The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2017. The program began in 2011 and celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates who are under the age of 40.
This year’s class includes alumni from a variety of industries ranging from law to agriculture. Among the honorees are ESPN’s Maria Taylor; Georgia Teacher of the Year Casey M. Bethel; state Rep. Sam Watson, who represents Colquitt, Thomas and Tift counties; and Maritza McClendon, the first woman of color to represent Team USA on the Olympic swim team.
The honorees will be recognized during the seventh annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon Sept. 14 at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. Ernie Johnson Jr., a 1978 UGA graduate, will serve as keynote speaker for the event. Johnson is a co-host on TNT’s Inside the NBA and is the lead announcer for Major League Baseball on TBS.
He delivered UGA’s 2017 undergraduate Commencement address in May. Registration will open for the awards luncheon at alumni.uga.edu/40u40 in the coming weeks.
“We are excited about this year’s 40 Under 40 class,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “These young alumni are making a difference in the classroom, boardroom, operating room and everywhere in between.”
Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April, and nearly 400 alumni were nominated for this year’s class. Honorees must have attended UGA and aspire to uphold the Pillars of the Arch. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni Association website.
“We received hundreds of nominations, and our graduates have made some incredible accomplishments,” Johnson said. “It is more difficult every year to narrow the list down to 40, and that is a testament to the caliber of our alumni. We are so proud.”
This year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, including their graduation year from UGA, city, title and employer, are
• Casey M. Bethel, 2005, Lithia Springs, Georgia Department of Education Teacher of the Year, New Manchester High School
• Travis Butler, 2009, Athens, president, Butler Properties and Development
• Eric Callahan, 2005, Griffin, owner, Callahan Industries
• Mariel Clark, 2001, Knoxville, vice president, Home + Travel Digital, Scripps Network Interactive
• Andrew Dill, 2006 and 2007, Marietta, director of government affairs, Lockheed Martin
• Amelia Dortch, 2006 and 2012, Auburn, Alabama, state public affairs specialist, U.S. Department of Agriculture
• Katie Dubnik, 2003, Gainesville, president, Forum Communications
• Rebecca Evans, 2010, Savannah, equine veterinarian, Evans Equine LLC
• Rebecca Filson, 2005, Roswell, regional vice president of operations, BenchMark Rehab Partners
• Matt Forshee, 2000, Evans, region manager for community and economic development, Georgia Power
• Nicholas Friedmann, 2006, Washington, D.C., private client relationship manager, Citibank
• James Gates, 2001 and 2004, Atlanta, partner, Bell Oaks Executive Search
• Christine Green, 2002, New York, general counsel, Leadership for Educational Equity
• Lauren Griffeth, 2005, 2008 and 2013, Athens, administrative director of agricultural leadership, education and communication, UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
• Destin Hill, 2002, Phoenix, physician, Arizona Sports Medicine Center
• Dominique Holloman, 2001 and 2004, Atlanta, independent consultant
• Katie Jacobs, 2005, Athens, owner, Cheeky Peach Boutique
• Jonas Jennings, 2000, Athens, director of player development, UGA Athletic Association; president, JJ 75 Properties LLC
• LeRoya Chester Jennings, 2001, Atlanta, managing partner, Chester Jennings & Smith LLC
• Adam C. Johnson, 2016, Atlanta, senior consultant, Cognizant
• Joshua Jones, 2008 and 2016, Atlanta, president/CEO, Red Clay Communications Inc.
• Marcus Jones, 2009, Detroit, president, Detroit Training Center
• Kasey Knight, 2005, Quitman, pharmacist/owner, Lee & Pickels Drugs
• Matt Koperniak, 2002 and 2004, Sugar Hill, director of bands, Riverwatch Middle School
• Dorian Lamis, 2003, Atlanta, assistant professor/clinical psychologist, Emory University School of Medicine
• Dan Ludlam, 2004 and 2007, Atlanta, senior manager, real estate attorney, Chick-fil-A Inc.
• Gordon Maner, 2004, Charleston, South Carolina, managing partner, Allen Mooney & Barnes
• Maritza McClendon, 2005, Atlanta, senior brand marketing manager for OshKosh B’gosh, Carter’s Inc.
• Behnoosh Momin, 2015, Chamblee, health scientist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Travis Moore, 2003, Kirkwood, Missouri, senior brewmaster, Anheuser-Busch InBev
• Wes Neece, 2000, Atlanta, merchandising vice president for lighting, The Home Depot
• Julian Price, 2000, Watkinsville, physician/partner, Athens Orthopedic Clinic
• Tim Puetz, 2006, Silver Spring, Maryland, operations manager, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center
• Tucker Berta Sarkisian, 2000, Atlanta, director of public relations, SweetWater Brewing Co.
• Maria Taylor, 2009 and 2013, Charlotte, North Carolina, sports broadcaster, ESPN
• Alissa Vickery, 2001, Mableton, senior vice president for accounting and controls, Fleetcor Technologies Inc.
• Sam Watson, 2002, Moultrie, managing partner, Chill C Farms/Moultrie Melon Co.; state representative House District 172
• Laura Whitaker, 2007 and 2010, Watkinsville, executive director, Extra Special People
• Whitney Woodward, 2000, Covington, vice president for total rewards, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.
• Alex Wright, 2008, Byron, overseas research fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.