Board of Directors

Lucy Atkinson, Board President
Attorney, Cook & Tolley

Born and raised in Atlanta, Lucy graduated with a degree in English from Washington & Lee University in 2002 and earned her J.D. from The University of Georgia School of Law in 2007.  After practicing law in Atlanta, Lucy and her husband moved back to Athens in 2012. She ran a local fitness studio in Athens for several years before returning to the practice of law as a litigation staff attorney at Cook & Tolley, LLP in October 2015.  Lucy has two children: Charlie (9) and Louise (5).

Robert Finch, Board Vice President
Consultant, Pastor

Robert received his B.S. degree in Criminal Justice and an MBA from Albany State University and his law degree from the Florida Coastal School of Law, where he was a Governor’s Scholar. Robert has dedicated his career to serving others, and he has a broad range of experience in state and federal government affairs. He has served as VP of Human Resources, and Chief Diversity Officer for Piedmont Athens Regional and as the Coordinator of Diversity and Corporate Outreach for Charlotte School of Law. Robert is pastor of Billups Grove Baptist Church. Robert believes that education is the key to change and improvement, and higher education is a passion of his.

Matt Beacham, Board Treasurer
CPA, Market Street Partners

Matt is a CPA and partner in Market Street Partners. Matt and his wife, Adrianne, are both graduates of UGA’s undergraduate and masters in accounting programs. Matt enjoys playing golf, attending UGA events, and spending time with his family (including his dog, Elli). He is also a member of the Georgia Society of CPAs and serves on an advisory council for young CPAs. Matt and Adrianne also attend First United Methodist Church.

Shirley L. Reyes, Board Secretary
Program Operations Coordinator, UGA Fanning Institute for Leadership Development

Shirley is a Program Operations Coordinator at the Fanning Institute, working with clients, team planning, providing budgeting and accounting support, logistical management, and program assessment and reporting. She has served as UGA Housing alumni relations coordinator and administrative coordinator in the UGA Office of Institutional Diversity. She enjoys working with children and families to empower them with the knowledge and resources to strive for and achieve their goals. She is a native Athenian, a mother of four and a breast cancer survivor.

Xernona Thomas, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent, Clarke County School District

Xernona Thomas was named interim superintendent in December, 2019. She has 27 years of experience serving students and the communities of Clarke and Oconee counties as a school social worker, assistant principal, principal, chief of staff, and chief executive officer.
Xernona is a native Athenian and Clarke Central High graduate. She received three degrees from the University of Georgia: a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a Master of Social Work, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration and Policy. Her focus is always on doing what is needed for the success of every student.

Elizabeth DeMarco
Community Leader

Elizabeth (Liz) DeMarco is a native Athenian.  Her degrees and work were in the sciences including a B.S. in Zoology, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Georgia and an M.S. in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Elizabeth cares deeply about the Athens community and has dedicated many volunteer hours, often taking leadership roles, to livability issues, her daughters’ schools, historic preservation, and the arts and music.

Gary Bertsch, Ph.D.
Distinguished University Professor Emeritus and Founder of the Center for International Trade and Security at UGA

Gary Bertsch is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus and Founder of the Center for International Trade and Security at UGA where he won multiple awards in his 40 years of service. He is a co-founder and former CEO and Chairman of TradeSecure, LLC. He co-founded and directed the Delta Prize for Global Understanding, hosting and recognizing world leaders, such as Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and Mikhail Gorbachev. He is an elected life member of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, the world’s leading international think-tank. He has served on the boards of the Athens Rotary Club, UGA’s research and development foundations, and other organizations.

Joan Bertsch
Community Leader

Joan Bertsch is a homemaker, mother to three graduates (Jason and twins Dawn and Todd) of Clarke County schools, and the wife of FC-CIS board member Gary Bertsch. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Joan values public education as the daughter of a teacher, principal and superintendent. She worked for nearly 20 years at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, served on the board and is a longtime supporter of the Athens Clarke County Heritage Foundation (now Historic Athens). Retired and living in the Henderson Avenue Historic District, Joan loves Athens and remains active in community affairs.

Lee Grahl
President, Grahl Construction Group

Lee founded Grahl Construction in 2012. Early on, his passion for the construction industry led him to Georgia Southern University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management. After completing his degree, Lee moved to Athens, where he accepted a job with a large commercial contractor. He served as a project manager for several years before establishing his own firm. During this time, he successfully managed the preconstruction and construction phases of projects in excess of $65 million. Grahl Construction’s success can be attributed to Lee’s project leadership experience and dedication to customer satisfaction.

Chris Blount
Co-Owner, Blount Heating & Air

Chris is a longtime resident of Athens and graduate of the University of Georgia with a B.S. Ed. In Behavioral Science/Human Behavior. Chris has always been involved in the community through her volunteer work as a board member of the Junior League of Athens, where she served on the National Public Affairs committee. She has also been involved with the American Cancer Society, the Counsel for Prevention of Child Abuse, The Counsel Against Teenage Pregnancy, and she sat on the board of the Bloomfield Committee Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Chris and her husband Tucker have served as the owners of Blount Heating and Cooling since 1984.

Jerry Johnson
Corporal, Athens-Clarke County Police Department

Jerry began his Law Enforcement Career in 2007 with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. He is assigned to the Community Outreach Division which encompasses the Youth Services Unit, Crime Prevention Unit, Crisis Intervention Unit (Mental Health), and Volunteers. Jerry received his B.S. Degree in Business Administration from Columbus State University. He was named Mentor of the Year for Hilsman Middle School.

Katrina Evans
Architect, Co-owner, E&E Architecture

Katrina Evans is originally from Iowa but has been lucky enough to call Athens home for the past 18 years.  Katrina graduated from Iowa State University after studying architecture and now is the co-owner of E+E Architecture Inc. alongside her husband Chris. Katrina has two children, Cooper (14) and Delaney (9) and when not parenting or practicing architecture, she is an advocate for our public education system.

Paul Kurtz
Associate Dean & Professor Emeritus, UGA School of Law

Paul Kurtz, a native of New York, earned his BA and JD degrees from Vanderbilt University and his LL.M. from Harvard University.  After starting his career in legal education with brief appointments at Boston University Law School and Boston College Law School, he joined the UGA Law Faculty in 1975.  He ultimately became a J. Alton Hosch Professor and served 22 years as the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. He has received the Milner Ball Social Justice Award and the UGA President’s Medal.

Susan Fontaine
President, Yoga Instructor, Love.Craft Athens

Co-founder & President of Love.Craft Athens. After teaching in a self-contained special education classroom in Clarke County School District for 7 years, she was discouraged at the amount of attainable opportunities in our community for adults with developmental disabilities. Love.Craft Athens focuses on developing job skills- while making and selling pottery to help facilitate and fund the program. Love.Craft Athens hopes to advocate and create more meaningful opportunities for this population within our community.

Jack Frierson.
Attorney at Law

Jack has lived most of his life in Athens. After finishing high school near San Diego, he returned to Athens to earn his undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia.  Then, after living in France and traveling worldwide as a tennis player and coach, he returned to the University of Georgia to serve as the assistant coach of the men’s tennis team for four years and then to earn his law degree.  He lives in Athens with his wife, Sarah Petit Frierson, and their children, Henry and Willa, who attend Clarke Central High School. Jack has practiced law since 2005, focusing primarily in the areas of wills, trusts, and estates and business law.

Kelly Girtz
Mayor, Athens-Clarke County

Kelly Girtz is Mayor of Athens-Clarke County Unified Government. Before he was sworn in as mayor, Girtz maintained a long career in public education, serving as a teacher and school administrator with Clarke County School District (W.R. Coile Middle School & Classic City High School), and as Director for Student Services with Foothills Charter High School. In 2006, after years of interest in national and local politics, he ran for, and was elected to, the District 9 County Commission seat, where he served until becoming Mayor in January of 2019.

Shawanda Johnson
Neighborhood and Community LeaderC

Shawanda Johnson was born in Chicago, Illinois. She ran a successful 24/7 Family Home Childcare in Illinois before moving back to Athens. In 2011 she started volunteering with the Whatever it Takes initiative. She was also involved with the UGA EFNEP and SNAP-ED Program as a Nutrition Program Assistant. Continuing her Chef role, she worked with Athens Public Library’s Culinary Literacy Program, bringing Athenians a combination of nutrition and cooking instruction with English language education. With a passion to help, she is now The Neighborhood Leader for the Winterville Prosperity zone. She has 3 children, Nadia (21) UWG graduate, Sincere (14) and Janiah(11)

Alexia Ridley
Correspondent & host, WUGA

Alexia Ridley is the primary News Anchor and Host of ‘Athens News Matters,’ a program dedicated to current events, news coverage, and philanthropic endeavors. Before coming to Athens, she worked at WGXA TV in Macon. She writes, produces and delivers multiple daily newscasts in addition to booking guests and conducting interviews for our hour-long news show, ‘Athens News Matters.’

Gregory Roseboro
Assistant Dean for Admissions, Diversity, and Inclusion & Strategic Initiatives, UGA School of Law

Greg Roseboro oversees the law school’s admissions process for the Juris Doctor and graduate programs, and for diversity and inclusion works with faculty, staff, students and alumni relating to academic support, recruitment and community outreach. He also works with the Davenport-Benham Black Law Students Association, the Asian Law Students Association, the Hispanic Law Students Association and the Outlaws student organization. Greg earned both his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and his law degree from UGA. As an undergraduate, he excelled as a mid-distance runner, serving as team co-captain and being named to the All-SEC and U.S. Junior Team for the 800 meters.
A strong believer in giving back to the community, Roseboro plays an active leadership role in civic affairs and is the former pastor of the Piney Grove Baptist Church in Comer.

You are donating to : Greennature Foundation

How much would you like to donate?
$10 $20 $30
Would you like to make regular donations? I would like to make donation(s)
How many times would you like this to recur? (including this payment) *
Name *
Last Name *
Email *
Additional Note