Campus News

UGA Terry College of Business honors Phil Casey, Jay Davis and Garrett Gravesen with alumni awards

Athens, Ga. – Three business leaders who have forged careers in steel, spirits, and social entrepreneurship were honored by the University of Georgia Terry College of Business at its 2010 Alumni Awards and Gala.

This year’s alumni awards were presented April 24 at the Intercontinental Buckhead Hotel in Atlanta.

Two of the award winners-steel industry executive Phillip E. Casey of Tampa, Fla., and National Distributing Co. CEO Jay M. Davis of Atlanta-were chosen for their career achievements and community service to receive the college’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

2003 graduate Garrett Gravesen received the college’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Gravesen co-founded Atlanta-based nonprofit H.E.R.O. for Children and has started a new servant leadership mission called the Global L.E.A.D. Program.

The Terry College has been presenting its alumni awards since 1964. The college’s Alumni Board of Directors hosts the spring gala, which in the past three years has raised more than $700,000 for the college.

Distingushed Alumni Award

Casey has held every top management position with Gerdau Ameristeel since joining the second-largest North American mini-mill steelmaker in 1994. He currently serves as a board director and its non-executive chairman, and he previously served as the company’s president and CEO. Gerdau Ameristeel’s 17 steel manufacturing operations generated revenues totaling $4.2 billion in 2009.

Casey is a past chairman of the Steel Manufacturers Association, the largest steel industry group in North America. In 2006, he was given the Steel Manufacturers’ Iverson-Selig Award for his dedicated service to the mini-mill steel industry. He also serves on the board of Astec Industries Inc.

He previously held executive positions with Florida Steel and Birmingham Steel, and he served 14 years in various financial management assignments with domestic and international affiliates of the Exxon Corp.

Casey graduated from the Terry College in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in finance. After graduating from UGA, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a commissioned officer in the Special Forces. He was awarded several battlefield commendations, including the Bronze Star and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for heroic action in Southeast Asia.

In addition to his service on the Terry Dean’s Advisory Council, Casey has been a community leader in Tampa serving as a trustee of the University of Tampa and a member of the Tocqueville Society of the United Way. In 2007, Phil and Betty Casey were inducted into the Terry College’s Pinnacle Society, which honors lifetime giving of $1 million or more.

Davis is the chairman and CEO of National Distributing Co. In that role, he has led the expansion of the distributorship his father, Al Davis, co-founded in 1942.

The company, which was honored as Georgia Family Business of the Year in 2006, recently combined its business with the Republic Beverage Company to form Republic National Distributing Company. RNDC is now the second-largest distributor of premium wine and spirits in the United States, with operations in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

In the beverage industry, Davis presided over the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia from 2007-2009 and served on the board of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, as well as the boards of Acuity Brands Inc. and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

As community leaders, Davis and his wife, Ann, were instrumental in forming the Alfred and Adele Davis Academy, Atlanta’s Reform Jewish day school. Bearing the name of Jay’s parents, the academy was co-founded by Jay’s sister, Dulcy, and her husband, Jerry. It has become the fastest growing Reform Jewish day school in the country and also one of the largest.

Davis has served as a board member of the Standard Club, the Commerce Club, the Buckhead Club, and the High Museum of Art, and he has chaired the capital campaigns of several Jewish charities. He is a member of the Terry Dean’s Advisory Council, as well as a trustee of the University of Georgia Foundation.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Gravesen is a social entrepreneur with a passion for adventures abroad. He has criss-crossed six continents and spoken to people from more than 100 countries, first as the co-founder of Georgia-based nonprofit H.E.R.O. for Children and now as the CEO and co-founder of the Global L.E.A.D. Program.

A student leader at UGA, he became the youngest president in the history of the Student Government Association and seemed destined for a career in international finance after getting an internship with Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong. He then decided to work as an international volunteer at an AIDS orphanage in Kenya and had a chance meeting with a young boy named Martin, who would change his life goals. When he returned to Georgia, Gravesen and his Terry College classmate Ryan Gembala co-founded a nonprofit for children affected by HIV/AIDS called H.E.R.O for Children.

With H.E.R.O. on a firm foundation, Gravesen has turned his attention to a new venture: the Global L.E.A.D Program, an international service, leadership and adventure nonprofit that he co-founded and directs with another Terry College classmate, Robbie Reese.

This year, Global L.E.A.D. will offer educational adventures in South Africa and Greece. He has spoken at international conferences in India, Poland, Romania and Brazil, and he delivers part of the global education curriculum taught by Global L.E.A.D. that is accepted for study abroad course credit at UGA.

For his efforts, Gravesen was honored by the U.S. Jaycees as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Americans” of 2007 and one of “The Outstanding Young Persons of the World” by Junior Chamber International in 2008.

The Terry College of Business Alumni Board of Directors selects the alumni award winners from nominations submitted to the board. Nominations for the 2011 alumni awards are due by Sept. 30, 2010. More information on the awards criteria and nomination process is available at