Bulldogs help music community in time of need

Last year was uncharted territory for musicians, music venues and the overall music community. They struggled without the ability to host live music events and festivalsbut a few UGA alumni are committed to assisting the industry weather the storm on a local, state and national level. 

Keepin’ it local

Athens is known for its vibrant music scene. Most of the musicians at the heart of that scene have benefited from rehearsing at Nuçi’s Space, a nonprofit musician’s resource center that has been around for 20 years and is led by Executive Director Bob Sleppy (BS ’05, MBA ’10). Immediately after COVID-19 forced schools and businesses to shut downNuçi’s Space established the Garrie Vereen Memorial Emergency Relief Fund to support musicians, artists, venue staff, crew employees, and everyone else who makes Athens’s well-known entertainment venues thrive. The fund raised $10,000 within four days and distributed over $130,000 in emergency financial aid to 310+ individuals in the Athens-area entertainment industry. While working from home, the Nuçi’s Space staff made over 600 phone calls to check in on fellow musicians who usually frequent Nuçi’s Space, letting them know about the fund and providing encouragement.  

Nuci's Space team

Across the state 

The Georgia Music Foundation Board of Directors continues to distribute their annual grants and also approved the creation of the Georgia Music Relief Fund to award grants to those in the state’s music community who have been negatively affected by venue closures and tour cancellations. The board includes three UGA graduates, including Board Chair Dallas Davidson (M 00), George Fontaine, Jr. (ABJ ’04) and Russell Bennett (BSA ’00)The Savannah Music Festival (SMF) is a multi-year grant recipient of the foundation and while the SMF was postponed in 2020, Managing Director Erin Tatum (AB ’08, BBA ’08, MPA ’14) noted that they were able to pivot and continue engaging patrons. The SMF is hosted over 17 days each year and showcases hundreds of musicians from around the world. The festival provides free music education to 10,000+ students in coastal Georgia and South Carolina schools. Since the pandemic, SMF has taken its Musical Explorers program for K-12 virtual and is now providing music education to children nationwide.

A national focus 

MusiCares, the nonprofit arm of the Recording Academy, is led by UGA graduate Debbie Carrol (MSW ’93). Its mission is to “provide resources to music people in times of need.” By the end of 2020, MusiCares distributed over $20 million in assistance. After launching an online application in March, Debbie’s team of 12 was manually vetting 500600 applications per week and distributed $1,000 grants to 20,000 individuals nationwide. MusiCares was thrilled to see 1,600+ artists donate to the cause along with a number of well-known companies within the music and streaming services industriesIn addition to providing financial assistance, MusiCares provided additional support by conducting a mental health survey and created virtual programming that included topics from adjusting to life off the road to how to incorporate mediation into your day. Due to her impressive leadership during the challenges of the pandemicPollstar named Debbie to its ‘2020 Impact 50’ list, which honors music executives who are improving the live entertainment industry.  

Recording Academy Musicares digital sign

 There are countless others in the Bulldog family who are doing great things to keep the music industry alive and well until live music venues reopen, tours can recommence, and those working in the industry are back on their feet. We’re proud of all those alumni who stepped up last year and continue to do so … because when Bulldogs come together, they change the world.  

UGA’s Music Business Program prepares the next generation of change-makers in the music industry. Learn more about the program at the video below. Want to help enhance its offerings? Make a gift today! 

A not-so-spooky Halloween coloring page for Dawg fans of all ages

Leah Hansen (BFA ’16), a UGA graphic designer, alumna and die-hard Dawg fan, designed a coloring page for the Halloween season for Bulldogs of all ages. Can’t visit a pumpkin patch this year or don’t have time to make a jack-o’-lantern? Why not get creative and show your spooky spirit by downloading our pumpkin carving stencils or other coloring pages?

When you’ve finished coloring your page, be sure to post a photo on social using #AlwaysADawg and tag our account so we can share with the rest of the UGA Alumni family! Happy coloring and happy Halloween!

Meaningful relationships define Mentor Program

Elizabeth Carter was all set to intern at a Fortune 500 company. Then the pandemic hit, and her internship disappeared. The University of Georgia master’s candidate reached out to her two mentors, and they helped her find a different position that turned out to be an advantageous opportunity.

Carter and her mentors are part of the UGA Mentor Program, the university’s first comprehensive mentorship initiative, which allows students to form meaningful mentoring relationships with experienced UGA alumni. Because the mentor program is largely conducted via text, phone and email, connections continued uninterrupted despite the pandemic.

Elizabeth Carter

Carter’s mentors are Jessica Faber, senior innovation advisor for USAID, and Hiram Larew, who is retired after a long career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture—both in the Washington, D.C., area where Carter hopes to one day work. Together, they helped her strategize.

A silver lining

“I posted on LinkedIn, making sure to employ the advice they gave me, and as a result was connected to the UPS Global Public Affairs office in D.C. where I served as the international team legislative assistant. This position was a dream come true for a master of international policy and international affairs student, and certainly a silver lining in otherwise difficult times.”

Since the UGA Mentor Program’s 2019 launch, over 2,200 students and nearly 2,500 mentors have registered and more than 1,800 mentoring relationships have been created. Of the students participating in the first year of the program, 97 percent say they’ve gained a stronger appreciation for mentoring as a personal and professional development tool—and 98 percent of both mentors and mentees would recommend the program to others.

For Joy Xiao, a first-generation college student far from her home in China, bonding with her mentor, Kristi Farner, provided comfort. Farner is Extension program and staff development specialist with UGA’s Office of Learning and Organizational Development.

Sense of belonging

“During spring break, I was on UGA’s Great Commitments Student Tour of Georgia with UGA’s Public Service and Outreach,” said Xiao. “When COVID-19 hit, Kristi emailed me to check in to see if I was doing OK. Connecting with her really raised my sense of belonging to the big UGA family.”

Joy Xiao

Farner enjoyed the mutually beneficial aspects of their relationship. “A unique challenge is understanding the context and pressures she has, since I don’t fully understand the culture she comes from,” said Farner. “I found it was a great learning opportunity for me that pushed me to use more active listening and coaching instead of suggesting answers.”

 Both of my mentors had vast experiences, yet they were still chasing their dreams and building out new goals. I was surprised when they asked me for my perspective.” — Kanler Cumbass

Like Carter, Kanler Cumbass, a master’s candidate pursuing a degree in higher education, has benefited from multiple mentors—one in the 2019 fall semester and one in spring 2020.

“Both of my mentors had vast experiences, yet they were still chasing their dreams and building out new goals. I was surprised when they asked me for my perspective,” Cumbass admitted. “Mentorship is about building a working partnership and, though I have less experience, they valued my expertise and thoughts. I learned so much from these conversations. From my mentors, I learned that we are always refining our goals and should.”

One of his mentors, Cara Simmons, who works as the director of the Student Success and Advising Center in UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences, is pleased that their relationship has continued beyond the standard 16-week commitment to participate in the Mentor Program. “Our conversations have allowed me to think about different experiences I want to have in my own professional journey,” said Simmons. [Note: The image at the top of this article features mentor Cara Simmons with mentee Kanler Cumbass.]

Personally relate

Sydney Cederboom, a fourth-year political science and international affairs double major with pre-law intent, chose Vickie Bowman, director of Piedmont Judicial Circuit Specialty Courts in north central Georgia, as her latest mentor. For Cederboom, the value of mentorship comes in finding a person with whom you can personally relate.

Sydney Cederboom

“Being a minority and having the ability to be mentored by Black women who have achieved great things at UGA and beyond has helped to shape my approach to college life and opened my eyes to my own potential,” said Cederboom.

The senior adds that the biggest surprise was how personal the relationships with her mentors became. “I was expecting the mentoring process to be strictly professional and focused on networking. However, from the beginning my mentors made it known that they were available to talk with me about anything that I needed,” Cederboom explained. Bowman responded, “Sydney reminded me of the college student I was. Sometimes ‘calm down and breathe’ and ‘you’re going to be fine’ are all you need on hard days.”

If you are a UGA student or alumni interested in joining the UGA Mentor Program, please visit mentor.uga.edu to learn more.

Alumnus Kyle Wiley expands technology access for COVID-19 researchers

Kyle Wiley (AB ’11) is the senior advisor to the chief commercialization officer at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and is an integral part of the DOE’s response to COVID-19. Wiley and his team have given researchers access to powerful computing resources, including two of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, to boost research during a period which relies on accelerated timelines and innovation.

Wiley’s role is to offer strategic advice to the CCO, to speak to external parties on behalf of the Office of Technology Transitions, and to engage with the 17 national DOE labs on a variety of initiatives. Like many others, his responsibilities have shifted in the face of a pandemic and Wiley is now a part of the battle against COVID-19.

Kyle Wiley tours a Shell ethane cracker plant in Pennsylvania.

Kyle Wiley tours a Shell ethane cracker plant in Pennsylvania as part of his work with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Wiley and his team prioritized expanding access to resources for public and private researchers across the country. This included providing resources to those looking for innovative ways to combat COVID-19 through the DOE’s Lab Partnering Service and COVID-19 Technical Assistance Program (CTAP). These initiatives give access to vital resources, experienced researchers, and information about facilities that may be useful in fighting the pandemic.

CTAP provides funding to DOE’s national lab system to assist non-DOE entities working to combat the virus. It also allows national researchers to offer assistance to U.S.-based entities facing technical challenges. Their team has seen the most success in two areas: supercomputing (the HPC COVID-19 Consortium) and technical assistance. The HPC COVID-19 Consortium is a private-public partnership between the federal government, industry and academic leaders to provide researchers access to high-performance computing resources. This partnership enables extensive research and modeling to understand COVID-19’s threat and create strategies to address it. The program has several active projects.

Wiley’s office has granted researchers access to the computational capacity to support research programs that are studying the virus. Meanwhile, DOE scientists are studying components of the virus to understand its replication process. Relying on previous experience from modeling of other infectious diseases, they can better understand how COVID-19 might behave and the supercomputers allow for quicker testing and effective drug screening.

Even as Wiley works on projects related to COVID-19, he continues his work with the technology commercialization fund and raises awareness for partnerships among minority business centers. The technology commercialization fund supports programs for applied energy research, technology development, demonstration and commercial application helping to mature promising energy technologies with potential for high impact.

Wiley’s road to the DOE began as a political science student at UGA. With the help of one of his professors, former UGA faculty member Morgan Marietta, he landed an internship with then-Congressman Paul Broun (BS ’67). That work experience, combined with an understanding of political science he gained from his time at UGA, have been instrumental to his career in the nation’s capital.

Prior to joining the DOE, Wiley held a number of positions, including assistant to the president of the Heritage Foundation, a Koch Associate at the Charles Koch Institute, and a specialist in Barnes & Thornburg’s Government Services and Federal Relations practice.

His work just goes to show: Dawgs never hesitate to jump into action, innovating and assisting in times of need.

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.

 

Submit a photo wearing a UGA-themed mask

Wondering how you can help keep yourself and others safe as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic? One simple way is to wear a mask! 

Masks reduce the spread of COVID-19 from respiratory droplets, especially in public settings—like a college campus. Wearing a mask, combined with social distancing (6 feet) and frequent sanitation, is critical as we navigate the pandemic. Some people may not know they are infected due to a lack of symptoms, so it’s important to take precautions and correctly wear a mask at all times, especially in instances when social distancing may be difficult. If wearing a mask is not possible due to mental or physical conditions, consult a health care provider for alternative safety methods. 

Let’s show our strength as a Bulldog Nation; masks are a symbol of respect for our family, friends, and fellow Dawgs. 

Wearing a UGA-themed mask? Send us a photo to be featured on our social channels and maybe even in the winter issue of Georgia Magazine! 

Brighten your screen while working from home

Video conferencing is an essential tool for those working from home and sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many video conference platforms, such as Zoom and Teams, allow users to bring a little creativity and inspiration to the work day with custom backgrounds. So we asked, why not let UGA alumni artists help you step up your background game?

These creative Bulldogs hold degrees from across campus, and their creations are the perfect backdrop to brighten even the most mundane virtual meeting. We have sized these to the specifications for Zoom, but anticipate they can be used in other platforms.

Meet the Artists

Laura Deems (BFA ’17)

Laura Deems is an Atlanta-based abstract artist who earned her bachelor’s degree from UGA. She has a background in textile design and a fascination with color theory, and this quote from her website puts it better than we could: “The canvas ceases to serve as a window to convey images and ideas for her, becoming a field for the visual marriage of line and color. The immediacy and freedom of her bold marks against swaths of brilliant hues are the defining vehicle of her work that collectors and designers alike just can’t get enough of.”

Natalie French (BSA ’05, DVM ’12)

Natalie French is a self-taught artist and designer who prefers the “calming, whimsical feel” of watercolor. She started her company, Tulip Magnolia Art + Design, in 2015 when she was 8 months pregnant with her second daughter. She is a licensed veterinarian and practiced equine medicine after vet school, and now spends time with her two daughters and painting. She enjoys spending time outside, which influences her adventure shirts.

Natalie Kilgore (AB ’06)


Natalie Kilgore started her stationery business, Natty Michelle Paperie, in 2009. In the beginning, she designed wedding stationery and hand-drawn maps for couples getting married. Over 10 years later, she has now expanded her business to offer a variety of handmade products that feature her artwork, including prints, gifts, and apparel. She frequently collaborates with other small businesses in Georgia and across the country to develop new product lines, such as letterpress goods, woodcut ornaments, and screen printed T-shirts. Natalie works out of her home studio just outside of Athens, and lives with her husband and two children. Shop her collection online or follow her on Instagram.

Clay McLaurin (BFA ’00)


Trained as a textile designer, Clay McLaurin started his career designing for a jacquard mill in New York City. He then moved from designing to teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design and at UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. Well-versed in textile knowledge, Clay brings his personal discoveries to life in a collection of textiles and wall coverings for the home. Clay is the founder of Clay McLaurin Studio; his works can be found in showrooms in the United States, Australia, England, and Canada.

Isabella Nixon (BFA ’20)

Isabella Nixon is a recent UGA graduate and former member of the Student Alumni Council with a degree in interior design from the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Isabella’s art skills include free-hand drawing, architectural drafting, computer-aided design, AutoDesk, SketchBook, physical and electronic models, and other graphic media. She has presented ideas both visually and verbally by integrating knowledge of historic and contemporary architecture and interior design. Isabella has a strong passion for photography, graphic design, and the arts.

Ryan Sichelstiel (ABJ ’15)


Ryan Sichelstiel hails from South Georgia. In 2015, he graduated from UGA with a degree in advertising and studio art and a certificate in personal and organizational leadership. As a New York City-based senior hybrid graphic designer, Ryan has experience with both print (layout and editorial) and digital (social media, banner ads, iconography, web design, presentation).

At home with the kids this summer?

By Frances Beusse and Jennifer Johnson, UGA Alumni Association

Summer is officially here, but it looks a little different than those past. If your traditional summer plans have been canceled, we’ve put together a few UGA-themed activities to enjoy with your kids instead.

Scroll through each section below (swipe on mobile) and have a wonderful summer, Dawgs!

Head Outdoors

State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Scavenger Hunt

Explore the great outdoors by participating in one of the many scavenger hunts available at the Botanical Gardens of Georgia.

Green Thumb

Plant a garden with tips from UGA Extension Office and 4-H.

Concrete Canvas

Grab some chalk and create your best “Go Dawgs,” Super G or Bulldog driveway art.

Get Active

UGA Cross Country Student Athlete Morgan Green Training

Dancing Shoes

Candace Haynes is teaching virtual dance classes presented by the Black Alumni Leadership Council. Check the alumni events calendar to attend the next one!

Football Ready

Get in football shape! UGA Football Director of Strength and Conditioning Scott Sinclair has posted several workouts on Twitter so you can follow along at home.

Read Together

UGA Alumni Author Books for Kids

Young Adults

Is your older child into the Young Adult Fantasy genre? Check out Rebecca Ross (AB ’12) and Jackson Pearce (AB ’07), authors who both graduated from Franklin College with degrees in English.

The Magician’s Hat

For younger readers, check out “The Magician’s Hat” by former UGA football player and Super Bowl champion, Malcolm Mitchell (AB ’15).

Virtual Camp

In addition to writing children’s books, Malcolm also provides a free summer READCamp for K-12 students through his Share the Magic Foundation.

Be A Star

Rennie Curran (BBA ’17) is a former UGA Football player and Class of 2020 40 Under 40 Honoree. He wrote the children’s book, “What Does It Take To Be A Star?” with his daughter Eleana.

Enjoy the Arts

UGA Student Playing the Trumpet

At Home Museum

Explore the Georgia Museum of Art at Home. Learn more about glass art and oil abstractions—or find toddler activities like swipe art and more.

Concerts

Watch Hodgson at Home presented by the UGA School of Music.

Coloring Time

Uga X Coloring PageGrab your crayons, markers or colored pencils and enjoy these coloring pages from the UGA Alumni Association and UGA Athletic Association—no need to stay in the lines!

Take a Virtual Trip

UGA Sanford Stadium Aerial

Alaska

Learn about Alaskan native culture and traditions by watching 2019 Peabody Nominee Molly of Denali on PBS Kids.

Sanford Stadium

Do your kids like Minecraft? Take a Minecraft virtual tour of Sanford Stadium or check out the 2020 virtual Commencement created by UGA students.

Camp

Virtually visit 4-H summer camps supported by UGA and participate in daily activities ranging from environmental education to livestock judging!

For more information and resources, please visit the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, 4-H or Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Women of UGA Leadership Council members rise to the occasion

Three members of the Women of UGA Leadership Council saw a need in their communities or workplaces during the current COVID-19 pandemic and chose to respond in big ways. We hope their stories inspire others to seek the opportunities to offer encouragement and assistance in their own communities and circles of influence. Find out more about Women of UGA.

The Power of a Picture: Caitlin Murphy Zygmont (ABJ ’02) and Devon Moore Targer (BBA ’96)

A small gesture can make a great impact. Realizing the power of a simple smile, two University of Georgia alumnae set out to boost morale in their neighborhood and making a difference in their community.

When Caitlin Murphy Zygmont (ABJ ’02) and Devon Moore Tarter (BBA ’96) became next-door neighbors, they became friends too. Both began to search for a way to help when the pandemic arose, while keeping themselves and their children safe. Caitlin reach out to Devon when she came across The Front Steps Project, in which photographer travel to people’s homes to photography them on their front steps, from a distance, to raise money for charity. They raised more than $9,000 for The Giving Kitchen and Table & Aid. To date, the pair has safely photographed and edited more than 170 family portraits!

Caitlin

Devon (left) and Caitlin (right)

Caring for the Caregivers: Laura Jalbert (BSW ’99, MSW ’00)

While many support efforts are focused on the front-line workers in hospitals, we know that caregivers and family members within Assisted or Independent Living communities around Metro Atlanta also find themselves on the front lines. Laura Jalbert (BSW ’99, MSW ’00) saw a need in those groups, so she and her staff at Mindful Transitions designed and volunteer in support groups to aid the unique needs of caregivers affected by separation from loved ones due to social distancing measures. Participants for the groups include resident caregivers (often spouses) living within the community as well as loved ones who live outside of the community. The groups are being conducted online via Google Meet and are each limited to ten participants.

In the Caregiver Support Group, Mindful Transitions staff facilitates supportive discussion of the unique challenges of being a caregiver right now. The group allows the participants to meet with other community members who are also seeking support and growth as they navigate this new frontier. This group is designed to support caregivers who are providing care both in their homes and those who, because of social distancing, currently provide care from afar. The group focuses on supporting the experience of members, helping them understand they are not alone, and providing tools for healthy coping.

Mindful Transitions Logo

The team at Mindful Transitions is also offering volunteer support group services to staff and professional caregivers in congregate living environments like Assisted Living, Independent Living, and Skilled Nursing. These Professional Caregiver Support Groups are for professional staff who care for older adults as an effort to help them cope with the extreme stress levels and grief associated with caring for the daily needs of older adults, while they manage taking care of themselves and their own families. The group focuses on supporting the experience of members, helping them understand that they are not alone, and providing tools for healthy coping.

If you know someone who is interested in joining these confidential groups, please contact Janie at jmardis@mindfultransitions.com or (802) 777-8232. These services are provided at no charge.

Mindful Transition Volunteer Project Team

Janie Mardis, LCSW-Coordinating the Volunteer Project
Maria Walker, LCSW-Volunteer (UGA-BSW ’91)
Denise Greenberger, LCSW-Volunteer (UGA-BSW ’83, MSW ’85)
Irit Lantzman, LCSW-Volunteer (UGA-MSW ’08)
Amy McWilliams, LCSW-Volunteer (UGA-MSW ’04)

Being a Guide During Uncertain Times: Quanza Griffin (ABJ ’01)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently has 4,367 staff members dedicating time to prevent and control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Many of them stepped up to work nonstop on these goals, including Quanza Griffin (ABJ ’01), a member of the 2018 UGA 40 Under 40 class.

Quanza and CDC director Robert Redfield.

Quanza and CDC director Robert Redfield.

Quanza is a public health advisor with 20 years of public health experience at the federal and state level, and put that to use when she answered the call and to deploy to the CDC Emergency Operations Center as the lead operations coordinator for the Community Intervention Task Force (CITF). The CITF creates guidance documents to help public and private sectors ensure they are able to operate and adapt during the pandemic. Quanza put in long hours during this time, working more than 16 hours a day for seven days a week to ensure the task force had the necessary staff, budget, systems, and policies in place to meet key deadlines.

“As the lead operations coordinator, my goal was to provide excellent customer service to the hundreds of staff on the task force. Many of our scientists worked on developing guidance documents that sometimes required a very short turn-around to be shared with CDC and other federal leaders,” said Quanza. “My goal was to make their jobs less stressful by focusing on other important functions needed to keep the team operating.”

Quanza managed a team of 10 people with a variety of roles. Daily activities included leadership decisions related to function and operations of the task force, development of policies and spend plans, forecasting, and last, but probably most important, keeping office space exciting with snacks and fun.

“There would be times we would be in deep conversations and hear a random, silly noise coming from someone’s computer as they played with noise makers. As anyone could imagine, there were some tense days and nights, but we found ways to keep the atmosphere light and fun. Before my deployment ended, many of the team sent great pictures of their fur babies and children. Keeping a nice ambiance amongst our task force helped us get the work done.”

Quanza says the most challenging part of being deployed was the time away from her kids, Kylah (age 6) and Christopher (age 4). “I had to sacrifice a lot of quality time with them to focus on the response. I am thankful for supportive family who stepped up and helped out during this time,” she said.

Quanza and her kids

Quanza and her kids

During Public Service Recognition Week (May 3-9), Quanza was nominated by fellow public health professional for outstanding contributions to public service and the mission of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). She received an HHS virtual Star Card Award.

Quanza is not alone in her dedication to the health and safety of the American public, as there are thousands of CDC staff working nonstop in response to this pandemic. The Bulldog community is thankful to everyone who is helping to make our world healthier and safer. Learn more about staying safe and healthy on the CDC’s coronavirus website. Follow the CDC on social media Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Keep up-to-date with UGA Alumni and ways you can help during this time on our COVID-19 news and resources page.

CED alum integral in launching COVID-19 information hub

Lawrie Jordan (BLA ’73) is an alumnus of the College of Environment and Design and current executive at Esri, one of the largest geographic information system companies in the world. Lawrie was integral to the launch of Esri’s free-to-use COVID-19 Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Hub, a website with a wealth of resources for anyone to use. We connected with Lawrie to ask him questions about the Hub, his role in developing it, and his time at UGA.

What tools can be found on Esri’s COVID-19 GIS Hub? Who are they for?

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Esri surged its Disaster Response Team and worked closely with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to stand up a dynamic dashboard showing the global growth of the disease. This cloud-based tool leverages the power of geography and location analytics, with authoritative data from JHU and WHO being updated multiple times a day and successfully sustaining more than 1 billion hits per day worldwide. You can see the COVID-19 GIS Hub in action here.

Building on that foundation, the Hub provides an expansive set of online resources to lend support to communities, organizations, and individuals in need. These tools primarily consist of new maps, apps, informational dashboards, and supporting services that are focused on addressing specific needs associated with COVID-19, including:

Lawrie Jordan (BLA '73)

Lawrie Jordan (BLA ’73)

  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Available Hospital Beds
  • COVID-19 Testing Sites
  • Travel Restrictions
  • Contact Tracing (under development)
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Business Continuity
  • Small Business Recovery
  • Approaches to Safely Reopening

These are just a few of the tools available, and the full range can be seen at the Esri COVID-19 GIS Hub site.

What is your role in developing and launching the COVID-19 GIS Hub?

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with all forms of geospatial information for more than 40 years, with emphasis on imagery from satellites, aircraft, and drones. GIS technology provides us with an optimal environment to combine those sources of data with additional social, economic, statistical, health, and other natural resource layers. This enables us to see patterns, changes, and trends that affect us over time in totally new ways, including the multiple impacts of a crisis such as this pandemic.

At Esri we collaborate as a “team of teams,” and one of my roles is to provide thought leadership and industry outreach. I work with my colleagues and teammates to raise awareness across the world of new capabilities such as the COVID-19 GIS Hub, and to help inform and connect those in need. Tools such as this give us a new view of current conditions, as well as a new vision of what an improved future can look like.

What is a lesson you learned at UGA that you still carry with you while working at Esri?

One of the most valuable lessons that I learned as a UGA student (and frankly a recipe for overall success in your career and life) is the importance of “bringing your A-game” to everything that you do, and to “play all in, all the time.” CE+D’s Landscape Architecture course curriculum, the outstanding faculty, and the CED Design Studio environment naturally lends itself to this, and it sets the table for a high-energy pattern of productivity and innovation to thrive.

To follow this “all-in” recipe consistently, however, there’s a positive string attached. You have to stay healthy both physically and mentally, which adds two more important ingredients to the mix: regular exercise and a good diet.

And finally, the “secret ingredient” in this recipe is to put others first. Be of service to others and focus on helping them be successful first, rather than yourself. When you do this, you’ll find that you will succeed in numerous ways, far surpassing your own expectations. And then everything just gets better.