UGA announces 40 Under 40 Class of 2024

The University of Georgia has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2024, a group of young alumni that includes a deputy national intelligence officer, a senior entertainment writer for Variety, an AI innovator at Microsoft, and more. 

The 40 Under 40 program celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of successful UGA graduates under the age of 40. The honorees will be recognized during the 14th annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon on campus in September.  

“Our previous 40 Under 40 honorees include some of our most accomplished and dynamic young alumni, and this year’s class is no different,” said Adam Roell (BSED ’10), UGA’s executive director of alumni relations. “When you talk to these Bulldogs and learn about their achievements, their aspirations, and how important UGA was to both, you gain a deep appreciation for how our university shapes tomorrow’s leaders.” 

The 40 Under 40 Class of 2024, including graduation year(s) from UGA, city, title and employer, are: 

Jeremy Adams (BBA ’07) Atlanta; senior managing director, Jones Lang LaSalle 

Katharine M. Bleau (BS ’13, BS ’13) Arlington, Virginia; attorney-advisor, U.S. Department of the Interior 

Matt Bradley (DVM ’18) Johns Creek; owner and medical director, ModernVet 

Tamara Branch (BBA ’09, JD ’12) Tifton; vice president of legal, Tift Regional Health System 

Leanna Brown (AB ’10, MIP ’12) Atlanta; vice president of business climate, Metro Atlanta Chamber 

Jack Bush (BSME ’20) Atlanta; systems engineer, ELDP, Lockheed Martin Corporation 

Rodd Cargill (BBA ’10) Johns Creek; senior territory manager, Johnson and Johnson 

Chris Chammoun (BSA ’08) Tifton; executive director, American Peanut Shellers Association, and president, Peanut Institute 

Brittany S. Chitwood (BBA ’14, MACC ’15) Atlanta; assistant director of climate change and sustainability services, EY 

Antavious Coates (BSFCS ’09, MS ’11) Atlanta; executive director for NFL player marketing, CAA Football 

Candler Cook (BBA ’11, MBA ’18) Atlanta; senior vice president, US Strategic Capital 

Ella Dorsey (BS ’13) Atlanta; meteorologist, Atlanta News First 

William Ferrand (BBA ’15) Atlanta; senior manager, risk and compliance, Protiviti 

Peyton Claire Fraser (BS ’14, BSED ’14) Smyrna; senior technical program manager, Microsoft 

Zain Hasan (BS ’09) Parkland, Florida; co-founder and CEO, Risk Transfer Advisory Group 

Bo Hatchett (JD ’17) Cornelia; Georgia state senator and attorney, McDonald & Cody, LLC 

Alex Hill (BBA ’10) Atlanta; director of investing, Icarus Alternative Investments 

Angelique Jackson (ABJ ’12) Los Angeles; senior entertainment writer, Variety 

Cameron Keen (AB ’18, AB ’18, JD ’21) Atlanta; attorney, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, LLP 

Kristina Stafford Kelly (ABJ ’08) Suwanee; vice president of communications, UP Entertainment 

Audrey A. Lewis (AB ’07, ABJ ’09, JD ’10) Marietta; attorney, Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers, LLC 

Mindy Lipsitz (BS ’08) Bend, Oregon; physician, ultrasound administrator, St. Charles Medical Center 

Garrett Mack (BSFR ’09, MFR ’11) Atlanta; director, portfolio management, Forest Investment Associates 

Hailey Hebebrand Morelli (BSCE ’17) Sandy Springs; senior consultant, FTI Consulting 

Amber Kay Morgan (AB ’17, AB ’17) Washington, D.C.; special assistant to the national security advisor, White House National Security Council 

Gibril Njie (MPH ’11, DRPH ’21) Dulles, Virginia; lead health scientist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Loree Anne Paradise (ABJ ’11) Atlanta; chief of staff, Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia 

Christopher Perlera (AB ’07) Chamblee; founder and principal, Critical Point Consulting 

Jessica J. Pittard (BBA ’11) Ball Ground; president, BDI DataLynk 

Isobel Mills Prescott (BFA ’12) Atlanta; owner and sole designer, ISOBEL 

Thomas C. Presley (BBA ’08, MACC ’09) Marietta; regional managing partner, wealth advisor, Corient 

Fadi Rammo (BSHP ’10) Baltimore; vice president, MedStar Health 

Camir Ricketts (BS ’15) Brooklyn, New York; bioinformatics scientist, NVIDIA, and founder, MindsOf Initiative 

Eric L. Roden (AB ’09, JD ’12) Charleston, South Carolina; partner, Roden Law 

Katie Seay (BSFCS ’09) Manhattan, Kansas; president and director of wealth management, The Trust Company 

Jessica Simmons (AB ’10) Atlanta; deputy CIO, Georgia Technology Authority, and executive director, Georgia Broadband Program 

Kevin Steele (AB ’17, AB ’17) Alexandria, Virginia; deputy national intelligence officer, Directorate of National Intelligence 

Naveed Tharwani (PHARMD ’11) Chamblee; CEO, SynerGrx 

Juanita Traughber (ABJ ’08, AB ’08) Nashville, Tennessee; director of marketing and communications, University School of Nashville 

Tiffany Woods (BSES ’08, MS ’11) Atlanta; senior director, National Wildlife Federation 

Hundreds of nominations for 40 Under 40 were received from February to March. Honorees must have attended UGA and uphold the three pillars of the Arch: wisdom, justice and moderation. Additional criteria and more information on this year’s honorees are available on the UGA Alumni website. 

“Every one of our honorees is a fantastic representative of our alma mater,” said Roell. “We are so proud of their accomplishments and will be pleased to welcome them back to Athens to celebrate them this fall.” 

A Bulldog psychiatrist’s top 3 mental well-being tips

We’ve all been there: the joy and warmth of summer starts to fade, the days get colder and shorter, and you start to feel a little down. It’s important to practice self-care in that moment, and UGA’s own Ebony Caldwell (BSHP ’13, MPH ’13) has some tips. She is currently completing her addiction psychiatry fellowship at Yale School of Medicine and also serves on the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry Board of Directors. 

A member of the UGA 40 Under 40 Class of 2023, Ebony is also the founder of the H.O.P.E. Initiative, which provides opioid education and opioid overdose reversal training to community groups to alleviate the undue burden of the opioid epidemic in communities of color. 

Here are Ebony’s top three tips for safeguarding your mental well-being in her own words. 

1. Get comfortable with the word “No.”

“So often in our lives, we are pulled in so many directions and expected to give too much of ourselves. However, learning to recognize and confidently say ‘no’ allows us to reclaim our own personal agency and make time to pour into ourselves.” 

2. Ask for help.

“This could be professional help, such as a therapist, or even just tapping into our social circle. ‘No man is an island,’ and so often we try to take on and manage everything on our own, failing to utilize the help that is often just a phone call or text away.” 

3. Find something that brings you joy.

“In my field of work, it can be hard to tap into activities that spark joy when you’re working over 60 hours a week while also juggling the demands of life. Yet, in the last few years, I’ve prioritized carving out even small moments of things that spark joy. Whether it’s spending 20 minutes planting in my garden or having a dance party with my dog in the living room, I make space and time for these moments.” 


Bulldog helps Chick-fil-A bring new menu items to life

Chick-fil-A’s classic chicken sandwiches and waffle fries are beloved by fans around the world—but how does the brand introduce new items to their iconic menu?  

Kaitlin Miller Febles (AB ’13, AB ’13, ABJ ’13) is a menu and packaging category lead in Chick-fil-A’s marketing department and a member of the 2023 class of the UGA Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40. In her role, she provides strategic leadership to menu additions, deletions, or simplifications from their initialization through their launch at restaurants. 

Kaitlin’s specific menu categories are salads, sides and grilled entrees. She’s probably worked on a few of your favorites! 

Kaitlin on the field with a cow mascot at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

Kaitlin said that the process of creating a new menu item at Chick-fil-A goes through a few different stages. First, initial research and brainstorming, then development and testing, ending with a final recommendation to leadership and, if a menu item is made official, a chain-wide rollout. 

“In the process, we work with key partners all throughout our business–customer insight analysts, culinary developers, engineers, field operations liaisons, food safety experts, nutritionists, equipment technicians, advertisers, pricing strategists, digital leaders, supply chain sourcers, training producers, public relations spokespeople, and of course, our restaurant operators and team members who provide us with crucial feedback in test and ultimately bring the concepts to life for our guests,” Kaitlin said. 

Kaitlin hands out samples of a new menu item at the downtown Athens Chick-fil-A.

Kaitlin’s team members are usually leading multiple projects at different stages of the development process. Most recently, she worked on the Maple Pepper Bacon Sandwich (which tested this summer in Lexington, Kentucky, and Indianapolis) and a Citrus Berry Salad (which tested this year in Baltimore). 

She and her team have also worked on recent changes to menu items like the Kale Crunch Side, Greek Yogurt Parfait, Mac & Cheese and Waffle Potato Chips—plus a few other projects that she can’t share about publicly just yet!

Kaitlin (far right) and her colleagues—including UGA Foundation trustee Michael Patrick (second from right)—visit a Chick-fil-A waffle potato chip production facility.


Celebrate International Literacy Day with UGA alumni authors

International Literacy Day has been celebrated every year on September 8 since 1966, when UNESCO officially declared the date during the 14th session of their General Conference. The day highlights literacy for all people, communities and societies around the globe. 

Books by UGA alumni authors have graced bookshelves around the world. Here are a few standouts to help you celebrate International Literacy Day. 

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Stacy Willingham’s (ABJ ’13) debut novel is a New York Times Bestseller. The thriller follows the aftermath of the mysterious disappearance of six teenage girls in a small Louisiana town. Stacy donates a portion of her book sales to charity at the end of each year, including the Trident Literacy Association, and is a member of the 2023 class of UGA Alumni Association 40 Under 40 honorees. 

The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is the pen name of Kathy Hogan Trocheck (ABJ ’76). Kathy is based in Savannah, Georgia, and her lush romance and mystery novels are beloved by readers for their colorful characters and Southern flair. 

Heisman: The Man Behind the Trophy by John M. Heisman with Mark Schlabach

Mark Schlabach (ABJ ’96) is a sports journalist who graduated from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications. He partnered with co-author John M. Heisman to write the ultimate biography of the man behind the iconic collegiate football award. 

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

Photographer Brandon Stanton’s (AB ’08) street photography of New Yorkers grew to internet fame with 12.8 million followers on Instagram and a popular blog featuring interviews of his subjects. Some of his most compelling photos and stories have been compiled into his book, Humans of New York.  

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Delia Owens’s (BS ’71) immensely popular novel is a murder mystery and coming-of-age story set in the marshes of North Carolina. The book’s film adaptation, produced by Reese Witherspoon and starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, was a box office hit, grossing $144.3 million. 

Bulldogs aren’t just writing books to improve literacy–they’re volunteering and doing advocacy work, like Christina P. Koebel (ABJ ’07), also a member of the 2023 class of UGA Alumni Association 40 Under 40 honorees. 

Christina, who currently works for The Weather Company as chief of staff to the CEO, is working on her first fiction novel and volunteers as a literacy helper at her children’s elementary school, assisting kindergarten children with reading in a one-on-one setting. 

Read more about this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees at 

UGA Alumni Association unveils 2022 Class of 40 Under 40

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2022. 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 12th annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon Sept. 9 in the Tate Student Center on campus.

This year’s outstanding group of young alumni includes three Emmy winners, a NASA navigation and control discipline expert, a Twitter head of U.S. policy, an NBC Today Show producer and a Marvel Studios screenwriter.

“We are excited to unveil this year’s class of 40 Under 40 and celebrate their many accomplishments in Athens this September,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “These young alumni exemplify leadership in their communities and industries across the country. I continue to be amazed by their accomplishments.”

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and more than 600 nominations were received. 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.

“From movie sets to medical facilities, this year’s class of alumni uphold the Pillars of the Arch and the spirit of UGA across all sectors,” said Johnson. “Early in their careers, these graduates are leaders in solving some of the greatest challenges we face. We are exceptionally proud and cannot wait to welcome them back home to Athens.”

The 2022 Class of 40 Under 40, including their graduation year(s) from UGA, city, title and employer, are:

AdeSubomi O. Adeyemo (BS ’11, PharmD ’15, MPH ’16) Stone Mountain, Georgia; epidemic intelligence service officer, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Maria Augutis (BS ’14, MA ’15) Stockholm, Sweden; meteorologist, Swedish Television & StormGeo
Latasha V. Barnes (AB ’05, AB ’05) Atlanta; owner and managing attorney; The Barnes Law Office, LLC
Maranie Brown (BSFCS ’12) Smyrna, Georgia; vice president, BlackRock
Nathan Bruno (BBA ’09) Spring, Texas; executive vice president of sales and commercial excellence, Mattress Firm
Lael Chappell (BBA ’06) New York, New York; director of insurance distribution, Coalition
Kayla E. Cooper (AB ’05, JD ’08) Augusta, Georgia; senior staff attorney, City of Augusta
Emily Curl (ABJ ’14) New York, New York; digital and social host, iHeartRadio
Candace Alynn Hill Duvernay (AB ’06, JD ’09) Jonesboro, Georgia; managing partner, Hill Duvernay and Associates, LLC
Dustin Dyer (BSAE ’06) Merritt Island, Florida; GN&C discipline expert, NASA
Christina L. Faust (BS ’09, MS ’09) Glasgow, Scotland; research fellow, University of Glasgow
Kevin Florence (PHARMD ’09) Athens, Georgia; pharmacist and owner, ADD Drug Store
Matthew Scott Fowler (AB ’14) Woodstock, Georgia; relationship management executive, REPAY – Realtime Electronic Payments
Jake Goodman (BSA ’15, MBA ’20) Miami, Florida; psychiatry resident doctor, Jake Goodman MD
Lauren Culbertson Grieco (ABJ ’09) Washington, D.C.; head of U.S. public policy, Twitter
Kristen Henderson (BBA ’11) Atlanta; vice president, Goldman Sachs
Shayla Hill (BBA ’08) Tucker, Georgia; senior design program manager, MongoDB
Christie Johnson (ABJ ’07) Chapin, South Carolina; director of White House bookings, CNN
Kenneth L. Johnson, Jr. (BSED ’05) Atlanta; co-director of the Governor’s School Leadership Academy, Governor’s Office of Student Achievement
Leo Chris Kasuya (BBA ’14) Marina Del Rey, California; director, strategy and new ventures, office of CEO, Irresistible Foods Group
Samaad Wes Keys (PHD ’14) Decatur, Georgia; program officer, postsecondary success Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Min Y. Lee (BBA ’06) Charlottesville, Virginia; chief operating officer, University of Virginia Medical Center
Charlotte Lucas (BSFCS ’05) Charlotte, North Carolina; owner and principal designer, Charlotte Lucas Design
Brandon Martin (BBA ’14) Atlanta; founder and CEO, Close Ties Leadership Program
Mia Catharine Mattioli (BSBE ’08) Atlanta; environmental engineer, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Joel L. McKie (BSA ’05, JD ’08) Atlanta; partner, Hall Booth Smith., P.C.
Drew McKown (BS ’07) Athens, Georgia; physician, Athens Pulmonary
Juan J. Mencias (BBA ’15) Atlanta; chief financial officer, Georgia Diamond Corporation, Ascot Diamonds
Chad Mumm (ABJ ’08) Studio City, California; chief creative officer, Vox Media Studios, Vox Media Inc.
Brendan F. Murphy (AB ’05, AB ’05, JD ’08) Marietta, Georgia; chief magistrate judge, Magistrate Court of Cobb County
ValaRae Partee (BSENVE ’14) Atlanta; associate environmental engineer, Brown and Caldwell
Andrew Rasmussen (BBA ’05, MED ’09) Athens, Georgia; owner and advisor, Rasmussen Wealth Management
Anna Daniel Reddish (BSA ’08, MADS ’09) Atlanta; university relations liaison, IDEXX
John Rossow (BSFR ’12, MPH ’17, DVM ’18) Atlanta; public health veterinarian, U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Rachel Santos (BSA ’10) Bishop, Georgia; director of sales and industry relations, Premium Peanut
Kevin Schatell (ABJ ’16) New York, New York; producer, NBC’s TODAY Show
Johnelle Simpson II (AB ’16, BBA ’16) Athens, Georgia; attorney, Fortson, Bentley, and Griffin, P.A.
Alton M. Standifer (PHD ’21) Athens, Georgia; deputy chief of staff, University of Georgia
Grant Thomas (AB ’15, MBA ’20) Sandy Springs, Georgia; director, Governor’s Office of Health Strategy and Coordination
Michael Waldron (ABJ ’10) Atlanta; screenwriter, Disney, Marvel Studios and STARZ

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Mario Cambardella reinvents urban landscaping

For Mario Cambardella (BLA ’06, MEPD ’11, MLA ’13), connecting his professional purpose to a personal passion to make a difference ultimately set him on a pathway for success. It’s why he pursued a variety of service-oriented efforts to reinvigorate urban landscapes before turning his attention to starting an innovative business that relies on technology to better connect Georgia farmers with new markets in the Atlanta area.

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

Mario and his wife, Lindsey Cambardella (JD ’12).

How did Mario Cambardella find his purpose?

During his time at UGA, Mario connected with Jack Crowley, a professor emeritus in the College of Environment + Design. Mario found that “he understood how to find a solution that achieved true sustainability by balancing economic, social and environmental factors in equal harmony.”

After earning his master’s degree in landscape architecture in 2013, Mario landed an internship with a prestigious firm based in Colorado. However, many of his assigned projects didn’t align with his belief that designed landscapes should have a more holistic function that better supports the people who live near them. That’s what ultimately put him on a journey to become the first Urban Agriculture Director in the country.

“The premise is the landscape can be more than beautiful—it can perform, and it can have a function,” Mario said.

He would go on to lead the AgLanta initiative, focusing on bringing sustainable landscaping practices to underutilized properties in the Atlanta area. Relying on its Grows-A-Lot program, Mario acquired several vacant properties that had fallen into disrepair in USDA-defined food desert areas and converted them into community gardens. These spaces would help generate healthy food for the surrounding areas, and would be aesthetically pleasing and create a sense of place for the community.

Mario also helped cultivate the country’s largest municipal food forest, Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill.

What is ServeScape?

After focusing the first phase of his career on revitalizing urban communities, Mario embraced a new challenge when he founded ServeScape. Its goal is to bolster the green industry’s supply chain and enhance its use of technology to better serve customers and empower Georgia’s growers. It is Atlanta’s largest online-only garden center and wholesale plant nursery, sourcing a variety of Georgia Grown plants from farmers and horticulturists across the state.

ServeScape connects the bounty of growers with wider audiences, expanding their market and boosting revenues, while enabling property owners in urban areas to curate their own sustainable landscapes with native plants.

“We can enable beautiful and resilient landscapes all across the country because we’re relying on technology and a simple methodology,” Mario noted. “It’s bringing forward the idea that the products of every farmer can now get to market. And then when it gets to the market, we can actually make sure that it gets to the right hands.”

Mario (left) with his ServeScape team.

How is ServeScape sustainable?

Mario created ServeScape with sustainability in mind. ServeScape elevates locally grown products and locally stationed experts to foster a closer, greener community in the Metro Atlanta area. The company brings together landscape designers, plant experts and professional installers to create a landscape that challenges the norms of retail sellers.

By being a fully online marketplace, ServeScape does not waste resources on large, expensive plant nurseries and instead ships plants directly from the farm to clients’ doors. ServeScape’s designers also create a customized landscape that can last in each individual environment. Plants are meticulously curated to not only be beautiful, but also functional and resilient, reducing the need for replacements and leading to economic and environmental success.

“Through every job and project, I keep in mind that working in the natural and built environment makes you a student of each project site,” Mario said. “I hope I never lose the sense of adventure and excitement of seeing a site for the first time. Losing touch with the land distances yourself from many of the reasons this profession is so unique, engaging and rewarding.”

ServeScape is provides landscape design services throughout metro Atlanta and the Athens area, while AgLanta continues to advance its mission of advancing and supporting urban agriculture in the city.

Do you know an outstanding young grad leading the pack in their industry or community? Nominate them for the 2022 Class of 40 Under 40! Nominations close on April 8.

Written by Johnathan McGinty (ABJ ’00), Partner, The Trestle Collective

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.

View the full list of honorees

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.


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