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08.21.2013

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Jon Howell (BBA ’99)

Jon S. Howell (BBA ’99), president and CEO of the Georgia Health Care Association, graduated from UGA with a degree in finance in 1999. His definition of success is “not achieving a specific goal, but leaving a lasting legacy.” While it’s still early in Howell’s career, he has already left a legacy on our state’s health care system.

Within two years of graduation, Howell was named vice president of government relations for the Georgia Health Care Association in Stockbridge, Ga. In this role, Howell was one of two registered lobbyists representing long-term health care patients, families and operators. He was responsible for researching and tracking thousands of pieces of legislation affecting the health care industry.

In January 2008, Howell became the president and CEO of the Georgia Health Care Association. He is now the leader of the health care trade association that represents 95 percent of Georgia’s 359 skilled nursing facilities, a growing number of assisted living communities and 100 percent of a home- and community-based case management program called SOURCE. He manages the Association’s 11 full-time employees and a $4 million annual budget. During his time as president, the association has been named to the Bulldog 100 list fastest growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni.

According to Deborah Meade, a friend and business associate of Howell’s, the graduate, “is respected and well-known by most of our state and federal elected officials. He is the voice of so many of our frail and elderly residents of Georgia who cannot speak for themselves. He is truly a champion of long term care.”

In his free time, the alumnus serves as a deacon, finance committee chairman and Sunday School teacher for the First Baptist Church of Jefferson. He was named to the National Multiple Sclerosis Georgia Chapter’s 2012 MS Leadership Hall of Fame and is a 2013 Circle of Promise Member with the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta. He has been a member of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors since 2008 and is on the Board of Visitors for the University of Georgia.

Howell’s professional and philanthropic achievements have earned him a number of honors, including being named the 2012 Top Lobbyist for an Association by James Magazine, a "Top 100 Who Shape Healthcare in Atlanta" by the Atlanta Business Chronicle (2009-2013), and Georgia’s Best and Brightest 40 Under 40 honoree by Georgia Trend Magazine (2009).

Congratulations to Jon on being named to the 40 Under 40 Class of 2013 – he is certainly deserving of the recognition. 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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