The Foundation is governed by an unpaid, 15-member working Board of Trustees and an Executive Director. Board members serve a three-year term beginning each January. Membership is based on nomination; for more information, please contact the current President or Executive Director.
Qualifications: The fourteen Trustees (not including the Board of Education representative) must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Currently have one or more children in the Clarke County School District, or
- Have had one or more children in the Clarke County School District, or
- Have been educated in Clarke County public schools, or
- Be a former or retired educator of the Clarke County School District, or
- Be one of the two (2) at large Trustees who do not meet the requirements 1-4.
No more than two of the fourteen Trustees who meet qualifications of 1-5 may be nonresidents of Athens-Clarke County. Current employees of the Clarke County School District are not eligible to serve as Trustees.
2018 Board of the Foundation for Excellence:
Ex-Officio Foundation Leadership and Support:
CJ Amason, Executive Director, is a graduate of the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in History, and is a native of Sparta, Tenn. She and her husband, Buz (a Georgian and UGA grad), have lived in Athens since 1993. They have four children–Phil, Mary Hill, Stephen, and Saralee–who all attended Clarke County schools and graduated from Cedar Shoals. She spent 30 years working for Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) with stints at the University of Alabama, Auburn University, and the University of Georgia; she is now associate staff in a volunteer role with Buz who continues to work full time at UGA with professors and PhD students. In addition to her role on the FFE she is a freelance consultant to JROTC programs and the entertainment industry. CJ is the only person in the history of the FFE who has been elected president twice. firstname.lastname@example.org
Haley Brannan is the Public Relations Assistant for the Clarke County School District. She grew up in central Georgia in the small town of Jackson. As an elementary school teacher’s child, she grew up with a fond appreciation of public education. After receiving her B.A. in Rhetoric with a minor in English Literature from Georgia College & State University, she relocated to Athens in the summer of 2016. When away from the office, she volunteers with Athens Little Playhouse and enjoys time painting, drawing, and exploring the Classic City. email@example.com
Paul Matthews, Website liaison (ex-officio), grew up in Athens and is a graduate of Clarke Central HS (as is his wife, Michele; his step-son is a Cedar Shoals HS graduate). He has two degrees (AB and Ph.D.) from the University of Georgia, and an MA from the University of Texas-Austin, and is currently Associate Director of UGA’s Office of Service-Learning. He served as the president of the Foundation for Excellence in 2007.
2018 Board of Trustees Leadership:
Mary Dixon Garrison, President, is a native Athenian, having attended Princeton School, Alps Road ES, Clarke Junior High (now Clarke MS), and Clarke Central HS. Mary is married to Aubrey Garrison, who is the Director of Retirement Plan Services at Cannon Financial Strategists in Athens. Her children, Kelly Dixon and Amy Dixon Perry, attended Gaines ES, Barrow ES, Alps Rd. ES, Clarke MS, and graduated from Clarke Central HS. Mary received her BS (1974), MEd (1975), and Specialist in Education (1991) from The University of Georgia. Now retired, Mary spent her professional career at Whitehead Road ES serving as a classroom teacher for 25 years and as the assistant principal for 7 years. She concluded her career there as a part time instructional coach and an instructional interventionist in 2012. At present, Mary serves as chair of the administrative board of her church, serves on the steering committee of Youth Leadership Athens, and enjoys spending time with her five grandchildren. She is part of the 2016-18 Trustee class. firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua Podvin, President-Elect, serves as the Experience UGA Coordinator for the Office of Service-Learning, where he works to facilitate educational field trips to the UGA campus for all 13,000+ students in the Clarke County School District. Previously, Josh worked as the Senior Coordinator for the Center for Student Organizations and National Student Exchange Program at UGA for 9 years. Josh earned his M.Ed in Higher Education Administration from Arizona State University in 2006, and more recently he has been pursuing a Masters in Landscape Architecture part-time while working full-time for UGA. Recognized as 2013 Athens Exceptionals, Josh and his wife Erin are advocates of all things Athens. Currently they are enjoying a new adventure with the recent addition of their son (Amos), who keeps them busy and mildly sleep deprived. Originally from the Cincinnati, OH area, Josh is a staunch supporter of the city’s ever-struggling sports teams and unique style of chili. In his free time he enjoys ceramics, playing soccer, and making pies and preserves for friends. Josh is part of the 2016-18 Trustee class. email@example.com
Meg Easom Hines, Immediate Past President, is a native Athenian, having attended Barnett Shoals ES, Hilsman MS and Cedar Shoals HS. Meg is married to Steven Hines, who is a practicing physician in Athens. They have three children; Lucy (13) is an 8th grader at Clarke MS and Charlie (10) and Merren (8) attend David C. Barrow ES. Meg holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Furman University (1995), a Masters of Education in Early Childhood from Kennesaw State University (1998) and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, Gifted and Creative Education from the University of Georgia (2003). Meg was a public school teacher for eight years in both Georgia and South Carolina. Currently, Meg is a faculty member in the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at the University of Georgia, where she teaches in the Gifted and Creative Education program, working with teachers as they pursue their graduate degrees and programs in gifted education. She also serves as a Professor on Special Assignment with the Clarke County School District in the Professional Development Schools project assisting with infusing creativity in teaching and learning at H.B. Stroud ES. Meg volunteers on the PTA at Barrow ES and previous to her return to work, she volunteered as a La Leche League Leader in the community for eight years helping mothers and babies. Meg is part of the 2015-17 Trustee class. firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda (Mandy) Rival Bernt, Secretary, is a graduate of Trinity College (Hartford, CT) with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History & Architecture and earned her Masters of Business Administration from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA). She and her husband, Duane (CFO of Stadion Money Management), have lived in Athens since 2012. They have five children; Chase (9), Blake (8) and Traye (6) all attend David C. Barrow ES. Leo (3) and Saige (1) will be up and coming Barrow buddies. Mandy was a national champion in the track & field heptathlon while at Trinity College. She and her husband enjoy running, triathlons, art and travel. Mandy is the Secretary of PTA Board at Barrow ES, a member of the Catholic Center at UGA and a member of Athens Country Club. She is part of the 2017-19 Trustee class. email@example.com
Glenn Leavell, Treasurer, is a Georgia native who grew up in Mississippi. Glenn has lived in Athens since 1987, having moved here to attend the University of Georgia, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. After graduation, he spent ten years working in the information technology field at UGA and has spent the past 16 years working at the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, where he is currently Executive Director of Technical Operations. Glenn is married to Linda Leavell, a veterinarian at Mars Hill Animal Hospital. They have two children, Hannah and Simon, who are in 5th grade and 8th grade at Barrow ES and Clarke MS. Glenn has served two years as Barrow ES PTA treasurer, represented Barrow ES for two years on the CCSD Parent Advisory Board, and currently serves on the Clarke MS School Council. Glenn is part of the 2016-18 Trustee class. firstname.lastname@example.org
John Knox, Board of Education Representative to the FFE. John is a professor of geography and undergraduate coordinator of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia. A proud native of Birmingham, Alabama, John received his B.S. in mathematics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and earned his Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was also a post-doctoral fellow in climate dynamics at Columbia University and the NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. John taught at Valparaiso University for two years before joining the faculty of UGA in 2001, where he has taught over 5,000 students. John is proud of his former students, including ABC/Good Morning America chief meteorologist Ginger Zee and Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton. John represents District 8 on the Clarke County Board of Education, and he and his wife Pam are active in multiple church and community groups and have served as judges for FFE awards competitions. Their son Evan attended Barnett Shoals ES, Hilsman MS, and is a graduate of Cedar Shoals HS, where he was the captain of the QuizJags team and the 2014 STAR student for Clarke County; Evan now attends UGA. email@example.com
Trustees, Class of 2015-2017:
Chinami (China) Goodie is a native of Okinawa, Japan, and received a BA in English from the University of Texas at Austin. She has lived in Athens for 16 years with her husband Adam, a psychology professor at UGA. Their children Sara and Sachio have attended Barnett Shoals ES, Hilsman MS and Clarke Central HS. Chinami has mentored at Alps ES and Coile MS and has served as Treasurer for the Barnett Shoals ES GROW organization and her local Homeowners’ Association, and formerly coordinated the Athens Mothers Center. She is currently the Clarke Central HS Odyssey/Iliad Booster Co-chair and a member of the Hilsman School Council. China is part of the 2015-17 Trustee class. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jodi P. Weber served as an elementary and high school special education teacher (14 years) and as an elementary school administrator (18 years). Jodi received her BS in Education from Bowling Green State University (Ohio), her MEd from the University of Illinois, and her Specialist in Education and Leadership certificate from UGA. Jodi joined the UGA Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education (CLASE) in 2013 as an Educational Program Specialist. Jodi is also a consultant for SSTAGE (Student Support Team Association for Georgia Educators). She is married to Eric Weber, a research organic chemist at the Environmental Protection Agency in Athens. Their children Joel and Sarah attended Barrow ES, Coile MS and Hilsman MS, and Cedar Shoals HS, where Sarah was valedictorian; both also graduated from Georgia Tech. Joel completed his doctorate and has a post-doctoral position at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) working in the field of nanotechnology, and Sarah manages a marine biology laboratory while completing her master’s degree. email@example.com
Susan M. Williams is originally from Cupertino, CA, and has a BS degree in Zoology from the University of California-Davis; a DVM degree from Tuskegee University in Alabama; and a PhD in Veterinary Pathology from Michigan State University. Susan and her family moved to Athens in 2002 when she accepted a faculty position at the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine. Her husband Orlando is also a veterinarian and works in private practice in metro Atlanta. Their son Jonathan attended Barnett Shoals ES, Hilsman MS, and graduated from Cedar Shoals HS. He participated in the Academic Team at Hilsman and Track and Field and Quiz Jags at Cedar where he appeared on High Q. Susan helped with both Quiz Jags and Track and Field by working concession stands at home meets and reading questions for academic tournaments. Jonathan graduated from Georgia Tech and now pursuing a MS degree at UGA. Susan is also on the Board of Directors for Sandy Creek Nature Center and an active member of Ebenezer Baptist Church West serving as Teen Usher advisor and Scholarship Ministry Chair. firstname.lastname@example.org
Trustees, Class of 2016-2018:
Derrick Floyd was born in Miami, Florida and attended Miami Northwestern HS, where he was a Basketball All-American and fifth in his senior class. He played on the 1982 Final Four NIT basketball team and was Co-captain of the 1983 NCAA Final Four basketball team at the University of Georgia. Derrick is a member of Zeta Beta Beta Graduate Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., and is a graduate of University of Georgia. A huge supporter and member of the Clarke County Mentor Program since 1995, Derrick is a youth council member of WIOA (Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act), the Official Scorer for the UGA Women’s and Men’s basketball teams, and an active Spotted Photographer for the Athens Banner-Herald. Derrick is the Director of Operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Athens. email@example.com
Trustees, Class of 2017-2019:
Ani Fischer has been a resident of Athens since 1989 (minus 5 years out west). Ani received her Bachelor of Science in Education in 1993 from the University of Georgia. She served as an Elementary and Middle School teacher in Georgia, Arizona and Colorado. Her husband Aaron Fischer is a software engineer with Global Information Systems. They have two sons, Jack and Adam. Jack attends Clarke Central HS and Adam attends Hilsman MS. Both boys attended Whit Davis ES where Ani was an active volunteer and member of the PTO. She served as PTO President and on the school council at Whit Davis and is now active in the Hilsman and Clarke Central PTOs. Ani is a Board Member of Project Safe and a Sustaining Member of the Junior League of Athens where she has been actively involved in the development and promotion of the Food 2 Kids Program. firstname.lastname@example.org
Vicki Keenan was born in Ohio where she attended Ohio University and completed a degree in Sociology at St. Martin’s College in Olympia, WA. Several years later, while living in Texas and after having two of her three sons, she decided to go to East Texas State University to obtain her teaching certificate. Vicki taught 2nd grade for five years there before her husband’s job moved the family to Athens in 1996. Her older boys were in college at the Air Force Academy and Texas A&M, but her youngest son, Tate, attended Coile MS and graduated from Cedar Shoals HS. She taught 5th grade at Whit Davis ES for 15 years and is now enjoying retirement. She spends a lot of her time traveling to see her sons’ families. Travis, her oldest, is stationed at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO; Taylor’s family is in Austin, TX; and Tate graduated from UGA Law School and lives with his wife and son in Atlanta. She looks forward to any time she can spend with her 5 grandchildren. Vicki also still enjoys the elementary students, so she volunteers in a 4th grade classroom at Whit Davis one day a week. email@example.com
Julie Moon is a native of Gwinnett County and came to Athens to attend the University of Georgia in 1995. She fell in love with the Classic City, became a Bulldog fan and met the love of her life, Joe. They decided they should put down roots in this great town. She and Joe, owner of Velocity Technology Partners, have three children. They have lived in Five Points since 2007 with their three children. Savannah (13) and Jackson (11) attend Clarke MS and Scarlett (8) is a 2nd grader at Barrow ES. Julie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Language Education from the University of Georgia. She taught high school French for four years. Currently, Julie is a residential Realtor with 3tree Realty here in Athens. Though not a teacher anymore, she is passionate about local schools and volunteering in her community; Julie serves on the Local School Governance Team for Clarke MS. firstname.lastname@example.org
Casey D. Mull is a native Athenian, having attending Timothy Road ES, Clarke MS, and Clarke Central HS. Casey is a public service faculty member at the University of Georgia. He serves on the State 4-H Staff and has a dual appointment working with military audiences statewide as well as working with Headquarters, US Air Force Child and Youth Programs where he designs programming, develops training and professional development, and evaluates programs at Air Force installations worldwide. After graduating from the Clarke County School District, Casey attended Wake Forest University earning a degree in Business and completed his Master of Public Administration and Ph.D. in Adult Education, Learning and Organizational Development. Casey is also a competitive runner, completing approximately 175 road races last year and 19 marathons to date. email@example.com