sealPurdue News

May 4, 2001

Consumer and Family Sciences names distinguished alumni

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University's School of Consumer and Family Sciences recently honored five alumni for significant career advancement, long-term leadership within their chosen fields and noteworthy professional accomplishments.

The 2001 Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to Sharon A. Burns of Columbus, Ohio; Tami Somoya Heim of Ann Arbor, Mich.; Susan Thurston Kern of Bloomington, Ill.; Esther McAfee Maddux of Athens, Ga.; and Mary Ellen McMahon Zabik of Williamston, Mich.

Sharon Burns

Sharon Burns earned a bachelor of science in consumer sciences and retailing from Purdue in 1981 and a doctorate in 1988. She began her career as an extension specialist and lecturer and also worked as a self-employed certified public accountant and financial advisor, specializing in helping women secure fair alimony settlements when their marriages ended. She is currently the president and owner of Boiler Development in Columbus, Ohio. Her firm has developed eight copyrighted software products that assist individuals with financial planning.

Tami Heim

Tami Heim, president of Borders Books and Music Stores and, earned a bachelor of science in consumer science and retailing from Purdue in 1980. She began her retail career with Federated Department Stores, the parent company of Lazarus, Macy's and Bloomingdale's. At age 24, she became the youngest individual in company history to be promoted to divisional group manager. She joined Borders in 1996 as territorial vice president responsible for store operations in the western half of the United States. She was promoted to senior vice president in 1999 and was named company president in January 2000.

Susan Thurston Kern

Susan Thurston Kern, vice president for university advancement at Illinois State University, earned a Purdue master's degree in home economics in 1972 and a doctorate in 1974. She's held an academic appointment as an associate professor of home economics at Illinois State since 1978 and also has served as director of community relations and director of governmental relations. She was promoted to her current position in 1998 and oversees development activities, alumni services, media relations, university communications, events management and community relations.

Esther McAfee Maddux

Esther McAfee Maddux earned a doctorate in consumer sciences and retailing from Purdue in 1979 and began her career as an extension management specialist and assistant professor at the University of Georgia the following year. During her tenure at Georgia she developed, implemented and evaluated financial management programs to help youth and adults become self-reliant. She developed home-study courses for families with young children and another for new investors, both of which were adopted for statewide use by extension services at the University of Florida, Purdue and Ohio State University. Maddux retired from the University of Georgia in 2000 and now is working as a retirement planning specialist for the Variable Annuity Life Insurance Co. in Athens, Ga.

Mary Ellen McMahon Zabik

Mary Ellen McMahon Zabik earned a bachelor of science in foods and nutrition from Purdue in 1959. After completing her advanced degrees she began a 30-year career as a Michigan State University faculty member and was associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Human Ecology when she retired in 2000. A distinguished professor at Michigan State, her research provided a better understanding of the influence of food processing and preparation on contaminants that enter foods.


Source: Amy Liter, assistant director of development and alumni relations, (765) 494-7890;

Writer: Sharon A. Bowker, (765) 494-9723;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page