Alumna Profile: Ivey McCloud (BBA ’04)

Written by Bridgette Burton

Ivey McCloud (BBA ’04) was set on becoming an educator and attending Auburn University, just like her father who played football there. But, when she came to the University of Georgia in eighth grade for a band competition, she fell in love with Athens, and there was no going back. Today, the marketing major works full-time in Atlanta for the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, but still makes time to give back to her alma mater. Recently, she turned her passion for UGA into action by joining the Terry College of Business Young Alumni Board, which is comprised of 60 Terry graduates from across the country who are charged with outreach and engagement to Terry’s young alumni community. Through the Young Alumni Board, she serves on the Undergraduate Support Committee, where she mentors current undergraduate students. Learn more about Ivey below.

Where are you from?
Powder Springs, GA

What made you decide to come to school at the University of Georgia?
My very first visit to UGA was when I was in the eighth grade. I came for a band competition. I remember my band director at the time, Erin (Brodie) Cole, a UGA alumna, gave us a mini tour of the campus and took us to The Grill for dinner. I immediately fell in love with Athens and the campus. I knew UGA was the school for me.

Describe UGA in three words.
Challenging, dynamic, exciting.

What was your most memorable college experience?
My most memorable college experience was becoming a member of the Eta Xi chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in the spring of 2002.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I’m a customer marketing manager at Kimberly-Clark Corporation. I develop the annual marketing strategy for our Scott Shop Towel brand at Walmart and Sam’s Club. In this role, I have been successful at launching several brand extensions and national marketing promotions.

What did you think you would be when you grew up? Do you still have plans to become that?
Growing up, I always knew I would be an educator like my parents. I never waivered from that career decision until I got to UGA and was exposed to other majors and career paths. Through my active participation in campus organizations, such as the Minority Business Student Association, I decided to change my major from primary education to marketing my second semester at UGA.

What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates?
Be open to taking risks. I had to learn early on to give up on some of the things I thought were in my 10-year life and career plan. You never know where your next adventure may be, so be flexible and willing to go with the flow.

Is there anything else that you would like for me to know?
In November, I participated in Terry’s “Careers in Marketing” alumni panel with two other graduates who work in the field of marketing. It was great to engage with current students and provide them with insights on how to pursue a career in marketing. As part of my continued giving to UGA and the Terry College of Business, I will be featured in the “Terry Excellence Fund” campaign where I explain why I give back to the Terry College of Business. I have been fortunate to work for Fortune 200 companies that have company matching programs, which allow me to essentially double my donation to the university!

UGA Legacies: Bill (AB ’88) and Melonie Thomas (BBA ’86)

Written by Bridgette Burton

With commencement season approaching, UGA Black Alumni is reaching back to tell the stories of graduates who have a legacy at the university. Additional stories will be shared on social media using #UGABlackLegacies.

The Thomas Legacy

A legacy of service to UGA is a hallmark of the Thomas family. Bill Thomas (AB ’88) and his wife Melonie Davis Thomas (BBA ’86) are engaged with the UGA Alumni Association through the Board of Directors and Black Alumni Affinity Group.

Bill, is a native of East Point, Georgia and Melonie is from Daytona Beach, Florida.

Melonie visited campus as a National Merit Scholar, and on a tour with her mother ran into Dean Rusk. Their conversation with him solidified her decision to choose UGA over the University of Florida. Melonie lived in Brumby Hall her freshman year and Bill lived in Russell Hall. The two met as freshman through their mutual friend Lonnie Walls (AB ’03).

“I was supposed to walk to a ‘Jessie Jackson for President’ rally downtown with my friend Lonnie. When I arrived at his room in Russell Hall, he said two others were going too,” Melonie said. “Those two turned out to be Bill and his roommate, Todd Wooten (BS ’87, JD ’91). I wasn’t too happy initially about walking across campus with three guys, and Lonnie was more than willing to send them on their way, but I decided it was fine. Long story short, Jessie didn’t show up and we, along with half of campus, ended up at The Grill talking and laughing. They all walked me back to Brumby. That was the start, and years later Todd was our best man, we still love The Grill and Lonnie is our pastor.”

After graduation, Bill pursued a career in law enforcement. He is a veteran, and has worked as a federal prosecutor and Assistant United States Attorney. Today, he has a boutique law firm, The W.H. Thomas Firm, LLC in Atlanta. He is also a member of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Melonie uses her degree from the Terry College of Business as a communications team lead with the Centers for Disease Control. She extends her expertise to not only combat health disparities, but to combat educational inequality as a UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council board member. Through their work with the university, the Thomases strive to create college access opportunities for students of color.

The couple has remained committed to the university since graduation. Bill was instrumental in the creation of what was a DeKalb County Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association, which ultimately inspired him to get involved with the Board of Directors.

“I wanted to see a stronger African American presence in the Alumni Association, and I wanted to make sure that my African American classmates knew of the lifelong benefits that came with being a part of the university,” Bill said.  “I also wanted to make sure that future students and their parents knew that UGA was an option for them when it came time to consider college options.”

As president of the former DeKalb County Chapter, he spearheaded events to raise awareness about UGA among middle and high school students and their parents. They also hosted former U.S. Poet Laureate and alumna Natasha Trethewey (AB ’89)

Bill and Melonie’s history of giving back to UGA goes beyond time and money– their love and affinity for the school extends to their daughter, Erin, who graduated in 2016 with a degree in history and a minor in Arabic.

Erin, Bill and Melonie Thomas

The Thomas family (L-R: Melonie, Erin and Bill) at Ring Ceremony in 2016.

“She was in the first class to live in Delta Hall (UGA’s residency in Washington, D.C.),” Melonie said. “Her last year in Reed, she lived in the same room that Bill lived in for a short while, 33 years earlier.”

They are both passionate about staying connected and giving back to the university, as well as to their communities. Melonie said that she initially only contributed financially to the Terry College of Business, but that when Bill got involved with the DeKalb County Chapter she became inspired to connect parents and students to UGA.

“Go back to your high schools and middle schools and tell other students about the amazing opportunities that UGA has to offer,” Melonie said.  “Talk to them about what it takes to get into and be successful at Georgia.”

L-R: Kevin Aycock, Bill and Melonie Thomas at the 2015 Bulldog 100 Celebration

“Continue to be a part of the university throughout your life and career,” Bill echoed.  “It will provide you great opportunities beyond the few years that you have, or will, spend on campus earning your degree. Give back to the university financially to ensure that it remains a world class institution, and that it can attract and retain deserving students.”