, LaVia opened her own office, LaVia Law P.A., which operates as a low bono firm providing access to affordable legal services for those are ineligible for legal aid but cannot afford full-price legal services. For seven years, LaVia served as an active board for Kid Incorporated of the Big Bend. She was also a member of the Foundation for Partnerships in Correctional Excellence from 1999 to 2001. Additionally, LaVia was involved with Boys Town of North Florida in multiple different roles, as well as St. Stephen Lutheran Church. She is also a former board member here at Maclay School.


The 2018 Distinguished Alumnus honoree is 1988 Maclay graduate Mary Shovlain.  After Mary finished her education at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross where she received a licentiate degree in theology and graduated Summa Cum Laude she did extensive work with Vatican Radio, providing live coverage of the Pope’s international trips and Vatican events.  Mary created television and radio programs from the Eternal City and also collaborated on projects that have aired on the History Channel, National Geographic, and PBS.  She also hosted her own program, The Vatican Report with Mary Shovlain, on SIRIUS XM’s The Catholic Channel.  This weekly radio program focused on the activities of Pope Francis and explored Vatican news headlines with experts and Vatican officials. Beginning in 2015, she served as a correspondent and producer for EWTN News Nightly and works as a liaison with members of the press and opinion makers in Rome regarding the policies of the American government.


Dr. Deryk Jones (’82) attended Emory University and The Stanford University School of Medicine where he received his Doctorate of Medicine. He then completed his residency at the Harvard Combined program and was selected as Chief Resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Later, he completed his fellowship training in Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and then joined the staff of the Tulane University School of Medicine. Today, he is ranked in the top 1% in the field of Sports Medicine and Orthopedic and provides medical care for numerous college and high school athletes along with serving as the team physician for the New Orleans Saints NFL team and the New Orleans Pelicans NBA team.


Lawton Langford is a 1975 graduate of Maclay School.  He has served in various leadership positions including Maclay’s Chairman of the Board from 2002-04, and Chair of the Trustee committee for the $2.5 million Building of Excellence capital campaign in 2004. Most recently, he and his wife Beth participated in the iTHINK campaign for the creation of the Beck Family Research Center and Beck Family Innovation Center.  Langford was President and CEO of Municipal Code Corporation (Municode),  a leader in publishing (electronic and hard copy) loose-leaf documents. His civic involvement included serving as Chairman of the Young Presidents Organization, Tallahassee Community College Board of Trustees, the Seminole Boosters, Inc. and the United Way campaign for eight counties; and as director for Tall Timbers Research Station, the Community Foundation of North Florida, FSU’s School of Information Studies and Strozier Library’s Advisory Boards and Goodwill. Langford’s continued support and leadership has been invaluable to the growth and direction of Maclay School over many decades.


1991 graduate Matt Hill was a National Merit Scholar during his time at Maclay and was always headed to make an impact in the world.  After graduating from the University of Chicago and the University of California with his Master of Mathematics, he took on Wall Street where he built a successful career. After 15 years in the financial world, Hill retired to Madagascar for a more simple, natural, and relaxed lifestyle, but his work was not done yet. He immediately went to the African country and began working on projects to help the people of Madagascar. He worked with training school teachers, designed a program to help local fishermen protect their own coral reef, and re-grew a local rainforest which had been consumed by wildfire. He was so fascinated with the process of re-growing the forest, that he decided to create a non-profit, Green Again: Madagascar, working to restore the forests of Northeast Madagascar. In 2015, after establishing his organization, Hill decided to get his Master of Restoration-Ecology from the University of Minnesota, graduating in 2018. 


The 2017 Distinguished Alumnus honoree is 1976 Maclay graduate Bettie Kathryn (B.K.) Grant.  B.K. was a member of Maclay’s state championship basketball team as well as a member of the softball team, Anchor Club, and was selected a Key Club Sweetheart. After graduating Maclay, she attended Clemson University where she earned her degree in Forest Management.  B.K.’s career has encompassed more than 25 years of science and technical operations support in Alaska, South Central and South America, and the South Pole. In 1991, B.K. took a position overseeing the satellite communications and operations at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, operated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) where she supervised a staff of ten.  B.K. has received many NSF Outstanding Service and Dedication Awards, Employee Morale Support awards, and has received several Lockheed Martin Best of the Best awards, including the NOVA award.  Located in the valley between the Communication Heights and Mount Ash in the Darwin Mountains of Antarctica, is the “Grant Valley” in honor of B.K.’s many years of work and dedication.


Brigadier General John B. Richardson IV, a graduate 1987 graduate of Maclay School, spent ten years at Maclay and was active in student council and several athletic teams.  Upon graduation, he attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  He went on to become a highly decorated combat veteran with over 24 years of service in U.S. Army.  He has received numerous awards, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star for Valor, Purple Heart, three additional Bronze Star Medals, and a host of other decorations and honors.  In May 2015, the President of the United States nominated Johnny for promotion and the Senate confirmed his nomination for promotion to Brigadier General.  Richardson became the first member of his West Point class to make General Officer with the added distinction of becoming the youngest General in the Army.