The Van Rensselaer Award for Distinguished Service (VRA), is named in honor of one of the CDA’s principal founders, Maria Denning “May” King Van Rensselaer (Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer). Awards are bestowed upon members of The Colonial Dames of America for their distinguished service to their respective chapter, their local community, and/or to the Society. As many as one member per chapter, per fiscal year is eligible for this honor.


A chapter may recommend a member in good standing to CDA’s Board of Managers for consideration. Dames may also be proposed posthumously.  Submissions must be received no later than December 1.


Please see submission instructions and rules below. If you have additional questions, email [email protected] or call (212) 838-5489.


Submission Instructions


1. Download and complete the Nomination Submission Form [login required]
2. Email [email protected] or mail the form to CDA Headquarters.
3. Send check for $250 payable to “The Colonial Dames of America.”




1. The deadline for submissions is December 1 of each fiscal year.
2. Submissions received after the deadline cannot be considered for that year.
3. Candidates must have been CDA members for at least five (5) years.
4. VRA award winners will be determined by the CDA’s Board of Managers.
5. A chapter may not propose more than one nominee per year.
6. A member may only be selected once for the VRA.
7. Submit only completed forms; all attachments will be discarded.

Van Rensselaer Awards Winners



Parent Chapter: Rebecca Howard Madsen
Chapter XXVIII – Melbourne, FL: Laura Tonkin Allen
Chapter XXXI – South Carolina: Laurie Ann Cornwell Aldinger
Chapter XXXVII – New Orleans: Ann Cheney
Chapter XXXVIII – Santa Barbara: Sharon Bird Bacon




Parent Chapter: Sandra Sellers Pearl
Parent Chapter: Melinda H. Waterhouse
Chapter III – Washington, D.C.: Jane Crane McSwain
Chapter VIII – Houston: Joella Mitchell Morris [posthumous]
Chapter IX – Lexington: Sharon Mayne Withers
Chapter XXII – Michigan: Barbara Halsted Balow
Chapter XXIV – Atlanta: Charlotte J. Christian
Chapter XXIX – North Carolina: Dianne Alley Robinson
Chapter XXXVIII – Santa Barbara: Joy Gillum Chamberlain
Chapter XXXIX – Birmingham: Laura Dean Ramsay




Parent Chapter: Lauren Rose
Chapter V – San Francisco: Rebecca Shier Viebrock
Chapter XIV – Chicago: Mary Vandemore Gustafson
Chapter XX –Los Angeles: Sharyn Dianne Kelley Worrell
Chapter XXII – Michigan: Audrey June Lambert
Chapter XXIX – North Carolina: Pamela Jane Henry Pate
Chapter XXXVIII – Santa Barbara: Katherine Cowell Collins





Parent Chapter: Catherine Coleman Brawer
Chapter II – Philadelphia: Jane Mitchell Eppley
Chapter III – Washington, DC: Catherine Nelson Ball
Chapter V – San Francisco: Elaine Dorothea Oldham

Chapter VIII – Houston: Iris Louise Collins Eaton
Chapter XIV – Chicago: Sharon Hare
Chapter XV – Jackson, Mississippi: Ann Atkinson Simmons
Chapter XXII – Michigan: Rosemary Vandeveer Baldwin
Chapter XXIV – Atlanta: Helen Henry Rogge
Chapter XXIX – North Carolina: Marie Young Thiele
Chapter XXXIII – Georgia Piedmont: Dorothy “Dotty” Elizabeth Harris Zazworsky
Chapter XXXVIII – Santa Barbara: Ruth Arlene Yockey Loper



Barbara Cecelia Shea Bispham – Past President General, Parent Chapter
Annette Louise Longnon Geddes – Past President General, Parent Chapter
Courtney Garland Iglehart – Past President General, Parent Chapter
Nancy Ruth Shackelford Jones – Past President General, Parent Chapter
Brantley Bolling Knowles – Past President General, Chapter XVII – Palm Beach




Parent Chapter: Kathy Springhorn
Parent Chapter: Audrey Svensson
Chapter III – Washington, DC: Robin Dougherty
Chapter VIII – Houston, TX: Evelyn Aucoin
Chapter XIV – Chicago, IL: Luanne Bruckner
Chapter XIX – Florida Everglades: Maureen McGowan-Singer
Chapter XX – Los Angeles, CA: Dorothy Peterson
Chapter XXII – Michigan: Cathy Pouls
Chapter XXIV – Atlanta, GA: Judith Hughes
Chapter XXV – Phoenix, AZ: Betty Barber-Hughes
Chapter XXIX – North Carolina: Elizabeth Sparrow
Chapter XXXVIII – Santa Barbara, CA: Marie-Louise Nolan Hattier
Chapter XXXIX – Birmingham, AL: Connie Grund




Parent Chapter: Caroline McLain

Chapter II – Philadelphia, PA: Eleanor Penniman (Mrs. Hill Dawson)

Chapter III – Washington, D.C: Laura Belman (Mrs. Murray Joel)

Chapter VIII – Houston, TX: Margaret Bryant Ivancevich

Chapter XXII – Michigan: Carolyn Levin (Mrs. Carolyn E. B.)

Chapter XXV – Phoenix, AZ: Susan Krecker (Mrs. Richard P.)

Chapter XXX – Venice, FL: Carole Cornell (Mrs. Duane F.)

Chapter XXXVIII – Santa Barbara, CA: Kathi Chulick (Mrs. John J.)

Chapter XXXIX – Birmingham, AL: Ann Robinson King




Parent Chapter: Beverley Tucker Wahl Sherrid (Mrs. Mark V.)

Chapter XX – Los Angeles: Elizabeth Budd Breihaupt (Mrs. Richard H.)

Chapter XXIV – Atlanta: Marion Owens Sims Bunker (Mrs. Robert M.) [posthumous]

Chapter XXXVIII – Santa Barbara: Judith Lyman Cardinal




Chapter III-Washington, D.C.: Barbara Hensley Carpenter (Mrs. William A.)

Chapter XXIV-Atlanta, Georgia: Martha Ellen Holman Wright (Mrs. George D.)




Parent Chapter: Helen Carney Evans (Mrs. Robert Clements)

Chapter III-Washington, D.C.: Priscilla Thompson Roberts (Mrs. James Milnor)

Chapter III-Washington, D.C.: Kay Pugh Titus  (Mrs. Donald C.)

Chapter VIII-Houston: Judith-Ann Saks Rosenthal (Mrs. Haskell)

Chapter X-Rome: Sharri Whiting De Masi

Chapter XXXI-South Carolina: Dyane Dye Kellogg (Mrs. Frederick F.)

Chapter XXVI-Texas Hill Country: Betty Chisolm Hutzler (Mrs. Robert L.)




Parent Chapter: Sharon W. Vaino (Mrs. Jaan)

Chapter VIII-Houston: Sarah Beth Leney (Mrs. Franklin J.)

Chapter XXIII-Virginia: Charlotte Taylor Miller (Mrs. Andrew J.)

Chapter XXIV-Atlanta, Georgia: Rose Elyea Bell (Mrs. John Inman Jr)

Chapter XXXI-South Carolina: Theresa Hulsey Johnson (Mrs. Richard K.)

Chapter XXXIII-Georgia Piedmont: Robin Redfearn Towns (Mrs. Robert F.)