UGA Alumni Association announces sixth annual Bulldog 100 list

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has released the 2015 Bulldog 100. This annual program recognizes the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. More than 450 nominations were submitted for the 2015 list.

The 2015 Bulldog 100 includes businesses of all sizes and from industries such as landscape design, marketing and orthodontics. Several areas of the country are represented, including companies from as far north as Chicago and as far west as Texas. Of the 100 businesses, 88 are located within the state of Georgia. The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors verified the information submitted by each company and ranked the businesses based on a compounded annual growth rate during a three-year period.

The public, including UGA alumni and friends, is invited to celebrate the Bulldog 100 honorees at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis on Feb. 7. The evening will begin with a reception, followed by dinner and the awards ceremony.

The awards ceremony will feature a keynote address by Hala Moddelmog, the first female president and CEO of the Atlanta Metro Chamber. Moddelmog graduated from UGA in 1981 with a Master of Arts from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Prior to joining the Atlanta Metro Chamber, Moddelmog was president of Arby’s Restaurant Group, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Church’s Chicken.

Following her remarks, members of the Student Alumni Council will lead the highlight of the evening-the release of the final rankings and countdown of the 2015 Bulldog 100.

“Each year, the caliber of the Bulldog 100 businesses illustrates the important role that UGA graduates play in their communities’ economic growth,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, UGA’s executive director of alumni relations. “On campus, important work is being done to prepare students to become leading entrepreneurs. During the annual Bulldog 100 Celebration, I am proud to see the results of that rigorous academic environment.”

To review the alphabetical list of honorees and to learn more about the Bulldog 100, including sponsorship opportunities, see

2014 International Education Week

This week, the UGA Alumni Association joined the campus community in celebrating International Education Week.

“International Education Week gives us the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the role of international education in providing a well-rounded education and equipping students with the competencies for living and working in an intercultural environment,” said Kavita Pandit, associate provost for international education.

Not only does UGA encourage students to travel and study abroad, the university also welcomes international students to call UGA home. Interacting with students from other countries – working on class projects, living in the same dorm, sharing a meal in the dining hall – creates a greater cultural and global awareness and helps prepare students for whatever life holds.

The UGA Alumni Association believes in the transformative power of international educational opportunities and is proud to support various study abroad scholarships across campus. Since 2006, it has have provided more than $50,000 in study abroad scholarships. Such funding has allowed students to study abroad in a varity of places, including Cortona, Costa Rica and Oxford.

Joey Sharp ’15 was recently profiled as a UGA Amazing Student, where he shared the lasting impact of his study abroad experience.

The summer after my sophomore year I received funding from the Honors International Scholarship Program and spent 12 weeks in Cape Town, South Africa, volunteering in a township clinic and conducting research on antiretroviral HIV treatment adherence. The work culminated in an article published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and, more importantly, the implementation of a more effective and efficient treatment program in the community. The experience confirmed my goal of pursuing an MD/MPH and a career in global health. – Joey Sharp ’15, UGA Amazing Student

Each year, nearly 6 percent of the UGA student population participates in a study abroad program, with an additional 150-200 students from other universities transient enrolling. These statistics testify to UGA’s reputation for providing high quality international academic experiences.

Click here to read more participation statistics from the Office of International Education.

Interested in supporting UGA study abroad programs and helping students like Joey Sharp? Click here.

Do you have a favorite memory from a UGA study abroad experience? We’d love to hear it! Email your story to Assistant Director of Communications Jamie Lewis (AB ’12, AB ’12) at

Alumna Spotlight: Cheri Leavy (BSED ’97)

After a childhood of frequent visits to Athens, Cheri Harden Leavy (BSED ’97) couldn’t resist the pull of the Classic City. During college, she transferred to UGA from Ole Miss and has been bleeding red and black ever since. Today, she is the founder of Bulldawg IllustratedGuide2Athens and The Southern Coterie, three publications that cover the modern South.

UGA Alumni Association Assistant Director of Communications Jamie Lewis (AB ’12, AB ’12) spoke with Cheri about her experiences at the university that helped shape her career:

You started college at Ole Miss. What are your connections to UGA and what made you return to Georgia?

My father, Mac Harden (BBA ’77), graduated from UGA and his mother grew up in Watkinsville. We spent a lot of time on the family farm in Oconee County when I was growing up, so I have always loved the area and cheered for the Bulldogs. Generations of our family bleed red and black. I loved my time at Ole Miss; my father says I built my resume on classes that were interesting, but didn’t fit a degree (like “Anthropology of the Blues” and “Faulkner Studies”). I transferred to UGA and got serious. I stayed on the Dean’s List until I graduated from the College of Education, where I participated in the pilot year of the Collaborative Inquiry Teacher Education Program. I taught high school for several years, then joined The Brunswick News where I launched a Newspaper in Education program to showcase local student writing.

Along with your husband Vance (AB ’94), you’ve started Bulldawg Illustrated, Guide2Athens and The Southern Coterie. Explain a little bit about what those are, the inspiration behind them and how your time at UGA prepared you for an entrepreneurial career.

Vance and I created Bulldawg Illustrated, a print newspaper and website that covers UGA sports and the Bulldog lifestyle. Now in its 12th year covering the South’s beloved tailgating and football, it is still a ton of fun. Six years ago, we created Guide2Athens. The pocket-sized square book and blog captures the people and businesses that make America’s best college town so culturally rich. We have loved getting involved in the Athens community and have had a home here for the last five years. When Athens isn’t beckoning, you can find us at home in St. Simons with our two golden retrievers.

I founded The Southern Coterie with my friend Whitney Long; it is a resource for the entrepreneurial South. Designed to offer a community of passionate business owners the opportunity to connect, collaborate and create, the “Southern C” network is capturing the South’s entrepreneurial renaissance one post at a time. The Southern C Summit brings the online content to life with a unique multi-day conference where attendees network and connect with the best and brightest names in Southern business and branding.

What is your most memorable UGA experience? Favorite UGA sports experience?

Meeting Herschel Walker for the first time at Vince Dooley’s home was pretty surreal. The Leavy Family/Brunswick News Publishing endowed a scholarship and we had brunch at the Dooley’s before the game. Vance, his brother, his brother’s wife and I went on the field that day to be recognized. Since we are all UGA graduates, that whole experience was pretty incredible. Herschel was on our Christmas card that year!

Since graduating, you and Vance have stayed involved with the university. Why do you think it’s important for alumni to stay connected to UGA once they’ve graduated?

Staying involved with the university provides you with an invaluable resource of connections to continue to support your growth personally and professionally. Vance and I enjoy supporting the philanthropic side of UGA. I attended the UGA Studies Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy, and now serve on the Georgia Museum of Art friend’s board. We also support our vibrant athletics programs.

I give back to students that are up-and-coming at the university. We have 15 interns from Grady. They bring me a tremendous amount of joy and I learn from them as much as I hope they do from me. I give them a great deal of responsibility and I have high expectations, but if they work hard, they can count on me after graduation.

I traveled recently to the West Coast and to Memphis, where I spent time with former interns. One even visited on her “engagement tour,” where she was introducing her future groom to family. We felt honored to be a stop on her travels. They turn into amazing friends as they get older and I couldn’t be prouder of their successes. The internships certainly feed the teacher side of me that was fostered while studying at UGA. I may not formally be in education any longer, but I am still using that skill set.

Can you give us a hint of what’s next for you?

Oh my goodness, there is no telling.

Vance and Cheri Leavy with Uga IX

From the Desk of Provost Whitten: Food for Thought


This blog was sourced from Written by Whitten, Provost Whitten’s blog. Click here to read the original post. 

Food and food processing are big business in Georgia, so it should come as no surprise that the University of Georgia is using its expertise to strengthen one of the top growth industries in the state.

Recently, UGA broke ground on the UGA Griffin Food Technology Center, a state-of-the-art facility that will house the university’s Food Product Innovation and Commercialization (FoodPIC) Center. FoodPIC is a unit of the university’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences that assists new and existing companies in product development, packaging, food safety, consumer acceptance and marketing. It is staffed by faculty from the department of food science and technology, as well as research chefs from within the university and from private industry.

Food processing is the state’s leading manufacturing sector—with an estimated $3.5 billion in annual wages—and it is a rapidly growing industry. Over the past six years, 7,400 jobs in Georgia were created by new and expanding food processing companies, according to data from Georgia Power’s Community and Economic Development division. Large companies that have moved to Georgia or expanded their operations here include household names such as Kellogg’s and Starbucks, and FoodPIC has helped farmers and small companies produce niche products such as frozen desserts made from Georgia fruits as well as sauces and ethnic foods.

FoodPIC is the only project of its kind in the Southeast, and it is one of many examples of the role that UGA plays in economic development. The UGA Griffin Food Technology Center is strategically located just 30 miles south of the world’s busiest airport, and it will help attract food-related businesses to the nearby Lakes at Green Valley Industrial Park.

The entire campus community is grateful to Governor Nathan Deal, the General Assembly, University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby, the Board of Regents, the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority and the U.S. Economic Development Administration for their support and partnership on this important project.

UGA’s faculty in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences have helped make Georgia the nation’s top state for blueberry production, and FoodPIC is putting Georgia on course to become a national leader in food processing.

Classic city sound from television to the silver screen

If you enjoy competition singing shows, you’ve probably been unknowingly serenaded by Knox Summerour (MM ’06). Summerour is a trumpeter, vocalist and composer whose performance skills have been featured on network hits like Fox’s “American Idol” and NBC’s “The Voice.” His work has also been featured on ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth”, CBS’s “Rules of Engagement” and PBS’s documentary,“Pancho Barnes,” which he co-scored and won a Los Angeles Emmy.

Although he occasionally provides background music for television’s hopeful contestants, Summerour is an acclaimed vocalist in his own right. In 2011, Summerour had two of his original songs used in Paramount Beijing’s remake of “What Women Want.” His instrumental pieces have been used in both domestic and international films, as well as video games. Most recently, Summerour’s work can be heard in Jeff Dunham’s animated film “Achmed Saves America,” released earlier this year.

While at UGA, Summerour trained under the late Fred Mills. Mills’ legacy lives on through the work of incredibly talented students such as Summerour, who take on the world one song at a time.

In remembrance of Carl E. Sanders (JD ’48)

Former Georgia Governor and former UGA Alumni Association President Carl E. Sanders died Sunday. He was 89 years old.

In 1942, Sanders (JD ’48) enrolled at UGA on a football scholarship. He left for a short time to fight in World War II, flying a bomber he named “Georgia Peach.” He later returned to UGA and played quarterback for the 1945 football team that won the Oil Bowl. His time at UGA launched a relationship with the state’s flagship institution of higher education that would span more than 70 years.

Sanders was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1954, served three terms in the Georgia Senate and was elected governor in 1962. Known as “Georgia’s Education Governor,” Sanders oversaw investments in education and training programs, as well as public universities that totaled in the billions. UGA was one of the main recipients of these investments, resulting in a dozen new buildings and a faculty that doubled in size.

Governor Sanders was a staunch supporter of UGA’s School of Law. He was instrumental in gaining state funding to expand the law school building that included space for a law library. After leaving office, he personally donated $1 million to the law school to establish an endowed professorship.

He has been president of the Law School Association, served on the school’s Board of Visitors, and headed the fundraising campaign to build Dean Rusk Hall. He donated his gubernatorial papers, photographs and other memorabilia to the library. He also served as a trustee of the University of Georgia Foundation and was president of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors from 1969 to 1970.

The UGA Alumni Association is saddened to hear of the passing of former Governor Sanders. Our thoughts are with his family and other loved ones.

San Diego Chapter president leads successful career in medical illustration

EE Preferred Headshot 2

By Elizabeth Elmore (BBA ’08, ABJ ’08)
Director of Communications
UGA Alumni Association

My first day working for the University of Georgia, I was asked to write a blog post about Robert “IronE” Singleton (AB ’98), an actor on AMC’s hit drama, The Walking Dead. That small assignment, to this day, illustrates why I love my job: you never know what incredible things Bulldogs are doing!

Since that time, I have enjoyed countless opportunities to learn about alumni who are, pardon the colloquialism, rocking out in their respective careers. So when asked to write an arts feature for the November Discover UGA section of the university’s website, I wasn’t surprised when I found myself interviewing a Bulldog in an exciting – perhaps unexpected – career field: scientific illustration.

Diantha LaVine (BFA ’03) is the president of the San Diego Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association. Even before enrolling at UGA, she knew that scientific illustration, using artwork as visual tools of communication solely for the service of education, was her primary career interest. Today, as a biomedical illustrator, she supports clients who are conducting research in academic and commercial capacities.

Perhaps I’m the only one, but I never considered who was behind those cross sections of body parts and blood cells in textbooks. Turns out, there are talented artists who enroll in seemingly unrelated college coursework (phlebotomy and figure drawing?) and are able to exercise both the rightand left sides of their brain at the same time. Who knew?

I won’t go into detail about Diantha’s career path or the exceptional scientific illustration program at Georgia, (you can read all that in the full Discover UGA feature, but, I invite you to consider whether there are Bulldogs in your life doing especially interesting things. Email me a lead ( and he/she may just end up right here on this blog, in Georgia Magazine or on

Thank you to Diantha for opening my eyes to such an interesting career field – and congratulations from the UGA Alumni Association on welcoming a new Bulldog to the family last month! We understand your husband, David (BS ’03), is a doctor; we’ll be interested to see what the newest member of the Class of 2034 will select as a major!

Read more about Diantha here.

UGA alumnus heads to Neverland

The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy” has all the makings of a great web series: characters based on a beloved classic tale, romantic and comedic elements, fairies and a co-creator with a UGA background.

Shawn deLoache (BS ’05, AB ’05) moved to L.A. several years ago to pursue his love of the arts, and has since created the increasingly popular web series.

UGA Alumni Association Communications intern Bernadette Green ’15 had the opportunity to speak with Shawn about his impressive and colorful career.

Tell us a little about yourself and “The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy.”

I received degrees in psychology and criminal justice from UGA. After college, I moved to New York City where I got a job writing medical comic books for children, which used super heroes to explain illnesses to kids. Writing pilot scripts and my work in comics led me to L.A., where I’ve been hired to do several screenplays and some script doctoring. Recently, my writing partner and I sold a comic book series called L.A.R.P., and I’ve been writing for Rockstar Games’ comic book department. And of course, I co-created and wrote “The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy” (TNAPW).

TNAPW is a modern retelling of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter and Wendy.” It focuses on Peter Pan, a 30-something man child in Neverland, Ohio, and Wendy Darling, a woman ready to leave her childhood behind and conquer the world. It’s a romantic comedy with magical elements that stays true to the core of the beloved story and characters Mr. Barrie created.

What inspired the series?

The series was originally inspired by a piece of fan art that someone made of co-creator Kyle Walters as Peter Pan. Kyle wanted to create a new show and asked me how I felt about writing a Peter Pan series. As we are both children in adult bodies who rage against the very concept of growing up, this felt perfect for us!

What advice do you have for others who want to enter this field?

I could write an entire essay on advice for artists, but here are my top five:

  1. Only enter the arts if you can’t see yourself doing anything else. Seriously, the road is incredibly hard financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually. You have to be an artist at your very core and know nothing else in this world could possibly make you happy.
  2. You need strong legs. Rejection is the bread and butter of the arts. You are going to suffer rejection and criticism time and time again. When we create art we put our heart out for the world to see, and when people insult your heart, it’s going to hurt. You need to have strong legs to get back up and keep going.
  3. Create! I have seen far too many people get stuck waiting tables and saying they are a writer/singer/actor/painter, but who never actually work on their craft. We all have to pay the bills, and survival jobs are part of the artist game (it took my five years before I was being paid for writing, now I live off of it), but if you aren’t practicing your art, you’re wasting your time.
  4. Tell your story. Here’s the thing, pretty much every story has been told and every type of character used, but they haven’t been told by you! Your unique voice makes your zombie/vampire/doctor show different than any other ever created.
  5.  Don’t wait on others to give you approval to make your art. With crowdfunding tools, the Internet and talented friends, you can create projects that are just as good, if not better, than anything mainstream. Don’t wait for someone to tell you your stuff is good enough- show them.

What has been your greatest accomplishment during your time with the series?

A fan wrote to tell me that the series helped her get through a rough time when her health was in a downward spiral. She said the show made her laugh and helped make the bad days a little brighter. Joss Whedon’s and Neil Gaiman’s work did that for me, and that’s why I got into writing. It was a gift I wanted to give back, and I’m glad that, for at least one fan, I was able to do just that.

How did your time at UGA prepare you for your career?

For me, the heart of a good story is the characters, which is why I studied psychology. I wanted to learn the about the human mind so that I could craft fun, interesting and multi-dimensional characters.

UGA was a challenging school. It helped me build the work ethic needed to sit down and write a full script, and then rewrite it and then rewrite it again. It also taught me how to properly party when the work was done!

What inspires you most when you’re writing and producing?

I’m inspired by other writers and stories; people like Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson, Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon, Harper Lee, Tina Fey and Brian K. Vaugn. My family and friends are also incredibly supportive and push me forward.

As far as producing goes, I think it has to be a mix between the actors and the fans. I love getting to work with talented people like the cast of Peter and Wendy and bring their amazing gift to the world. The fan support and love is beyond amazing. We are nothing without the fans – I am merely their loyal scribe.

What is your favorite memory of your time spent at UGA?

Does it get any better than game days?

Interested in learning more about Shawn and “The New Advetures of Peter and Wendy”? Keep your eyes peeled for a feature in the December issue of Georgia Magazine. Want to keep up with Shawn and the show? Follow him on Twitter @ShawnIsWrite.

UGA named ‘Best Place for Student Veterans’

UGA has been named to the “Military Times Best for Vets: College 2015” list just in time for Veterans Day.

One of only 140 colleges in the U.S. to have achieved this designation, UGA provides comprehensive service to military veterans during the admissions process and while they are enrolled at the university. The rankings are decided based on veteran students’ academic success, graduation rates and course completion rates.

UGA is also one of only a few schools that offers a Student Veterans Resource Center (SVRC). The SVRC was founded in 2013, and provides information about the university’s services for student veterans, advocacy and an on-campus location for student veterans to gather while studying or socializing. Earlier this fall, the SVRC received an $150,000 commitmentfrom the First Data Corporation to enhance the center’s programs and services for student veterans. On November 21, the SVRC will hold a dedication ceremony to unveil the newly named First Data Student Veterans Lounge. First Data’s Senior Vice President of Military and Veteran Affairs and member of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors Vivian Greentree (ABJ ’00, AB ’01) was instrumental in securing the gift to the SVRC.

Additionally, the university maintains an active affiliation with both the Student Veterans of America and Got Your 6, a national campaign that encourages veterans to become leaders in their communities.

The UGA Alumni Association is grateful to the faculty, staff and student veterans who have served their country honorably. Happy Veterans Day to you all!

Bulldog Politics

This past Tuesday, voters across the country cast their ballots in both state and federal elections. The UGA Alumni Association is proud of all graduates who seek and/or obtain positions in which they represent and support their communities. Here is a roundup of Bulldogs who are now serving in elected positions.

There are seven UGA alumni who will serve in the next Congress:

  • Sen. Johnny Isakson (BBA ’66)
  • Rep. Buddy Carter (BSPH ’80), GA-1
  • Rep. Rob Woodall (JD ’97), GA-7
  • Rep. Austin Scott (BBA ’93), GA-8
  • Rep. Tom Graves (BBA ’93), GA-14
  • Rep. Ander Crenshaw (AB ’66), FL-4
  • Rep. Dina Titus (MA ’73), NV-1

In the Georgia General Assembly, 65 of the 236 members (27.5 percent) are UGA alumni. That includes 17 of 56 senators, and 48 of 180 members of the House.

The UGA Alumni Association hopes these individuals, like all alumni, find great success in their professional and personal endeavors. Go Dawgs!