Governor Announces 85 Appointments to State Boards, Authorities, and Commissions

Staff Report

Friday, January 19th, 2024

Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced the appointment and re-appointment of the following 85 Georgians to various state boards, authorities, and commissions.

Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Mathews "Mat" Swift earned his bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Georgia and his J.D. from the Walter F. George School of Law. Following graduation, he became a Commissioned Captain in the US Army Infantry. Swift practiced real estate law before becoming president & COO of the W.C. Bradley Co. – Real Estate Division. During his 32 years in the role of president, he developed numerous projects ranging in size. Over the past 20 years, he has primarily focused on the redevelopment of downtown Columbus. Swift's marquee project was the Eagle & Phenix Mill. As part of this riverfront development, Swift was an integral part of the Columbus Whitewater initiative – a 30-million-dollar project involving the removal of two hydroelectric dams and the restoration of 2.5 miles of the Chattahoochee River. In 2019, Governor Brian Kemp appointed Swift to serve on the Board of Economic Development, and in 2021, he was appointed to serve on the Georgia Tourism Foundation. He also serves on the Board of the Columbus Bank and Trust Company, the Brookstone School, the Swift-Illges Foundation, and Columbus State University Foundation Properties. Swift is a member of the Columbus Rotary Club and Candun Club. He and his wife, Mary Lou, have three children and ten grandchildren.

Georgia Board of Community Health

Dr. C. Thomas Hopkins, Jr. is board certified in orthapaedic surgery and orthopaedic sports medicine and practices in Griffin. He served in the United States Air Force as a flight surgeon and orthopaedic surgeon. He is the past president of the Georgia Orthopaedic Society and medical staff of Spalding Regional Hospital. Dr. Hopkins serves on the board of United Bank Corporation, MAG Mutual Insurance Company, and many others. He served on the Board of Regents from 2010-2024. He served as chairman of the Board of Regents in 2017. He is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and Arthroscopy Association of North America. Hopkins earned a Bachelor’s degree from Valdosta State University, attended the University of Georgia, and completed his medical degree and residency at Emory University. He and his wife, Sara Lucas Hopkins, have two children, Charles Thomas Hopkins III, DMD and Paige Hopkins Parker, DPT.

State Board of Pardons and Paroles

Joyette Marie Holmes attended the University of Georgia where she earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice and went on to earn her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law in Maryland. Most recently, she has practiced law at Gregory Doyle Calhoun & Rogers LLC working with their litigation and education practice. Holmes was previously appointed by Governor Brian Kemp as the District Attorney for the Cobb County Judicial Circuit. She served the citizens of Cobb County and the State of Georgia in numerous roles. She also served four years as the elected Chief Magistrate Judge for the Cobb Judicial Circuit. Before joining the bench, she was a prosecutor under District Attorney D. Victor Reynolds and Solicitor General Barry Morgan. She also operated and served clients in private practice in the Law Office of Joyette Holmes. Holmes has been named one of the “20 Rising Stars Under 40” by Cobb Life Magazine (2012), received the Cobb NAACP Woman of Achievement Award (2013), the Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service (2015), Cobb Ministerial Alliance United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall Award (2019), the Trailblazing Award – Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta (2019), and the Living Legacy Award – Kennesaw Teen Center (2020). She was also named the Cobb County Citizen of the Year in 2019 and in 2020 was named the Citizen of the Year Award – Chi Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. She sits on the Boards of several organizations including Must Ministries, Cobb Community Foundation, Davis Direction Foundation, and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. Holmes was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp in 2021 to serve as the Eleventh Congressional District Representative on the Board of Juvenile Justice.

Georgia Technology Authority

Robert Bearden, Michael Caldwell, Robert Gray, Ronald Ham, and Daniel Israel were reappointed.

State Board of Podiatry Examiners

Monica Stewart is a Certified Registered Dietitian. Stewart graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Jacksonville State University, in Jacksonville, Alabama in 1993 and completed her Dietitian AP4 program at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky in 1997. Stewart currently works at DaVita Dialysis and is a member of the Commission of Dietetic Registration. She resides in Buena Vista, Georgia, and has three adult children. Stewart will serve as the consumer member on the State Board of Podiatry Examiners.

Sapelo Island Heritage Authority

Francine Bailey was reappointed.

Georgetta Sharron Grovner is a native of Sapelo Island, Georgia. Grovner worked at Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo Island for over 30 years, before retiring a few years ago. She is a descendant of a family whose heritage dates back almost ten generations on Sapelo Island. Passionate about her community, Grovner continues to lead driving tours around the island. She and her husband, Marvin, have been married for 35 years and have two adult children.

State Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Amy Arnold, Kelley Claas, and Leigh Hunnicutt were reappointed.

State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers

Virgil Ergle, T. Kay Kendrick, Philamenia Rivers, and Amy Smith were reappointed.

Dorothea Lusane McKenzie has been the owner and operator of Dorothea’s Beauty Salon for 38 years and the Cosmetology Instructor at South Georgia Technical College for 17 years. She is a member of the Cosmetology Advisory Board and was the 2020 South Georgia Technical College Instructor of the Year and one of the nine finalists for the State of Georgia. She has led many training courses and received numerous certifications in her field throughout her career. She is also trained in mortuary hair and cosmetic preparation. She earned her Master of Cosmetology license from South Georgia Technical College in 1983 and became a Master Cosmetology Instructor in 1996. McKenzie is an active member of her community and is a member of Old Corinth Missionary Baptist Church.

Catherine Jones McWhirter is a founder and co-owner of Tribe Hair Company in Athens, Georgia. Opening in 2018, Tribe Hair Company has been voted the best hair salon in Athens for six consecutive years. McWhirter is passionate about teaching and mentoring stylists and offers classes in extensions, custom color, and salon-specific business strategies. She and her husband have two children and reside in Oconee County.

Georgia Joint Defense Commission

Allen Brown, Thomas Clark, and Justin Strickland were reappointed.

Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission

Seth Millican, Rick Thompson, and Jeff Traub were reappointed.

Georgia All-Payer Claims Database Advisory Committee

Matthew Hicks and Crystine Odom were reappointed.

Georgia Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Chelsea Tehan is a pediatrician in Adairsville, Georgia. She received her medical degree from Florida State University and attended residency at the University of South Florida. Tehan has a special interest in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community because her daughter is deaf. Despite her training, she struggled to access services and realized how difficult it could be for other families. She has been working for years with the Auditory Verbal Center of Atlanta and is interested in advocacy for this community. She and her husband, R.J., have three daughters.

Georgia Board of Nursing

Joshua Y. Batson, Roger Pierce, Jr., and Maceo Tanner were reappointed.

Heather Bohannon is the Ambulatory Quality Program Leader for Atrium Health Floyd. Before joining Atrium Health, Bohannon was the Practice Manager at Harbin Clinic – Internal Medicine Singh in Rome, Georgia. She began her career as a triage nurse before transitioning to more administrative and managerial roles. Bohannon is a Licensed Practical Nurse and a Certified Professional Coder. She served on the Harbin Clinic Health Technology Committee from 2016 to 2019.

Jessica Willcox is the Director of Nursing at Central Georgia Technical College. During her time at Central Georgia Technical College, Willcox has received accreditation for their ASN and PN programs, received the Rick Perkins Award, and developed healthcare study abroad and service-learning to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In 2023, she received the Faculty Innovation in Global Education Award for the Community Colleges of International Development. Prior to Central Georgia Technical College, Willcox was a Clinical Coordinator at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and a charge nurse at Tift Regional Medical Center. She is an active member of several professional and community organizations.

Dena Zinker serves Colquitt Regional Medical Center as the Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Services. Zinker has been a registered nurse since 1994, is masters prepared, is nationally certified in nursing leadership, and is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. She has been in her current role since 2013. She is a member of the local and state Georgia Organization of Nurse Leaders. She and her husband, Jimmy, have been married for over 30 years, and together they have three daughters.

Division of Family and Children Services State Advisory Board

Jeff Mauer is the Chairman and CEO of Global Impact International, and Co-Founder of the Restoration Rome Program. Mauer has chosen to combine his experience as a successful business owner and heart for community service, to initiate and implement creative and scalable solutions to the ever-growing foster care crisis in his hometown of Rome, Georgia. Jeff serves as a trustee on multiple community and educational boards, and as the community engagement pastor for his church. Jeff brings to Restoration Rome the ability to orchestrate concurrent projects and lead multiple teams to achieve strategic priorities and purposes.

Board of Review of the Department of Labor

Muhammed Nabeel Memon is the CEO of Nabeel Group of Companies Inc., with ventures in dozens of convenience stores, gas stations, and in real estate. Memon began his career by opening his first C store in Panama City, Florida. During this time, he was the youngest retailer and business owner in Florida lottery history. Memon now owns over 21 companies, as a c-store owner, gas supplier, and real estate developer. He and his wife have three children and reside in Gwinnett County.

Georgia High School Association Executive Oversight Committee

Bert Brantley is President & CEO of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. Previously, Brantley spent more than two decades of service in various state government leadership positions. He most recently served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp. As a Senior Advisor, he managed the Communications, External Affairs, Legislative, Policy, and Constituent Services teams. Brantley also held the position of Chief Operating Officer of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, appointed to that role by Governor Nathan Deal in 2017. With more than 20 years of experience in state government, Brantley has held other roles in the Office of Governor Sonny Perdue, the Department of Driver Services, the State Road & Tollway Authority, and the Department of Transportation. He and his wife, Tonya, have two daughters that attend the University of Georgia.

State Commission on Family Violence

Ashley Wright is a Superior Court Judge for the Augusta Judicial Circuit. She was appointed to the bench by Governor Nathan Deal in January 2017. While on the bench, she has implemented felony Drug, Mental Wellness and Veteran’s Treatment Court. Prior to her appointment, Wright spent nine years as the District Attorney for the Augusta Judicial Circuit. While she was prosecutor, Wright oversaw many cases involving crimes against children, sexual assaults, and other violent crimes. She earned her bachelor's degree from Randolph-Macon College and her J.D. from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law. She has served on the Judicial Nominating Committee, State Bar Committee on Criminal Justice Reform, and is a past president of the District Attorneys Association of Georgia. Wright is a graduate of both Leadership Augusta and Leadership Georgia.

State Personnel Board

Jewelle Johnson was reappointed.

Tennessee Valley Authority Regional Energy Resource Council

H. Boyd Pettit, III is Partner and General Counsel for GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group, LLC. Pettit, a practicing Attorney since 1979, served as a member of the Georgia General Assembly for five consecutive terms beginning in January 1983. Elected to the House of Representatives, succeeding newly elected Governor Joe Frank Harris, he was named a member of the House Appropriations, Judiciary, and Industry Committees. Pettit became Secretary to the Judiciary Committee and Chairman of the Public Services and Utilities Subcommittee of House Industry. During his membership in the House, Pettit served as Georgia's representative to the Southern States Energy Board and was selected as a participant in the Leadership Georgia Class of 1987. In 1993, he joined GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group while remaining active on behalf of local governments, local education entities, public bond finance issues, and local industrial recruitment and development. In September 2000, Pettit was selected to the Georgia State Board of Transportation. He was re-elected in January 2001 to a full five-year term. Pettit currently serves on the State Board of the Georgia Youth Science and Technology Centers and is an active member of Sam Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in Cartersville. Previously serving on the Board of Directors of the North Metro Technical Institute Foundation, Pettit was a part of the effort to secure property, utilities, and funding for the state adult technical school.

State Records Committee

Kristyn Long was reappointed.

Christine Hayes is Deputy Executive Council in the Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp. Before joining the Kemp administration, Hayes served as Director of Governmental Affairs for the State Bar of Georgia. She has also served as a legislative liaison in the Administrative Office of the Courts, as Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, and as an associate attorney at Fields Howell. Hayes earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of Florida and her J.D. from Emory University School of Law. She and her husband have two daughters and reside in Atlanta, Georgia.

Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council

Douglas Ronald Duncan, Jr., and Laura Beth Tucker were reappointed.

Martin Duane Lockhart joined the Yorkville Volunteer Fire Department in 1987 and eventually became the volunteer Chief. In 1999, when the Paulding County Fire Department started hiring full-time professional firefighters, Lockhart was hired in one of the initial waves and has been with them ever since. Throughout his career, Lockhart has held various positions such as a first-line supervisor at one of the busiest fire stations in the county, an officer in the Inspections Division, and many other capacities. As the Chief of the Training Division, since 2013, he has served as Paulding County's liaison to the State of Georgia Fire Standards and Training Center. Lockhart and his team of training officers certify over 200 department members annually, maintain state and national certification records, and support periodic compliance audits. He also oversees the entire department's training schedule and leads the annual recruitment class programs.

Terry Rondell Smith is the Chief of the Camden County Fire Rescue. His public service career began as a volunteer with the Kingsland Volunteer Fire Department in 1985. He would later work as a dispatcher with Kings Bay Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) before becoming a full-time firefighter in 1990. By 2012, Smith had risen through the ranks as a Crew Chief and then Assistant Chief with Kings Bay Fire and EMS before earning the title of Captain for the City of Kingsland Fire Rescue Department. In November 2014, he was officially named the Fire Chief for the City of Kingsland and in 2022, the Camden County Board of Commissioners named Smith the Chief for both Camden County Fire Rescue and the City of Kingsland.

Stone Mountain Memorial Association

Michael Todd Owens is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Leadership Council. He and his distinguished board of directors lead the largest trade organization representing the tourism and hospitality community in Georgia. He grew up in Stone Mountain, making Savannah his home for more than 20 years. Owens serves on the boards of numerous trade, non-profit, and education organizations, including Savannah Technical College Programs Advisory Committee, the Advisory Board for the Hospitality and Food Industry Management program at the University of Georgia in Athens, America’s Second Harvest, and the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire. In 2021, Owens was awarded the Herb and Franklin Traub Visionary Award for his work and advocacy within the tourism and hospitality sector. Previous award recipients include Representative Ron Stephens, Senator Eric Johnson, and Governor Brian P. Kemp. In 2020, he and his wife, Amanda, founded Grace Autism Services, a Savannah-based company providing medical therapy services to children on the autism spectrum throughout Georgia, where Amanda serves as the company’s CEO. They live on Skidaway Island with their two children.

Professional Standards Commission

Abigail Morgan Coggins was reappointed.

Board of Community Health

Norman L. Boyd, Robert S. Cowles, III, Roger Folsom, Mark Shane Mobley, and Cynthia D. Rucker were reappointed.

Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group

Rustin “Rusty” J. Rodgers is the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Community Services within the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. In his role, he oversees the daily management of 78 Community Services Offices and more than 10,000 justice-involved youth under community supervision in Georgia’s 159 counties. In addition, his responsibilities include overseeing the Office of Residential and Community-Based Services, the Office of Reentry Services, and the Interstate Compact Office. Rodgers received his Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies from Georgia Southern University in August 1998 and began his career with DJJ the same month. He received his master’s in Public Safety Administration from Columbus State University in May 2019. He also holds certifications in Advanced Management from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. He continues to be very active in his community by having served as a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Council of the Community Service Board of Middle Georgia and previously served on the Safe Schools/Healthy Student Task Force for Bleckley, Johnson, Tattnall, and Telfair Counties and as a member of the Wheeler County Recreation Board. Rodgers is a member of the American Probation Parole Association and the Georgia Juvenile Services Association, having served previously as a District Representative on the GJSA Board of Directors. He and his wife Eve have two children.

Lalaine Aquino Briones serves as Deputy Director for the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. Briones has over 20 years of experience as a prosecutor specializing in Crimes Against Children. Before serving as Deputy Director, she was a Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Clayton Judicial Circuit, an Assistant District Attorney in the Crimes Against Children Unit in Dekalb County, Director of Legal Services for the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council, and Chief Executive Assistant Crimes Against Children in the Clayton Judicial Circuit. Briones has served on Child Fatality Review, Child Abuse Protocol, and Multi-Disciplinary Teams in Dekalb and Clayton Counties. Since 2008, she has served on the Children’s Justice Act Task Force Committee. In addition, she is a member of the Sexual Assault, Child Abuse, and Human Trafficking State Expert Committee (CJCC) and the 2023 Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force. Briones received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in 1990 and a Juris Doctor from Georgia State University College of Law in 1993.

David John Davis is the Sheriff of Bibb County. He began his career at the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office in December of 1979. He is a graduate of Central High School and Macon State College and attended Georgia State University and the University of Virginia. Davis is a graduate of the 212th session of the FBI National Academy. He was first elected Sheriff of Bibb County in November of 2012. He was re-elected to his second term in November of 2016. Davis has implemented several significant community initiatives during his time in office. These include the CHAMPS Program in the schools and the Safety Walk program in neighborhoods throughout Macon-Bibb County. He has guided the successful merger of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office with the Macon Police Department. In 2015 the sheriff’s office achieved Georgia State Law Enforcement Certification through the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. In 2017 the sheriff’s office was recognized as the Agency of the Year by the Georgia Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates. In 2007, Davis was appointed Chief Deputy of Law Enforcement Services for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office. In this position, Davis set the priorities and policies for the patrol and criminal investigative functions of the office. Davis is a member of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, where he serves on the Standards and Training committee, The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, the FBI National Academy Associates, the Peace Officers Association of Georgia, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Jail Association. Davis is also a member of the Exchange Club. He and his wife, Lili, are members of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon.

Jason Ray Weaver is the Mayor of Screven, Georgia, and has been since 2018. Weaver attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College before returning to his hometown. He currently serves on the Wayne County Tourism Board, the Heart of Georgia Regional Commission Board, GMA’s Legislative Policy Council and Federal Policy Council, the Southeast Georgia Regional Partnership Economic Development Group, and most recently U.S. Congressman Buddy Carter recommended him to serve on the Federal Transportation and Infrastructure Board as representative for Georgia. In addition, Weaver has also served as the Georgia Municipal Association District 9 Second Vice President. Weaver is the proud father of four daughters.

Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council

Oscar “Steve” Hyman was reappointed.

Ailen Alphonso Mitchell joined the Atlanta Police Department in 2006. After graduating from the Atlanta Police Academy, he was assigned to Zone 4 (Southwest Atlanta). At the rank of Officer, Mitchell worked in various assignments such as the Field Investigations Team, the Gang Unit, and the Red Dog Unit. Mitchell was also a field training officer prior to becoming a Detective. In 2012, he was appointed to Detective, where he worked on the Auto Theft Task Force. In 2014, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. At the rank of Sergeant, he supervised in various assignments, including Crime Suppression, Criminal Investigations, and the Human Resou