Alumni Spotlight: Sally Mott Freeman '72

When Sally Mott Freeman ‘72 arrived at St. Anne’s School at the age of 13, she considered herself a fun-loving though struggling student.

“My transformation from a fun-loving, troublemaking, demerit accumulator to a decent, then strong, student took every minute of those four years,” she remembered. “Rules, study schedules, and other rigors of boarding and school life helped immensely; I learned that how one plans and uses their time can make or break academic success. This of course is also true in professional life, and the personal discipline that I internalized over that formative period had a big impact on my career and general productivity.”

After earning a degree in English literature from Sweet Briar College, just like her mentor at St. Anne’s Ms. Elizabeth Norfleet, Mott Freeman worked for 30 years as a speechwriter, PR executive, and non-profit leader before launching research for her bestselling book, The Jersey Brothers.

A Smithsonian top history book of 2017 and an Amazon Best Book of 2017 in both the History and Memoir categories, The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home is a war and family saga from Mott Freeman’s own family. When her Uncle Barton was listed as missing at the close of World War II, a satisfactory answer as to what happened to him was never given to the family. For more than a decade Mott Freeman scoured archives around the world, interviewed her uncles’ fellow shipmates and POWs, and tracked down primary sources including diaries, unpublished memoirs, and letters. The result is a work that the New York Times called “highly dramatic history” and the Richmond Times-Dispatch described as “a winning and moving success.”

In 2017, Mott Freeman was awarded the St. Anne’s-Belfield School Distinguished Alumna Award which brought her back to the campus that holds so many memories including acting in various theatre productions, performing with the Glee Club, enjoying the annual Lessons & Carols service and the occasional Ski Day, and daily Chapel.

Today, Mott Freeman is Board Chair Emerita of The Writer’s Center, the premier independent literary center in the Mid-Atlantic. She has also served on the boards of Washington Shakespeare Company, American Diabetes Association, The Washington Tennis Foundation, Saving Sweet Briar, Inc., and the St. Anne’s-Belfield School and Sweet Briar College Alumnae boards. She is also a member of the Monticello Cabinet.


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