On September 20th, Alice Lloyd College held the twenty-third annual Alumna and Alumnus of the Year Banquet in the historic Cushing Hall. The banquet honored two alumni for their endearing service. Margo Sparkman (Class of 2004) and George Nichols III (Class of 1980) gathered with family and friends to reflect on how their lives exemplify the core values of the Purpose Road Philosophy.
Margaret “Margo” Reedy Sparkman was born in Martin, Kentucky, but she grew up in West Carrolton, Ohio. She returned to Kentucky with her family when she was 15 years old and graduated from Knott County High in 1972. She attended Alice Lloyd College after graduation, but in 1973 she married Kenneth Sparkman after he returned home from his station in Korea during the Vietnam War. For the next four years, Margo was a homemaker and mother to her first child, Phillip “Stacy.” She picked up her classes again in 1977 as well as accepting the position of Accounts Payable Clerk at ALC. Her coursework was put on hold after the birth of her daughter, Kendra. In time, Margo resumed her studies earning her BA in Business Administration at ALC in 2004, and her MBA from the University of the Cumberlands in 2013.
For 42 years, Margo has passionately served Alice Lloyd College through several managerial positions primarily in the department of Institutional Advancement. Some of the positions that she held are Director of Gift Receipting, Director of Donor Relations and Publications, Director of Planned Giving, and Direct Mail Specialist. She served the past seven years as Director of Development, but recently stepped down as Director and is transitioning into semi-retirement this year. All of her hard work has not gone unnoticed. She earned ALC’s Leadership in Service Award/Campus Employee of the Year Award in 2011 and 2019.
In addition to her service to the College, Margo also faithfully serves her community through the Caney Baptist Church. She has taken on several roles such as Sunday School Teacher, SHARE Food Ministry Coordinator, and Clothing Mission Coordinator. In 2005, Margo was diagnosed with one of the most difficult cancers to detect and cure – ovarian cancer. She feels extremely blessed to be a 14-year cancer survivor. Margo gives all the credit to God for her healing. She has always been a strong supporter of Alice Lloyd College because she realized the importance the College mission has made in the Eastern Kentucky region. Margo and Kenneth recently celebrated 46 years of marriage and are blessed to have five grandchildren: Chase, Justin, Gabriel, Gray, and Zella.
George Nichols III was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky. In his early years, he was influenced and encouraged by the strong women in his life who taught him how to be a better man. In his childhood, George developed a love for basketball and dreamed of turning it into a career. Basketball led him to ALC, but an English teacher transformed his outlook on higher education. He graduated from ALC in 1980, and then went on to attend Western Kentucky University where he completed his BA in Sociology and Economics. He began a career in financial services after receiving his MA from the University of Louisville.
George continued to develop a skill for efficient problem-solving at the age of twenty-eight while holding the position as Chief Executive Officer of Central State Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. After successfully tackling the management issues at Central State, George was brought on by Blue Cross and Blue Shield as Executive Director of Product Development and soon promoted to Marketing Director. In 1995, he served as Executive Director for Kentucky’s Health Policy Board. He continued to rise in the insurance and financial services fields and was appointed as Special Advisor to the then Governor Paul Patton in matters of health care policy and economic development for the financial services industry.
He has also served in numerous other positions such as President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioner, Chairman of the International Relations Committee, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Insurance, and in 2001 was Senior Vice President and Assistant to the Chairman of New York Life. In 2006, he joined the Office of Governmental Affairs and assumed the leadership role in 2007. Currently, George serves as the tenth President and CEO of The American College of Financial Services. His servant leadership has earned him many prestigious recognitions, such as being named to Savoy’s list of Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America in 2012 and 2018. He is also the first African-American Insurance Commissioner, the first African-American president of the NAIC, and the first African-American elected to New York Life’s Executive Management Committee. George Nichols has also served on ALC’s Board of Trustees for an honorable eighteen years. He is a devoted family man, and currently resides in Haverford, Pennsylvania, with his wife Cynthia Jean (CJ) and his three adult children: Courtney, Jessica, and George IV.
Margo Sparkman and George Nichols III were honored with a framed certificate of appreciation and given a commemorative rocking chair that was presented by ALC President Joe Stepp. For over one hundred years, Alice Lloyd College has instilled service as a priority for the students on and off campus, and it becomes a skill they implement in their daily lives even after they graduate. The annual Alumna and Alumnus of the Year Banquet is one of the many opportunities ALC uses to honor the countless graduates who take the legacy and apply it to every aspect of their lives.