Saucehouse BBQ tops the 2018 Bulldog 100

The University of Georgia Alumni Association recognized the fastest-growing companies owned or operated by UGA alumni during the ninth annual Bulldog 100 Celebration on Jan. 27 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta.

The 2018 fastest-growing business is Saucehouse BBQ, co-founded by Christopher Belk, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 2005 and his MBA in 2013. Belk is from North Carolina and his co-founder is from Alabama. The pair wanted to highlight the regional differences in barbecue, so customers are offered a variety of sauces for their slow-smoked meats and homemade sides. The restaurant and catering company is based in Athens, and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

2018 Bulldog 100 Top Ten

“We look forward to the Bulldog 100 Celebration each year because it provides us with an opportunity to deepen our connections with passionate alumni,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations at UGA. “The feeling in the air as we count down the businesses from 100 to 1 is incomparable. This is such an honor for the honorees because they have poured themselves into their entrepreneurial ventures. We are proud to celebrate their achievements.”

The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors partnered with the UGA Alumni Association to review nominated businesses’ financial records to determine the ranked list. Each organization must have been in business since 2013, experienced revenues in excess of $100,000 for the calendar year 2014, and be owned or operated by a former UGA student who owns at least 50 percent of the company or is the CEO, president or managing partner.

Christopher Belk, who co-founded the 2018 fastest-growing business, Saucehouse BBQ, is shown with Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations at UGA.

The Bulldog 100 recognizes the fastest-growing businesses regardless of size by focusing on a three-year compounded annual growth rate. The average compounded annual growth rate for this year’s Bulldog 100 businesses was 47 percent.

This year’s list featured 101 businesses, with a tie for No. 45. The class includes companies in a variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals, law, IT, consulting, retail and pest control. Companies as far as California and Minnesota are on the list.

This year’s keynote speaker was Amy Smilovic, founder and creative director of Tibi, an international women’s clothing and lifestyle brand. Tibi has been featured everywhere from New York Times fashion photographer, the late Bill Cunningham’s “On the Street” column, to Vogue France. Smilovic graduated from UGA in 1989.

During the event, the UGA Alumni Association presented the inaugural Michael J. Bryan Award to 1983 graduate Mark Mahoney, the owner of Jackrabbit Technologies Inc. in Huntersville, North Carolina. It also unveiled the Michael J. Bryan Scholarship Fund, which will support students who have financial need and demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit.

L-R: Meredith Gurley Johnson, the family of Michael J. Bryan, and Mark Mahoney

Bryan, the co-founder and managing partner of Vino Venue and Atlanta Wine School in Dunwoody, Georgia, passed away in 2017 after a long battle with cancer. His business was recognized during the 2017 Bulldog 100 Celebration as the only company to make the list since the program’s inception in 2010. The award recognizes entrepreneurial spirit and sustained business growth.

“The UGA Alumni Association is excited to honor our graduates who are founding and leading these prosperous enterprises,” said Bonney Shuman, president of the UGA Alumni Association. “It is even more inspiring to see the impact that these businesses have on our students. Many of our Bulldog 100 honorees provide students with scholarships and internships that prepare them for success after graduation. It’s invaluable for students to network with these accomplished business leaders, and for the honorees to remain connected to campus by investing in student success.”

Ethan King Allen (AB ’99) and Monica Allen (BBA ’96), the owners of Zeus’ Closet, with their family at the 2018 Bulldog 100 Celebration

To view the complete list of 2018 Bulldog 100 businesses, or nominate a business for the 2019 Bulldog 100, see the website. Nominations are being accepted through May 31, 2018.

Relive the Bulldog 100 excitement and check out our Twitter Moment!

UGA Alumni Association Launches The 1961 Club

The date was January 9, 1961. Amidst a crowd of National Guardsmen, the figures of Hamilton E. Homes and Charlayne Hunter appeared on the University of Georgia’s North Campus. They were two students registering for their spring classes and simultaneously making history. Holmes and Hunter became the first African-American students to register at UGA, but it didn’t happen easily. After almost three years working to desegregate the nation’s first state-chartered public university in court, the young man and woman joined a population of 7,000 all-white students.

A young graduate student named Mary Frances Early, who had received her bachelor’s degree from Clark College in Atlanta, saw the crowds surrounding Holmes and Hunter on that winter day, and she decided she wanted to join them. Four months later, Early enrolled at UGA in the music education master’s degree program, and in 1962, became the first African-American student to graduate from the University of Georgia. Holmes and Hunter graduated the following year. They  faced hardships that led to riots and suspensions, but they remained resilient through it all. Thanks to Hamilton E. Holmes, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Mary Frances Early, the University of Georgia was forever integrated for the better.

To commemorate their strength and bravery, the UGA Alumni Association launched The 1961 Club, a new giving society for donors who support the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund. The 1961 Club was created to raise engagement for the more than 14,000 living African-American alumni from UGA. The name of the society comes from that momentous year when Holmes and Hunter-Gault arrived on campus.

The 1961 club officially launched on Jan. 9 during a networking event for alumni and students at Paschal’s Restaurant in Atlanta.

The Black Alumni Scholarship Fund was created in 1981 by professor James Simmons, Jr. and Horatio Lanier; and the fund provides renewable scholarships to undergraduate students who demonstrate promising leadership qualities and a commitment to advancing racial equality.

In accordance with the year and the name of the giving society, The 1961 Club asks UGA alumni, donors and friends to give a gift of $19.61, $196.10 or $1,961, to support the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund. Members of The 1961 Club will also receive donor recognition from other UGA giving societies that correspond with their giving level.

“It is imperative for black alumni to donate to the scholarship because it provides students with a community of support and opportunities to grow,” said Raymond Phillips, president of the Black Alumni Leadership Council. “Students are the future. Our students are at the precipice of achieving their dreams, and it is important for alumni to reconnect, guide and support them, so they can continue the legacy that was started in 1961.”

Join The 1961 Club by supporting the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund at

Celebrate UGA’s 233rd anniversary

In recognition of the university’s anniversary as the birthplace of public higher education in America, the UGA Alumni Association and Student Alumni Association host a weeklong celebration. The highlight of the week is the annual Founders Day Lecture, which is sponsored by the Office of the President, Provost’s Office, UGA Alumni Association and the Emeriti Scholars, a group of retired faculty members known for their teaching abilities, who continue to be involved in the university’s academic life through part-time teaching, research and service assignments. Held in the UGA Chapel, this event has become a Founders Day tradition, drawing alumni, students, faculty, esteemed guests and members of the community.

The lecture is open to the public and free to attend. Marshall Shepherd, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor, associate head of the Department of Geography and director of programs in Atmospheric Sciences, will present the 2018 lecture.

In addition to the lecture, the UGA Student Alumni Association and Student Alumni Council host a variety of free Founders Week events and giveaways for students to celebrate the day UGA became the birthplace of public higher education in America.

Monday, January 22

  • Founders Week T-shirt giveaway* on Tate north lawn from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Founders Day Lecture given by Marshall Shepherd, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor, associate head of the Department of Geography and director of programs in Atmospheric Sciences, at 1:30 p.m. in the UGA Chapel.

Tuesday, January 23

  • #TraditionTuesday at the Abraham Baldwin statue from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • 100 Days ‘Til Graduation in Memorial Hall from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 24

  • President Morehead’s State of the University Address in the UGA Chapel at 3:30 p.m.
  • 100 Days ‘Til Graduation in Memorial Hall from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, January 25

  • Founders Week Banner Contest

Friday, January 26

  • Founders Day Celebration in Tate Plaza from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

*Students must be a member of the Student Alumni Association to receive a T-shirt

Keep the main thing the main thing

This post was written by Clarke Schwabe (ABJ ’08), a true Bulldog fan and the proposal writer for the UGA Division of Development and Alumni Relations.

It’s been an unforgettable season for UGA’s football team. Despite how we felt Tuesday morning, there’s still plenty of reasons to be proud of the Georgia Bulldogs.

This year’s squad demonstrated what it means to give it your all, to work together, and to play with heart. The results speak for themselves.

Roquan Smith became the first Georgia player to receive the Butkus Award, a trophy given to the nation’s best collegiate linebacker.

Roquan Smith accepting the award for Most Valuable Player for the SEC Championship game. Photo Courtesy of Reann Huber,

Nick Chubb and Sony Michel’s combined career rushing yardage surpassed the famed Southern Methodist University “Pony Express” tandem of Eric Dickerson and Craig James, a Football Bowl Subdivision record that stood for 35 years.

And UGA’s Rose Bowl performance stamped the Bulldog name firmly into the lore of “The Granddaddy of Them All,” setting records for the longest field goal in bowl history (Rodrigo Blankenship’s 55-yarder), most points scored by both teams (102), and the first overtime in the game’s 104-year history.

These groundbreaking achievements, along with dozens of others from 2017 (Terry Godwin’s one-handed touchdown grab, Lorenzo Carter’s sky-high field goal block) now indelibly written into UGA history, lifted Georgia into territory it has not traversed in recent years. But there is little reason to think the Dawgs will only get a brief taste of this rarefied air.

Terry Godwin’s impressive one-handed touchdown catch against Notre Dame. Photo Courtesy of Icon Sportswire, Getty.

Of the team’s freshmen and sophomores (a group that includes Freshman All-Americans Jake Fromm and Andrew Thomas, as well as Blankenship, Ben Cleveland, D’Andre Swift and Mecole Hardman), 30 players played in 10 or more games and the group has more than 90 starts among them.

An experienced group of underclassmen will also be bolstered by what is widely considered UGA’s most elite football recruiting class—a class, according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking system, that ranks in the top 10 since the turn of the century. Of the seven five-star recruits signed to SEC rosters for 2018, six are coming to Athens.

Sophomore Wide Receiver Mecole Hardman jumps through the Georgia G before a victory over Mississippi State. Photo Courtesy of Blane Marble Photography,

The Bulldogs have a handful of new national and school records, a stable of proven, young players ready to take the reins, and one of the best recruiting classes coming to campus.

So, how ‘bout them Dawgs?

With more than 200 days to go before the Dawgs are back between the hedges, here are some other ways you can stay connected to the University of Georgia!

The Dawgs are going to the ‘Ship!

The Bulldogs are on a relentless pursuit to win the National Championship for the first time since 1980. No matter where you are on Monday – Bulldogs never bark alone!

Continue reading below for the most up-to-the-minute information about activities in Atlanta and across the country during the National Championship.

Game Watching Parties
Whether you’re near or far from Atlanta, chapter game watching parties are free, fun and attended by passionate Bulldogs. Graduate, parent, student or friend – all are invited to these events. Find my party!

Men’s Basketball vs Alabama
Before they meet in Atlanta, the Dawgs and the Tide will face each other in Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday, January 6 at noon. Get tickets now!

Pre-Game Tailgate
Monday, January 8
3:00 to 6:30 p.m.
The Southern Exchange
Register Here

Playoff Fan Central
January 6-8
Georgia World Congress Center
Family-friendly event incl. games, clinics, pep rallies, performances, signings
$8/person in advance, $10/person at the door
Children 12 and under are free with ticketed adult

AT&T Playoff Playlist Live
January 6-8
Centennial Olympic Park
Free live music, including performances from Jason Derulo, Darius Rucker and The Chainsmokers, throughout the day

Media Day
January 6
Phillips Arena
Free and open to the public
Fans are invited to watch as both teams and coaching staffs participate in media interviews prior to the national championship game

View the complete list of official National Championship activities

Gameday Tips + Logistics
Visit for National Championship logistics, including maps, directions, public transportation guides, parking tips and stadium policies.

ATL Recommendations: Eat, Shop, Visit
Traveling to Atlanta for the National Championship? Members of your Young Alumni, Women of UGA and Black Alumni leadership councils have suggestions on the best places to visit, eat, shop and more before you prepare to cheer the Dawgs to victory against the Crimson Tide!

Get Social
Show us how you’re watching the Dawgs and celebrating the National Championship by using #AlwaysADawg or #BAMAvsUGA on social media! We’ll post throughout the day, so you can follow along from wherever you are.

Giving Back to UGA: How Sweet It Is

This post was written by Rachel Webster (ABJ ’08), a member of the Women of UGA Leadership Council.

On a cold December evening, there is nothing better than getting out of Atlanta traffic and walking into a warm, fragrant pie shop. That is, there is nothing better unless you are also greeted by the Women of UGA Leadership Council and plenty of other alumnae when you get there.
This was the scene in two locations of Southern Baked Pie Company on December 14 as they hosted the Women of UGA groups for a percentage night to support the Women of UGA Scholarship Fund, along with networking and sweet treats.
Locations in Alpharetta and Buckhead offered pie samples, like the delicious streusel-topped apple cranberry pie, and complementary beverages as alumnae mingled in the cozy shop atmosphere. In Alpharetta, alumnae browsed offerings from vendors Jaco Jewelry and Hands of Life Massage Therapy. In Buckhead, Establishment Home and Custom Bling by Charlotte joined the networkers with tables full of beautiful gift ideas.
The event embodied the two main tenets of the Women of UGA affinity group – giving alumni opportunities to create relationships within the University of Georgia network, and raising money to support education initiatives. In this case, 20 percent of Southern Baked Pie Company’s sales of their signature savory and sweet baked goods will support the Women of UGA Scholarship Fund.
Thank you to all of our event partners and attendees! With you, giving back is sweet.