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02.25.2013

UGA Alumni Association Hosts Successful Alumni Leadership Assembly

This past weekend, my staff and I were thrilled to spend much of our time with more than 30 of our outstanding alumni chapter leaders during this year’s Alumni Leadership Assembly.

On Friday, the group toured Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall with Georgia Bulldog Club Executive Director Mark Slonaker (BSED ’80). I hear they even caught glimpses of quarterback Aaron Murray (BS ’12) working out!

That evening, we organized a culinary tour with Athens Food Tours (owned and operated by UGA alumna Mary Charles Howard [BLA ’08]). Our alumni ate their way through a number of locally owned restaurants, including Your Pie, which is owned by 2005 Terry College graduate Drew French.

We kicked things off bright and early on Saturday with UGA Professor Dr. Karl Kuhnert, who armed us with some great information on leadership. After Dr. Kuhnert’s presentation, chapter leaders met with Alumni Association staff members in small groups. It was wonderful listening to them share best practices and learn from each other. On Saturday afternoon, UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity (ABJ ’76) and Hairy Dawg led us in a pep rally before the men’s basketball team took on South Carolina.

Following the big overtime win for the Dawgs, the group returned to their rooms for a brief respite before joining us in the New Dance Theatre for the Alumni Awards Dinner. Before chapter awards were distributed, the UGA CORE Concert Dance Company Contemporary and Aerial Dance shared a sneak-peek of its “Taking Flight” performance. Alumna Cabell Sweeney (BSED ’95) of Cabell’s Designs, also entertained the group with a moving speech about how being inclusive is ‘cool’ – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

We concluded the evening honoring chapters for their hard work last year. Here is a rundown of this year’s winners:

  • Best Use of the Web: Athens Chapter
  • Best Event: SoCal Chapter’s Law and Entertainment Forum
  • Volunteer of the Year: Theresa Silcox (BBA ’08), Athens Chapter
  • Chapters of Excellence: Athens, Augusta, Charlotte, DC, Panhandle/Pensacola, Upstate South Carolina, and Metro Atlanta
  • Chapter of the Year Runner-Up: Miami Chapter
  • Chapter of the Year: Richmond Chapter

All in all, the weekend was a great success. I applaud my staff members for their hard work. A special shout-out goes to graduate assistant Alex Lange, and assistant directors of regional programs Danielle Alexander and Jackie Guglietta for planning the weekend. I look forward to seeing what our leaders do when they return home with new ideas and inspiration! Go Dawgs!

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04.24.2014

Caplan and Cobb: the new dynamic duo of Atlanta law

Mike Caplan (AB '02, MBA ’05, JD ’06) and James Cobb (BS ’00) recently launched Caplan Cobb LLP, a new law firm focusing on business litigation in the Atlanta area. Mike’s practice focuses on complex business litigation while James’s practice is focused on the resolution of complex business disputes.

Triple Dawg Caplan left quite a legacy graduating magna cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law in addition to his membership in both the Order of the Coif and the Order of the Barristers. In 2012, he received the Southern Center for Human Rights' inaugural Gideon's Promise Award for his work in Flournoy v. State, which led to significant reforms to Georgia's indigent-defense system.

Cobb graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University Law School in 2005. While he was at GWU, he was a member of the Order of the Coif and the Senior Projects Editor of the George Washington Law Review. Outside of his business practice, James represents individuals and entities in civil-rights, criminal, and education-related matters.

The duo originally met in college as competitors in a national moot court competition and became friends in the following years. SuperLawyers Magazine named both Caplan and Cobb rising stars in Georgia for Business Litigation. Good luck to both Mike and James as they take on the Atlanta business law world!

To learn more about Caplan Cobb LLP, visit their website here.

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04.23.2014

Alumna puts passion for historic preservation into action

Catherine Garner (MHP ’13) has a passion for preserving the historic buildings of Salisbury, NC. After finishing her undergraduate degree in geography and urban planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Garner interned with preservation planners in Winston-Salem. Fulfilled by the work, she chose to pursue the path of historic preservation, eventually earning her master's degree from UGA in preservation planning.

Since then, Garner has landed her dream job as Salisbury’s newest city planner and liaison to the City’s Historic Preservation Commission. In this position, she help develop communities in which people want to live. She is involved in the city’s new "one-stop shop" for development services. The innovative program encourages local business owners to obtain city permits and a business license under the same roof. By streamlining the process, more local businesses will be involved in the city planning process.

Congratulations, Catherine! It’s great to see an alumna making a difference in her community. The work you do will impact Salisbury for generations to come.

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04.22.2014

Longtime UGA supporter hangs his “Gone Fishing” sign

William “Dink” H. NeSmith, Jr. (ABJ ’70) is one of the most passionate Bulldogs you will meet. A 1970 graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, NeSmith is co-owner and publisher of Athens-based Community Newspapers, Inc., which publishes dozens of newspapers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. As if his professional responsibilities didn’t keep him busy enough, NeSmith, a self-admitted “joiner,” has dedicated as much (if not more) of his free time to higher education.The list of his past university volunteer roles is unparalleled:

  -  chairman of Grady's advisory board and president of its alumni board;

  -  chairman of the board of directors of the Fanning Leadership Institute;

  -  chairman of the Richard B. Russell Foundation;

  -  member of the Athletic Association Board of Directors; and

  -  trustee of the UGA Foundation

In addition, NeSmith is a past president of the UGA Alumni Association and served from 2003 to 2005. He could always be counted on to support his alma mater, and his leadership was surely a factor in UGA’s rise to a top 20 public institution of higher education.

In 2008, Gov. Sonny Perdue asked NeSmith to join the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents. Five years later, he was serving as chairman of the 18-person governing board for USG. Only the third Athenian to fill this position, NeSmith recently concluded his term as chairman.

Reflecting on a lifetime of professional and philanthropic endeavors, NeSmith recently penned a short piece about his readiness to enjoy his greatest accomplishment: his family. The alumnus is surrounded by an ever-growing swath of Bulldog Faithful: his wife, Pam (BSHE ’71); three children, Alan (BSA ’04), Emily (AB ’99) and Eric (ABJ ’02); and seven grandsons. Upon the birth of each grandchild, NeSmith proudly gave them each a lifetime membership with the UGA Alumni Association. Although the Alumni Association is no longer dues-based, the NeSmith family boasts an impressive 15 lifetime members!

Read more about NeSmith’s transition to “grandpa time” here. This is one alumnus who has certainly earned the right to hang his “Gone Fishing” sign on the door. Thank you for your continued support, Dink, and your fine leadership in many areas across campus and the state.

Dink NeSmith is a regular contributor to the Athens Banner-Herald; read more of his pieces here.

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