By Kenya Godette

Five alumni from Old Dominion University’s Darden College of Education and Professional Studies were honored as Darden Fellows during a luncheon held on Feb. 20 in the multipurpose room of the Education Building.

A longstanding tradition, fellows are nominated annually by faculty in each of the College’s departments. Selected from a pool of 42,000 Darden alumni, awardees are recognized for significant contributions to their professional fields and for exemplifying service and excellence in their communities.

“I look forward to seeing more of your accomplishments and I hope you know that you are an inspiration to current and future students – to follow their passions, make meaningful differences and ultimately better the world,” said Tammi Dice, dean of the Darden College.

Beyond personal achievement and community service, Darden Fellows also highlight the impact that ODU’s education alumni continue to make in Hampton Roads and beyond.

This year’s Darden Fellows are:

Traci Richards

Ph.D. in counseling (2017)

Senior Manager at Chesapeake Regional Hospital

As senior manager for Chesapeake Regional Hospital, Richards’ is responsible for developing and supervising mental health programs for vulnerable patient populations and for designing and overseeing an integrated behavioral health training site for future practitioners. She is also the owner of Iliad Counseling Services LLC, which allows her to further address mental health and substance abuse in the region. She is a valued adjunct instructor and clinical supervisor in ODU’s training programs, serves on the board of directors of the Tidewater Emergency Medical Services Council and is a specialist in trauma and crisis intervention for the Western Tidewater Medical Reserve Corps. She is also a past recipient of Chesapeake Regional Healthcare’s Beacon and Luminary awards.

Kyle Williams

M.S. in educational leadership (2009)

Special Advisor to the AVP for Belonging, Engagement and Community and Dean of Students at Emory University

Williams’ primary professional goal is to support the success of historically marginalized and vulnerable students in higher education. Prior to joining Emory University in 2022, he served as dean of students at Oglethorpe University, where he helped to expand the Campus Life Team and created equitable and inclusive practices for the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Before that, he served as assistant director of Student Conduct and Community Standards at Washington University in St. Louis, co-director of the Minority Males Matter Initiative and area coordinator at Texas A&M University-Commerce and Residence Hall Director for the Sophomore Year Experience at The College of New Jersey.

Gregg Motinger

B.S. in physical education (2007)

Assistant Principal at Norview High School

As assistant principal at Norview High School, Motinger has been instrumental in helping the school become fully accredited with the Virginia Department of Education, achieve Cognia Accreditation and be named one of U.S. News & World Report’s best high schools in the country. In this role, he has also worked with “Project Graduation” targeting at-risk seniors, collaborated to maintain excellence in the Leadership Center for Education in Science and Education and integrated a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports program. When he is not at Norview, Motinger regularly participates as a lecturer for ODU’s Summer Leadership Conference, serving on the planning committee and mentoring ODU student teachers. He remains active in the community as a member of the Norfolk Parks and Recreation Commission, director of the Beach FC Jr. Academy Soccer Club and coaching instructor for U.S. Youth Soccer.

Jennifer Scott Brown (not pictured above)

Ph.D. with a concentration in instructional design and technology (2017)

Director of Augusta County Library

Weaving library science with instructional design, Scott Brown advocates for the development of informal learning opportunities, trains staff through coaching and apprenticeship and identifies community needs in her role as director of the Augusta County Library. Her reach extends into the community, where she currently serves as the chair of the Virginia Library Leadership Academy, developing library leadership across the state. She also is the current president-elect for the Virginia Public Library Directors Association, has been an adjunct assistant professor in Library and Information Studies at Old Dominion University since 2018 and has served on the program's advisory board since 2019.

Thomas Smigiel

B.S. in education and interdisciplinary studies (4th-8th grade Science & Social Studies) (2000)

City Councilman and Principal of Granby High School

A lifelong resident of Norfolk, Smigiel is the principal of Granby High School and was elected to the Norfolk City Council in 2010. As a school administrator, he has helped teachers increase their pedagogical content knowledge, motivated students to realize their potential, built a strong and inclusive school culture and increased parental and community involvement. Smigiel previously served as assistant principal at both Granby and Lake Taylor high schools, was chosen as a planning specialist to develop a new citywide lottery specialty program at the former Lafayette-Winona Middle School and championed the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program at the Academy for Discovery at Lakewood, which was later recognized by the Virginia Department of Education as an Exemplar School for Continuous Improvement and a Purple Star School Award. Apart from his political designation as councilman, Smigiel has made an impact in his community as the 100th president of the Virginia Municipal League from 2019 to 2020. Currently, Smigiel co-chairs the East Little Creek Road Task Force and the Mayor's Ocean View Task Force.