Three Cheltenham grads seeing professional success: Lois (Perch) Villemaire (1966), Andy Toy (1976), and Dr. Kevonne Small (1986)

Local historian Chuck Langerman has highlighted the current professional statuses of three Cheltenham High School alumni.

Lois (Perch) Villemaire (above left)

Villemaire, Class of 1966, recently published her first book titled “My Eight Greats—A family History in Poetry & Prose.”

After graduating from Cheltenham High, Villemaire matriculated at Temple University and majored in Social Welfare. Her first job was with the Anne Arundel County Library System as a young adult librarian.

After taking a few years off with her daughters, she found a rewarding career in land use with another county agency—the A.A. Office of Planning and Zoning—for 27 years. Villemaire was then hired as the project manager for the zoning code rewrite by the Montgomery County (MD) Planning Department.

In retirement, she exchanged technical writing for creative writing and found inspiration in poetry and memoirs. An avid Ancestry member, her family history research merged with writing and the idea for “My Eight Greats” was conceived. The book is a hybrid collection of poetry and prose with anecdotes from her own childhood growing up on Heather Road, then Melrose Avenue, and attending Lynnewood Elementary School, Ogontz Junior High and Cheltenham High in the 1950s and 1960s.

Andy Toy (above middle)

Toy, Class of 1976, has been chosen by Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker to serve on the nominating panel for the recently announced Philadelphia Board of Education.

Toy has been involved in a variety of organizations dedicated to public policy in Philadelphia, including serving as a commissioner on both the Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and the Philadelphia Zoning Commission.

Toy currently works as policy director at the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations. Prior to serving on the Education Nominating Panel, he co-founded the Philadelphia Public Giving Circle — a fund dedicated to providing grants in support of the city’s public schools — and served on the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, a nonprofit news service on Philadelphia education.

For Toy, serving on the Education Nominating Panel was particularly important because of his many personal ties to Philadelphia public schools.  

“It was an honor to be chosen as someone that’s been involved in education over some years,” Toy said. “I’m a public-school graduate, my children both went to public schools in Philadelphia, and my mom was a public-school teacher in Philadelphia for 35 plus years.”  

Toy attended the University of Pennsylvania for both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, earning a B.A. in Economics and a M.A. in Public and Urban Policy.

Dr. Kevonne Small (above right)

Dr. Small, Class of 1986, is currently the Director of the Office for Civil Rights in the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., ensuring that entities receiving funds from the Department of Justice comply with federal civil rights laws.

She was previously a trial attorney/advisor in the Division’s Criminal Section prosecuting alleged offenses involving law enforcement, hate crimes, and human trafficking. Before Joining the DOJ, she worked at the Urban Institute and IFC International managing social science studies and served as a criminal justice professor at California State University, San Bernardino.

Over the years, Dr. Small has received several Distinguished Service Awards for her work in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in addition to a Special Commendation Award for helping limited English Proficient individuals have meaningful access to state court proceedings and operations.

She has also authored numerous reports and journal articles and presented study findings at national conferences.

Dr. Small obtained her law degree from Villanova University and her Ph.D. in Justice, Law & Society from American University. At Cheltenham High, Kevonne played the clarinet in the band.

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