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People in the News

June 10 - Governor Kemp Announces 12 Appointments, including Drew Hunt of Savannah

Category: People in the News

June 10, 2019 - Last week, Governor Brian P. Kemp conducted swearing-in ceremonies for twelve appointments to boards and councils.

Board of Early Care and Learning

The Board of Early Care and Learning supports and guides the mission and vision of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, which works to enhance children’s early educational experiences to promote their academic, social, emotional, and physical development in partnership with families, communities, the early care and education industry, and stakeholders.

Since 2014, Dr. Kristy Beam has served as Principal of Glennwood Elementary School in Decatur City Schools. Previously, Beam was Principal of the American School of Valencia in Valencia, Spain. In her twenty years in education, she has worked as an assistant principal, gifted endorsement instructor, department chair, and teacher in Gwinnett County and Rockdale County Schools in all levels of K-12 education. Beam has also taught master's level and certification courses for the University of North Georgia. She resides in Atlanta.

Jenn Bennecke is a committed community leader and volunteer who serves on various non-profit boards, including the Atlanta Speech School Board, Voices for Georgia’s Children Board, and Philanthropy Committee of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. Bennecke is a past president of the Junior League of Atlanta and former board member of the Foster Care Support Foundation, University of Georgia Board of Visitors, Atlanta Children's Shelter, and Literacy Action, Inc. She and her husband, Paul, live in Atlanta with their three sons. They are members of Peachtree Presbyterian Church.

Debra Brock is Principal of Red Bud Elementary School in Calhoun, Georgia. Following a career in the private sector as a business owner, Brock ventured into the world of education as an elementary school teacher. Since 2006 when she joined Gordon County Schools, Brock has served as a teacher, instructional coach, and top administrator. She currently resides in Calhoun.

Drew Hunt is Director of Community Relations for the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. Hunt is responsible for serving as a liaison between the Chamber and community through the support of various sectors, including workforce development, education, military affairs, and existing industry. A native Georgian, she is a member of Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church with her husband and daughter. They currently reside in Savannah.

Dr. Theresa Magpuri-Lavell is Executive Director of the Sandra Dungan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College & State University. Magpuri-Lavell has spent twenty years in education passionately advocating for early language and literacy as an elementary school teacher, professor, researcher of literacy education, and university partner with public school districts. She currently resides in Milledgeville.

Georgia Board of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

The Georgia Board of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities sets the general policy to be followed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities (DBHDD), which offers treatment and support services to help people with behavioral health challenges achieve recovery by focusing on their strengths. Through uniquely tailored supports and services, DBHDD helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities attain independence and lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Dr. Justine Welsh is Director of Emory Healthcare Addiction Services and holds board certification in general, adolescent, and addiction psychiatry. Welsh completed her general psychiatric training at Emory University School of Medicine and adolescent and addiction psychiatry fellowships at Harvard Medical School. Welsh’s clinical focus and research involve the treatment and prevention of substance use disorders in adolescents and young adults. Welsh resides in Atlanta.

Georgia State Rehabilitation Council

The Georgia State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) is a federally mandated council composed of Georgia citizens from across the state appointed by the Governor to represent a broad range of individuals with disabilities and stakeholders. SRC collaborates with the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency to develop plans for services and make recommendations to assist individuals with disabilities achieve employment and independence.

Since 2013, Tina Aldridge has served as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Aldridge holds a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Georgia State University. She lives in Atlanta with her partner, Paul Green. She has two children, Italy Turner and Roddricus Aldridge, and four grandchildren.

Deborah Hibben is a retired educator who previously worked for Henry County Schools and holds a degree as an Education Specialist from Lincoln Memorial University. Hibben lives in McDonough, Georgia, and she has two children, Hillary Anne and Hannah Elizabeth.

Austin McDonald is a physical education teacher with Cornerstone Christian Academy in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. He has seven years of experience in both private and public schools, and he has used his time as a physical education teacher to help students overcome their unique barriers and provide encouragement. He lives in Dunwoody, Georgia with his wife, Christine, and their child, Ryelee.

Cherise Mlott is Director of Corporate Real Estate Portfolio Management and Transactions at AT&T. Mlott has worked for AT&T – formerly Bellsouth – for twenty-one years. She lives in Brookhaven, Georgia with her husband, Brent.

A resident of Woodstock, Georgia, Samuel Verniero, Jr. has previously served as a Kentucky Colonel, Arkansas Traveler and Ambassador, United Nations World Humanity Commission Deputy High Commissioner-Ambassador, member of the DeKalb County Community Service Board, member of the Selective Service System Appellate Judicial Board, and member of the Department of Behavioral Health Advisory Council.

Statewide Independent Living Council

The Statewide Independent Living Council of Georgia, Inc. (SILC)is a private, non-profit corporation governed by people with all types of disabilities from all across Georgia. SILC identifies societal barriers to independent living and collaborates with Centers for Independent Living, Rehabilitation Services, and related entities to remove those barriers and increase the support and services needed to create independent living opportunities.

A resident of Woodstock, Georgia, Samuel Verniero, Jr. has previously served as a Kentucky Colonel, Arkansas Traveler and Ambassador, United Nations World Humanity Commission Deputy High Commissioner-Ambassador, member of the DeKalb County Community Service Board, member of the Selective Service System Appellate Judicial Board, and member of the Department of Behavioral Health Advisory Council. 

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