Alumnae News & Highlights

“I have always been an outdoor girl and loved living in the country,” says Alison “Sunny” Jones. Growing up in Kirtland, she says, “we had the Holden Arboretum in our back yard, so to speak, and I could wander the woods with family and friends.” Sunny’s love of nature lasted from her childhood through her academic studies at Smith College, where she studied botany, and through a lifetime of tending to plants, from vegetable gardens to raspberry bushes to fruit trees and her annual dahlias. From an early age, she also developed a “love of ponies and horses,” she says—something that has shaped her life. 

Sunny attended Hathaway Brown from first through ninth grade, but living in Kirtland made for a long commute, so she completed high school as a boarder at Madeira School in Virginia, where she also took advantage of the school’s “strong riding program.” Later, at Smith College, “I tried to drop the horse activity and focus on other sports and academics,” says Sunny, “but it didn’t work. I found the stables and signed up for riding.” 

In 1957, she founded a girls’ equestrian camp called Chincapin near her childhood home in Kirtland. “I bought and borrowed about six suitable ponies and horses, recruited some of my HB friends to help with the program and we were off and running,” says Sunny. “The camp grew every year” and it is still going strong today in partnership with Red Oak and Red Barn camps for boys. 

For several years, Sunny ran a summer camp for young children at her home; she called it Tannerwood Farms Wee Welsh. For many more years, she taught after-school and weekend riding lessons. Sunny began volunteering in the 1990s at the Chagrin Valley Therapeutic Riding Center (now Fieldstone Farm), where she helped start a carriage-driving program. “It’s a wonderful program for people who have disabilities,” says Sunny. “It gives them a lot of excitement and satisfaction, and sometimes even helps develop speech.” 

Over the years, Sunny has volunteered at the Holden Arboretum and served on Lake Erie College’s (LEC) Board of Trustees as well; she was also a member of LEC’s Equestrian Advisory Board, helping develop its Equestrian Studies program. Though she’s no longer actively volunteering, Sunny says she makes time each day to visit the barn at Tannerwood Farms, “and ride or drive a pony or two.” 

Her biggest takeaways from her time at HB are “lifelong friendships,” says Sunny. She also cites her role as wife, mother to three, and grandmother to six as accomplishments of which she’s proud. Looking back on her equestrian career, she says, “It’s been a good ride, not without hurdles, fences and gates, but we learn from all these experiences and ride on.” Ultimately, she advises young women today not to lose sight of what drives them. “If you have a passion, don’t push it under the rug. Keep it alive and well. Find time for it. You will be happier and more productive.” 

  • Distinguished Alumnae Award