Women in Business: Bulldog 100 and 40 Under 40

Written by Claire Dickey

We caught up with three women, previously recognized through 40 Under 40 and Bulldog 100, to learn a bit more about their careers and what these programs have meant to them.

The University of Georgia has been running its 40 Under 40 and Bulldog 100 programs for over six years, recognizing successful, young graduates of the university for their professional or philanthropic endeavors.

Since the inception of these programs, more than 100 women have been honored for their work. In fact, the University of Georgia has established a Women of UGA Council with 15 dedicated alumnae as a part of the Women of UGA network. Their goals include creating a sense of community, involving themselves philanthropically and empowering women through the program.

We caught up with past honorees Keysha Lee (40 Under 40 ’12), Ashley Edmonds (40 Under 40 ’15) and Maureen Clayton (Bulldog 100 ’12-’15) to talk about their experience as women in business.

Keysha Lee:

  • 40 Under 40 Class of 2012
  • ABJ ’97
  • Executive Producer and Host of Lessons with Mrs. Lee

What She Does:
“Lessons with Mrs. Lee was born out of two desires: one desire was to give my high school students more exposure and hands-on experience in the broadcast field. The second was to feed my own passion for [storytelling]. We reach out to successful people who are interested in sharing their journey or personal formula for success.”
Her Experience with 40 Under 40:
“The recognition has allowed me to continue to grow my show, and to meet new goals. It’s really opened up so many doors. I recently had the opportunity to attend Dinner with a Dozen Dawgs, and I was able to literally and figuratively sit at the table with our first, female Senior VP for Academic Affairs and Provost, Pamela Whitten. That connection was really strong for me, and an inspiration. It made me look at the progress of women and where we can go.”
Future Goals:
“Currently, I’m seeking new interns for my summer series with the Atlanta Dream, Atlanta’s WNBA team. This summer will be their 10th year in the WNBA. Some of my biggest goals are to write a book titled Lessons with Mrs. Lee, and to get my show on a major network or commercial TV station.”
UGA’s Role:
“Professor Hazinski in the Grady College of Mass Communications and Journalism gave us immeasurable opportunities, exposure and advice. Even now I call him for advice concerning ventures that I’m pursuing.”
Tips for Success:
“Be a planner, do your homework, write down your goals. Also, be up on the industry; research women you admire, look at their paths and reach out to them.

Ashley Teusink Edmonds:

  • 40 Under 40 Class of 2015
  • ABJ ’05, MBA ’11
  • Founder and CEO, Smartsy LLC

What She Does:
“Smartsy is the parent company for the different brands that I’ve developed. Lilywrap was the first brand; it’s a reusable, stretchy giftwrap that I developed in an entrepreneurship course through the Professional MBA program at the Terry College of Business. The second main product is Beer Greetings, a decorative six pack carrier and greeting card in one.”
Her Experience with 40 Under 40:
“The PR and marketing that has come from [40 Under 40] has really allowed me to meet a lot of people and grow my business. Since I’ve won, I’ve been asked to come speak at a variety of different university-sponsored events through which I’ve connected with different individuals, done collaborations and even hired from.”
Future Goals:
“The year 2016 was focused on getting Beer Greetings into retailers. We’d primarily sold online through Amazon, so those 800 stores came about in one year. This year is about continuing to grow and streamlining processes. As for a personal focus, working smarter and making the most of my time.”
UGA’s Role:
“UGA introduced me to an array of people. It really took me out of my comfort zone and broadened my horizons. It taught me the skills necessary to be a successful entrepreneur, everything from PR and marketing, to business functions such as accounting and finance, and even operational skills.
Tips for Success:
“It’s hard to compartmentalize, especially when you’re an entrepreneur. Learn to turn off home when you’re at work and work when you’re at home. Also, do your research. Talk to anyone and everyone that’s in a similar role. Don’t be afraid to jump in.”

Maureen Clayton:

  • Bulldog 100 Classes of 2012 – 2015
  • ABJ ’80, MA ’84
  • President of Insight Strategic Communications & Founder of Nest Egg Communications
  • Member of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors

What She Does:
“[Insight Strategic Communications] focuses on internal communications for corporations and publicly and privately held businesses. Nest Egg Communications is a niche company focusing on ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) companies. We provide communications consulting materials that help employees understand what it means to be employee-owned.”
Her Experience with Bulldog 100:
“I’m humbled to be on the list four times, but the benefit for me is the opportunity to meet other women business owners, and to be able to celebrate and support each other. One of the things I’ve done since is hold a luncheon for other female winners to talk about our businesses, how we got started and some of the challenges we’ve had along the way.”
What it’s Meant:
“It’s just a fantastic experience. I don’t think there’s any greater recognition that you can receive as a business owner than to be recognized by your university. The thing that meant the most to me was having my three sons [at Bulldog 100] while my business was being recognized.”
Future Goals:
“My favorite part is when the customer is pleased, so I’d like to continue to do so. There is no way to categorize how good it feels to do something that delights someone else. If it brings them convenience or peace of mind, that’s the most satisfying.”
UGA’s Role:
“I’m a journalism school grad, and I love the Grady College. I had two professors that I took most of my major classes with, and one of the things that I got from them, that I didn’t have before, was a confidence and belief that I could do anything I set my mind to. They were always very encouraging and believed in [their students.]”
Tips for Success:
“Don’t be afraid to try it. If you have confidence and believe it’s a good idea, try it. And if it fails, so what? You can try something else. People get too hung up on the fact that things might not work out. You learn more from your failures than from your successes.”

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