Campus News

UK Alumni Association Announces Service Awards

photo of UK Alumni Association’s 2020 and 2021 Distinguished Service Award and Joseph T. Burch Young Alumni Award recipients
photo of Amelia Brown Wilson

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 8, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Alumni Association Distinguished Service Awards and Joseph T. Burch Young Alumni Award are presented annually to honor and recognize those who have provided extraordinary service to the university and the association. Last year’s award recipients were honored virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the 2020 and 2021 recipients were honored in person during the recent UK Alumni Association Board of Directors Summer Workshop in Lexington.

Distinguished Service Award Winners

The UK Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award recognizes up to five recipients as selected by the Board of Directors Awards Committee. Nominees for this prestigious award should have:

  • Demonstrated a history of diligent work for the UK Alumni Association and/or a local alumni club.
  • Contributed to the accomplishments of the UK Alumni Association and/or a local alumni club.
  • Provided leadership and dedication to university and association programs.
  • Provided meaningful service to alumni and friends of the university, community and profession.
  • Earned at least 12 credit hours or has provided outstanding service to the university at the discretion of the selection committee.

The 2021 Distinguished Service Award recipients are Beatty London, Chad Polk, Mary Shelman and Amelia Brown Wilson.  

Beatty London resides in Lexington and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management in 2000. While at UK, he was a member of the UK men’s soccer team. During his senior season, the Wildcats qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time. London has been a member of the Fayette County UK Alumni Club board for 15 years, currently serving as president. He has also been vice president and a key fundraiser for the club. He has planned and contributed to the club’s continued success through golf scrambles, preview nights and Hometown Hero awards. The Wildcat Love partnerships with Barrel House Distilling and Woodford Reserve have raised over $11,000 for club scholarships. He helped take the club’s game watch parties to a new level by attracting new sponsors and hosting the Wildcat Love TV show featuring UK senior football players. Over the last five game watch parties, he helped raise over $18,000, while the Facebook Live raffle raised $15,500 for the club’s scholarships. London also served on the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2018-2020. He is married to Rosalind London.

Charles D. “Chad” Polk resides in Nashville, Tennessee, and received a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1994. He owns his own full-service, award-winning architecture firm, Creative Design Professionals (CDP) | Architecture LLC, an eight-person residential and commercial firm. He has served his profession as the first associate member on both the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Tennessee and the AIA Middle Tennessee boards of directors. He has served as president of the AIA Middle Tennessee Young Architects Forum (YAF), the AIA YAF Gulf States regional director, and as the public relations advisor on the National AIA YAF Advisory Committee. He currently serves on the AIA Tennessee Executive Committee as the board secretary. Nashville in 1994, Polk has been an active member of the Greater Nashville UK Alumni Club. He has been a club board member since 2003 and has served multiple terms as the club’s president. Polk is currently serving his second year of his third, three-year term on the UK Alumni Board of Directors. He has been a member of the Executive Committee, vice chairman and chairman of the Membership Committee and Constitution and Bylaws Sub-Committee, vice chairman of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, as well as the Finance, Club Development, and Nominating for Board committees. Polk also served on the Alumni Center Committee. He and his wife Sims Polk are Life Members of the UK Alumni Association and have two sons, Bentley and Knox, who are future Wildcats as part of the UK Alumni Association Legacy Initiative program. 

Mary L. Shelman resides in Belmont, Massachusetts, and received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1981 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1987. She has been serving as treasurer of the UK Alumni Association this past year and has held several committee leadership positions including chair of Budget, Finance & Investments, Nominating for Board, Diversity and Group Development, and Alumni Service Awards committees. She was also vice-chair of Communications, Membership, and Nominating for Board committees. Shelman is an internationally recognized thought leader on the global ag-tech and agri-food system. She has consulted, taught and presented at conferences in 20 countries. She is past president of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association and past president of English At Large, an adult literacy organization. She is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association and a Wildcat Society member. Shelman is a native of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where she still owns a farm. She is married to Nathan “Chip” Cohen and they have one son, Alexander "AJ" Shelman-Cohen, and a daughter-in-law, Margaret Shelman.

Amelia Brown Wilson, who passed away on June 25, 2021, was a resident of Grand Rivers, Kentucky, and a three-time UK graduate. She earned a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences in 2003, her master’s degree in community and leadership development in 2006, and her doctorate in higher education administration in 2010. She was a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association. As a student she was crowned Homecoming Queen in 2003, served on the Student Government Association, was vice president of Delta Gamma sorority, and served two years as the coordinator for the UK Ambassadors. She also received the Sullivan Medallion, which is presented annually to one male and one female graduating student based on “such characteristics of heart, mind, and conduct as evidence a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women.” Wilson, the recipient of a liver transplant, was an advocate for organ donation and started the Gift of Life Challenge between UK and the University of Louisville to promote organ and tissue donation. She was awarded the 2011 Joseph T. Burch Young Alumni Award and has served 11 years on the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors. She was a field representative for U.S. Rep. James Comer. She was married to fellow UK graduate Allen O. Wilson ’03 ‘06.

The 2020 Distinguished Service Award winners are Mike Anderson, Dr. Eli Capilouto, Jane Cobb Pickering, Ruth Day and Fritz Skeen.  

Michael W. Anderson resides in Greenville, Indiana, and graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He is the president of operations for Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville. Anderson is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association and a member of the Wildcat Society. He is a past president of the Greater Louisville UK Alumni Club and previously served as the club’s treasurer, secretary and vice president. Anderson is involved in all facets of the club, including development, events, book awards, scholarship management, accounting and planning. He and his wife Cheryl have four children, Remington, Jacob, Irelyn and Meadow.

Eli Capilouto is in his ninth year as the 12th president of the University of Kentucky. Under his leadership, the $3.5 billion flagship and land-grant research university has gained significant momentum in fulfilling its multifaceted mission of teaching, research, service and health care. Over the last five years, the university has completed, initiated, or authorized many construction projects including 14 new residence halls, several dining facilities, the construction of the Bill Gatton Student Center and expansion of the Gatton College of Business and Economics to name a few. He has led a process to enrich UK’s academic experience by increasing institutional investments in student financial aid, developing the Lewis Honors College, expanding Living-Learning Communities, and rebuilding academic and community spaces. Because of his priorities, the university has enrolled nearly 400 National Merit, National Achievement and National Hispanic Scholars in the last several years — tripling the number of incoming scholars and putting UK in the Top 10 public institutions enrolling these students. A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Capilouto previously served as provost of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and dean of the UAB School of Public Health — a period of remarkable growth and transformation at one of the leading academic and health sciences institutions in the South. He holds several undergraduate and graduate degrees from schools within the University of Alabama system, a doctor of medicine in dentistry from UAB and a doctorate in health policy and management from Harvard University. He is married to Mary Lynne Capilouto and they have one daughter, Emily.

Ruth Day resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Kentucky in 1985. She is chief information officer for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, heading up the Commonwealth Office of Technology, and is a member of the governor’s executive cabinet. She was previously vice president for administrative services at Landstar System Inc., a transportation services corporation. She is a member of the Capital Campaign Committee, was chairwoman of the Great Teacher/Scholarship Committee, and has served on the Nominating for Board and Club Development committees. She is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association, a UK Fellow, a Wildcat Society member and member of UK Women & Philanthropy. She was inducted into the Gatton College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame in 2012 and is a member of the Gatton Dean’s Advisory Board, Business and Economics Accounting Advisory Board and Women’s Business Leaders-Gatton. She is married to Jim R. Martin.

Jane Cobb Pickering resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Kentucky in 1974. Pickering founded the Chattanooga UK Alumni Club in 1996 and served three terms as the club’s president. She prepares the club newsletter which is sent at least bimonthly to approximately 200 recipients, hosts and cooks for the club’s annual Kentucky Derby party, helps with Student Send-Offs and hosts football and basketball game watch parties. She is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association, a member of the Wildcat Society and a member of UK Women & Philanthropy. Pickering has been a member of the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors since 2014, where she has served on the Great Teacher Awards/Scholarship, Diversity and Communications committees, and was the assistant chairwoman for the Club Development committee. She is married to Bill Pickering.

Fritz Skeen resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1972 and an MBA in 1973 from the University of Kentucky. He served as president of the UK Alumni Association from 2018-19. Skeen was chairman of the Great Teacher Awards/Scholarship, vice-chairman of the Alumni Service Awards and vice-chairman of the Budget, Finance and Investments committees. He has also served as treasurer and president-elect of the UK Alumni Association and on the Membership Committee. He and two fellow UK graduates restarted the Jacksonville UK Alumni Club, where he continues to serve on the board. During his 30-year career with IBM Corp., Skeen held a variety of sales, marketing and executive positions, including regional manager in Los Angeles, director mid-range systems and group director – telecommunications product marketing in Westchester County, New York, and general manager – greater Chicago. Skeen is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association, a Wildcat Society member, a UK Fellow, a member of the K Fund and returns to campus to play tuba in the UK Alumni Band. He is a member of Phi Sigma Kappa and was president of the UK chapter when he was a student. He is married to Helen Morse Skeen.

Joseph T. Burch Young Alumni Award

The Joseph T. Burch Young Alumni Award is named for a longtime UK administrator who has spent the better part of his life in service to UK students.

A nominee for this award must be an alumna or alumnus who is a member of the UK Alumni Association, who is 35 years of age or younger at the time of nomination and who has worked on behalf of young people through the university, the association, their alumni club or in the local community in the following capacities:

  • Raising funds for scholarships and/or awarding scholarships for students to attend UK.
  • Working with local high school students through club-sponsored event and/or Preview Nights, to interest students in attending UK.
  • Working to educate youth in the local community, whether through tutoring, coaching or other means to keep them interested in learning.
  • Assisting in efforts to support the student alumni association through mentoring or other means.

This year’s Joseph T. Burch Young Alumni Award winner is Blake Willoughby.

Blake Willoughby resides in Brandenburg, Kentucky, and received bachelor’s degrees in accounting in 2011 and in economics in 2012 and an MBA in 2012. He is the chairman and president of First Breckinridge Bancshares Inc., which owns and operates seven community banks in Central and Western Kentucky. He serves on the boards of directors of Brandenburg Communications Corporation, the Breckinridge Health System Foundation, Volunteers of America Mid-States, and the Louisville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He also serves on the Golden Matrix Fund Advisory Council and the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics Emerging Leaders Board. As a student at UK, Willoughby was a Singletary Scholar, Gatton Ambassador and member of the University Appeals Board. He served as president of the Lambda Lambda Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, corporate relations chairman of DanceBlue and as a Supreme Court Justice for the Student Government Association. He is married to UK graduate Leslie Allen Willoughby ’12 and they have two sons, Herbert and Hamilton.

The 2020 Joseph T. Burch Young Alumni Award winner is Erin Carr Logan.

Erin Carr Logan resides in Seattle and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Kentucky in 2006. She is a category and program management leader for Amazon Inc. She restarted the Pacific Northwest UK Alumni Club and has served as its president since 2015. Under her leadership, the club started a scholarship fund and has expanded alumni activities to western Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The club has been recognized for Outstanding Contribution to Alumni Engagement for new events including an NBA event, shared with other alumni clubs nationally, a Major League Soccer event and joint SEC watch parties in Seattle. As a student, Logan was president of the Accounting Club, a Gatton Ambassador and a Top 100 Campus Leader. She served as chairwoman of the Student Development Council Phonathon and Inter Greek Programming Assembly Greek Week, was on the Kappa Kappa Gamma Scholarship Committee and a founding member of Student Association of Fundraising Professionals. Logan was a student caller for UK Philanthropy, raising more than $100,000 in alumni support and earning the highest average pledge, highest dollars per hour and highest upgrade percentage. Erin is married to Mark Logan.

For more information on the awards, and to see past winners, visit

The UK Alumni Association is committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association, visit or call 1-800-269-2586.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.