Former Berea College First Lady Jane Stephenson and community organizer Michael Maloney have been presented with the 2022 Berea College Service awards.
Established in 1979 and awarded annually upon a vote of approval by the College’s General Faculty Assembly, the Berea College Service Award recognizes individuals who have provided outstanding service to our society in achieving the ideals of Berea’s Great Commitments.
The awards were presented by Berea College President Lyle Roelofs during the annual Service Convocation, hosted by the College’s Center for Excellence in Learning through Service and the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center.
Born in Banner Elk, North Carolina, Stephenson has focused her career on helping people, especially women from Appalachia, to achieve their educational and career goals.
In 1987, she founded the New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) at Berea College. The NOSW seeks to improve the financial, educational and personal circumstances of low-income women in the Appalachian region and began by offering a free, multi-week residency program. The NOSW has since expanded, with programs now at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina, and Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia, as well as shorter, non-residential programs throughout the region. More than 925 women have graduated from NOSW programs. Stephenson directed the Berea-based program from 1987 to 1996 and remains closely involved with the NOSW Foundation through fundraising, advocacy and advising.
Prior to founding NOSW, Stephenson taught courses and held administrative leadership positions at the University of Kentucky, served as the First Lady of Berea College while her husband, John Stephenson, was president, and later served as the Appalachian director of the Steele-Reese Foundation.
Stephenson earned degrees from Lees-McRae College, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Appalachian State University, and the University of Kentucky. She has published three books featuring stories from NOSW graduates. She has been recognized with numerous awards, including honorary degrees from Berea College, Eastern Kentucky University and Lees-McRae College, as well as Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life Award. Stephenson has served on multiple boards and continues to be featured as a guest speaker at community events and conferences.
Michael Maloney is a community organizer, educator, social researcher, and civil rights activist. Born in Breathitt County, Kentucky, Maloney moved to Cincinnati to attend college and started a movement to encourage urban Appalachians to celebrate their heritages and to organize community-based programs to serve people from the mountains and their descendants.
Maloney has worked to establish more than 40 programs that address these goals in Cincinnati and southern Ohio, including founding the Urban Appalachian Council in 1974, to promote decent quality of life for Appalachian citizens in Greater Cincinnati. He led the organization for years and helped transform it into the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition (UACC) in 2014, now an alliance of individuals and organizations committed to the well-being of Appalachian people, communities, and cultural expression in the greater Cincinnati area.
A member of the founding meeting of the Appalachian Studies Association, Maloney has advocated for Appalachian people through activism, service, scholarship and teaching. He earned degrees from the Seminary of St. Pius X, Xavier University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has received numerous awards, including the Bob Evans Humanitarian Award and the Appalachia Studies Association’s Brown/Williams Community Service Award. He has taught courses in Appalachian Studies at colleges and universities in the Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area, and his research has served as a foundation for the work of other scholars in community planning and neighborhood integration.
Maloney now advises non-profit organizations and offers trainings on topics related to the Appalachian region and community organizing.
About Berea College
Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.