Campus News Georgia Impact

UGA’s director of community relations wins ATHENA award

Alison McCullick in downtown Athens. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

The award recognizes women who make significant contributions to their communities

Alison Bracewell McCullick, the director of community relations for the University of Georgia, serves in a role that is as expansive as the university’s mission.

Charged with building bridges between UGA and the Athens community, McCullick can find herself leading discussions to promote small business development, enhance transportation infrastructure, provide educational resources, and support health care offerings in Athens—all in a single day.

“Alison has a broad portfolio. She is the point of contact for the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission and residents who have an interest in the university—from programs to sports to questions about operations,” said Kevin Abernethy, UGA’s vice president for government relations. “Alison has excellent judgment, a great temperament and the ability to relate to a cross section of the community. People trust her and are comfortable talking with her. Where others see obstacles, she sees opportunities.”

McCullick’s skill at bringing people together, passion for contributing to the community, and effectiveness of proposing solutions was recently recognized by the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. At its annual meeting on Feb. 23, the chamber named McCullick the winner of the 2023 ATHENA Award, which recognizes women who have reached the height of personal and professional accomplishment and make significant contributions to their communities.

“Alison is a quiet, diligent advocate for all things Athens and all things UGA,” said David Bradley, president and CEO of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. “She is always professional and transparent as she works for what is best for UGA in conjunction with what is best for Athens. It isn’t always easy, but she does it with class, wisdom and insight.”

McCullick has made a number of contributions that benefit both UGA and Athens in her eight years as director of community relations. She created an annual event, North of the Arch, to introduce new students to downtown businesses. Her idea to connect UGA and Clarke County middle school students sparked a program where UGA students visit two CCSD middle schools each week to serve as academic tutors and athletic coaches to middle school sports teams. She frequently connects with community leaders to address security and transportation issues.

Her passion for the university and community is most apparent when she is connecting people to make a positive impact on both entities.

“Making those connections is one of my primary responsibilities,” McCullick said. “It’s also my favorite part of my job. Engaging in the community, understanding Athens’ needs, and identifying opportunities where the university can fill the gap—it’s what I most like to do.”