Flathead Valley Community College President Jane Karas honored Suzy Williams with her seventh annual Montana Mentor Award during the college’s 44th commencement May 11. The award was created in 2006 to honor a community leader who every day inspires Montanans with their leadership, vision, integrity and passion and exemplifies the meaning of mentor.
In Karas’ presentation, she praised Williams’ ability to make a difference in the community through her gifts of vision, leadership and passion.
“This individual has not only been FVCC’s greatest cheerleader, but she has touched the lives of our students, our faculty, our staff and our community,” Karas said.
According to Karas, Williams’ contributions to the college spread far and wide. She is the founding chair of the FVCC Foundation’s Ambassadors and Alumni Association, which provides opportunities for alumni and friends to be active and engaged in FVCC. She also was instrumental in establishing FVCC’s Student Ambassadors Program comprised of a select group of students who assist the Foundation through their representation of the college.
Most recently, Williams has volunteered her time and energy chairing the college’s nursing program endowment and then going on to chair the building campaign for the Rebecca Cheney Broussard Center for Nursing and Health Science. The college will break ground tomorrow on the center which is set to open next summer.
“She continually sets the bar high, setting an example of high ethical standards, generous philanthropy, and compassionate leadership,” said Karas. “She has been a mentor and a friend to me as well as a trusted advisor.”
Williams said she was asked to attend graduation as chair of the building campaign and was both shocked and highly honored when she realized she was also being recognized with the award.
Williams moved to the Flathead Valley from the Miami area 15 years ago. She and her husband had visited the area and decided to move here permanently when he retired.
Williams, who taught first and fifth grade at a private school for years, said education has always been a part of who she is.
“I feel so strongly about FVCC, and I’m extremely proud of all the college has accomplished since I moved here,” she said. “I’ve been involved with many community organizations, but I’ve chosen to put my energy into the college because there’s so much energy coming out of it.”
Last year, Karas presented the Montana Mentor Award to Flathead Valley radio icon G. George Ostrom. The previous year’s award was presented to retired Kalispell Police Chief and FVCC alumnus Frank Garner.
“It’s a great honor to follow such fabulous people,” said Williams. “I’m in fine company.”
For more information, contact Monica Settles at 756-3801.