Our Trustees


CJ Amason

Executive Director (Ex-Officio)


CJ 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. 


Amanda (Mandy) Bernt

Mandy is a graduate of Trinity College (Hartford, CT) with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History & Architectural Studies and earned her Masters of Business Administration from the Fox School of Business at Temple University (Philadelphia, PA). She and her husband, Duane (Chief Financial Officer of Stadion Money Management), have lived in Athens since 2012. They have five children; Chase (12) and Blake (11), who attend Clarke Middle School, Traye (9), Leo (6) and Saige (4) who attend David C. Barrow Elementary School. While at Trinity College, Mandy was a national champion in the track & field heptathlon and a recent inductee into the school's athletic hall of fame.  She and Duane enjoy running, triathlons, art and travel. Mandy is currently the President of the Barrow Elementary School PTA, a Parent Advisory Board representative for Clarke Middle, and a member of the Catholic Center at UGA.


Tina Carpenter

Tina is a Professor of Accounting, EY Faculty Fellow & Terry Instructional Innovation Fellow in the Terry College of Business, at the University of Georgia (UGA). She earned her Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD), Master of Accounting, and Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Florida State University, and she previously worked as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) for Arthur Andersen for three years in between her education. She and her husband, Don (Internal Auditor & CPA, UGA), have lived in Athens since 2004. They have two children, Daly (14) who attends Clarke Middle School, and Court (11) who attends David C. Barrow Elementary School. Tina was recently awarded UGA’s Creative Teaching Award, and received UGA’s Learning Technologies Innovation Grant for her innovative teaching, fraud simulation & use of emerging technologies. She currently serves on the Local School Governance Team for Clarke Middle, and has previously served as President and Treasurer of Barrow Elementary School PTA. Growing up in a wonderfully diverse county in Florida similar to Clarke County, where teachers, principals and counselors believed in her, Tina hopes to pay it forward by investing in and recognizing our amazing teachers, administrators and staff in Clarke County.


Wanda Bell Culpepper

Wanda has lived in Athens since 1983. She is married to John Culpepper, who is now retired, after serving as Finance Director for Athens-Clarke County for 31 years. Their sons, Brandon and Josh, attended Barnett Shoals ES, Whit Davis ES, Hilsman MS, and graduated from Cedar Shoals HS. Brandon was very involved in high school sports and was captain of the CSHS football team. Josh was equally involved in music and theatre arts with both CSHS and Athens Creative Theatre. Wanda received her BS Ed from the University of Georgia (1969) and her MEd from Georgia College and State University (1980). Now retired, Wanda was a classroom teacher for over 30 years. She taught 1st grade at Whitehead Road ES for seven years and at Whit Davis ES for 19 years. Wanda enjoys being an active community volunteer in her retirement years. Her prior service to the community includes being on the Board of Directors of Cedar Shoals HS Touchdown Club, Cedar Shoals HS Quarterback Club, Athens Creative Theatre, Friends of the Athens Regional Library, Reflecting, Sharing, Learning Project, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens, and as Chair of the Board of Deacons at her church. 

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Evan Elder

Evan was born and raised in Athens and is a product of the Clarke County School District. From Whitehead Rd, to Clarke Middle, to Clarke Central, to UGA, Evan has lived here his entire life because he knows that Athens is the best town in the world. He has been with his wonderful wife, Victoria, for almost 10 years, and loves spending time with her and their two dogs and one cat (sometimes). He has a deep love of music, LIVE music, and the performing arts in general. He and Victoria love to explore cities and towns all over the world at every chance they get. Evan has been with Synovus Bank since June of 2008, earning Employee of the Year honors for the NEGA Division in 2019. He currently serves on numerous non-profit boards supporting many local and regional missions, including the Classic Center Cultural Foundation, the YWCO, the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, and the LEAD Athens Alumni Association to name a few. While he doesn’t have children in the Clarke County school system, he feels that the district played a huge role in his life growing up and wants to support the educators that are so impactful in any way he can.

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Sonya Fears

Sonya Fears is a native Athenian and a 1995 graduate of Cedar Shoals High School. She has two children who also attended schools in Clarke County.  She is a two-time graduate of Athens Technical College (Secretarial Science-Diploma & Business Administrative Technology, AAS) and is currently pursuing a B.S in Organizational Leadership from Valdosta State University. She is an Administrative Specialist at The University of Georgia and has been employed with them for the past 20 years and is the owner of Fears Tax and Business Services, LLC in Athens, GA. Sonya served as Resident Commissioner on the Athens Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (2016-17) and Treasurer of the Inter-Community Council.  She is a 2017 graduate of Athens Area Chamber of Commerce's LEAD Athens Program and has past volunteer experience with the Alps Road ES PTA.


Mary Dixon Garrison

Mary is a native Athenian, having attended Princeton School, Alps Road ES, Clarke Junior High (now Clarke MS), and Clarke Central HS. 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) all 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 seven years. She concluded her career at Whitehead Road ES were she served as a part-time instructional coach and as an instructional interventionist until 2012. At present, Mary serves as chair on the administrative board of her church and enjoys spending time with her six grandchildren.


Glenda Huff 

Glenda Huff is a former CCSD math teacher, instructional coach, math coordinator, and coordinator of instructional coaches. Glenda’s husband Lionel is a graduate of Clarke Central High School and her three children Lisa, Garrett, and Ryan are all graduates of Cedar Shoals High School. Glenda is currently retired and enjoys relaxing and spending quality time with her family and friends.


Vicki Keenan

Vicki was born in Ohio where she later began her schooling at Ohio University.  Shortly after marrying her husband, then an Army Officer, she completed her degree in Sociology at St. Martin’s College in Olympia, WA while her husband was stationed at Fort Lewis, 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 in Texas 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 recently retired from the Air Force and lives in Colorado with his family; 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 five grandchildren.  Vicki also still enjoys the elementary students, so she volunteers in a 4th grade classroom at Whit Davis one day a week.


Glenn Leavell

Treasurer (Ex-Officio)


Glenn 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 Bachelors of Science in Computer Science.  After graduation, he spent 10 years working in the information technology field at UGA and has spent the past 19 years working at the Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia, where he is currently Executive Director of Enterprise Engineering. Glenn is married to Linda Leavell, a veterinarian at Mars Hill Animal Hospital. They have two children, Hannah and Simon, who are in 9th and 12th grade at Clarke Central HS.  Glenn served two years as Barrow Elementary PTA treasurer, represented Barrow Elementary for two years on the CCSD Parent Advisory Board, and served two years as Clarke Middle PTA treasurer. Glenn also serves on the board of the Friends of Five Points neighborhood organization.

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Roy Legette

Dr. Roy Legette is Professor and Chair of Music Education in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia. Roy is an active researcher and has presented his work at professional conferences and symposia in the United States, Europe, South America, and Canada. His research interests include music instruction and student self-concept, student motivation and achievement, and factors that influence teaching effectiveness. Roy has lived in Athens for over twenty years. He is a proud husband and father and he and his wife Cheryl have two daughters, Michelle and Camille. Both of their daughters were students in the Clarke County Schools, attending Barrow Elementary, Clarke Middle, and Clarke Central High School.  Roy serves on several non-profit boards in Athens including the Classic City Rotary Board, the Athens Symphony Orchestra Board, and the University of Georgia Libraries Board of Visitors. Roy also serves as a deacon, trustee, and usher at Ebenezer Baptist Church West here in Athens.


Tad MacMillan

Tad currently teaches in the Education Department at Piedmont College, and also serves as the Alumni Transition Coordinator at Foothills Charter High School.  He retired after 32 years with Clarke County Schools, having served as a principal, instructional coach, and language arts and social studies teacher. 


During his tenure with Clarke County Schools, Tad worked to support the Grow It-Know It program and other school gardening-culinary arts initiatives. He also helped to implement the Restorative Justice initiative at CMS. Tad also championed CCSD’s former Professional Development Schools partnership efforts with UGA, serving on the PDS National Board as the K-12 representative and helping to develop the PDS school model at Clarke Middle. Tad received the FFE's Kathryn Hug Leadership Award as well as the Foundations's Excellence in Classroom Teaching Award. Tad has also served on the Samaritan Counseling Board, the InterFaith Hospitality board, and the Friends of the ACC Library board.


Tad grew up in Atlanta, and attended public schools and the University of Georgia. Tad's daughter, Dory, attended Barrow Elementary and Clarke Middle, and graduated from Clarke Central High School (and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.)  Dory was the honored recipient of the Foundation's Eve Carson Award in 2013. Tad's wife, Amy, a lawyer with 35+ years of diverse experience, is also a public school graduate, served on CCSD's Multicultural Task Force, and helped to coach the mock trial team at Clarke Central. She formerly served as Athens-Clarke County’s chief assistant attorney, and now, has her own practice. 


Berni McCranie

Berni was born in Pennsylvania and lived in four states before her family eventually settled in Athens during the summer of 1974. That fall, she became a proud Jaguar when she began her sophomore year at Cedar Shoals High School. After graduating in 1977, Berni attended the University of Georgia where she majored in Early Childhood Education. Subsequently, she married and had two children. Her older son, Todd, began his schooling at Barrow Elementary where Berni completed her student teaching. In the fall of 1987, both Berni and her daughter Katie started Kindergarten -- Berni, as a teacher at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary, and Katie, as a student at Gaines Elementary where her big-brother was then a 2nd-grader. Both children attended Clarke County Schools until their respective high school graduations. Todd is now a Master Sergeant in the US Army and is currently stationed in New York with his wife and three children. Katie teaches middle school special education in Los Angeles and is married with two young boys.

Berni taught at Oglethorpe Avenue for three years before transferring to the newly-built Whit Davis Elementary in 1990. While at Whit, she earned her Masters degree from Piedmont College. She taught kindergarten, 3rd, and 2nd grades until her retirement in 2015. Today, she enjoys reading, volunteering, and lots of travelling to visit her children and grandchildren.

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Shannah Montgomery

Shannah Montgomery has been a resident of Athens since 1996. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Cincinnati and her Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia. She considers herself a visual storyteller and has spent her career cultivating that passion. Her professional life has included co-owning ZoomWorks Photography, teaching at the Lyndon House Arts Center and Grady College, and is currently working as a public relations coordinator for the Office of the Vice-President for Public Service and Outreach at UGA. She is married to Jeff Montgomery, public information officer for Athens Clarke-County. They have two children; Ethan, a 10th grader and auto tech enthusiast at Cedar Shoals High School, and Ben, an 8th grader and cross-country runner at Hilsman Middle School. Shannah has served on the PTO boards at Whit Davis Elementary and Hilsman Middle, and also on the Parent Advisory Board. She is a board member at Canopy Studio, a flying aerial dance trapeze studio in Athens, and spends much of her free time in classes there. 

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Jim Warnes

Jim Warnes has lived in Athens since 1968 when he enrolled at UGA Law School.  Jim’s wife of 54 years, Carol, has an M.Ed. from UGA, and is a retired UGA math instructor.  Jim and Carol had 3 daughters who all attended Clarke County public schools.  Jim and Carol were band parents for both Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals at the same time, working concession stands at both schools.  Jim served on the Clarke County BOE from 1980 – 1985 and was president of the BOE for two years. The Foundation for Excellence began during his time on the BOE.  Jim is retired from the practice of law after a 47-year career including being City of Athens traffic court judge from 1974 – 1977 and 1980 – 1985.  He also served as attorney for the Athens Housing Authority, the Athens Downtown Development Authority, and Nuci’s Space.


Wanda Wright

Wanda is a native Athenian. She attended Gaines ES, Barnett Shoals ES, Hilsman MS and Cedar Shoals HS (1979).  She holds both a Bachelor of Education and MEd from the University of Georgia, and an EdS from Piedmont College with specialties in ESOL and Gifted endorsements. Wanda retired from the Clarke County School District in 2017, having taught at Rutledge Academy, Gaines ES, Winterville ES and Barnett Shoals ES.


John (JT) Carroll

University of Georgia MBA Board Fellow


JT is a native of Ozark, Alabama, and a current full-time MBA student at the University of Georgia. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 2015 with a BA in Economics. Upon graduation, he commissioned into the United States Marine Corps as an Infantry Officer. During his time on active duty in the Marine Corps, JT completed combat deployments to Syria and Afghanistan. Upon completing his active service at the rank of Captain, he departed to attend the University of Georgia.  He and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth, live with their beloved dog, Georgia, in Winterville, GA. JT is a recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device.