Exceptional challenges inspire exceptional people, congratulations to our 2019 Alumna Spirit of Service Award Recipient – Carmine King Jordan '65
The National Advisory Council has selected Carmine King Jordan, class of 1965 as the recipient of the Alumna Spirit of Service Award for taking her dedication and love for her special needs son, Andy, and building something beneficial for exceptional people in her community and beyond. Carmine wanted the best for her son and encouraged the Mountain Brook, AL school system to expand and improve its special education resources. While working as the first executive director of the Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation, a position she held for nearly 20 years, she worked tirelessly to raise funds to ensure that all students, mainstream and those with special needs, would experience the same excellence in education. Carmine held herself and everyone around her to high standards and created an environment of excellence and acceptance that future generations could enjoy.
Because of her experience in education leadership and development, Carmine then helped a small group of parents develop a fundraising effort and capital campaign to build their own gym. This program, which is now the Exceptional Foundation (EF), includes a multi-faceted facility and is widely supported in Birmingham by corporate and private donors. From their humble beginnings as a place to play basketball, the EF is now a notable community center for 700 people of all ages with special needs. With a budget of almost $2 million, its mission is to enhance the lives of its participants through a variety of activities and to provide a community for the mentally challenged population and their families. The EF participants range in age from 6 to 86, and it is their home away from home where they are genuinely loved and respected. Because of its success, the EF has grown to become a national foundation and leading model with programs in Charlotte, Fairhope, Memphis, Auburn, and Atlanta. The hope and vision is that all mentally and physically challenged individuals in every community will one day have the benefits of an Exceptional Foundation. To this end, Carmine has provided mentorship, fundraising advice, and strategic connections to allow these programs in other cities to thrive.
With humility and selflessness, Carmine holds the highest ideals for excellence which she first learned while at Harpeth Hall. She lives confidently and honorably and expects the best from herself and others. It is this drive for excellence that inspired her to push the schools to have special education classes and to help develop the Exceptional Foundation into the leading institution that it is today. There are many reasons and many people who made the Exceptional Foundation the wonderful organization that it is today. Carmine Jordan is one of the most important, and it all began back in 1978 when Andy was born and Carmine decided she would stop at nothing to help make Andy's life an "exceptional" one. Her vision and leadership have been instrumental in creating and expanding this organization that is life-changing for families in need. www.exceptionalfoundation.org
Carmine will be featured in our upcoming Spring 2019 Hallways magazine which is due in homes in April. Harpeth Hall looks forward to honoring Carmine at the Alumna Spirit of Service Award assembly and reception on Friday, April 5.