Lori Garrett, Named Alumna of the Year

September 2, 2019 / Andrea Wenger
Lori Snyder '79 Garrett, EMHS Alumnus of the Year for 2019
Lori Snyder '79 Garrett, EMHS Alumnus of the Year for 2019

An EMHS field trip to New York City launched Lori Snyder ‘79 Garrett — the 2019 Eastern Mennonite School Alumna of the Year — on the path to a career in architecture, thanks to art teacher Esther Kniss ‘49 Augsburger.

On that trip, Augsberger introduced Lori to three architects who encouraged her to pursue her love of mathematics and art in undergraduate studies, she recalls. She’s grateful she heeded their advice, studying at Messiah College in Pennsylvania and laying a strong foundation before pursuing architecture studies at the University of Virginia.

Now Senior Principal and Director of the Higher Education Studio at Richmond-based Glavé & Holmes Architecture, Garrett’s career of more than 30 years has gained her wide recognition as a skilled architect, collaborator, team leader and mentor.

Garrett’s contributions will be recognized at her 40th high school reunion, Oct. 18-20. In addition to speaking in the Sunday worship service, she will be recognized at Saturday’s Homecoming Breakfast and at an evening concert in the school’s auditorium. Lori was chief architect for the 2005 Fine Arts Wing which houses the auditorium at EMS.

“I am grateful for the legacy that my EMHS experience represents,” reflects Garrett. “My love of math, art and music were nurtured there, and I developed values — such as a commitment to reconciliation among people and caring for those on the margins — that have influenced my professional and personal life.”

In addition to Augsburger, Lori recalls math teachers Grace LeFever and Marty Kolb, who nurtured her love of proportion and geometric patterns. Choral director Marvin Miller helped her find her singing voice in various choirs and, particularly, in a women’s quartet with classmates Lori Byler Reethof, Lynn Kidd Suter and Karen Burkholder Batten.

Lori also notes ways her parents influenced her. From age three to six, she saw them model service to others as teachers in Nigeria with Mennonite Central Committee. Later in life, she recalls late night conversations about math problems over dishwashing with her father, Del, a mathematics professor at Eastern Mennonite College (now University). Her mother Lee, then assistant dean at Eastern Mennonite College and later President of Bluffton College — “modeled and encouraged excellence, especially in academics,” Lori says. “She showed me that it’s possible to be passionate about a career at the same time as being a good mother,” says Garrett. “That was really important to me.”

“They were both wonderful role models,” she concludes. “I know that if I can be half the parent my parents were to me, I will feel successful,” she concludes.

Lori is married to Jim, an attorney she met while they were finishing their graduate studies at UVA and beginning their professional careers. Son, Tyler, 25, is an attorney, clerking for a judge in West Virginia; daughter Kia, 21, graduated from William & Mary in 2019, and recently accepted a role with a non-profit in Boston.

In 2007, Lori became Glavé and Holme’s first female owner in the firm’s 50-year history. Since then, she and her colleagues built the firm from 28 to 70 employees. “Many women choose to put careers on hold and stay home with children, which can be wonderful ,” says Lori. “But it wasn’t the choice I made.” Staying active in a career she loved while raising children with Jim “was my biggest challenge,” she says.

Projects with Purpose
Currently, Lori leads design teams focused on building campus community and supporting the academic mission of colleges and universities, according to Glavé and Holmes website. Lori’s “deep-rooted values of collaboration and stewardship of culture and resources guide her as she instills timeless quality, economic efficiency, and environmental sustainability in every project.”

The list of college and university campus’ that she has touched is long, including Virginia Tech, William & Mary, Christopher Newport, University of Mary Washington, James Madison, UVA, Longwood and Washington & Lee. A favorite project that brought together her passions for women leaders and reconciliation among people came in her role with the University of Richmond’s Carole Weinstein International Center, a building funded by, designed by and in honor of, women.

Another project that brought together her passions was a 2018 proposal to a national ideas competition to revise Richmond’s Monument Avenue. The project called for proposals that would “facilitate constructive dialogue around the historic street, Confederate history, urban planning, and public art.” The competition resulted in more than 200 submissions with Lori’s remaining among the 20 currently under consideration for the top prize.

Outside of career involvement,Lori has recently found time to reconnect with her love of choral singing and joined Richmond’s One Voice Chorus,an interracial community chorus that promotes racial reconciliation.

Homecoming Weekend
Details about Homecoming Weekend events, Oct. 18-20, and registration information can be found at easternmennonite.org/homecoming.

In addition to the weekend marking Lori’s 40th reunion, Esther Augsburger and classmates from the class of 1949 will mark their 70th EMHS reunion. The relationship will come full circle as Esther gets the opportunity to see seeds she helped to sow, celebrated in the life of a former student.

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