PSU’s Meritorious Achievement Award recipients for 2014 have distinguished themselves in education, business and military service.

“Pittsburg State University’s more than 56,000 alumni are doing some incredible things across the U.S. and around the world,” said Jon Bartlow, director of alumni and constituent relations. “These three individuals represent many others who each day distinguish themselves in their places of work and their communities.”

The Meritorious Achievement Award recipients (pictured at right) for 2014 are, William J. “Jody” Billiard, vice president, chief accounting officer and corporate controller of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated; Brigadier Gen. Peter A. Gallagher, deputy commanding general of Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM); and Cynthia Lane, superintendent of the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools.

While on campus, the honorees spoke to classes, met campus and community leaders and participated in a public panel discussion.

Brigadier Gen. Peter A. Gallagher, Cynthia Lane and William J. “Jody” Billiard.

Brigadier Gen. Peter A. Gallagher, Cynthia Lane and William J. “Jody” Billiard.

William J. “Jody” Billiard

Jody Billiard currently serves as vice president, chief accounting officer and corporate controller of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (Coke Consolidated), a position to which he was appointed in 2006. Billiard received an accounting degree from Pittsburg State University, graduating Summa Cum Laude; completed a Rotary Graduate Fellowship at the University of Tasmania (Australia); and has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1988.

Before joining Coke Consolidated, Billiard’s business experience included service as senior vice president, corporate controller and interim chief financial officer of Matthews, N.C.-based Portrait Corporation of America, Inc., (2001-2006); vice president and chief financial officer of Tailored Management, a long-term staffing company headquartered in Huntersville, N.C., (2000-2001); a number of senior financial positions including senior vice president of finance and treasurer of TRX, Inc., and controller of the 1996 Olympic Games Travel Network with WorldTravel BTI (now BCD Travel) companies in Atlanta, Ga. (1995-2000); and controller of Rapha, a nationwide Christian-based mental health care provider. He also was an accountant with Deloitte, serving most recently as a senior auditor.

Billiard serves as chairman of the board of trustees of Covenant Day School in Matthews, N.C., a private Christian school with an enrollment of more than 840 students, including his children, in grades transitional kindergarten through 12. He also serves as Treasurer of Windyrush Country Club, a swim and tennis club in South Charlotte. Additionally, he serves on the board of directors for the Charlotte Merchants Foundation, a philanthropic organization committed to making an ongoing, significant contribution to the development and education of children in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County area, and on the board of managers of the Harris YMCA where he serves on the finance committee as vice chairman. Billiard served on the board of directors of the PSU National Alumni Association for eight years, including a term as president of the board in 2006-2007. He has been a guest lecturer in PSU’s Kelce College of Business and was honored in 2001 with PSU’s Outstanding Alumni Award.

Billiard is a member of numerous professional and civic organizations including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, the Good Fellows Club (a philanthropic organization) and the Charlotte Basketball Committee. In addition, he periodically speaks at continuing education conferences and events around the world.

His wife, Jennifer, and he have been married for 20 years, reside in Matthews, and have four children, Hannah (17), Sarah (14), David (12) and Benjamin (9).


Brigadier General Peter A. Gallagher

Brigadier General Peter A. Gallagher assumed his current position as the deputy commanding general of Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) in July 2012. He served as the NETCOM acting commanding general from August 2012 through April 2014.

Gallagher was commissioned as a distinguished military graduate from the ROTC program at Pittsburg State University, where he received a BSEd in mathematics and physical education in 1986. His military schooling includes: the Signal Officer Basic and Advanced Courses; Combined Arms and Services Staff School; Command and General Staff College; Air Force Institute of Technology Teleprocessing Operations Course; Airborne School; Jumpmaster School; Military Freefall School; the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School; and the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta Combat Skills Course. He is a graduate from the National War College, with a master’s degree in national security strategy.

Gallagher’s first assignment was in the 3rd Infantry Division, Wurzburg, Germany, from 1987-1990, serving as the division telecommunications officer and later platoon leader and executive officer. Over his career he has commanded soldiers at the platoon, company, troop, battalion, squadron, and brigade levels. From 2000-2006, he commanded soldiers deployed in various combat zones. He commanded the Defense Information Systems Agency Central Field Command from 2007-2009. In 2009, he served as the deputy director of the Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell in the Pentagon. A year later, he deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, as the international security and assistance force director, CJ-6. He returned to the Pentagon as the executive officer for the chief information officer/G-6 of the Army from 2011-2012.

Gallagher’s awards and decorations include two Defense Superior Service Medals, two Legions of Merit, three Bronze Star Medals, three Defense Meritorious Service Medals, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, two Army Achievement Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the NATO ISAF Medal, three Joint Meritorious Unit Awards, two Valorous Unit Awards and two Meritorious Unit Citation with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster.

Gallagher and his wife, Donna, (BSEd, PSU, ’86) have been married for more than 29 years and have two sons. Matthew, 26, is a former sergeant with 10th Mountain Division and currently a senior cadet at PSU who will be commissioned in May. Jacob is a sergeant in the Army, currently serving in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.


Cynthia Lane

In 2010, Cynthia Lane was named superintendent of the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools, where she oversees a highly diverse urban school district with 21,000 students and 3,700 staff.

Lane earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Pittsburg State University in 1982, a master’s degree in behavior disorders from PSU in 1987 and a doctorate in education from the University of Kansas, majoring in special education administration, in 1999.

Lane has more than 30 years of professional experience in education, including 26 years in Kansas City, Kan. She began her educational career as a special education teacher for the Tri-County Special Education Cooperative in 1982. She later taught for the Wyandotte Special Education Cooperative, and served as coordinator and qualified mental retardation professional at Parsons State Hospital. She has also been a principal, coordinator of special education services, director of special education for the Spring Hill School District, and director of the Wyandotte Comprehensive Special Education Cooperative. Before being named superintendent in Kansas City, Kansas, she served as assistant superintendent for instruction and business.

Since becoming superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, the school district and community received national designation as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People from the America’s Promise Alliance. Lane has also received numerous awards and recognitions, including being named “Honored Administrator” by the Kansas Music Education Association in 2013; receiving the “Leadership for Learning” Award from the University of Kansas in 2013; being recognized with the Whitney M. Young J.R. Service Award by the Boy Scouts of America in 2012; and receiving the “Superintendent of Promise” recognition in 2011 by the Kansas School Superintendent’s Association.

Lane grew up in Parsons, Kansas, where she says her parents, James and Rose Lane, instilled in her the importance of hard work. She also was shaped by the positive and loving influences of her grandmother and aunt, Thelma.

Lane said her time as a volunteer at the Parson’s State Hospital gave her a sense of self-worth and taught her about the importance of helping others. It also set the stage for her later years in the field of special education. Reflecting on her experience as a student at Pittsburg State University, Lane remarked that the education received at PSU inspired her to reach beyond perceived limits, and to approach her career as a servant leader.