Representation matters

In honor of Black History Month, the UGA Mentor Program highlights the warm relationship between two outstanding student mentees, current UGA law student, Sydney Cederboom (AB ’21, AB ’21), and Belen Gad, Class of 2022, and their phenomenal mentor, Stacey Chavis (MSL ’19).

The UGA Mentor Program understands that representation matters. Students want to feel seen and validated by a mentor who shares aspects of their identity. Advice from a mentor who previously dealt with a common circumstance is more credible than recommendations from someone who has never had to handle the same situation.

“I would encourage all our Black alumni to mentor,” says Stacey. “Open yourself to the process. There are so many resources available to help guide you in building a relationship. Mentoring opened my eyes to different things and I learn a lot in return.”

Tyler Jefcoat (BBA ’07, MBA ’13) guides a new generation of accounting graduates

In 2002, after graduating high school in Columbus, Georgia, Tyler Jefcoat (BBA ’07, MBA ’13) took an interest in Athens and the University of Georgia for two reasons: its music scene and its business school. While music stayed as a hobby, Tyler thrived in UGA’s Terry College of Business as an undergraduate.

After graduating and working as a retail bank manager, Tyler realized that corporate culture didn’t suit him. With encouragement from two key figures in his life, his dad and father-in-law, he returned to UGA and enrolled in an MBA program. It was here where he found his true passion for entrepreneurship.

“I came out of that MBA experience realizing that I just wasn’t a great corporate guy. I needed to build something for myself—so, I did,” Tyler said. “I literally got to present a concept company that we built, Care to Continue, as my final project in the MBA entrepreneurship class. I got great support from the university and from my classmates.”

Care to Continue trained and empowered caregivers for in-home senior care. Tyler stayed with Care to Continue for five years. The first year was difficult as they tried to market their name and build a loyal client base. By year two, though, the company was well-established within the market.

27 target customers met with Tyler and his cofounder to help build the essence of the brand in January of 2013. The name, Care to Continue, came out of this focus group.

“We were onto something because we understood our customer,” he said. “I think we were in a good market, but it was hard; it was crazy. And I was grateful that I got to sell my part of that business, because that was a 24/7/365 animal.”

Tyler sold his portion of Care to Continue in 2018 after realizing that the direction the business was heading didn’t follow his vision. He helped train the new leadership team for 100 days. While selling his part of the company benefitted him and his family, he stressed over what his next steps should be.

His wife, Emily (AB ’08)—whom he met through an undergraduate club at UGA—was by his side the entire time, assuring him of his path while keeping their two daughters in mind.

“I had a bunch of great opportunities. And my wife said, ‘Tyler, these opportunities all seem to be in Chicago or Atlanta or New York. You need to find something that’s not in Chicago or Atlanta or New York.’ And so, we started looking for ideas.”

Not wanting to uproot his family’s life for a career in a big city, Tyler found the answer in Athens. While having a coffee with one of his friends, Tyler considered a new idea: e-commerce. He found that there was a need he could fill in bookkeeping for small-scale entrepreneurs.

“I went to my wife—like I did when I started Care to Continue—and said, ‘I’m thinking about starting a company in an industry in which I’ve never worked or had any business with … what do you think?’” he laughed. “Thankfully, she told me that we should do it.”

In 2018, Tyler launched Seller Accountant, an accounting firm that provides e-commerce sellers on Amazon with bookkeeping and fractional CFO (financial coaching) services. The business works with sellers to create and implement customized accounting plans for each unique circumstance.

Using the experience and knowledge he gained from his first company, Seller Accountant quickly became one of the top accounting businesses in the Amazon marketplace.

Ashley Carter, Partner and COO of Seller Accountant, standing with the company’s first four Terry interns: Lizzie Rose (BBA ’20), Erna Brandt Braxton (BBA ’19, MAcc ’20), Addie Young (BBA ’20, MAcc ’21) and Christian Joseph (BBA ’20, MAcc ’21) in their original 1 Press Place incubator office in downtown Athens.

Tyler is passionate about helping others, and with his new business, he leverages his business and finance background to assist small sellers.

“Leading and encouraging small business owners makes me feel alive,” he said. “It gets me so excited.”

His drive to help others led him back to UGA, where a friend encouraged him to rent space in the Delta Innovation Hub in the Innovation District.

The Innovation District connects bright minds from UGA and beyond. Located across multiple buildings in North Campus and downtown Athens, the Innovation District connects students, faculty, alumni and local businesses. Tyler immediately connected with the Innovation District’s vision.

“The vision of the Innovation District—attaching faculty and alumni ideas to reality and helping them come into fruition—I was like, ‘Man, that’s where I am right now with Seller Accountant.’”

Tyler moved his business into the Delta Innovation Hub in 2021. Now, he and Seller Accountant find inspiration within the Hub while working alongside UGA’s graduate accounting program to help UGA students and alumni.

Tyler proudly wearing UGA gear.

“We’ve made it our mission to empower students, and we’re seeing results,” he said. “Like graduate assistantships for the graduate accounting program: two years in a row, one of our few students has landed that opportunity. We’re seeing anecdotal evidence that they’re getting higher salaries coming out of the accounting program.”

Knowing what it’s like to be an uncertain graduate, Tyler hopes to foster an environment where a student can succeed in finding the career most suited to them–whether that’s as an employee at Seller Accountant or an entrepreneur forging their own path.

“Could I be a part of someone’s story or their career and get a lot of benefit from it? Absolutely. And there’s no better place to be than on UGA’s campus for that to happen.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP AT UGA

DC Dawgs: a love story

UGA has brought so many couples together over the years, but the love story of Lynne (DVM ’03) and Rob (BS ’99) Randolph differs from the usual tale. They met after graduating: during flag football practice on The Ellipse near the White House, to be exact. It’s a little unconventional, but UGA still played its part in uniting the couple through the Washington, D.C., alumni chapter.

Before meeting, Lynne and Rob came to the university for very different reasons. Lynne’s family has a long history with UGA. Her grandfather, Dr. John Munnell, was a professor emeritus in the College of Veterinary Medicine, which inspired Lynne to follow in his footsteps and attend UGA’s veterinary graduate program. Her stepdad, John F. Munnell Jr. (AB ’77), her uncle, Clayton Munnell (BSED ’91), and her many aunts, Ginny Munnell Morris (AB ’80, JD ’06), Emily Ann Munnell (ABJ ’82), Amy Munnell (AB ’84) and Mandy Munnell (BFA ’85), all graduated from UGA. Emily even works for UGA’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations. Lynne always knew that she would become a Bulldog because of these relatives.

Rob, on the other hand, grew up in Montana, where the winters are cold and harsh. Tired of temperatures that pushed into the negatives, he decided to transfer to a school in a warmer climate and that offered a late acceptance deadline. While UGA wasn’t a place he felt destined to attend, Rob still became fully immersed in Bulldog culture. He roomed with a few men’s tennis players and partied hard when they won the 1999 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship in Athens.

Lynne and Rob together at the 2022 CFP National Championship in Indianapolis

Lynne and Rob together at the 2022 CFP National Championship in Indianapolis.

While the two never met in Athens, they like to believe that they took a class together. Lynne took an undergraduate class in biochemistry and may have sat in the same 300-person lecture hall as Rob. They also frequented the same spots downtown. It’s not for certain, but they think it’s fun to believe it was.

Lynne and Rob officially met as DC Dawgs in August of 2004. They each joined the chapter to reconnect with fellow Bulldogs and became active members: watching football games as a group (Dawgs Never Bark Alone, after all) and playing flag football, which brought the pair together. While they didn’t begin dating until later, Lynne recalled what would become their first outing–when Rob “bamboozled” her.

Lynne loved live music—another reason she appreciated Athens—and discovered that a band she followed, OLD 97’s, was playing in D.C. at the 930 Club. She asked alumni in the chapter if anyone wanted to go with her, and Rob responded, “I love going to live music.” She found out later why he spoke so carefully: he listens to NPR and doesn’t actually like music all that much.

Rob maintains that he did not bamboozle her, and he went along solely to spend time with her. “He didn’t know any of the songs,” Lynne laughed, “but he still had fun, and it all worked out.”

Adalynne and Jack sitting on the throne chairs at Manhattan Cafe.

Adalynne and Jack sitting on the throne chairs at Manhattan Cafe.

While they never bonded over music, Lynne and Rob did bond while attending different chapter events. They got married on May 25, 2008, and now have two children, Adalynne and Jack, who is named after Lynne’s grandfather. They’re in elementary school, but Lynne and Rob hope they’ll attend UGA when they’re older.

The Randolphs make regular trips to Athens with Adalynne and Jack and try to attend at least one football game a year. They walk around campus and local parks and ensure they dine at their favorite Athens eateries, including The Taco Stand, Little Italy and The Grit.

“If we cannot go to those three places, it has not been a successful trip to Athens,” Lynne said. “Another must-do is that we have to go to Manhattan Cafe. That’s one place Rob and I had in common while we were in school. We love to take the kids there. The owner has kids, too, and he loves when we come.”

Despite living over 500 miles from UGA, Lynne and Robert are still Bulldogs at heart. They love that they can still engage with the university through the D.C. Dawgs Alumni Chapter. They regularly buy UGA gear for themselves and their children and recently received their order of championship merch in the mail. The UGA Alumni Association has been great for this couple, and they’re forever grateful that it brought them together in the first place.

The Randolph family on Christmas wearing their UGA gear.

The Randolph family on Christmas wearing their UGA gear.

G-Day 2022: The Dawgs’ title defense begins here

For the first time since their national championship celebration, the Georgia Bulldogs will return to a packed Sanford Stadium for the 2022 G-Day game on Saturday, April 16!

The annual spring scrimmage caps the Dawgs’ spring practices, which begin March 15. Check here in the weeks to come for more information on how to secure your spot at the debut of the 2022 Georgia Bulldogs squad.

Kirby Smart’s seventh UGA team enters 2022 having finally conquered the program’s demons, and the shine of the Dawgs’ first national championship trophy in 41 years is unlikely to fade any time soon.

Kirby Smart speaks to a reporter prior to the 2022 CFP National Championship

The Bulldogs are expected to compete for another championship in 2022. The schedule opens with a highly anticipated contest against the Oregon Ducks—now led by former UGA defensive coordinator Dan Lanning—in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Home games against Tennessee and Auburn, away games against South Carolina and Kentucky and the annual clash with the Gators in Jacksonville all add up to an exciting slate for the Dawgs.

The Bulldogs will be without a number of 2021’s standout players—get ready to hear a whole lot of Georgia names called during the 2022 NFL Draft—but they retain experience and leadership at several key positions.

Stetson Bennett scrambles during a play during the 2022 CFP National Championship

Stetson Bennett, MVP of the 2022 CFP National Championship Game, returns at quarterback, and linebacker Nolan Smith, the two-time 2021 SEC co-Defensive Player of the Week whose sack of Bryce Young was the final play of the national championship game, will help lead the defense.

Additionally, defensive tackle Jalen Carter will assume the mantle held last year by Jordan Davis, Brock Bowers will continue to victimize every player who attempts to guard him, Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh will carry on UGA’s tradition of talented running back tandems and Kelee Ringo, Chris Smith and Tykee Smith all return to lock down opponents’ passing games.

Nolan Smith sacks Alabama's Bryce Young during the 2022 CFP National Championship

The Georgia sideline will feature some new faces in 2022.

  • Bryan McClendon, who played wide receiver for the Bulldogs from 2002-2005 and served as a graduate assistant or coach with the team from 2007-2015, returns to Athens as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. McClendon has also been offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for South Carolina (2016-2019) and passing game coordinator, wide receivers coach and interim head coach for Oregon (2020-2021).

  • UGA’s new outside linebackers coach is Chidera Uzo-Diribe, who played for the University of Colorado from 2011-2015. Uzo-Diribe was a general assistant at Colorado from 2016-2018, coached outside linebackers for the Kansas Jayhawks in 2019 and 2020, and most recently served as defensive line coach for Southern Methodist University in 2021.

 

We may be months away from the 2022 season, but you can start gearing up today, figuratively and literally!

  • UGA alumni can stay plugged in on the latest Bulldog news—from on and off the field—by updating their info at alumni.uga.edu/update.
  • Want to show off your Bulldog spirit and your hometown pride all at once? Head over to the UGA Bookstore and find your state decal. Bonus: every purchase includes a $5 donation to the Georgia Fund, which supports scholarships and the areas of greatest need at UGA.
  • Tennessee and Florida Dawgs: with your help, Bulldogs across the Volunteer and Sunshine States can purchase specialty license plates that rep the G! Check out the Tennessee and Florida license plate campaigns to find out how you can make UGA car tags a reality.

UGA sorority alumnae establish endowed scholarship

More than 100 alumnae of the University of Georgia’s Eta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., gave a total of over $50,000 to establish the 1973 Eta Xi Alumni Association Inc. Georgia Commitment Scholarship, which will provide need-based aid to UGA students in perpetuity.

“I am grateful to UGA’s Alpha Kappa Alpha alumnae, who are setting an outstanding example of generosity at our university,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Their support of current students through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program will make a lasting impact on the lives of UGA students as well as their families and communities.”

Near the beginning of 2021, Eta Xi alumnae set out to raise $50,000 by the end of the year to create a scholarship that would help ease students’ financial burdens and introduce different perspectives to the campus community. Once that goal was met, their collective gift was matched by the UGA Foundation (UGAF) with an additional $50,000 through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, thanks to funding provided in August 2021 by the UGAF board of trustees.

The scholarship will benefit students in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and the first recipient will be named in fall 2022.

“Giving to student scholarships enables me to honor the rich history of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at UGA through Eta Xi Chapter while also celebrating current students,” said Natalie Lewis (ABJ ‘91), a member of the Black Alumni Leadership Council and life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. “As an alumna, I am truly proud to support UGA students’ success and grateful for all the donors to this effort. The tenacity and drive—particularly of students of color—are remarkable in these tough times.”

Since surpassing their fundraising goal, the Eta Xi alumnae group has continued raising support for scholarships. They are currently raising funds for a second Eta Xi alumnae scholarship, which will be a merit-based scholarship to support students who are committed to furthering the advancement of girls and women in their community and in higher education.

“I give to UGA because I am a firm believer that education and exposure are the keys that unlock potential and opportunity,” said V. Gail Bibbs Holmes (BBA ’92), Eta Xi alumna. “When a young person is fortunate enough to interact and learn with people from all over the world, their perspective grows, their thoughts expand and, hopefully, they are positively influenced by this experience. Unfortunately, there are still too many young people who have the desire and capability to attend college but do not have the financial means.”

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. was the first Greek-letter organization established by African American college women. Sixty-five years after its founding, on January 13, 1973, the Eta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha was instituted at UGA by women who sought to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards and promote unity and friendship among college women.

Today, Eta Xi members and alumnae strive to build upon the sorority’s legacy through a commitment to scholarship, leadership and service to the university and Athens-Clarke County communities. The need-based scholarship they have established and the merit-based scholarship to come are the latest demonstrations of that commitment.

Scholarship support allows deserving UGA students to focus more on their coursework and participate in extracurriculars that promote growth and experiential learning opportunities. To learn more about supporting student scholarships at UGA, visit give.uga.edu/removing-barriers.

“I’m not alone in my experiences”

In honor of Black History Month, the University of Georgia Mentor Program is highlighting the support available to Black male students through a partnership with the Georgia African American Male Experience (GAAME) Scholars Program.

Jakhari Gordon (Class of 2025) is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Systems Engineering in UGA’s College of Engineering, far from his Virginia home. He considers himself a family-oriented person, but has learned to stand on his own two feet at UGA thanks to support from others who traveled the same path before him.

“UGA has a community around it and a very big alumni network; UGA is full of opportunity” said Gordon. He took advantage of those opportunities, becoming involved in the Georgia African American Male Experience (GAAME) Scholars Program and the UGA Mentor Program.

The GAAME Scholars Program provides holistic support to undergraduate African American male students who are seeking to enhance their UGA experience through activities that honor and affirm their identities. It was through GAAME that Gordon met Marques Dexter (MS ’09, PHD ’24), interim director of the program, who encouraged him to join the UGA Mentor Program.

“It’s been amazing to support students like Jakhari, particularly through the UGA Mentor Program,” said Dexter. “I know what it’s like being an out of state and far from home student, just like Jakhari. It was through connecting with others who looked like me–faculty, staff and alumni–that I was able to thrive at my institution. Having the privilege to instill the mindset that mentoring works, while emphasizing that I am where I am today because of mentorship, brings me full circle.”

Gordon found common ground with his mentor, Raymond Phillips (BS ’12, MBA ’18), and the two connected on many levels. In addition to being a senior technology and process improvement consultant in metro Atlanta, Raymond is a past president of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council.

“It was important that my mentor was a male African American like me. Growing up, I did not have much of a male influence,” Gordon said. “You think you’re the only person who has been through your situation, but I enjoyed talking with Raymond and seeing the differences and similarities between our times at UGA. The people ahead of us want to help us avoid  pitfalls. Everyone should look to connect with a mentor. That one person can change the course of what you’re doing or confirm the path you’re on.”

Dexter agrees, “My mentors saw more in me than I knew existed. The example my mentors set guides me now as I empower young men such as Jakhari to aim higher and dream bigger.”

Eugenia Harvey named inaugural Footsteps Award winner

This story was originally published on UGA Today on Feb. 9, 2022.

The University of Georgia named Eugenia Harvey as the recipient of the inaugural Footsteps Award during the university’s annual Holmes-Hunter Lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

The award recognizes a UGA graduate who follows in the pioneering footsteps of Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Hamilton Holmes and Mary Frances Early, UGA’s first enrolled Black students and first Black graduate, respectively, by making a significant positive impact in human rights, race relations or education in their community.

“When I received my acceptance letter from UGA, my mother reminded me that I was following in the footsteps of those who paid the price for me to attend my desired school,” said Harvey, who graduated with a Broadcast Journalism degree. “I bring those words up from deep within my heart today as I receive the inaugural Footsteps Award from this, my university. With gratitude and purpose, I walk forward, hoping to brighten the path for those yet to come.”

Harvey serves as the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for The WNET Group and is part of the organization’s senior leadership team. She plays a central role in the efforts to build a more inclusive, equitable and anti-racist organization. The WNET Group is the community-supported home of New York’s THIRTEEN – America’s flagship PBS station – WLIW21, operator of New Jersey’s statewide public television network NJ PBS, and Long Island’s only NPR station WLIW-FM.

In addition to her role as Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Harvey also oversees The WNET Group’s Community Engagement team, which has partnered with thought leaders from over 400 community organizations to convene solutions-oriented discussions around systemic racism in New York City and across the country.

Harvey is also an award-winning producer, and continues to serve as Executive Producer for The WNET Group’s Chasing the Dream: Poverty & Opportunity in America, providing critical programming on poverty, opportunity and justice in America; Peril & Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change, a reporting initiative reporting on the human stories of climate change and its potential solutions; and Exploring Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and Extremism, examining the roots and rise of hate in America and across the globe.

“Eugenia brings diverse and underrepresented stories to light and diversifies the talent behind and in front of the camera,” said Yvette Daniels, president of the UGA Alumni Association board of directors. “Her impactful work promotes social justice and inspires audiences to improve the world. We are honored to call her a Bulldog and honored to name her the winner of the inaugural Footsteps Award.”

“Eugenia is such a great example of UGA alumni at their best: she went out into the world, she is excelling in her field and she is making a real difference,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association. “The work she has done and will continue to do makes her a perfect choice for this first Footsteps Award.”

Harvey will be honored in Atlanta at the spring reception of The 1961 Club, a UGA giving society named for the year of desegregation at UGA and composed of donors to the university’s Black Alumni Scholarship Fund. Nominations for the 2023 Footsteps Award will open in the fall.

Offbeat Media Group named fastest-growing UGA business

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Alumni Association recognized the fastest-growing companies owned or led by UGA alumni during the thirteenth annual Bulldog 100 Celebration on Feb. 5 in the West End Zone of Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.

The 2022 fastest-growing business, Offbeat Media Group, boasts four UGA graduates at the helm: Shepherd Ogden (BBA ’18), CEO and co-founder, Bailey Grady (BBA ’19), COO and co-founder, Christopher Travers (BBA ’17), COO and co-founder and Kevin Planovsky (ABJ ’05), advisor.

Atlanta-based Offbeat Media Group is a leading digital influence and media company that owns, builds, and brokers the largest native social media network of publishers and virtual influencers. Now with over 1 billion followers, the concept was trailblazed by one of its co-founders when he was just a sophomore in high school. With investments from venture capitalists like Mark Cuban, this company’s clients sit at the intersection of lifestyle, culture and entertainment. Those clients include TikTok, McDonald’s, Twitch, Cameo, Netflix, Warner Music Group and more.

“We are the product of what young entrepreneurs can do here at UGA,” said Shepherd Ogden. “I expect we’ll see many more companies like ours started by students that are in school right now because of the resources being dedicated by the university. Our UGA mentors and programs like the New Media Institute and Innovation District have been incredibly helpful.”

Ogden continued, “If there’s something I can ask everyone to do, it’s to continue to help student entrepreneurs. That’s the reason we’re standing here today, because of the help we were given at UGA.”

Rounding out the Bulldog 100 top ten are:

    1. Rheos Nautical Eyewear, Charleston, South Carolina
    2. Roadie, Atlanta, Georgia
    3. Bitcoin Depot, Atlanta, Georgia
    4. BIOLYTE, Canton, Georgia
    5. YouthServ360 Inc. dba 7 Pillars Career Academy, Forest Park, Georgia
    6. Edwards & Hawkins LLC, Atlanta, Georgia
    7. Golden Isles Pharmacy, Brunswick, Georgia
    8. LeaseQuery, Atlanta, Georgia
    9. inBrain, Atlanta, Georgia

“The 2022 Bulldog 100 recognizes outstanding alumni achievements, broadens those business leaders’ networks and celebrates a spirit of innovation at UGA,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association. “These alumni are leading the way in business, building better communities, and are committed to their ideas, their innovations and their employees. We are proud to celebrate their successes.”

Bulldog 100 companies were ranked, regardless of size, by evaluating their three-year compounded annual growth rates. The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors—a Bulldog 100 partner since the program began in 2009—verifies the information submitted by each company and determines the ranked list. On average, companies in the 2022 Bulldog 100 grew by 44 percent each year from 2019-2021.

Nominations were accepted from February to July 2021. UGA received 367 nominations for the 2022 Bulldog 100. Each organization must have been in business since 2018, experienced revenues over $100,000 for the calendar year 2019, and be owned or operated by a former UGA student who owns at least half of the company or is the CEO, president or managing partner.

During the Feb. 5 event, the UGA Alumni Association presented the fifth annual Michael J. Bryan Award to 1973 UGA graduate Rodger Breda, CEO and founder of Breda Pest Management.

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. The award recognizes a returning Bulldog 100 honoree whose business has not only sustained growth, but also demonstrates the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to UGA that was Bryan’s hallmark.

To view the complete list of 2022 Bulldog 100 businesses, visit alumni.uga.edu/b100.

Nominations for the 2023 Bulldog 100 are now open.

Black alumni-owned Bulldog businesses bring pride to UGA

“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous voice rang out these words, he might have been speaking directly to the stellar UGA Black alumni who appear on this year’s Bulldog 100 list. Their businesses are among the top 100 fastest-growing enterprises owned or operated by UGA graduates.

Entrepreneurs. Risk-takers. Leaders. Movers and shakers. Culture-shapers. These business owners each earned a place of pride—first as students of intelligence, character and commitment to UGA and its values… and now they’ve extended that commitment as professionals to their communities and the people they serve there. Together, these UGA alumni bear witness to the value of a degree from the birthplace of public higher education in America.

We’re tremendously proud of these business leaders and their successful leadership within their communities, industries and organizations.


The Barnes Law Office

Latasha Barnes (AB ’05, AB ’05)

Latasha Barnes hung out the shingle for her law firm in 2015 to serve metro Atlanta in criminal, family and personal injury law. She’s earned a reputation as an effective litigator and skilled negotiator in dozens of trials and thousands of criminal cases. In 2016, Barnes was named Top 40 under 40 in Criminal Defense by the National Trial Lawyers. For the past four years, she has been named a Rising Star on the Georgia Super Lawyers listing, a distinction only received by 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state. As a student, Barnes served as president of the UGA Chapter of the NAACP from 2003-2004.

 

The Brogdon Firm LLC

Gino Brogdon Jr. (JD ’11)

Gino Brogdon launched The Brogdon Firm in 2014, and it didn’t take long for his reputation to spread. Brogdon has earned selection as a Super Lawyer Rising Star each year since 2017, and he was recently featured as an Attorney to Watch in Atlanta Attorney and Law Magazine. His firm specializes in cases of catastrophic injury, personal injury and wrongful death. Brogdon is also making his mark as a legal innovator, co-founding FourthParty with his wife, Melissa. The web-based application gives lawyers remote access to legal information. In 2021, Google For Startups awarded FourthParty $100,000 as a high-potential legal-tech startup.

 

Edwards & Hawkins LLC

Cameron Hawkins (JD ’08)  

Cameron Hawkins became a partner with Donald Edwards at Edwards & Hawkins in 2019, bringing an outstanding track record in personal injury, commercial litigation and immigration law to a venerable five-decade-old firm. Recognized in 2017 as a University of Georgia School of Law Young Alumni of Excellence, Hawkins’s other accolades include a Thompson Reuters selection as a 2021 Super Lawyer, a 2021 Super Lawyers designation and selection to the national Top 40 Under 40 Black Lawyers. Hawkins holds a passion for community service, serving as a program director for the Fulton County Youth Leadership Academy, among other roles supporting the development of youth and young professionals. He’s a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

 

LeaseQuery

George Azih (BBA ’03) 

George Azih launched his software company, LeaseQuery, in 2011 with his roommate, Chris Ramsey (BS ’05), while still working as a full-time accountant. The promise of the startup, which uses innovated software to help accountants and financial professionals reduce lease accounting errors, lured him into full-time entrepreneurship in 2014. Azih hasn’t looked back. From 2018 to 2019, LeaseQuery’s client base doubled from 500 to more than 1,000, and it’s grown since to more than 2,000 clients in 93 countries. The dynamic expansion landed Azih as a finalist for the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® 2020 Southeast Award. In 2020 and 2021, LeaseQuery was named the No. 1 fastest-growing Bulldog 100 business, making it the first company to receive that title two years in a row. On Azih’s LinkedIn profile, he describes himself as “Founder & CEO of LeaseQuery. Proud father. UGA Bulldog.”

 

OSC Edge

Tiffany Bailey (AB ’02)  

Tiffany Bailey has parlayed an English degree from UGA into a notable entrepreneurial career. After a post-college position with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she founded OSC Edge in 2010. Her vision? Providing expert solutions in IT to government and businesses. As CEO and president, Bailey’s visionary management of day-to-day operations has led to contracts with IT clients and the Department of Defense. OSC Edge employs staff across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. Bailey is an alumna of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Program, a member of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, and the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

 

YouthServ360 Inc.

Christina Guillen (AB ’04, AB ’04)
Hilary Carruthers (AB ’04, BSW ’04, MSW ’06, DRPH ’21)
Jazmin Briggs (AB ’05)

Christina Guillen graduated from UGA and went immediately into the classroom at age 20 with Teach For America. That influential experience led her back to Clayton County, Georgia where she was determined to transform local education. In 2008, she created YouthServ360 to help young people experience travel and community service, the gifts that transformed her own life. Students in YouthServ360 programs have now performed 100,000 community service hours, taken 40 college tours and attended 200 life skills workshops. With colleagues and fellow UGA alumnae, Hilary Carruthers and Jazmin Briggs, Guillen and YouthServ360 also launched 7 Pillars Career Academy, the first charter school in Georgia to allow students to set their own pace in curriculum and place of engagement.

 


Written by Charles McNair

Checking in with Alumni Board Member Kevin Abernethy

There’s a group of committed UGA alumni who dedicate their time, energy, and financial resources to bringing Bulldogs together year-round, worldwide, and lifelong. The UGA Alumni Board of Directors represents UGA’s diverse and passionate alumni family and strives to provide feedback, guidance and leadership as the university seeks to ensure that its graduates Never Bark Alone. Throughout the year, we’ll get to know these spirited graduates who hail from various backgrounds and are involved in all corners of campus.

Name:

  • Kevin Abernethy

I live in:

  • Macon, Georgia

Degree:

  • 1999 – Political Science (UGA)

My current job:

  • Chief of the Civil Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia

Kevin was named a 2013 Fulton County Daily Report 40 Under 40 Legal Star on the Rise.

I joined the alumni board in:

  • 2020

Ways I support UGA:

My first job after graduation:

  • Legislative assistant in the Georgia General Assembly

In 2019, Kevin was sworn in as an assistant U.S. attorney alongside his mother and former U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler.

If I had $1 million, I would support the ­_____ fund on campus.

The UGA class that I enjoyed the most was:

A story that stands out as a UGA student:

  • In 1997, then UGA President Michael Adams and then Assistant to the President Victor Wilson (BSW ’82, MED ’87) asked me to speak during President Adams’ inauguration as the student representative. Georgia Gov. Zell Miller (AB ’57, MA ’58) and University System of Georgia Chancellor Stephen Portch were platform speakers with me.
  • Over a thousand people from all over the country attended. President Adams and Victor ensured my parents could be present. Speaking at that event remains one of the highest honors of my life. I will always be grateful to UGA, President Adams and Victor for giving me the privilege.

As a student, Kevin was invited to speak at the 1998 inauguration ceremony for UGA President Michael F. Adams. He’s seen here on the day with the late Georgia Governor and U.S. Senator Zell Miller (AB ’57, MA ’58) (left) and Victor K. Wilson (BSW ’82, MED ’87), who is now UGA’s vice president for student affairs.

My family includes:

  • Mother, Marcia Abernethy
  • Brother, Patrick Abernethy (BBA ’01)
  • Sister-in-law, Erin Abernethy (AB ’03)
  • Nephews William, Henry and Locke Abernethy
  • Sister, Anne Abernethy (DVM ’12)

Kevin and his brother Patrick (BBA ’01), sister-in-law Erin (AB ’03), mother Marcia, and nephews.

A special connection I have to UGA is:

  • My great uncle, John T. Jones (BS ’39), played football at UGA for Wally Butts. He missed being on the 1942 National Championship team by one year.

As a student, I was involved in:

The Red & Black ran an article in 1997 following the Student Government Association election in which Kevin was elected president and his friend Ryan Oliver was elected as vice president.

On a Friday night in college, you would have found me:

A fellow UGA grad who inspires me:

Do you remember someone as a student who has since “made it big?”

  • Yes—Kirby Smart!

The most significant change to the physical campus since I was a student:

  • The Miller Learning Center

My favorite tradition at UGA:

  • Spending time on North Campus
  • Visiting Jackson Street Cemetery
  • Getting together with friends and spending time downtown

Kevin and his nephews, Wills and Henry Abernethy.

Favorite band:

  • REM

On gameday, you’ll find me:

  • Tailgating adjacent to the Tate Student Center

Kevin enjoys a game in Sanford Stadium with his nephew.

When I visit Athens, I grab a bite at:

  • The Last Resort Grill

My most disliked athletic rival:

  • Florida

My No. 1 tip to a graduating Bulldog:

  • Work hard and don’t be deterred by adversity.

No. 1 tip to a fellow Georgia grad who has lost touch with our alma mater:

  • Consider getting involved with your local UGA Alumni Chapter.

Kevin’s support across campus—including his commitment to supporting the Division of Student Affairs— embodies the spirit of UGA. We appreciate his unwavering dedication to his alma mater.