Grady College of Journalism celebrates its 40 Under 40 honorees

Sarah Freeman and Dayne Young, along with other talented members of Grady’s team of writers, put these features together!

Seven Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication graduates are represented in this year’s 40 Under 40 class. This annual program celebrates young alumni leading the pack in their industries and communities, and Grady was proud to highlight each of them on their blog this summer/fall.

Angela Alfano

Angela Alfano

Angela Alfano (ABJ ’10, AB ’10) is the senior director of corporate communications for Major League Soccer. She used her public relations education and experience with UGA Athletics to embark on a trailblazing career in professional sports. Alfano also has worked in corporate communications for the National Football League, Washington Football Team and Tough Mudder. She regularly shares her time and expertise with UGA students. Alfano was recognized as a 2019 John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award winner.

Learn more about Angela.

Jennifer Bellamy

Jennifer Bellamy

Jennifer Bellamy (ABJ ’08) is an anchor and reporter for 11 Alive News in Atlanta. Bellamy has been a journalist for multiple television stations around the south. Bellamy’s fellow Grady grads, mentors and past professors supported her on her journey through broadcast news. She has earned various awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in 2015 for Outstanding Local Television Investigative Reporting for report on “DSS: When the System Fails,” the Bronze Medallion from the Society of Professional Journalists and several Southeast Emmy awards.

Learn more about Jennifer.

Greg Bluestein

Greg Bluestein

Greg Bluestein (ABJ ’04, AB ’04) is a political reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and covers the governor’s office and state politics. He joined the newspaper in June 2012 after spending seven years with the Atlanta bureau of The Associated Press, where he covered a range of beats including politics and legal affairs. He contributes to the AJC’s Political Insider blog and is writing a book, “How the Peach State Turned Purple,” about the 2020 Georgia elections. He discussed the publication process and identifying local angles in national stories in this episode of Grady College’s The Lead podcast.

Learn more about Greg.

Marie Green Broder

Marie Greene Broder

Marie Greene Broder (ABJ ’06, AB ’06, JD ’10) is the first female district attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit, including Fayette, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties. Broder graduated from UGA as a dual public relations and speech communications major and continued with a law degree. She has developed a specialty in trying crimes against women and children, and is involved with Promise Place and the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Child Advocacy Center.

Learn more about Marie.

Bowen Reichert Shoemaker

Bowen Reichert Shoemaker

Elizabeth “Bowen” Reichert Shoemaker (ABJ ’06) is an assistant United States attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a position she has held since 2018. Previously, she was a senior associate at Alston & Bird, LLP and a law clerk to Judge Hugh Lawson. While at UGA, she majored in public relations and was in the Honors Program and Arch Society. Shoemaker earned her law degree from Mercer Law School where she served as editor-in-chief of the Law Review. In her hometown of Macon, Shoemaker serves on the executive board of the Macon Rotary Club, as an adjunct professor at Mercer Law School, and on the executive committee of the Macon Arts Alliance.

Learn more about Bowen.

Britanny Thoms

Brittany Thoms

Brittany Thoms (ABJ ’04) is the co-founder and president of See.Spark.Go, an Athens-based public relations agency. She and her husband, Andy Thoms (BSFCS ’02), founded See.Spark.Go in 2007 with the goal of telling the best stories in the world. They specialize in publicity, social media and digital marketing. Their team has worked with some of the nation’s largest brands on many successful campaigns and events.

Learn more about Brittany.

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Angela Alfano, champion of the sports industry

Angela Alfano (AB, ABJ ’10), senior director of corporate communications for Major League Soccer, is committed to empowering the next generation of sports executives.

For her personal, professional and philanthropic achievements, Angela ranked among UGA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2021. The program celebrates young alumni leading the pack in their industries and communities.

Angela being interviewed

Angela being interviewed after the John E. Drewry Young Alumni Awards ceremony at UGA.

Who is Angela Alfano?

Angela graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with a master’s degree in Sports Industry Management and received undergraduate degrees in both public relations and political science from the University of Georgia. Angela started her sports communications career working as a student assistant in UGA’s Sports Information Department.

A strategic young executive, Angela has more than a decade of leadership and innovation in communications.

Since joining Major League Soccer in July of 2018, Angela has been instrumental in garnering positive publicity for the league outside the traditional scope of soccer. She showcases the business behind the brand, finding creative ways to highlight executives in the media and oversee strategies for the league.

UGA Sports Communications-Student Assistants Oct 2009

Angela Alfano (lower left) as a UGA sports communications student assistant in 2009.

What led Angela to Major League Soccer?

Prior to her work at Major League Soccer, Angela spent two years at Tough Mudder’s NYC headquarters in the communications department and six years working in public relations for professional football – both at the National Football League (NFL) headquarters and the Washington Football Team.

Angela oversaw corporate communications for the Washington Football Team where she promoted the team’s community relations and publicized player, coach and ownership initiatives off the field. She also oversaw media credentialing, press box staff supervision and event media coverage recaps for the team.

Angela then moved onto the NFL, where she elevated league initiatives, such as Breast Cancer Awareness, Salute to Service and PLAY 60. She led more than 20 press conferences annually at the Super Bowl and developed public relations campaigns for major league events, such as NFL Kickoff and Draft.

Angela at an MLS All Star Game

Angela working at an MLS All Star Game.

How have Angela’s efforts been recognized?

Angela was honored by PRSA Chicago with a Chicago Skyline Award for “Establishing a New Identity for the NFL Draft” and as one of PR News’ “Rising Stars 30 and Under.” In 2019, she received Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award and currently serves on UGA’s AdPR Executive Advisory Council. Angela was also honored as one of Sigma Kappa’s National Headquarters 35 Under 35.

Watch Grady College salute Angela Alfano: 

Where is Angela now?

Angela currently resides in New York with her husband Michael and dog, Lohi.

Angela dedicates her free time to the next generation of young sports PR executives. She serves as a supportive and accessible mentor to women and men in sports businesses. Passionate about championing a new wave of leadership in the industry, Angela and her husband, Michael O’ Brien, created the “Alfano and O’Brien Sports Communication Award”— an endowment through the Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications to help students pursuing a career in the sports industry.

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Eric Gray advocates for inclusive adventure sports

Eric Gray (BSED ’04), executive director of Catalyst Sports, is committed to service and adventure. Eric and his team of dedicated volunteers break down the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from accessing adventure sports in their communities.

For his personal, professional and philanthropic achievements, Eric ranked among UGA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2021. The program celebrates young alumni leading the pack in their industries and communities.

Discover how Catalyst Sports creates an inclusive environment for people with disabilities: 

How did Eric Gray become involved in Catalyst Sports?

Eric Gray received a degree in recreation and leisure studies from the Mary Frances Early College of Education. From a young age, he had a passion for improving the world around him.

At the age of 10, Gray received treatment for childhood cancer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Twenty-five years later, he returned to Children’s as a recreation therapist to give back and share his experiences to those facing similar circumstances. He also worked for the National Ability Center, where he taught people with disabilities how to ski, snowboard, canoe, climb, horseback, and cycle.

Removing barriers and creating access for people with disabilities is at the heart of Eric Gray’s work.

What is Catalyst Sports?

Catalyst Sports is a chapter based, nonprofit organization which gives people with physical disabilities access to adventures within a supportive community. Adventure sports like climbing and cycling empower people with disabilities to discover their strength.

“The Catalyst Sports family has helped me in my recovery, helped me heal and grow, test my physical and mental boundaries and has introduced me to new groups of people who love life and embrace challenges. I can’t thank you enough,” said Michael Breed, an active member of Catalyst Sports.

How can you support the mission to make sports more inclusive?

Private support is essential to Catalyst Sports’ success. The nonprofit relies on contributions from the community to ensure a more inclusive tomorrow. Donations support opportunities for training, certification, scholarships, recruitment, and purchasing new equipment.

SUPPORT CATALYST SPORTS

UGA Alumni Association unveils the 2021 Class of 40 Under 40

Alumni Association recognizes outstanding graduates under the age of 40  

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2021. This program celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of successful UGA graduates under the age of 40. The honorees will be recognized during the 11th annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon Sept. 10 in the Tate Student Center on campus.

This year’s outstanding group of young alumni includes a Major League Soccer communications director, United States Air Force commander, 11Alive News anchor, White House senior policy advisor and an award-winning writer.

“We are excited to unveil this year’s class of 40 Under 40 and welcome them back home to Athens for the awards luncheon in September,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “I continue to be amazed by the excellence of our young alumni. These outstanding individuals exemplify leadership in their industries and communities.”

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and more than 400 nominations were received for this year’s class. Honorees must have attended UGA and uphold the Pillars of the Arch, which are wisdom, justice and moderation. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni Association website.

“This year’s honorees highlight the transformational work UGA graduates are doing early in their careers,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “Among this year’s class are individuals who are solving some of the greatest challenges facing our country and the world. During a particularly challenging year, we are especially proud to call them members of the Bulldog family.”

The 2021 Class of 40 Under 40, including their graduation year(s) from UGA, city, title and employer, are:

Angela Alfano (ABJ ’10, AB ’10), New York, New York, senior director of corporate communications, Major League Soccer 

Jennifer Bellamy (ABJ ’08), Atlanta, anchor, 11Alive News 

Lauren D. Bellamy (AB ’04, JD ’07), Atlanta, senior associate general counsel, Grady Health System 

Greg Bluestein (AB ’04, ABJ ’04), Dunwoody, Georgia, political reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

Marie Greene Broder (AB ’06, ABJ ’06, JD ’10), Griffin, Georgia, district attorney, Griffin Judicial Circuit

Gayle Cabrera (BBA ’06), Cary, North Carolina, market president, SVP, Truist

Mario Cambardella (BLA ’06, MEPD ’11, MLA ’13), Chamblee, Georgia, founder/CEO, ServeScape

Shontel Cargill (BS ’10), Johns Creek, Georgia, assistant clinic director, Thriveworks

Rebecca Chancey (BS ’04), Atlanta, Georgia, lieutenant commander, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Public Health Service

Carter Coe (MFR ’11), Atlanta, managing partner, Chinook Forest Partners

Harin J. Contractor (AB ’04, AB ’04), Washington, D.C., senior policy advisor, National Economic Council at the White House

Tunisia Finch Cornelius (BS ’04), Atlanta, doctor, Divine Dermatology & Aesthetics

William Flowers Crozer (JD ’12), Washington, D.C., vice president, BGR Group

Jennifer A. Crozier (BS ’06), Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, assistant professor and director of breast cancer research, Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center

David A. Dy (BS ’03), Tuscola, Texas, commander, 7 Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, United States Air Force

Keith Giddens (MACC ’04), Charlotte, North Carolina, market managing partner for Charlotte, Dixon Hughes Goodman

Eric Gray (BSED ’04), Atlanta, executive director, Catalyst Sports Inc.

Cody Hall (AB ’15), Dawsonville, Georgia, director of communications, Office of the Governor

John Hyer (PHARMD ’12), Murphy, North Carolina, CEO and owner, King’s Pharmacy

Whitney Ingram (BS ’11, PHD ’16), Albuquerque, New Mexico, R&D S&E electronics engineer, Sandia National Laboratories

Ryan Loke (AB ’16), Atlanta, deputy chief operating officer, Office of the Governor

Josh Mackey (AB ’05), Atlanta, partner/founder, Capital City Public Affairs

Ana Maria Martinez (BBA ’04), Decatur, Georgia, president/staff attorney, Georgia Latino Law Foundation/DeKalb State Court

Willie Mazyck (BSED ’04, MED ’06, MBA ’14), Atlanta, senior vice president of talent development, XPO Logistics, Inc.

Anna Wrigley Miller (AB ’14), Watkinsville, Georgia, general government division manager, Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget

E. Heath Milligan (BSFCS ’05), Marietta, Georgia, principal, Macallan Real Estate

David W. Okun (AB ’12, AB ’12), Alexandria, Virginia, country officer, U.S. Department of State

Jitendra Pant (PHD ’18), Ann Arbor, Michigan, scientific research fellow, University of Michigan

Biren Patel (MBA ’12), Macon, Georgia, founder and president, Biren Patel Engineering LLC

Doug Reineke (AB ’05), Atlanta, director of state government relations,  CareSource

Victoria Sanchez (AB ’08, MA ’10), Washington, D.C., special assistant, U.S. Department of State

Terrel Sanders (BS ’05), Accra, Ghana, lieutenant commander, lab director, Infectious Diseases, Global Health Engagement, U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 3 Ghana Detachment

Josh Sandler (BBA ’09), Nairobi, Kenya, co-founder and CEO, Lori Systems

Hilary Shipley (BSFCS ’04), Savannah, Georgia, principal, Colliers International Savannah

Bowen Reichert Shoemaker (ABJ ’06), Macon, Georgia, assistant united states attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office

Cara Winston Simmons (AB ’03, MED ’07, PHD ’18), Athens, director and adjunct faculty, University of Georgia

Daniel W. Stewart (BSFCS ’05), Augusta, Georgia, president and COO, Wier / Stewart

Brittany Thoms (ABJ ’04), Watkinsville, Georgia, president, co-founder, See.Spark.Go

Tracey D. Troutman (BSA ’07, MAL ’08), Washington, D.C., director, Office of Outreach, Diversity and Equal Opportunity, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

Raquel D. Willis (ABJ ’13), Brooklyn, New York, writer, activist

Life lessons from the 40 Under 40’s two black belts

Stacey Chavis and Jack Hartpence.

Stacey Chavis (left) and Jack Hartpence (right) are the 40 Under 40 Class of 2020’s only two Tae Kwon Do black belts.

Success. What’s the secret?

It’s an answer everyone is seeking—and for good reason. For answers, a good place to start would be this year’s 40 Under 40 class, which is filled with Bulldogs who are leading the pack in their industries and communities.

Success, and the secret to achieving it, is different for each person. But for two of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, there was a common ingredient—an ancient art that taught lessons to help them succeed.

Stacey Chavis (MSL ’19) and Jack Hartpence (AB ’15) earned a spot in the 40 Under 40 Class of 2020. Chavis lives in Atlanta and works in political fundraising, training and advocacy. Hartpence resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, bringing sustainable water solutions to communities around the world. While their lives look different, they both attribute their success to the lessons they learned from Tae Kwon Do, a Korean form of martial arts.

Hartpence: Live in the present

When Hartpence looks back on his life, he sees that Tae Kwon Do wasn’t just an after-school activity. It introduced him to an entire thought tradition that valued the importance of staying rooted in the present.

His Tae Kwon Do instructor taught him to meditate to clear his mind and let go of distractions. Today, regular meditation is part of Hartpence’s routine, helping him stay calm in tough moments and foster creativity.

But it wasn’t always this way. After surviving a 2017 car accident in which he was T-boned by a tractor trailer traveling at 60 mph, Hartpence was forced to reckon with the reality that his time is limited. He leaned into the familiar teachings of his Tae Kwon Do experience to root himself in the only moment he truly has—the present one.

“If we are anxious, we’re afraid of the future. If we’re sad, we’re down on the past,” Hartpence said. “We need to stay in the present moment. And if we just stay here in that present moment, then what we’re able to do is live our best moment.”

Since then, Hartpence has sought to prioritize altruism in his daily life, working to create a better world and live presently, knowing that time should not be taken for granted. He shared more about his story and his work in a recent Instagram story takeover on the UGA Alumni account.

Chavis: You will fail

Chavis started practicing Tae Kwon Do as a middle schooler in Greenville, South Carolina. At first, she was reluctant, signed up by her mother to take part alongside her younger brother. She ended up loving it and the three ended up practicing together as a family.

Stacey Chavis and her family at Tae Kwon Do practice.

Stacey Chavis (right) at Tae Kwon Do practice with her mother (left) and brother (middle) in the mid-1990s.

A few years later, Chavis tested for her black belt. She failed.

“The biggest lesson I learned is that you will fail,” Chavis said. “You will fall on your face, but you have to pick yourself back up and try again.”

Chavis had to wait six months before she could test again. She trained hard and earned her black belt on the second attempt. The experience still influences her perseverance today.

“My life lesson is that I give myself three times to apply for something,” Chavis said. “If at first you don’t succeed, try again because maybe this time wasn’t your time.”

Hartpence: Embrace competition

Through Tae Kwon Do, Hartpence participated in sparring competitions. Those experiences established an appreciation for competition that Hartpence has stitched into the culture of his company, Powwater.

“Competing is not a bad thing. The ancient word ‘compete’ is a Greek word that means ‘strive together,’” Hartpence said. “You want to fight against a guy who’s better than you in your practice. In the process of competing, we get better together.”

At Powwater, the company culture reflects the ethos of competition. Hartpence encourages an open forum model, which encourages all employees to step into the arena with their thoughts and ideas. He believes this approach breaks down bureaucratic structures that limit the flow of good ideas from employees and creates a dialogue in which ideas are debated and developed for the benefit of the entire company.

Chavis: Build relationships

Chavis works in politics, a field where it’s easy to only focus on building relationships with those who are in the same party. For the advocacy work that Chavis does, that approach doesn’t cut it.

In Tae Kwon Do, Chavis trained as part of a community. She learned her forms (a detailed and choreographed series of kicks and strikes), practiced her technique, sparred with, and broke boards alongside her classmates. That community, comprising students from different backgrounds, became crucial to her training and is reflected in her relational approach to work today.

“I tell people all the time: people do business with people who they know and like,” Chavis said. “So, it’s building those relationships, it’s building that community and camaraderie, and it’s working toward a common goal.”

As a public policy advocate, Chavis’s job is to identify and promote solutions to problems facing the state of Georgia. To do this, she depends on her relationships with members of both major political parties.

“I have friends who are drastically different from me but we can agree that no child should be trafficked for sex, we can agree that Georgia needs to make investments in our education system, we can agree on making neighborhoods safer for families,” Chavis said. “So, we can find areas that we can agree and work together to address those problems.”

Tae Kwon Do is not a prerequisite to success but for these two, their martial arts experience definitely gave them a leg up.

COVID-19 researcher Erin Mordecai (BS ’07) named to 40 Under 40

Erin Mordecai (BS ’07), an infectious diseases researcher at Stanford University, was named to the University of Georgia 40 Under 40 Class of 2020. But this isn’t her first time making headlines this year.

As an assistant professor of biology, Mordecai studies how major human-caused global changes, like climate change, land use change or global movement, affect infectious diseases in humans and wildlife. Using innovative mathematical and statistical modeling, she seeks to understand how humans are changing the world and how those changes affect human health.

In March, as the nation came to a grinding halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mordecai saw an opportunity to contribute her expertise during a time of uncertainty. Mordecai led her team of infectious diseases researchers to develop a COVID-19 intervention model, which was then made available online. Her interactive website allowed users to model the spread of COVID-19 over time using non-pharmaceutical interventions, like social distancing and quarantine. During a time in which many government officials and members of the general public were not yet familiar with these strategies, her website was critical for communities in her region. Wary of the resurgence of the 1918 flu pandemic, when most major cities ended control measures within eight weeks, Mordecai wanted to help people understand the effectiveness of long-term strategies.

“Our model, and historical evidence, shows that fully lifting control measures at any point in the epidemic could lead to a second wave,” Mordecai said. “When you have a population where most of the people remain susceptible, fully returning to business as usual is extremely risky, and could result in many lives lost unnecessarily.”

Screenshot of the interactive website developed by Mordecai’s team. Source: https://covid-measures.github.io/.

 As communities continue assessing how long social distancing measures need to be in place, Mordecai believes it is important to recognize how to prevent a resurgence, especially when a widespread vaccine is not available yet.

“There’s a lag of about three weeks between an intervention being lifted and its resulting effect on deaths,” Mordecai said. “Policymakers won’t be able to begin assessing the results of their actions until three weeks later, when the virus could have spread widely through the population.”

In order to prevent that problem, communities are developing processes to manage a potential second wave.

“There may be some potential to bring a second peak under control and respond more quickly if testing is sufficiently widespread prior to reopening and if it’s combined with rigorous contact tracing and infected isolation,” Mordecai said.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for communities eager to return to normalcy. However, communities must be prepared to move to a test-and-trace system, in which testing is widespread and those who encounter sick individuals are isolated. They also must be able to intensify and relax social distancing and quarantine measures based on the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

“Our work shows that we could considerably relax the level of social distancing we’re practicing in the general population if we could more comprehensively test all symptomatic and high-risk individuals for COVID-19 and isolate them to prevent transmission,” Mordecai explained.

Mordecai’s model has become a useful tool for San Francisco Bay Area public officials as it allows them to compare different strategies, while seeing how their policies now will affect their options down the road.

At UGA, Mordecai was a Foundation Fellow, a Ramsey scholar and an honors student, earning an honors interdisciplinary studies degree in mathematical biology. She went on to earn her Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“Fortunately for me, UGA remains a world leader in the ecology of infectious disease, and these deep research connections continue to bring me back to campus at least once a year,” Mordecai said.

 

University of Georgia unveils 40 Under 40 Class of 2020

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled its 40 Under 40 Class of 2020. This annual recognition program celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of successful UGA graduates under the age of 40.

This year’s honorees work in a variety of industries and include a Paralympic athlete, a veterinarian for SeaWorld, an emergency room doctor in New York City, a policy director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a “Good Morning America” producer.

“This year’s honorees highlight the amazing work UGA graduates are doing early in their careers,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “Among this year’s class are individuals who are solving some of the greatest challenges facing our country and the world. During a particularly challenging year, we are especially proud to call them members of the Bulldog family.”

The 2020 Class of 40 Under 40, including their graduation year(s) from UGA, city, title and employer, are:

Ashish Advani (PHARMD ’07), Atlanta, Georgia, CEO, InpharmD

Thomas D. Beusse (AB ’08), Marietta, Georgia, Executive Director, Georgia Retail Association

Ginny Barton Bowen (BS ’04), Atlanta, Georgia, Lieutenant Commander, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Eddie Beanard Bradford Jr. (BBA ’04), Atlanta, Georgia, Tax Principal, Frazier & Deeter LLC

Laine Bradshaw (BSED ’07, MED ’07, PHD ’11), Athens, Georgia, Founder and CEO, Navvy Education LLC

Jeffrey Brown (AB ’05), Decatur, Georgia, Vice President of Development and Marketing, Partnership Against Domestic Violence

Geary D. Bush (BSA ’03), Gainesville, Georgia, General Surgeon, Longstreet Clinic

John D. Cates (AB ’07, MBA ’11, JD ’12), Augusta, Georgia, Chief Operating Officer, Meybohm Real Estate

Stacey A. Chavis (MSL ’19), Brookhaven, Georgia, Managing Director, Campaigns Academy

Rennie Curran (BBA ’17), Atlanta, Georgia, CEO, Keynote speaker, Author and Personal Development Coach, Game Changer LLC

Chuck Efstration (AB ’04), Auburn, Georgia, State Representative, Georgia General Assembly

Wells Ellenberg (AB ’13), Washington, D.C., Governmental Affairs Manager, Southern Company

Claire Erlacher-Reid (DVM ’08), Orlando, Florida, Senior Veterinarian, SeaWorld Florida

Jason Faircloth (BSAE ’05), Carrollton, Georgia, Vice President of Sales, National Accounts, Southwire Company LLC

Tsion Firew (BS ’07), New York, New York, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center

Houston A. Gaines (AB ’17, AB ’17), Athens, Georgia, State Representative, Georgia General Assembly

Adam Gobin (AB ’06, BS ’06, MPH ’08), Atlanta, Georgia, Assistant Vice President, Wellstar Health System

Leslie Hale (MPA ’13), Athens, Georgia, Executive Director, Books for Keeps

Mamie Marie Harper (BSW ’09), Atlanta, Georgia, Executive Director and Founder, Carrie’s Closet of Georgia

Jack Hartpence (AB ’15), Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Co-Founder and CEO, Powwater

Jasmin Severino Hernandez (AB ’13, AB ’13), Brookhaven, Georgia, Associate Attorney, Chamberlain Hrdlicka at Law

Eric Jones Jr. (AB ’12, ABJ ’12), New York, New York, Entertainment Producer, ABC News, Good Morning America

Brittany DeJarnett Kisner (BSED ’07), Aiken, South Carolina, Co-Founder and Chairman, The Kevin and Brittany Kisner Foundation

Samantha Arsenault Livingstone (BSED ’05, MED ’08), Williamstown, Massechusetts, Founder and CEO, Livingstone High Performance

Cheryl L. Maier (AB ’04, BS ’04), Atlanta, Georgia, Medical Director, Emory Special Coagulation Laboratory, Emory University School of Medicine

Jay McCracken (BS ’05), Atlanta, Georgia, Neurosurgical Oncologist, Piedmont Atlanta Hospital Brain Tumor Center

Ashley McMaster (ABJ ’06), Washington, D.C., Vice President, Membership and Development America’s Essential Hospitals

Erin Mordecai (BS ’07), Stanford, California, Assistant Professor, Stanford University

Kiana C. Morris (MBA ’14), Atlanta, Georgia, Associate Director for Policy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

David G. Quintero (BBA ’06), Armed Forces Pacific, Deputy Director for Dental Specialists, Periodontist, United States Navy

Jamelia Outlaw Smith (ABJ ’03), Atlanta, Georgia, Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Cox Enterprises

Matt Stevens (AB ’03, MPA ’14), Athens, Georgia, Vice President of Strategic Impact, Creature Comforts Brewing Co.

Mikaya Thurmond (ABJ ’12), Raleigh, North Carolina, Anchor and Reporter, WRAL-TV

Charles T. Tuggle III (BS ’05), New Orleans, Louisiana, Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery, LSU Health Sciences Center

Jarryd Wallace (AB ’19), Watkinsville, Georgia, Professional Athlete and Director of Affordable Blade Project, Xiborg Inc., United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee

Lauren K. Ward (JD ’07, MNR ’12, PHD ’17), Boone, North Carolina, General Counsel and Director of Regulatory Affairs, Forest Landowners Association

Franklin West (PHD ’08), Athens, Georgia, Associate Professor, University of Georgia

Amanda Dalton Wilbanks (BBA ’09), Gainesville, Georgia, Owner and Founder, Southern Baked Pie Company

Matthew Wilson (BSA ’06, JD ’14), Brookhaven, Georgia, Attorney, Wilson Law Firm, State Representative, Georgia General Assembly

Tosha Dunnigan Wright (BSFCS ’05), Douglasville, Georgia, Co-Founder, The Wright Stuff Chics

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and 374 alumni were nominated for this year’s class. Honorees must have attended UGA and uphold the Pillars of the Arch, which are wisdom, justice and moderation. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni website.

Due to the challenges presented by COVID-19, there will not be a 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon this fall. Plans to celebrate this year’s class virtually are under way.

Robbie York (ABJ ’05) talks NYC, American Whiskey, and UGA

Robbie York, 40 Under 40

Robbie York is presented with a UGA 40 Under 40 award alongside UGA President Jere W. Morehead (JD ’80) (left) and Brian Dill (AB ’94, MBA ’19), president of the UGA Alumni Association.

Robbie York (ABJ ’05) is a Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication graduate who lives in New York City and owns the official UGA venue in the Big Apple, American Whiskey. American Whiskey is the “home” of the NYC alumni chapter’s game-watching parties. In September, Robbie was recognized as a 40 Under 40 honoree by the UGA Alumni Association. We caught up with Robbie to learn more about how he’s helping foster a spirit of camaraderie and Bulldog spirit in the city that never sleeps.

How long have you lived in NYC?

Almost 14 years.

When did you open American Whiskey?

We are in the middle of our seventh year.

How long have the NYC Dawgs hosted game-watching parties at American Whiskey?

All 7 years. We hosted at another location for 6 years before that.

Did you open American Whiskey with the hope it would become NYC’s top UGA venue?

We definitely courted NYC Dawgs to come with us from a previous location. This was not only due to my affiliation and passion for the University of Georgia, but we (my partners and I) have always enjoyed the crowd and spirit of the game-watching parties. The answer is that we were hoping that the NYC Dawgs would want to be our one and only game-watching crowd, and we are proud to say they are.

How have game-watching parties grown since you started hosting them?

They have definitely grown over the years, I would say that this was due to many factors. Winning seasons help. Social media is a lot more prevalent than it used to be. We like to think that we make the party better every year. Improvements include menu changes, drink special updates, and little details (playlists, decor, etc) that add extra touches for everyone who visits.

What makes Saturdays in NYC special?

New York City is a difficult place to make it. So when you’ve had a hard week of work and the stress that goes along with it, Saturdays at American Whiskey become a place to cheer with your friends, meet other folks trying to survive in NYC, and find a common bond–which in this case is Georgia Football.

American Whiskey

A photo of American Whiskey, courtesy of Moreen Construction.

How does being a UGA alumnus impact the relationship between American Whiskey and the NYC alumni chapter?

I try my best to allow NYC Dawgs the accessibility of AW as much as possible. We offer our space for all events with no minimum, so it allows the chapter to have flexibility that very few volunteer organizations enjoy. I also work hard at using my status as an owner to leverage food and beverage brands to donate and help sponsor other events.

What’s the best part of hosting game-watching parties?

The excitement and joy that people share with each other. I love seeing people who get as excited for a touchdown as they do seeing someone in AW that they haven’t seen since college. Helping people make connections is the most special part of being there.

What’s something people might not know about NYC’s game-watching parties at American Whiskey?

We play Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” when we win, immediately after the 4th quarter. Lots of people who are here know that, however, it came about from the happy accident of the music getting stuck in our internal system, and those songs being next in line.

40 Under 40 profile: Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11)

Brooke Beach

This article was originally posted on Grady’s site on August 27, 2019.

Grady College is proud to have four alumni recognized as 2019 40 under 40 honorees, presented by the University of Georgia Alumni Association. The 40 under 40 celebration, recognizing the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates under the age of 40, takes place Sept. 13. This interview with Brooke Beach, the CEO and founder of Marketwake, is the first in a series of conversations with Grady’s honorees this year.

Grady College: What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today?

Brooke Beach: It was becoming a Grady Ambassador. It helped me expand my horizons on what life could be like after college. It’s no surprise that college students can get tunnel vision. Everything is about your classes, your friends, and your free time. It can be overwhelming to have a concept of what life will be like after graduation, but being a Grady Ambassador helped me place goals around who I wanted to be. I had the opportunity to meet and learn from incredible leaders, innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs — and I was inspired to be like them. It made me think far bigger than I had before and gave me goals to strive for.

GC: What skills and/or values and/or circumstances do you attribute to your success?

BB: Persistence and perspective. I’m sure it is exhausting for the people around me, but I do not give up — I don’t even know what that means!

But perspective is equally important; it gives you the ability to see both sides and make a decision on the best path forward for the greatest amount of people. The world is hard, and we cannot keep going if we don’t acknowledge it for what it is. But the next step is more important: to decide if we will do something great in spite of the difficulties. Each of us needs to be self-aware enough to know when to learn from mistakes and change, and when to move forward. I love this quote by Teddy Roosevelt, and I feel it captures this sentiment far more eloquently than I:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

GC: What motivates you?

BB: I have one shot in this world — one chance to make something of the blessings I’ve been given. David Rae said that CEOs are less afraid of dying than they are of not contributing to the world, and that describes me perfectly. I am compelled to build, create, grow, and serve, and I know that I have the opportunity to work hard to fulfill it. I’ve experienced great loss, deaths, injuries, surgeries, medical conditions, and pain beyond belief. I’ve learned that I need to acknowledge these storms, feel the loss, and then keep going. Every single one of us has a story — it’s what makes us who we are — and I want to use my experience to help others tell their truths.

GC: What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?

BB: You are responsible for what you become. One of my favorite books is “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. All people should read this at least three times in their life!

In the book, Carnegie says: “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”  This could not be more true. The second you start to focus on all the reasons you “can’t,” or shift blame on others, you fail. If you want to grow, your focus should be on what you want to accomplish, why you can achieve it, and how you’ll get there.  Don’t be your biggest bully. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Change the way you think and you can change your future.”

Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11) is a member of the UGA 40 Under 40 Class of 2019. She graduated from Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2011 with a degree in public relations. She is the founder and CEO of Marketwake, a digital marketing agency based in Atlanta.

On Thursday, September 7, Brooke took over the UGA Alumni Association Instagram Story to show us a day in the life of Brooke Beach! You can watch that takeover here. 

Inside the life of Will Carr (ABJ ’06), an ABC news correspondent

Each year, UGA’s 40 Under 40 program recognizes 40 young alumni who are leaders and change-makers. We spoke with one of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, ABC News Correspondent Will Carr (ABJ ’06), to get a look into the high-speed life of a national broadcast journalist.

What has been your career path since graduating from UGA?

I was in Grady’s Newsource 15, and through that program landed my first on-air job in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was there for about 2.5 years, and then secured a job in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I broke a couple stories at the border, and amazingly, ABC reached out to me. At the same time, FOX News reached out to me as well. In 2012 or 2013, FOX offered me a job as a national correspondent, where I could travel to cover big news stories, so I joined FOX News in their Los Angeles bureau for five years.

At that time, ABC came back on me and said, “we’ve been following your career, we love what you’ve been doing, we’d like to fly you to New York.” Since that’s the place that I’ve always wanted to work, it was like a dream come true. It didn’t happen exactly right when I wanted it to, but ultimately things played out the way they needed to. FOX gave me a lot of experience with national stories that helped me hit the ground running when I got the job at ABC.

When did you realize you wanted to go into news?

During my freshman year at Georgia, I walked on the football team. This was not a big deal because I was basically a tackling dummy. When I realized that my football career had fizzled out, I decided to go into the broadcasting program. I wanted to be an athlete, but I felt like if I can’t keep playing, then I’d like to at least cover sports. 

Newsource 15 forced us to rotate in the position every day. Through that experience, I fell in love with hard news, not even meaning to. From there, sports became sort of entertainment for me and I pursued hard news as my passion professionally.

When asked about your “typical day,” how do you respond?

My day is the antithesis of a nine-to-five. I have four cell phones: my personal phone, two work phones with two different providers in case I don’t have service for one. I also have a satellite phone that I carry with me at all times. Basically, I’m on call 24/7, even if I’m on vacation. 

It’s just the nature of the job. Sometimes you cancel vacations, you work weekends, you work holidays. When the news calls, you go. But there is downtime where you can chill at home, catch up on errands, exercise or knock out anything you need to do when you’re not physically in the city you live. It’s not boring!

What is the most important story you’ve ever covered?

I’ve covered so many, I don’t know that I can name the “most important.” A recent story that jumps out was last year, one one of the more crazy days of my career. I got woken up at 1 a.m. in Los Angeles, and was told, “There’s been a mass shooting at Thousand Oaks,” which is a Los Angeles suburb. We went to the shooting location and worked for eight hours, and then I was called and told, “A massive fire has broken out up north in California.”

So we jumped on a plane and flew to Sacramento, and then drove two hours to Paradise, California. When we arrived, the entire town was burning. It was the most swift-moving wildfire I’d ever seen, and we saw neighborhood after neighborhood just burn to the ground while we were there. 

We ended up staying in Paradise for a week and a half. It is probably the worst devastation I’ve ever seen; the entire city was wiped off the map. It was really something to see and experience. 

How do you stay prepared to travel and break a story?

I have three or four bags packed at all times. I have a large bag that would be checked if I’m covering an international-type story that would keep me on the road for a week or two. You want to take as much as possible since you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into on the ground or what you’ll be up against. 

Other than that, I have a carry-on bag that I keep ready at all times, and also a wildfire bag. That bag contains the gear that you would see firefighters wearing, since basically we are in the fire just like the firefighters. I actually train with them so that we can do our job safely. I have a bag full of miscellaneous items that I can just sort of pick and choose from depending on the situation I’m going into. 

I have three younger sisters, all of whom went to UGA. When I pick them up from the airport, I can never put their bags in my trunk because it’s always full. They’re always frustrated by that, but I think they understand the gig. 

What advice would you give to students who are interested in becoming a news correspondent?

It’s really important to make sure you feel like the news is in your DNA. Of the people that I stay in touch with, a lot have ended up changing professions and/or going into public relations. A lot of people wanted to go into news, but then they realized the grind of it.

I also feel like a lot of people have a passion for the news, but are talked out of going into it because they’re told “you’re not gonna make any money, you’re gonna have to work holidays, weekends, you’re not gonna have a life.” I don’t really feel like that’s fair. People just need to have their eyes wide open about what they’re getting into and ensure that it’s something they’re really passionate about. Because trust me: you don’t want to work weekends, holidays and 20-hour shifts in the worst elements if you don’t really love what you’re doing. 

What were you involved in as a student at UGA?

I think a lot of kids in college have an idea of what they want to do because they’ve been pointed in a certain direction or learned something about themselves along the way that they wanted to do. I needed a major. I knew I needed to do something, and getting into Newsource ignited that passion. That program and the professors I had equipped me with the tools to enter this profession and hit the ground running.

Coming out of Newsource, I felt like I had a jet-pack propulsion device on my back that helped me take off from the beginning It gave me so many amazing tools. We were doing newscasts across Athens, so transitioning into local news wasn’t difficult. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Will Carr (@realwillcarr) on

 

Which UGA professors influenced you most?

Michael Castengera and Steve Smith, who taught Newsource 15, were like a ying and yang. I felt like they were family, and I’ve stayed in touch with them. They not only had an impact on me while I was at Georgia; they had an impact on me throughout my career. I find it to be rare to stay in touch with two of your college professors so intimately, and I think that’s the beauty of the program at UGA. 

They’ve retired, but the journalism school is run by some top-notch people. Dean Davis is amazing, Parker Middleton in great, Dodie Cantrell does a great job. So I know that even though my mentors have retired, the journalism school is in very good hands. 

What is the most important experience you had as a UGA student?

It was my first day of Newsource, and as I mentioned, I really wanted to cover sports. I talked Castengera into letting me be the sports anchor. Apparently one of the reporters didn’t show up or called in sick, and he said “Well, you know, you can’t do sports. You have to be a reporter.” There was a story about a student living in a house with guys who had overdosed on heroin. One of the professors said, “we want you to go down to the zoning director for the city and ask him how often they enforce the single family housing ordinance where you have to be related to live in a house.”

We sat outside his office for an hour or two, and finally he came out. We went into his office and I pulled out my notepad. I asked the first question. The zoning director had three note cards on his desk. He looked at the first note card and read verbatim off that note card. It had absolutely nothing to do with what I asked him. 

I clerked for my dad, who was an attorney, and so I was in trials a lot. I saw my dad react to people when he felt they were not being truthful on the stand, and I felt a similar feeling in this moment. When I asked him the second question, he went to the second note card and the same thing: nothing to do with what I asked him. I had no idea what I was doing except I felt like this guy was lying to me. I couldn’t figure out why, so I said something to the effect of, “are you going to keep reading off these note cards or are you gonna actually answer any questions?”

He jumped out of his seat, grabbed me by the collar, and dragged me out of the room. He said, “this is over,” and slammed the door. So we went to the professor and I said, “Sorry, I still can’t do the story, I didn’t get any information from him.” My professor said, “No, this is the story.”

We ended up reporting what happened, and the local paper ended up doing an expose on the zoning director. A week or two later, one of the reporters for the newspaper said, “Hey, we saw your story. We’re digging into this guy and he hasn’t been enforcing a lot of things he’s supposed to have been enforcing. Really great job of digging that up.” That was the moment for me where sports became more fun and entertainment, and I fell in love with hard news. 

Do you have any other favorite UGA memories?

I always think about the memories with my close friends, some of whom were in the journalism school, some who weren’t. I’ve stayed in close contact with a lot of them over the years. In college, there were four of us who watched the HBO show called “Entourage,” and we felt like we were our own entourage.

It’s been amazing over the years to see what they’ve done, and several now have families and kids. It’s really cool to have developed strong friendships with people and feel like they were fortified over the years coming out of Georgia. They really have developed into lifelong friendships. 

Finish this statement. I am most proud to be a Bulldawg when ______.

I’m the most proud to be a Bulldog when I see other Bulldogs succeed.

Throughout the years, I’ve had members of the UGA community reach out to me, especially within journalism, and I try to help as much as possible. When you see people from Georgia do well professionally and personally, I love that. I get excited about Georgia because it had such an impact on me. I know it’s had a similar impact on others.

It’s ironic actually: I’m sitting on a patio in Wyoming and there’s a house two doors down with a Bulldog flag outside. I haven’t seen the homeowners yet, but I’m waiting for them to come out so I can give them a big “Go Dawgs.” When you move further and further away, you don’t run into people who went to Georgia very often. So it’s a special moment, like a nice bond. You see each other and want to hug.