ECTC announces 2024 Distinguished Alumni and Lifetime Achievement honorees | ECTC

ECTC announces 2024 Distinguished Alumni and Lifetime Achievement honorees

Published on Feb 29, 2024

2024 Profiles of Excellence

Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) will recognize eight alumni and two retired employees for their exemplary work at the annual Profiles of Excellence celebration. 

The Distinguished Alumni program has now recognized the academic, professional and humanitarian endeavors of 154 former students. Those recognized this year include John DeRamos, Dr. Jennifer L. Greer, Kelly Renee Griner, Monica Bishop Heavrin, Amanda Johnston, Damon Lasley III, Daniel London and Chad Sarver. Names and photos of this year’s honorees will join others in the Hall of Distinguished Alumni, on display in the atrium of the Regional Postsecondary Center on ECTC’s main campus. 

In addition, retired professors Phyllis Brandenburg and Martha Hill will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for their service to the college.   

The Profiles of Excellence celebration will be held from 6-8 p.m. March 28 in the Morrison Gallery at ECTC. Details and registration can be found at RSVP by March 21. 

The 2024 ECTC Distinguished Alumni include the following: 

John DeRamos of Glendale is the IT operations manager for Abound Credit Union. Born and raised in Hardin County, DeRamos is a 1994 graduate of Central Hardin High School. That same year, he joined the Army and served four years as a OH-58 helicopter crew chief in South Korea and in Fort Hood, Texas. He achieved an Army Achievement Medal and Army Accommodation Medal during this stint. In 1998, DeRamos returned to Kentucky with his family, where he served an additional four years in the Kentucky National Guard while earning a degree at ECTC in computer information technology. He worked as a computer lab assistant while attending ECTC, which further confirmed his desire for a focused career in networking. This is where he learned he had a talent and interest in providing support for others. He then began his 24-year career at Fort Knox Federal Credit Union, now Abound Credit Union, and has worked his way up from a standard help desk position to his current role as IT operations manager. DeRamos is also a leader in his community of Glendale, serving as the Lions Club president. In 2019, he was honored with Glendale’s Outstanding Citizen Award by the Glendale Lions Club. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Ranetta, and together they have two adult children.  

Dr. Jennifer L. Greer of Gardendale, Ala., is an award-winning journalist, retired small business owner and retired assistant university professor from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Graduate School. A 1974 graduate of Elizabethtown High School, she attended ECTC for one full year before transferring and graduating magna cum laude from the University of Kentucky. She recalls ECTC as a safe, welcoming and productive space to learn and transition from high school to college. Greer credits a host of faculty members for guiding her through this season of life, which she affectionately describes as “a time when my intellect probably ran ahead of my maturity.” Following graduation, she worked as a journalist for multiple publications from 1978 to 1988. From 1988 to 1992, Greer lived in Central America, working for the U.S. Peace Corps as a bilingual education volunteer in Costa Rica and as staff in Panama. In 1992, she and her husband, Robert Gandy, founded the consulting firm of Creekside Consulting, Inc. She also shares an award with Gandy – the 1990 John F. Kennedy Peace Corps Volunteers of the Year Award for Inter-America. In 2002, Greer turned to teaching. Fluent in Spanish, she earned a master’s degree in education and taught English as a second language in public schools before joining the faculty at UAB Graduate School. There, she developed a writing-for-publication program for doctoral students and junior faculty. Greer and Gandy now live near Birmingham, Ala., where they continue to support the efforts of fellow Peace Corps volunteers.  

Kelly Renee Griner of Elizabethtown is a certified oncology nurse with more than 12 years of diverse healthcare experience. She has found oncology to be her passion. Pulling from her own personal philosophy of nursing, Griner works to build relationships with those that she cares for by interweaving advocacy, compassion, trust and education together to provide comfort and holistic, patient-centered care. In 2019, Griner was awarded The Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses. She served as class president while studying respiratory care at ECTC and graduated in 2011. Once she discovered what an excellent education she received, Griner returned to ECTC for her nursing education. She credits these programs with giving her the foundational tools and confidence to tackle any challenges placed in her path. She continues to give back to ECTC and the respiratory care program when she is able. Griner works as a radiation oncology nurse clinician for Baptist Health Hardin and an oncology infusion nurse for Norton Healthcare. She is married to Michael and they have three sons, two of whom are currently in active-duty status with the armed forces. Her youngest son graduates this year from Central Hardin High School and will attend ECTC in the fall.  

Monica Bishop Heavrin of Leitchfield is the director of special education and 504 coordinator for Warren County Public Schools. A 1990 graduate of Grayson County High School, Heavrin was the first in her immediate family to attend college. After graduation from ECTC in 1993, her educational pursuits led her to Western Kentucky University, where she eventually obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and Rank I Certification as director of special education. With over 20 years of teaching experience, she’s been described as a wonder in the special needs classroom. Heavrin spent 20 years in the Grayson County Schools, serving as the director of special education and preschool coordinator for 10 years before accepting her current role in Warren County. Today, she oversees services for over 2,700 students with special needs in the fourth-largest school district in Kentucky. In her spare time, Heavrin enjoys selling jewelry at craft fairs with a friend under the business name of Three Friends Jewelry. Heavrin is immensely proud of her daughter, State Rep. Samara Heavrin, who was born during her time as a student at ECTC. 

Amanda Johnston of Round Rock, Texas, is the founder and executive director of Torch Literary Arts, which provides resources and opportunities for the advancement of black women through literary arts. As a writer and well-known artist, Johnston was recently named a 2024 Texas Poet Laureate. Johnston attended ECTC from 2002 to 2005, where her first writings were published in the Heartland Review. She credits this time in her life as one of personal discovery, when she felt at home in ECTC’s library with a world of books at her fingertips. Johnston states that lessons learned in creative writing classes and creating campus programs at ECTC prepared her for the work she does today as a writer and nonprofit leader. Johnston earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine in 2013. She is the author of two chapbooks and the full-length collection Another Way to Say Enter. Her work has appeared in numerous online and print publications. Johnston is the former board president of Cave Canem Foundation and a current member of the Affrilachian Poets. She and her husband, Fabian, have two adult children.  

Damon R. Lasley III of Leitchfield is the captain/director of operations of the Hardin County Detention Center. He has served with Hardin County for 17 years, working up through the ranks to his current role where he supervises 90 deputies and manages the security of approximately 500 inmates. Lasley attended ECTC from 2004 to 2007, earning an associate degree. He completed a +Bachelor of Science from Oakland City University in 2016. He credits ECTC for teaching him to listen, observe and ask questions, and continues to use those skills in his life and career. The oldest son of the Rev. Damon Lasley, Jr. and the late Kathy Hatfield Lasley, he is a lifelong resident of Grayson County, where he was elected as District 1 Constable in 2014 and still serves in that role. In 2015, Lasley was awarded Constable of the Year by the Kentucky Constable Association. In 2005, he became an ordained minister like his father and has been named a Kentucky Colonel. Lasley is married to Brittany Mayhew-Lasley.   

Daniel London of Elizabethtown is the executive director of the Lincoln Trial Area Development District (LTADD) and a local businessman. He is an experienced leader who has served the community, the Commonwealth and the United States in a wide range of roles and positions. He attended ECTC from 1995 to 2000 and earned a Bachelor of Science from Campbellsville University and a master’s degree in public administration from Western Kentucky University. London worked for U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis for almost 11 years, the last four of which he served as chief of staff until Lewis retired in 2008. London then used his legislative and communication experience at the U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, including a 28-month stint in Afghanistan as a civilian leader. He was named deputy judge executive for Hardin County from 2017 to 2022 before being named executive director of LTADD in September 2022. During his time with Hardin County, London was instrumental in realigning the county’s goals and objectives, which led to additional non-tax revenues of more than $30 million over 10 years. He has left a notable mark of efficiency on the communities and organizations he serves by improving communication, streamlining services, and developing long-term and effective strategic plans. While attending ECTC, he held full- and part-time jobs and credits ECTC’s faculty with his achievement of earning a bachelor’s degree because they ensured his academic schedule synchronized with his employment schedule to keep his degree completion on track. London is married to Deena, a 2023 ECTC Distinguished Alumnus, and they have three adult daughters and two grandchildren. 

Chad Sarver of Glendale serves as the director of talent management at Altec, Inc. Now in his 25th year with Altec, Sarver has served in various roles including sales operations, project management, information systems and plant management. He attended ECTC from 1993 to 1994 before transferring to the University of Kentucky to pursue a degree in communication and marketing. Later in his career he completed a Master of Arts in human resource development from Webster University. Sarver states that a basic public speaking class at ECTC changed the trajectory of his life. After seeing the power of good communication, he changed his major to communications, which has served him well throughout his career. Today, in addition to providing vision for learning and development functions at Altec, Sarver serves as board treasurer for the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce. He’s been active in the community as a past board chair for United Way of Central Kentucky and board member for the Elizabethtown Police Foundation. He is married to Kim, and they have three adult children and four grandchildren. In his free time, Sarver enjoys working with his church, woodworking and scuba diving.  

The 2024 ECTC Lifetime Achievement honorees include the following: 

Phyllis Brandenburg of Wilmore is a beloved professor who served at ECTC from 1964 to 1997. She grew up on a farm in rural Jessamine County with four older siblings. It was here she developed a solid work ethic and the enjoyment of “pretend teaching” in her living room, a path she followed throughout her career. She graduated from Georgetown College with a Bachelor of Secretarial Sciences. In 1964, while working toward her master’s degree at the University of Kentucky, Brandenburg’s professor informed her of the new community college opening in Elizabethtown. This new college needed an office systems teacher, and she was encouraged to apply. At ECC, Brandenburg — known as Ms. B — taught shorthand, typing, keyboarding and other office system courses. She not only taught technical skills but also the importance of work ethic, proper dress and professionalism. For example, chewing gum was never allowed in Ms. B’s class. Brandenburg eventually became coordinator of the office administration program and chair of the social and behavioral sciences division at ECTC. She still misses the interaction with her students, her colleagues, and being in the classroom, and she’s proud to say that many of her former students are now employees of the college.  

Martha Hill of Glendale is a former coordinator of the nursing program at ECTC, a position she held until her retirement in 1997. Originally from Georgia, Hill moved to Topton, N.C., and graduated from high school in 1962. At the encouragement of her guidance counselor, Hill applied and was accepted to the nursing program at Berea College. After graduation and marrying her husband, Danny, Hill moved to Elizabethtown in 1968. With a few years of hospital experience from Methodist Evangelical Hospital in Berea already under her belt, she applied for a job at Hardin Memorial Hospital. The director of nursing referred her immediately, with application in hand, to Dr. James Owen at ECC. She was hired that day and stayed for the remainder of her 30-year career, serving in various roles from instructor, associate professor, full professor, and coordinator of the associate degree in nursing program. She attained a Master of Science in nursing from the University of Kentucky in 1972 and became a member of the National League of Nursing and the American Nurses Association. As an active member of the Kentucky Nursing Association, Hill enjoyed leading her students to join such a powerful and supportive organization. She was thrilled to receive the Distinguished Nurse of the Year Award from the Kentucky Nursing Association in 2006, noted for her “outstanding contribution to the advancement of the nursing profession through leadership, nursing practice, and education.” To this day, she remains a strong advocate for ECTC, nursing education and the community and technical college system.