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06.26.2013

Alumna shows that hard work can get you anywhere – even the mayor’s office

Over the years, I have heard a number of motivational stories about UGA graduates. Recently, I came across a profile online of Dr. Evelyn Wynn-Dixon (MSW ’95). Wynn-Dixon is the current mayor of the City of Riverdale in Georgia’s Clayton County, but this alumna didn’t follow the typical path to political office.

Wynn-Dixon graduated with honors from high school and was set to begin her college career at Fort Valley State University when she became pregnant. She was forced to drop out of school and relinquish her scholarship. Shortly after Wynn-Dixon returned home, her mother passed away. Wynn-Dixon was left to care for a six-month-old baby on her own.

To avoid the social stigma of being a single mother, Wynn-Dixon married the father of her child. After having three more children together, the man walked out on the family. Once again, Wynn-Dixon was left to raise her children alone.

Wynn-Dixon spiraled down a path of despair and couldn’t snap herself out of it. A vision of her mother helped bring her out of the haze and she realized she was being selfish. She knew she needed to recover, and to do that, she needed an education.

The alumna approached her education in steps, first earning an associate degree, later a Bachelor of Science, and finally her Masters of Social Work from UGA in 1995. She was 46 at the time. Wynn-Dixon later completed a doctorate in public health.

After receiving her doctorate, she built a successful career as a Grady Hospital case worker and eventually became a hospice director. In 2007, Wynn-Dixon ran to be mayor of the City of Riverdale – and won. Through her first and second terms, her focus has been on rebuilding and rebranding the community. Known as the “Mama of the City,” Wynn-Dixon has been instrumental in establishing many important organizations and youth programs in the area.

Thank you, Evelyn, for sharing your story with the world. Your path to success is remarkable and I wish you the very best in the future. You are a fine example of a Bulldog and we are proud to call you a University of Georgia graduate!

Information for this blog was sourced from here.

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02.10.2016

2016 TEDxUGA

Join the University of Georgia for the fourth annual TEDxUGA on Friday, March 18.

TEDxUGA 2016: Illuminate will bring UGA’s brightest minds into the spotlight to share their stories, experiences, and ideas worth spreading. Today’s ideas will illuminate tomorrow’s possibilities. The faculty, staff, student and alumni presenters of TEDxUGA 2016 know that all it takes is a single spark. Several alumni will present at this year’s event:

  • Phillip (AB ’06, ABJ ’06) and Eileen Blume – international award-winning, socially conscious photographers and owners of Blume Photography Studios, a 2016 Bulldog 100 business. The pair will be TEDxUGA’s first duo presenters.
  • Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95) – owner of Kabbage, Inc. and the 2015 No. 1 Bulldog 100 business, Roadie.
  • Melaney Cook-Smith (BBA ’89) – founder of Books for Keeps, a grassroots effort to provide books to those children that might otherwise have none and a 2016 Bulldog 100 business.
  • Reese Hoffa (BSED ’02) – represents the United States as an Olympic shot putter in London, Athens, and Beijing. He won the bronze medal in 2012 and is currently training for the 2016 Olympics.

Registration opens tomorrow, February 11, at 8:00 a.m. to all UGA alumni, students, faculty and staff. 

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02.09.2016

Building a welcoming and supportive campus community

Launched during the 2015 Homecoming Weekend in October, UGA Black Alumni is the official affinity group for black graduates of the University of Georgia. Similar to the Women of UGA program, UGA Black Alumni exists underneath the umbrella of the UGA Alumni Association and seeks to connect black alumni and students.

Each year, UGA enrolls an increasingly diverse student population and it is important to connect alumni and students with shared experiences to continue building a welcoming and supportive campus community. 

“As a student and an alumna, one thing I felt was missing from my UGA experience was the presence and mentorship of UGA alumni who looked like me. In 2008, I saw the first Black Alumni Homecoming Tailgate on Myers Quad and was full of emotion,” said Ambre Reed (BSFCS ’09), a member of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council. “The creation of UGA Black Alumni and its Black Alumni Leadership Council is so important to our community. Becoming involved was a no-brainer for me.” 

The mission of UGA Black Alumni is five-fold: recruit black students, faculty and staff; support black students to completion of a degree program; engage current students and alumni by mentoring and professional development; ‘friendraising’ and fundraising for UGA needs; and serve as UGA ambassadors in the community and to fellow Bulldogs 

Raymond Phillips (BS ’12), another member of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council says that groups like UGA Black Alumni and Women of UGA send an important message to the university community, as well as prospective students.

“The time and resources the university is investing into UGA Black Alumni demonstrates its commitment to diversity and inclusion,” he said. “This investment shows there is a place for everyone at UGA, regardless of one’s race, gender or age.”

Reed echoed this message.

“The creation of UGA Black Alumni sends the message that the university not only sees diversity as an asset while on campus, but after graduation, too,” she said.

Serving as an ambassador for UGA, a key part of the group’s mission, involves activities like participating in Give That Dawg a Bone, a card-writing campaign in partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, which invites alumni to write notes to accepted students, encouraging them to call UGA home for the next four years.

Members of UGA Black Alumni also are invited to attend information sessions and recruitment fairs throughout the year, where they can educate talented black high school students about UGA, its traditions and culture.

Reed admits that as a high school student, she never considered attending UGA. It was not until a black recruiter visited her high school in metro Atlanta and spoke about UGA with passion and pride that she realized it could be a place that she, a black student, could feel accepted and comfortable.

The services that are now a core part of UGA Black Alumni are what helped recruit Ambre and are what will help recruit more talented and diverse students in the future.

Another key component of UGA Black Alumni is raising funds for the Black Alumni Scholarship, which supports up to four students a year. Charles Orgbon III, a member of the Class of 2017 and recipient of the Black Alumni Scholarship, is CEO of Greening Forward, one of America’s largest youth-driven environmental organizations. It is talented students like Orgbon, who are supported by the important work of UGA Black Alumni, that are helping to further cement UGA’s reputation as a top-tier public institution.

The UGA Alumni Association is proud to support UGA Black Alumni as it continues to engage the university’s more than 288,000 alumni around the world.

To learn more about UGA Black Alumni, visit www.alumni.uga.edu/blackalumni.

Interested in joining Ambre and Raymond on the Black Alumni Leadership Council? Click here.

To support students like Charles Orgbon III and other recipients of the Black Alumni Scholarship, click here

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02.03.2016

Alumnus Spotlight: Peter Conlon (BBA '75)

One of the biggest attractions to the Atlanta music scene is its annual music festival, Music Midtown. From mainstream pop artists to rising rock bands, Music Midtown offers the crowds that gather performances from a wide variety of artists. For Peter Conlon (BBA '75), one of two founders of the festival and president of Peter Conlon Presents, this was the overall goal: to create an event fit for attendees of all music tastes and genres.

Conlon graduated from Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in international business in 1975. During his four years as an undergraduate student, he was a member of University Union where he first began booking rock concerts that featured artists such as Jethro Tull and the Allman Brothers. He attended law school for a short period of time after graduation, but then took a risk and dropped out to work as an intern for the Carter presidential campaign, a risk that ended up paying off through a victory.

Peter continued to work for Jimmy Carter throughout his presidential term. His position required that he help set up benefit concerts for the president. In 1982, Conlon partnered with Alex Cooley to begin his career in the music industry.

Music Midtown at Piedmont Park

After working many years booking concerts, the pair founded Music Midtown in 1994, inspired by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. After having to pull the plug on the event in 2005 due to low sales, the festival was reintroduced in 2011 and now takes up several stages across Piedmont Park, hosts more than 30 different artists, and attracts attendees from all over the nation. Moreover, since the festival’s relaunch, it has generated $50 million for the local economy each year.

Congratulations to Peter and best wishes for the continued success of Music Midtown! 

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