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Tyler Jefcoat (BBA ’07, MBA ’13) guides a new generation of accounting graduates

In 2002, after graduating high school in Columbus, Georgia, Tyler Jefcoat (BBA ’07, MBA ’13) took an interest in Athens and the University of Georgia for two reasons: its music scene and its business school. While music stayed as a hobby, Tyler thrived in UGA’s Terry College of Business as an undergraduate.

After graduating and working as a retail bank manager, Tyler realized that corporate culture didn’t suit him. With encouragement from two key figures in his life, his dad and father-in-law, he returned to UGA and enrolled in an MBA program. It was here where he found his true passion for entrepreneurship.

“I came out of that MBA experience realizing that I just wasn’t a great corporate guy. I needed to build something for myself—so, I did,” Tyler said. “I literally got to present a concept company that we built, Care to Continue, as my final project in the MBA entrepreneurship class. I got great support from the university and from my classmates.”

Care to Continue trained and empowered caregivers for in-home senior care. Tyler stayed with Care to Continue for five years. The first year was difficult as they tried to market their name and build a loyal client base. By year two, though, the company was well-established within the market.

27 target customers met with Tyler and his cofounder to help build the essence of the brand in January of 2013. The name, Care to Continue, came out of this focus group.

“We were onto something because we understood our customer,” he said. “I think we were in a good market, but it was hard; it was crazy. And I was grateful that I got to sell my part of that business, because that was a 24/7/365 animal.”

Tyler sold his portion of Care to Continue in 2018 after realizing that the direction the business was heading didn’t follow his vision. He helped train the new leadership team for 100 days. While selling his part of the company benefitted him and his family, he stressed over what his next steps should be.

His wife, Emily (AB ’08)—whom he met through an undergraduate club at UGA—was by his side the entire time, assuring him of his path while keeping their two daughters in mind.

“I had a bunch of great opportunities. And my wife said, ‘Tyler, these opportunities all seem to be in Chicago or Atlanta or New York. You need to find something that’s not in Chicago or Atlanta or New York.’ And so, we started looking for ideas.”

Not wanting to uproot his family’s life for a career in a big city, Tyler found the answer in Athens. While having a coffee with one of his friends, Tyler considered a new idea: e-commerce. He found that there was a need he could fill in bookkeeping for small-scale entrepreneurs.

“I went to my wife—like I did when I started Care to Continue—and said, ‘I’m thinking about starting a company in an industry in which I’ve never worked or had any business with … what do you think?’” he laughed. “Thankfully, she told me that we should do it.”

In 2018, Tyler launched Seller Accountant, an accounting firm that provides e-commerce sellers on Amazon with bookkeeping and fractional CFO (financial coaching) services. The business works with sellers to create and implement customized accounting plans for each unique circumstance.

Using the experience and knowledge he gained from his first company, Seller Accountant quickly became one of the top accounting businesses in the Amazon marketplace.

Ashley Carter, Partner and COO of Seller Accountant, standing with the company’s first four Terry interns: Lizzie Rose (BBA ’20), Erna Brandt Braxton (BBA ’19, MAcc ’20), Addie Young (BBA ’20, MAcc ’21) and Christian Joseph (BBA ’20, MAcc ’21) in their original 1 Press Place incubator office in downtown Athens.

Tyler is passionate about helping others, and with his new business, he leverages his business and finance background to assist small sellers.

“Leading and encouraging small business owners makes me feel alive,” he said. “It gets me so excited.”

His drive to help others led him back to UGA, where a friend encouraged him to rent space in the Delta Innovation Hub in the Innovation District.

The Innovation District connects bright minds from UGA and beyond. Located across multiple buildings in North Campus and downtown Athens, the Innovation District connects students, faculty, alumni and local businesses. Tyler immediately connected with the Innovation District’s vision.

“The vision of the Innovation District—attaching faculty and alumni ideas to reality and helping them come into fruition—I was like, ‘Man, that’s where I am right now with Seller Accountant.’”

Tyler moved his business into the Delta Innovation Hub in 2021. Now, he and Seller Accountant find inspiration within the Hub while working alongside UGA’s graduate accounting program to help UGA students and alumni.

Tyler proudly wearing UGA gear.

“We’ve made it our mission to empower students, and we’re seeing results,” he said. “Like graduate assistantships for the graduate accounting program: two years in a row, one of our few students has landed that opportunity. We’re seeing anecdotal evidence that they’re getting higher salaries coming out of the accounting program.”

Knowing what it’s like to be an uncertain graduate, Tyler hopes to foster an environment where a student can succeed in finding the career most suited to them–whether that’s as an employee at Seller Accountant or an entrepreneur forging their own path.

“Could I be a part of someone’s story or their career and get a lot of benefit from it? Absolutely. And there’s no better place to be than on UGA’s campus for that to happen.”

Dawg-gone good gifts: Onward Reserve

For the people on your gift list who love the outdoors, college football and the South, look to one of Athens’ own: Onward Reserve. 

Onward Reserve is a specialty men’s apparel and lifestyle brand headquartered in Atlanta. The Onward Reserve experience mixes laid-back southern hospitality with a world-class retail atmosphere. Collections include men’s classic clothing, watches, shoes, sportswear and accessories. 

UGA alumni TJ Callaway (BBA’07) established Onward Reserve with the motto, “Live authentically.” During a hunting trip in Onward, Mississippi, Callaway crafted a vision for a brand that is laid-back, unwavering in quality and supportive of authentic experiences. Each season, Callaway carefully selects the collection of other brands with that vision in mind. The 2019 Bulldog 100 recognized Onward Reserve as one of the fastest-growing organizations owned or operated by UGA alumni. 

For the Dawg fan, give the gift of Red and Black with a Bulldog-printed polo ($115), a UGA needlepoint flask ($65) or a “Run the Damn Ball” hat ($34.95). For the outdoorsman, equip adventure with a new cooler or a pair of shades. For the well-dressed, browse the Thomasville collection.  

Give a fellow Bulldog some red and black with a UGA needlepoint flask from Onward Reserve ($65).

To explore Onward Reserve, you can shop online or visit one of Onward Reserve’s 12 locations throughout Georgia and the South.  


The holidays have arrived! As you finish up your holiday shopping, we’re featuring UGA alumni-owned businesses that we can’t stop barking about. Give uniquely and support a Bulldog this holiday season with a Dawg-gone good gift.     

Want more Dawg-gone good gift ideas?

Vaughn’s Victory: Terry College’s first Black female graduate shares remembrances 

This story was written by Charles McNair. 

Margaret Vaughn (BBA ’70) didn’t realize she was making history.

“I did not set a goal to become the first Black woman to graduate from the Terry College of Business,” she says. “I knew at the time that two Black males had preceded me. But even at graduation, I did not attach any great significance to that moment.”

Vaughn may have been distracted by job offers.

It was 1970, and businesses and the federal government were just waking up to the potential of a diversified professional workforce. Vaughn heard from NASA, the Big 8 accounting firms, the U.S. Department of Labor and others.

“I attribute that attention,” she says modestly, “to the fact that a University of Georgia business degree was highly respected by employers.”

But, hello Houston, there was a problem. The potential employers all wanted Vaughn to relocate–to Texas, New York or New Jersey.

“The U.S. Department of Treasury won out,” Vaughn says, “because the Internal Revenue Service did not require me to leave Georgia.”

In 1970, she started a distinguished career with the IRS, retiring in 2004 after serving in multiple roles with increasing responsibility.

In an unexpected way, Vaughn says, her UGA classroom experience prepared her perfectly for the 1970s business world.

Margaret Vaughn 1970

Margaret Vaughn in the 1970 Pandora yearbook.

“Initially, my work environment was a near mirror image of my environment at UGA,” Vaughn says. “Predominately male and white.”

“I was the only African American and one of only two females in my first tax training class. I was one of only two or three African Americans and the only African American female employed as an IRS field agent in Georgia. I remember being one of only two African Americans in the swearing-in ceremony when I became a certified public accountant.”

“So not only did my UGA experience provide me the technical knowledge to become an expert in my field,” she says, “it also fully prepared me for the environment where I would have to work.”

Roads not taken

Vaughn never plotted to enter the business world.

As a student at Pearl High School in Madison, Georgia, she loved to write. She created the school’s first yearbook and wrote the school’s alma mater. She had her heart set on making a living by the paragraph and page.

That changed in her senior year. The principal of her high school called Vaughn into the office with news.

“You’re going to be the senior class valedictorian,” the principal said. “And you’re going to the University of Georgia. I’ve already talked with your father about it, and he agrees.”

Goodbye Spelman. Goodbye historically Black universities and colleges.

Vaughn, in retrospect, sees two powerful reasons behind that decision made for her.

First, her principal wanted to show that a student from her school could excel at UGA. Second, Vaughn’s dad had come home from the military and had been denied an opportunity to attend UGA. His daughter’s admission would mark an achievement for the Vaughn family. (Margaret would be the first in her immediate family to go to college.)

Dad also had a very practical concern. He felt sure that a business degree could ensure that his brilliant daughter would find a job with steady paychecks and financial security instead of rejection slips and unsold manuscripts.

Taxing times

Vaughn speaks thoughtfully and philosophically about the challenges she faced as a young Black woman in the late ’60s at a newly-integrated Deep South university.

“I entered UGA feeling that a personal sacrifice had been made to enroll,” she says, “but the remaining unanswered question was whether the struggle for representation and inclusion would be worth the sacrifice.”

“Of course, I was also concerned about more immediate matters. What would I face in the classroom? Would I be marginalized? Would I face open hostility? Would I have help in my studies, if I needed it?”

Terry proved an education.

“It felt as though each class held a different UGA experience with different challenges,” she says.

“I specifically remember a speech class. I was the only Black student in a white, predominantly male class, and I was deeply concerned that it would be the worst experience of the quarter.”

“The icebreaker was that I could write. I shared a few of my discarded speech drafts. Contrary to my initial fears, it went exceedingly well. I had initially dreaded the class and my study group, but that was a time I experienced inclusion from fellow students.”

Helping others blaze trails

Solving challenges on her own, class by class, turned out to be an important part of Vaughn’s education.

“UGA showed me in many ways that I was strong and resilient,” she says. “The university taught me that if I want my life to matter, I must live it on my own terms, unselfishly, with responsibility for my own happiness.”

Vaughn often recalls how, in 1966, she felt alone and without support in classrooms. It’s why she is now passionate about giving special attention to small, often unsupported, businesses through her tax consulting practice, Margaret Davis Vaughn, CPA.

She also serves on the boards of organizations that provide guidance to promising young people.

“Being a trailblazer in 1970 meant there were no African American female role models, no mentors, for me at UGA,” Vaughn says. “There was no one to call to ask for directions.

“This is why I am determined to have an impact on the lives of as many students as I possibly can. Just as someone saw a possibility for me, I am certain there are CPAs waiting among the students within my reach.”

Where commitment meets community: Erin Tatum (BBA ’08, AB ’08, MPA ’14) intersects music, culture and education

In 2019, the annual Savannah Music Festival (SMF) in Savannah, Georgia, hosted 107 musical performances across 17 days. The performances were hosted in 15 different performance venues, required 35 piano moves and combined the efforts of 625 artists and personnel from 25 countries.

The conquering of such a logistical feat requires passion and commitment. It’s a task for which Erin Tatum (BBA ’08, AB ’08, MPA ’14), University of Georgia alumna and managing director of the festival, is well-suited.

As managing director, Tatum schedules performances and works with artists to find accommodations, arrange travel and execute contracts. This role merges the alumna’s background in management and music, both of which she studied at UGA.

 

Erin Tatum (BBA ’08, AB ’08, MPA ’14) is the managing director for the Savannah Music Festival. Photo: Elizabeth Leitzell

SMF connects artists with audiences. Throughout the year, it hosts educational programs for local schoolchildren and young musicians. Then, SMF culminates in an internationally-acclaimed cross-genre music festival that is also the state of Georgia’s largest musical arts event.

“Seeing the music performances is the reward at the end of the rainbow,” Tatum said. “Our artistic director does the programming, but I’m working with him closely to ensure that the logistics and details are right by the time we get the performers on a stage in front of an audience.”

Seeing the impact

While at UGA, Tatum knew she wanted to work in the nonprofit performing arts space.

“To me, it was about the community impact,” Tatum said. “I wanted to actually be in a community and see the impact that an organization can have.”

A connection made at UGA introduced her to a job with the Oconee Performing Arts Society in Greene County, but a fondness for Athens led her back to the Classic City in 2009 to work for UGA’s Performing Arts Center. The mission-based, education-focused atmosphere gave her a taste of the community impact she was seeking.

“The work that I did there really attracted me to the Savannah Music Festival,” Tatum said.

After an evening of the Savannah Music Festival, managing director Erin Tatum chats backstage. During the festival, Tatum’s bike is her preferred mode of transportation. Photo: Elizabeth Letizell

When Tatum joined the Savannah Music Festival in 2014, it was preparing to launch its Musical Explorers program. Through Musical Explorers, SMF brings music education into local elementary school classrooms. Through a partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, students learn about three diverse music genres each semester and attend an end-of-semester performance featuring the artists they’ve studied.

“These kids experience a concert – some of them for the first time. They know all the words, even words that are not in English,” Tatum said. “The entire curriculum is based on this multicultural experience, so they’re not just learning about the music. They’re making social studies, reading and writing connections.”

In 2019, SMF’s educational programs like Musical Explorers reached 10,658 participants. When the program pivoted to a virtual format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SMF expanded its reach. The 2020-2021 program includes participants in 31 states and 15 countries.

SMF also stimulates the greater-Savannah economy. In 2019, nearly 40% of the festival’s 29,065 participants traveled from more than 100 miles away. When they aren’t attending performances orchestrated by Tatum, these visitors support the city’s restaurant and tourism industries.

Returning to the stage

After a year of silent concert halls and empty stages, this year’s festival will bring music back to Savannah’s stages. Instead of the typical 17-day format, the 2021 festival will take place from May 23 to May 30 at two indoor venues with limited capacity crowds and social distancing. Even with the changes, Tatum looks forward to bringing live music to the stage again.

“It is sad that we haven’t seen live music for a year, but we’ve also been able to make some really cool adjustments,” Tatum said. “We’ve gotten through it. We’re resilient and we did it thanks to the support of our community and donors. Those things make me hopeful we can move forward.”


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?

$1 million gift to promote Terry College Sustainability Initiative

The University of Georgia received a $1 million pledge to the Terry College of Business to launch the college’s new Sustainability Initiative and fund faculty support for the endeavor.

The pledge by the family of Joanna and Stuart Brown of Telluride, Colorado, will help attract, retain and support a scholar who serves as a champion for sustainable development instruction. The endowment will provide financial resources to launch the environmental initiative and annual funds to support programs at Terry for years to come.

Stuart Brown serves as a director of Brown-Forman Corp., one of the largest American-owned companies in the spirits and wine business. He graduated from UGA in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in history, and Joanna Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1987. Their son, Stuart Brown Jr., graduated in 2014 with a degree in political science.

“I have been involved with many sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance initiatives at the company,” Stuart Brown said. “It is important to us to be a sustainability leader in the beverage alcohol industry, as well as in corporate America. As Brown-Forman celebrates 150 years of business excellence, we want to encourage Terry students to embrace the vitally important values of sustainability.”

Plans for Terry’s Sustainability Initiative include hiring faculty, expanding course offerings, launching a new undergraduate area of emphasis in sustainable development and supporting new experiential learning opportunities, said Benjamin C. Ayers, dean of the Terry College of Business. The Terry College is focused on securing additional funding for a sustainability speaker series, research support, faculty-led study away programming and internship opportunities.

“With this important gift, we hope to advance a culture of sustainability within the college that transcends one course or a single major,” Ayers said. “Our goal for sustainability initiatives is to educate and inspire students to become ethical leaders who create sustainable businesses and develop innovative models that transform business in all sectors.”

Brown-Forman was founded in 1870 and is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. It employs more than 4,700 people worldwide, with about 1,300 located in Louisville. Brown-Forman sells its products globally and has more than 25 brands, including Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester and Herradura, in its portfolio of wines and spirits.

To learn more about Terry’s new Sustainability Initiative, please contact Kathy Ortstadt in the Terry Development and Alumni Relations Office at ortstadt@uga.edu.

Bulldogs help music community in time of need

Last year was uncharted territory for musicians, music venues and the overall music community. They struggled without the ability to host live music events and festivalsbut a few UGA alumni are committed to assisting the industry weather the storm on a local, state and national level. 

Keepin’ it local

Athens is known for its vibrant music scene. Most of the musicians at the heart of that scene have benefited from rehearsing at Nuçi’s Space, a nonprofit musician’s resource center that has been around for 20 years and is led by Executive Director Bob Sleppy (BS ’05, MBA ’10). Immediately after COVID-19 forced schools and businesses to shut downNuçi’s Space established the Garrie Vereen Memorial Emergency Relief Fund to support musicians, artists, venue staff, crew employees, and everyone else who makes Athens’s well-known entertainment venues thrive. The fund raised $10,000 within four days and distributed over $130,000 in emergency financial aid to 310+ individuals in the Athens-area entertainment industry. While working from home, the Nuçi’s Space staff made over 600 phone calls to check in on fellow musicians who usually frequent Nuçi’s Space, letting them know about the fund and providing encouragement.  

Nuci's Space team

Across the state 

The Georgia Music Foundation Board of Directors continues to distribute their annual grants and also approved the creation of the Georgia Music Relief Fund to award grants to those in the state’s music community who have been negatively affected by venue closures and tour cancellations. The board includes three UGA graduates, including Board Chair Dallas Davidson (M 00), George Fontaine, Jr. (ABJ ’04) and Russell Bennett (BSA ’00)The Savannah Music Festival (SMF) is a multi-year grant recipient of the foundation and while the SMF was postponed in 2020, Managing Director Erin Tatum (AB ’08, BBA ’08, MPA ’14) noted that they were able to pivot and continue engaging patrons. The SMF is hosted over 17 days each year and showcases hundreds of musicians from around the world. The festival provides free music education to 10,000+ students in coastal Georgia and South Carolina schools. Since the pandemic, SMF has taken its Musical Explorers program for K-12 virtual and is now providing music education to children nationwide.

A national focus 

MusiCares, the nonprofit arm of the Recording Academy, is led by UGA graduate Debbie Carrol (MSW ’93). Its mission is to “provide resources to music people in times of need.” By the end of 2020, MusiCares distributed over $20 million in assistance. After launching an online application in March, Debbie’s team of 12 was manually vetting 500600 applications per week and distributed $1,000 grants to 20,000 individuals nationwide. MusiCares was thrilled to see 1,600+ artists donate to the cause along with a number of well-known companies within the music and streaming services industriesIn addition to providing financial assistance, MusiCares provided additional support by conducting a mental health survey and created virtual programming that included topics from adjusting to life off the road to how to incorporate mediation into your day. Due to her impressive leadership during the challenges of the pandemicPollstar named Debbie to its ‘2020 Impact 50’ list, which honors music executives who are improving the live entertainment industry.  

Recording Academy Musicares digital sign

 There are countless others in the Bulldog family who are doing great things to keep the music industry alive and well until live music venues reopen, tours can recommence, and those working in the industry are back on their feet. We’re proud of all those alumni who stepped up last year and continue to do so … because when Bulldogs come together, they change the world.  

UGA’s Music Business Program prepares the next generation of change-makers in the music industry. Learn more about the program at the video below. Want to help enhance its offerings? Make a gift today! 

Danielle Derkink (MBA ’05) commits to inclusivity, advocacy

Danielle Derkink (MBA ’05) is an enthusiast, whether she’s talking about her extensive experience in hospitality, being an advocate for women and diversity in the workplace, or creating awareness about childhood arthritis.

The daughter of Dutch immigrants, Derkink fell in love with hospitality at a young age through a family friend who was a live-in general manager at a hotel in Houston. She remembers learning about a new area of hospitality each time she visited her friends. She was curious and intrigued by the way a hotel functioned. Forgoing her initial childhood dream of being a female fighter pilot, Derkink embraced the excitement of a hotel management career instead and followed her passion to the Netherlands, where she received her Bachelors of Hospitality Administration at The Hotelschool The Hague.

Moving back to the United States to begin her career in hospitality, Derkink quickly began moving up the ranks as her career aspirations continued to grow. It was at this time she decided to pursue her Masters of Business Administration at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. Upon completing her degree, she took a promotion to Washington, D.C. and served as a hospitality ambassador for the Terry MBA program in the city.

After a career opportunity in Tampa, FL and the birth of her first child, Elle, Danielle made the move to back to Atlanta and to IHG, a company that has allowed her to live out her other passions – philanthropy and advocacy for women and inclusivity in the workplace.  When Elle was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In search of a support network, Derkink began volunteering with the Arthritis Foundation’s Georgia Chapter, of which she is now acting co-chair of the juvenile arthritis committee. Derkink has partnered with other organizations including the University of Georgia’s Alpha Omicron Pi to raise awareness about the disorder. Each year the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation and the sorority team up to put on the annual 5K “Run for the Roses” as a fundraiser.

Danielle (far right) at a Lean In event with Sheryl Sandberg (second from left) and other Atlanta-based Lean In leaders, Emily Schwarz and Alison Eminger.

Danielle (far right) at a Lean In event with Sheryl Sandberg (second from left) and other Atlanta-based Lean In leaders, Emily Schwarz and Alison Eminger.

IHG has provided Derkink a platform to demonstrate her commitment to women and inclusion in the workplace. For the fifth straight year, IHG has received a perfect score by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI). At IHG headquarters, Derkink has led the Women’s Lean In Group, inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s book. Derkink also actively attends IHG’s representation at the Atlanta Pride Parade annually, bringing her two daughters—and this past year, her mother too—to encourage them to be their authentic self.

In addition to her philanthropy and advocacy, Derkink has engaged with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ newest major Hospitality and Food Industry Management. IHG will sit on the board of the new major, helping to guide curriculum and support students. The University of Georgia is grateful to alumni, like Danielle Derkink, who are making an impact in their workplace and reconnecting with the university.

Q&A With Aaron Luque (MBA ’16)

Aaron Luque (MBA ’16) is the CEO of EnviroSpark Energy Solutions, a company that specializes in the design and installation of electric vehicle charging station solutions. EnviroSpark was honored as a 2019 Bulldog 100 company, and Aaron is visiting campus this week to speak to entrepreneurship and sustainability classes, field questions from students and share his experience in both areas. We spoke with Aaron to learn a little bit more about him, his work, his UGA experience and how those three things intersect.

What made you want to start your own business? And why this particular business?

My work experience had previously always been in what would be considered a “big corporate” environment, complete with inefficiencies and red tape that would make it very difficult for me to best serve my clients. At the end of the day, I just wanted the freedom to be flexible and creative, and “best-fit” solutions for my clients. I wanted to recognize the uniqueness of each and every client and prospect, let them know they were special, and provide services with their needs in mind.

As cheesy as it sounds, I really did choose the sustainability sector out of an innate desire to leave the world a better place for future generations of humans and for life in general. Selling something you believe in is extremely fulfilling and comes easily and naturally, whereas selling something in which you don’t believe is difficult and unsatisfying.

You earned your MBA from UGA in 2016. Why did you choose to pursue that degree, and what impact has it had on your professional path?

Both of my companies had grown to a point where I needed to be thinking about business strategy and finance on deeper levels, and as a result I chose to enroll in the Executive MBA program. As an entrepreneur for the last 12 years, with no aspirations of working for anyone else anytime soon, the program has probably benefited me in different ways than it would for, say, someone who was simply looking to move up the corporate ladder. On a personal level, I’d have to say I personally got the most value from the finance and economic-related portions of the program, and the knowledge gained in those areas has significantly enhanced my ability to run my businesses.

What are you most proud of professionally?

The knowledge that my efforts and those of the teams I have built are having a major impact on the adoption rate and transition towards electric vehicles. EnviroSpark, a company self-funded and organically-grown, is directly responsible for the design and installation of over 10,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the United States and Canada. I cannot count the number of times one of my clients has called me up and told me they couldn’t believe how many people went out and purchased electric cars after we completed an installation at their office, hotel, apartment, condo, convenience store, etc. Knowing that we reached out to these locations, educated them about electric vehicles, designed a charging solution for them, implemented that solution, and then seeing the end result of increased electric vehicle ownership is extremely rewarding.

You’ve said that you’re passionate about sustainability. What do you see as your role—personally, professionally, or both—in creating a more sustainable society?

When I was first considering getting into the electric vehicle space I was thinking to myself “electric vehicles are amazing, why do more people not drive them?” After some research, it became very apparent there were two main reasons for this:

  1. Awareness – People simply didn’t know all the benefits of owning an electric car (I could go on for days on this topic).
  2. Range Anxiety – People were scared they would get stuck somewhere due to a lack of infrastructure (and rightfully so).

With that in mind l founded EnviroSpark with two primary goals:

  1. Learn as much as possible about all of the benefits of electric vehicle ownership and share this with as many people as possible
  2. Design and construct as many charging sites as possible. My hope was that every time someone saw one of our charging stations, they would be a little more comfortable with the idea of switching to an electric car.

If you could give one piece of advice to students, what would it be?

Whatever you do for a living, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. Work is too much time of your life to be spent doing something you don’t love, and I’d venture to say it’s impossible for your overall quality of life not to be directly influenced by the level of satisfaction you have for your career.

 

Talking Nature Photography Day with Eric Bowles (BBA ’79)

UGA alumni can be found doing amazing things all over the world, so we were delighted to find Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) on the board of directors for the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), which established Nature Photography Day (June 15)A professional photographer specializing in the Southeast United States, Eric’s work has been published in magazines, newspapers, and commercial publications.  

Why did NANPA create Nature Photography Day?  

Nature Photography Day was created by NANPA to enhance awareness of the power of nature photography in telling important stories. June 15 would be a time to invite family and friends outside and to learn about the natural sights and places in their neighborhoods. Why not look to local scenes, where you can see and appreciate nature even in your own backyard? 

What are some of your favorite places to photograph nature? 

The diversity of nature in the United States is quite amazing. We’re very lucky to have so many places to go to see and photograph nature. One of the best known parks is Yellowstone National Park. The geysers are the icons of the area – and Old Faithful is the most famous.  

Yellowstone National Park

Photo by Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) | www.bowlesimages.com

Closer to home, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite places to visit. Wildlife thrives in the Okefenokee – alligators, snakes, and a tremendous variety of birds. But what people don’t think about are all the beautiful wildflowers that are found in the Okefenokee. 

Alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp

Photo by Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) | www.bowlesimages.com

How has being a UGA graduate influenced your career? 

My undergraduate degree is in finance, and I spent more than 20 years in banking with what is now Bank of America. The foundation I received in business and finance has helped me with roles on boards and leadership roles throughout my career.  

UGA also has a tremendous research program, and photographs are part of many research initiatives. I’ve photographed several research projects through UGA.  One project involved counting and photographing birds at the edge of the Gulf stream to document migration. Sometime you get the unexpected – such as a sea turtle that decided a scientific instrument was a toy – resulting in the measuring equipment being many miles off course. 

What’s the story behind one of your photos? 

One of my favorite photos was made in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This particular photo idea started with just a small plant on a mossy rock. I returned to the area at least a half dozen times over the next four weeks working on compositions and watching the plant begin to bloom. We had just enough rain for the stream to rise and create just the shot I wanted, but it continued to rain every day over the next week and the water continued to rise.  By the end of the week, a torrent of water was flowing rapidly through the quiet stream and the blossoms were gone.  

Waterfall in the Smokies

Photo by Eric Bowles (BBA ’79) | www.bowlesimages.com

What’s your best tip for a Bulldog looking to get into nature photography?

Photography in general requires some degree of specialization. If you choose what you love and are truly passionate about your photography, you can build a successful career. It’s not just about making good photographs–that’s a given. It’s about spending the time and effort to find projects and work that you truly enjoyYou may not be ready to specialize right away, so it’s fine to explore different areas. Take a look at all the places you see still photography and short videos to get an idea of the opportunities available.  

 

UGA names business school building for Doug Ivester

Doug and Kay Ivester at UGA's 2014 Alumni Awards Ceremony.

Doug and Kay Ivester at UGA’s 2014 Alumni Awards Luncheon.

This was written by Ed Morales and originally posted on November 29, 2018, on UGA Today.

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The final building to become part of the Business Learning Community at the University of Georgia will be named for M. Douglas “Doug” Ivester of Atlanta.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved naming the sixth building at the new home of UGA’s Terry College of Business in November. A large auditorium inside the new building also will bear Ivester’s name, all in recognition of his longstanding support of UGA, which includes a $7 million gift to the Terry College of Business.

“Doug Ivester’s outstanding generosity leaves a lasting legacy at the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “His gift reflects a heartfelt commitment to supporting our students, faculty and staff and will strengthen the learning environment for generations of business students.”

The building and auditorium, to be named M. Douglas Ivester Hall and M. Douglas Ivester Auditorium, are located at the corner of Baxter and Lumpkin streets. The building will house undergraduate classrooms along with staff and administrative offices.

“We are so grateful to Doug for his investment in the college’s future, as well as the time he gives every semester to the Deer Run Fellows Program,” said Dean Benjamin C. Ayers. “We are excited for completion of the final phase of construction in the spring. In these facilities, thousands of Terry students will be educated each year, and virtually every undergraduate will take classes in Ivester Hall. Those students will go on to serve as leaders in their businesses and their communities.”

Ivester graduated from UGA in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and now presides over Deer Run Investments LLC. He was elected chairman of the board and CEO of The Coca-Cola Co. in 1997, a company he joined in 1979. In 1981 he became the youngest vice president in the company’s history. Two years later he was named senior vice president of finance, and in 1985 he became chief financial officer at the age of 37. He retired from Coca-Cola in 2000. He began his career at Ernst & Ernst, eventually leading its audit team for The Coca-Cola Co.

Each year, Doug and Kay Ivester host Terry College’s Deer Run Fellows at their 25,000-acre property in Leary, Georgia. In the fellowship program, Terry faculty and staff choose eight students to take a leadership class that centers around a unique weekend immersion experience on leadership and life with select industry experts.

“The University of Georgia is so important to our state and our region, and the university elevates everyone who experiences its passion for learning. My time at UGA was foundational for me. Without the experiences I had at UGA, I don’t think I could have ever joined organizations like Ernst & Young or Coca-Cola. UGA provides students with the skills necessary to chase their dreams. I will forever be grateful to the university and can never adequately express my gratitude,” Ivester said.

Ivester is an emeritus trustee of the University of Georgia Foundation. He is on the board of directors at SunTrust Banks, is a trustee of Brenau University and a director of the Melvin Douglas & Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation. He is a former board chairman of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, an emeritus trustee of Emory University and a former board member of the Woodruff Arts Center. He is a former board member of numerous corporations, including The Coca-Cola Co., S1 Corp., Coca-Cola Enterprises, where he was chairman of the board, as well as a number of community organizations.

Earlier this year, the other Phase III building at the Business Learning Community was named for Sanford and Barbara Orkin of Atlanta. UGA broke ground on Phase III in October 2017 after the dedication of Amos Hall, Benson Hall and Moore-Rooker Hall, which comprise Phase II. Terry College faculty and staff moved into the Phase II buildings in fall 2017. Phase I (Correll Hall) opened in 2015 and was funded entirely by private contributions.

Phase II and III are the result of a public-private partnership between the state of Georgia and hundreds of donors. The Business Learning Community represents one of the largest capital projects in the university system’s history.

The following video was shared during the UGA Alumni Association’s 2014 Alumni Awards Luncheon when Ivester was recognized as an Alumni Merit Award winner. The University of Georgia is grateful for the Ivesters’ continued involvement and generosity.