Alumna Spotlight: Ailsa Von Dobeneck (BS ’07)

Ailsa Von Dobeneck (BS ’07) has built a career on communications and world travel. She’s traveled to locations such as London, Singapore, and Washington, D.C. for her developing government and international relations career. Most recently, however, Ailsa traveled to Los Angeles to display her passion for cooking on the Fox’s MasterChef.

UGA staff member Erin Miller recently spoke with Ailsa regarding her experience on appearing on MasterChef sixth season, her global travels and memories of UGA.

What motivated you to pursue cooking as a passion? Have you always spent a lot of time in the kitchen?

You know how there are some people that live to eat and some that eat to live? I am the former, through and through. After graduating, I took a semester off before I pursued a master’s degree at King’s College in London and decided to spend the time learning to cook. After all, if you love to eat, it is great to know your way around a kitchen. I enrolled in the advanced beginner’s class at the Le Cordon Bleu in London and learned the basics. I have been experimenting ever since and enjoy traveling in search of new and exciting flavors. My career took me to Singapore, where I worked in shipping, and I was able to travel extensively throughout the region. I now work in government affairs in Washington, D.C. I spend my free time looking through old White House cookbooks at the Library of Congress. It is amazing the kind of gems you find in there. Next month, I will be starting a weekly column on presidential recipes in my blog, The Curious Tastebud, which will run through to the election next year.

On your MasterChef contestant page, you described yourself as a “unicorn” because no other contestant possessed your unique set of skills.  What are some of the unique skills that you acquired at UGA? 

I think UGA was the place where I truly started to learn about myself. I discovered what I’m great at, good at and need to work on. I think the skill that I focused on developing first was time-management. Like in the kitchen, you need to be prepared to pace yourself and use your time wisely at UGA. As an out-of-state student, my experience at UGA encouraged me to put myself out there: to introduce myself to people and take risks.

What is a positive MasterChef experience that you’d like to share?

I had so many positive experiences on the show. One of the highlights was getting to prepare a filet for Gordon Ramsay in his own restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak, in Las Vegas. I had never been to Vegas and the razzle dazzle of the whole experience was really special. Though my filet didn’t get me to the next round, I was proud of my dish. I also really enjoyed meeting the other talented contestants. One of my favorite fellow contestants went to LSU, so we had some great football banter. Go Dawgs!

You’re an extensive world traveler.  What countries have you visited and would recommend based on their cuisine?

I’ve been lucky with my travel options, as both of my parents are from Europe and I lived in Asia for a time. I am completely in love with Vietnamese cuisine and would recommend a trip to Ho Chi Minh City for anyone who enjoys street food and isn’t afraid to try bold flavors. Italy will always be close to my heart when it comes to edibles. My family spent a lot of time in Venice when I was a kid, where I learned the joy of a big bowl of pasta. For those who aren’t as adventurous, the Italian menu will give you familiar classics made with the best ingredients possible. Gelato anyone?

When you’re at home, what are some of the dishes you like to prepare?

My absolute favorite part of cooking is seeing people enjoy what I have made. I host dinner parties at my house and focus on making dishes you can prepare ahead of time so you have time with your guests. There is nothing worse than an absent hostess. Risotto is a favorite; it is refined and can come in a host of different varieties. I make a gorgeous manchego risotto with chorizo, red peppers and arugula.

What is your favorite memory of UGA? Are there any places in Athens that you remember?

With enough amazing memories to last a lifetime, I am struggling to pick a “favorite.” Watching the Dawgs win Between the Hedges was always amazing. We won the SEC championship my freshman year against LSU in Atlanta. I remember being over the moon that I had chosen the “best university ever.”

Athens also has so many places that stick out in my mind. The Pi Beta Phi house on Milledge brings back a lot of fun memories, from getting ready for formals to decorating the front porch for every holiday imaginable. If we are talking foodie memories, I still dream about the grits from Last Resort. Hugh Acheson from Five and Ten is a real talent and always dished out the tastiest Southern dishes every season. I ran to the bookstore when Acheson’s book, A New Turn in the South, was published.

Is there anything else regarding your career that you’d like to share?

In both my careers (government relations and cooking), my education at UGA has held in me in amazing stead. My time in Athens gave me access to some of the best and brightest professors and allowed me to really channel my energy in positive ways. It is amazing the amount of UGA alumni I have met across the world. It seems Georgia alumni are all connected by a lifelong love of learning and I am really proud to forever be a Bulldog.

To learn more about Ailsa and to see examples of her culinary work, please visit her blog.

Seeking photos of young alumni

Are you a proud UGA graduate under the age of 40? Do you know a successful young alumnus?

The university is seeking photo submissions for Profiles, the e-magazine for young alumni of UGA. View the most recent issue of Profiles and then search your computers and phones for spirited photos of you showing the fruit of a Georgia education! UGA wants to feature alumni from around the world, doing great things professionally and personally. Ideas for photos include:

–  Work experiences/travel

–  Community service projects

–  Vacation

–  Weddings and additions to the family

–  UGA alumni events and gatherings

Record-breaking year: UGA fundraising hits ‘unprecedented level’

A record-breaking number of contributors—63,784 at final count—led the University of Georgia to its best fundraising year in history.

After all contributions were tallied for the year on June 30, the university received nearly $144.2 million in new gifts and commitments for the 2015 fiscal year, a 14 percent increase over last year’s record total of $126.4 million.

“Once again, the University of Georgia community has joined together to provide an unprecedented level of financial support to advance the academic mission of this great institution,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am grateful to our generous and loyal alumni and friends for their significant contributions; to the UGA Foundation board of trustees, to the development team, and to the senior leadership across our schools, colleges, and other units for their hard work and dedication; and to our outstanding faculty, staff, and students, who continue to make UGA the very special place that it is.”

The 63,784 donors represent a 12 percent increase over fiscal year 2014, in which 56,897 donors contributed to the institution.

“Having established an all-time fundraising record just one year ago—and to exceed that total by a significant margin just 12 months later—is an incredible tribute to our donors who have stepped up and answered the call to support the university,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for the Division of Development and Alumni Relations.

“Words are inadequate to express the depth of appreciation I have for our alumni and friends who have committed their financial resources to help ensure the University of Georgia maintains an upward trajectory as one of the world’s great institutions of higher education.”

Fiscal year 2015 at UGA marks a continuation of significantly increased support from individual donors—no single major gift had a disproportionate impact on the total—and the second year the university has been under Morehead’s direction.

“The university’s development team, support staff and the foundation’s board of trustees all played major roles in this milestone achievement, and I am appreciative of what was truly a team effort,” said Ken Jackson, chair of the University of Georgia Foundation. “Of course, I am most grateful to our donors, who continue to exhibit a great spirit of generosity and a commitment to enhancing the academic mission of the University of Georgia.”

Alumnus Spotlight: Matt Tommey (BSED ’96)

Matt Tommey (BSED ’96) spent 13 years in the metro Atlanta area making baskets as a hobby before moving to Asheville, North Carolina’s River Arts district to make one-of-a-kind sculptural baskets professionally. Harvesting all the materials himself, Matt is passionate about creating baskets that reflect the rustic elegance of nature for his clients.

The UGA Alumni Association’s communications intern, Sarah Rose ’16, had the opportunity to chat with Matt Tommey about his career as a sculptural basketry artist and his UGA experience.

When and how did you realize that you wanted to make your hobby of basket weaving into a full-time career? 

After I had been making baskets for around 15 years, I started feeling drawn to doing basketry full-time. I started doing more shows to get my work out there and around the same time, my family and I moved to Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is the center of the universe for fine craft in the United States, so the creative community, luxury clientele and natural environment all made it possible for me to go full time.

Where did you learn to make baskets? What artists have inspired you?

I’m self-taught through experimentation, a love for nature and an insatiable curiosity. Throughout the years, I’ve been influenced by many artists in a variety of mediums including clay, fiber and sculpture.

What’s your favorite type of piece to make? 

This is always changing, but right now I love making pieces that incorporate mountain laurel branches and baskets that are reminiscent of pods and nests.

How long does it take you to complete a custom piece?

Usually 2-3 weeks, which includes a personal visit to the client’s home to harvest materials from the property. Many of my clients are in the Cashiers, Highlands and Lake Toxaway area, which allows me to harvest branches and vines from their personal land. This really makes each piece special for the client.

What is your favorite memory from UGA? Are there any specific places you liked to visit in Athens as a student? 

My wife and I met at UGA while working at the Tate Center / University Bookstore on campus. We harvested kudzu by my apartment at College Park on Riverbend Parkway and loved to eat at Peking. Lots of great memories!!

How did you time at UGA shape you into the artist you are today?

I started making baskets while I was a student at UGA in the Therapeutic Recreation department. The professors in that department, specifically Dr. Diane Samdahl, really encouraged me in my creativity. I also led adventure trips through GORP and was a ropes course facilitator.  All of those experiences, along with my love for nature, solidified in me the importance of following my creative passion in basketry.

To learn more about Matt or see examples of his work, please visit www.matttommey.com.

Alumna Spotlight: Former Gymdog Marcia Newby-Goodman (BSA ’10)

Former UGA Gymdog, Marcia Newby-Goodman (BSA ’10), was recently named co-valedictorian of the University of Texas Medical Branch Class of 2015.

Marcia always knew she’d pursue a career in medicine. Despite battling a chronic ankle injury during her senior year at UGA, Marcia achieved momentous athletic and academic success at UGA. Between balancing two three-hour MCAT courses a week, rigorous gymnastics training, and classes, Marcia devoted her spare time to serving the greater Athens-Clarke community.

Her efforts at UGA won her numerous awards and accolades—including the prestigious NCAA TOP VIII Award, which is presented annually to eight outstanding student-athletes across the nation and recognizes outstanding athletic, academic, community service and leadership accomplishments.

As a recent medical school graduate, she hopes to combine her passion for sports, medicine and service to open an adolescent and young adult sports medicine clinic.

The UGA Alumni Association’s strategic communications intern, Lauren Steffes ’15, had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumna:

What is your favorite UGA memory?

My favorite memory as a student was when my roommates and I would have random dance parties in our dorm. They were always fun because we would act silly and just do crazy things. These random dance parties always seemed to occur around finals because we never wanted to study!

How did UGA help you achieve your goals – both professionally and athletically?

UGA definitely helped prepare me academically for medical school. Since UGA had a tough curriculum, I was able to develop efficient studying skills that allowed me to complete my medical school work but still have time to hang with friends to minimize stress levels. This was a great skill because it ensured a smoooth transition to medical school.

Athletically, UGA (specifically Coach Suzanne Yoculan) taught me the value of teamwork and its application within athletics and outside of the gym. This lesson helped me contribute to UGA’s NCAA National Championship in 2007, 2008, and 2009 as well as UGA’s SEC Championship in 2008.

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of from your time as a student?

My most proud accomplishment from my time as a student actually is not an award, honor, or anything that special. Simply, I am most proud of the true friendships I made during my college years. Developing those friendships to the point that they are maintained several years after graduation is amazing and provides a personal joy.

What led you to pursue a career in medicine?

From an early age, I knew I wanted to become a doctor. My father is a doctor and my mother is a nurse practitioner, so I was always around medicine in some capacity, but my true passion for it came through personal experiences as a gymnast. Having injuries myself and seeing other teammates with injuries engaged my curiosity in learning how to care for injuries but to also understand the needs of those who are injured or sick.

What advice would you give to current students at UGA?

My advice to others would be to go after your dreams no matter what. You may have to take a different route than others, but don’t let obstacles deter you from your path. Remember to always work hard at every task because there is always something to learn and you never know when it may be useful! And finally, enjoy the ride because life is more than the final destination.

Marcia is married to former UGA football player Demiko Goodman (BSFCS ’08). The two plan to move to Daytona Beach, Florida, where Newby-Goodman will attend a family medicine residency. The UGA community is proud to call them both members of the Bulldog family.

To learn more about Marcia Newby-Goodman (BSA ’10) and her various accomplishments, click here.

“Big Man on Campus” turns 90

Earlier this month, Dave Wilkinson (ABJ ’89), featured to the left here, reached out to let UGA Alumni Association staff know that his father was turning 90 today. Dave shared so many great details about his father’s time on campus that he was invited to serve as today’s guest blogger. Enjoy this special post about one of UGA’s outstanding graduates.

We are all proud of our UGA heritage. We share fond memories of football Saturdays and library Sundays. We watched the ancient trees on North Campus shed their leaves in autumnal breezes. We faced the challenge of traveling a mile across campus to make our next class in 15 minutes or less! From the dorms and dining halls to the Tate Center and Legion Pool, we learned to live and loved to learn at UGA. We worked hard. We played hard. We found ourselves at Georgia and left with Georgia in our hearts and souls!

Many of us are children or relatives of UGA alumni. I am honored to share the story of my dad, an outstanding alumnus who turns 90 this month. His name is Albert Mims Wilkinson, Jr., and you would know him as “Mims.”

Mims graduated from Decatur Boys High School at the age of 16 in 1942. He attended Emory University then transferred to the University of Georgia. At the age of 18, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard. He was assigned to the USS Evansville, Patrol Frigate 70, as a radar operator; Radarman, Third Class. After 2.5 years of active duty, mostly on submarine patrol in the North Atlantic, Mims was discharged having earned the American Defense Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the U.S. Navy Pistol Marksmanship Medal.

In June 1946, Mims re-enrolled at the University of Georgia. The following year, he entered the UGA School of Law. He was elected Campus Leader in 1947 to represent all non-fraternity men on campus. While at UGA, he was elected to Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, Blue Key Honor Society, the Gridiron Secret Society, and the Sphinx Club, UGA’s oldest honorary society. He was a member of both the Demosthenian Literary Society and the Phi Kappa Literary Society. Mims was a charter member of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. He was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1948 and was elected president of the Georgia Law School Senior Class the next year.

Dad began to practice law in Atlanta in 1950. He practiced in all Georgia and federal trial and appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court. He was a member or chairman of various committees of the Atlanta and Georgia bar associations, and served as chairman of the American Bar Association Committee on the Trial of Commercial Claims. Mims was a charter member of the Georgia Chapter of the American Trial Lawyers Association. He authored a book on contract law in Georgia which sold out two editions. He was Honorary Legal Advisor to the British Consul-General in Atlanta from 1970 until 2000. For his service to the Crown, he was awarded membership in the Order of the British Empire in 1985.

Dad was a tough act to follow at UGA. He credits the University of Georgia with preparing him for success in all of his endeavors. He was just one of so many great alumni who paved the way for us. We can all be grateful for those who established and helped grow this great institution. I am especially grateful to the University of Georgia Alumni Association for its ongoing service to the university and its alumni and friends. It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog!

HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY, DAD!

Grab your shades, UGA is heading to California!

The University of Georgia is hosting two receptions in California in mid-July and all UGA alumni, friends and parents are invited to attend. During these free receptions, President Jere W. Morehead (JD ’80) will provide updates from campus and attendees will have the opportunity to meet other Bulldogs living in the Golden State.

UGA in LA
Tuesday, July 14 (7:00 p.m.)
Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Los Angeles, CA

UGA in the Bay
Thursday, July 16 (7:00 p.m.)
The Fairmont San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

The deadline to register online is July 7, but walk-up registration will be available. Complimentary appetizers, wine, beer and sodas will be provided.

Don’t miss this opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow California Bulldogs. Register today!

UGA alumna wins second Peabody Award

This evening, the 74th annual Peabody Awards will be presented in New York City. Coordinated by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Peabody Awards recognize great storytelling in electronic media.

This year, Lauren Ezell Kinlaw (ABJ ’08, AB ’08) will earn her second Peabody Award.  Last year, the alumna won for her work as an associate producer for “Frontline” and this year, she takes home her second Peabody for her role with “United States of Secrets.” Read an interview with Lauren on Grady’s blog.

Follow along with this evening’s festivities via the following social media outlets – it’s going to be a wonderful event!

Peabody Awards accounts
Instagram – http://instagram.com/PeabodyAwards
Tumblr – http://peabodyawards.tumblr.com
Facebook  – https://www.facebook.com/PeabodyAwards
Twitter – https://twitter.com/PeabodyAwards
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/peabodyawards
Grady College accounts
Twitter – https://twitter.com/UGAGrady
Instagram – https://instagram.com/ugagrady

UGA Executive MBA ranks in top 10 in the U.S., according to The Economist

The Executive MBA Program at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business was ranked No. 14 worldwide by The Economist in its latest assessment.

The new ranking is a step up for Terry’s EMBA program, which was No. 22 worldwide in the previous scoring by The Economist.

“I am certainly proud that the excellence of this degree is being recognized in Georgia and around the world,” said Benjamin C. Ayers, dean of the Terry College. “This ranking is a reflection of the investment and quality that our faculty put into our EMBA program, and a good indication that it truly enhances the careers of our students.”

The Economist’s rankings reflect each EMBA program’s performance in two broad categories: personal development/education experience and career development, with each category weighted equally. Terry’s EMBA program received the highest ranking among schools in Georgia and was eighth among programs based solely in the U.S.

“We are honored to once again be recognized as one of the very best Executive MBA programs in the world,” said Rich Daniels, director of Executive and Professional MBA Programs at the Terry College. “Our focus on leadership development, international experience and harnessing the Terry College network has proven to be particularly effective in ensuring that our graduates are successful.”

The Terry College’s Executive MBA degree is an 18-month program geared toward mid- to senior-level managers. The format combines weekend class sessions with asynchronous interaction using distance learning technologies. The program also offers individual leadership coaching, valuable opportunities to network and an international residency.

For more information about Terry’s Executive MBA, Professional MBA (offered in Buckhead and Gwinnett County) and Full-Time MBA (in Athens), see terry.uga.edu/mba.

Source: UGA Today

For a taste of UGA, why not go with …

Honey, caviar or BBQ sauce? Did you know that UGA has its own honey bee farm in Watkinsville, Georgia, and that honey is a $75 million industry in the state? Since 1975, honey bees have been the official insect of Georgia. UGA’s honey bees produce up to 200 pounds of honey a year. Honey bee […]