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08.29.2013

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Jessica McClellan (AB ’00, JD ’03)

In February, when Jessica McClellan (AB ’00, JD ’03) entered a federal courtroom in New Orleans for the trial of the largest oil spill and environmental disaster in U.S. history, she wore her finest black suit with a red shirt. According to this 40 Under 40 Class of 2013 honoree, “You can take the girl out of Athens, but you can’t take the Athens out of the girl.”

But McClellan isn’t your average UGA alumna – she is one of 11 Department of Justice trial attorneys involved with the BP oil spill litigation that involves hundreds of witnesses, thousands of lawyers, millions of documents, and billions of dollars. For those reasons, the trial has been dubbed “the trial of the century.”

McClellan graduated from UGA with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2000. Three years later, she left Athens with her law degree and a fellow Double Dawg as a husband. The couple headed to Savannah, where McClellan became an associate at Hunter, Maclean, Exley & Dunn until 2008. Her specialty quickly became admiralty and maritime law – thanks to the guidance of her UGA mentor, Thomas Schoenbaum.

In 2008, McClellan was tapped to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office as an assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. In 2010, the fourth-generation Bulldog moved to Washington, D.C., to become a trial attorney with the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. McClellan is the co-author of the 5th Edition of Admiralty and Maritime Law, the leading and most-cited treatise on the subject. She is the vice-chair of the Maritime Law Association’s Government Counsel Committee and has served as the chair of the American Bar Association’s Admiralty Committee.

During these years of incredible career growth, McClellan has found time to give back to her community. She is a former president-elect for the Junior League of Savannah, member of Leadership Savannah, a coach with the Georgia High School Assocation’s Mock Trial Team, and a founding board member of the Coastal Georgia Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

It is fitting that McClellan is a featured 40 Under 40 honoree just as college football season begins. This season will mark the 14th UGA-Tennessee game for she and her husband, Chandler (AB ’02, MS ’03). The couple met during the UGA-Tennessee game in 2009 in Knoxville.

Congratulations to Jessica McClellan on being named to the 40 Under 40 Class of 2013. Registration is open if you would like to join hundreds of Bulldog Faithful in Atlanta on Thursday, September 19 as the Alumni Association recognizes talented alumni like Jessica for their professional and philanthropic endeavors.

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Recent Entries


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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04.21.2014

McCall Wilder Designs offers timeless clothing options for children

McCall Wilder (ABJ '92) was having trouble locating the perfect outfit for her first baby's Christening. After an usuccessful search, the alumna decided to take matters into her own hands and create her own elegant and timeless clothing pieces for children. And so, in 2001, McCall Wilder Designs was established.

Wilder grew up in Athens with dreams of designing and pursuing journalism. She attended Hollins College in Virginia before transferring to UGA to study broadcast news in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. After graduating, Wilder interned and worked for CNN in Atlanta, taking part in the launch of CNN.com, the Internet’s first news site. She remained at CNN as a writer and producer until 1999.

Wilder’s “Baby McCall line” of heirloom gowns and special occasion outfits was only available by appointment until May 2008, when the first McCall Wilder Couture for Children Boutique & Atelier opened in the heart of Atlanta. The Baby McCall and McCall Wilder Designs lines now include more than 50 different styles, from crib bedding to dresses for teens and women.

Congratulations on your successful business venture, McCall. Your clothes and other products are simply beautiful.

Stay up-to-date on news and design ideas through the McCall Wilder Designs Facebook page.

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