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09.18.2013

40 Under 40 Spotlight: Padgett “Pat” Wilson (AB ’96)

Padgett “Pat” Wilson (AB ’96) spent the summer between his junior and senior years at UGA studying abroad in Erlangen, Germany. That trip offered a number of “firsts” for the small-town Georgia native – his first time truly leaving home, his first passport, his first trip abroad, his first time dreaming in another language, his first train trip, his first glass of wine, and the first time to take “the blinders off to the world and the opportunities that exist outside of the life” he knew.

This young graduate has come a long way since those days. Today, he serves as the chief operating officer for the Georgia Department of Economic Development in Atlanta. In this role, Wilson directs the long-term strategy and daily operations of the Georgia agency tasked with growing jobs and investment across the state. He manages a $26 million annual budget and oversees approximately 170 employees in Georgia and 12 international offices.

After graduating from UGA, Wilson served as a Congressional intern, legislative correspondent, and North Georgia regional representative in Washington, D.C. From 2001 to 2005, he worked for Greenberg Traurig. The subsequent five years were spent in former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s administration – first as Perdue’s director of federal affairs in D.C., and then as his government affairs director in Atlanta.

In 2010, Wilson joined the Georgia Department of Economic Development as deputy commissioner of global commerce, and in 2011, was named the agency’s COO.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development is responsible for a number of important tasks, including growing and expanding the state’s existing industries; developing and recruiting new businesses to the state; enhancing Georgia’s trade relationships around the world; attracting tourists to Georgia; and promoting the state as an ideal location for film, video, music and digital entertainment enterprises. During the last three years, the alumnus has helped attract some big names to the state, including Baxter, Caterpillar and Starbucks.

In addition to his role as COO, Wilson serves as the executive director of Georgia Allies, a marketing partnership between the State of Georgia and the private sector that promotes Georgia’s economic development priorities. He is a former member of the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors and a past president of the Georgia State Society in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations to Pat Wilson on being named to the 40 Under 40 Class of 2013. Tomorrow is the big day! It’s not too late to attend the 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon at the Georgia Aquarium; walk-up registration will be available at 11:30 a.m. See you there!

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02.10.2016

2016 TEDxUGA

Join the University of Georgia for the fourth annual TEDxUGA on Friday, March 18.

TEDxUGA 2016: Illuminate will bring UGA’s brightest minds into the spotlight to share their stories, experiences, and ideas worth spreading. Today’s ideas will illuminate tomorrow’s possibilities. The faculty, staff, student and alumni presenters of TEDxUGA 2016 know that all it takes is a single spark. Several alumni will present at this year’s event:

  • Phillip (AB ’06, ABJ ’06) and Eileen Blume – international award-winning, socially conscious photographers and owners of Blume Photography Studios, a 2016 Bulldog 100 business. The pair will be TEDxUGA’s first duo presenters.
  • Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95) – owner of Kabbage, Inc. and the 2015 No. 1 Bulldog 100 business, Roadie.
  • Melaney Cook-Smith (BBA ’89) – founder of Books for Keeps, a grassroots effort to provide books to those children that might otherwise have none and a 2016 Bulldog 100 business.
  • Reese Hoffa (BSED ’02) – represents the United States as an Olympic shot putter in London, Athens, and Beijing. He won the bronze medal in 2012 and is currently training for the 2016 Olympics.

Registration opens tomorrow, February 11, at 8:00 a.m. to all UGA alumni, students, faculty and staff. 

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02.09.2016

Building a welcoming and supportive campus community

Launched during the 2015 Homecoming Weekend in October, UGA Black Alumni is the official affinity group for black graduates of the University of Georgia. Similar to the Women of UGA program, UGA Black Alumni exists underneath the umbrella of the UGA Alumni Association and seeks to connect black alumni and students.

Each year, UGA enrolls an increasingly diverse student population and it is important to connect alumni and students with shared experiences to continue building a welcoming and supportive campus community. 

“As a student and an alumna, one thing I felt was missing from my UGA experience was the presence and mentorship of UGA alumni who looked like me. In 2008, I saw the first Black Alumni Homecoming Tailgate on Myers Quad and was full of emotion,” said Ambre Reed (BSFCS ’09), a member of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council. “The creation of UGA Black Alumni and its Black Alumni Leadership Council is so important to our community. Becoming involved was a no-brainer for me.” 

The mission of UGA Black Alumni is five-fold: recruit black students, faculty and staff; support black students to completion of a degree program; engage current students and alumni by mentoring and professional development; ‘friendraising’ and fundraising for UGA needs; and serve as UGA ambassadors in the community and to fellow Bulldogs 

Raymond Phillips (BS ’12), another member of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council says that groups like UGA Black Alumni and Women of UGA send an important message to the university community, as well as prospective students.

“The time and resources the university is investing into UGA Black Alumni demonstrates its commitment to diversity and inclusion,” he said. “This investment shows there is a place for everyone at UGA, regardless of one’s race, gender or age.”

Reed echoed this message.

“The creation of UGA Black Alumni sends the message that the university not only sees diversity as an asset while on campus, but after graduation, too,” she said.

Serving as an ambassador for UGA, a key part of the group’s mission, involves activities like participating in Give That Dawg a Bone, a card-writing campaign in partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, which invites alumni to write notes to accepted students, encouraging them to call UGA home for the next four years.

Members of UGA Black Alumni also are invited to attend information sessions and recruitment fairs throughout the year, where they can educate talented black high school students about UGA, its traditions and culture.

Reed admits that as a high school student, she never considered attending UGA. It was not until a black recruiter visited her high school in metro Atlanta and spoke about UGA with passion and pride that she realized it could be a place that she, a black student, could feel accepted and comfortable.

The services that are now a core part of UGA Black Alumni are what helped recruit Ambre and are what will help recruit more talented and diverse students in the future.

Another key component of UGA Black Alumni is raising funds for the Black Alumni Scholarship, which supports up to four students a year. Charles Orgbon III, a member of the Class of 2017 and recipient of the Black Alumni Scholarship, is CEO of Greening Forward, one of America’s largest youth-driven environmental organizations. It is talented students like Orgbon, who are supported by the important work of UGA Black Alumni, that are helping to further cement UGA’s reputation as a top-tier public institution.

The UGA Alumni Association is proud to support UGA Black Alumni as it continues to engage the university’s more than 288,000 alumni around the world.

To learn more about UGA Black Alumni, visit www.alumni.uga.edu/blackalumni.

Interested in joining Ambre and Raymond on the Black Alumni Leadership Council? Click here.

To support students like Charles Orgbon III and other recipients of the Black Alumni Scholarship, click here

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02.03.2016

Alumnus Spotlight: Peter Conlon (BBA '75)

One of the biggest attractions to the Atlanta music scene is its annual music festival, Music Midtown. From mainstream pop artists to rising rock bands, Music Midtown offers the crowds that gather performances from a wide variety of artists. For Peter Conlon (BBA '75), one of two founders of the festival and president of Peter Conlon Presents, this was the overall goal: to create an event fit for attendees of all music tastes and genres.

Conlon graduated from Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in international business in 1975. During his four years as an undergraduate student, he was a member of University Union where he first began booking rock concerts that featured artists such as Jethro Tull and the Allman Brothers. He attended law school for a short period of time after graduation, but then took a risk and dropped out to work as an intern for the Carter presidential campaign, a risk that ended up paying off through a victory.

Peter continued to work for Jimmy Carter throughout his presidential term. His position required that he help set up benefit concerts for the president. In 1982, Conlon partnered with Alex Cooley to begin his career in the music industry.

Music Midtown at Piedmont Park

After working many years booking concerts, the pair founded Music Midtown in 1994, inspired by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. After having to pull the plug on the event in 2005 due to low sales, the festival was reintroduced in 2011 and now takes up several stages across Piedmont Park, hosts more than 30 different artists, and attracts attendees from all over the nation. Moreover, since the festival’s relaunch, it has generated $50 million for the local economy each year.

Congratulations to Peter and best wishes for the continued success of Music Midtown! 

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