Meet NOLA Chapter Leader Mary Lane Carleton (AB ’96)

While attending grad school in New Orleans, Mary Lane Carleton (AB ’96) got involved with her local alumni chapter through football game watching parties. Now, as a historic preservation consultant in New Orleans, she’s an active chapter leader. Mary Lane shared with us her experience hosting UGA students on service trips to the city and the value of friendships she’s made through the New Orleans Chapter.

When did you graduate from UGA and what are you up to now?

I graduated from UGA in August 1996, finished in three years! That was the summer of the Olympics and we had three events on campus and a week off to accommodate them. Luckily, UGA allowed me to go through graduation in June even though I still had summer quarter to complete.

Today, I am a self-employed historic preservation consultant based in New Orleans, specializing in Historic Tax Credit project applications and National Register of Historic Places nominations.

How did you become involved with your alumni chapter?

When I moved to New Orleans to attend graduate school at Tulane, I looked on the UGA Alumni Association’s website to see if there was a chapter. There was, so I started attending game watching parties. My involvement grew from there and now I’m part of the chapter leadership team! It’s true that part of success is just showing up and being involved.

New Orleans alumni chapter members at a Trash Mob cleaning litter with UGA IMPACT students.

What chapter event are you most proud of?

We host an annual dinner for UGA students visiting New Orleans with the IMPACT (Alternative Spring Break) program where alumni provide a meal and have an opportunity to interact with students and learn about what is happening on campus. We’ve hosted this event for six years now! It’s a rewarding and fun experience every year to see what dynamite students are at UGA. Their willingness to be involved and give their free time while on their spring break is inspiring. We have also started having a “social” with our New Orleans University of Florida Chapter in advance of the big game, and that’s a fun tradition we plan to continue.

How has being part of your local chapter benefited you?

Being a part of my local chapter has produced a lot of friendships with fellow Dawgs I would not have met otherwise in my daily life. The friendships are definitely my most valued aspect of being involved and being a chapter leader. It’s also helped me hone my leadership and organizational skills.

Mary Lane with fellow alumna Valentina Williams (PHARMD ’12) at Mardi Gras.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at UGA?

I think the most valuable lesson I learned, and understood while at UGA (versus in hindsight) was to get to know your professors and/or advisors.  I got to know my Franklin College advisor well, and used to go visit her even after I moved to the Political Science Department. She helped me out of a schedule jam one time and it was absolutely because I had gotten to know her on a personal level.

If there is any advice you could give to a current student, what would it be?

My advice to current students would be the same answer as in the above question, as well as be flexible. College (and life) will not always go your way, be able to adapt, change your schedule, or take a class that might be outside of your area of study. Meet as many people as you can, both students and professors/advisors/professionals in your chosen field. Take time to appreciate UGA life in the moment, it goes by so fast! Take advantage of every opportunity that’s presented to you because it may lead you to your next important step in life.

This post was written by Kendall Little ’17, intern for DAR Communications.

No business like show business

This feature was originally published in the March issue of Georgia Magazine.

Emily Hammond Cook’s (AB ’07) journey into the New York theater scene sounds familiar at first. After graduating from UGA, she moved to the Big Apple with no job or apartment—just big dreams and ambition. Cook’s interests, however, were not performing on the stage and under the bright lights, but working behind the scenes.

Since then, Cook has carved out a role off-Broadway in the management side of nonprofit theatre, helping make the art form accessible to the general public. In that capacity, she played a supporting role in the developing stages of the smash-hit musical “Hamilton.”

Cook majored in theater at UGA, while also taking business classes.

“I love UGA and am so deeply grateful to it for all the ways in which it shaped and molded me into who I am today,” said Emily. “Those four years in Athens were the most formative years of my life and I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for UGA and the experiences and relationships formed there.”

Emily now donates to the UGA Department of Theatre and Film Studies in recognition of the lasting impact it has had on her career. She hopes her gifts will help ensure the support the department deserves and will inspire others to acknowledge the need for funding.

As president of the NYC Dawgs Alumni Chapter and a member of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2015, Emily remains deeply connected with her alma mater and encourages alumni in New York City to connect with their fellow Bulldogs.

After graduation, Cook landed an internship in the casting department at the Manhattan Theatre Club, an acclaimed Broadway nonprofit theater company. “I loved being in on the audition process and seeing how new shows are developed,” she says. “It was a huge learning experience in how nonprofit theaters are run.” After the internship, Cook worked as an assistant to the executive producer of the company, Barry Grove, who became a mentor and, as she says, provided a “master class in theater producing.”

From there, Cook took a job in general management at the Public Theater, a premier off-Broadway nonprofit, where she works on budgets, contracts, and union matters. By chance, she took a role as the co-company manager of a new musical in development. Her job was to serve as a caretaker of the cast, “doing everything to keep them healthy and happy.” That production was “Hamilton.”

“We knew the show was special and were confident it was going to be a hit, but we had no way of predicting the cultural phenomenon it has become,” Cook says. The show earned stellar reviews and played to capacity houses full of celebrities at the Public Theatre before moving to Broadway.
“It was a life-changing experience getting to be a part of the revolution that is ‘Hamilton.’”

Show business goes on for Cook, who now serves as the general management planning and programs manager at the Public Theatre, which produces 10 to 15 shows a year and presents the renowned Shakespeare in the Park, which has offered free productions in Central Park for over 50 years.

Cook says her philosophy about theater aligns with the Public’s ethos: “Theater shouldn’t be an elitist art form; it should be accessible to all, created by all, and should share the stories of all walks of life.”

Know an outstanding young alumnus like Emily Hammond Cook? Nominations are open for the 40 Under 40 Class of 2017 are open until April 7!


New Affinity Group Leadership Councils

The UGA Alumni Association has officially launched the leadership councils for the Women of UGA and Young Alumni Affinity Groups! The Alumni Association launched its first official affinity group, UGA Black Alumni, in 2015 after increased demand from the university’s more than 14,000 Black graduates to establish meaningful connections with the university. That group operates under a five-prong mission to recruit, retain, engage, donate and serve.

After receiving a high volume applications for the councils, members of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors selected 15 individuals to serve in each inaugural council.

Women of UGA

As the largest population of alumni, Women of UGA will focus on programming, mentorships and fundraising for the Women of UGA Scholarship Fund.

Mission Statement:
To foster a lifelong commitment to the University of Georgia, Women of UGA creates opportunities for personal and professional development, instills a spirit of giving, and invests in the future of the University, its students and its alumnae.

Women of UGA Leadership Council Members:

Anne Beckwith (BBA ’90)

Brooke Bowen (ABJ ’07, JD ’10)
Legal Counsel
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Teri Cloud (ABJ ’94)
Director of Marketing
Babush, Neiman, Kornman & Johnson, LLP

Ali Bracken Gant (AB ’01, MPA ’11)
Planned and Asset Giving Officer
Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Frankie Gilmore (BS ’07, MPH ’10)
Stylist & Personal Shopper
Gilmore Style Consulting

Amber Nixon Gizzi (BSFCS ’14)
Executive VP & Partner
Pineapple House Interior Design

Erica Gwyn (BSED ’00)
The Nonprofit Guru, LLC

Kelly Kautz (AB ’99, JD ’02)
Law Offices Kelly D. Kautz

Rubina Malik (PHD ’15)
Executive and Teach Coaching & Consulting
The Malik Group

Bailey Maxwell (ABJ ’09)
HR Generalist
Bennett Thrasher, LLP

Terri Julian Polk (BBA ’86)
Director of Brand Development
The Coca-Cola Company

Sarah Rettker (BBA ’10)
Investor Engagement Manager
Georgia Chamber of Commerce

Diane Vaughan (ABJ ’83)
Senior Development Director
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Alissa Vickery (BBA ’01, MACC ’01)
SVP Accounting and Control
FleetCor Technologies, Inc.

Rachel Webster (ABJ ’08)
Financial Advisor
Vantage Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley

Young Alumni

With more than 40,00 young alumni living in the Metro Atlanta area, the Young Alumni Leadership Council will create programming and encourage young alumni to commit to their passion at UGA.

Mission Statement:
The mission of Young Alumni is to provide dynamic opportunities for young alumni to engage with and give back to the University of Georgia.

Young Alumni Leadership Council Members:

TJ Callaway (BBA ’07)
Founder and CEO
Onward Reserve

Elizabeth Cox (BBA ’13)
Strategy Project Manager
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Sumita Dalmia (BSFCS ’10)
Corporate Attorney
McDonald’s Corporation

Yvette T. Dupree (BBA ’03, MAT ’07, PHD ’12)
Business and Computer Science Instructor
Henry County Board of Education

Derek Hammock (BBA ’15, MACC ’16)
Assurance Staff

Shayla Hill (BBA ’08)
Digital Services Manager
Arch Mortgage Insurance Company

Travis Johnson (AB ’11)
Chief of Staff
Office of the Attorney General of Georgia

Adam C. Johnson (MBA ’16)
Senior Consultant

Joshua W. Jones (AB’08, ABJ ’08, MBA ’16)
President and CEO
Red Clay Communications

Courtney McCants (BBA ’10)
Account Executive
ION Media Networks

Caleb Nicholson (BSED ’09)
Field Event Selection Consultant
Chick-fil-A Inc.

Ezekiel Osibanjo (BBA ’15)
Advisory Associate

Elizabeth Powell (BS ’06, ABJ ’06)
Development Services Manager
Emory University

Anna Daniel Reddish (BSA ’08, MADS ’09)
Assistant Director for Student Initiatives
Eastern Region, AVMA

Ryan Scates (AB ’10, JD ’13)

The UGA Alumni Association Affinity Groups invite you to save the following dates:

March 25: Finance and Wealth in the Black Community Brunch
March 30: Women of UGA Evening at Vino Venue
April 11: Minority Admitted Student Reception in Atlanta
June 23: 2017 Young Alumni Night at SweetWater