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08.09.2013

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Kira Fonteneau (JD ’05)

Kira Fonteneau (JD ’05) remembers the day like it was yesterday.

“I was sitting in Professor Ron Ellington’s Civil Procedures class as a [first-year law student] at UGA when he called on several members of our class who were unprepared. When he reached the fifth unprepared student, he calmly put down his marker and dismissed the class, telling us that he could not continue unless we were prepared. The class was dumbfounded. The most intense feeling of embarrassment and shame filled the room as we realized how disappointed he was. I will never forget that day – it was the day that I learned the importance of being prepared as a lawyer.”

Fonteneau learned that lesson and hasn’t looked back. The alumna graduated in 2005 from the UGA School of Law and became a litigation associate with Constangy, Brooks and Smith, LLP, in Birmingham, Ala. In late 2006, she established The Fonteneau Firm, LLC.

According to Julie Jun, a colleague and friend of Fonteneau’s, “Kira left a comfortable job with a big law firm to open her own shop, which she ran for several years. She was not simply successful, but she made such an impression on her peers, that she was eventually nominated and appointed to the position of public defender for Jefferson County, Ala., where Birmingham is located.”

In January 2013, Fonteneau was appointed to open and run the state of Alabama’s largest public defender office. In this role, she is responsible for recruiting, managing and training 39 attorneys and 29 support staff members.

In her free time, Fonteneau gives back to the Birmingham community. She has served on the American Diabetes Association’s Board of Directors since 2007, the ACLU of Alabama Board of Directors since 2011, and the Holy Family Cristo Rey High School Junior Board of Directors since 2009. She has participated in the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program since 2006.

When asked what advice she would give to UGA students today, the alumna said, “You never know how the detours in life will prepare you for the future, so don’t feel like you have to plan your life in great detail.”

As Birmingham’s first public defender, there was no way Kira Fonteneau could have envisioned her career path to this point. But, she has obviously followed her own advice and found great success in our neighbor state to the west. Congratulations, Kira!

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10.22.2014

Bulldogs in the Sunshine State

Southern California is known for its beaches, beautiful weather and the glamour of Hollywood, but the Sunshine State has a touch of Bulldog, topo. With more than 3,535 UGA alumni, Southern California is home to a host of alumni and alumni-owned businesses. 

A beer tap made from a Harley engine? Check. An annual Halloween party that includes a strait jacket escape contest and something called the Dead Marionette Theater? Check. A Johnny Cash shrine? Sure! All these elements and more come together to create the Gasser Lounge, a rock n’ roll bar located in Redondo Beach, California, the pride of owner Mike Bouchard (BBA ’03).

Serving as the Southern California Chapter’s game watching party venue, the Gasser Lounge hosts an energetic crew of football devotees every week for an indoor tailgating experience unlike any other, complete with a red leather interior and a special surprise after every Dawgs touchdown, served up by bartender Bouchard.

Bouchard and his bar aren’t the only ones keeping the Southern California Chapter entertained, however.

  

M. Ali Salimi (BBA ’03), president of the chapter, is an esteemed attorney who lived in Switzerland and London before beginning his own firm in Irvine.

Outside of work, Salimi opts for a hobby that’s a little less serious - gracing the stages of comedy clubs across the region. 

The UGA Alumni Association is proud of your accomplishments, Mike and Ali! Continue keeping the Southern California Chapter interesting.

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10.21.2014

2014-2015 Signature Lecture Series

Guest Blogger: Meg Amstutz, Ph.D. 
Associate Provost for Academic Programs

UGA is now highlighting a number of premier lectures through its new Signature Lectures designation, designed to help focus attention on the variety of prominent thinkers visiting campus.

When I first came to UGA in 1997, one thing I missed from my prior institution was the twice-yearly notice of its endowed lecture series. At the beginning of each semester, the arrival of the list of upcoming lectures would prompt my fellow graduate students and me to mark our calendars and chat with friends and colleagues about the topics that interested us most. Faculty across campus encouraged students to attend these lectures, and they often incorporated the work of the speakers into the classes they were teaching.    

In 2013-2014, more than 50 individual lectures were listed on UGA’s Master Calendar, signaling the strong level of intellectual activity taking place. At the same time, this long list signaled an opportunity to reframe these offerings conceptually, so that students and faculty might more easily mark the dates, participate and engage in classroom discussion together.

To that end, we have launched the UGA Signature Lectures, featuring speakers noted for their broad, multidisciplinary appeal and compelling bodies of work. This special designation recognizes a number of UGA’s endowed lectures, including the Gregory Lecture and the Mason Public Leadership Lecture, as well as lectures with historic significance on our campus, such as the Louise McBee Lecture, the Holmes-Hunter Lecture, and UGA’s Founders Day Lecture.

I am grateful to those who have chosen to endow lectures, because these Signature Lectures are one of the best ways for students to discover that they are truly part of a larger, international intellectual conversation.

For a full list of the 2014-2015 Signature Lecture, please click here.

The UGA Alumni Association will hold the 2015 Founders Day Lecture at the Chapel on Tuesday, January 27 at 1:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

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10.20.2014

Alumna Spotlight: Christy Hulsey (ABJ '98)

Bulldog 100 and 40 Under 40 honoree Christy Hulsey (ABJ ’98) lives a busy life as owner and creative director of Colonial House of Flowers in Statesboro, Georgia. 

Hulsey’s work, inspired by her grandmother, is self-described as “timeless elegance that is ethereal and moody.” The majority of her designs feature unusual materials, such as pinecones and berries - something that caught the attention of both Pottery Barn and White House staff. Hulsey’s shop was selected to launch Pottery Barn's 2014 summer brand, and her floral designs were displayed at the White House in 2013.

A regular on Pottery Barn’s Have and Hold wedding blog, Hulsey informs brides-to-be on the art of creating flower girl halos, cake stand centerpieces and seashore-inspired tablescapes.

Hulsey enjoys opportunitues to work with fellow UGA alumni. She began her relationship with Pottery Barn after the floral arrangements she designed for friend and fellow Grady graduate Linsay Cheney Rudd’s (ABJ ’08) wedding were noticed by the blog. Hulsey also uses her friends in various photo shoots for Pottery Barn, including one for a driftwood lantern centerpiece tutorial that features Lea Lanier (BSED ’99).

  

In 2013, Colonial House of Flowers, generously donated flowers to UGA Day in Statesboro. She also gifted each 2014 40 Under 40 honorees with a red rose after the awards ceremony.

Congratulations on your success, Christy! The UGA Alumni Association looks forward to many more years of your beautiful designs.

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