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APSU announces 2021 Outstanding Alumni Award winners

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – This October, during Austin Peay State University’s 2021 Homecoming celebration, the University will honor six distinguished individuals with this year’s APSU Alumni Awards.

The 2021 honorees are Outstanding Service Award recipients Ron Leath (‘89) and the Cunningham family; Outstanding Young Alumni Award recipient Kadeem Pardue (’14); and Outstanding Alumni Award recipients Lynn Von Hagen (’15), John McGee (’69) and Ginny Gray Davis (’87).

Ron Leath

Ron Leath

Leath is from Clarksville. He graduated from Northeast High School in 1984. He earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from APSU in 1989 and was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. After college, Leath worked for Dun & Bradstreet Corporation for two years. In 1991, he took a job with American Express. He is now the manager of their business development and global corporate payments division. He is responsible for growing their business by selling corporate payment solutions to new middle market business segments in the Nashville area.

Leath is on the APSU College of Business Advisory Board, and he is a loyal fan and donor of APSU athletics. He has been married to Mary Ann Leath for 30 years. She is a Clarksville native who attended Middle Tennessee State University. In 2018, they created the Ron & Mary Ann Leath Scholarship Endowment for Governors football players who are students in the APSU College of Business. Leath and his wife have two daughters, Lauren and Camille. Camille is a junior at APSU. Lauren graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and lives in Nashville with her husband, Rob.

The Cunningham Family

Cunningham Family

Tom and Tammy Cunningham met while attending Austin Peay in 1982, at a Sigma Chi and Chi Omega mixer. They married in 1987 and have four children – Matt, Wes, Nick and Kate. In the 1990s, the couple donated land for the Clarksville Area YMCA Kimbrough Family Center. They were involved with the Rotary Club, served with the United Way and the steering committee to rebuild Madison Street United Methodist Church following the 1999 tornado in Clarksville.

In 2016, Tom helped Matt and Wes build Old Glory Distilling Company. In 2018, the family’s downtown restaurant, Strawberry Alley Ale Works, opened. After Tom unexpectedly passed away in 2019, his family and friends created an endowment to honor him and assist APSU students pursuing business careers. The family temporarily closed their businesses in 2020 due to COVID-19 but at Old Glory, they flipped production from whiskey and bourbon to hand sanitizer, which they donated locally and nationally. The family is involved in many community organizations. Tammy currently serves on the APSU National Alumni Association Board of Directors and is a member of the Clarksville Sunrise Rotary Club.

Kadeem Pardue

Kadeem Pardue

Pardue started his journey in the field of technology at just 16 years old. He eventually discovered that he enjoyed website development, which became his niche area of study. Pardue went on to attend Austin Peay with a major in internet and web technology and database administration and a minor in business administration. After graduation, Pardue became a full-stack software engineer for an insurance company in Nashville. Shortly after, he accepted a position at a financial services and education company in Nashville as a Ruby on Rails developer.

He owns several businesses, including a technology consulting firm and an online educational community focused on teaching other Black technology professionals to grow their careers. His latest endeavor is MeritWorks, through which he builds online educational learning software that he licenses to school districts serving underrepresented student populations. Pardue is also an avid real-estate investor and a senior software engineer at a marketing firm where he leads a team of junior software developers.

Lynn Von Hagen

Lynn Von Hagen

Von Hagen is a native of the Nashville area. She is in the final year of her Ph.D. program at Auburn University (AU) in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. She is an advocate for women in STEM and non-traditional students, as she began her academic journey later than most. In 2015, Von Hagen earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from APSU with an emphasis in zoology. She performed her undergraduate research with Dr. Stefan Woltmann.

Von Hagen went on to Western Kentucky University (WKU) to complete her graduate studies and began her life-changing work in the Tsavo ecosystem of Southeastern Kenya, where she and other researchers work to find paths to coexistence for people and African elephants and quantify biodiversity in the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor.

After receiving her master’s degree in biology from WKU, Von Hagen was awarded the Presidential Research Fellowship at AU, where she continues on the same project in Kenya with a new focus. Her permanent home is in Nashville with her husband Todd and their two cats. After her graduation in 2022, Von Hagen hopes to work for a conservation NGO or a research group managing programs that address the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.

John McGee

John McGee

John McGee is a Hopkinsville, Kentucky native. After high school, he served in U.S. Army for six years. McGee then earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from APSU in 1969 and also served as SGA president.

McGee worked for 20 years with Chilton Corporation as vice president of marketing and 10 years with CSC Credit Services in Houston, Texas, as the senior vice president of sales and marketing until his retirement in 2004. He co-founded ER Centers of America in 2006, which operated free-standing emergency medical facilities in Texas.

McGee previously served on the APSU National Alumni Association Board of Directors. When he visits Clarksville, he regularly speaks to APSU economics and finance classes. In 2019, he donated more than $50,000 in gold coins to APSU to establish the Golden Eagle Graduate Scholarship Endowment for APSU students. The gift commemorated his “Golden Graduate Year,” the 50-year anniversary of his APSU graduation. He and his wife Janet also established a scholarship to be awarded each year to one male nursing student who has served in the military. They have two daughters and two grandsons, and they live in Highland Village, Texas.

Ginny Gray Davis

Ginny Gray Davis

Ginny Gray Davis is from Dickson, Tennessee, and is the daughter of Earl and Virginia Gray (‘62). She graduated from APSU with a Bachelor of Arts in geology and a minor in French. She was also a proud member of APSU’s first women’s softball team from 1986 to 1987. In 1986, she was selected for the Oak Ridge Associated Universities student intern program, where she performed environmental and structural geology research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In August 1987, she joined an environmental consulting firm, EnSafe Inc. Davis is currently a senior member of EnSafe’s Board of Directors, chairing the strategic growth committee as the vice president of business development. She is also a licensed professional geologist in Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana and Wyoming.

Davis has supported her alma mater by participating in the APSU National Alumni Association, creating the first Cincinnati, Ohio, alumni chapter, contributing to and participating in the Women’s in Athletics Foundation speaker panel in 2011 and returning often for APSU events. Davis was a recipient of the original APSU Outstanding Young Alumnus Award in 1992. She and her husband Craig now reside in Knoxville, Tennessee, with their son Gray.

The 2021 Outstanding Alumni Awards Luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, in the Morgan University Center Ballroom. The event will be $25 per person. To RSVP for this event, email alumni@apsu.edu with your guest count or call 931-221-7979. For a full list of homecoming events, visit alumni.apsu.edu/homecoming.

To support APSU fundraising initiatives, contact the Office of University Advancement at 931-221-7127.

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