Community College Philanthropists Honored with 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy

For Immediate Release:
April 20, 2016

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

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Richmond –John and Rod Graves of Page County, Virginia, have earned the 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy. They were nominated for the award by Laurel Ridge Community College. The award was given during a luncheon ceremony at the Country Club of Virginia on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

Hosted by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, the 11th annual event honors leading philanthropists from each of Virginia’s 23 community colleges as well as the statewide foundation. This year’s class of distinguished philanthropy leaders has contributed a combined total of more than $11 million dollars to Virginia’s Community Colleges.

John Graves, President and CEO, and his brother Rod Graves, Senior Vice President of Luray Caverns Corporation were recognized for their contributions to Laurel Ridge. They are the fourth generation from the Graves family to own and operate the Caverns. John and Rod Graves recognize that the future of Page County will depend on a skilled workforce and more educational opportunities for residents. In 1993, Luray Caverns established a scholarship at Laurel Ridge, which remains active and continues to support students from Page County. 

The Graves brothers hosted a 2015 foundation event, Evening with the Stars, at the beautiful Burner Barn at the Caverns. They will do so again in 2016, as Laurel Ridge celebrates the 10th anniversary of Laurel Ridge in Luray.

In addition to helping community college students realize their dreams of continuing their education, keynote speaker Mike Petters, VFCCE board member and president and CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, said donors also play a critical role in Virginia’s workforce development efforts.

 “By supporting the foundation, you support access, affordability, and student success at every one of Virginia’s Community Colleges across the state from Big Stone Gap in southwestern Virginia to Melfa on the Eastern Shore – and 21 community colleges in between.”

Graciela Billingsley, this year’s Eva T. Hardy Commonwealth Scholarship Recipient, took to the podium to thank her benefactor.  

“This scholarship – you – have truly impacted my life because in continuing my higher education at Northern Virginia Community College, I will be able to continue to learn important course work that will be the foundation to my future.”


Recipients of the 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy:

Blue Ridge Community College                Robert E. and Frances W. Plecker Family

Central Virginia Community College             Andrew H. and Anne O. Easley Trust

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College                      Highlands Community Bank

Danville Community College                                       Gene Haas Foundation

Eastern Shore Community College                            The Late Donald Trufant

Germanna Community College                               Adam and Rhonda Fried

Sargeant Reynolds Community College                         Steve Esbach

John Tyler Community College                                      John Randolph Foundation

Laurel Ridge Community College                                    Luray Caverns Corporation

Mountain Empire Community College                Kline Foundation Board of Directors                       

New River Community College                                          Giles County

Northern Virginia Community College                          Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

Patrick Henry Community College                                      Thomas P. Dalton Family

Paul D. Camp Community College            Hampton Roads Community Foundation                                                       

                                                                   and Dr. Deborah DiCroce

Piedmont Virginia Community College                               The Perry Foundation

Rappahannock Community College                                     John and Susan Moore

Southside Virginia Community College                     Virginia, Maryland & Delaware 

                                                                         Association of Electric Cooperatives

Southwest Virginia Community College            The Gaynelle Lockhart Albert Family

Thomas Nelson Community College                          Rotary Club of Newport News

Tidewater Community College                                           Barnes & Noble College

Virginia Highlands Community College                              Eastman Credit Union

Virginia Western Community College                       Optical Cable Corporation and

                                                                                    Neil D. Wilkin, Jr.

Wytheville Community College                                 Robert “Tom” and Patty DuPuis

Virginia Foundation for Community College Education         Eva T. Hardy

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(Pictured left to right: Dr. Cheryl Thompson-Stacy-Laurel Ridge President, Glenn DuBois-VCCS Chancellor, and John Graves-Luray Caverns Corporation CEO/2016 Laurel Ridge Philanthropist Award Winner)


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.