Posts

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. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Will Carr (@realwillcarr) on

 

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.

Georgia’s “Green Girl” is making recycling more accessible

“Hey, Alexa … can I recycle this?”

Thanks to Katherine Shayne (BSENVE ’16, MS ’18) and her all-female research team at the University of Georgia, recycling really is as easy as asking your Amazon Alexa.

One of the youngest honorees named to the UGA Alumni Association’s 2019 40 Under 40, Katherine is the co-founder of Can I Recycle This, an organization working to clean up recycling by providing localized answers to specific recycling questions.

Katherine’s list of accomplishments doesn’t stop there. Just this month, the alumna spoke at the United Nations and led a team of UGA student researchers to the Dominican Republic to study marine debris. She’s also analyzed over one million pieces of marine debris collected through the Marine Debris Tracker, worked with Australia’s national science agency (CSIRO) and is a proud College of Engineering Double Dawg—all at the age of 26. 

Solving Wicked Problems

Katherine concentrated her undergraduate research and her graduate thesis on the end of life for materials, particularly ocean-bound plastics, working and learning under the expertise of Jenna Jambeck, an associate professor in UGA’s College of Engineering. Jenna is internationally recognized for her research on plastic waste in the ocean and is the other co-founder of CIRT.

“[I chose to study at UGA because] the University of Georgia is one of the top—if not the top—research institution working on this global problem from a waste management perspective,” Katherine said. “We have some of the best researchers here working on this grand challenge of waste management.”

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities here and every single one of them has been an outpouring of support … I think that that’s what is extremely unique to me about the University of Georgia.”

Early Beginnings at UGA

The idea for Can I Recycle This (CIRT) was conceived in 2017 and quickly became a pilot project headquartered in the Driftmier Engineering Building among UGA students.

In May 2018, CIRT went through UGA’s National Science Foundation I-Corps Program, a public-private partnership that aids collegiate innovators and includes an intensive, six-week Accelerator and up to six months of business and product mentoring.

“The program helped us narrow down what our business model was going to be, our customer focus and then how we were going to transition into scaling our model.”

Now, the all-female research team is working to develop this technology into a self-contained app that can answer every day recycling questions without the use of social media.

So, How Does CIRT Work?

It’s simple. First, add @CanIRecycleThis on Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter. Next, send a photo directly to CIRT and voila—you will instantly receive an answer based on your location. Or, simply ask your Amazon Alexa.

“You shouldn’t have to memorize recyclables on a day-to-day basis. We wanted to make it easy and accessible for consumers to utilize,” Katherine says. “Consumers interact with AI where they can ask and get a real-time response.”

When making use of CIRT, you’ll interact with “GG.” The significance of “GG” is two-fold: it’s Katherine’s sister’s nickname and also short for “Green Girl.”

Katherine Shayne holding phone featuring Can I Recycle This

On the Horizon

So, what’s next for CIRT? The team is developing a partnership with an e-commerce giant in order to integrate CIRT into packaging systems.

“Say you get a package from a big e-commerce giant and in that box or shipping confirmation email, it tells you everything in the packaging that’s recyclable and also everything that’s not. That information’s based on location because it’s where it was shipped. So, it just accesses our database and provides consumers with answers.”

As for Katherine, she’s continuing her research on plastic pollution as a researcher at the University of Georgia and is involved with a youth leadership group through the Sustainable Ocean Alliance. The group is drafting a white paper on the dangers of plastic pollution that will be presented to 20 governments around the world.

“Even though we might only make up 25% of the population, we’re definitely 100% of what’s going to be the future,” Katherine notes about the role youth can play in solving the grand challenges of our time.

Katherine will be honored during UGA’s 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon in Athens this month. Meet her fellow 2019 40 Under 40 honorees.

Zachary Faison: The Millennial President

Zachary Faison At A Glance

Getting Started

This summer, Zachary Faison was named one of the UGA Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40 honorees. He was selected for his impressive accomplishments and commitment to his alma mater. A 2006 graduate, Zachary attended law school at the University of Georgia. After graduation, Zachary earned his Certificate of Fundraising Management from Indiana University. In 2015,  he joined a small group of higher education administrators at Harvard’s Institute for Educational Management. “It was a very intensive institute that gave us expanded insight on being leading administrators at colleges and universities around the country,” says Zachary. “It really helped to support my trajectory as an academic administrator and leader in higher education.”

Making an Impact

Zachary serves as president and CEO of Florida’s first historically black college or university, making him the youngest HBCU president in America. “It’s inspiring work. Every day I get to see the impact upon the lives of students, particularly students of color.”

While at Edward Waters College, Zachary has established an honors college, a center for undergraduate research and is in the process of launching an online degree program. Looking forward, Zachary wants to see the institution grow, not only in enrollment numbers, but “in the expansion of academic profiles and offerings.” Edward Waters College has plans to offer graduate-level programs and become more engaged in the local Jacksonville community.

About 90% of EWC’s students, while academically successful, are eligible for Pell Grants and struggle to pay tuition. Last year, Zachary established a program to help meet this need. If students have an outstanding balance of up to $3,500, EWC will match the balance. “We wanted to do whatever we possibly could to ensure students wouldn’t get this close to the finish line and not finish.” Because of this new program, a significant number of students are able to return to school and continue earning their degree.

Proud to be a Dawg

When asked about the first time he set foot on UGA’s campus, Zachary recalls a feeling of awe. “My eyes were wide open at how expansive the campus was … how beautiful it was … the amazing history that goes along with it. It was incredible.”

During his time at UGA, Zachary was involved in the law school’s Moot Court, a mock trial team that competes nationally. “For me to have the chance to compete with students that have gone on to do such extraordinary things is something I will always remember and cherish,” says Zachary.

Zachary Faison will be honored during the ninth annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon in Athens on September 13.

Be sure to check out the other impressive 40 Under 40 honorees.

Leading the black community in health and business – Dr. JaNaè Taylor (MEd ’03, PhD ’07)

When Dr. JaNaè Taylor (MEd 03, PhD ’07) took an internship during her undergraduate sophomore summer at a Veterans Affairs clinic, she wasn’t sure what would be her next step in pursuing a career in therapy. That summer, she met two doctoral students in the Counseling Psychology Doctoral program at the University of Georgia who shared their experience. They connected her with a student to give her a tour of campus, and this solidified her decision to follow their footsteps and make some of her own. 

Dr. Taylor has been working as a counselor for 16 years. She has worked everywhere from women’s homeless shelters to schools and universities. Her most recent passion is creating a space for connection for the black community in the mental health and business worlds. 

It all started with a counseling center. She and several of her therapist colleagues decided to start their own private practice. She learned through that process that even though they were all women in counseling, she had a different experience in starting her business in regards to marketing and resources.  

“There were differences in the marketing I needed, especially in order to get buy-in from the black community and get resources,” Taylor saidNot only was I getting the experience of creating a mental health agency, but also becoming an entrepreneur at the same time.”  

In addition to her needing to learn how to launch a business, other challenges she faced were a lack of access to capital and isolation within her profession. “People want to sit across from someone who looks like them or reminds them of someone they know,” she said but it was difficult to refer people to other black counseling practices because I didn’t know of any at the time.”  

A year and a half after she started her business she launched her podcast Minding My Black Business. Initially, the podcast was a marketing opportunity but it quickly grew to much more with over 27,000 downloads. 

JaNae Taylor’s recent community event, a meet up for black therapists.

I have completely enjoyed it – it led to me doing some community events,” she said. “Back in May I did a meet up for black therapists and about 20 people showed up, which is great.” “The more I do itthe more I get people opening up to therapy, which is one of my hopes.” 

Dr. Taylor will be honored at UGA’s 40 Under 40 event in Athens in September, check out the other amazing 40 Under 40 honorees. 

Congratulations, 2019 40 Under 40!

40 Under 40 Logo

We’re proud to announce the 40 Under 40 Class of 2019 today! This program, in its ninth year, celebrates the achievements of successful UGA graduates under the age of 40–a set of alumni who are leading the pack in their industries and communities. These young leaders will be recognized during the ninth annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon Sept. 13 in the Tate Student Center on campus. If you’re interested, please join us for this special event.

Each Honoree Stands Out

The 2019 class includes a few names you might recognize:

  • Allison R. Schmitt, a gold medal-winning Olympic swimmer
  • Malcolm Mitchell, Super Bowl champion and children’s author
  • Will Carr, a correspondent for ABC News on a national level

But even if you don’t know the names of everyone on the list, you’ll still be impressed at the caliber of these graduates working in everything from law and politics, to health care, nonprofit and food and beverage. For example, Tim Fleming is Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s chief of staff and Catherine Marti is a cardiologist at Piedmont Heart Institute focused on heart failure and transplant cardiology.

“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 am always amazed by the excellence of our young alumni. These outstanding individuals exemplify leadership in their industries and communities.”

The Competition

Talk about a competitive selection process: nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and more than 400 alumni were nominated for this year’s class. Honorees, of course, must have attended UGA and they have to uphold the Pillars of the Arch: wisdom, justice and moderation. Additional criteria are available on the 40 Under 40 webpage.

“The achievements of our nominated alumni each year make it hard to narrow down the list to just 40 honorees, and this year was no exception,” said Johnson. “We are proud of all of these outstanding young graduates. Their drive and focus inspires the UGA community.”

Ok, Ok, Show Me the List!

This year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, including their city, title and employer, are listed below in alphabetical order:

The Event

As we said earlier, if you’re interested in attending the 2019 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon in Athens on Friday, September 13, please register today! *If you’re an honoree, please use the registration link provided to you by the Alumni Relations team.

Saddler siblings among 40 Under 40 Class of 2018 honorees

Saddler family

The University of Georgia Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40 program annually recognizes alumni who have made significant impacts in their careers. After receiving more than 550 nominees, the Alumni Association recognized this year’s honorees during an awards luncheon at the Georgia Aquarium on Sept. 13. Among the honorees were brother-sister duo, Latham Saddler (BBA ’05) and Lauren Saddler Pearson (ABJ ’02).

Lauren graduated from UGA with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism in 2002 and is now a managing director and partner at HighTower Somerset in Birmingham, Alabama. She was named to the 2017 list of Forbes America’s Next Generation Wealth Advisors and named one of the Birmingham Business Chronicle’s “Women to Watch.” Lauren is also committed to The Advent, Cornerstone Schools, United Way of Central Alabama, Rotary and several other nonprofits in the Birmingham area.

Lauren with award

Latham graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2005 and is the director of intelligence programs for the National Security Council in Washington, D.C., and is also a Navy SEAL in the U.S. Navy. After becoming a Navy SEAL, he led a 25-person element in a remote outstation in Iraq responsible for targeting ISIS.  Inspired by his twin brother, who was born with Down syndrome, he is an advocate for the National Down Syndrome Society. After being crowned 2003 UGA Homecoming king, he presented the crown to his brother.

After learning that they were both being inducted into the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018, Lauren and Latham shared how proud they were to be honored by their alma mater and represent their family.

Lathem with award

“Special day for our family,” Lauren shared on her LinkedIn profile, “honored to be honored with my brother and proud to be a Bulldog!

Lauren and Latham’s parents were able to attend the luncheon and see the accomplishments of their children highlighted by the university. Click here to read more about their heartfelt reactions to the news of their children being inducted into the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018 in a blog post by Peter Stoddard.

Want to see who else made this year’s 40 Under 40 list? Click here for the full list and highlights from the awards luncheon.