2012 40 Under 40: The Best & Brightest

For the 16th year, Georgia Trend presents a group of 40 outstanding Georgians under the age of 40. The honorees are making their marks in business, government, politics, nonprofits, the arts, finance and the military.

The 40 were chosen from nominations made by readers throughout the state. Final selections were made by the Georgia Trend editorial staff. We’re happy to share their stories in the following pages.

The three representatives from this year’s group, shown here and on our cover, were photographed for the magazine by Adam Komich. From left, they are Stephanie Kirijan, Southern Company, Atlanta; Jenni Harris, White Oak Pastures, Bluffton; and Andrew “Bo” Young III, GiveLocally.net, Atlanta.

Individual profiles were written by Jerry Grillo, Krista Reese, Bobby Nesbitt, Mary Anne Dunkin, Patty Rasmus-sen, Candice Dyer and Bobby L. Hickman.

James M. “Jay” Bailey, 36
Operation HOPE/Atlanta Market

Jay Bailey is the Southeast region CEO for global nonprofit Operation HOPE, which teaches financial skills and economic empowerment to the disadvantaged. Over the past five years, HOPE has helped nearly 50,000 South-east residents.

An Atlanta native, Bailey brought more than 15 years of experience with Fortune 500 companies and other organizations to Operation HOPE when he joined in 2007.

In January 2012, Bailey was one of eight leaders honored at the White House as “Champions of Change.”

“That was quite a day, a joy of my life,” Bailey says. “The president spent an hour and a half talking with us.”

Bailey is involved in a number of charitable organizations, most notably serving as scoutmaster for Troop 100 at the Benjamin S. Carson B.E.S.T. Academy, the largest inner city Boy Scout Troop in the country. He  has also been named one of Atlanta’s most eligible bachelors. – BH

Will Beattie, 37
Gilmer County Commissioner
PR Director, ETC Communications
President/Owner, Bear Creek Cattle Co.

Will Beattie has a lot on his plate, and he’d like to put something on yours: beef. A Gilmer County Commissioner and the public relations director for ETC Communications, a family-owned tele-communications company in Ellijay, Beattie is also owner and president of Bear Creek Cattle Company, growing all-natural beef for restaurants and retail consumers.

He started the beef business as a hobby, from the ground up, but now has USDA approval to sell under his own label. Cows are raised at his farm and processed at a USDA-certified plant in Ellijay.

Beattie also volunteers with the Appalachian Children’s Center serving victims of physical and sexual abuse in three counties. “I’ve been on the board for over six years,” he says. “I always want to be involved in it. We’ve been able to keep the doors open and continue to offer services to the children who need what we can offer.” – PR

Ashley D. Bell, 31
Hall County Commissioner
Bell & Washington

Ashley Bell is a busy attorney at Bell & Washington, PC, in Gainesville. He serves as general counsel to the Georgia Association of Black County Commis-sioners, the National Association of Black County Officials and the Georgia Con-ference of Black Mayors. The youngest person ever elected to the Hall County Board of Commissioners, Bell, who completes his term in January, is considered a rising star in the state Republican Party. But it’s his work as founder of Generation Inspiration, an exciting eight-week youth leadership program, that fuels everything he does.

“The kids inspire me,” he says. Combining life skills, exposure to local leaders and opportunities and a healthy dose of community service, Generation Inspiration is growing the next crop of Hall County leaders. “When they see me and the other people I expose them to,” says Bell, “it expands what they think someone from Gainesville can do.” – PR

Summer Finley Bell, 29
Senior Accountant
Serotta Maddocks Evans

Summer Finley Bell says she has practically grown up with Serotta Maddocks Evans. Not long after falling in love with her first college accounting course, she landed an internship at the Augusta accounting firm. Ten years later she holds a CPA and is a senior accountant.

When she’s not preparing financial statements, reviewing tax returns or providing Quickbooks training for clients, she lends her skills to community organizations. In 2007, she helped file not-for-profit status for Young Professionals of Augusta (YPA) – an organization designed to provide professionals under 40 the opportunity to become active in the community through social networking, philanthropic outreach, professional development and cultural awareness.

She’s currently an ambassador for YPA and is serving her second term as treasurer on the board of the Augusta Ballet. “I am definitely the youngest person on the board,” she says. “What I am able to bring to the table gives me confidence at the meetings.” – MAD

Jamie Brown Bennett, 36
Haralson County Commissioner
Deputy County Clerk of Douglas County

Bennett was writing for her hometown newspaper when she decided to take a more active role in the government initiatives she was covering. She went to work for Douglas County, where she established a courthouse recycling and energy efficiency program that earned “Government Building of the Year” recognition by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Atlanta and an Energy Star Award.

After severe flooding in 2009 killed six people in the area, Bennett organized a “Flood Recovery Day.”

“That was a traumatic time, so I thought it would be easier on residents to have FEMA, GEMA and contractors who could do roof repairs centralized in a one-stop location,” she says.

Earlier this year, she became the first female – and youngest ever – commissioner for Haralson County, where she is developing a website to make government services more accessible. “Something in me just needs to be needed,” she says. – CD

Justin Berman, 35
Founder and CEO
Berman Capital Advisers

Justin Berman believes the best financial advice comes from truly objective sources.

“The ability to provide unbiased advice without an agenda and a platform to sell from bodes very well, from a client’s perspective,” he says. “By not being attached to a certain product or being paid by a certain investment manager, we can be truly objective, and [that] puts us on the same side of the table as the client.”

Berman’s firm focuses on ultra-high net worth customers where issues are complex, and its advice makes the most impact on their clients’ lives. “The burden is on us to make sure we’re doing our homework for our clients,” he says. “Our goal is to be our client’s first call.”

Philanthropy is equally important to Berman. He serves on the board of directors and as a mentor to several young men through the nonprofit Families First. – PR

Brian Byars, 39
Senior Partner
Advanced Retirement Planning, LLC

Brian Byars has a simple but successful business principle. “Our goal is to operate on a level our competition doesn’t know exists,” he says. “Our focus is on the person, not how much money they have.”

Before starting his own firm, Byars worked for a medicare supplement company. “I learned that if I would work to solve my clients’ problems, offering them solutions rather than trying to sell products, I would find success.”

His company offers investment and retirement planning, but also many other services, including veterans benefits assistance.

“I have a policy to never turn a veteran away,” Byars says. “They served us, therefore we serve them. No exceptions.”

Police officers are also special to Byars (his mother was an officer for more than 30 years). He has logged countless hours volunteering with police departments, founded the Georgia Tactical Officers Association and is vice chairman of the Atlanta Metro Medical Strike Team. – BN

Steven Carse, 27
King of Pops

After only three years, Carse’s gourmet popsicle enterprise has grown from a single, self-manned pushcart near Manuel’s Tavern to a bona fide sensation. In addition to a fleet of carts, the pops are available in five stores in Atlanta, plus Athens and Charleston, with other cities likely to follow.

Carse’s story – he started the business after a layoff from insurance giant AIG – actually begins earlier, when he and his brothers traveled to Central America and discovered the paleta, a handmade frozen fresh fruit treat.

“We had conversations, year after year, about starting a business like that, how we would do it, what we would name it,” he says. Those dreams turned into business plans emphasizing quality control and environmental accountability.

Looking ahead, Carse says he and his co-owner (brother Nick) would like to either sponsor farms or grow their own fruits to ensure the best and most sustainably produced ingredients. – KR

Chase Daughtrey, 30
Probate Court Judge for Cook County

Chase Daughtrey spent several years working for some of the state’s top political leaders, but when it came time to start his own political career, there was no place like home.

Home is Lenox in rural Cook County, where Daughtrey is probate court judge. When he took office in 2009, at age 26, he was the state’s youngest. He’s running unopposed for reelection this year.

Since taking office, Daughtrey has saved the county money (including collecting more than $100,000 in unpaid traffic fines) and runs what may be one of the most open and transparent government offices in the state.

“People should know where their money is going, and I want people to see what we do,” he says.

Daughtrey sends the local newspaper his department’s monthly income and expenses reports. “If someone walks in the door and says they want to see our financials, I just hand them the newspaper,” he says. – BN

Matthew Harris Gambill, 31
Executive Director
Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education

Executive Director Matthew Gambill leads the 2,700-member Georgia Asso-ciation for Career and Technical Educa-tion (GACTE), a nonprofit professional association. “We are promoting the notion that we place a value on tech education in this state,” Gambill says. “We want to change the perception that success is automatically tied to a post-secondary education degree. It’s a message that resonates right now, given the job market.”

GACTE comprises business and industry partners and educators in career and technical education from middle and high schools as well as technical college faculty.

Gambill is also active in the Murphy-Harpst Children’s Home in Bartow County. The home provides services for severely abused children referred by DFACS or the foster system. “We try to stabilize them and get them on a good footing,” he says. “We have good results, but we’re a last stop for some of these kids.” – PR

Dan Gordon, 35
Co-founder and Vice President
Falcons Physical Therapy Centers
Director of Business Development
AMB Group

Dan Gordon launched his career in The Home Depot’s business leadership program. Later he started a commercial real estate firm that consulted for Arthur Blank’s AMB Group, where he is also director of business development. He helped the group evaluate entering the physical therapy market as a strategic community investment. The result was the Falcons Physical Therapy Centers, now growing to 12 facilities.

Gordon is active with the Marcus Foundation’s Gene Screen project, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University, Out-standing Atlanta and Lead Atlanta.

“I’ve been fortunate to receive many opportunities and to have people telling me to ‘go for it.’ That allowed me to reach some of my goals earlier than I expected.” Gordon says. “It also motivated me to help others who perhaps did not have the exposure to Arthur Blank early in their career or have the parents I had.” – BH

Ann M. Hanlon, 33
North Fulton Community Improvement District

After working with the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Perimeter CIDs, Ann Hanlon joined the North Fulton CID in 2005 as vice president of transportation. She was promoted to COO in 2006 and is in charge of daily operations.

Hanlon is an officer with the Junior League of Atlanta and coordinates volunteers for Hospice Atlanta’s Camp Stars program. She is also secretary for The Study Hall, a nonprofit after-school program for underprivileged children near Turner Field that supplies food, teachers and homework assistance. “We provide a safe environment for children who would otherwise be latch-key kids,” Hanlon says

Born and raised in South Georgia, Hanlon graduated from Notre Dame and received her master’s degree from Georgia State. She is married with a two-year-old daughter. Her other family members are in Waycross, “where I like to go when I want my blood pressure to go down,” she adds. – BH

Jenni Harris, 25
Marketing Manager
White Oak Pastures

“Could I call you back?” Jenni Harris asks. “I’ve got to give a goat a couple of shots.”

It’s not the kind of task most marketing managers undertake, but most probably are not fifth-generation stewards of a family farm, one increasingly known for environmentally sustainable production of grass-fed meats and poultry.

Harris has been plying her Valdosta State marketing degree by revamping White Oak’s website, where sales this year were “the fastest growing sector of our business,” she says. She has also started inroads into making White Oak agritourism-friendly – the farm now has a restaurant that serves lunch to the staff and general public. More importantly, Jenni gets to work with her dad, Will Harris, “a pioneer in the food movement,” but also “my absolute best friend.” – KR

Charlie Henn, 39
Attorney, Partner
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton

Henn usually racks up more than 50 hours – and, while working for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, 100 hours – of pro bono work a year. He is also part of his firm’s pro bono effort, the Grandparent Adoption program.

“Our primary focus is on grandparent adoptions, for grandparents who are raising children when parents are in jail, on drugs or otherwise out of the picture,” he says. “It makes school registration and medical care easier.”

An alumnus of Westminster and Emory, Henn was active in the performing arts and improv, and those bohemian enthusiasms show in his community service. He serves on the boards of the ArtsNOW public school program, Flying Carpet Theatre, and ArtsATL Inc.

“If you’re an attorney serving on the board of a nonprofit, you’re pretty much signing on as general counsel,” he says. He was one of five attorneys nationwide to be named a “Rising Star” in intellectual property by Law 360. – CD

Miriam Hodesh, 31
Community Relations Specialist
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation

Miriam Hodesh’s passion for community advocacy led her to “jump at the opportunity” to accept a community outreach job at Gulfstream, the Savannah area’s largest private employer.

Hodesh came to Savannah five years ago to meet with former Mayor Otis Johnson, who shares the same alma mater, the Heller School of Social Policy at Brandeis University. She “fell in love with the city” and quickly became involved in several for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

In January 2011, she joined Gulfstream to work with area schools on a program to develop a future workforce in science, technology, engineering and math.

“The United States is falling behind other nations with respect to proficiency in these key subjects,” Hodesh says. “We must be proactive about who will be working in these fields in the future, and it takes a public/private collaboration to allow students an opportunity to succeed.” – BN

Misty Harris Holcomb, 36
Assistant Vice President
State Government Affairs
McGuireWoods Consulting
Performer/Instructor, Sketchworks

Misty Harris Holcomb doesn’t list jug-gler on her resume, but she could. In addition to working full time with McGuireWoods, she is also an actress and instructor for Sketchworks, the Decatur-based sketch comedy troupe. When she’s not at the Capitol or onstage, she’s an active volunteer.

“I’ve just always wanted to do so much, it has never entered my mind I couldn’t do it,” she says.

While a broadcast news major at UGA she did an internship at the State Capitol, and that started her interest in government and politics. She worked at a television station in Rome, then it was back to the Capitol, where she worked in a variety of state jobs prior to joining McGuireWoods.

The secret to balancing it all? “A sense of humor,” she says. “Whether it’s government, the stage or in the community, laughter is often the best ice breaker and remedy for everyday life.” – BN

Scott Holcomb, 39
General Counsel, J.P. Turner & Company, LLC
State Representative, District 82, DeKalb County

Scott Holcomb runs marathons in his spare time. Marathons are tough; finding spare time can be even more difficult. Holcomb is an attorney and Democrat who represents his northeast DeKalb district in the legislature; he is a husband and father of two and is currently pursuing the executive MBA at UGA’s Terry College of Business.

Holcomb began his law career with the U.S. Army JAG Corps and deployed overseas three times.

“I’m very proud of my military career and very proud of the opportunity to serve my country,” he says. “It was an experience I’ll never forget and one that has shaped my life.”

Holcomb remains a strong advocate for veterans’ issues and provides pro bono representation to veterans and their families. “This is important to me,” he says. “We expect a lot of these men and women while they are serving, and as a country we should help them when they need it.” – BN

JaMia Jennings, 35
Civilian Architect Department of Defense at Fort Gordon

Jennings, who oversees renovations of libraries, ammunition huts and other buildings for the military installation at Fort Gordon, finds creative ways to build up her community as a “citizen architect.” In a fund raiser for Golden Harvest Food Bank, she used 900 cans of food to construct a large soup bowl with a spoon (“it held together just long enough to be photographed”), and she credits her hands-on work with Habitat for Humanity for improving her job performance.

“I got into Habitat because of a desire to help potential homeowners,” she says, “and found that it had the practical side effect of developing my skills in architecture, which often involves using more book knowledge than using a hammer.”

She also is developing a local chapter of the ACE (Archi-tecture, Construction and Engineering) Mentor Program, to engage high school students in the sciences. – CD

Marcus Johnson, 39
Director of Marketing and PR
Phoebe Sumter Medical Center

Americus native Marcus Johnson joined Phoebe Sumter Medical Center 17 years ago, becoming director of marketing in 2004. “This is my community, so it is gratifying when I can help the people I grew up with lead better lives,” Johnson says. “Not everybody gets the opportunity to make a difference in their hometown.”

Johnson is director of Phoebe Sumter’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk, which has grown to 600 participants since 2004. “I’ve known a lot of people who had breast cancer, so I wanted to create an event where we could support each other.” He says other hospitals have emulated that model for their own walks.

In 2007, a tornado destroyed the medical center, but “our hospital never closed,” Johnson says. “Now we have a new, state-of-the-art hospital. It was a dark time, but there was definitely a rainbow at the end of the day.” – BH

Tharon Johnson, 34
National Southern Regional Director
Obama for America
Atlanta and Chicago

Johnson has been politicking since he was four years old and trailing alongside his mother while she canvassed their community in Clarke County, and he grew up to work for some of the candidates she supported, including Michael Thurmond and John Barrow.

So far, Johnson remains undefeated as a campaign manager. He helped Alisha Thomas Morgan become the first African-American woman to represent Cobb County and then hit the hustings for John Lewis and Kasim Reed before getting the call to join President Obama’s camp as point man for 12 states in the South.

“Thinking about all of the people who need help the most is what gets me up at 5 a.m. to hit the road for a 20-hour day,” he says. Johnson also is a founding member of Grow Kids Inc. and serves on the executive board of Atlanta’s KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program). – CD

Stephanie Joy Kirijan, 36
Attorney & Director of Corporate Communications
Southern Company

Stephanie Kirijan has combined two skill sets – law and communications – to formulate a successful career and a long list of impressive accomplishments.

Kirijan first put her journalism de-gree from the University of Georgia to good use working for the Secretary of State and for former Gov. Roy Barnes. While working full time, she completed a law degree from Georgia State and then went to work for the DeKalb District Attorney’s office.

Next she was senior staff attorney with Georgia Power until this past year, when she was named manager of external communications for its parent firm, Southern Company. She is now director of corporate communications.

Long active with the Georgia State Bar, Kirijan recently completed a term as president of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD). During her term, YLD raised funds for Georgia Legal Services and partnered with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens to donate more than 600,000 pounds of food to Georgia’s regional food banks. – BN

Gary Long, 37
Law enforcement professional

Since 2006, Gary Long has provided pro bono training in criminal interdiction for fellow law enforcement officers across Georgia. He recently applied those skills in Afghanistan as a contractor for the U.S. Defense Department. In May 2012, Long returned from a year training Afghan police officers, aiding preparations for American troops to come home. 

Long grew up in Clayton County, where he began his law enforcement career as a jailer. Married with three children, he has lived and worked in Butts County for the past 11 years. He has won awards from the National Criminal Enforcement Association, including two National Arrest of the Month awards, and was a member of the 2010 Criminal Interdiction Team of the Nation. Long is the Republican candidate for Butts County sheriff. He hopes to win, but if not, “I will go back to policing and teaching. That is my passion.” – BH

Larry Lykins Jr., 39
Cartecay Vineyard

Lykins is an agrarian Renaissance man: Before selling his first bottle of wine, he had already earned a UGA master’s degree in reproductive physiology and genetics, been a public schoolteacher, founded a county mission project for people in need, led Ellijay’s Historic Preservation Commit-tee and chaired the county chamber’s tourism board.

When his wife’s job took them from Augusta to North Georgia wine country, he had already been dreaming about growing grapes. “In retrospect, I didn’t know anything,” he says.

After “working for free” at nearby vineyards, he learned enough to release his first vintage last year. Lykins also finds time to coach the local swim team, work on a charter school initiative and look after his own three children.

“My first love is the lifestyle,” he says of farming. “The second love is the wine.” By next year, he hopes his family will move to the farm to live there full time. – KR

Erica Mason, 35
Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz

As a student in the international studies program at North Atlanta High School, Erica Mason took an internship with music producer Dallas Austin – an experience that eventually led, at age 21, to becoming manager of the Def Jam label.

When the company asked her to move to New York, however, she decided to pursue her earlier interest in law school.

While she first leaned toward entertainment law, she soon found she wanted to do more than “read contracts all day,” she says. With employment discrimination law, however, “every case is interesting and every case is unique.”

Mason is also active in a long list of organizations – many focusing on women and children – and is involved in diversity initiatives at her firm. “Hispanic women are less than one percent of partners in law firms,” she says. “I am thankful to be at a firm where they value diversity and women.” – MAD

Mark Masters, 35
Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center

For 22 years, the use of water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin has boiled over in court battles known as the “water wars.” Masters is a founding member and executive manager of ACF Stakeholders Inc., a nonprofit comprising representatives from Georgia, Florida and Alabama who are working toward sustainable solutions.

“I’m an eternal optimist who sees the glass as half full, but tempered with realism,” he says. “This problem has been so long in the making that we can’t fix it overnight, but we are making progress with this diverse, grassroots effort.”

Masters also has worked for the USDA and drafted the water-conservation plan for Albany State University, the first in Georgia’s university system that achieved a savings of more than 16 percent in its first year. “I like getting outside on a farm and putting into place conservation policies we’ve talked about around a conference table,” he says. – CD

Jessica Mitcham, 38
Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter

When Mitcham assumed leadership of the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter in 2010, the nonprofit had depleted its savings to cover operating expenses. So she launched a dynamic, locally centered fund-raising campaign that shored up the budget and fixed the deficit, enabling the facility to increase the number of people served by 300 percent during a time when homelessness is estimated to affect up to 300 people per day in Bartow County.

Good Neighbor also has added 11 new computers and a 15-passenger van to assist residents in attaining GEDs, finding jobs and getting to work. “I’m lucky to live in a community that is so willing to reach out and help their neighbors get back on their feet,” says Mitcham. “We only get five percent of our funding from the government, so we depend on donations, and I personally know almost every donor by name and face.” – CD

Patrick Moore, 38
Account Executive

After leading Georgia through a massive technology overhaul as the state’s chief information officer during the Perdue administration, Patrick Moore took his knowledge of the two entities, government and technology, to the private sector. He’s now a southeast region account executive with tech giant Hewlett-Packard, growing HP’s business by helping state and local government markets become more effective tech users.

“The challenge for (my customers) is that there’s not a lot of political capital in investing in technology,” Moore says. “People make a lot of assumptions about how things work, but when you pull the curtain on large organizations, there are a lot of moving pieces and a lot of money that must be spent to keep things running.”

One of the biggest challenges is explaining to stakeholders not just the value of technology but the steps required to get there, as well as potential risks. – PR

Brand Morgan, 36
Brand Properties

Founder and CEO Brand Morgan leads Brand Properties, a diversified real estate development company, developing all product types – office, multifamily, retail and industrial. They’re involved in spec and build-to-suit development, typically owning the real estate and managing the buildings. Among their many projects was the Gwinnett Braves stadium and surrounding mixed-use park, which includes industrial, office and multifamily development.

Morgan’s passion for development is exceeded only by his love for philanthropy. He was named the 2011 Philanthropic Leader of Tomorrow by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He holds board or chairman positions with the Center for the Visually Impaired, the Atlanta History Center’s Capital Campaign, The 1818 Club and the Gwinnett Children’s Shelter. “I raise my hand probably more than I should, but it’s part of my core,” says Morgan. “One visit to the Gwinnett Children’s Shelter will change your life.” – PR

Luma Mufleh, 37
Head Coach/Social Entrepreneur
Fugees Family, Inc.

Luma Mufleh is using the most popular sport in the world to change the world for a bunch of kids who have already seen the worst of the world.

A native Jordanian, she started the Fugees soccer program in 2004 after seeing a group of boys, refugees from war-torn Afghanistan and Sudan, playing pick-up games with a ragged ball in a parking lot.

Today, Fugees Family, Inc., is a nonprofit devoted to child survivors of war, with (among other things) after-school tutoring, a full-fledged independent middle school and college counseling – at least 18 Fugees have earned college scholarships.

Mufleh, who also started a cleaning service now staffed and owned by refugee adults, is spearheading the drive to raise at least $7 million for the first phase of a permanent Fugees campus – while still coaching soccer.

“I’m a coach in the broadest sense,” she says. “I coach soccer, I coach teachers and fund raisers – basically, I’m a CEO who likes to be called ‘Coach.’” – JG

Mary Ann Parsons, 32
Executive Director
Georgia 4-H Foundation
Assistant Director
UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Development Office

Working with agriculture and young people makes Mary Ann Parson’s current positions “my dream job.”

As executive director of the Georgia   4-H Foundation, she manages daily operations and helps raise more than $2 million annually for programs and facilities benefitting more than 170,000 young Georgians. As assistant director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Services Development Office, she manages a group of alumni development professionals who raise funds for UGA.

Parsons has been interested in agriculture since her childhood in Bainbridge. She is still co-owner and operator of 3-D Livestock, which began when she raised swine and cattle before leaving for college in Athens.

In her spare time, Parsons volunteers at the Athens Regional Medical Center and with Extra Special People, an organization in Oconee County that helps people of all ages with disabilities. – BH

Christa Pitts, 37
CCA and B, dba The Elf on the Shelf

After spending five years on-screen with the QVC shopping network, Christa Pitts returned to her native Georgia in 2005 to focus on family. Her twin sister, Chanda Bell, and her mother, Carol Aebersold, wrote the best-selling Christmas book, The Elf on the Shelf. Pitts joined them to launch CCA and B, which builds on the success of the popular story through animated specials, partnerships and licensing. “I feel blessed to know my professional background has helped lend to our family’s success,” Pitts says.

She actively supports Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Epilepsy Foundation, the Path Project and Wings for Success (job placement and training for low-income women).

“The Path Project is completely devoted to changing the lives of underprivileged and disadvantaged children by being involved in their daily lives,” she says. “It was the idea of daily involvement which really drew me in.” – BH

David Raynor, 34
Senior Vice President for Government Affairs
Georgia Chamber

For David Raynor, the most appealing part of his job is the opportunity to influence public policy and the decisions that affect the lives of Georgians. As senior vice president for government affairs at the Georgia Chamber, Raynor “advocates on behalf of the business community for policy initiatives through promoting and protecting economic vitality,” he says.

“As we make the environment ripe for business to flourish, hopefully more jobs will be created, thus improving life for all Georgians,” he adds.

He also works to improve the lives of others through community involvement. He is currently a member of the 2012 class of Leadership Georgia, a renowned leadership-training program for young business, civic and community leaders with the desire and potential to work together for a better Georgia, and serves on the board of advisors for the Georgia Free Clinic Network, which helps provide healthcare for the state’s uninsured and underserved populations. – MAD

Robert Rumley, 36
Financial Advisor/Assistant VP
MorganStanley SmithBarney

Robert Rumley took finance classes at Morehouse College to help his family manage their financial affairs, but looking into it he found that there was a “career to be had.” Now he helps families with all aspects of their financial affairs, from investing money to understanding mortgage options and applying for business loans.

His favorite part of his job is solving problems for clients. “If you are good at what you do, you can help people navigate the capital markets,” he says. “But when you start helping them solve problems, that’s when you are impactful to their lives.”

His impact on lives goes beyond his financial services. He is active in numerous organizations including the “Business of Business,” which he founded for African-American financial advisors, and Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA, where his children are involved in sports and where he himself played sports as a child. – MAD

William Michael Stubbs, 30
Environmental Engineer and Principal Partner
Hodges, Harbin, Newberry and Tribble

Stubbs helps public and private clients across the Southeast (and a few in California) meet LEED standards and negotiate the permitting, recycling and processing involved in disposal of solid waste and in heavy-industry mining.

“I spend a lot of time at public hearings, explaining how facilities can be monitored and maintained properly,” he says. “The first rule of the fundamental canons of ethics for engineers is to hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public – that’s the glass I look through on all of my projects.”

Stubbs, a Georgia Tech graduate, grew up on a farm in southwest Georgia and loves the outdoors. He chairs the engineering and technology sector of the United Way; coaches Little League baseball and football; and helps coordinate the Mathcounts competition for middle school students, sponsored by the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers.  – CD

Dan Styf, 38
Vice President of Regional and Marketing Strategy
Kaiser Permanente

There are a quarter million members of Kaiser Permanente in Metro Atlanta, and Dan Styf is responsible for growing the insurance company and care delivery system’s footprint even larger. The company has 29 medical offices and 400 physicians, primary care and specialties throughout Atlanta and recently opened its first 24-hour location in Kennesaw.

Emphasizing wellness is a hallmark of Kaiser Perma-nente. “We invest in wellness and primary care in order to keep people healthy and out of hospitals,” he says.

Styf is in on the board of the Town Center Community Improvement District and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and was one of four co-chairs for Cobb’s Competitive EDGE, an economic development planning effort. “I live here, but community engagement is part of our mission as a nonprofit,” Styf says. “If we want our community to thrive, we need to be growing not shrinking.” – PR

Sgt. JoAnna Sudduth, 27
Legal Defense Chief/Paralegal
Marine Corps Logistics Base

For as long as she can remember, JoAnna Sudduth wanted to be a Marine.

“My father is a retired master sergeant, and it was something I always wanted to do,” she says. “I love the brotherhood of the Marine Corps, and I saw that growing up. Marines take care of Marines.”

Today Sudduth is the one taking care of Marines, providing legal assistance for Marines and their dependents at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany. She also serves as a mentor to younger Marines and has received two meritorious promotions – meaning “you are promoted before your time to the next rank,” she says.

“What is great about it is, yes, I get a promotion, but I also have the ability to help more Marines,” she says. “It is not just another stripe that I put on, but it is actually something I can utilize to help others.” – MAD

Jonathan Tuggle, 39
Boyd Collar Nolen & Tuggle

Dalton native Jonathan Tuggle always wanted to be a lawyer. Al-though he started out practicing real estate litigation after graduating from Mercer University, he found his passion in the area of family law.

“Today I really enjoy the human element of family law,” says Tuggle, who founded Boyd Collar Nolen & Tuggle in 2009. “Our practice provides a unique opportunity to have an impact on a person’s life and the lives of their children.”

Tuggle has held numerous leadership positions in the State Bar of Georgia. He also founded the Family Law Committee of the Young Lawyers Division of the Georgia Bar, which raises money for abused and neglected adolescents.

Away from work, Tuggle enjoys time with his son, Will, and wife, Amanda, also an attorney. “We both litigate, which makes for interesting debates at home,” he says. – MAD

Tim Wessinger, 31
District Press Secretary
Rep. Jack Kingston’s office
St. Simons Island

“The best thing about working for the congressman is helping people,” says Tim Wessinger. Although his formal title is district press secretary, “everyone here wears lots of hats, and we all act as field representatives.” Constituents with issues with federal agencies contact their office, “and we do what we can for them,” he adds. “Helping those people is extremely rewarding.”

Wessinger also stays busy helping others as an ambassador for the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce; an officer of the Mason’s Ocean Lodge; and with United Way.

He is also active in the Grand Lodge of Georgia’s Georgia Child Identification Program (GACHIP). Parents bring in children so volunteers can scan their fingerprints, take dental and DNA samples, and make videos. “We put it all together in a packet for parents. Then, if a child is missing later, they can give it to the police. It’s a great program that’s really growing.” – BH

Will Wingate, 39
Vice President of Advocacy and Land Conservation
Georgia Conservancy

Wingate worked under the Georgia Dome for 17 years, as a legislative aide and a health and technology lobbyist. When his mentor, Pierre Howard, took charge of the Conservancy, Wingate joined the group and helped win passage of the Wa-ter Stewardship Act – “one of the strongest water measures in the country,” he says – along with legislation to transfer land conservation tax credits and to regulate commercial harvesting of freshwater turtles.

“That may not sound like a big deal, but hundreds of thousands of turtles were being exported to China,” says Wingate, who grew up on an Irwin County pine farm, where he takes lawmakers quail hunting.

“This is how things get done in Georgia; relationships are built in the woods and on the water, not in an office,” he says, noting that he placed 2,300 acres of his great-grandfather’s land in a permanent conservation easement “to practice what I preach.” – CD

Andrew “Bo” Young III, 39
CEO, GiveLocally.net
Founder, Young Solutions

Entrepreneur Andrew “Bo” Young III, son of civil rights icon Andrew Young, is CEO of GiveLocally.net, a social giving platform using technology to assist families and individuals encountering hardships that force them to deviate from their budget.

Young says the GiveLocally model is the wave of the nonprofit future, offering a high degree of transparency and accountability. Donors search the website to find needs from all types of thoroughly screened individuals and families from every state. Once the donation is made, donors can leave a message of encouragement, monitor contributions and see when the donation is distributed. 

“We don’t give the way our parents gave, and the next generation is definitely not going to give the way our parents gave,” says Young. “This is something that resonates with everyone, Democrats, Republicans and Tea Partiers alike; hard working Americans not relying on charity or government to help each other.” – PR

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