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UGA Alumni Association unveils the 2021 Class of 40 Under 40

Alumni Association recognizes outstanding graduates under the age of 40  

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2021. This program celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of successful UGA graduates under the age of 40. The honorees will be recognized during the 11th annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon Sept. 10 in the Tate Student Center on campus.

This year’s outstanding group of young alumni includes a Major League Soccer communications director, United States Air Force commander, 11Alive News anchor, White House senior policy advisor and an award-winning writer.

“We are excited to unveil this year’s class of 40 Under 40 and welcome them back home to Athens for the awards luncheon in September,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “I continue to be amazed by the excellence of our young alumni. These outstanding individuals exemplify leadership in their industries and communities.”

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and more than 400 nominations were received for this year’s class. Honorees must have attended UGA and uphold the Pillars of the Arch, which are wisdom, justice and moderation. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni Association website.

“This year’s honorees highlight the transformational work UGA graduates are doing early in their careers,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “Among this year’s class are individuals who are solving some of the greatest challenges facing our country and the world. During a particularly challenging year, we are especially proud to call them members of the Bulldog family.”

The 2021 Class of 40 Under 40, including their graduation year(s) from UGA, city, title and employer, are:

Angela Alfano (ABJ ’10, AB ’10), New York, New York, senior director of corporate communications, Major League Soccer 

Jennifer Bellamy (ABJ ’08), Atlanta, anchor, 11Alive News 

Lauren D. Bellamy (AB ’04, JD ’07), Atlanta, senior associate general counsel, Grady Health System 

Greg Bluestein (AB ’04, ABJ ’04), Dunwoody, Georgia, political reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

Marie Greene Broder (AB ’06, ABJ ’06, JD ’10), Griffin, Georgia, district attorney, Griffin Judicial Circuit

Gayle Cabrera (BBA ’06), Cary, North Carolina, market president, SVP, Truist

Mario Cambardella (BLA ’06, MEPD ’11, MLA ’13), Chamblee, Georgia, founder/CEO, ServeScape

Shontel Cargill (BS ’10), Johns Creek, Georgia, assistant clinic director, Thriveworks

Rebecca Chancey (BS ’04), Atlanta, Georgia, lieutenant commander, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Public Health Service

Carter Coe (MFR ’11), Atlanta, managing partner, Chinook Forest Partners

Harin J. Contractor (AB ’04, AB ’04), Washington, D.C., senior policy advisor, National Economic Council at the White House

Tunisia Finch Cornelius (BS ’04), Atlanta, doctor, Divine Dermatology & Aesthetics

William Flowers Crozer (JD ’12), Washington, D.C., vice president, BGR Group

Jennifer A. Crozier (BS ’06), Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, assistant professor and director of breast cancer research, Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center

David A. Dy (BS ’03), Tuscola, Texas, commander, 7 Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, United States Air Force

Keith Giddens (MACC ’04), Charlotte, North Carolina, market managing partner for Charlotte, Dixon Hughes Goodman

Eric Gray (BSED ’04), Atlanta, executive director, Catalyst Sports Inc.

Cody Hall (AB ’15), Dawsonville, Georgia, director of communications, Office of the Governor

John Hyer (PHARMD ’12), Murphy, North Carolina, CEO and owner, King’s Pharmacy

Whitney Ingram (BS ’11, PHD ’16), Albuquerque, New Mexico, R&D S&E electronics engineer, Sandia National Laboratories

Ryan Loke (AB ’16), Atlanta, deputy chief operating officer, Office of the Governor

Josh Mackey (AB ’05), Atlanta, partner/founder, Capital City Public Affairs

Ana Maria Martinez (BBA ’04), Decatur, Georgia, president/staff attorney, Georgia Latino Law Foundation/DeKalb State Court

Willie Mazyck (BSED ’04, MED ’06, MBA ’14), Atlanta, senior vice president of talent development, XPO Logistics, Inc.

Anna Wrigley Miller (AB ’14), Watkinsville, Georgia, general government division manager, Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget

E. Heath Milligan (BSFCS ’05), Marietta, Georgia, principal, Macallan Real Estate

David W. Okun (AB ’12, AB ’12), Alexandria, Virginia, country officer, U.S. Department of State

Jitendra Pant (PHD ’18), Ann Arbor, Michigan, scientific research fellow, University of Michigan

Biren Patel (MBA ’12), Macon, Georgia, founder and president, Biren Patel Engineering LLC

Doug Reineke (AB ’05), Atlanta, director of state government relations,  CareSource

Victoria Sanchez (AB ’08, MA ’10), Washington, D.C., special assistant, U.S. Department of State

Terrel Sanders (BS ’05), Accra, Ghana, lieutenant commander, lab director, Infectious Diseases, Global Health Engagement, U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 3 Ghana Detachment

Josh Sandler (BBA ’09), Nairobi, Kenya, co-founder and CEO, Lori Systems

Hilary Shipley (BSFCS ’04), Savannah, Georgia, principal, Colliers International Savannah

Bowen Reichert Shoemaker (ABJ ’06), Macon, Georgia, assistant united states attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office

Cara Winston Simmons (AB ’03, MED ’07, PHD ’18), Athens, director and adjunct faculty, University of Georgia

Daniel W. Stewart (BSFCS ’05), Augusta, Georgia, president and COO, Wier / Stewart

Brittany Thoms (ABJ ’04), Watkinsville, Georgia, president, co-founder, See.Spark.Go

Tracey D. Troutman (BSA ’07, MAL ’08), Washington, D.C., director, Office of Outreach, Diversity and Equal Opportunity, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

Raquel D. Willis (ABJ ’13), Brooklyn, New York, writer, activist

World Chocolate Day: Q&A with alumni-owned Condor Chocolates

Condor Chocolates store front

The Condor Chocolates cafe located in Five Points. A second location in Downtown Athens is coming soon.

Located in the historic Five Points neighborhood of Athens, Georgia, Condor Chocolates produces bean-to-bar chocolates, confections, gelato and beverages. Brothers and co-owners Peter Dale (ABJ ’99) and Nicholas Dale (BSA ’04) opened the city’s first specialty chocolate shop in 2014 as a homage to the world-class cacao of Ecuador. Visitors can witness chocolate production while indulging in handcrafted desserts. In honor of World Chocolate Day (July 7), we sat down with Peter (a UGA 40 Under 40 honoree back in 2012) to learn more about this alumni-owned chocolate shop.

Peter Dale

Peter Dale, co-owner of Condor Chocolates.

Tell us about your background.

We’re brothers, born, raised and educated in Athens. Nick worked in agriculture after graduating from UGA. His expertise has been invaluable in sourcing beans directly from Ecuador. I graduated with a journalism degree before realizing my passion for food. There’s still a storytelling piece of what we do, which relates to my experience at Grady College. We tell stories through food and beverage rather than the written word.

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur from UGA?

Lean into the UGA community for advice, support and a very loyal customer base.

What is Condor’s mission?

We bring people together through delicious and beautiful flavors. Crafted with pride and integrity, grown in Ecuador, made in Georgia, from our family to yours.

What product would you recommend to a first-timer at Condor? 

The affogato! Meaning drowned in Italian, the affogato is a shot of espresso with a scoop of chocolate gelato. The gelato sandwich is also a perfect option for summer! It’s two cookies, filled with gelato and coated with cocoa nibs.

How has Condor grown?

Since opening in 2014, we have expanded chocolate making to the Chases Street Warehouses, allowing us to make more products and reach more people. We also have a new café coming soon in downtown. Check it out!

Can you give us a sneak peek at any new products?

In a few weeks, we’re launching our Bulldog Bark, a milk chocolate bar with dried strawberries, pecans and cocoa nibs. With football season coming up, we’re excited to share a red and black product with our Dawgs.

How can alumni support Condor?

We love seeing alumni at the café. Our Bulldog bars and upcoming Bulldog Bark make great hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. Out-of-state alumni can shop for Condor at condorchocolates.com.

How is Condor celebrating World Chocolate Day?

Every day is World Chocolate Day at Condor Chocolates. But on July 7, we will show our customers the whole chocolate production process from bean to bar.

Checking in with Alumni Board Member Wes Neece

There’s a group of committed UGA alumni who dedicate their time, energy, and financial resources to bringing Bulldogs together year-round, worldwide, and lifelong. These spirited Alumni Board members represent the diverse and passionate UGA alumni family and strive to provide feedback, guidance and leadership as the University of Georgia seeks to ensure that its graduates Never Bark Alone. Throughout the year, we’ll get to know these individuals; they hail from various backgrounds and are involved in all corners of campus. Their goal: to empower the next breed of Bulldog to continue ta tradition of excellence.

Name:

  • Wes Neece

I live in:

  • Atlanta, GA

Degree:

  • 2000 – BBA in Management Information Systems (UGA)

I joined the board in:

  • 2018

Ways I support UGA:

Wes Neece with Home Depot

Wes represents UGA at a Home Depot summer intern networking breakfast in 2018.

My first job after graduation:

  • A computer programmer at The Home Depot

The class at UGA that I enjoyed most was:

  • Intro to Management Information Systems. I love the way that business and technology interact.

What makes me most proud to be a Georgia Bulldog:

  • The fact that our academic reputation continues to escalate!

My family includes:

  • Wife, Becky (BS ’01)
  • Daughters, Rowan and Carlson
  • Dogs, Olaf and Dolly
Wes Neece with his kids

Wes enjoys a tailgate on Myers Quad with his two daughters, Rowan and Carlson.

A special connection I have to UGA is:

  • I met my wife and my best friends there.

As a student, I was involved in:

My favorite place to study on campus was:

  • Law Library— cool, quiet, and close to downtown for when study time is over!

On a Friday night in college, you would have found me:

  • Having one too many at Sons of Italy and Steverino’s

When I was a student, I lived in:

  • Creswell
  • University Commons
  • College Park

My greatest accomplishment as a student:

  • Graduating Magna Cum Laude— I was proud of the balance I struck between partying and school!

My favorite memory from graduation:

  • I only slept for 90 minutes the night before my graduation ceremony. My mom was mortified that I wore flip flops to it!
Wes Neece graduation

Wes wearing his infamous flip flips at graduation in 2000!

A fellow UGA grad who inspires me is:

My favorite tradition at UGA:

  • The Battle Hymn Trumpet solo

When I visit Athens, I have to grab a bite at:

  • The Last Resort

On game day, you’ll find me:

  • Rushing to make kickoff after a kid’s soccer game!

My most disliked athletic rival is:

  • University of Florida— everyone knows that Gators wear jean shorts!

A few of my favorites:

  • Book: Pillars of Earth
  • Podcast: The Daily
  • Movie: The Shawshank Redemption
  • Band: Mumford & Sons
  • TV show: The West Wing
Wes Neece at Rose Bowl

Wes cheers on the Dawgs at the 2018 Rose Bowl.

Favorite alumni-owned restaurant:

No. 1 tip to a graduating Bulldog:

  • There will be higher highs (wedding day, birth of your children, etc.), but know that when you look back at your life, your time in Athens will be one that you long for. You only get one go at this. Make sure you enjoy it!

No. 1 tip to a fellow Georgia grad who has lost touch with their alma mater:

  • Your school has so much to offer you. It gives you a sense of grounding of who you are, who you were and, most importantly, what used to be important to you. A sense of grounding is incredibly important in the chaos that is today. Let UGA be an anchor for you.

Wes, who you might recognize from UGA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2017, supports UGA in a variety of ways—including being a wonderful advocate at The Home Depot—and we appreciate his ongoing commitment to his alma mater.

Erika Parks Headshot

Where commitment meets community: Erica Parks (MPH ’11) advocates for veterans

Erica Parks (MPH ’11) refers to herself as a “vetpreneur.” The UGA alumna leverages her experiences with the armed forces, public health and entrepreneurship to advocate for veterans through Camouflage Me Not.

The seed of advocacy was planted in Parks as a young girl, but her experiences in the United States Army Reserve and as a veteran helped the seed grow. When Parks deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2003, her leadership roles and a near-death experience taught her the importance of speaking up for herself and others.

“That time in Afghanistan means so much to me,” Parks said. “The unity I have with my comrades is unmatched.”

When she returned from deployment, Parks earned an undergraduate degree from Kennesaw State University and then applied to UGA’s Master of Public Health program. The program exposed her to health policy and the idea of working with veterans.

Parks founded Camouflage Me Not in 2018 to increase social awareness around veterans’ transition to civilian life. Through the advocacy nonprofit, she shares a specific message on behalf of veterans: “Don’t hide me.”

Erica Parks (MPH ’11) served as a medical supply sergeant with Fort Gillem’s 427th medical logistical battalion in the United States Army Reserve. Parks served almost nine months of active duty in Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2003.

The need for support

After earning her master’s degree, Parks experienced 38 months of chronic unemployment. She felt that as a woman of color and a veteran, that she was overlooked and undervalued.

“The song says, ‘And the Army goes rolling along,’” Parks said. “And it does.”

The armed forces offer housing, training, and employment services to members. When veterans transition to civilian life, many of those services are no longer available, Parks said. Women and minorities may feel the challenges of the transition into veteran status even more deeply—as Parks knows from her own experience.

“There is so much training to prepare a soldier, but not the same training when they leave,” Parks said. “Transition programs need a serious overhaul.”

 

Erica Parks (MPH ’11) was honored at the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s inaugural Veterans in Business Awards with the Veteran Owned Business Award. The audience listens to a video of Parks discussing her military service, lessons learned from service, Camouflage Me Not and her transition from the military to the business world.

Starting conversations

Through advocacy, research, and collaboration, Camouflage Me Not ignites conversation around veterans’ transition and uses public health initiatives and current issues to start a conversation around veteran transition. Since founding the organization, Parks has brought veterans non-veterans to the table while partnering with communities and local governments. But Parks isn’t stopping there.

Her next goal is to attain 501(c)(4) status, which transform Camouflage Me Not into a social welfare organization. With this status, Camouflage Me Not can extend the conversation about veteran transition to legislative assemblies through lobbying.

“Camouflage Me Not means don’t hide me and don’t throw me away,” Parks said. “I’m committed to people who deserve support but might not know what they need.”

Camouflage Me Not presents “Food for Thought – Mental Nourishment for Everyone.” In partnership with Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Lotus Family Wellness Clinic, Radio One, Mental Health America, Erica Parks (MPH ’11) and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Lamont Christian served as co-hosts.

Advocating for the next generation

After UGA prepared Parks to launch her nonprofit, Parks dedicates time to UGA’s next generation of change-makers. She helped establish the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council and was named a Class of 2016 40 Under 40 honoree. She is also a member of the College of Public Health Alumni Working Group dedicated to connecting and uniting alumni of the College of Public Health.


WHERE COMMITMENT MEETS COMMUNITY

Whether life takes them to new cities or to the neighborhoods where they grew up, Georgia Bulldogs do more than get jobs – they elevate their communities. Bulldogs lead nonprofits, effect change and create opportunities for others. Wherever people are suffering, wherever communities are looking for effective leaders and whenever the world cries out for better solutions, Bulldogs are there to answer the call to service. It’s more than our passion. It’s our commitment.

Caroline Odom, an intern with UGA’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, brings you a spring blog series that celebrates Bulldogs who embrace that commitment to helping others in their communities thrive.

Want to read about other Bulldogs impacting their communities?

Where commitment meets community: Jack Hartpence (AB ’15) pairs passion with community empowerment

On August 23, 2017, University of Georgia alumnus and 40 Under 40 honoree Jack Hartpence (AB ’15) was driving from Jackson, Wyoming, to Aspen, Colorado, on a business trip. As he attempted a U-turn in the large van he rented for the trip – the only vehicle the rental company had available – he was T-boned by a tractor-trailer.

“As I saw the truck coming and realized I was going to die, the only thing that came to my mind was one question: What have I done positively for the world and other people?” Hartpence said.

Walking away from the accident unscathed, Hartpence felt that he had been given a second chance to answer that question.

After graduating from UGA with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2015, Hartpence worked in politics, with think tanks and for campaigns. He used his previous experience with research and data to determine where the world struggled most.

“Water is the world’s most pressing problem,” Hartpence said. “Sustainable access to safe drinking water is the foundation for quality of life on earth today. With access to safe drinking communities can move to address secondary and tertiary quality of life indicators such as gender equality, economic opportunity, education, and health.”

In 2018, he co-founded Powwater, public benefit corporation that builds transparent technology and makes impact investments to improve access to clean water in East Africa and South Asia and empower the communities which they serve.

“A marathon, not a sprint”

As Hartpence explored how to address access to clean water, he noticed that many wells drilled by Western organizations provided only temporary solutions across Africa, Asia, and South America. With an average shelf life of only 18 months, donated wells weren’t a sustainable solution, the key problem being that they weren’t engaging the communities they affected.

Hartpence contacted Nobel laureate and professor Muhammed Yunus, the founder of microfinance. Through the mentorship of Yunus, Powwater established itself as a social business. Funding is reinvested into communities that lack access to clean water, allowing those communities to establish their own water systems that enhance their economy.

With this model, Powwater doesn’t have to rely on donations or outside funding. Instead, Powwater can “make money to do good for the world,” Hartpence said. By doing so, Powwater has brought sustainable drinking water to over 80,000 people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

Jack Hartpence (AB ’15) gives a thumbs up with the Powwater team in Mombasa, Kenya.

Fueled by passion

Hartpence’s experience at UGA showed him the importance of doing what you love. He wasn’t fulfilled by what he was learning as an economics major, so he became an English major during his sophomore year. That program gave him a sense of purpose and creativity. .

“There were students who were far better writers than me, but I was passionate. I loved it,” Hartpence said about a senior class project that was recognized at graduation as the English department’s best work in digital humanities. “That lesson has played through my life. Passion is everything.”

After his accident in 2017, Hartpence found a renewed passion for life and improving the world. That commitment fuels Hartpence and his team as they consider the future of clean water across the globe.

Jack Hartpence (AB ’15) spoke on behalf of Powwater at the 2019 United Nations Global Assembly. Hartpence poses for a photo with Nobel laureate and professor Muhammed Yunus, a mentor of the company.

The future of clean water

As Powwater looks to the future, the company is using technology to create transparency around water, and better serve communities around the world with safe drinking water.

This spring, Powwater will launch the Powwater app, a mobile marketplace for water. The app will provide transparency around the quality of water, cost and timing of delivery from the thousands of private water suppliers that exist across the globe today. By creating transparency and empowering consumers, Hartpence believes Powwater can lead the way for higher quality and more affordable water globally.

With this app, Hartpence aims to optimize the private water market for the 2 billion people in the world relying on it today.

“We want to be a company that shares ideas and works with partners to get the job done,” Hartpence said. “I’m committed to empowering communities around the world with sustainable access to safe drinking water. I’m committed to doing everything I can do to be better tomorrow than I was today.”

A day in the life

In September 2020, we invited Jack to host an Instagram story takeover as a member of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2020. Watch the video below to check out a day in the life of operating Powwater:


WHERE COMMITMENT MEETS COMMUNITY

Whether life takes them to new cities or to the neighborhoods where they grew up, Georgia Bulldogs do more than get jobs – they elevate their communities. Bulldogs lead nonprofits, effect change and create opportunities for others. Wherever people are suffering, wherever communities are looking for effective leaders and whenever the world cries out for better solutions, Bulldogs are there to answer the call to service. It’s more than our passion. It’s our commitment.

Caroline Odom, an intern with UGA’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, brings you a spring blog series that celebrates Bulldogs who embrace that commitment to helping others in their communities thrive.

Want to read about other Bulldogs impacting their communities?

Life lessons from the 40 Under 40’s two black belts

Stacey Chavis and Jack Hartpence.

Stacey Chavis (left) and Jack Hartpence (right) are the 40 Under 40 Class of 2020’s only two Tae Kwon Do black belts.

Success. What’s the secret?

It’s an answer everyone is seeking—and for good reason. For answers, a good place to start would be this year’s 40 Under 40 class, which is filled with Bulldogs who are leading the pack in their industries and communities.

Success, and the secret to achieving it, is different for each person. But for two of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, there was a common ingredient—an ancient art that taught lessons to help them succeed.

Stacey Chavis (MSL ’19) and Jack Hartpence (AB ’15) earned a spot in the 40 Under 40 Class of 2020. Chavis lives in Atlanta and works in political fundraising, training and advocacy. Hartpence resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, bringing sustainable water solutions to communities around the world. While their lives look different, they both attribute their success to the lessons they learned from Tae Kwon Do, a Korean form of martial arts.

Hartpence: Live in the present

When Hartpence looks back on his life, he sees that Tae Kwon Do wasn’t just an after-school activity. It introduced him to an entire thought tradition that valued the importance of staying rooted in the present.

His Tae Kwon Do instructor taught him to meditate to clear his mind and let go of distractions. Today, regular meditation is part of Hartpence’s routine, helping him stay calm in tough moments and foster creativity.

But it wasn’t always this way. After surviving a 2017 car accident in which he was T-boned by a tractor trailer traveling at 60 mph, Hartpence was forced to reckon with the reality that his time is limited. He leaned into the familiar teachings of his Tae Kwon Do experience to root himself in the only moment he truly has—the present one.

“If we are anxious, we’re afraid of the future. If we’re sad, we’re down on the past,” Hartpence said. “We need to stay in the present moment. And if we just stay here in that present moment, then what we’re able to do is live our best moment.”

Since then, Hartpence has sought to prioritize altruism in his daily life, working to create a better world and live presently, knowing that time should not be taken for granted. He shared more about his story and his work in a recent Instagram story takeover on the UGA Alumni account.

Chavis: You will fail

Chavis started practicing Tae Kwon Do as a middle schooler in Greenville, South Carolina. At first, she was reluctant, signed up by her mother to take part alongside her younger brother. She ended up loving it and the three ended up practicing together as a family.

Stacey Chavis and her family at Tae Kwon Do practice.

Stacey Chavis (right) at Tae Kwon Do practice with her mother (left) and brother (middle) in the mid-1990s.

A few years later, Chavis tested for her black belt. She failed.

“The biggest lesson I learned is that you will fail,” Chavis said. “You will fall on your face, but you have to pick yourself back up and try again.”

Chavis had to wait six months before she could test again. She trained hard and earned her black belt on the second attempt. The experience still influences her perseverance today.

“My life lesson is that I give myself three times to apply for something,” Chavis said. “If at first you don’t succeed, try again because maybe this time wasn’t your time.”

Hartpence: Embrace competition

Through Tae Kwon Do, Hartpence participated in sparring competitions. Those experiences established an appreciation for competition that Hartpence has stitched into the culture of his company, Powwater.

“Competing is not a bad thing. The ancient word ‘compete’ is a Greek word that means ‘strive together,’” Hartpence said. “You want to fight against a guy who’s better than you in your practice. In the process of competing, we get better together.”

At Powwater, the company culture reflects the ethos of competition. Hartpence encourages an open forum model, which encourages all employees to step into the arena with their thoughts and ideas. He believes this approach breaks down bureaucratic structures that limit the flow of good ideas from employees and creates a dialogue in which ideas are debated and developed for the benefit of the entire company.

Chavis: Build relationships

Chavis works in politics, a field where it’s easy to only focus on building relationships with those who are in the same party. For the advocacy work that Chavis does, that approach doesn’t cut it.

In Tae Kwon Do, Chavis trained as part of a community. She learned her forms (a detailed and choreographed series of kicks and strikes), practiced her technique, sparred with, and broke boards alongside her classmates. That community, comprising students from different backgrounds, became crucial to her training and is reflected in her relational approach to work today.

“I tell people all the time: people do business with people who they know and like,” Chavis said. “So, it’s building those relationships, it’s building that community and camaraderie, and it’s working toward a common goal.”

As a public policy advocate, Chavis’s job is to identify and promote solutions to problems facing the state of Georgia. To do this, she depends on her relationships with members of both major political parties.

“I have friends who are drastically different from me but we can agree that no child should be trafficked for sex, we can agree that Georgia needs to make investments in our education system, we can agree on making neighborhoods safer for families,” Chavis said. “So, we can find areas that we can agree and work together to address those problems.”

Tae Kwon Do is not a prerequisite to success but for these two, their martial arts experience definitely gave them a leg up.

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.

 

University of Georgia unveils 40 Under 40 Class of 2020

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled its 40 Under 40 Class of 2020. This annual recognition program celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of successful UGA graduates under the age of 40.

This year’s honorees work in a variety of industries and include a Paralympic athlete, a veterinarian for SeaWorld, an emergency room doctor in New York City, a policy director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a “Good Morning America” producer.

“This year’s honorees highlight the amazing work UGA graduates are doing early in their careers,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “Among this year’s class are individuals who are solving some of the greatest challenges facing our country and the world. During a particularly challenging year, we are especially proud to call them members of the Bulldog family.”

The 2020 Class of 40 Under 40, including their graduation year(s) from UGA, city, title and employer, are:

Ashish Advani (PHARMD ’07), Atlanta, Georgia, CEO, InpharmD

Thomas D. Beusse (AB ’08), Marietta, Georgia, Executive Director, Georgia Retail Association

Ginny Barton Bowen (BS ’04), Atlanta, Georgia, Lieutenant Commander, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Eddie Beanard Bradford Jr. (BBA ’04), Atlanta, Georgia, Tax Principal, Frazier & Deeter LLC

Laine Bradshaw (BSED ’07, MED ’07, PHD ’11), Athens, Georgia, Founder and CEO, Navvy Education LLC

Jeffrey Brown (AB ’05), Decatur, Georgia, Vice President of Development and Marketing, Partnership Against Domestic Violence

Geary D. Bush (BSA ’03), Gainesville, Georgia, General Surgeon, Longstreet Clinic

John D. Cates (AB ’07, MBA ’11, JD ’12), Augusta, Georgia, Chief Operating Officer, Meybohm Real Estate

Stacey A. Chavis (MSL ’19), Brookhaven, Georgia, Managing Director, Campaigns Academy

Rennie Curran (BBA ’17), Atlanta, Georgia, CEO, Keynote speaker, Author and Personal Development Coach, Game Changer LLC

Chuck Efstration (AB ’04), Auburn, Georgia, State Representative, Georgia General Assembly

Wells Ellenberg (AB ’13), Washington, D.C., Governmental Affairs Manager, Southern Company

Claire Erlacher-Reid (DVM ’08), Orlando, Florida, Senior Veterinarian, SeaWorld Florida

Jason Faircloth (BSAE ’05), Carrollton, Georgia, Vice President of Sales, National Accounts, Southwire Company LLC

Tsion Firew (BS ’07), New York, New York, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center

Houston A. Gaines (AB ’17, AB ’17), Athens, Georgia, State Representative, Georgia General Assembly

Adam Gobin (AB ’06, BS ’06, MPH ’08), Atlanta, Georgia, Assistant Vice President, Wellstar Health System

Leslie Hale (MPA ’13), Athens, Georgia, Executive Director, Books for Keeps

Mamie Marie Harper (BSW ’09), Atlanta, Georgia, Executive Director and Founder, Carrie’s Closet of Georgia

Jack Hartpence (AB ’15), Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Co-Founder and CEO, Powwater

Jasmin Severino Hernandez (AB ’13, AB ’13), Brookhaven, Georgia, Associate Attorney, Chamberlain Hrdlicka at Law

Eric Jones Jr. (AB ’12, ABJ ’12), New York, New York, Entertainment Producer, ABC News, Good Morning America

Brittany DeJarnett Kisner (BSED ’07), Aiken, South Carolina, Co-Founder and Chairman, The Kevin and Brittany Kisner Foundation

Samantha Arsenault Livingstone (BSED ’05, MED ’08), Williamstown, Massechusetts, Founder and CEO, Livingstone High Performance

Cheryl L. Maier (AB ’04, BS ’04), Atlanta, Georgia, Medical Director, Emory Special Coagulation Laboratory, Emory University School of Medicine

Jay McCracken (BS ’05), Atlanta, Georgia, Neurosurgical Oncologist, Piedmont Atlanta Hospital Brain Tumor Center

Ashley McMaster (ABJ ’06), Washington, D.C., Vice President, Membership and Development America’s Essential Hospitals

Erin Mordecai (BS ’07), Stanford, California, Assistant Professor, Stanford University

Kiana C. Morris (MBA ’14), Atlanta, Georgia, Associate Director for Policy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

David G. Quintero (BBA ’06), Armed Forces Pacific, Deputy Director for Dental Specialists, Periodontist, United States Navy

Jamelia Outlaw Smith (ABJ ’03), Atlanta, Georgia, Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Cox Enterprises

Matt Stevens (AB ’03, MPA ’14), Athens, Georgia, Vice President of Strategic Impact, Creature Comforts Brewing Co.

Mikaya Thurmond (ABJ ’12), Raleigh, North Carolina, Anchor and Reporter, WRAL-TV

Charles T. Tuggle III (BS ’05), New Orleans, Louisiana, Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery, LSU Health Sciences Center

Jarryd Wallace (AB ’19), Watkinsville, Georgia, Professional Athlete and Director of Affordable Blade Project, Xiborg Inc., United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee

Lauren K. Ward (JD ’07, MNR ’12, PHD ’17), Boone, North Carolina, General Counsel and Director of Regulatory Affairs, Forest Landowners Association

Franklin West (PHD ’08), Athens, Georgia, Associate Professor, University of Georgia

Amanda Dalton Wilbanks (BBA ’09), Gainesville, Georgia, Owner and Founder, Southern Baked Pie Company

Matthew Wilson (BSA ’06, JD ’14), Brookhaven, Georgia, Attorney, Wilson Law Firm, State Representative, Georgia General Assembly

Tosha Dunnigan Wright (BSFCS ’05), Douglasville, Georgia, Co-Founder, The Wright Stuff Chics

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and 374 alumni were nominated for this year’s class. Honorees must have attended UGA and uphold the Pillars of the Arch, which are wisdom, justice and moderation. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni website.

Due to the challenges presented by COVID-19, there will not be a 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon this fall. Plans to celebrate this year’s class virtually are under way.

40 Under 40 profile: Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11)

Brooke Beach

This article was originally posted on Grady’s site on August 27, 2019.

Grady College is proud to have four alumni recognized as 2019 40 under 40 honorees, presented by the University of Georgia Alumni Association. The 40 under 40 celebration, recognizing the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates under the age of 40, takes place Sept. 13. This interview with Brooke Beach, the CEO and founder of Marketwake, is the first in a series of conversations with Grady’s honorees this year.

Grady College: What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today?

Brooke Beach: It was becoming a Grady Ambassador. It helped me expand my horizons on what life could be like after college. It’s no surprise that college students can get tunnel vision. Everything is about your classes, your friends, and your free time. It can be overwhelming to have a concept of what life will be like after graduation, but being a Grady Ambassador helped me place goals around who I wanted to be. I had the opportunity to meet and learn from incredible leaders, innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs — and I was inspired to be like them. It made me think far bigger than I had before and gave me goals to strive for.

GC: What skills and/or values and/or circumstances do you attribute to your success?

BB: Persistence and perspective. I’m sure it is exhausting for the people around me, but I do not give up — I don’t even know what that means!

But perspective is equally important; it gives you the ability to see both sides and make a decision on the best path forward for the greatest amount of people. The world is hard, and we cannot keep going if we don’t acknowledge it for what it is. But the next step is more important: to decide if we will do something great in spite of the difficulties. Each of us needs to be self-aware enough to know when to learn from mistakes and change, and when to move forward. I love this quote by Teddy Roosevelt, and I feel it captures this sentiment far more eloquently than I:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

GC: What motivates you?

BB: I have one shot in this world — one chance to make something of the blessings I’ve been given. David Rae said that CEOs are less afraid of dying than they are of not contributing to the world, and that describes me perfectly. I am compelled to build, create, grow, and serve, and I know that I have the opportunity to work hard to fulfill it. I’ve experienced great loss, deaths, injuries, surgeries, medical conditions, and pain beyond belief. I’ve learned that I need to acknowledge these storms, feel the loss, and then keep going. Every single one of us has a story — it’s what makes us who we are — and I want to use my experience to help others tell their truths.

GC: What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?

BB: You are responsible for what you become. One of my favorite books is “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. All people should read this at least three times in their life!

In the book, Carnegie says: “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”  This could not be more true. The second you start to focus on all the reasons you “can’t,” or shift blame on others, you fail. If you want to grow, your focus should be on what you want to accomplish, why you can achieve it, and how you’ll get there.  Don’t be your biggest bully. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Change the way you think and you can change your future.”

Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11) is a member of the UGA 40 Under 40 Class of 2019. She graduated from Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2011 with a degree in public relations. She is the founder and CEO of Marketwake, a digital marketing agency based in Atlanta.

On Thursday, September 7, Brooke took over the UGA Alumni Association Instagram Story to show us a day in the life of Brooke Beach! You can watch that takeover here. 

Inside the life of Will Carr (ABJ ’06), an ABC news correspondent

Each year, UGA’s 40 Under 40 program recognizes 40 young alumni who are leaders and change-makers. We spoke with one of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, ABC News Correspondent Will Carr (ABJ ’06), to get a look into the high-speed life of a national broadcast journalist.

What has been your career path since graduating from UGA?

I was in Grady’s Newsource 15, and through that program landed my first on-air job in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was there for about 2.5 years, and then secured a job in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I broke a couple stories at the border, and amazingly, ABC reached out to me. At the same time, FOX News reached out to me as well. In 2012 or 2013, FOX offered me a job as a national correspondent, where I could travel to cover big news stories, so I joined FOX News in their Los Angeles bureau for five years.

At that time, ABC came back on me and said, “we’ve been following your career, we love what you’ve been doing, we’d like to fly you to New York.” Since that’s the place that I’ve always wanted to work, it was like a dream come true. It didn’t happen exactly right when I wanted it to, but ultimately things played out the way they needed to. FOX gave me a lot of experience with national stories that helped me hit the ground running when I got the job at ABC.

When did you realize you wanted to go into news?

During my freshman year at Georgia, I walked on the football team. This was not a big deal because I was basically a tackling dummy. When I realized that my football career had fizzled out, I decided to go into the broadcasting program. I wanted to be an athlete, but I felt like if I can’t keep playing, then I’d like to at least cover sports. 

Newsource 15 forced us to rotate in the position every day. Through that experience, I fell in love with hard news, not even meaning to. From there, sports became sort of entertainment for me and I pursued hard news as my passion professionally.

When asked about your “typical day,” how do you respond?

My day is the antithesis of a nine-to-five. I have four cell phones: my personal phone, two work phones with two different providers in case I don’t have service for one. I also have a satellite phone that I carry with me at all times. Basically, I’m on call 24/7, even if I’m on vacation. 

It’s just the nature of the job. Sometimes you cancel vacations, you work weekends, you work holidays. When the news calls, you go. But there is downtime where you can chill at home, catch up on errands, exercise or knock out anything you need to do when you’re not physically in the city you live. It’s not boring!

What is the most important story you’ve ever covered?

I’ve covered so many, I don’t know that I can name the “most important.” A recent story that jumps out was last year, one one of the more crazy days of my career. I got woken up at 1 a.m. in Los Angeles, and was told, “There’s been a mass shooting at Thousand Oaks,” which is a Los Angeles suburb. We went to the shooting location and worked for eight hours, and then I was called and told, “A massive fire has broken out up north in California.”

So we jumped on a plane and flew to Sacramento, and then drove two hours to Paradise, California. When we arrived, the entire town was burning. It was the most swift-moving wildfire I’d ever seen, and we saw neighborhood after neighborhood just burn to the ground while we were there. 

We ended up staying in Paradise for a week and a half. It is probably the worst devastation I’ve ever seen; the entire city was wiped off the map. It was really something to see and experience. 

How do you stay prepared to travel and break a story?

I have three or four bags packed at all times. I have a large bag that would be checked if I’m covering an international-type story that would keep me on the road for a week or two. You want to take as much as possible since you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into on the ground or what you’ll be up against. 

Other than that, I have a carry-on bag that I keep ready at all times, and also a wildfire bag. That bag contains the gear that you would see firefighters wearing, since basically we are in the fire just like the firefighters. I actually train with them so that we can do our job safely. I have a bag full of miscellaneous items that I can just sort of pick and choose from depending on the situation I’m going into. 

I have three younger sisters, all of whom went to UGA. When I pick them up from the airport, I can never put their bags in my trunk because it’s always full. They’re always frustrated by that, but I think they understand the gig. 

What advice would you give to students who are interested in becoming a news correspondent?

It’s really important to make sure you feel like the news is in your DNA. Of the people that I stay in touch with, a lot have ended up changing professions and/or going into public relations. A lot of people wanted to go into news, but then they realized the grind of it.

I also feel like a lot of people have a passion for the news, but are talked out of going into it because they’re told “you’re not gonna make any money, you’re gonna have to work holidays, weekends, you’re not gonna have a life.” I don’t really feel like that’s fair. People just need to have their eyes wide open about what they’re getting into and ensure that it’s something they’re really passionate about. Because trust me: you don’t want to work weekends, holidays and 20-hour shifts in the worst elements if you don’t really love what you’re doing. 

What were you involved in as a student at UGA?

I think a lot of kids in college have an idea of what they want to do because they’ve been pointed in a certain direction or learned something about themselves along the way that they wanted to do. I needed a major. I knew I needed to do something, and getting into Newsource ignited that passion. That program and the professors I had equipped me with the tools to enter this profession and hit the ground running.

Coming out of Newsource, I felt like I had a jet-pack propulsion device on my back that helped me take off from the beginning It gave me so many amazing tools. We were doing newscasts across Athens, so transitioning into local news wasn’t difficult. 

 

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Which UGA professors influenced you most?

Michael Castengera and Steve Smith, who taught Newsource 15, were like a ying and yang. I felt like they were family, and I’ve stayed in touch with them. They not only had an impact on me while I was at Georgia; they had an impact on me throughout my career. I find it to be rare to stay in touch with two of your college professors so intimately, and I think that’s the beauty of the program at UGA. 

They’ve retired, but the journalism school is run by some top-notch people. Dean Davis is amazing, Parker Middleton in great, Dodie Cantrell does a great job. So I know that even though my mentors have retired, the journalism school is in very good hands. 

What is the most important experience you had as a UGA student?

It was my first day of Newsource, and as I mentioned, I really wanted to cover sports. I talked Castengera into letting me be the sports anchor. Apparently one of the reporters didn’t show up or called in sick, and he said “Well, you know, you can’t do sports. You have to be a reporter.” There was a story about a student living in a house with guys who had overdosed on heroin. One of the professors said, “we want you to go down to the zoning director for the city and ask him how often they enforce the single family housing ordinance where you have to be related to live in a house.”

We sat outside his office for an hour or two, and finally he came out. We went into his office and I pulled out my notepad. I asked the first question. The zoning director had three note cards on his desk. He looked at the first note card and read verbatim off that note card. It had absolutely nothing to do with what I asked him. 

I clerked for my dad, who was an attorney, and so I was in trials a lot. I saw my dad react to people when he felt they were not being truthful on the stand, and I felt a similar feeling in this moment. When I asked him the second question, he went to the second note card and the same thing: nothing to do with what I asked him. I had no idea what I was doing except I felt like this guy was lying to me. I couldn’t figure out why, so I said something to the effect of, “are you going to keep reading off these note cards or are you gonna actually answer any questions?”

He jumped out of his seat, grabbed me by the collar, and dragged me out of the room. He said, “this is over,” and slammed the door. So we went to the professor and I said, “Sorry, I still can’t do the story, I didn’t get any information from him.” My professor said, “No, this is the story.”

We ended up reporting what happened, and the local paper ended up doing an expose on the zoning director. A week or two later, one of the reporters for the newspaper said, “Hey, we saw your story. We’re digging into this guy and he hasn’t been enforcing a lot of things he’s supposed to have been enforcing. Really great job of digging that up.” That was the moment for me where sports became more fun and entertainment, and I fell in love with hard news. 

Do you have any other favorite UGA memories?

I always think about the memories with my close friends, some of whom were in the journalism school, some who weren’t. I’ve stayed in close contact with a lot of them over the years. In college, there were four of us who watched the HBO show called “Entourage,” and we felt like we were our own entourage.

It’s been amazing over the years to see what they’ve done, and several now have families and kids. It’s really cool to have developed strong friendships with people and feel like they were fortified over the years coming out of Georgia. They really have developed into lifelong friendships. 

Finish this statement. I am most proud to be a Bulldawg when ______.

I’m the most proud to be a Bulldog when I see other Bulldogs succeed.

Throughout the years, I’ve had members of the UGA community reach out to me, especially within journalism, and I try to help as much as possible. When you see people from Georgia do well professionally and personally, I love that. I get excited about Georgia because it had such an impact on me. I know it’s had a similar impact on others.

It’s ironic actually: I’m sitting on a patio in Wyoming and there’s a house two doors down with a Bulldog flag outside. I haven’t seen the homeowners yet, but I’m waiting for them to come out so I can give them a big “Go Dawgs.” When you move further and further away, you don’t run into people who went to Georgia very often. So it’s a special moment, like a nice bond. You see each other and want to hug.