Development Development
Profiles in Philanthropy

The giving of women's talent and time continues to make a difference at the University of Memphis.

Donna AbneyDonna Abney (BA '74, MBA '83) Ms. Abney has served on the board of directors for the University of Memphis Research Foundation and has volunteered with our undergraduate leadership program. In 1995, Ms. Abney joined Methodist Healthcare as a senior vice president and rose to executive vice president of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Systems. She has taught healthcare courses at the University of Memphis and has helped secure significant grant funding from Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Systems. She is a life member of the Alumni Association. Ms. Abney was recently honored during the 15th annual Memphis Business Journal Health Care Heroes awards ceremony. Click here to read the full announcement. She was also recognized at the Memphis Business Journal "Super Women in Business" awards. This program honors women in different industries who have achieved significant success through leadership in business and community contribution. Click here to read the full announcement. When asked why she gives to the university she said, "I am greatly indebted to the University of Memphis for the great education it provided me. I learned so much in my MBA program which I apply every day.  I am honored to help the University in whatever way possible".

Pauline WeaverPauline Weaver (BA '71, JD '79) Ms. Weaver was the second woman elected president of the Student Government Association (SGA). She is a major supporter of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and a member of the Society of Shield. The Student Bar Association office is named for her. She was also a member of the Centennial 100 Committee of the Empowering the Dream Centennial Campaign. She is now a Law Alumni Board Member (as of 2013) and was named one of the 100 Women Who Make a Difference (2012). She is retired from the public defender's office and has opened her own firm, Law Office of Pauline Weaver. She is a previous member of the ABA Board of Governors. She now serves as 2014 National Law Day Chair for the ABA. Summer 2013, she was elected Treasurer of the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division for the ABA and was the recipient of the Nelson Award from the Division for outstanding service to the ABA. She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta Fraternity and was named a Distinguished Citizen in 1991. Ms. Weaver was named Outstanding Alumnae for the University in 1993. When asked why she gives to the university she said, "As an undergraduate, the University gave me the educational opportunity, the maturity, the skills and the courage to pursue my dreams. I really blossomed in college and learned that I could do whatever I wanted to do. Whatever I have become, I owe to the University and the Law School. I got an incredible education without incurring a mountain of debt and my giving back is a way of making sure that someone else gets to pursue their dreams".

Anita Vaughn

Anita Vaughn (BA '77, MPA '82) Ms. Vaughn, CEO of Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, was selected as Outstanding Alumna of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2005.  She currently serves on the University of Memphis LEAD Advisory Board.  She is president of the National Alumni Association. She previously served on the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board and the Board of Trustees.  She is a life member of the Alumni Association. She was just selected for the Presidential Search Committee by the Board of Regents. Anita states, "I support the University for many reasons. It offered flexibility and convenience allowing me to continue working full time and while obtaining 2 quality degrees. The University is a gem in the crown of Memphis. It is a beautiful campus. I am amazed and love the unique research projects that I have learned about since being involved in the Boards. I am proud of the partnership Baptist Women's has with the internships from the Health Care Administration Masters Program. We have had such quality students. I have wanted to hire all of them. A tremendous thanks for all the University does for our city and students. GO TIGERS!!!"

Laurie TuckerLaurie Tucker (BBA '78, MBA '83) Ms. Tucker as been one of the University of Memphis' most consistent supporters. Laurie is senior vice president of corporate marketing for FedEx, a member of the University's Board of Visitors and the Foundation Board of Trustees, and a member of the Fogelman College Executive Advisory Board. She was also a member of the Centennial 100 Committee of the Empowering the Dream Centennial Campaign. Click here to view the University of Memphis' Centennial publication featuring Laurie. When Ms. Tucker walks across the University of Memphis campus, she is struck by the incredible changes that have occurred since she was a student. "Campus development has been so significant in the past decade," she says proudly. "I wish all of our alumni could see how impressive it is now. The campus itself is so beautiful, and the programs are really something to be proud of." When asked why she supports the university she said, "It has been a joy to serve my Alma Mater as a member of the Board of Visitors during the past fourteen years.  I am inspired by the growth and innovation I see on campus, and by the dedication of the leadership at the University of Memphis.  Giving back to my University provides me with a small way of paying forward the success of others who will also benefit from their education at the U of M."

Rita SparksRita Sparks Ms. Sparks exemplifies the power of women's leadership and philanthropy. In 2010, she received both the University of Memphis Distinguished Friend Award and the Tennessee Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy for her support of higher education. She was the also the Memphis recipient of the 1999 Outstanding Volunteer Fund Raiser from the National Society for Fund Raising Executives and a member of the 1996 Leadership Memphis class. Ms. Sparks has been a licensed commodity broker since 1980. In 1977, she and her late husband, Willard, formed Sparks Companies Inc., an agricultural research information and consulting firm. After Willard’s death in 2005, she formed her own investment company, Sparks Enterprises Inc. Ms. Sparks has also held several key accounting positions in the retail business and in the commodities field. She serves on the board of Metropolitan Bank, the University of Memphis Board of Visitors, the U of M Foundation Board of Trustees, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, and is an ambassador for the U of M’s Athletic Department. She is involved in a variety of community projects. She has served on the boards of the Memphis Development Foundation, the Baddour Center, the Memphis Redbirds Foundation and the Campbell Foundation. She is a past president of the Ronald McDonald House and was instrumental in securing the funds to build the first Ronald McDonald House in Memphis.

Learn More

Women Making History

The Power of Women

Investing in Women


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Last Updated: 9/29/14