Virginia Western presents 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award to Tony Pearman

Virginia Western Community College > News from Virginia Western > Announcements > Virginia Western presents 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award to Tony Pearman

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation recognizes Tony Pearman (’10), President and CEO of Access Advertising and Public Relations, with its 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award.  Pearman first attended Virginia Western in 1998, later returning for additional coursework in 2008 and 2010. 

Virginia Western’s Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2006 by the Virginia Western Alumni Association and recognizes Virginia Western Community College alumni and former students who have attained extraordinary distinction in their professional field or life. The award serves to honor all the men and women whose attendance at Virginia Western helped them achieve their educational and professional goals, allowing them to better serve their communities.

Pearman and colleague Todd Marcum formed Access Advertising & Public Relations in 1996. Since its founding, the agency has grown to serve clients throughout the Eastern United States and around the globe, and boasts more than 450 design and public relations awards for excellence. Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., with an office in Richmond, Access specializes in regional and national industry relationships that include focused work in healthcare, higher education and business-to-business. Among its clients are HCA Virginia, Virginia Tech, Marshall University, TMEIC, Optical Cable Corp., American General Life & Accident Insurance Co. and Medeco High Security Locks.

Access has been recognized with national Healthcare Advertising Awards, Cannonballs from The Richmond Show, Telly Awards, hundreds of local, regional and national ADDY Awards, CASE awards for work in higher education and Summit Awards from the Public Relations Society of America.

As a leading industry advocate for creative idea generation and impact, Pearman has served as chair of the National ADDY Committee, is a member of the national AAF Board of Directors, and is the recipient of the AAF Silver Medal for lifetime contributions to the advertising industry. Pearman has received both the Advertising Person of the Year award and the American Advertising Federation Silver Medal.

“Tony’s story illustrates the best outcomes of community college opportunity. His accomplishments and service have impacted so many lives – and his dedication to the success of our students is tremendous. We are honored and proud to recognize him as a Distinguished Alumni,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, president of Virginia Western Community College.

Through philanthropic and pro bono work that supports the community it serves, Access has been recognized for its impact in child abuse prevention, with the Roanoke City Police Department, the YCMA of Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and others. In 2006, Access became the first advertising and PR firm to be recognized with a Perry F. Kendig Award for its support of the arts.

“Virginia Western has been a trusted source of learning for myself, and for many members of my firm, for more than 20 years by not only providing ongoing continuing education but also producing some of Access’ and this region’s most talented marketers,” said Pearman. “As one of our strongest client relationships, Access has been proud to give back to Virginia Western by working to support the vital resources they provide for our community.”

Pearman continues to support Virginia Western student success and achievement through the Pearman Annual Scholarship, which provides assistance for tuition, books and other related expenses to second-year students enrolled in the College’s Visual Design Program on a full- or part-time basis.  Heavy emphasis in the award process is placed on the merit of the student’s portfolio, which receives evaluation by Virginia Western faculty.  Pearman has also dedicated focus and energy to higher education as an advertising and design adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech.

For more information on the Virginia Western Alumni Association, see or contact Philanthropy Director Amanda Mansfield at or (540) 857-6962.

Prior Distinguished Alumni honorees: 

2019 – Deborah L. Petrine (’76)

2018 – Elizabeth Testerman (’06)

2017 – Dr. Carol Swain (’78)

2016 – Dr. Mary Loritsch (’74) and Chief Michael Crawley

2015 – Debbie Yancey (’97)

2014 – Chief Craig S. Harris (’00) and J. David Wine (’73)

2013 – Cheryl Cunningham (’86)

2012 – Anne Hogan (’76)

2011 – Carolyn Webster (’81)

2010 – Russell H. Ellis (’80)

2009 – Shirl D. Lamanca (’75) and Dennis R. Cronk (’72)

2008 – Donna L. Mitchell (’81)

2007 – Dr. Kent A. Murphy and Charlotte C. Tyson (’84)

2006 – John B. Williamson III (’75)

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