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09.23.2013

UGA alumna breaks ground on new marketing firm

Congratulations to Katie Mathis Dubnik (BBA '03) for opening her own marketing and public relations firm in Gainesville, Ga., this summer. The alumna hopes Forum Communications will make a positive impact on her community - just like her father and grandfather’s company did.

Forum Communications is a strategic marketing firm that helps organizations create a design for success. The firm offers public relations services, graphic design, marketing strategy, collateral development and expertise in special events.

Dubnik graduated with her bachelor's degree in marketing in 2003. She continued her education at Georgia State University where she earned her MBA and MHA. Before starting Forum Communications, Dubnik spent six years in the public relations office of Northeast Georgia Health System.

Congrats again, Katie!

Information for this blog entry was sourced from accessnorthga.com.

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04.23.2015

Meet the UGA alumna behind the Georgia Trail Summit: Tracie Sanchez (AB '88, MPA '11)

The Georgia Trail Summit is excited to announce the schedule for its second annual event, which will take place in Athens, Georgia, June 4-6 at The Graduate. Continue reading to learn more about Georgia Trail Summit's founder, Double Dawg Tracie Sanchez (AB '88, MPA '11), and the inspiration behind this organization. 

I’ve been riding bikes, hiking mountains and paddling rivers all my life. Being on a trail makes for wonderful escapes, new adventures and challenges, new friends, staying healthy and connecting with nature. And great photo memories.

Earning my Masters of Public Administration at UGA late in life allowed me to focus on which public policy I wanted to champion. Being part of the effort to build a world-class network of connected trails in every corner of Georgia is a cause I believe in deeply.

The first thing I did as an undergrad in 1985 was sell my car and become a bicycle commuter to campus. I still had that bike 24 years later when I returned to UGA for my masters’ in public administration. I caught trail fever in Athens biking the greenway, helping the Firefly Trail incorporate as a non-profit, and collaborating on a graduate project in Hartwell that led to inventorying regional greenspaces with UGA landscape architecture students.

Clearly, alternative transportation solutions involving active living are my passion. Eight years at UGA as a program coordinator for the Leonard Leadership Scholars and one-on-one chats with mentor Earl Leonard taught me a thing or two about leading an effort. So with a background in graphic design, leadership development, a public policy degree, and spare time during the job search, I reached out to all the trail hounds I knew in Georgia, and began to build a network.

Research in 2011 revealed there are 82 trail and greenway projects proposed or underway in Georgia. I was familiar with many of them from my own explorations and serving as a mobility manager for a regional commission. I learned of others while attending Smart Growth conferences, Transportation Camp, the Georgia Bike Summit and transit and mobility workshops. But something was missing. No one knew about anyone else’s project; no one seemed to be sharing lessons learned. Why wasn’t there an easy opportunity to convene Georgia’s entire community of trail experts in one place? 

The Department of Natural Resources admitted they didn’t have staff capacity to update a 15-year-old comprehensive trail plan. With so much to learn from each other, I felt compelled to connect the dots…and the people.

  

The solution came when attending the National Bike Summit in DC. While visiting Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s development director, Kelly Pack, she inspired me with great advice, “Round everyone up and hold a Georgia Trail Summit.”  I pitched the idea that spring and have been recruiting and collaborating with trail, greenway and blueway partners ever since. The time was right and I visualized myself as the champion for the effort. UGA taught me how and now I'm on a roll.

Today, I lead a dedicated team of volunteer trailblazers planning the second annual Georgia Trail Summit. So far, we’ve raised $20,000 with 35 sponsors, including UGA College of Public Health, UGA Office of Sustainability, UGA Warnell School of Forestry, Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department, Athens-Clarke County Mayor’s Office and Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau. More importantly, we're connecting people.

The Georgia Trail Summit has seen a drastic increase in presenters since its creation. You all know Athens is an ideal, walkable city with hotels right on the Greenway and other nearby trails for biking, hiking and paddling, which will be featured during 10 mobile workshops.

I remain committed to my vision for Georgia’s trail movement to grow into an established and influential organization helping non-profits, governments and communities focus on connectivity, conservation and comprehensive planning. 

UGA alumni are personally invited to attend this timely conversation on the future of Georgia’s trails June 4, 5 and 6 in Athens at the Graduate Hotel. For a closer look, stroll on over to georgiatrailsummit.com.

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04.15.2015

Alumni Spotlight: Josh Collins (BSEH '97, MS '99)

Josh Collins (BSEH '97, MS '99) is the proud owner of Athen's newest juke-joint style restaurant, Champy's Famous Fried Chicken. Located at 1120 Baxter Steet, Athen, GA, the restarunt stives to bring together traditional, southern-family recipes with an atmosphere that will attract a diverse crowd. 

The UGA Alumni Association’s Strategic Communications intern, Emilie Clarke ’15, had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumnus. Read below to find out more about Josh’s entrpreneurial endeavors.

You recently opened Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken, tell me a little bit about the restaurant. What steps did you take to open your own business? What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Champy's was founded in Chattanooga in 2009 by a good friend of ours, Seth Champion, who was raised on the Mississippi Delta.  Although Champy's of Athens is the fifth location, which also includes Daphne, Alabaster and Muscle Shoals, AL, we are not a franchise. We refer to ourselves as a "friendchise" between buddies that enjoy great food in a fun atmosphere. The atmosphere is fun for all ages. 

My wife, Amy, and I have talked about moving to Athens for the past 10 years and I knew that Athens was a Champy's explosion waiting to happen. We worked on selling the idea of Athens to Seth for over two years then invested everything we had into opening, including having to go all the way to Mississippi to get a business loan because local banks wouldn't work with us. We cashed in our 401Ks, are still living in an RV and continue to invest all of the elbow grease we have every day.     

 

  

Interior of Chmapy's Famous Fried Chicken

Where do you see the company in five years?

For the Athens Champy's, I can see a destination spot that draws customers from all over Georgia and visiting sports rivals, a thriving catering business for everyone that wants good southern food, and a restaurant full of locals that are drawn to our bluesy atmosphere. As for expansion, I definitely see a second location in five years, maybe an hour or two from Athens. 

What chefs or types of cuisines are your biggest food influences?

Flavors from the Deep South - Mississippi Delta hot tamales, fresh fried chicken and homemade sides. Our recipes were handed down from Seth Champion's grandfather over 40 years ago.  

How did your time at UGA help you achieve your personal and professional goals? Did you have a favorite professor or class that really stuck with you? Favorite memory from your time at UGA?

My environmental health sciences degree kick-started my corporate career and provided me with 15 years of business experience that I lean on every day to run the restaurant.   

I would have to go with two professors, Dr. David MacIntosh and Dean Phil Williams of the Health Science Campus. You didn't ask, but I couldn't forget about Ms. Sandra McPeake who was the department's assistant in the late 1990s. She couldn't always keep me out of trouble, but she tried her best! 

Football Saturdays in Athens are my favorite memory.  All of them...

What advice would you give to future graduates or young alumni who aspire to own their own business?

Just do it.  No one is going to make it happen, but you. 

To learn more about Josh Collins (BSEH '97, MS '99) and Champy's Famous Fried Chicken visit ChampysChicken.com.

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04.14.2015

Alumnus Spotlight: Carlton Curtis (ABJ '72)

Former UGA Alumni Association President Carlton Curtis (ABJ '72) has been honored with the 2015 Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award. Presented by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), this award goes to an individual who has shown extraordinary achievement and exemplary leadership in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

"It's a privilege to recognize Carlton and his lifetime of achievements with one of the NRAEF's and the industry's highest honors," said Rob Gifford, executive vice president of strategic operations and philanthropy of the National Restaurant Association and NRAEF. "During his tenure with Coca-Cola and as a member of the NRA and NRAEF boards, Carlton has been steadfastly passionate and committed to improving the industry. He is a tremendous industry advocate, and an exemplary role model within the nation's restaurant and foodservice sector."

Curtis spent the past 43 years with the Coca-Cola Company, while volunteering his time, resources and expertise to restaurant operators and retailers around the globe in an effort to raise the stature of the industry. He has served as chairman of the board of the NRAEF, serves on the Board of Directors of the International Franchise Association, is the current chair of IFA's Diversity Institute, and is a member of the Hall of Fame of the Distinguished Restaurants of North America. He serves his alma mater as an emeritus trustee of the UGA Foundation. He will be recognized today at the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

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