Kennesaw State official and alum receive Spark Awards

  At left, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isaksaon presents Maria Britt a Distinguished Service Medal. At…

Georgia (Sep 15, 2015) —  

At left, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isaksaon presents Maria Britt a Distinguished Service Medal. At right, Haley Kilpatrick, ('07), founder of Girl Talk.

Maria Britt and Haley Kilpatrick among six women honored for igniting change

KENNESAW, Ga. (Sept. 15, 2015)— Kennesaw State will be well represented when Ignite the Next International presents the Spark Awards this week during its first Women Igniting Change conference Sept. 17-19 at the W Hotel in Atlanta.

Among the six recipients of this year’s award are Maria Britt, Kennesaw State’s associate vice president of operations, and Haley Kilpatrick, who graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in communication.

The SPARK Award honors women who have ignited change for the betterment of themselves and the world around them, according to the sponsor’s website. During the conference, Britt, Kilpatrick and other honorees will share “the incredible results that can come from digging deep, doing it scared, and having the courage to take a stand for what you believe in.”

Britt, who joined Kennesaw State in 2012, directly oversees several University functions, including finance services, project management, auxiliary services, operations at the Marietta Campus and environmental health and safety. She supports the vice president for operations in the areas of human resources, facilities and construction, information technology, public safety, emergency management, and museums and library services. She also serves as chairperson for the University Safety Council and the Public Health Advisory Council.

A retired U.S. Army major general, Britt served as the first female commanding general of Georgia’s 11,000 Army National Guard soldiers during her 28-year career, for which she received a Distinguished Service Medal in 2014. She participates as a member of the Kennesaw State Presidential Commission on Veteran Affairs, working closely with the University’s Veteran’s Resource Center and the Veteran Recruitment Advisory Committee.

As an advocate for veterans’ and women’s issues, Britt serves in several roles. Among them are president of Women in Defense-Georgia Chapter; chair for Cobb County’s Citizen Corps Advisory Council; advisory boards for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s West Point Nomination Committee, the Shepherd Center, Kennesaw State’s Women’s Leadership Center, Warrior2Citizen, Women Veteran Social Justice, and Georgians Advancing Veterans Education (GAVE). 

Kilpatrick is an author, speaker, and founder and executive director of Girl Talk, a national nonprofit organization she started at age 15. In 2004, she was featured in Kennesaw State’s first institutional advertising campaign designed to build awareness about the high caliber of students attending the University. While a junior, she enlisted the University community’s support to help her compete in Charming Shoppe’s “2006 Voices: One Voice Can Lead to a Chorus for Change” campaign. She was among the five finalists who appeared on The Montel Williams Show, which awarded her $20,000 to help build the Girl Talk organization. Following Kilpatrick’s fundamental belief that the basis for relationships among young girls can and should be kindness, respect, and compassion, the mentoring organization has reached 40,000 girls in 34 states and seven countries.

Kilpatrick has been named one of Glamour Magazine’s “20 Young Women Changing the World Now,” the Huffington Post’s “Greatest Woman of the Day,” and People Magazine’s “All-Star Among Us,” among many other honors. She has been featured on NBC’s Today Show and Nightly News, and on the CNN, HLN and TBS networks.

Conference sponsors say the “Women Igniting Change” movement plans to donate $1 million by the end of 2025 to ignite the power of women and girls around the world.

Find more information at

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— Sabbaye McGriff

Women Igniting Change Spark Award


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit