40 Under 40 Highlights: Investment and Law

Today, we are highlighting members of the Class of 2016 40 Under 40 who are involved with investment and law. The members highlighted are Brooks Andrews, Heather Ripley, Meredith Forrester, Mitch Reiner, and Ronnie Mabra.

Brooks Andrews graduated in 2007 with a BBA in finance and an MA in business from the Terry College of Business and Franklin College of Arts & Sciences. Mr. Andrews currently lives in San Francisco. He is the vice resident at Essex Woodlands. One little unknown fact about Mr. Andrews is, “My dad and sister went to Georgia Tech, so when I decided to attend Georgia my mom cried every day for two weeks straight, because she thought I was making a huge mistake. Thankfully, my parents trusted my judgment and within a couple years, my mom acknowledged that I had made the right decision after all.”


Heather Ripley currently lives in New York and is a senior associate for federal and international tax at Alston and Bird. Ms. Ripley graduated from the Terry College of Business in 2006 with a BBA in business and a MACC in business. Ms. Ripley continued her education at Harvard Law and graduated in 2009 with her law degree. Ms. Ripley’s favorite place she has traveled to is Cuba and she is considering one day retiring to Cuba to paint on the beach. UGA blood runs deep through Ms. Ripley’s family with both of parents meeting at UGA and Ms. Ripley continuing the tradition of education at UGA.


Meredith Forrester graduated from Terry College in 1999 with a BBA in international business. Mrs. Forrester now lives and works in Atlanta as the senior vice president and senior managing director of internal audit at SunTrust Bank. Besides working in finance, Mrs. Forrester has always loved the arts. She loves music, photography, and sharing this love for arts and crafts with her young daughters.


Mitch Reiner graduated in 2005 with a BBA in finance. Mr. Reiner lives in Atlanta and is the COO of Capital Investment Advisors and the founder and managing partner of Wela. When asked to define success, Mr. Reiner said it is “the desire to build something incredible any time that I get involved. Whether it is my children, my business or my community, I am uninterested in being a passive participant.”


Ronnie Mabra graduated from UGA’s School of Law  in 2004. Mr. Mabra is a State of Georgia Representative and an attorney at The Mabra Firm, LLC. Mr. Mabra lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Did you know Mr. Mabra’s father was an NFL player for the Atlanta Falcons? But that’s not all the unknown facts about Mr. Mabra. He is Kenny Chesney’s biggest fan and lives next to Hip-Hop legend and Rock and Roll Hall of fame inductee Chuck D.


Meet the rest of this year’s 40 Under 40 class at alumni.uga.edu/40u40.

Courtney Khail’s (BFA ’07) Watercolors

Courtney Khail (BFA ’07), a self-proclaimed lover of nature and detailed art, has found a way to combine her passions. Courtney was inspired to start her business, Courtney Khail Watercolors, after seeing that there was a desire for fine art stationery that also had a handmade aesthetic. Courtney Khail Watercolors has expanded its original client list, which consisted of mostly friends, family and co-workers, to now also serve art enthusiasts who are looking for something one-of-a-kind. She has dubbed her clients “modern traditionalist.”

The alumna’s full-service studio boasts brilliant original watercolor paintings, custom wedding invitations and stationery. Hints of her scientific illustration background can be seen in her work, as she often combines watercolors with graphic lines. With this technique, Courtney attempts to focus the viewers’ attention on her artistic choices, such as color variations, textures, and shapes, rather than the subject matter of her pieces. To get a closer look at Courtney’s artistic process and her background, read the interview below:

Courtney K. pic

Courtney Khail (Courtney Reece)

BFA 2007, Scientific Illustration, Graduated Summa Cum Laude

Resides in Atlanta, Georgia

Describe your UGA experience.

I am originally from Augusta, Georgia, and came to UGA to study advertising. After attending UGA’s Freshman College, I realized just how much I missed being in the studio and promptly changed my major to fine art. More specifically, I chose an interdisciplinary study in scientific illustration, which was introduced to me by my Honors art advisor. After hearing me lament about no longer having any science courses to take, he suggested I give scientific illustration a shot. It ended up being the perfect choice as it provided the ability to tailor my course requirements to what truly interested me – both artistically and academically.

In addition to the Honors Program, I was also a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, an anatomy and physiology teaching assistant, and for two semesters, I re-lived freshman year as an RA in Creswell Hall.

Was there a particular professor, class or experience that influenced you while at UGA?

Studying abroad in Cortona, Italy (one of Lamar Dodd’s study abroad programs) was by far one of the most amazing, life-changing experiences of my life. I was actually in Cortona when I decided to pursue fine art full time after college. The people, culture, and the scenery change you. Even if you have to take out a loan, I strongly encourage every student to study abroad at least once during their college career.

As for professors, I was fortunate to have so many amazing ones while at Georgia. A few names that come to mind immediately are Deloris Wenzel, Alex Murawski, Janice Simon, Scott Belville, Rocky Sapp, and Neil Summerour. Each of their influences helped shape the artist and person I am today.

Give us a peek into life just after graduation.

Right after graduation, I became the Anatomy and Physiology Laboratory Coordinator for UGA’s Cellular Biology Department. While not related to art, it was a fantastic job that taught me so much about managing people, producing quality work, and working in an academic setting. I worked there until relocating to Atlanta, where my husband Jordan was studying to receive his doctorate in pharmacy.

I fell in love with invitation design after creating our wedding invitations and began working at a stationery store to learn more about the retail side of the business. In 2009, I took the leap and launched my fine art invitation company, Courtney Khail Watercolors. After Jordan graduated from pharmacy school in 2012, we moved to Denver, Colorado, where I expanded my company to include fine art paintings and stationery, in addition to custom invitations. After an amazing three years in Denver, Jordan and I realized just how much we missed family, friends, and the South, and in 2015 we moved back home to Atlanta.

What would be your advice to a student interested in “being their own boss” and launching his or her own business?

You have to passionately believe in what you do, as well as be self-motivated. Owning a business is tough work and when you’re faced with critics, challenges, and startup costs, it’s imperative to have that passion and drive in order to succeed. On a financial note, try to have at least six to twelve months of expenses saved before going out on your own. This will give you the ability to focus on what you are creating and make smart decisions based on what’s best for the business without the stress of how you will pay your bills. Lastly, don’t go at it alone. Get a mentor, surround yourself with people you admire and who are also passionate about what they do, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Tell us about your business and why you elected this career path.

I own Courtney Khail Watercolors – a fine art studio in Atlanta, Georgia. I originally started CKW to provide a way for couples to express their unique stories through one-of-a-kind fine art wedding invitations. A few years later, I added a stationery line in order to provide beautiful, timeless note cards for everyday life. Soon after, I began spending more time in the studio just creating art. When people began asking to purchase my paintings (as well as requesting commissioned work), I decided to offer my artwork to the public in addition to my paper goods. On any given day, you can expect to find me either painting in the studio, designing invitations (I only accept a limited number of wedding orders per year in order to guarantee an exceptional experience), selling my stationery (which can be found online as well as in various stores across the nation) or some combination of all of the above!

As for why I chose this path- I don’t think I chose it as much as it chose me. Being an artist has never been “what I do,” but rather “who I am,” so it seemed only fitting that art should be my career. I’m also fortunate to have come from a family full of entrepreneurs, so the idea of running a business was always exciting to me (as opposed to terrifying.) Of course, being self-employed definitely has its challenges, but I feel so grateful for the opportunities and success I’ve had thus far. Plus, in my opinion, nothing is more rewarding than spending every day adding beauty to someone’s life.

Anything else you’d like to share about UGA, being a Bulldog or advice for current students?

I know students have probably heard this a thousand times by now, but it’s important so I will say it again. Your time at UGA is limited and will go by so much faster than you could ever imagine. Do your best to take advantage of it all. Study abroad, take classes that interest you (not just the ones that will boost your GPA or fill a requirement,) meet someone new every day, get to know your professors, explore Athens, watch live music, go to art shows, kayak the Broad, and stay out too late. You may be a Bulldog for life, but you only get a couple of years to be a college student so make every moment count.


Interview with Kramer Johnson (BBA ’08), digital experience at Chick-fil-A

Have you used the new Chick-fil-A One app? If so, you’re using something that was created by a team of Georgia Bulldogs. Jamie Lewis (AB ’12, AB ’12), digital specialist, recently interviewed Kramer Johnson, a 2008 Terry College of Business graduate and senior consultant for digital experience at Chick-fil-A in Atlanta.

Tell me about your time at UGA. 

I studied International Business, and I grew most during my time in the Institute for Leadership Advancement. My few classes and thirty classmates in ILA helped shape who I am today. Outside of the classroom, I loved enjoying Athens with people. There was always another place to visit – or another person to meet.

What was your path to working at Chick-fil-A? 

After starting my career in management consulting at EY, a friend from UGA recruited me to Chick-fil-A. I “learned this business” during three years of consulting Chick-fil-A operators on their local marketing plans. In 2013, UGA graduates David Salyers (BBA ’81) and Michael Lage (BBA ’05) shared a big vision for how we might reinvent the Chick-fil-A guest experience through mobile. I didn’t know much about mobile technology, but I knew this was going to be something special. Thankfully, they invited me to bring my in-house experience to the project.

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

My relationships at UGA taught me the things that can’t be learned in a textbook. The community in Terry College and ILA helped me see how business can me be so much more than dollars and cents.

Tell me about the process of creating and launching the Chick-fil-A One app. What was your role in this project and how were other UGA graduates involved?

I lead Membership Engagement for the Chick-fil-A One App. I was lucky enough to design the “treats” element of our app. Giving free food to app users is our way of saying thanks. I’m thrilled to say that UGA grads brought Chick-fil-A One to life in all kinds of ways – Marketing, IT, Operations, Training, Accounting, and more. Bulldog fingerprints are all over it!


That moment when a largely UGA-designed app hits No. 1 in the App Store

Chick-fil-A is one of several corporate alumni chapters. Why do you think it’s important to stay involved with your alma mater? What is something you’ve enjoyed about participating with the CFA corporate chapter?

President Morehead inspired our chapter’s motto: Connect, Give, Hire. I’m so grateful to UGA, and this is a small way to help the university thrive. The chapter helps us connect with UGA in deeper ways, give more and focus on hiring UGA grads – some of the best talent around.


What is one of your fondest UGA memories?

This one’s easy. I met my beautiful wife, Hayley (BBA ’08), at a table near the tray return at the original Bolton dining hall. We made her friend eat all of her Jell-O in one bite… and the rest is history. We live in Atlanta with our two wonderful daughters.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student entering their senior year this fall, what would it be?

Get up early. Later in life, I learned the magic of getting up early to accomplish the most important task of that day: maybe it was quiet time, exercise, or writing notes to loved ones. I wish someone had taught me this purpose-driven habit when I was at UGA.

Class of 2020 Freshman Welcome Recap

On Wednesday, August 10, the eve before fall classes started, members of the Class of 2020 (w0w!) gathered in Sanford Stadium for Freshman Welcome. Hosted by the Student Alumni Council and Student Government Association, this event formally welcomes the new students into the Bulldog family and offers them the opportunity to hear from President Jere Morehead (JD ’80) and Coach Kirby Smart (BBA ’98), learn gameday traditions, and form the iconic Power G on the field at Sanford Stadium.

Students were treated to entertainment from their peers before entering Sanford Stadium

Students were treated to entertainment from their peers before entering Sanford Stadium




Selfies with President Morehead on the field!

Selfies with President Morehead on the field!

The Class of 2020

The Class of 2020

Coach Kirby Smart welcomes the Class of 2020 to the Bulldog Nation at Freshman Welcome!

Posted by UGA Alumni Association on Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Alumna Spotlight: Maggie Smith Kühn (BFA ’09)

UGA alumna and Atlanta painter Maggie Smith Kühn (BFA ’09) has had her work featured on Good Morning America, Daily Mail, Buzzfeed and more. The UGA Alumni Association asked Maggie to write about her time at UGA and her recent successes.


There is a horrifying (and untrue) statistic all art majors hear at some point, and it’s a variation on this theme: only one in five art students actually work in the art field after college. It strikes fear in the hearts of aspiring artists and creates a gloom that is specific to an art school campus. As a Lamar Dodd School of Art student myself, I felt curiously doomed to savor my time in the studio, knowing that it would probably come to an abrupt end when I graduated and the “real world” demanded repayment for those blessed stolen hours of fun.

The truth is that one in two art students go on to have professional art careers, which are great odds for any major. I’m proud to be one of the artists that left Lamar Dodd and jumped right into the art field. I hope I can encourage any gloomy art kids who feel that art school might be the wrong move, even though they are obsessed with making art. I am one of you, and I make a living by painting.

I am an event painter. What is an event painter, you ask? We’re pretty rare; I go to corporate events, parties, weddings, fashion shows, and I paint the scene as it’s happening. It’s half entertainment, half recording the event as it goes on around me. You are probably familiar with it if you’ve been to Paris, or gone to the Kentucky Derby. Live painting is a strange concept everywhere else. I picked up the habit while attending middle and high school, when I started to bring my sketchbook everywhere I went and I would constantly ask to draw portraits of people. Some people said no, but most people were curious to see what they looked like through someone else’s eyes. My first drawings were not masterworks, but eventually I got faster and made better decisions when I sat down to draw, and some of my art was pretty good.


I decided that art school was the right move for me, despite the literature and stereotypes against it. I remember feeling a tingle of excitement when I drove down Broad Street in Athens for the first time, and saw the senior painting studios. I made my mom stop the car, and walked right in and started learning names and visually drinking in the artwork. I had arrived.

My tenure at Lamar Dodd was pretty typical. I bummed around outside the old Jackson Street building between classes, wandered North Campus and asked to draw people, and displayed series of artwork in various restaurants downtown. Athens embraced my work, and I lived off the cash I made from paintings. I started to get confidence in my ability to make a career with my art. UGA taught me so much about the importance of networking with people outside the studio and how to push through the tedious moments of creating something while inside the studio; I grew up into an artist there.

Once I was out of school, I started painting on weekends and every weeknight, confident that I could get my little idea of event painting off the ground if I had the right knowledge of running a business. I worked an internet and commerce marketing job to fill in the gaps of what I didn’t know, while I waited for the right moment to work full ­time on my paintings. I tinkered with social media sites, learning what makes businesses go viral.

I went full­ time with IAmNotMaggie Fine Art in 2014, and it was profitable within the first three months. I had a steady stream of painting commissions, portraits, and events to keep me happy and busy. My business grew to encompass Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, but I wanted more. I wanted national recognition for my work.


Recognition came on a random Thursday night when I made a post for Reddit and then went to bed, thinking no more about it. I woke up in the morning to see that my post had hit the front page and had generated over a million views on my website. There were more than 400 emails in my inbox. It was insanity. Suddenly, people knew I existed and saw that my artwork was good. It was phenomenal. Buzzfeed, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and a number of blogs wanted to write about me. Brides from all over the globe booked me for their events. It was my tipping point; it felt so much like driving past the senior painting studios on Broad Street. I had arrived.

So many artists are ashamed to acknowledge the fact that art is a product. To live off of your art, you will need to know something about business. There is no shame in having some business savvy, and the University of Georgia has incredible resources for a budding entrepreneur. In fact, you have already invested in your future as an artist by coming to the University of Georgia. Take a business class. Start a drawing club. Open a show of your artwork downtown. I’m proud of my tenure at UGA because it prepared me for the journey of my life as a professional artist, and I can’t wait to see what the future alumni of the Lamar Dodd School of Art do in the art field.

UPDATE (August 16, 2016): Maggie’s art just went viral – again!

Welcome Back, Bulldogs!

Earlier this week, thousands of students, including 5,000 new members of the Class of 2020, made their way to Athens for another exciting year at the University of Georgia. To get in the “back to school” spirit, enjoy a special welcome message from UGA President Jere W. Morehead (JD ’80)!

Students enter Sanford Stadium through tunnel

Fun facts about the current students at the University of Georgia

UGA has 27,547 undergraduate and 8,583 graduate students, for a total enrollment of 36,130

UGA has students from all 50 states

The Class of 2020 received 22,980 applications, admitted 12,239 and enrolled 5,475

The average GPA for the Class of 2020 is 3.98 and the average SAT score is 1302

83 percent of students graduate within 6 years and 55 percent graduate with research credit

33 percent of students graduate with study abroad experience

87 percent of the Class of 2020 hails from the state of Georgia

The State of Georgia

Are you a graduate of the University of Georgia? Please take a moment and update your information to stay up-to-date with all things UGA!


Alumnus Spotlight: Ryan Fogelgren (BBA ’08)

Meet UGA alumnus Ryan Fogelgren (BBA ’08), co-founder of Arches Brewing, a small-batch craft brewery located in Hapeville, Georgia. The craft brewing industry is one that has grown exponentially in recent years—both in prevalence and popularity. Ryan was introduced to the craft beer concept while living in Athens as he would often volunteer at Terrapin Beer Company, a Bulldog 100 business, or study local beer menus, fascinated by the varying flavors and styles. Ryan claims, “My girlfriend at the time, now wife, Lauren (BS ’08) would always get frustrated because I would spend so much time analyzing the beers that it would take me 20 minutes to pick one!”

ryan fogelgren

Despite his entrepreneurial spirit, Ryan graduated with a degree in management, moved to Atlanta, and began working in technology sales. However, with a long-standing love affair with the brewing concept, he began to dig into the possibilities of opening a brewery of his own. After connecting with a few lawyers and biochemists-turned-brewmasters, Ryan and his business partners took a leap of faith to develop what is now known as Arches Brewing. With a combined 12 years of home-brewing experience already under their belts, the team spent a year developing a business plan and mastering an efficient brewing process with over 30 recipes.

arches brewery 2

The founders then spent a year building the Arches Brewing tasting room themselves— start to finish. Designed to feel like a Bavarian tasting hall with reclaimed and repurposed wood and fixtures, this UGA alumnus and his team proudly opened the doors of their commercial craft brewery in April 2016. Arches Brewing’s focus is to bring the best of old-world and modern brewing practices together to deliver beer styles never commercially brewed in Georgia. “We continue to have visitors from all over Georgia and the Southeast.  It has been an amazing journey and it’s only the beginning. We look forward to seeing where this story goes.”

arches brewery 3

UGA’s Olympic History

With August finally here, one of this year’s most exciting events is about to begin, the 2016 Summer Olympics. This year’s games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Twenty years ago, the Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, Georgia. While the majority of the events were held in Atlanta, some events were held on the UGA campus. Soccer matches were held in Sanford Stadium, while rhythmic gymnastics and indoor volleyball were held in Stegeman Coliseum.

Stegeman Coliseum during the 1996 Summer Olympics

Stegeman Coliseum during the 1996 Summer Olympics

UGA has had many students-athletes and former students compete in past Olympic Games. Since 1936, UGA has had eighteen students win gold medals in many events. The first student to win a gold medal was Forrest ‘Spec’ Towers in the 1936 summer games. Towns won a gold medal in the 100 meter high hurdles while also setting a world record that would go untouched for the next fourteen years. The famous Olympic torch was run through campus before the 1996 Summer Olympics by former head football coach Vince Dooley. Dooley ran the torch from inside Sanford Stadium through campus before passing it off. Little known fact? In addition to being a football player and MMA fighter, Herschel Walker was an Olympic athlete! He was a member of the U.S. bobsledding team in 1992 Winter games. See the complete list of UGA’s former Olympics athletes and coaches here.

The Georgia Athletics Museum, located in the Butts-Mehre building on South Campus, has a display year-round showcasing the UGA Olympic athletes. The display showcases the official 1996 match volleyball used in Stegeman Coliseum. The display also holds four of Teresa Edwards’ (BSED ’89) medals, three gold and one bronze. Edwards competed on five different U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams during her career. Edwards’ first medal was won while she was a student at Georgia. The display lists every UGA student, along with their event, that has ever competed in any Olympics. Butts-Mehre is open for any visitors to walk through and tour all displays, including the Olympics display. For more information about the Georgia Athletics Museum, visit the Athletics website.

Former UGA swimmer Allison Schmitt

Former UGA swimmer Allison Schmitt

At this year’s Olympic Games, many current or former UGA athletes will be competing along with UGA Swimming Coach Jack Bauerle who will be the U.S. assistant men’s swimming coach. UGA’s track coach, Petros Kyprianou will coach the Estonian track team at the games. Chase Kalisz ‘17, Jay Litherland ‘18,  Olivia Smoliga ’17, Brittany MacLean ’17, Chantal Van Landeghem ’17, Matias Koski ’16, Melanie Margalis (BSFCS ’14), and Allison Schmitt (BS ’14) will be competing in swim. Kendell Williams ‘17, Keturah Orji ‘18, Maicel Uibo ‘16, Leonti Kallenou ‘16, Cejhae Greene ‘18, Karl Saluri ‘18, Levern Spencer (BSHP ’08), Quintunya Chapman ’16, and other former athletes will compete in track and field. All athletes will be representing their home country. The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is sending two students, Jaylon Thompson ’17 and Nicole Chrzanowski ’16, from the Sports Media Certificate Program to cover the Olympics in Rio. Grady College will also send nine students to cover the Paralympics in September.

You can watch the opening ceremonies this evening at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC.

Summer Send-Off for Corporate Chapter Interns

As summer comes to an end, UGA student interns will soon head back to Athens equipped with a summer’s worth of experience from a variety of companies and organizations. Two of the UGA Alumni Association Corporate Chapters recently hosted events to honor their UGA student interns before they begin the fall semester. UGA alumni working at The Home Depot (above) and Chick-fil-A headquarters organized networking and panel discussion gatherings to bid farewell to the young adults who dedicated time and talents over the summer.

The UGA Alumni Association would like to extend its gratitude to the following panelists and organizers for making these Corporate Chapter Student Send-Off events a success:

The Home Depot
Panel discussion on Friday, July 22

Moderator: Wes Neece (BBA ’00)
Ryan Zupancic (MBA ’15)
Rob Thomas (BBA ’08, MACC ’09)
Michelle Pyne (BSED ’07, MBA ’11)
Matthew Pitts (BSA ’11)
Andrew Sexton (BBA ’15)
Tommy Ryan (BBA ’96, MED ’98)

Chick-fil-A Intern Send-Off

Chick-fil-A Intern Send-Off

Panel discussion on Monday, July 25

Moderator: Todd Phinney (BBA ’88)
Allison Duncan (BBA ’09)
Amy Ohde (MBA ’02)
Wayne Hoover (ABJ ’83)
Robin Hoover (BSED ’83)

UGA Alumni Association Corporate Chapters foster networking, fellowship and camaraderie among UGA graduates in the workplace. To learn more, please email alumni@uga.edu, call (404) 814-8820. If you or your company are interested in hiring UGA students or alumni, please click here to learn more from the UGA Career Center.