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.


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. 

Pamela Ezekiel

Pamela is a native Athenian, having attended Fowler Drive ES, Clarke MS, and Cedar Shoals HS. Pamela is married to Dr. Robert (Trey) Ezekiel, III, who is the Principal of Gaines ES. They have two children; Mckenna (13) is an 8th grader at Burney Harris Lyons MS and Mekelle (10)  is an upcoming 6th grader at Burney Harris Lyons MS. Pamela earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Georgia in 2001 and her Masters of Business Administration and Masters in Human Resources from the University of Maryland, University College. Pamela is currently a Senior Regional Administrative Hearing Officer for the State of Georgia. She is also active in the Youth Department at Chestnut Grove Baptist Church.

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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.


Ani Fischer

Ani has been a resident of Athens since 1989 (minus 5 years out west). Ani received her Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Georgia in 1993. 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 High School and Adam attends Cedar Shoals High School. 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. 


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, serves on the steering committee of Youth Leadership Athens, and enjoys spending time with her six grandchildren.


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.


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. 


Dr. Casey D. Mull

Casey 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 with the 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 his Bachelors in Business and completing a Masters 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. 


Joshua Podvin

Immediate Past-President


Josh currently serves as the Assistant Director for Community Partnerships in the Office of Service-Learning. Prior to serving in this role, Josh served as the Experience UGA Coordinator, coordinating educational field trips to the UGA campus for all 13,000+ students in the Clarke County School District. He serves as the Co-Chair of the Winterville Elementary Local School Governance Team. Josh’s connection to the Clarke County School District are marital and paternal – his wife is a graduate of Clarke Central High School (she wrote the alma mater) and his oldest son (Amos) is a Pre-K student and proud tree frog at Chase Street Elementary. His youngest, Charles, is in childcare now, but is eagerly anticipating following in his big brother’s footsteps.

Josh earned his M.Ed in Higher Education Administration from Arizona State University in 2006, and has completed all coursework for a Masters in Landscape Architecture from UGA. Josh was recognized as one of the 2013 Athens Exceptionals by the Athens Banner Herald, is a graduate of the Vivian H. Fisher Public Service and Outreach Leadership Academy, and is a 2019 graduate of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce LEAD Athens Program. Originally from the Cincinnati, OH area, Josh is a staunch supporter of the city’s ever-struggling sports teams and unique style of chili.

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Alex Sams

Alex Sams is a native Athenian and graduate of Clarke Central HS. After attending the University of Georgia and moving to Atlanta, Alex married Eleanor (Black) Sams, an artist and graphic designer, and in 1998 they moved back to Athens to raise their family. Their daughters attended Barrow Elementary, Clarke Middle School, and Clarke Central HS. Their oldest currently attends Davidson College, and their youngest will graduate from Clarke Central in 2021. After college Alex began his professional career negotiating entrepreneurial deals in small business mergers & acquisitions, and later, acquired an early-stage mobile communications company which was eventually sold to launch a start-up consumer automotive acquisitions company, all of which preceded his present work in real estate. Alex is currently a local realtor at 5Market Realty. In addition to his business activities, Alex is the JV Head Coach & assistant varsity coach for the Clarke Central Girls Soccer Team. Volunteer highlights, (past & present), include Chairperson of the Community Oversight Committee - (overseeing the $125,000,000 in funds for construction and new technology originated from the eSplost 1% Sales Tax referendum), board member of the Clarke County Mentor Program, former Chairperson of the Athens-Clarke County Historic Preservation Commission, ACC Public Art Task Force, (developed and wrote the Public Art Ordinance and established the Cultural Affairs Commission), Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation Events Chairperson, and Superior Court Judge Campaign Chairperson. Alex spends most of his spare time enjoying his family, sports, outdoors, fishing and boating.


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.

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Joseph Tereniak

University of Georgia MBA Board Fellow


Joseph is a native of Georgia and a current full-time MBA student at the University of Georgia.  He graduated from North Georgia College in 2012 with a BBA in Marketing where he also received his commission into the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant and met his wife, Olivia.  Joseph is an active duty Army Captain currently participating in a fully-funded graduate program through the military.  He and Olivia live with their three children in Bogart, GA.  Prior to attending the University of Georgia as a MBA student, Joseph was assigned to the 3d Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, TX where he served as a Company Commander while deployed to Iraq. Joseph also holds a MA in Logistics Management and is a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal. 


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.