Sister, Sister

Hailing from Lilburn, Georgia, Lauren (AB ’04, JD ’07) and Jennifer (ABJ ’08) Bellamy have been making a difference ever since they stepped foot on the University of Georgia campus. These dynamic sisters are full of Bulldog pride and have a wealth of memories together and separately from their time at Georgia. As senior counsel at Gordon & Rees LLP, Lauren specializes in handling cases involving contracts, business torts, telecommunications litigation, consumer fraud actions, entertainment disputes and employment law.

Jennifer chose to follow a different career path than her older sister. Her passion for journalism led her to pursue a career in broadcast news. You can catch her reporting the news on 11Alive (WXIA-TV) in Atlanta.

UGA Black Alumni marketing and communications committee member Ivey McCloud (BBA ’04) sat down with the two sisters and talked about their UGA experience.

McCloud: What made you decide to attend the University of Georgia?

Lauren: My parents made me! Seriously, HOPE Scholarship made UGA really competitive to get into and it made financial sense. My parents convinced me this was the right decision for me and they were right!

Jennifer: I chose to attend UGA because I was interested in a career in journalism and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication has a wonderful reputation. I also had a good idea of what UGA had to offer outside of academics thanks to visiting campus to spend time with my sister. 

McCloud: What activities or organizations were you involved in on campus?

Lauren: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., National Pan-Hellenic Council, University Judiciary, resident assistant, and C.L.A.S.S. (Continuing the Legacy of African American Student Success) advocate

Jennifer: Resident assistant and C.L.A.S.S. advocate at Russell Hall, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., National Pan Hellenic Council, Grady Ambassadors, Abeneefoo Kou Honor Society, Homecoming Court 2007 and National Society of Black Journalists 

McCloud: What was the biggest impact you made on campus at UGA?

Lauren: I would say being a C.L.A.S.S. advocate was my most impactful experience. I was able to mentor freshmen in my dorms and hopefully impact a lot of students in a positive way.

Jennifer: I think working in a freshman dorm allowed me to impact the lives of a number of our university’s newest students. I hope I was able to help give them an introduction to life on campus, help them learn to solve problems on their own, encourage them and knowledge share with them about activities and courses.

McCloud: What was it like attending the same school as your sister? What types of obstacles, if any, did you have to overcome?

Jennifer: Attending UGA with my sister was awesome! Lauren started her first year of law school when I started my freshman year.  She was very involved on campus so I did get the “Lauren’s little sister” thing from time-to-time when I first came to Athens, but I think I was able to make my own way as well. Lauren was always there when I needed her and I was able to be there to support her as well. I think it helped strengthen our relationship even more. She’s my best friend!

McCloud: How do you feel your relationship with your sister has developed given that you and your sister attended the same college?

Lauren: It’s really great because we have so much in common that other people may not share. We pledged the same sorority, and Jennifer did a lot of the same activities that I did in college, so we have a lot of shared experiences.  Now, we often go back for events in our sorority together, we go back for football games and we always have a partner to go to homecoming with.


Meet Tonya Freeman, Fundraising Committee Co-Chair for the Black Alumni Leadership Council

In October 2015, the UGA Alumni Association launched the UGA Black Alumni Affinity Group, which is led by the Black Alumni Leadership Council. The council seeks to connect with black alumni and students through shared experiences and to continue building a welcoming and supporting campus community. Tonya Freeman is the fundraising committee co-chair of the Black Alumni Leadership Council, and we recently interviewed her to learn more about her UGA experience and what drives her to stay connected to the University of Georgia.

Tonya Henderson Freeman<br />(AB ’86)</br>

Tonya Freeman

When did you graduate from UGA and what did you do after college?

I graduated in December 1986, and my degree is in statistics. I was already working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so I went back to work at CDC. That is where I’m still working 31 years later!


Which Black Alumni Affinity Group event are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of the UGA Black Alumni Brunch and Learn: A Discussion of Finance and Wealth we hosted in April. We invited former UGA football player Mohamed Massaquoi (BS ’08) and UGA professor Kenneth White, Ph.D. to speak about finances and wealth in the black community.

How has serving on the Black Alumni Leadership Council benefited you?

[The Black Alumni Leadership Council] has helped me express to fellow alumni how important it is to still be a part of UGA. Getting black alumni to understand that it’s important to stay connected to UGA, to give back to UGA, and showing them some of the programs and scholarships for the students is important. I’m actually enjoying the generations that I’ve come in contact with. It’s not just about my generation, it’s about the generations behind us and ahead of us.

Tonya with members of the Black Alumni Leadership Council at the 2016 Black Alumni Scholarship Fundraiser.

What is the most important thing you learned as a student?

How important college is, but also how fun college can be! You’re building relationships that last for a lifetime, and I really feel like anybody that hasn’t had the opportunity to experience college is really missing a great opportunity in life.

What is one piece of advice you would give to UGA students?

If you need studying habits, always go to the library first! Go to the library before you go back to your dorm. For me, that’s how I made it. I’d always do my homework before going back to the dorm. Another thing I’d say is to never underestimate your networking opportunities; not just with students, but with your professors and staff at UGA.

UGA is committed to its students and mission as a land and sea grant university. What is your commitment?

My commitment is to give back financially to UGA, to support UGA and to be a good steward for a school that I’m really proud of.

Educators’ gift inspires others to ‘pay it forward’

This was originally published on UGA Today.

A planned gift from a University of Georgia alumni couple will help first-generation college students become educators.

Created by Johnny Sanders Jr. and Rubye Coleman-Sanders, who both received advanced degrees from the UGA College of Education, the scholarship fund will assist underrepresented students at UGA who wish to teach in communities that typically struggle to retain quality teachers. It’s a way to give back to the university that helped propel the couple to successful careers, they said, and they look forward to helping the next generation do the same.

“We worked in higher education, and we know how difficult it is, especially now, for students to come up with the money to go to school. We wanted to pay it forward,” said Sanders. “We instilled in our son the same values our parents instilled in us-to try and achieve at your highest level, and then give back.”

The couple’s decision comes at a time when UGA is focused on expanding financial assistance for students. In the UGA College of Education, nearly half of undergraduate students face unmet financial needs. This includes not only paying for tuition and fees, but also affording transportation or housing.

“We are humbled by the commitment that Johnny and Rubye have shown to future educators coming to the College of Education,” said Craig H. Kennedy, dean of the college. “This scholarship will change the lives of the students it will serve.”

Education is at the core of the couple’s life, something instilled by their parents. Each came from large families that made earning a high school diploma a priority. Sanders graduated from Coppinville High School in Enterprise, Alabama, in 1967, and Coleman-Sanders graduated from Carver High School in Union Springs, Alabama, in 1967.

Sanders and Coleman-Sanders pushed beyond high school, though. They served as each other’s cheerleader as they earned advanced degrees. After graduating from Alabama State University, where they met, Coleman-Sanders received a master’s degree from Wayne State University in Michigan and then received her doctorate from UGA. Sanders received his master’s, educational specialist and doctoral degrees from UGA.

“After completing our doctorates from the University of Georgia, we have definitely experienced the American dream,” Coleman said. “Something most people aspire to.”

Along with the support they received from each other, the couple agrees that without the help of graduate assistantships and other financial aid, their advanced degrees would have been much harder to achieve, if at all.

That’s why they felt strongly about establishing the Dr. Johnny Sanders Jr. and Dr. Rubye Coleman-Sanders Teacher Education Scholarship Fund. Financial aid put their goals within reach, and they want other to be able to experience success, too.

“The University of Georgia was so great to provide financial assistance when we attended. This will help students aspire to the levels that we aspired to,” said Sanders. “And hopefully, they will make a valued contribution to society as a whole. So it works both ways-for society and the University of Georgia.”

The scholarship will be created by the residual from the couple’s estate. Sanders said this type of planned gift allows them to enjoy their retirement while also knowing that their love of education will continue in the form of financial assistance for qualified students.

Because their graduate degrees elevated their careers, it only seemed natural to help future students, coming from underrepresented populations, to have the same opportunity.

Sanders spent 33 years as an award-winning educator in high school and college-level classrooms. He retired as a professor emeritus in 2008 from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. As a professor of counseling and development in the College of Education, he was the first African-American man to become a tenured full professor, and the first counselor educator at Winthrop University to receive the South Carolina Counseling Association’s Counselor Educator of the Year award.

Coleman-Sanders specialized in both business and education, and spent 30 years in higher education. She retired from Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina, where, like Sanders, she was the first African-American woman to become a tenured full professor.

With their planned gift, they said, they can build off their own achievements to change the lives of students at UGA- and the lives of the students taught in the classroom.

“From my earliest memories, the only thing I heard from my parents was, ‘Get an education.’ My father passed away three weeks before I turned 5, but my mother continued his mantra: ‘J. Coleman does not want his girls to be dependent upon anybody for a living,'” said Coleman-Sanders. “My mother never let us forget that she wanted us to have a better life than she had. And the only way we were going to achieve that was through an education.”


Meet Raymond Phillips, President of the Black Alumni Leadership Council

In October 2015, the UGA Alumni Association launched the UGA Black Alumni Affinity Group, which is led by the Black Alumni Leadership Council. Raymond Phillips (BS ’12) is president of the Black Alumni Leadership Council. In this role, Phillips leads strategy and determines how best to engage graduates and connect them back to the university and its mission. We recently interviewed Phillips to learn more about his UGA experience and what drives him to stay connected to the University of Georgia.

Raymond Phillips<br />(BS ’12) </br>

Raymond Phillips

When did you graduate from UGA and what did you do after college?

I graduated from UGA with a bachelor of science in computer science in 2012, and immediately began working for an IT consulting firm, CTS, in Atlanta. In fall 2016, I returned to UGA to pursue my MBA through Terry College of Business’ Professional MBA program in Buckhead.

How did you get involved with the Alumni Association?

After graduation, I met Realenn Watters, associate director of alumni outreach, for a birthday dinner. While there, I expressed that I wanted to be more involved with the university, particularly, since I was so heavily involved as an undergraduate.  She explained that the UGA Alumni Association had a multicultural steering committee, which was the catalyst for the Black Alumni Leadership Council, and asked if I would like to join. I jumped at the chance, and I am so happy that I did. The work I have done with the UGA Alumni Association has been one of the best things to happen to me.

Which Black Alumni Affinity Group event are you most proud of?

This is the hardest question you could ever ask. I would have to say it was our fundraising event at American Spirit Whiskey. It was a great way to learn how whiskey is made, interact with fellow alumni and university staff, as well as raise funds for the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund. Additionally, it was great to support a business owned by a UGA alumnus.

How has serving on the Black Alumni Leadership Council benefited you?

Although I am in my career, I believe that everyone needs a mentor at every stage of life. Serving on the Black Alumni Leadership Council has provided me with mentors that have provided guidance in my personal and professional life. The council has reconnected me to the university and reinforced my love of the University of Georgia, which prompted me to enroll in the Terry Professional MBA program.

Raymond with members of the Black Alumni Leadership Council at the 2017 Atlanta Minority Admitted Student Reception.

What is the most important thing you learned as a student?

The importance of time management! It may be a cliché, but it is true. I had many interests and had a habit of committing to things without thinking twice. I have always gotten through it by managing my time. During undergrad, I used my Google calendar to keep track of where I needed to be, events that I wanted to attend, and tests for which I needed study. It really helped me to stay organized.

What is one piece of advice you would give to UGA students?

Do not be afraid to expose yourself to opportunities that place you outside of your comfort zone. Those opportunities will provide growth and help you identify a passion, or apathy, that you didn’t know you had for something.

UGA is committed to its students and mission as a land and sea grant university. What is your commitment?

My commitment is to support and mentor UGA students in whatever way that I can— I have made monetary donations, sat on panels and served as a mentor. I am involved because I want students to be able to connect with alumni that can provide guidance– something I wish I had as I completed my undergraduate studies.

University of Georgia Fundraising Skyrockets

In the first year of the public phase of the Commit to Georgia Campaign, UGA donors set a new record in fundraising, contributing $227.8 million in new gifts and pledges. This marks the fourth consecutive year that UGA donors have set a new record in fundraising and the first time in the university’s long history that the annual total has surpassed $200 million.

“When we launched the public phase of the campaign last fall, we called on our alumni and friends to help us expand the impact of this great university on the world,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Clearly, they are answering that call with extraordinary generosity and support, and it is with the deepest sense of gratitude that I say ‘thank you’ for making gifts that are changing lives.”

The goal of the Commit to Georgia Campaign is to raise $1.2 billion by 2020 to increase scholarship support, to enhance the learning environment, and to solve the grand challenges facing society. More donors than ever contributed this year—another all-time record—to reach an overall total of $827 million toward the campaign goal.

“I am not surprised to hear that more donors gave to UGA this year,” said Ruth Bartlett, immediate past president of the UGA Alumni Association. “Our alumni believe strongly in UGA’s vision for the future, and they are eager to help make it a reality.”

Through the UGA Alumni Association, 14 students are currently receiving $37,000 of support from the Alumni Association’s general endowed scholarship, Black Alumni Scholarship and study abroad scholarships. The Women of UGA affinity group was also able to endow the Women of UGA Scholarship in March, which will be awarded next year. We asked some of our alumni volunteers why they give to the university. Here is what they had to say:

Emily Hammond CookEmily Hammond Cook (AB ’07), President of the New York City Chapter “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. 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.”


Brian DillBrian Dill (AB ’94), UGA Alumni Association Board Vice President, “Financial aid was a key component in my attending and graduating from the University of Georgia. My degree has allowed me to travel the world and I cannot think of a better way to honor this blessing than to assist others in the same endeavor.”



Dominique Holloman (BS ’01, AB ’01, MED ’04, JD ’04), Black Alumni Leadership Council Immediate Past President, “I was blessed during my time as a student to only have to worry about my next assignment or exam. There are students who are hungry and who are unable to purchase needed books and supplies. That is disappointing and unacceptable to me, and I hope it is to other graduates as well. My commitment is scholarships.”


Joshua W. Jones (AB ’08, ABJ ’08, MBA ’16), Young Alumni Leadership Council Fundraising Chair, “I give to empower tomorrow’s leaders. Current students will be the ones who will shape our future at the local, state and national level.”




Rubina Malik (PHD ’15), Women of UGA Leadership Council Mentorship Chair, “The ability to give is a privilege. To be able to support those who might not have the opportunity, or means, to get a formal education without support allows me to fulfill my purpose to cultivate leaders.”



Bill ThomasBill Thomas (AB ’88), UGA Alumni Association Board Secretary, “I have found that staying connected with the university will provide you great opportunities beyond the few years that you spend on campus earning your degree. I give back to the university to ensure that it remains a world class institution, and that it can attract, and retain, deserving students.”

A Sweet Taste of Athens in Atlanta

The following was written by Elizabeth Powell (BS ’06, ABJ ’06), a member of the Young Alumni Leadership Council. 

Sounds of live music, laughter, and clinks of pints rang through Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company as a packed house of UGA young alumni gathered for a fun evening on Friday, June 23.

The threat of a summer thunderstorm couldn’t dampen the excitement of what became the largest turnout of the annual Young Alumni Night at SweetWater, with nearly 600 attendees coming out for an evening of sipping SweetWater tastings, enjoying Jim ‘n Nick’s BBQ, grabbing some goodies from Onward Reserve (a Bulldog 100 business!), listening to tunes from the Atlanta Wedding Band, and reminiscing about their time in Athens.

The event marked the first led by the newly-created UGA Young Alumni Leadership Council, formed in February 2017. The evening was an excellent opportunity for the members to meet some of the nearly 40,000 Atlanta young alumni who they will represent while serving on the council.

The council will be working to plan events to bring this group together throughout the year and share ways for all young alumni to find their passion at UGA and give back to those areas.

“What a turnout…nearly 600 people, even in the pouring rain,” TJ Callaway (BBA ’07), the president of the UGA Young Alumni Leadership Council, said, “It was a great opportunity to bring together UGA alumni for a fun night with a purpose.  Events like this are a great reminder of how strong our alumni base is, and how important it is for us to find ways to stay involved and connected with each other in the Atlanta community.  Hats off to the UGA Alumni Association staff for all of the work that went into building what has become an annual UGA tradition in Atlanta.”

Check out photos from the event here and learn more about the UGA Young Alumni Leadership Council here.

Announcing the 40 Under 40 Class of 2017!

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2017. The program began in 2011 and celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates who are under the age of 40.

This year’s class includes alumni from a variety of industries ranging from law to agriculture. Among the honorees are ESPN’s Maria Taylor, Georgia Teacher of the Year Casey M. Bethel, state Rep. Sam Watson, who represents Colquitt, Thomas and Tift counties, and Maritza McClendon, the first woman of color to represent Team USA on the Olympic swim team.

The honorees will be recognized during the seventh annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon on Sept. 14 at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. Ernie Johnson, a 1978 UGA graduate, will serve as keynote speaker for the event. Johnson is a co-host on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” and is the lead announcer for “Major League Baseball on TBS.” He delivered UGA’s 2017 undergraduate Commencement address in May. Registration will open for the awards luncheon at in the coming weeks.

“We are excited about this year’s 40 Under 40 class,” Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations, said. “These young alumni are making a difference in the classroom, boardroom, operating room and everywhere in between.”

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and nearly 400 alumni were nominated for this year’s class. Honorees must have attended UGA and aspire to uphold the Pillars of the Arch. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni Association website.

“We received hundreds of nominations, and our graduates have made some incredible accomplishments,” Johnson added. “It is more difficult every year to narrow the list down to 40, and that is a testament to the caliber of our alumni. We are so proud.”

This year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, including their graduation year from UGA, city, title and employer, are:

  • Casey M. Bethel, 2005, Lithia Springs, Georgia Department of Education Teacher of the Year, New Manchester High School
  • Travis Butler, 2009, Athens, president, Butler Properties and Development
  • Eric Callahan, 2005, Griffin, owner, Callahan Industries
  • Mariel Clark, 2001, Knoxville, vice president, Home + Travel Digital, Scripps Network Interactive
  • Andrew Dill, 2006 and 2007, Marietta, director of government affairs, Lockheed Martin
  • Amelia Dortch, 2006 and 2012, Auburn, Alabama, state public affairs specialist, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Katie Dubnik, 2003, Gainesville, president, Forum Communications
  • Rebecca Evans, 2010, Savannah, equine veterinarian, Evans Equine LLC
  • Rebecca Filson, 2005, Roswell, regional vice president of operations, BenchMark Rehab Partners
  • Matt Forshee, 2000, Evans, region manager for community and economic development, Georgia Power
  • Nicholas Friedmann, 2006, Washington, D.C., private client relationship manager, Citibank
  • James Gates, 2001 and 2004, Atlanta, partner, Bell Oaks Executive Search
  • Christine Green, 2002, New York, general counsel, Leadership for Educational Equity
  • Lauren Griffeth, 2005, 2008 and 2013, Athens, administrative director of agricultural leadership, education and communication, UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Destin Hill, 2002, Phoenix, physician, Arizona Sports Medicine Center
  • Dominique Holloman, 2001 and 2004, Atlanta, independent consultant
  • Katie Jacobs, 2005, Athens, owner, Cheeky Peach Boutique
  • Jonas Jennings, 2000, Athens, director of player development, UGA Athletic Association; president, JJ 75 Properties LLC
  • LeRoya Chester Jennings, 2001, Atlanta, managing partner, Chester Jennings & Smith LLC
  • Adam C. Johnson, 2016, Atlanta, senior consultant, Cognizant
  • Joshua Jones, 2008 and 2016, Atlanta, president/CEO, Red Clay Communications Inc.
  • Marcus Jones, 2009, Detroit, president, Detroit Training Center
  • Kasey Knight, 2005, Quitman, pharmacist/owner, Lee & Pickels Drugs
  • Matt Koperniak, 2002 and 2004, Sugar Hill, director of bands, Riverwatch Middle School
  • Dorian Lamis, 2003, Atlanta, assistant professor/clinical psychologist, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Dan Ludlam, 2004 and 2007, Atlanta, senior manager, real estate attorney, Chick-fil-A Inc.
  • Gordon Maner, 2004, Charleston, South Carolina, managing partner, Allen Mooney & Barnes
  • Maritza McClendon, 2005, Atlanta, senior brand marketing manager for OshKosh B’gosh, Carter’s Inc.
  • Behnoosh Momin, 2015, Chamblee, health scientist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Travis Moore, 2003, Kirkwood, Missouri, senior brewmaster, Anheuser-Busch InBev
  • Wes Neece, 2000, Atlanta, merchandising vice president for lighting, The Home Depot
  • Julian Price, 2000, Watkinsville, physician/partner, Athens Orthopedic Clinic
  • Tim Puetz, 2006, Silver Spring, Maryland, operations manager, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center
  • Tucker Berta Sarkisian, 2000, Atlanta, director of public relations, SweetWater Brewing Co.
  • Maria Taylor, 2009 and 2013, Charlotte, North Carolina, sports broadcaster, ESPN
  • Alissa Vickery, 2001, Mableton, senior vice president for accounting and controls, Fleetcor Technologies Inc.
  • Sam Watson, 2002, Moultrie, managing partner, Chill C Farms/Moultrie Melon Co. ; state representative House District 172
  • Laura Whitaker, 2007 and 2010, Watkinsville, executive director, Extra Special People
  • Whitney Woodward, 2000, Covington, vice president for total rewards, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.
  • Alex Wright, 2008, Byron, overseas research fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.