UGA Alumni signature events

2020 Bulldog 100 spotlight: Marc Gorlin’s three most transformative moments

Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95) is a Bulldog 100 regular.

This marks the sixth consecutive year he will be honored. But 2020 represents a new level of achievement for the serial entrepreneur: two of his companies have landed among the top 100 fastest-growing Bulldog businesses.

Kabbage, which simplifies the loan process for small businesses, made its Bulldog 100 debut in 2015 at No. 1. Kabbage remained in the top five the next three years, clocking in at No. 3 in 2016, No. 2 in 2017 and No. 5 in 2018. Kabbage ranked No. 38 in 2019.

Marc’s newest company, Roadie, connects drivers with businesses to provide faster and cheaper delivery solutions. Roadie cracked the list for the first time in 2020.

On Feb. 8, the Bulldog 100 Celebration will be held for the first time in Athens—in the Sanford Stadium West Endzone, just steps from where Marc took classes at Grady College. And Marc will leave the event with twice the hardware—one award for each of his children, Lily and Mills, to carry to the car.

We asked Marc to reflect on his success and the moments that were most critical for his transformation from journalism student to Bulldog 100 CEO. Here were his top three …

1. Dad’s Advice

Find a deal, not a job.

Leaving UGA with a degree in newspaper journalism in 1995, Marc received a piece of advice from his father that would alter his life journey: find a deal, not a job.

Marc’s dad encouraged him that post-graduation, with no spouse, mortgage or car payment, was the best time to take risks and push his limits. Instead of settling for a safe job, Marc set out into the world, confident in his ability to find the next great idea and use his Grady-given storytelling abilities to attract investors and customers.

“A lot of being an entrepreneur is telling stories and convincing people,” Marc says. “To make companies go, you’ve got to persuade your first customer, your first investors, your first employees to join something new.”

2. Time with Mimi

Take action before the moment’s gone.

Amid the day-to-day grind, one can easily overlook important relationships. Marc’s experience did just the opposite: he took six years off to care for his grandmother, Mimi, until she passed at age 100.

“Sometimes, the universe makes space for you to do what you need to do when you only have a certain window to do it in,” Marc says. “Those are the life opportunities you really need to take advantage of because you can’t get them back.”

After Mimi passed, Marc returned to the entrepreneurial world and co-founded Kabbage in 2008. But he did not forget the lesson he learned, and still strives to make space for his family. He understands time is finite and windows of opportunity do not last forever.

3. Roadside Realization

Be a figure-it-outer.

One Thursday in 2014, Marc was on the road to his Gulf Coast condo, where a water leak sparked a bathroom renovation. This was tile day.

He received word that the replacement tiles arrived broken and new ones would not arrive from Birmingham until Monday. Marc’s plans were shot. Sitting off an exit near Montgomery, Alabama, Marc watched as cars zipped by.

“There’s bound to be somebody leaving Birmingham right now heading toward Montgomery who would be more than happy to throw a box of tiles in their trunk,” Marc says, recounting that day. “That’s when it hit me that there’s an unbelievable, untapped transportation map that already exists made up of all of our personal vehicles.”

And just like that, an idea—and a company—began.

“Be aware of what’s going on around you,” Marc says. “Then, be a figure-it-outer and find solutions.”

By the time the tiles arrived, Marc had an entire business plan written. Oh, and his shower looks great now too.

3 Buzzworthy Bulldog 100 Businesses: Buckhead Beans, Rev Coffee Roasters, and Three Tree Coffee

Written by: Leigh Raynor Arndt

In Atlanta, Buckhead Beans is revitalizing office coffee. In Smyrna, Rev Coffee Roasters is bringing perfectly-roasted beans to the ’burbs. And in Statesboro, Three Tree Coffee Roasters is making a difference, one mug at a time. But what do these three game-changing coffee companies have in common?

They are all owned by Bulldogs. And they’re growing fast.

On Feb. 8, we’re celebrating Buckhead Beans, Rev Coffee Roasters, and Three Tree Coffee as 2020 Bulldog 100 businesses. Each year, Bulldog 100 recognizes the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by University of Georgia alumni. Read on to learn more about the Bulldogs behind these exceptional companies.

(Spoiler: caffeine isn’t the only secret to their success.)

Buckhead Beans: Matt Ades (AB ’94, MED ’96) + Jeff Ramsey (BBA ’95)

What inspired UGA grads Matt Ades and Jeff Ramsey to start Buckhead Beans? Water cooler talk. In 2014, the college friends invested in an Atlanta-based vending company providing coffee to offices around the city. As they strategized how to revitalize the business, they asked around to see how people felt about the coffee at work. Across the board, the response was the same: yuck.

“Matt and I recognized a movement in Atlanta like craft beer, but with coffee,” said Jeff. “New cool shops were opening across the city. We knew there was good coffee here. But we also knew that a lot of businesses were stuck in the ’80s with subpar office coffee.”

So, Jeff and Matt decided to connect the dots. They started with one van and one local roaster. Today, Buckhead Beans has grown to 10 vans and partnerships with 10 roasters, including Counter Culture, Batdorf and Bronson, and Beanealogy. And one of their top roasters is fellow Bulldog-owned business Rev Coffee Roasters (more on them next!). Inspired by these coffee connoisseurs, Buckhead Beans is now perfecting its own roasting techniques.

Buckhead Beans has rid stale coffee from the breakrooms of more than 300 Atlanta businesses. And relationships that Jeff and Matt formed at UGA have proved vital to this expansion. Jeff shows his continued appreciation for his alma mater through a perfect attendance record. In 26 years, he’s yet to miss a Bulldog home game!

Rev Coffee Roasters: Jenn Holt Bimmerle (AB ’02)

As co-founders of Rev Coffee Roasters, alumna Jenn Holt Bimmerle and her husband, Nick, make the perfect team. Jenn likes a white mocha, while Nick drinks his coffee black. Together, they make sure that Rev is a place for every coffee drinker, where everyone gets what they want. And whether you are a purist or you like a dollop of whipped cream, your order will be bolstered by the best beans around.

Jenn and Nick opened Rev in 2008. From the start, their goal went beyond bringing a better cup of coffee to Smyrna. They wanted to embrace the suburbs by creating a cool, community space where neighbors could connect. It’s safe to say they’ve stolen some attention away from Atlanta. This is Rev’s fourth year as a Bulldog 100 business.

“Rev is like Cheers. A non-alcoholic Cheers,” said Jenn. “It’s just a happy place. Everyone is well-caffeinated. Everyone’s in a good mood. When you walk in, you feel comfortable. It feels like home.”

Looking for new ways to celebrate the people that make Smyrna unique, Jenn and her husband started Rev Fest in 2010. The festival brought together local artists, craftspeople, musicians, and coffee lovers for an all-day party. The first Rev Fest was so successful that it is now a bi-annual event.

“A big part of our success is that customers became friends, who then became family,” said Jenn. “When I think of that, I always feel like we’ve done something right.”

Three Tree Coffee Roasters: Philip Klayman (BSA ’11)

As an agricultural economics major at UGA, Philip Klayman not only gained the knowledge he needed to start his own company, but he also found his partner. Philip met his wife, Anna (AB ’11), in Athens. Today, they own Three Tree Coffee Roasters in Anna’s hometown of Statesboro.

The Klaymans’ entrepreneurial drive started with their love of coffee. Devoted drinkers, they began by roasting beans in their backyard. Their hobby grew, and they were soon selling at farmer’s markets. But the Klaymans enjoyed coffee for more than its taste and aroma. They appreciate the community it inspires. Eager to share their passion with others, they opened Three Tree Coffee in 2014.

“Walls come down in coffee shops,” said Philip. “There are not many cultures like coffee culture. It brings diverse people together. Barriers come down, and we recognize our similarities.”

Three Tree’s mission goes beyond serving delicious coffee (like a pour-over made with beans from Limmu, Ethiopia, Philip’s current go-to). The Klaymans are dedicated to using their coffee as a “catalyst for change.” To empower farmers, they only use certified Fair-Trade USA beans and teas. And the shop raises funds for organizations fighting to end human trafficking.

Furthermore, Philip is determined to extend the close-knit community that Three Tree has formed in Statesboro around the globe. By establishing direct partnerships in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia, he guarantees that Three Tree only serves coffee and tea from farms that are paid fair wages and use sustainable methods.

“I like to meet with our farmers face to face,” said Philip. “It allows me to develop a better understanding of their challenges so that I can be a solution.”

Check out the full 2020 Bulldog 100 list to learn about more alumni-owned businesses and ways to support fellow Bulldogs.

2020 Bulldog 100 Spotlight: A Network of Loyal Bulldogs

Written by: Maggie Griffin of Maggie Griffin Designs

I grew up in the small, tight-knit community of Hawkinsville, Georgia. The kind of welcoming small-town where you know everyone, and where you’re related to half the county. And the neighboring county too! When I began my freshman year at the University of Georgia in 2002, I was so comforted to see some of those familiar faces from our small town, right there on the big campus of the University of Georgia.

This past fall, when the Bulldog 100 list was announced, I was proud to again see several of those names sharing the honor with me. Hardy’s Peanuts is interwoven into my life, as we grew up on neighboring farms where Ken Hardy (BSA ’93) and Brad Hardy (BSA ’96), along with their family, now run their family farm. I sure wish our grandparents were here to celebrate this achievement with us; they would be so proud! Robert Moore (BSAE ’04), of Moore Civil, is a childhood friend from home, and his wife, Courtney, and I have been great friends since we were kids. He and his brother, Michael Azzolin (PHARMD ’02) (also from Hawkinsville), of PharmD on Demand, get to share this honor together this year, too. It’s been a joy to be included on this list alongside hometown friends and to share that same entrepreneurial spirit with them that we’ve inherited from generations before us.

My husband, David, and I now call Gainesville, Georgia, “home.” We’ve loved getting to know the amazing people who also call this charming “big” small-town “home,” and we are proud to be raising our two boys here as well. The close proximity to Athens is one of our favorite things about the city. Gainesville has been great in supporting my small business and David’s too.

The city has a fantastic community of women business owners, and I am thrilled to see two of my friends on this year’s Bulldog 100 list. Amanda Wilbanks (BBA ’09), of Southern Baked Pie Company, fed me pie in her home kitchen while I was pregnant with my oldest child (who is now almost 7!), before opening her first shop. I am proud of her incredible vision and I sure do love her pies too! Katie Dubnik (BBA ’03), another fellow female business owner and entrepreneur in Gainesville, shares the list with Amanda and me. Her extraordinary business brings invaluable marketing strategies to companies across the Southeast, and she manages a smart, energetic group of creatives at her company, Forum Communications.

I will be forever indebted to the University of Georgia for my education and for the opportunities that this wonderful university has afforded to me and to my family. The network of loyal Bulldogs never ceases to amaze me, and I am so proud to be among this incredible group this year.

Spotlight on 2020 Bulldog 100 business: Agora Vintage

Airee Edwards (AB ’99) wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she graduated from UGA with a bachelor’s in fabric design, but she knew she wanted to stay in Athens.

So she looked for a business opening, asking herself what was missing, what did Athens not have?

The answer: an open market where anyone could sell their vintage furniture, handcrafted items, art, or whatever, really.

Open Marketplace

“I went to what seemed like every bank in Athens, and I heard a lot of no’s,” Edwards says. But with savings from waiting tables and taking money off the house she’d bought, “a risky move” as she describes it, Edwards convinced a local bank to lend her what she needed to open Agora in 2002. (Agora means “open marketplace” in Greek.)

The only problem? Edwards didn’t have a business degree. But growing up, she’d followed her mother from one craft fair to the next, selling tissue box holders they fashioned from vintage fabrics. That early exposure to entrepreneurship stuck with her.

So she learned as she went, eventually outgrowing the little shop at the corner of Clayton and Pulaski. Sellers had also begun bringing in higher-end items, including women’s clothing and accessories, and Edwards’ husband, attorney and Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Russell Edwards (JD ’10), suggested she move the fashion items to a new store a few blocks away on Broad Street, right across from North Campus.

For a while, the Edwards family headed both stores, an exhausting but incredibly rewarding job. But she eventually decided to focus on one of her first loves—fashion—and grow the now iconic vintage fashion store on Broad, selling the furniture store that would become Atomic Vintage.

When you walk into the recently renovated Agora Vintage, you see an Art Deco-inspired cabinet lined with bags from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès, just to name a few. But there are also less expensive, gently used Coach, Tory Burch, and Marc by Marc Jacobs bags toward the back of the store. The counter display is full of beautiful, estate jewelry.

To the left, rows of vintage and modern clothes, all marked significantly below retail. Designer shoes are toward the back.

Honored Bulldog Business

But what makes Agora Vintage stand out is Edwards herself. She’s almost always in the store, greeting customers, suggesting items she knows they have to have, and tracking down pieces they’ve inquired about. It’s that attention to detail that has landed Agora several times on the Bulldog 100, which lists the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. Agora Vintage has made the list an outstanding six times in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020.

But she never forgets the place that made it all possible, regularly speaking in classes at UGA and supporting the Georgia Museum of Art.

“I tell them the whole story about how I couldn’t get a loan and was eating potato chips for a year, thought I was going to get scurvy,” Edwards says. “I now own a business that allows me to live securely and enjoy some success. UGA helped me build that.”


This story was originally published in Georgia Magazine. 

Quitman’s Kasey Knight is UGA College of Pharmacy’s 2017 40 Under 40

This year’s UGA College of Pharmacy “40 Under 40” alumni recipient defied the popular opinion of his fellow classmates in 2005.  At the college’s senior banquet that year, Kasey Knight was awarded the dubious senior superlative honor of “Classmate Least Likely to Ever Practice Pharmacy.” However, Knight’s vision, tenacity and passion for his chosen profession certainly has shown the naysayers that they were wrong.

Now the owner of Lee & Pickels Drugs, the leading independent drug store in Quitman, Knight’s aspiration for the pharmacy field surfaced at a young age. His mother says that her son created a career project in the third grade that displayed his desire to be a pharmacist.  Briefly, he considered life as a physician and a football coach.  But in the end, he returned to his original plan.

Kasey Knight consults Anne Smith, who has been a pharmacist at Lee & Pickels for two years and is a UGA College of Pharmacy alumna.

After receiving pre-pharmacy requisites from Mercer University in Macon, Knight came to the place he calls “heaven” – Athens.  “I’ve been a bulldog fan all my life,” said Knight. “When I was young, my grandparents had season football tickets, and I attended every game I could.  So, the opportunity to come to school at the University of Georgia was thrilling.”  While Knight admits he wasn’t very involved in college activities during his time in school, he had no doubt he would pursue his career.  Following graduation, Knight began working at the Kroger pharmacy in Waycross.  “But I always wanted to work in an independent pharmacy,” he said.  “And long-term, I knew I wanted to own my own store.”

To gain experience, Knight joined Bennett’s Hometown Pharmacy in Nahunta, owned by fellow alumni Stetson (PHARM ’96) Bennett and Denise Bennett (PHARMD ’96).  “Stetson taught me the ropes of being a business owner,” said Knight.  “He was very influential in my career, and I am deeply indebted to him.”  Later, he helped Bennett open a second location in Waynesville. He also met his bride, Danielle, who was a pharmacy tech, at Bennett’s. After three years, the opportunity to buy Lee & Pickels Drugs surfaced in 2011, and Knight and Danielle purchased the 76-year-old pharmacy, which literally is the corner drug store on the main street of Quitman.  Currently, he fills an average of 400 prescriptions a day with the help of 15 employees.  He recently expanded his company to include durable medical supplies.

“I love being an independent pharmacist,” said Knight.  “This is the best profession in the world.  I don’t just dispense drugs; I connect with my customers, and I have a relationship with them. I become a part of their lives. I have had many customers say that they are more comfortable talking with me about their medical concerns than their own doctors.  And, as an independent pharmacist, I have the freedom to create the kind of business that I think is best for this community and best for my family.”

Knight is quick to give credit where credit is due.  “The College of Pharmacy allowed me to be the success I am today. I owe everything I have as a pharmacist to the outstanding education I received while I was in Athens.  Without the college, I wouldn’t have realized my passion and my success.  I am eternally grateful for the experience I had at UGA.”

Kasey Knight and his family stand outside their drug store in Quitman. (front, l-r) Hannah and John Thomas. (back, l-r) Danielle, Kaleb and Kasey.

Knight also understands that his role as entrepreneur means he has to be engaged with the town that is now home to him, Danielle and their three children: John Thomas, 5; Hannah, 4; and Kaleb, 6 months. He was elected to the local Brooks County Board of Education in 2014. In addition, he is on the board of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, the Kiwanis Club and the Brooks-Quitman Chamber of Commerce, and he serves as a deacon at the First Baptist Church.

A quick stroll through town with Knight allows anyone to see how beloved and popular this hometown pharmacist is. Every passerby extended a warm hello or short anecdote to the UGA alumnus as he walked passed them.  “I love what I do and the customers I serve,” said Knight.  “It means the world to me to be a pharmacist.”

This story was written by Mickey Montevideo, UGA College of Pharmacy.

Announcing the 40 Under 40 Class of 2017!

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2017. The program began in 2011 and celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates who are under the age of 40.

This year’s class includes alumni from a variety of industries ranging from law to agriculture. Among the honorees are ESPN’s Maria Taylor, Georgia Teacher of the Year Casey M. Bethel, state Rep. Sam Watson, who represents Colquitt, Thomas and Tift counties, and Maritza McClendon, the first woman of color to represent Team USA on the Olympic swim team.

The honorees will be recognized during the seventh annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon on Sept. 14 at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. Ernie Johnson, a 1978 UGA graduate, will serve as keynote speaker for the event. Johnson is a co-host on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” and is the lead announcer for “Major League Baseball on TBS.” He delivered UGA’s 2017 undergraduate Commencement address in May. Registration will open for the awards luncheon at in the coming weeks.

“We are excited about this year’s 40 Under 40 class,” Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations, said. “These young alumni are making a difference in the classroom, boardroom, operating room and everywhere in between.”

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and nearly 400 alumni were nominated for this year’s class. Honorees must have attended UGA and aspire to uphold the Pillars of the Arch. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni Association website.

“We received hundreds of nominations, and our graduates have made some incredible accomplishments,” Johnson added. “It is more difficult every year to narrow the list down to 40, and that is a testament to the caliber of our alumni. We are so proud.”

This year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, including their graduation year from UGA, city, title and employer, are:

  • Casey M. Bethel, 2005, Lithia Springs, Georgia Department of Education Teacher of the Year, New Manchester High School
  • Travis Butler, 2009, Athens, president, Butler Properties and Development
  • Eric Callahan, 2005, Griffin, owner, Callahan Industries
  • Mariel Clark, 2001, Knoxville, vice president, Home + Travel Digital, Scripps Network Interactive
  • Andrew Dill, 2006 and 2007, Marietta, director of government affairs, Lockheed Martin
  • Amelia Dortch, 2006 and 2012, Auburn, Alabama, state public affairs specialist, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Katie Dubnik, 2003, Gainesville, president, Forum Communications
  • Rebecca Evans, 2010, Savannah, equine veterinarian, Evans Equine LLC
  • Rebecca Filson, 2005, Roswell, regional vice president of operations, BenchMark Rehab Partners
  • Matt Forshee, 2000, Evans, region manager for community and economic development, Georgia Power
  • Nicholas Friedmann, 2006, Washington, D.C., private client relationship manager, Citibank
  • James Gates, 2001 and 2004, Atlanta, partner, Bell Oaks Executive Search
  • Christine Green, 2002, New York, general counsel, Leadership for Educational Equity
  • Lauren Griffeth, 2005, 2008 and 2013, Athens, administrative director of agricultural leadership, education and communication, UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Destin Hill, 2002, Phoenix, physician, Arizona Sports Medicine Center
  • Dominique Holloman, 2001 and 2004, Atlanta, independent consultant
  • Katie Jacobs, 2005, Athens, owner, Cheeky Peach Boutique
  • Jonas Jennings, 2000, Athens, director of player development, UGA Athletic Association; president, JJ 75 Properties LLC
  • LeRoya Chester Jennings, 2001, Atlanta, managing partner, Chester Jennings & Smith LLC
  • Adam C. Johnson, 2016, Atlanta, senior consultant, Cognizant
  • Joshua Jones, 2008 and 2016, Atlanta, president/CEO, Red Clay Communications Inc.
  • Marcus Jones, 2009, Detroit, president, Detroit Training Center
  • Kasey Knight, 2005, Quitman, pharmacist/owner, Lee & Pickels Drugs
  • Matt Koperniak, 2002 and 2004, Sugar Hill, director of bands, Riverwatch Middle School
  • Dorian Lamis, 2003, Atlanta, assistant professor/clinical psychologist, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Dan Ludlam, 2004 and 2007, Atlanta, senior manager, real estate attorney, Chick-fil-A Inc.
  • Gordon Maner, 2004, Charleston, South Carolina, managing partner, Allen Mooney & Barnes
  • Maritza McClendon, 2005, Atlanta, senior brand marketing manager for OshKosh B’gosh, Carter’s Inc.
  • Behnoosh Momin, 2015, Chamblee, health scientist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Travis Moore, 2003, Kirkwood, Missouri, senior brewmaster, Anheuser-Busch InBev
  • Wes Neece, 2000, Atlanta, merchandising vice president for lighting, The Home Depot
  • Julian Price, 2000, Watkinsville, physician/partner, Athens Orthopedic Clinic
  • Tim Puetz, 2006, Silver Spring, Maryland, operations manager, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center
  • Tucker Berta Sarkisian, 2000, Atlanta, director of public relations, SweetWater Brewing Co.
  • Maria Taylor, 2009 and 2013, Charlotte, North Carolina, sports broadcaster, ESPN
  • Alissa Vickery, 2001, Mableton, senior vice president for accounting and controls, Fleetcor Technologies Inc.
  • Sam Watson, 2002, Moultrie, managing partner, Chill C Farms/Moultrie Melon Co. ; state representative House District 172
  • Laura Whitaker, 2007 and 2010, Watkinsville, executive director, Extra Special People
  • Whitney Woodward, 2000, Covington, vice president for total rewards, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.
  • Alex Wright, 2008, Byron, overseas research fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

2017 Bulldog 100 Celebration

On February 4, the University of Georgia Alumni Association and friends of UGA gathered in Atlanta to celebrate the 100 fastest-growing companies owned or operated by UGA alumni during the eighth annual Bulldog 100 Celebration.

The 2017 fastest-growing business was Chicken Salad Chick, helmed by president and CEO Scott Deviney, who received his degree in economics from UGA’s Terry College of Business in 1995. The company is based in Auburn, Alabama, and was started by a stay-at-home mom and her software salesman husband after selling chicken salad at PTA meetings.

To date, the company operates 62 restaurants and has sold 146 franchises in eight states, selling chicken salad in 15 flavor profiles. In 2016, Chicken Salad Chick landed at No. 37 on Inc. Magazine’s annual list of the 500 fastest-growing companies in the U.S., raking in $9.8 million in 2015, with a growth rate of more than 6,000 percent in the past three years. The company has also been named one of’s top Movers and Shakers and one of Nation’s Restaurant News’ 2015 Breakout Brands.

View the complete ranked list of all 100 companies at

This year’s keynote speech was given by Double Dawg Debbie Storey (AB ’80, MBA ’06), retired executive vice president of mobility customer service at AT&T, author of Don’t Downsize Your Dreams. As Storey wrapped up her remarks, she encouraged all of the evening’s guests to stay connected to the University of Georgia. 

Nominations are now open for the Bulldog 100 Class of 2018. Learn more about the criteria and nominate a business today.


2016 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon: Recap

On September 8, the University of Georgia came together to recognize 40 outstanding young alumni, the Class of 2016 40 Under 40. The Class of 2016 included graduates from several schools and colleges, majors and backgrounds. While several hail from the state of Georgia, some live as far away as California or New York. The list included current and former NFL players, a country music artist, entrepreneurs, lawyers and more.






Before being presented with their awards, the honorees and other guests were treated to a keynote speech from alumna and former Gym Dogs member Leah C. Brown, MD (BS ’98). Brown is a medical corps commander in the United States Army Reserve.

This event would not have been possible without Verizon, our platinum sponsor. Julie Smith (AB ’00), one of this year’s honorees, is vice president for external affairs for the southern region for Verizon. 

40 Under 40 Highlights: Political Figures and Non-Profits

Today we are highlighting members of Class of 2016 40 Under 40 who are political figures or work for non-profits. The members highlighted are Allison Alexander, Andres Villegas, Brendan Buck, Brittany Brown, Christina Swoope, Derick Corbertt, Jehan Zweig, Jennie Blake, Katie Childers, and Meredith Seacrest.

Allison Alexander graduated from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1999 with a degree in broadcast news. Mrs. Alexander now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland and serves as the vice president for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. While the 1996 Olympics were held in Atlanta, some events were held in Athens, Georgia at UGA venues. “I was a flower and medal bearer in the 1996 Olympics for the soccer and rhythmic gymnastics events held in Athens,” said Mrs. Alexander, “I was interning at the County Executive’s office in New Castle County, Delaware, and the local news misreported that I was competing in the Olympics!”

Allison Hoke Alexander

Allison Hoke Alexander

Andres Villegas is the president of the Georgia Forestry Association. Mr. Villegas graduated in 1998 from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Mr. Villegas now lives in Macon, Georgia. After Mr. Villegas graduated, his first job was with the Georgia Department of Agriculture. He led several trade missions with Cuba during his time there. During these missions, Mr. Villegas and nine other people had the opportunity to have dinner with President Castro. “I still have a couple of cigar boxes that he signed,” said Mr. Villegas.

Andres Villegas

Andres Villegas

Brendan Buck graduated from the Terry College of Business in 2004 with a degree in economics. Mr. Buck now lives and works in Washington, D.C. as the chief communications advisor for the Office of the U.S. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. Mr. Buck never imagined he would have a job in politics after graduated; he expected to work in finance. He is also a strong proponent of the oxford comma.

Brendan Buck

Brendan Buck

Brittany Brown graduated with her first degree in speech communications from UGA in 2007. In 2015, Ms. Brown returned to UGA for her master’s in communication. Ms. Brown now lives in Jacksonville, Florida and works as a combat stress recovery specialist for the Wounded Warrior Project. Did you know Ms. Brown was a Braves girl during her time as undergraduate at UGA? Ms. Brown is also the mother of a Cabbage Patch Kid named Lana and has dabbled in standup comedy.

Brittany Brown

Brittany Brown

Christina Swoope works in the Office of the President of the United States of America as a Medicare program examiner. Ms. Swoope received her degree from UGA in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology. She now lives in Hanover, Maryland. “Even though I was a science major, I chose an undergraduate institution based on the band. Words cannot express how excited I was that UGA also had my major,” Said Ms. Swoope.

Christina Swoope

Christina Swoope

Derick Corbett graduated for a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2000. Mr. Corbett lives in Atlanta and works as the Chief of Staff for the Office of U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall. Mr. Corbett has a secret fear of flying, even though his job requires multiple weekly flights. “It’s ironic that I chose a profession that requires weekly plane rides,” said Mr. Corbett.

Derrick Corbett

Derrick Corbett

Jenah Zweig received her law degree from UGA in 2011. Ms. Zweig lies in Washington, D.C. and serves as the supervisor of policy and technical assistance for the U.S. Department of Energy. “At 12-years-old, I made more than $12,000 buying and selling Beanie Babies. This profit was invested, and helped to fund my UGA Law education,” said Ms. Zweig, “I am the first woman in my family to graduate from a four-year university and the first person in my family to attend graduate school.”

Jennifer "Jenah" Zweig

Jennifer “Jenah” Zweig

Jennie Blake began her education at UGA with a bachelor’s degree in social work and graduated in 1999. Ms. Blake continued her education at Georgia State in pursuing a master’s degree in social work. Ms. Blake now lives and works in Atlanta, where she is the director for the Cox Foundation. Her fun fact? Ms. Blake has met and had a conversation with the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson. Sarah Ferguson was the ground breaking ceremony for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, where Ms. Blake was attending as a guest of the Ronald McDonald House, one of her clients.

Jennie Blake

Jennie Blake

Katie Childers graduated with her bachelor’s degree from the Terry College of Business in 2007. Ms. Childers lives in Atlanta and works as the deputy chief of staff of policy for the State of Georgia Governor’s Office. “My interest in healthcare started when I would spend the night at Athens Regional with my mom while she was on call. I grew up at the nurses’ station on Labor and Delivery, and became fascinated with the healthcare delivery system,” said Ms. Childers, “I knew from an early age that I wanted to be deeply involved in how the healthcare system as a whole functioned.”

Katie Childers

Katie Childers

Meredith Seacrest lives in West Hollywood, California and is the executive director and COO of the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. Ms. Seacrest graduated from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. Ms. Seacrest has traveled to 25 different countries and is always wanting to learn more about the world. “I believe some of the best self-growth and insight can be achieved from traveling, “said Ms. Seacrest.

Meredith Seacrest

Meredith Seacrest

Meet the rest of this year’s 40 Under 40 class at


40 Under 40 Highlights: Agriculture

Today, we are highlighting members of Class of 2016 40 Under 40 who are work in field of agricultire. The members highlighted are Adam Miller, Amanda Lang, Elliot Marsh, and Will Witherspoon.

Adam Miller graduated from the College of Environment and Design with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture in 2005. Mr. Miller lives in Chicago and is the design principal of Chicago Roof Deck and Garden. As a young adult, Mr. Miller has had almost every job imaginable. “The list includes: Mailboxes etc, Taco Bell, Abercrombie, a plant nursery, J.Crew, phone book delivery, waiter, busboy, host, and disher,” said Mr. Miller.

Adam Miller

Adam Miller

Amanda Lang received her undergraduate degree in 2005 from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and her master’s degree in forestry resources in 2008. She lives in Bishop, Georgia and is a partner and senior consultant at Forisk Consulting. At home, Mrs. Lang and her husband recently started raising chickens. At their house, they have one hen and one rooster. The couple looks forward to raising baby chicks in the future.

Amanda Lang

Amanda Lang

Elliot Marsh received both his master’s degree and his bachelor’s degree from UGA. Mr. Marsh graduated in 2002 with his first degree in agricultural economics and then returned in 2011 for his master’s in agricultural leadership. Mr. Marsh lives in Statesboro, Georgia and is the precision ag coordinator for the Southern States Cooperative. Mr. Marsh does not know if he has a fact people do not already know about him. “I’ve found that as I got older and grew in my leadership opportunities that I needed to discuss things and situations with others both good and bad. I found it as a way to relate and could often help in situations that others may not be as comfortable to discuss things,” said Mr. Marsh.

Elliot Marsh

Elliot Marsh

Will Witherspoon graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in housing form the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Mr. Witherspoon is the owner of Shire Gate Farm in Chesterfield, Missouri. While running a sustainable cattle ranch, Mr. Witherspoon said that his closet hobby is making music. Before owning his farm, Mr. Witherspoon was a linebacker for the NFL.

Will Witherspoon

Will Witherspoon

Meet the rest of this year’s 40 Under 40 class at