John J. Scherer, the founder of The Scherer Leadership Center and author of several best-selling books, including Five Questions That Change Everything, will be the keynote speaker at Roanoke College’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 1 at 10 a.m. on the John R. Turbyfill Quadrangle. (In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to the Salem Civic Center.) Scherer will be recognized with an honorary degree at the ceremony along with Douglas W. Ayres of Sedona, Ariz. and T.D. Steele of Moneta.
Three Virginia students earned top academic honors. Stephen Charles Soltis, of Vinton, is the valedictorian. Lauren Jean Price, of Farmville, and Derek Paul Spangler, of Roanoke, are salutatorians.
A native of Richmond, Virginia, Scherer was named one of America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders for 2008 by Personal Excellence magazine. His firm specializes in executive and leadership development, conflict resolution and personal and organizational transformation. Scherer graduated from the U.S. Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island and served as a combat officer aboard the USS Eaton (DD-150), receiving commendations for his work in anti-submarine warfare air control and intelligence. After his Navy discharge, Scherer earned his Master of Divinity at Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1970. During his intern year at seminary, he conducted one of the nation’s first street ministries in Norfolk.
Ayres is a former town clerk for Salem and served as city manager in Melbourne, Fla.; Salem, Ore.; and Inglewood, Calif. He has worked with the Public Administration Service, an international governmental consulting organization. In this position, he was the only person to assist in drawing up the constitutions for both Alaska and Hawaii upon their transitions into statehood. Ayres served as consultant to numerous governments, including the government of Venezuela. He advised on and wrote major portions of nine city charters, including Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Richland, Washington; and several cities in Venezuela.
Steele is credited with shaping the face of the Roanoke Valley through his pioneering development work in retail and real estate. He built Crossroads and Tanglewood malls. He has also enjoyed an accomplished and varied career in Virginia and Kansas as a cattle rancher and breeder and as a horse breeder. Always one to better his community, he has served Roanoke College and other agencies in the Roanoke Valley as a leader and volunteer.