From left to right, Columbia College 2024 Alumni Awards recipients Lynne Pearman-Condon Hon. ’24, Michael Shepley Hon. ’24, Carol Peck Hon. ’24, Sandra Nichols MD ’80 and Carol Winkler ’93 pose for a photo on Wednesday, May 15, during a banquet at Dulany Hall on main campus in Columbia, Missouri. Not pictured is Brigadier General Gary Charlton II ’95. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

A brigadier general who serves as operations director for the Air National Guard. A former trustee who has given back to her alma mater for three decades. A health care leader who has pressed on in the face of significant challenges. And a group that champions the inspirational legacy of Jane Froman Smith ’26.

The Columbia College Alumni Association honored three worthy individuals and one group with 2024 Alumni Awards on Wednesday, May 15, during a banquet in Dulany Hall on main campus.

The CCAA Alumni Awards recognize members of the Columbia College community who display the ideals of the college and serve as ambassadors for the institution. Their examples set the standard for generations of students, faculty and staff to come.

“The Alumni Awards Banquet is an opportunity for the Columbia College Alumni Association to honor some of the college’s most outstanding alumni and friends,” says Kim Craig ’12, director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. “We had an excellent pool of nominees for this year’s awards, and we are very proud of our four recipients.”

For more information on the awards or to nominate a future candidate, please visit my.ccis.edu/Awards. To make a gift in honor of any of this year’s recipients, visit my.ccis.edu/GiveNow.

Below are the four awards presented this year and information about each recipient:

Professional Achievement Award

For attaining outstanding success in one’s career within the past 10 years

Brigadier General Gary Charlton II ’95

A graduate of Columbia College’s former Hancock Field, New York, location, Brigadier General Gary Charlton II ’95 has exhibited a commitment to excellence and top-flight leadership throughout his decorated 34-year career in the Air National Guard, for which he now serves as director of operations. In this role, he is responsible for managing resources to support the operations of the Air National Guard’s 90 wings across the country. Prior to his current position, he most recently served as the commander of the 105th Airlift Wing, based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York. As a combat veteran, Brig. Gen. Charlton served on seven different deployments – three while enlisted – including Operations Desert Shield and Storm, and Northern Watch. Brig. Gen. Charlton earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Columbia College while serving in the New York Air National Guard. He later graduated from the Air Command & Staff College and the Air War College.

Honorary Alumni Award

For contributing greatly to Columbia College of their time, talent or treasure

The Froman Fans Hon. ’24

Video by Senior Video Production Strategist Mark Baumgartner

For decades, there has been a dedicated group of fans of the late Christian College alumna and world-renowned performer Jane Froman Smith ’26. This group has worked tirelessly to continue her legacy by supporting the Columbia College Archives and students in the Columbia College Music Program. They have also supported multiple historical societies that have celebrated Jane Froman’s impact. Timeless beauty and talent made Froman a star of the radio, stage and screen from the 1930s through the 1950s. She showed courage and fortitude in the face of debilitating injuries suffered in a 1943 plane crash en route to a USO tour to entertain troops. She bravely continued her career and achieved even more success, inspiring countless people along the way. The Froman Fans are a devoted group of hard-working, passionate people committed to honoring Jane Froman’s memory and achievements, which continue to inspire others today.

Jane Froman Courage Award

For demonstrating perseverance to overcome personal obstacles while continuing to better oneself personally or professionally, and displaying a spirit of courage in daily life

Sandra Nichols, MD ’80

Video by Senior Video Production Strategist Mark Baumgartner

A graduate of the Day Program, Dr. Sandra Nichols ’80 recently retired as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at UnitedHealth Group. She founded and serves as CEO of the Samaritan Health Project. Dr. Nichols has shown courage by pressing on in the face of significant health challenges – truly epitomizing resilience, grace and advocacy, while gaining an appreciation for and setting an example of work-life balance. On April 18, 2019, Dr. Nichols suffered a heart attack, and in that incident, she also incurred a severe burn. Less than two weeks later, she underwent a successful heart transplant and, within a year, returned to her executive leadership career. She is now an advocate for the American Heart Association. Dr. Nichols and her husband, Ronnie, are members of the Founder’s Circle of the President’s Society. She has demonstrated strong leadership to CC through her service as a trustee from 2006 to 2012 and through her generosity in memory of her mother, Ether L. Bruce, for whom the college’s math tutoring center is named. Dr. Nichols earned an Associate of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science degree from Columbia College. She received the CCAA Young Alumni Award in 1990 and the CCAA Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006.

Upon receiving the 2024 Jane Froman Courage Award, Dr. Nichols announced that she and her husband made a gift of $10,000 in support of the Columbia College Fund. She encouraged those in attendance in person or virtually to invest in the college’s continued mission however they can. “Whether it’s 10 cents, $10, $10,000 or $100,000, think about your why,” she said. “This institution is giving out not only motivation but purpose. I am a living witness to that 44 years later. This $10,000 gift is a down payment on the work we all must do in order to sustain this institution for another 172 years.”

Columbia College Service Award

For promoting and serving Columbia College, making significant contributions while maintaining a relationship with the college

Carol Winkler ’93

Video by Senior Video Production Strategist Mark Baumgartner

A graduate of the Evening Program, Carol Winkler ’93 served for 25 years as a member of the Columbia College Alumni Association Advisory Council and was a member of the Columbia College Board of Trustees for 17 years. Winkler’s expertise has had a profound impact on the college, as she served on many Board of Trustees committees and also as Board treasurer. She and her husband, Darrell, have been generous with their time and resources. They are members of the Trustee’s Circle of the President’s Society and the St. Clair Society. The Winklers are also longtime members of the Cougar Club, and they can often be seen in the stands cheering on our Cougars. Winkler earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Columbia College. She retired from MFA Incorporated after serving as the Retirement Plan Administrator for many years.