Jo Washburn and Mary Wack are the 2020 recipients of AFW’s Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award

This year AFW will be honoring two recipients of the AFW’s Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award: Jo Washburn and Mary Wack.  Both Jo and Mary serve as role models and exemplars of effective leadership.  They each have made long-lasting impacts at WSU for the betterment of all.

Jo Washburn was a champion for gender equity in athletics.  She was part of the group that sued WSU (and won) in 1979 to ensure that women athletes received equal resources promised under state and federal law.  Jo, a founding AFW member and WSU Athletics Hall of Fame member, passed away in September.  We posthumously award Jo Washburn with the Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award with deep gratitude for her bravery, tenacity, and advocacy that paved the road for so many within and outside of WSU.

We also recognize Mary Wack with the Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award for her deep and sustained commitment to the advancement of women at WSU.  In her service as the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, we have all benefited from Mary’s steady and deeply thoughtful leadership.  As several of her nominators shared, her impact on undergraduate education at WSU is profound and far reaching.  By example and guidance, Mary has steered us all during the COVID-19 pandemic to center both excellence and compassion in our instruction.  Finally, Mary dedicates significant efforts mentoring women in leadership at WSU providing them advice, solutions, key information, and regular collegial encouragement.

AFW is hosting a virtual ceremony honoring both Jo Washburn and Mary Wack on Wednesday, December 9th, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.  If you wish to join us, then please email for the Zoom connection information.  The Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award was established in 2000 to show AFW’s appreciation to President Emeritus Smith for his leadership in advancing the role of women at WSU.

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