ARCS Light Award Winners

Leslie Petter ARCS Light 2024Leslie Petter 2024

Our 2024 ARCS Light recipient, Leslie Petter, represents the best of our members. Since Leslie joined our chapter in 2009, she has sponsored five new members and has funded a full scholar for many years.  Leslie has held many board positions, including Special Events Chair, Nominating Committee Chair, Newsletter Editor, Newsletter Publisher, VP Administration, Public Webpage/Social Media Chair, and President.

In presenting the award, Lee Doyle noted that Leslie received numerous nominations from Atlanta members who cited her qualities and accomplishments:
“She is a role model for a hard-working volunteer.”  “She is the Pearl Mesta of our chapter.”  “As the nation’s best proofreader, she has ensured that ARCS communications met a high standard of excellence.”  “In redesigning our website, Leslie transformed it into an impressive and inviting portal for visitors as well as members, and she continues to keep it fresh and engaging with regular updates.”

On a more personal note, Lee remarked that “Leslie NEVER fails to acknowledge anything that is done, EVEN HALFWAY RIGHT, and she is forgiving if mistakes are made. Her kindness is above measure and sets an example for us all to follow.  Her continued dedication and commitment to ARCS are truly commendable.”



Lee Doyle 2023

Excitement and conviction surrounded the choice of the 2023 ARCS Light.  Lee Doyle is described by many as the epitome of our ARCS Light honor.  She has given consistently in various significant jobs for many years, having served as Vice President of Membership, Vice President of Funds Development, Co-Chair of the 2018 Retreat, as well as having served on the Nominating Committee many times.   Lee has guided us to a stronger, more effective mission by spearheading the three-year strategic plan.  She is a reliable reference on donors, and an expert in matching donors and scholars.  Lee joined the Atlanta Chapter in 2009, and has sponsored three valuable members, all of whom have served on the board. 

Lee has the respect and admiration of everyone who has worked with her.  She has demonstrated exceptional support for our mission as a long-term and consistent donor to ARCS.  Congratulations, Lee, on this well-deserved honor. 




Deede Stephenson

Deede Stephenson 2022

After joining the chapter in 2004, Deede quickly said ‘yes’ when asked to be the Scholar’s Co-Chair in 2005, then the Scholar’s Chair the next year.  She served as Vice President of University Relations in 2008-2009, followed by Special Events Chair, Newsletter Co-Publisher, Directory Chair, VP of Administration and most recently, as VP Membership!  Deede does not say ‘no’ when asked.  She lends a hand to many of the more time-consuming tasks that have helped our chapter run much more smoothly, such as the Nametag Chair and Ambassadors Chair for the Scholar Awards Celebration. 

As one of our members wrote, “Deede has worked tirelessly for many, many years in numerous capacities and has always done a fabulous job. She does her work behind the scenes and with great competence. She is a true unsung heroine.”




Frances Swensson 2021

Hats off to Frances Swensson, our Atlanta ARCS Light Award winner for 2021.  Extremely capable and talented, she has served locally as Scholar Awards Luncheon Chair and Chair-Elect, Internal Communications Chair, VP Administration, and VP Membership. Numerous committee positions can also be added to her repertoire.

Frances has also served on the ARCS National level on the Chapter Engagement Committee and the All Members Conference Committee. Atlanta is indeed lucky to count her among our membership.  She is a true star who serves not only our chapter but the Atlanta community as well.





Sally Hinkle 2020

Congratulations to Sally Hinkle, our ARCS Foundation Atlanta Light Award winner for 2020.  Sally has served the Atlanta Chapter of ARCS Foundation in many leadership roles, including President in 2000 and 2001; Vice President of Membership; Treasurer; and Chairman of Nominating, Strategic Planning, Scholar Awards Luncheon, and Public Relations.  She has been a member of ARCS Foundation Atlanta since 1995. 

Many were touched by Sally’s thoughtful invocation at the Scholar Awards Luncheon in November 2019.  She has also hosted many ARCS Foundation meetings and events in her home.  In her nomination for the ARCS Light Award, Sally was described as a gracious and generous person, traits that have benefitted our membership and our Chapter.  






Nancy Chambers 2019

Nancy has served as Assistant Treasurer, VP-elect and VP of Finance/Treasurer, and VP-elect and VP for Fund Development for the Atlanta chapter.  In addition, she has served as VP of Communications, VP Finance, and a member of the Audit Committee of the National organization.  All of this since she joined the Atlanta chapter in 2007.

She is totally committed to the mission of the ARCS Foundation and has given tirelessly of her time and energy to make ARCS Foundation successful for both the national organization and the Atlanta chapter.





Susan Higley 2018

Over the past 20 years as a member Susan has willingly served as Education Chair, Retreat co-chair, Nominating committee chair, and Funds Development chair.  No matter where she is or who she’s with she is a true advocate of ARCS Foundation.

A woman of many talents, Susan is a dancer, a floral designer, an appraiser, and a dedicated community volunteer.  When asked to serve on an ARCS Foundation committee, she will even take time out from golf.  Most recently, Susan co-chaired the 25th anniversary celebration of ARCS Foundation Atlanta.




Gracia Conn 2017

If anyone ever met the criteria to be ARCS Light it is Gracia Conn.  She has taken an active role on the board in some capacity since she first joined ARCS in 2001 and immediately became Historian – a challenging job for anyone, let alone a new member.  She then moved on to other important jobs such as Newsletter editor, ARCS Scholar vice-chair, Scholar Luncheon co-chair, VP for Communications, and Database chair.  After she agreed to be president-elect she was called upon to take on the responsibility early when the president became ill.  Then Gracia had her own battle with cancer while serving as president.  Now, as assistant to the president, she continues to take on a leadership role in ARCS, an organization in which she clearly believes.  Her dedication, competency, loyalty, and commitment make her an excellent representative of our chapter.



Peg Cooley 2016

Peg became a member of the ARCS Foundation Atlanta Chapter in 2002, and she quickly joined the board as Recording Secretary. Since then she has been VP Communications, Scholars Chair, VP University Relations, Nominating Committee Chair, and Chapter Retreat Co-Chair. She is a strong believer in the ARCS mission and supports the activities and goals of the Atlanta Chapter both financially and with her time. She is currently Internal Communications Chair, a job that both utilizes and promotes the ARCS Foundation website.

A graduate of Georgia State University, Peg has been an active supporter of scholarships through the Women's Philanthropy Initiative and other direct endowments. Early in her career, she was a librarian and an elementary school teacher, but with the birth of her children, Lara and Bryan, she focused on her family and became an active volunteer in church and school activities.

Peg and her husband, Keith, moved away from Atlanta two years ago and now live on Lake Oconee in Eatonton, GA. In addition to maintaining her involvement with ARCS, she serves on the Vestry and Altar Guild at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. She is active in several golf associations, plays competitive bridge, and sings in the Reynolds Community Chorus.


Ronnie Martin 2015

A member of ARCS Foundation Atlanta Chapter since 2004, Ronnie has served as Database Chair, Internal Communications Chair, Website Chair (for both the old and new websites), and VP for Communications. She has served on the ARCS Foundation National Board as National Newsletter Chair, Information Strategies Chair, and a member of the Council of Advisors. She has devoted herself to enhancing and supporting the ARCS Foundation website’s use by National and all Chapters while helping the Atlanta Chapter shine as it illustrates best practices within its site.

Professionally, Ronnie is executive secretary for the Qatar Computing Research Institute Scientific Advisory Committee. While at Purdue University, she was research coordinator for the National Science Foundation Software Engineering Research Center, a national consortium of universities and industrial members. At Georgia Tech, she was Manager of the Software Test and Evaluation Project that consolidated Department of Defense-wide resources for software test and evaluation and developed new DoD guidance and policy for the testing of computer software for mission-critical applications. Ronnie started her career as a software engineer with IBM Corporation where she developed avionics software for the Space Shuttle.

Ronnie earned an M.S. in Operations Research and a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Georgia Tech and received her Certification with a Math Education Major/Science Education Minor from Purdue University.  She taught upper school mathematics at Kent Place School in Summit, New Jersey. She is married to Georgia Tech professor Rich DeMillo. Their daughter, Cara, lives in Atlanta


Sherry Lundeen 2014

Upon joining ARCS Foundation in 2004, Sherry immediately became and remains an active Atlanta Chapter member.  She has served as President, VP Funds Development, Nominating Chair and Parliamentarian. She has also served on the ARCS Foundation National Board since 2010 including the positions of Treasurer and Chair Fund Development. 

Sherry, a retired registered nurse, has been an active civic leader for over 30 years. She has held leadership posts with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta including Auxiliary President, Board of Trustees member, Children’s Foundation Board member, Chairman of Festival of Trees, and Chairman Atlanta Golf Classic. She has been a volunteer and Board member of The Junior League of Atlanta including VP Finance and 80th Anniversary Chairman.

Sherry and John have been married 38 years and have two grown daughters. Together they spend time gardening and plant 1000 tulips and 750 caladiums yearly. Sherry makes time for reading, visiting the family lake house in the North Georgia Mountains, and traveling with John.


Liz Troy 2013

A member of ARCS Foundation since 2000, Liz has stepped up to many varied and diverse roles in the Chapter including Chair of Alumni Scholar Relations, Assistant Treasurer, Treasurer, Chair of Scholar Awards Luncheon, and Director of Funds Development. Liz is currently putting together a campaign as Chair of the Endowment Committee.

Liz still has time and energy for her volunteer work with the Atlanta Symphony Associates, where she has chaired their Decorators’ Show House & Gardens, Symphony Celebration, and led the organization as president. She is also a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Board.

And, there’s time for athletic endeavors like yoga, spinning, and golf. Liz and her husband, Mike, enjoy active vacations cycling and hiking in interesting places: Provence, Ireland, Alaska, and Peru. They have 2 children: their daughter, Erin, lives with her husband, Kevin, in Washington, DC, and their son, Brendan, lives in Westfield, NJ with his wife, Candace, and their 3 children: Aidan, Keira, and Bridget.



Previous ARCS Light Award Winners:

2012 - Debbie Liss

2011 - Susie Deyo

2010 - Janie Wilson

2009 - Jeanne Berry

2008 - Anne Boyd

2007 - Pat Leake

2006 - Lisa Bankoff

2005 - Kay Weiss

2004 - Betty Feezer

2003 - Teed Poe

2002 - Clare Whitfiled

2001 - Kitty Hawks

2000 - Mary O'Connor

1999 - Lexi Mitch

1998 - Frannie Graves 

1997 - Patsy Drummond

1996 - Alice Brown

1995 - Cecy Jones

1994 - Carol Teem 

1993 - Cheryl Dixon