As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day approach, GW Today interviewed three members of the George Washington University Board of Trustees who have made extraordinary gifts to honor the impact their parents have made in their lives.
Trustee Vice Chair Mark Chichester, B.B.A. ’90, J.D. ’93; Trustee Michelle Rubin, B.A. ‘91; and Trustee Secretary Avram “Ave” Tucker, B.B.A. ‘77, each created a named endowed scholarship at GW in honor of their parents, investing in the future just as their parents invested in theirs. Endowed scholarships create a legacy of giving that endures for generations, ensuring that the commitment to education these parents imparted to their children will continue for years to come.
Alease Chichester offered her son encouraging words and tough, motherly love at every stage of his life. George Washington University Trustee Vice Chair Mark Chichester, credits his mother for instilling in him strong values and the confidence that he could achieve anything.
His mother passed away in January, and in her honor, Chichester and his wife, Colette, established the Alease S. Chichester Scholarship to give a GW student the same chance at a high-quality education his mother worked so hard to offer him.
Alease Chichester was born in 1942 in Richmond, Virginia. After high school she enrolled in Virginia Union University, a historically Black college, but she left after two years to seek opportunity beyond her hometown. She landed in Washington, D.C., where she worked in administrative roles on Capitol Hill.
“Through her job, she observed what a door opener having an education could be,” Chichester said. “It animated her, the idea of having that sort of generational step up for my sister and me. And education was central to that.”
Chichester fondly remembers his wonderful teachers at John Burroughs Elementary School in the Brookland neighborhood of Northeast Washington, but when it was time for junior high, his mother decided to reach for more. She enrolled Chichester and his sister at Sidwell Friends, a private Quaker school in Northwest Washington famous for educating the children of U.S. presidents. His mother worked overtime to pay their tuition.
For three days before classes started, his mother took him on the long commute by bus and Metro so he could practice arriving at school on time—and have no excuses on his first day.
The transition between schools was difficult, but Alease Chichester encouraged her son to persist. “I would not have had the opportunities I've had professionally, personally, and my kids would be on a fundamentally different trajectory in their lives if it hadn’t been for my mom,” Chichester said. “She set those expectations and aspirations very early on, and education was central to it.”
Chichester was hesitant about attending college, but once again, his mother urged him to make education a priority. GW awarded him a scholarship—now called the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship—designed to attract talented D.C. high school seniors to the university in Foggy Bottom.
“I selected GW, and I think it was the perfect place for me,” Chichester remembers. “I got involved with campus leadership, politics and student government. It was the beginning of a real and profound kind of maturation process for me. My mom was very, very happy to see that. I think there was probably as much relief as there was happiness.”
Knowing she saw him realize his potential after years of hard work makes Chichester proud.
“Not everyone gets to pay their parents back for the years of sacrifice,” he said. “I’m appreciative that I had that opportunity. To see the joy and fulfillment and excitement that she felt when she saw me beginning to realize the potential she had always believed I had, it was pretty special to see.”
A long-time executive for non-profit organizations such as the Aspen Institute and the United Negro College Fund, and later an entrepreneur and co-founder of Atlas Research, a federal government services company that was acquired in 2021, he can’t think of a better way to honor his mother than by giving someone else a chance at a college education. The Alease S. Chichester Scholarship supports GW undergraduate students who have financial need. As an endowed fund, the Chichesters’ memorial to Trustee Chichester’s mother will exist in perpetuity. The gifts to establish the fund were doubled by The Third Century Scholarship Endowment Match, GW’s historic commitment to increase endowed scholarships for undergraduates.
Fifteen years ago, after launching her children in the world, Alease Chichester, in her 60s, went back to college and finished her degree.
“We went from needing someone else’s help to being able to pay for school and now we can provide that help to someone else - that’s pretty powerful,” Chichester said. “To do something in my mom’s name and make it possible for someone else to have an opportunity is special. I know she’s smiling down now and very happy.”
"We went from needing someone else’s help to being able to pay for school and now we can provide that help to someone else - that’s pretty powerful."
B.B.A. '90, J.D. '93, Trustee Vice Chair
GW Trustee Michelle Rubin feels as if she won the family lottery because she was raised by the most loving and supportive parents any child could want. She admires her parents for demonstrating the importance of hard work, determination and generosity.
In 2022, she established The Mark and Pam Rubin Scholarship in memory of her late father, Mark Rubin, and in honor of her mother, Pam Rubin. Michelle Rubin’s gift to create the endowed fund was matched by GW, and now the scholarship supports GW undergraduate students who have financial need.
Growing up, Michelle Rubin watched her father’s resilient, determined spirit, and she carries it with her today.
Mark Rubin was born in 1937 in the former Czechoslovakia. A few years later, the country was invaded by Nazi SS soldiers, and in 1942 his family was forced into hiding. In 1944, soldiers discovered their hiding place and took his family to the Terezin concentration camp. On May 9, 1945, the camp was liberated, and at 11 years old Mark Rubin arrived in the United States.
“The trauma he went through,” Michelle Rubin remembered. “He had to learn the language. He had to learn a new culture. He had to learn everything. But he survived and thrived. It wasn’t easy, but he made a new life in the States.”
Michelle’s mother, Pam Rubin met Mark through a mutual friend and in August of 1962 they married.
“They were a very young couple who started with no money, but with a lot of love for one another,” Michelle Rubin said. “They were young, they were resilient, and they were a partnership in every sense of the word.”
With hard work and a strong partnership, her parents built a successful business in Los Angeles while raising three children. And now Michelle Rubin serves as president of the business, Regional Properties, Inc., a Beverly Hills-based real estate development company.
“You look back now and it’s like, wow, he did this all on his own. No one handed it to him. He just had a determined spirit, that’s the best way I can describe it,” Michelle Rubin said.
Even though her parents didn’t earn college degrees, they insisted their children would.
“They both knew that education changes your life and takes you to different places,” Rubin said. “It wasn’t a choice for us. It wasn’t if we were going to college, but where we were going.”
When her mother sent her off to college, she told her, “You’ll learn more from the things that make you cry than the things that make you laugh. And you’ll learn more from the experience than from a book in a classroom.”
And her mother was right. At GW, Michelle Rubin met people from all walks of life, learned how to solve problems, and navigate a new city independently.
“There’s great discussion about the value of higher education, and I would argue in some instances it’s priceless because there are so many lessons you get outside a book or a lecture,” Michelle Rubin said. “And those experiences stay with you forever.”
All the Rubin children and one grandchild attended George Washington University. Because her parents so generously paid for their education, Michelle can’t think of a better way to honor them than by giving someone else that opportunity.
“There are so many kids who want an education but cannot afford it,” Michelle observed. “I was given the gift of education so I would like someone else to have the gift of education that I got.”
"I was given the gift of education so I would like someone else to have the gift of education that I got."
B.A. '91, Trustee
Avram “Ave” Tucker
The George Washington University has long been special to GW Trustee Secretary Avram "Ave" Tucker and his family. It’s where his late father, Simon Tucker, J.D. ‘53, L.L.M. ‘55, had a chance at a new career after his service in World War II.
Simon Tucker grew up in the Lower East Side of New York City. He was a gifted student and graduated from high school by age 14 and City College of New York at 18, then enlisted in the Navy.
Chosen for the Naval Foreign Language School, a program that enlisted top naval officers to learn Japanese, Simon Tucker graduated as the valedictorian. During World War II, he worked as one of a select group of bilingual English-Japanese interpreters.
After his military service, Simon Tucker married his high school sweetheart, Shirley Feuerman, and moved to Washington, D.C.
While working at the State Department, Simon Tucker took night classes at GW Law—a demanding schedule that later made a strong impression on his son, Ave Tucker.
“My father grew up poor, and he believed education was the way to get ahead,” he said.
After graduating from law school, Simon Tucker had a successful three-decade career as a lawyer for the State Department.
Ave’s parents Simon and Shirley often talked about the importance of hard work and education with their son, and years later Ave Tucker followed in Simon’s footsteps to GW. Playing on the GW Baseball team consumed a lot of Ave Tucker’s time, and his father was supportive because he also maintained excellent grades.
For Ave Tucker, now a renowned forensic accountant, attending the GW School of Business was one of the best decisions for his career because it taught him to be a creative problem solver.
“The school of business was very oriented toward thinking about issues and how to resolve them. And that was helpful in my career,” he said.
Since GW played such a special role in his father’s life, Ave Tucker created a scholarship in 2018: the Simon Tucker, J.D. ‘53, L.L.M. ‘55, Annual Law Scholarship. Through this scholarship, Ave Tucker supported several stellar GW Law J.D. students, including an executive editor of the Business and Finance Law Review and editor of The Guide to International Legal Research, as well as students who were recognized for their pro bono and professional development work. With concentrations including in business and finance law and environmental law, these now young alumni are putting their legal education in action as associates in award-winning law firms where they focus on financial services, regulatory enforcement, construction and design law, and professional liability. In 2022, Ave Tucker made a gift to create the Simon Tucker Endowed Law Scholarship to honor his father’s legacy in perpetuity.
“One of the things I believe about GW is it gives opportunities to people,” Ave Tucker said. “My father's ability to work and then go to law school at night is evidence of that.” Ave Tucker also noted that GW allowed his mother-in-law Thursley Bostick to attend GW and get an economics degree in 1946, rare for a woman at that time.
Ave Tucker hopes this endowed scholarship will allow the best students to attend GW Law regardless of their financial circumstances, so it can maintain its stature as one of the top law schools in the nation. He knows it’s what his father would want.
“My father and mother thought that education was important. They also believed it was important to give opportunities to others who wouldn’t otherwise have them,” Ave Tucker affirmed.
"One of the things I believe about GW is it gives opportunities to people."
Avram "Ave" Tucker
B.B.A. ‘77, Trustee Secretary
The Third Century Scholarship Endowment Match helps you create an endowed fund that unlocks access to an undergraduate GW education for future generations in perpetuity. Learn more about how you can open doors for GW students. Contact the Office of the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at 202-994-1058 or [email protected].