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08.14.2013

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Erin Hames (BSED ’02)

Erin Hames (BSED ’02) was named to the 40 Under 40 Class of 2013 because of her experience in and dedication to Georgia public policy.

After graduating from UGA in 2002, after just three years on campus, Hames began teaching sixth and eighth grade social studies at Wakefield Middle School in Raleigh, N.C.

At that time, Hames decided to change career paths. Although she earned a law degree in 2008 and then joined the Office of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, the alumna couldn’t turn her back on the idea of improving the lives of young people through education.

From 2006 to 2010, she served as Perdue’s policy director and education policy advisor. During that time, she was the executive sponsor for Georgia’s Race to the Top team that successfully secured a $400 million grant for the state.

In 2011, Hames joined the Office of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal as deputy chief of staff for policy, a role she still fills today. As the leader of Governor Deal’s policy team and his chief policy advisor, Hames led the work to amend the Georgia Constitution to allow for state-authorized charter schools and she championed the preservation of Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K program.

When asked about her proudest achievement, Hames said, “By serving as the chief policy advisor for two of Georgia’s governors, I have had some incredible opportunities, including working to achieve passage of key pieces of legislation that will impact Georgians for years to come. I have been most passionate about those relating to the improvement of educational opportunities for Georgians.”

In the words of Tricia Chastain, a colleague and friend of Hames, “Erin has had a significant impact on the direction of this state – and we are better for it.” This is why I’m so pleased to have Erin Hames join the 40 Under 40 Class of 2013. Congratulations!

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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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