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Tech Women's Basketball Hosts Sixth-Annual Women Out Front Celebration

Jan. 12, 2010

ATLANTA – The Georgia Tech women’s basketball team in conjunction with The Wreckin’ Crew, the team’s booster organization, will host the sixth-annual Women Out Front Celebration this Thursday, Jan. 14, when it recognizes this year’s class at halftime of the women’s basketball game against Wake Forest.

Women Out Front was started so that the young women who will lead our country tomorrow can show appreciation for those who have paved the way today. The two groups will welcome 10 outstanding women, who have made a significant impact in their individual fields in the Atlanta area or in women’s basketball, into the class of 2010.

“Head Coach MaChelle Joseph, our team, and our staff look forward to the Women Out Front Celebration every year” special assistant to the head coach LaChina Robinson said. “These women embody the true essence of what it means to be a role model in the community. They all are dedicated to their fields, have had tremendous success and take pride in creating opportunities for the young women that will follow in their footsteps. They are everything that we want our players to be one day.”

For the sixth straight year Vann Jernigan Florist will sponsor the event. Founded in 1945 by Vann Jernigan, they have enjoyed an excellent reputation for providing elegant and artistic arrangements to some of Atlanta’s most demanding corporations and distinguished individuals.

Among the 10 recipients is Kathy Betty, the current owner of the Atlanta Dream and a longtime supporter of the Yellow Jacket basketball program. Betty will serve as this year’s keynote speaker for the event.

Betty, an avid sports enthusiast, was announced as the new owner of the Atlanta Dream in October 2009. In addition to serving as the CEO of the Garry Betty Foundation, established by her late husband, former Earthlink CEO Garry Betty, to fund cancer research, Betty is a former partner with Ernst & Young and previously served as the Executive Vice President of Scott Madden, Inc., an Atlanta-based management consulting firm. Betty has compiled a lengthy track record of business success and community involvement. She currently serves on the boards of Alexander Tharpe Fund, Georgia Institute of Technology, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

Betty joins this year’s class of 10 honorees, which includes: Stacey Y. Abrams (State Representative for the 84th House District of the Georgia General Assembly), Pearl Alexander (Senior Director for Employee Relations Services at Georgia Tech), Pinney Allen (Head of School for Atlanta Girls’ School), Roz Lewis (Executive Director of the Greater Women’s Business Council), Elisabeth Marchant (Founder and CEO of Womenetics), Renita Robertson (Program Coordinator for the Agape Community Center), Alana Shepherd (Co-Founder of the Shepherd Center), Mia Thornton (Founder of Speak Life Clothing), and Theresa Wenzel (Senior Woman Administrator at Georgia Tech/ Associate Director of Athletics).

Others being honored at the Women Out Front Celebration include:

Stacey Y. Abrams is State Representative for the 84th House District of the Georgia General Assembly, where she serves on the following committees: Code Revision, Defense and Veterans Affairs, Judiciary Non-Civil and Ways and Means. She is also Campaign Committee Chair for the House Democratic Caucus. She also chairs the House Democratic Caucus Policy Committee on Ways and Means. Stacey is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the Insomnia Group, a firm specializing in development, investment and consulting for complex infrastructure projects, including hydro-credit and water management strategies, waste-by-rail transfer and redevelopment of closed landfills. She is also co-founder and COO of Nourish, Inc., a beverage company with a focus on infants and toddlers. Formerly, Stacey was Deputy City Attorney for Government Counsel, Development and Infrastructure for the City of Atlanta. Prior to her tenure at the City, she was Special Counsel at the Sutherland Asbill & Brennan law firm in Atlanta, with a focus on tax-exempt organizations, health care and public finance. Stacey received her J.D. from the Yale Law School. She graduated from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin with an M.P.Aff. in public policy. She earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Political Science, Economics and Sociology) from Spelman College, magna cum laude.

Pearl Alexander is the Senior Director for Employee Relations Services in the Office of Human Resources at Georgia Tech. Serving as the Chief Diversity Officer for over 2,800 staff employees, she provides strategic direction for the integration of diversity principles and initiatives within business processes. She has oversight for performance management and HR policy administration. Pearl is often consulted by her peers nation-wide for her expertise on complex talent management issues, cultivating talent, and investigative case management for employment discrimination claims. Pearl is a member of the Georgia Bar and the Society for Human Resources Management and formerly served as the VP for Programs for the Southern Crescent SHRM. Currently, Pearl is serving on the Learning and Professional Development Committee for CUPA-National (College & University HR Professional Organization). Key areas of excellence are: implementing people strategies, identifying and cultivating individual talent, and building teams of talented professionals . Experience and expertise in career planning, diversity and performance management. Frequently train, coach and mentor mid-career professionals in Human Resources and Law. Work with leadership teams on succession management to ensure business continuity.

Pinney Allen arrived in Atlanta following graduation from Harvard Law School in 1979 as the eighth woman attorney at Alston & Bird, LLP. Allen recently resigned her position there as the most senior woman in a firm of over 1000 attorneys to become the Head of School for Atlanta Girls’ School, a nonsectarian college preparatory school for girls grades 6 through 12. Since arriving in Atlanta, Allen has been a leader in her firm, in her profession and in her community. Allen is active in the community where she has carried her passion for issues affecting women and girls and her passion for education. Allen has long committed herself to, and is the immediate past Chair of the Board of, The Atlanta Women’s Foundation, one of the most successful and respected women’s foundations in the country. Drawn by her passions for issues affecting women and girls and education, Allen resigned her position with Alston & Bird, LLP to accept the position of Head of School at Atlanta Girls’ School. In just one short year Allen has transformed AGS, raising over $1.2 million in funds contributed for operations, increasing enrollment by nearly 25 percent, successfully balancing the budget for the school for the first time in its existence, downsizing faculty and staff, re-energizing its technology program, and dramatically increasing the school’s profile in the community.

Kathy Betty received a phone call from a sports marketing executive in September, 2009 asking if she would be interested in purchasing the Atlanta Dream, the city’s WNBA team. Her entrepreneurial spirit and competitive nature would not allow her to say no. Betty, an avid sports enthusiast, has more than 25 years of business management and consultancy experience. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Computer Sciences from the University of Alabama and Belmont College and went on to work for Hayes Microsystems, one of the first female partners with Ernst & Young, and later served as Executive Vice President and Partner with Scott, Madden and Associates. In 1996, she formed her own successful incubator The Tradewind Group. “Semi-retired” from the business world, Betty serves in a leadership capacity for a number of non-profit organizations. She is chairman and CEO of the Garry Betty Foundation, a partnership with the V Foundation. She also serves on the boards of the Alexander-Tharpe Fund, Georgia Institute of Technology, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

Roz Lewis is the Executive Director of the Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC®), a partner organization of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). As the day to day leader of the organization, her goals are to ensure that corporations in Georgia, North and South Carolina embrace women-owned businesses as strategic partners to ensure value is attained for the stakeholders of their companies by engaging women-owned businesses to become loyal customers. Lewis has appeared on local Atlanta talk radio and TV stations promoting GWBC® and has been quoted in several magazines, news media and published books such as The Girls Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business by author, Susan Wilson Solovic. After three years as leader of this organization headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, GWBC® was recognized as “Partner of the Year” by WBENC; hosted the largest “Women In Business” National Conference in WBENC history; and expanded GWBC® beyond the borders of Georgia into North and South Carolina territories to provide certification, education and procurement opportunities for women business enterprises and major corporations.

Elisabeth Marchant, the founder and CEO of Womenetics, has influenced the media landscape for more than 15 years, specializing in online, print media, and executive events. As a lifelong entrepreneur, Marchant launched Womenetics in 2009 to address the changing needs of today’s professional woman. In a world where roles are changing not only in the workplace but also in the home, Marchant sought to create a community where women could speak freely about important issues, while building relationships in person and online. As the co-founder and first publisher of Atlanta Woman magazine in 2002, Marchant learned firsthand what women desire from a media and events property and has continued to apply that knowledge to provide relevant value for her audience. Marchant has received numerous community honors, including the YMCA’s Academy of Women Achievers, the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 10 Women in Business, and she is a member of the 2004 class of Leadership Atlanta. She is also deeply involved throughout the Atlanta community, having served on boards for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Henry W. Grady Hospital Foundation, as well as the board of governors of The Buckhead Club and the Chair’s Council of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation.

Renita Robertson has been an advocate for community involvement for the past 20 years. As a student at Spelman College and subsequently at Georgia State University, she worked with various community organizations to encourage and motivate our youth to always live with a purpose. In 1996, she had the pleasure of working with Hands on Atlanta during the Olympics as an Americorp volunteer. For the past four years, she has helped develop and grow several innovative programs while working as the program coordinator for the Agape Community Center. The programs include the Ragtime program for senior citizens, the GoGirlGo! Summer Enrichment program and the Ginger Kaney Mentoring Institute for high school students.

Alana Shepherd co-founded Shepherd Center in 1975 as a specialty hospital for spinal cord injury, and over the years, it has grown from a six-unit facility to a 132-bed complex with an adjacent 84-unit residence center so that families can be near their loved ones during rehabilitation. It was a devastating blow for the entire family-but for Alana Shepherd, it was a mother’s worst nightmare. In October 1973, she learned that her 22-year-old son, James, had suffered a near-fatal spinal cord injury while body surfing in Brazil. James recovered at a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado. But the fact that he had to leave the Southeast for high-quality specialty care left Alana Shepherd frustrated – frustrated enough to galvanize her family and the Atlanta medical community into starting a specialty hospital in Georgia. She was committed to bringing high-quality spinal cord injury care close to home. Today, Shepherd Center is a world-renowned catastrophic care hospital that specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of spinal cord and acquired brain injuries, as well as multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions. 825 inpatients and more than 14,000 outpatients were treated last year, and Shepherd is home to more than 50 ongoing clinical trials, burnishing the facility’s reputation for cutting-edge research.

Mia Thornton graduated from Pomona College determined to be the next Wall Street phenom. However after taking a trip to South Africa and feeling a void in her life in corporate America, she knew she was destined for something more. She returned to her hometown of Atlanta, dove into the classroom as a long-term substitute high school teacher and began breathing life into her dream. Speak Life Clothing, Thornton’s brainchild, is the name of an innovative, fresh clothing line that promotes positive images and words. This concept stems from Thornton’s philosophy that words should be used to inspire and encourage people to do and be more. Since 2006, Thornton has organized Speak Life Days at several schools in the Atlanta area. Reaching over 2000 students, the events included speakers from the community who volunteered to serve as role models, reflecting on the courses of their lives and encouraging the students to believe in their abilities to accomplish their dreams. Speakers have included celebrities, finance professionals, college students, entrepreneurs, and many more. After the huge success and high demand of Speak Life Days, Thornton made the decision to make her outreach program official and incorporated the Speak Life Foundation in January of 2008 and has reached over 4000 students since its beginning.

Theresa Wenzel enters her fourth season as the Senior Woman Administrator at Georgia Tech and also holds the title of Associate Director of Athletics. She oversees women’s basketball, volleyball, softball, golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track & field, men’s and women’s cross country and the men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams in her role. Wenzel is the athletic department non-academic liaison to the Office of Student Affairs. She is also a member of various committees including the Georgia Tech Women’s Resource Center Advisory Board, the Title IX Compliance Committee, the GTAA Compliance and Equity Committee, the NCAA Athletic Certification Steering Committee. Wenzel also serves on the ACC Student Athlete Welfare Committee, the ACC Women’s Basketball Committee, ACC Softball Committee and the ACC Women’s Tennis Committee. A former women’s basketball and women’s golf coach, Wenzel was a basketball letterwinner at Marquette University. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Marquette in 1991. She added a master’s degree in sport administration from Canisius in 2000.


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