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.
2017 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. email@example.com
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
2017 Board of Trustees Leadership:
Meg Easom Hines, 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 (12) is a 7th grader at Clarke MS and Charlie (9) and Merren (7) 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. email@example.com
Catherine Demesa Neace, Immediate Past President, is a native of Athens, GA, and attended Hilsman MS, Cedar Shoals HS and the University of Georgia. She graduated from UGA with a Bachelor in Arts in Political Science. She is married to Keith Neace, the owner and operator of the Barberitos Downtown Athens and Barberitos Anderson, South Carolina. They have three young children; Holden & Landon (9) and Lauren (6) who attend Whit Davis ES. She is actively involved with the Whit Davis PTO as the President Elect, a room parent, and coordinator for the Fall Festival and Wildcat Walk. She is also an active volunteer with Cub Scout Pack 385 and Girl Scout Troop #12093. She was the past president for the Athens Mothers of Multiples and a volunteer for the Athens-Clarke Leisure Services. She is part of the 2013-2015 Trustee class. firstname.lastname@example.org
Chinami (China) Goodie, Secretary, 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. email@example.com
Heather Sussman, Treasurer, is a native of the Atlanta area and graduate of the University of Georgia. After receiving her Child & Family Development degree in 1993, she worked at the Cooperative Extension Service as an Extension Agent for Gwinnett County and then as a Product Development Coordinator with children’s licensed bedding at Dan River, Inc. in Atlanta. She is currently a Sr. Program Administrator with Carrier Transicold, a local manufacturing facility. Heather has been with Carrier since 2003 when she and her husband AJ decided to move back to Athens. AJ is a Sr. Practice Development Manager for the health care company MDVIP. They have one son, Andrew, who is a student at David C. Barrow ES. Heather is an active volunteer at the school and had previously been a reader for the FFE Teaching Chair Awards before becoming a Trustee. She is part of the 2013-15 and 2015-17 Trustee classes. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Ellis, Board of Education Representative to the FFE. Originally from Stone Mountain, Georgia, Sarah graduated from the University of Georgia with her undergraduate degree in Middle School Education. After studying abroad at Oxford University in England, Sarah returned to Athens and taught middle school for four years in Oconee County. She moved from education into real estate and in 2005 was one of the founders of Chastain, Jenkins, and Leathers. Sarah obtained her broker’s license in 2006 and has acted as managing broker of the company since then. She has been active in the Athens Area Association of Realtors, has volunteered for Make A Wish Foundation, and raised funds for World of Wonder Playground and March of Dimes. She currently serves as the District 5 representative and the Vice President of the Clarke County Board of Education, as well as chairman of the policy committee and vice-chair of the property committee for the BOE. She is a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church and serves as a member of the 1919 young professional organization for Athens Regional Medical Center. She resides in the historic Boulevard neighborhood in Athens with her husband, builder/developer Tom Ellis, and their three children who are enrolled in CCSD schools. Sarah is a member of the Athens Country Club and the Boulevard Neighborhood Association. email@example.com
Trustees, Class of 2015-2017:
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. 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
Mary Dixon Garrison 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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Glenn Leavell 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. email@example.com
Joshua Podvin 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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Trustees, Class of 2017-2019:
Amanda (Mandy) Rival Bernt 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. email@example.com
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
J. Ricardo Smith is a native Athenian, having attended Timothy Road ES, Hilsman MS, and Clarke Central HS. He completed his undergraduate studies in Philosophy & Religion at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2005, he answered the call to ministry at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, West in Athens. Since 2012, he has served as the Senior Pastor of Browns Chapel Baptist Church in Bishop, Georgia. The church has experienced significant growth under his leadership, almost tripling in size. In addition to his pastoral duties, Ricardo currently serves as Assistant Director for the Youth Convention of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia and as an Instructor for the GMBC Congress of Christian Education Ministers Division. He also serves on the governing board of Mercy Health Center in Athens. Ricardo is married to the former Dr. Rhondolyn Jones of Athens (Fowler Drive ES, Clarke MS, Hilsman MS, Cedar Shoals HS graduate). The couple are the products of two CCSD retired educators and they attribute their connecting almost 30 years ago to their mothers teaching at Hilsman MS. firstname.lastname@example.org