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09.11.2013

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Logan Smalley (BS ’06)

Logan Smalley (BS ’06) is doing big things – and has been for quite some time.

The Athens native first put himself on the map as a future leader during his time as an undergraduate at UGA. Inspired by his experiences at the Cannes Film Festival, Smalley decided to create a feature-length film about his close friend and hero, Darius Weems. In 2005, he directed, edited and composed the soundtrack for Darius Goes West, which documents Weems and several friends on a cross-country quest to get Weem’s wheelchair customized on the MTV show “Pimp My Ride.”

Along the way, the film crew raises awareness about Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which led to Weems being in a wheelchair, and to test for wheelchair accessibility across the country.

Since that time, Darius Goes West has been shown in 1,000 venues and 30 film festivals. More than 100,000 DVDs are in circulation and the film has won more than 25 awards. Smalley even appeared on TV shows such as Ellen DeGeneres, The Today Show, and The CBS Early Show. He continues to serve as president of the Darius Goes West nonprofit organization, which has raised $2.3 million for Duchenne muscular dystrophy research since the film was launched. 2013 marks the ninth annual Darius Goes West Day.

Smalley has not slowed down, though, following those successes. He earned a master’s degree in technology, innovation and education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2008. That same year, he was one of 30 applicants selected to become a TED Fellow.

The alumnus capitalized on that experience and went on to create TED-Ed to push the popular TED Talks into K-12 education. Since 2010, he has served as the TED-Ed director, overseeing and managing the TED-ED team of teachers, animators and web specialists. TED-Ed recently won three Webby awards, including “Best Education Website,” and the first 150 TED-Ed lessons have been viewed more than 20 million times in the last year.

When asked about his advice for current UGA students, Smalley responded, saying, “Participate in making the world, by using every tool available to you to tell your story, and to help tell the story of others.”

Through his work with Darius Goes West and now, through TED-Ed, it’s clear that Smalley takes his own advice to heart. Thank you for continuing to inspire us, Logan, and welcome to the 40 Under 40 Class of 2013!

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10.15.2014

Pulaski County students experienced life at UGA

Guest Blogger: Michelle Wilder Rivers (MA '10)
Program Coordinator
Archway Partnership

To demonstrate the possibilities available through higher education, the Hawkinsville LIFE League worked with the UGA Archway Partnership and the Office of Institutional Diversity to bring students to campus in July. The goal of the trip was to increase the awareness of postsecondary education opportunities, and to provide direct access to college admissions information. 

LIFE League teaches life skills and encourages excellence through basketball and other programs for at-risk youth in Pulaski County.

The day started with a UGA police escort for the students similar to that given to the football team on game day. Basketball games at the Ramsey Student Center were preceded by a reception during which numerous UGA administrators welcomed students.

Throughout the day, students participated in events including tours of the Ramsey Student Center and Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall (where they met student-athletes Nasheema Oliver, Kenny Gaines, Marcus Thornton and Chris Conley). Students had lunch at the Village Commons dining hall and emjoyed an interactive session with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. LIFE Leaguers ended their day with pictures in front of Sanford Stadium before heading home.

Units across campus made the day possible including: Office of the President, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, Terry College of Business, Mary Frances Early, UGA Athletic Association, Recreational Sports, Parking Services, Food Services, UGA Police Department and Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

  

Those involved hope that providing these students with a day on the UGA campus illustrated the possibilities that exist through post-secondary education. It was a great day for the Bulldog Nation and I felt lucky to be part of such a life-changing event for so many young people.

Click here to view more photos from the students' visit to UGA. 

More information about the Archway Partnership, a unit of Public Service and Outreach at UGA, can be found at www.archwaypartnership.uga.edu.

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10.10.2014

Alumnus Sets Sights on Vonage

Former Google executive Alan Masarek (BBA ’82) is making big moves.

Later this year, Masarek will be joining Internet phone service provider Vonage as the chief executive officer. He will also serve on the company’s board of directors. Vonage, which is based in New Jersey, is an international company that reported $829 million in revenue last year. The company also has ties back to Georgia, with its business services division moving to Cobb County in the near future.

Over the years, Masarek has served as president of a healthcare IT company and co-founded AdOutlet, an online media buying platform, and Quickoffice, an app provider that was acquired by Google in 2012. Most recently, he was the director of Chrome and apps at Google.

Congratulations on your continued success, Alan! The UGA Alumni Association wishes you the best of luck in your new role.

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10.06.2014

UGA Alumni See Success in Startup Companies

Several alumni are enjoying success in Atlanta's competitive startup environment. Technology startups seem to be popping up all over Metro Atlanta and three UGA alumni are leading the charge with their innovative businesses.

The brainchild of Adam Wexler (BBA ’07) and Devon Wijesinghe, Insightpool uses social media to help its clients, including Intercontinental Hotels, Chobani Inc. and A&E Networks, market more effectively to their target audiences. Last week, Insightpool announced it had raised $4 million in funding and plans to expand its Altanta headquarters later this year. The company's staff roster will also expand by approximately 75 individuals. This growth will help Insightpool as it helps businesses mine social networks for top influencers, prospects and potential customers. 

Adam Wexler (BBA '07) on right

Insightpool isn’t the only startup taking Atlanta by storm. Michael Tavani (ABJ ’02), co-founder of ScoutMob, is launching SwitchYards, a startup focused on business to consumer (B2C) relationships. Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, SwitchYards hopes to bring consumer- and design-focused startups together to build new and innovative brands.

Tavani plans to launch two to three B2C startups per year, including mobile applications and e-commerce. Those that break even within 15 months, will continue to receive funding.

  

Michael Tavani (ABJ '02)

Everett Steele (AB ’06) launched Kanga, a mobile application that crowdsources shipping, moving and delivering, in Atlanta earlier this year. The application, which will be expanding to Athens later this month, connects individuals needing something moved or delivered with people who are looking to make some extra money.

    

Everett Steele (AB '06) 

As Atlanta continues to grow as a major technology hub, the UGA Alumni Association looks forward to hearing about the continued success of these three alumni and their businesses.

Do you know of other UGA alumni running successful startups across the country? We'd love to hear about them! Please email Jamie Lewis (AB '12, AB '12) at jelewis@uga.edu. 

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