Johnston Memorial golf tournament raises $26,500 for MHA students in honor of beloved professor

By Sean Gorman

VCU Master of Health Administration students knew Ann Johnston, Ed.D., MHA, as a beloved professor who mentored them along the path of launching and growing their careers.

After Johnston passed away in June 2022 following an illness, students searched for a way to continue honoring her legacy.

“It was important for us to have a way to remember her beyond a traditional class gift and create something that continues to grow with each class,” said Rebecca Jacobs, the MHA ’23 class vice president.

Johnston Taubel Family at Johnston Memorial golf tournamentStudents found that lasting tribute in the form of a golf tournament in Johnston’s memory that was held on April 21. The event used a sport the leader loved playing to raise money for a cause she cared deeply about: supporting the professional development of MHA students.

Students and alumni of the MHA program along with donors, sponsors, and volunteers gathered that day at Brickshire Golf Club at Providence Forge, Va. outside Richmond for the inaugural Johnston Memorial VCU MHA Golf Classic. Many members of Johnston’s family were there to share the day with attendees, including Becca Taubel, Johnston’s daughter, who gave a keynote address.

About 70 golfers took to the greens for the 18-hole event. Ed Lovern, MHA ’92, president and CEO of Baltimore’s Ascension Saint Agnes health system, won the tournament along with teammates Jeremy Greenfield (MSHA ’14), Wes Campbell (MHA ’98) and Jack Fyock.

The tournament was among a series of events held during April’s alumni reunion weekend that included a Stephen S. Mick Lecture given by former MHA program director Dr. Ken White, PhD, AGACNP, ACHPN, FACHE, FAAN.

“It exceeded all our expectations,” Jacobs, a member of the student-led Golf Committee, said of the tournament. “It was an incredible day.”

Check presented at the Johnston Memorial golf tournament

The tournament raised about $26,500 from sponsors and donations. A contribution from presenting sponsor Roberta A. Tinch (MHA ’09), the president of Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, was particularly helpful, Jacobs said.

“We ran into her at an alumni event and told her about the cause,” Jacobs said. “She offered her donation right on the spot.”

Jacobs Tinch Charlton at Johnston Memorial golf tournamentThat fundraising figure far exceeded organizers’ most optimistic projections, and donations can still be made on the tournament website. After covering expenses, remaining funds will go to VCU’s MHA Professional Development Fund to support career growth activities for students. The donations are also expected to help cover future tournament costs.


“I’m hopeful there will be students who remember Dr. Johnston, not just like we do from class, but also from this golf event,” said Eric Charlton, president of the MHA ’23 class who helped organize the tournament.

Johnston, who earned her MHA from VCU in 1990, was one of the first women to attend the University of Virginia shortly after that institution opened to co-education in 1970. She spent more than two decades in healthcare leadership roles and led the VCU Executive MBA program’s health care management concentration during her tenure here.

Both Jacobs and Charlton recalled how approachable Johnston was. Charlton noted how Johnston struck up a conversation with him on the first day of class.

“She really wanted to get to know her students. It wasn't just the job to her,” Charlton said. “It was getting to know somebody personally. It was understanding their interests, their likes, and hobbies.”

Given the tournament’s success, it will return in 2024 to continue honoring Johnston’s memory.

“We are already planning for next year,” Jacobs said.

Paula Song with Students at Johnston Memorial golf tournament

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