2023 Awardees from Summer Reunion
Dr. Philip W. Conn ’63
Since retiring as president of Western Oregon University in 2005, Dr. Philip W. Conn ’63 has devoted himself to promoting family endeavors in Kentucky. A native of Decatur, Ala., Conn moved as a child with his family of 14 to Tennessee, and then he enrolled at Berea College. He earned his degree in biology. This began 60 years of achievement and success.
In the 1960s, Conn joined the staff of the Council of Southern Mountains in Berea, and then served in Washington, D.C., with the newly created Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA, also known as the “domestic Peace Corps”). In 1965-66, he studied social policy at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, Netherlands, as a Rotary International Fellow. He returned to Berea, where he served as director of alumni affairs and editor of The Berea Alumnus magazine. Between graduation from and returning to Berea College as an employee, Conn explored identities such as folk singer, radio announcer, schoolteacher, social services organizer and federal government field representative.
In the 1970s, Conn directed public relations for the Kentucky gubernatorial campaign of Bert Combs and Julian Carroll before enrolling at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville to earn his master’s degree in sociology. He then headed the staff of the Kentucky General Assembly as director of the state’s Legislative Research Commission in Frankfort. Between 1982 and 1991, he would earn another master’s degree and a doctorate, both from the University of Southern California.
Over the years, Conn has held leadership roles at several colleges and universities. He served as vice president at Morehead State University, Central Missouri State University, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Conn was chancellor at the University of Tennessee at Martin as well as president of Dickinson State University and Western Oregon University.
Conn married alumna Donna Taylor in Danforth Chapel in 1971. They had four children, Chad, Cason, Cyndi and Christy. Donna passed away in 1998. A few years later, Conn found love again with the famous Tennessee sculptor Julie Warren Martin. They married at the end of 2001, adding her daughter, Andrea, to the family. So, between the two of them, they have 10 children, including spouses, and 13 grandchildren. In retirement, Philip and Julie teach art together on cruise ships.
Betty Jean Hall ’68
Retired Chief Administrative Appeals Judge for the U.S. Department of Labor Betty Jean Hall ’68 is a true trailblazer. A tireless advocate for women’s rights, occupational health and safety, and social justice in Appalachia, Hall is a graduate of both the Foundation School and Berea College. She majored in history.
In 1976, Hall earned her Doctor of Law degree from Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. The Perry County, Ky., native went to work for Appalachia right away, becoming the assistant director of the Youth Leadership Development Program at the Appalachian Regional Commission. In 1977, Hall founded the Coal Employment Project in Oak Ridge, Tenn., advocating for women coal miners and fighting against superstitions about women in coal mines. By 1979, her work in this realm earned her coverage in The New York Times, where she was called a “champion of the woman miner.”
She was also admitted to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the Virginia Supreme Court, the Tennessee Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit.
Between 1978 and 1984, Hall won many awards. She was awarded the John Hay Whitney Fellowships Award from 1978 to 1980. Also in 1980, Hall was recognized by the National Women’s Health Network as Health Advocate of the Year and by Ms. Magazine as a “Woman to Watch in the 80s.” In 1981, Hall won the John D. Rockefeller Public Service Award, and in 1984, she won the Berea College Public Service Award.
Over her long career, she served at Highlander Research and Education Center, Southern Appalachian Leadership Training Program and Southeast Women’s Employment Coalition. In 2001, Hall was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor as administrative appeals judge for the Benefits Review Board of the U.S. Department of Labor. She also served as the chief administrative appeals judge and chair of the Board of the Benefits Review Board until she retired in 2019. Under her leadership, the board streamlined the benefits review process, ensuring coal miners with black lung disease and other workers injured in their occupations received fair and timely reviews of their compensation applications.
Retired to Cary, N.C., Hall has served on the Berea Alumni Executive Council. Among all her accomplishments, she is proudest of her twins, Tim and Tiffany, and her two grandchildren, Athena and Blake.
Cluster Howard ’78
A 1974 graduate of Breathitt County High School, former Kentucky State Representative Cluster Howard first attended Lees College in Jackson, Ky., and then Berea College. After graduating from Berea in 1978, Howard returned to Lees College, where he became the school’s basketball coach, athletic director, chair of the math and science departments and dean of students. Howard was selected as Kentucky Junior College Coach of the Year six times. He earned his master’s degree from Morehead State University.
While serving as the dean of students at Lees College, Howard implemented a college wellness program and supervised security, residence halls and food services. He also was the faculty representative to the board of trustees for three terms.
From 1997 until his retirement in 2020, Representative Howard served as dean of students and student ombudsman at Hazard Community and Technical College. He supervised the Ready to Work Program, Gear Up and student support services. He implemented a college leadership program and oversaw student discipline and student government.
As state representative for the 91st District of Kentucky from 2015 to 2020, Howard served on committees focused on education, natural resources and local government. He sponsored bills addressing environmental concerns, cannabis legalization, military support and term limits; Howard helped acquire funding for healthcare in his district.
His professional honors include Lees College Outstanding Alumni 1985; Outstanding Young American 1991; Commonwealth Fellow 1994; Kentucky Community and Technical College System Leadership Development 1999; Henry Clay Award for legislative service 2019; and Appalachian Renaissance Horizon Award 2019. He raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for educational funding at Lees College and Hazard Community and Technical College, founded the Breathitt Youth Foundation, and served on the leadership teams of Jackson Parks, Breathitt County Museum, Breathitt County War Memorials and Breathitt County Action Team. Howard is a graduate of Berea’s Brushy Fork Leadership Institute and hosted a live sports talk program from 1997 through 2015.
Howard is married to Sandy Tapley Howard, retired nursing director at the Wolfe County Rehabilitation Center. They have two daughters, Lindsey and Emily Howard, who live in Jackson; a grandson, Chase Alexander Howard; and one step-grandson, Brady Robinson.
Rev. Michael Moore ’77
Reverend Michael D. Moore ’77 is the founding pastor of Faith Chapel, with campuses in Birmingham, Ala., and Columbus, Ga. The author of many books on topics ranging from grief and loss to success and abundance, Moore graduated Berea with a degree in business administration and attended law school at Samford University before being called into ministry.
Moore led a team of four to found Faith Chapel in his living room in 1981, without money or support. More than 40 years later, Faith Chapel is the spiritual and social home to thousands. With a special focus on ministering to Birmingham’s homeless population, Moore’s facility is open for access to showers, computers, phones, laundry, hygiene, food, and legal and medical help. Moore and Faith Chapel also serve the social needs of the community by offering a family activity center, bowling alley, fitness center and other recreational facilities.
Reverend Moore extends his ministry beyond the church campuses. He takes his hopeful and supportive message of building a better life to television, YouTube, conferences and his How to Win podcast. His focus is on easy-to-follow, practical advice for real-life circumstances, inspiring and empowering people to live successfully on a spiritual, physical, mental, social and financial level. Earlier this year, Reverend Moore turned over the pastorship of Faith Chapel to his son, Michael K., so he can focus on Mike Moore Ministries.
Reverend Moore is married to Berea alumnus Kennetha Brown Moore ’79. In addition to Michael K., they have a daughter, Tiffany, and three beautiful granddaughters.