Lee Ann Afton-Backlund
Dean of Admission
Having grown up in Sewanee, Lee Ann still finds herself caught up in the magic of the Mountain and the uniqueness of this place. Before returning to Sewanee in the summer of 2010, Lee Ann was not only an admission professional but also a fitness instructor in Decatur, Georgia. When she is not at work, you can find Lee Ann either spending time with friends and family while enjoying a great meal and good conversation or supporting the Sewanee Tigers. An early morning run on the trails, lunch at Julia's, and a springtime hike through Shake Rag Hollow with her dog Buddy make up Lee Ann’s perfect Sewanee day.
Associate Dean of Admission
Territories: Hawaii, East Tennessee (Chattanooga area), Ohio, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Washington, West Virginia
Lisa came to Sewanee for the first time in 2002 to participate in the Admission 101 program as a prospective parent; she returned to Sewanee in the summer of 2008 but this time as an employee. Lisa’s perfect Sewanee day includes lunch on the front porch of Fulford Hall followed by a leisurely stroll to Green’s View. When she is not hard at work, Lisa enjoys cooking, gardening, traveling as well as participating in P.E.O., a philanthropic women’s organization, and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus.
Assistant Director of Admission
Territories: Connecticut (Fairfield County), Middle Tennessee (Nashville area), New York
Sarah arrived on the Mountain during the summer of 2007 when her husband, Buck, C’89, accepted a job as Director of Publications in the Office of Marketing and Communications. It wasn’t long before she found herself right at home as a part of the Sewanee community, where she now supervises the Sewanee Union Theatre (Be sure to catch a show while on campus, Wednesday–Sunday, 7:30 p.m.), is a member of the P.T.O., and works at the Community Garden. Sarah enjoys all seasons on the domain but especially enjoys spring, when you can find her enjoying the fresh spring air with her dog, Lola, and two children, Kate and Isabel.
Associate Director of Admission
Territories: Alabama (Huntsville area), Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, Middle Tennessee (Franklin, Coffee, Grundy, and Marion Counties), Utah, Wyoming, Transfer Students
Ryan first visited Sewanee in 1999 after being introduced to the school by a young Sewanee alumna, whom he later married. After many visits to campus over the past decade, Ryan and his wife, Erin, decided to move to Sewanee with their four young children in summer 2009. Prior to beginning his role in the Office of Admission, Ryan served as an environmental science teacher and college counselor at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. When he is not at work, you can find the Cassell family enjoying the Sunday lunch at McClurg (the fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese are delicious) or star gazing at the Cross.
Jessica Hardy, C’06
Senior Assistant Director of Admission
Territories: Arkansas, Georgia (Atlanta area), Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, West Tennessee, International Students
On Jessica’s first visit to campus as a senior, she attended a class and upon arrival the professor welcomed her by name. The professor’s hospitality made her feel right and home and was extremely influential when it came time for her to make her final college decision. Jessica was involved in several organizations as a student: Arcadians (Student Admission Volunteers), the African American Alliance, and Phi Sigma Theta sorority (just to name a few). When she is not on the road, Jessica relishes the chances to explore campus on a beautiful fall day and enjoys grabbing a tasty meal with friends.
Territories: Alabama (Mobile and Montgomery areas), Mississippi, East Tennessee (Knoxville area)
A lifelong Episcopalian, Bess first visited Sewanee as a child and has always felt a strong connection to the Domain and the people of the Sewanee community. When she finally moved to Sewanee in the summer of 2012 so that her husband, John, could begin his Master’s Degree in the School of Theology, she knew that she was home. In her previous life, Bess sold real estate in Montgomery, Alabama and feels that helping students find their college home is very similar to helping a family find their dream home—when it’s the right fit, you just feel it. When she’s not recruiting future Sewanee students, Bess enjoys experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, hiking the many trails on the Domain, and riding her bike to The Blue Chair for a smoothie with her two children, John Turner and Ellie.
Josh King, C’11
Territories: Connecticut (excluding Fairfield County), Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Middle Tennessee (Cookeville/Crossville area), Vermont
Josh made Sewanee his college choice with Thoreau’s Walden in mind: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I have not lived.” To “live deliberately,” Josh thought, he must learn deliberately. At Sewanee, Josh cultivated his interest in great literary texts, and he graduated an English major. As a student, Josh was active in the Order of the Gownsmen and the Student Alumni Leadership Committee (SALC), but he spent the majority of his time outside his studies at the Office of Admission, where he acted as co-director of the office’s student volunteer program, the Arcadians. These days, when he is not recruiting future Sewanee students, Josh enjoys having a refreshing, iced Muddy Water (with an extra shot of espresso) from Stirling’s—Sewanee’s local coffee shop—hiking around the Domain on the Perimeter Trail, and chatting with friends old and new over pizza at Crust in “downtown Sewanee.”
Forbes Mann, C’10
Assistant Director of Admission
Territories: Alabama (Birmingham area), Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C.
Forbes grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, but Sewanee has felt like home to him from the moment he arrived here as a new student. As a 2010 graduate of Sewanee’s College of Arts and Sciences, Forbes majored in English and minored in education. Outside of the classroom, he was active in Arcadians (the Admission Office’s student volunteer corps), Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, and some of the programs offered by All Saints’ Chapel. Forbes loves sharing Sewanee stories with high school students; when he is not at work, he enjoys sitting on the side deck at Julia's trading those same Sewanee stories with friends.
Maria Watters, C’93
Campus Visit Coordinator
A Sewanee alumna, Maria loves helping the next generation of Sewanee students learn about life here on the Mountain. Maria coordinates visit experiences for all of our guests.
Territories: Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin
Originally from California, Kelsey moved to Tennessee in 2010 to get her master’s degree in school counseling at Vanderbilt University. It was during this time that Kelsey traveled to Sewanee for a class field trip. She was immediately captivated by the beauty of the campus and the strong sense of community shared by students, faculty, and staff. Prior to coming to Tennessee, Kelsey attended Brown University where she majored in history and played for the softball team. When she’s not talking to prospective students, Kelsey enjoys attending Tiger athletic games and hiking the many trails on the Domain.
Nancy York, C’11
Territories: Colorado, Georgia (excluding Atlanta area), North Carolina, South Carolina, Homeschool Students
When Nancy received her first Sewanee admission brochure in the fall of 2006, she could almost feel the magic of the Mountain radiating off the page. It wasn’t until she arrived as a freshman, however, and met the wonderful faculty, staff, and students who call Sewanee home that she truly understood what a privilege it is to be a part of the Sewanee family. As a student, Sewanee’s rich historical past inspired her to major in history and taught her many lessons about the power of place and memory. Nancy fondly recalls the time she spent as a member of the cross country and track teams, the All Saints' Chapel Sacristans' Guild, the Sewanee Angel Team, and as Student Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor and Provost. When she’s not sharing her love for Sewanee with others, you can find Nancy and her Labrador Retriever, Izzy, at a local swimming hole or enjoying a meal with friends on the front patio of Julia’s Fine Foods.