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Faces of Peachtree Corners (2022)



We’re highlighting people we thought you should know that make our city a better place.

This year’s Faces of Peachtree Corners highlights the students, entrepreneurs, influencers, creators, everyday people, and leaders that have exceeded in their studies or areas of specialty as well as proven to be good community citizens.

We’re celebrating those that we feel express the best of who we are.

Nominations were sent in from teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, colleagues, community leaders, neighbors, and organizations.

Geoff Wilson

Photo by George Hunter

If Peachtree Corners had its own Candy Man, Geoff would probably be the perfect fit.

“Truthfully, I’ve been making chocolate almost my whole life,” said the general manager of Peterbrooke Chocolatier at The Forum. “I’m the sixth of eight kids, and my mom was an overachiever. So, she did classroom mom, PTA president and all those things.

“You know, there wasn’t a Walmart or big box stores where you could just go buy a bunch of stuff. So, she learned how to make chocolate and she taught all my siblings how to do it. We would make it for gifts for teachers and our friends,” he said.

But Geoff took the long way to making chocolate professionally. “I worked for the Episcopal Church and did a few other things. Twelve years ago, Peterbrooke came into my world, and I’ve been here ever since,” he said.

He is currently the senior warden at Christ Church Episcopal in Norcross, a member of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber and a member of the Peachtree Corners Business Association. Besides chocolate, Geoff is passionate about his Lego collection.

Geoff enjoys the fact that he’s able to make a difference in the community and put smiles on faces. “Over the years, we’ve built a lot of relationships,” he said. “We do summer camps and birthday parties. Now some of these kids are getting married and having children of their own. People come into the shop …and I’m always here and they know I’m always good for a talk.”
Though Peachtree Corners is the largest city in Gwinnett County, it has maintained its small-town feel, and that’s just how Geoff likes it.

“Being part of the community is an honor,” he said. “I go to the Peachtree Corners Festival, and I run into a bunch of people I know, like the mayor and his wife, who know me by my first name. It’s that feeling of small town that’s …kind of made my place here.”

Dr. Mohamed Eid

Dr. Eid with wife Lina, daughter Naya (8) and son Hassan (7)

Although he’s not a Georgia native, Dr. Mohamed has grown accustomed to the temperate Southern weather. He was born and raised in Canada, growing up in Edmonton, Alberta.

“There is no, no chance we’re moving back,” he said. “Especially after I took my wife to Canada with the kids over Christmas last year. It was a little too cold for her liking.”

After attending the University of Alberta, he completed his Doctorate at the Illinois College of Optometry in 2003. He also followed up with a primary care/ocular disease residency at the Illinois Eye Institute.

Dr. Mohamed settled in Atlanta in 2007 and now lives in Dunwoody with his wife Lina and their two young children.

About five years ago, Dr. Mohamed took over Peachtree Corners Eye Clinic. “The practice has been here for close to 30 years, so it was pretty well established,” he said.

One of the first things Dr. Mohamed did in his new space was reach out to local schools and offer free eye exams and glasses to children in need. “I told them, if you have anyone who needs glasses, needs an eye exam, but can’t afford it, …please send them our way,” he said.
The program primarily serves Simpson, Norcross and Peachtree elementary schools,

Pinckneyville Middle and even some students at Norcross High School. Dr. Mohamed recalled one student who had some developmental delay issues and had trouble verbalizing that she had vision problems.

“She was in kindergarten or first grade, and she ended up needing a really high prescription,” he said. “Those kids are the ones you feel the most for because they’re falling through the cracks of the system. …It really feels good to make a difference in their lives.”
It’s that commitment to community and warm, professional atmosphere that makes his practice so popular. With a small staff, the goal is to make everyone feel comfortable and at ease.

“The biggest compliment for us is when our clients share their experience with a friend or family member,” said Dr. Mohamed.

Terri Hoye

Terri Hoye (center) with her daughters.

“I have known Terri for a long time,” said Margie Asef, chair of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber (SWGC), who nominated her.

Terri was a pastor at First United Methodist Church, which is right around the corner from Greater Atlanta Christian School where Margie is director of Community Relations. “Now she is the director of The Alliance and is continuing to do the work she’s done for so long,” Margie said.

Terri has been an active part of the Norcross-Peachtree Corners communities for over 31 years. She served 29 years on staff at Norcross First United Methodist Church and two years as the Norcross–Peachtree Corners City Flourishing Catalyst for Unite. According to The Alliance’s website, Terri brings a deep understanding of the community, as well as the passion and commitment to help each member of the community have the opportunity to be able to thrive in all areas of their lives.

Margie said that there is no one with a heart wider, higher and deeper than Terri’s. “It doesn’t matter if it’s three in the morning or the middle of dinner, if she finds out that there is somebody that …needs something, she’s going to be on the phone and she’s going to use her connections to get what they need,” said Margie. “She’s a connector, and she knows all the resources in Gwinnett County.”

Margie also pointed out that Terri helped create a non-profit roundtable within the SWG where all of the area nonprofits could gather and share what their challenges are and make sure that none of organizations bump into each other with fundraising and other endeavors.
Margie explained that Terri naturally cares about people and radiates positivity and good vibes, “…and she’s a good hugger.”

BiLan Liao

Artist BiLan is also the author of the book “Diary of the Dragon’s Daughter” and a filmmaker whose “An Artist’s Journey from China to America” has been shown at film festivals around the world. She painted and sculpted four series of artworks titled: “Painting as a Window into Chinese History,” “Coming into Tibet,” “Women Suffering in the War” and “My Life in America.”

Her most recent series is “Coming into Tibet,” shot from the perspective of a contemporary Chinese artist coming to America and the freedoms she experienced. The series allowed BiLan to tell the story of her journey from the “new” China, including the Cultural Revolution.

BiLan’s career as a successful artist started as a child. She learned to speak English and about American customs during the 18 years she lived in the U.S. Her two academic degrees are in painting and contemporary art design, and she also studied art history.

For a time, she lived in Italy where she taught in a school of design for five years and then moved to Kentucky to lead a program before retiring from teaching. BiLan has shown her art at museums and galleries, and she has lectured nationally and internationally.

Isabel “Izzy” Rickaby

A senior at Greater Atlanta Christian School (GAC), Izzy said that sports have been a part of her life for as long as she can recall. “I’ve played varsity soccer for four years, varsity swim and dive for three years and varsity cross country for two years,” she said. “My primary sport, soccer, has been prevalent throughout my life and is something I love.”

The rigorous nature of these sports allowed her to develop skills like organization, communication and discipline. She said she applies those attributes to other aspects of her life, such as school and work.

She’s a GAC Beta club officer, a group that acts as the official hosts for the school’s Grandparent’s Day, the Special Olympics and Operation Christmas Child. “As a Beta club officer, leading others and instructing peers when running these events has given me leadership skills that apply to my everyday life,” Izzy said.

Outside of school and sports, Izzy maintains multiple jobs. She works at Chick-fil-a as a team member and at Pinky’s Shaved Ice during the summer. There, she drives the trailer to different locations to serve customers at events.

“One of the benefits of working at Pinky’s is that they donate a portion of the profits to a charity of the host’s choice,” she added.

That’s not all. Izzy also has a small clientele of people around her neighborhood who hire her to walk their dogs when they’re out of town or need help. “It feels great to be able to not only provide for myself, but also serve others to fulfill their needs,” she said.

Kristin Causey

Kristin is the manager of the Peachtree Corners Branch of Gwinnett County Public Library. She has worked in public service for over 12 years, dedicating herself to making resources freely available to all members of the community who want to expand their education or career prospects, or just pursue their creative interests.

She arrived in Peachtree Corners in 2020, after working in libraries in Mississippi and Iowa. She has brought a welcome rejuvenation to the branch. Kristin and her team have worked to increase programs and events for all ages. Kids and caregivers can enjoy weekly story times, homework help sessions and STEM activities. Programs for teens and adults include writers’ groups, cosplay events and topics of local interest like boating safety.

Kristin looks for ways to connect the diverse backgrounds and interests of the people in Peachtree Corners. She has partnered with many groups, from the Curiosity Lab and Ser Familia to the Girl Scouts, to provide meaningful experiences for residents.

Since Kristin has been at the Peachtree Corners branch, the library has expanded its services to include reservable study rooms, a Learning Lab (makerspace) and, most recently, passport service.

She is a wonderful local asset and ensures that the library continuously offers high-quality services and resources for Peachtree Corners residents.

Gordon Ely-Kelso

Georgia Bulldogs football fans may recognize Gordon from his days on the Athens gridiron. “It was quite a ride. It’s kind of funny to think back how long it’s been. The early 2000s don’t seem like that long ago, but it was 17-plus years ago,” he said.

“I’ve played in three SEC championships. We went to two Sugar Bowls. …Being from Athens, it has kind of meant a lot to play for the home crowd,” Gordon added.

After a year trying out for the NFL, Gordon decided it was time to pursue other goals. “I was in some training camps with the Falcons, the Buffalo Bills and …the New York Giants, but I never even played a preseason game,” he said. “And then, honestly, I just needed a job and there are more opportunities in Atlanta.”

He started applying for jobs in Atlanta and landed on his current career path. Gordon is the territory sales manager for Eagle Rock Distributing Company. He mainly works with bars and restaurants in Gwinnett County, supplying beer, wine, spirits, waters, energy drinks, etc.

“It’s an interesting opportunity to meet so many small business owners,” he said. “I have a personal relationship with pretty much 90% of the restaurants in Gwinnett.”

Even though the company headquarters are in Norcross, Gordon was a little reluctant to move to suburbia. His wife is originally from Peachtree Corners, and she convinced him to check it out. Now with six-year-old twin daughters and a four-year-old son, Gordon said it was one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

He and his wife are active in the community with the local tennis team, and he’s been on the homeowner’s association (HOA) board for about a year.

“The sense of community in our neighborhood is fantastic. We’ve got so many friends that help us look after our kids; we look after their kids and community is so welcoming and friendly,” Gordon said, adding that there are about 30 kids on his block alone.

“Seeing people who you know everywhere is kind of nice,” he noted. “It’s the biggest city in Gwinnett, but it doesn’t feel that way. All the neighborhoods are pretty close together and we’ve gotten to know many people and have made many great friendships.”

Dr. Eileen Flook

With three chiropractic offices in Gwinnett County — one in Peachtree Corners — Dr. Eileen gives time and energy to the community when she can. In business with her husband and a family friend, their practice just celebrated a 15-year anniversary.

Dr. Eileen credits the success to professional service and caring relationships with clients and staff. “We believe in building relationships over the years with people in the community,” she said. “I always tell my staff that, when working with clients, act like it’s somebody in your family we’re servicing.”

Nominated by Karl Barham, Dr. Eileen is a fellow Cornerstone Christian Academy parent of Karl’s. “What I thought was charming is that she’s been teaching her kids how to be entrepreneurial, so I see them building little businesses,” he said. “I think one of them is making jewelry bracelets and other things.”

Dr. Eileen said her daughters aren’t into sports and they came up with their businesses on their own. “They’re learning the value of teamwork and learning how to communicate with one another …and now we’re selling their bracelets our office,” she said.

The girls were in a wedding and asked the bride if she has any gifts for her bridesmaids. That one text message ended up being the start of their bracelet business. “We’re just trying to teach the girls that you have to be proactive and solution-oriented…and that communication is everything,” Dr. Eileen said.

Tracy O’Leary

Tracy and her husband Pat have enjoyed living in Peachtree Corners for 28 years. With their three children (Michael, 30, Colin, 28 and Maggie, 22), they celebrated over 20 years of “first days” in the Norcross Cluster schools. Living in a community that has given so much to her family, Tracy has been passionate about giving back.

A practicing certified public accountant (CPA) for over 30 years, Tracy received her BBA in accounting from the University of Georgia and a Master of Taxation from Georgia State University. Since 1985, she has worked, both full and part-time, as a tax consultant in public accounting and private industry.

Tracy began as a volunteer at Simpson Elementary School in the Media Center, and she served in various positions on the PTA board including treasurer, VP and chair for the Simpson Singers 5th grade production. She followed her children to Pinckneyville Middle School and remained active in executive and committee positions on the parent-teacher association (PTSA).

When her youngest started at Norcross High School (NHS), Tracy realized that the need for parent volunteers at the high school level was much greater than in the lower schools. She made it her goal to give as much as possible in the areas where she was needed most.
She joined the board of the Norcross High School Foundation for Excellence (NHSFE) in 2014, and took the role of treasurer for three years, then served as co-president, liaison to the After School Matters program and advisor to the treasurer. Tracy also completes the annual audit and required tax filings, as well as participating on the NHSFE board.

Tracy served four years as Norcross PTSA membership chair and four years as president and treasurer of the PHD Running Club (the NHS cross country and track and field booster club). She uses her expertise as a CPA to complete audits for a number of Norcross Cluster groups, including Simpson PTA, Pinckneyville PTSA, Norcross HS PTSA, Paul Duke Stem PTSA, NHSFE and booster clubs for soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, orchestra, baseball, swim and dive, and XC/track and field.

Other groups in the community have also benefitted from Tracy’s giving spirit. She served for four years as volunteer chair for the Fields Club Swim Team and then served six years as co-council. Since 1997, Tracy has been an active volunteer at Mary Our Queen Catholic Church and St. Brigid Catholic Church, teaching religion classes, mentoring youth and co-chairing the parishes’ Christmas service projects.

For the past seven years, Tracy has also given her time and talents as treasurer for the Peachtree Corners Community Bible Study group.

Krista Creel

Krista with her daughter Chloe

Krista is probably known by many in the community as the wife of Colin Creel, headmaster at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Even though most of her volunteering is at the school, she’s active in other areas as well — a children’s teacher at Community Bible School, a Sunday school teacher at Perimeter Church, a board member at the Fields Club Summer League Swim Team and a Cub Scouts leader.

At Cornerstone, she’s been the co-chair of the biennial gala for the last decade, and she started a ‘Moms in Prayer’ ministry at the school.

Krista grew up in Atlanta and has lived in Peachtree Corners since getting married in 2005. Since she graduated from the University of Georgia (UGA), she has worked as an interior designer in both the commercial and residential sectors.

She was nominated by friend, neighbor and fellow Cornerstone parent Karl Barham, who pointed out that, besides being such a busy person, Krista is very present in many things.
“She has so many talents and so many skills, and she gives freely of those, as well as her limited time,” Karl said.

Krista said that, despite her many hats, “the joy of my life is my role of wife and mother to my three children.”

Meg and Jeff Foster

Meg and Jeff serve as Wesleyan School’s director of fine arts and band director, respectively. The couple selflessly serve both their school and local community, spreading the love of music where they go.

Jeff joined the faculty of Wesleyan School in 1998. A year later, he formed the Wesleyan Marching Wolves and still directs the marching band today. This year’s band is made up of just over 60 students in grades 7-12, and the group regularly competes against marching bands two and three times their size.

This fall, the band was recognized in the 5A division of the Branch Classic at Flowery Branch High School and was invited to compete at Bands of America at Jacksonville State University. In his 25 years at Wesleyan, Jeff has directed hundreds of students and is an adored faculty member by current students and Wesleyan alumni alike.

Meg came to Wesleyan in 2002. As the director of fine arts, she oversees the kindergarten through 12th grade curricular and extracurricular aspects of fine arts at Wesleyan. Meg directs the middle school chorus classes and serves as musical director for Wesleyan’s middle school musical each spring.

This spring, 38 middle schoolers will present The Sound of Music with a live orchestra, all under Meg’s direction. In addition to her school responsibilities, Meg volunteers at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church with the Kids Praise program. She inspires children of all ages to share their gift of song, challenging them to try new things and that often includes singing and dancing on stage.

Meg is a tireless cheerleader for the students she leads, and the caliber of performances she directs speak to how much her students trust and love her.

Meg and Jeff have two daughters, Audrey and Eva.

Bishop Garland and Eileen Hunt

Bishop Garland, an Atlanta native, is a proven strategic leader with a dynamic ministry background and extensive experience in leadership, management and pastoral care.

He received a Bachelor of Arts from Howard University in 1980 and Juris Doctor degree from Howard University Law School in 1983. Bishop Garland then served as a judicial law clerk and staff attorney with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

In 1993, he founded the Raleigh International Church, an influential ministry with the mission of reconciliation in Raleigh, N.C. As senior pastor, Bishop Garland grew the church from the ground up. At the time of his departure in 2000, the church was thriving with well over 500 active members attending weekly.

Bishop Garland moved from Raleigh back to his hometown of Atlanta, Ga. to serve as executive pastor of the Father’s House. He also acted as chief operating officer of the church, while providing leadership development and training to staff and members.

His executive leadership spans some 28 years, with the Fellowship of International Churches, Wellington Boone Ministries and New Generation Campus Ministries. Bishop Garland has served in many state and national leadership roles.

In 2004, he was appointed to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles by Governor Sonny Purdue and served as chairman of the Parole Board in 2006. In 2010, Bishop Garland was commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. In 2011, he served as president of Prison Fellowship.

In March 2015, Bishop Wellington Boone installed Bishop Garland as Senior Pastor of the Father’s House. Each week, Bishop Garland demonstrates his pastor’s heart through his passionate preaching and vibrant leadership.

Pastor Eileen’s more than 30 years of ministry experience began on a college campus with the organization that she started, New Generations Campus Ministries. She also founded Network of Politically Active Christian Women and is, at present, the co-pastor at The Father’s House Church.

Pastor Eileen is committed to seeing others grow in Christ and fulfill their purposes in God. She is married to Bishop Garland and has three grown children — Garland Jr., Christa and Jeremy. Her family also includes daughters-in-law Melissa and Ky and five grandchildren.

LC Johnson

LC has brought a world of experience to the county he calls home. After 20-plus years learning how to manage goods, services and, most importantly, people, LC retired an Air Force Master Sergeant.

Following his military service, LC entered his next tour of duty — in education. Applying the principles of good management learned in the military, LC gained notoriety as a no-nonsense educational leader. He earned his doctorate in Management while turning troubled schools around by engaging the surrounding communities to take ownership in the offerings and outcomes of the student body.

Showing no signs of slowing down, LC recently accepted a position on the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s 1818 Club Finance Committee. He has also recently been awarded both the Paul Duke Lifetime Achievement Award and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Rho Kappa Lambda Chapter 2018 Diversity Social Action Award.

With the second edition of his memoir, “Still A Soldier,” in the preparation stages, LC has become a sought-after speaker. Copies of his books are now being used to encourage members of the Gwinnett County School System’s Community-Based Mentoring Program.

Joshua Stephens

Joshua serves as director of Policy and Government Affairs for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. In this role, he works on policy and legislative-related initiatives and serves as the primary point of contact between the Georgia Department of Economic Development and other state executive agencies, as well as the legislative branches of both the state and federal government.

He works alongside the commissioner’s office and various other divisions within the department on issues related to policy legislative matters. Joshua serves as a point of contact for the legislative branch, but also helps the agency connect — internally, inter-governmentally or externally — with companies, cities, counties and the business community.
Joshua works directly with businesses in a sales, marketing and business development capacity for the state. He helps bring new businesses to Georgia, and he also works with film companies, the Georgia Council for the Arts and tourism organizations, just to name a few.

Working with the global commerce division on projects in Gwinnett. County, Joshua has helped facilitate relationships with Peachtree Corners and foreign countries, especially those looking to do business with Curiosity Lab. More recent projects include city LED technology, autonomous vehicle technology and all the things going on around electric mobility.

On the personal side, Joshua moved to Peachtree Corners about seven months ago with his wife, who was expecting their now seven-month-old daughter. They also have a two-year-old son.

The green spaces, open areas, community togetherness and all-around neighborly vibe attracted the family here, he says. “We really kind of fell in love with the area and it just took us a little time to find the right house and right opportunity,” Joshua said. “Having a young growing family, we …wanted somewhere we could call home that had walkability and the quality of life we were looking for.”

The family can often be seen on Saturday mornings making use of the new playground near the Forum.

Kerry Lee

Kerry is the co-artistic director of the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company, a Peachtree Corners-based organization. An Atlanta native, her mother emigrated from China and founded the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company in 1991.

“I grew up with it pretty much for my whole life,” Kerry said in an interview with DanceAtlanta. “For me and for many of our dancers, it’s one of the few ways that we can connect with our Chinese heritage here in the U.S., and especially in the South.”

She added that Chinese dance is also a way for Chinese Americans to learn their heritage and share it with others. “That’s something that’s very important to us …so we typically will do a production every 18 months in a theater, such as Gas South Theater,” Kerry said.

Kerry’s dance experience is as diverse as her background. “Because I grew up in Atlanta and I am American born Chinese, I also have an extensive dance background outside of Chinese dance, like in ballet schools such as Atlanta Ballet, performing professionally in modern/contemporary companies in New York and here in Atlanta with glo,” she explained.

As a choreographer, Kerry said she really likes to explore the Chinese American experience, “because I feel like usually Chinese dance in China is about being in China and I can relate to it in some ways. But then, at the same time, being Chinese American, I don’t feel like it represents my experience.”

Therefore, one of Kerry’s choreographic interests is to share the Chinese American experience, especially of being in the South, and “finding an authentic way of doing that by melding Chinese dance with other art forms,” she said. “My goal is to honor our Chinese heritage while asserting our Americanness at the same time.”

Abbie Alf

Abbie started Abbie Bakes as a student at University of Georgia (UGA). While growing up, she loved baking pies, muffins and, of course, cookies.

After months of experimenting with different candies and ingredients, Abbie followed her grandmother’s advice in the summer of 2019 and handcrafted her own cookie recipe. She has been baking cookies ever since.

Abbie bakes each cookie with love and perfection. She delivers her cookies to local customers and ships them to those further away.

After years of hard work and growing her customer base, she won the UGA Idea Accelerator program in November of 2021. She is looking to expand her business even further. “I want to make everyone’s cookie dreams come true!” she said.

Roy Levi

Roy was born and raised in Israel and moved to the U.S. in 2005. “I used to work for the Israeli Department of State,” he said. “That’s how I arrived in Atlanta.”

Once his term of service ended, he wanted to stay in this area. Roy operated a frozen yogurt franchise called Yogli Mogli in Dunwoody.

“I graduated from Georgia State with a business administration degree. At the same time, my contract ended with the Israeli Department of State so I was looking into exploring the business world and having my own business,” he said.

The business lasted nearly a decade and Roy said it was more fun than work. “Serving people, especially young kids, and seeing smiling faces all the time. For me, was like selling a happy world, you know?” he said.

But Roy wanted to spread his wings with bigger opportunities. He sold the business right before the pandemic caused similar businesses to shut down temporarily. He pursued a Chick-fil-A franchise, but before the process really got going, he found himself at Intuition Robotics.

The transition wasn’t difficult, Roy said. Intuition is an Israeli-based company and he’s pretty much a bridge to both countries. And his experience with the yogurt shop helped him hone his customer-service skills.

“My role is mainly boots on the ground and making sure that …our customers are happy and that they get the product on time. And if they need any help, we are here to help with whatever is needed,” Roy explained. “We support them with setting up their device and anything else.”
Being in Peachtree Corners allows Roy to connect with his homeland and enjoy an incredible quality of life with his wife, two children and in-laws.

Akinwande Oshodi

Akinwande is relatively new to Peachtree Corners, but he’s made an impact. He is the founder of The Avery Group, a professional services and consulting firm that caters to government and commercial organizations. His company works with clients to provide solutions in the areas of financial management and optimization, information technology, training and program management.

Nominated by Karl Barham, Akinwande’s dedication to community stood out. “He has his own business, …his wife is an attorney …and they have two young kids. When they were below school age, …he served in the military,” said Karl.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Akinwande immigrated to Newark, New Jersey where it was instilled in him that the measure of a man was his ability and determination to succeed. He joined the U.S. Army at the age of 17 to serve his country. Throughout his military career, he garnered multiple accolades for his contributions to Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Akinwande is a graduate of National Contract Management Association’s (NCMA) Contract Management Leadership Development Program and has been the Treasurer of NCMA’s Atlanta chapter for the past two years.

He is deeply committed to his community by promoting leadership and mentorship opportunities for African American youths. To this end, Akinwande is an active member of the 100 Black Men of Greater Washington DC, sits on the board of INROADS Alumni network and serves on the finance committee for Brookhaven Innovation Academy.

As a collegiate athlete and lifetime basketball enthusiast, Akinwande believes in leveraging athletics and mentorship to encourage accountability, teamwork and leadership skills among youth. In his free time, he enjoys crushing the competition at family game night with his wife, Jarell, and their two young children, Avery and Jalen.

Weare Gratwick

From left to right, son-in-law, Jack Fraser, daughters Lydia and Sarah Ann, wife Amber and Weare Gratwick.

Margie Asef, chair of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber (SWGC), nominated Weare because she said his face is one that can be seen in person all over Peachtree Corners. “I always tease him, asking him, ‘How many name tags have you worn today?’” she said.

Weare is Mayor Pro Tem and a Peachtree Corners City Council member, past chair of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber, market president at Tandem Bank, Chair-Elect of the Steering Committee for Leadership Gwinnett, a board member of Neighborhood Cooperative Ministry and a member of the Peachtree Corners Rotary Club.

With all those responsibilities, Weare makes it look easy, Margie said. “I know he used to do a ton at Norcross High School and he’s also an avid baseball fan. He loves the Braves, and he goes just about anywhere to see them,” she said. “I don’t know how he has time for what he does. …I don’t know when the man sleeps, honestly.”

Weare’s dedication and commitment to Peachtree Corners is admirable, Margie said adding that he does it all with enthusiasm. “He’s an asset to the community.”

Arlinda Smith Broady is part of the Boomerang Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after their ancestors moved North. With approximately three decades of journalism experience (she doesn't look it), she's worked in tiny, minority-based newsrooms to major metropolitans. At every endeavor she brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread the news to the people.

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Twin Authors Chronicle Antics of ‘Four-Legged Brother’



On Feb. 1, the young authors Megan and Mackenzie Grant released the children’s book, “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother.”
Megan and Mackenzie Grant

Berkeley Lake second graders make fans across the globe with sweet children’s story.

When rescue dog Apollo found his forever home with Megan and Mackenzie Grant, the Berkeley Lake twins knew they had added a special member to the family. He’s so beloved that he’s considered their “four-legged brother.”

Apollo is a Boston terrier. The breed is known for its friendliness and love of people and children. According to the Purina Company, makers of all kinds of pet food, Boston terriers  make affectionate pets and are outgoing and social. 

While they are called ‘terriers,’ they are not in the terrier group, nor do they behave like them. They are far happier at home with their owner than getting into the usual mischief. 

But Megan and Mackenzie see him as a silly addition to the family.

“He’s super cool because he’s always up for fun and loves us a whole bunch. And guess what? We love him back even more! He’s like the best friend ever, wagging his tail and making everything awesome!” they said in a press release.

Apollo’s birthday inspiration

As his first birthday approached, the girls, six years old at the time, wanted his day to be special.

“I said, ‘Well if you want to come up with something to do, let’s write it out,’” said mom Tameka Womack.  “So they started writing out all these different adventures, and it was so cute.”

Megan recalled that their teacher had told them about someone who had published a book, and she asked if they could, too.

“When I read through it, they had all the different things, like playing dress up because we had bought some clothes for him. And we take them out for long walks around the lake and stuff,”  Womack added.

Although their favorite subjects in school are PE and art, they did such a good job with the tale that Tameka worked with them to get it published. On Feb. 1, the young authors released the children’s book, “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother.”

Publishing success

The 30-page book took off almost immediately. Available for print and digital through Amazon and print editions through Barnes & Noble, the book has reached customers in the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy,  Poland and throughout the U.S.

The girls and their mom were so pleased and surprised to find out the book was No. 1 in its category on Amazon.

“They were just so excited that people actually bought the book,” said Womack. “They were just like, ‘Wow, who is buying this?’”

Feedback from fellow twins, animal lovers and teachers showed that the story resonated on many levels.

“As an educator, I am always on the lookout for diverse and inclusive literature for my students. ‘How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother’ not only captivated the imaginations of the children in my class but also served as a wonderful conversation starter about friendship, empathy and the beauty of diversity,” wrote Ashleigh Darby.

The royalties from book sales are tucked away, with a percentage going to Apollo’s wardrobe.

“He won’t go out in the rain without his raincoat … or out in the winter without his sweater,” said Womack. “We have a little budget for his clothes because every time the girls see something, they’re like, ‘Oh, I think Apollo will like it.’  I’m like, I think he would too, but let’s let it stay in the store.”

Nurturing creativity

Although both mom and dad are engineers and kind of hoped that the twins would follow in their footsteps, Womack said she’s okay with them being artistic and creative.

“Writing is teaching them some responsibility and teaching them a little bit about money,” she said. “Now they want to write a book every day.”

Between raising three daughters (the twins have an older teenage sister), running a household with her husband and keeping up with her career at Georgia Tech, Womack said she’ll look for time to continue helping the girls with their dreams.

“With summer coming up, I would definitely encourage parents to help their children explore their creativity in any kind of way, from digging holes in the ground to … seeing the world … to creating books instead of being on the internet,” said Womack. I try to limit my kids’ screen time … and build real memories.”

Find “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother” on Amazon.

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Local State Reps Give Roundup of Legislative Session



(left to right) Dale Russell, Rep. Ruwa Romman and Rep. Scott Hilton // Photos by George Hunter

Hilton, Romman trade friendly banter that reflects diverse views in Georgia government

Georgia State House District 97 Representative Ruwa Romman and District 48 Representative Scott Hilton, whose constituents include parts of Southwest Gwinnett County, including Peachtree Corners, sat down for a second time to share information about legislative action at the State Capital

Their discussion was part of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast series at Atlanta Hilton Northeast.

Although they sit on opposite sides of the aisle, Hilton and Romman both seek to sponsor and pass legislation that improves and maintains a high quality of life in the Peach State and provides its residents with what they need. 

Elected in 2022, this was Romman’s sophomore year in the State House. She serves on the Georgia House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, Georgia House Information and Audits Committee and Georgia House Interstate Cooperation Committee. 

Hilton previously served in the State House from 2017 to 2019 but took a “sabbatical,” as he calls it, to serve as executive director for the Georgians First Commission under the Office of Governor Brian Kemp

He was re-elected to his current position in 2022. He is the vice chair of the Georgia House Creative Arts and Entertainment Committee and the Georgia House Education Committee, as well as a member of the Georgia House Public Health Committee and the Committee on Georgia House Urban Affairs.

Senate Bill 63

The moderator, Norcross resident and former WAGA political reporter Dale Russell started off with a topic making headlines: Senate Bill 63. This law, signed by Gov. Kemp shortly after the session ended, prohibits charities, individuals or groups from providing bail funds for more than three people per year unless they register as bonding agencies. It also expands mandatory cash bail to 30 new offenses.

“I think it’s going to bring home safety to the community,” said Hilton. “I ran on that issue because as I was knocking on doors, I’ve heard from folks who [want to] keep our community safe. And unfortunately, no community has been immune from the uptick in crime that we had seen post-COVID, so this was one of those bills in response to that.”

Hilton gave examples of crimes where individuals out on bail committed acts such as murder.

“That was our commitment back to our constituents to say, ‘Listen, we’re not going to let bad guys back out onto the streets again to do more crime.’ This bill was in response to this; it’s going to keep our community safe, hold those accountable and bring justice to those who break the law,” Hilton remarked. 

“Unfortunately, right now, we’ve got district attorneys and sheriffs across Georgia who are blatantly disregarding the law and letting folks back out on the streets who pose, you know, safety risks to law-abiding citizens like you and I and your businesses,” he continued.

Russel pointed out that there’s been a lot of criticism of this law. 

“The ACLU was totally against it. Some felt like it was imprisoning poor people in the sense, for minor crimes,” he said.

“I do agree with the criticism for a few reasons,” said Romman. 

“The problem with this bill is that of the 30 crimes that are listed as now requiring a cash bail, the majority of them don’t actually require jail time, even if you’re found guilty of them. So now, somebody who would not even have ever served time for those crimes that are listed could now serve jail time because they cannot afford their bail,” she explained.

She added that the law doesn’t address the crimes it’s supposed to protect citizens from.

“We see these headlines, but this bill doesn’t address those because what we see happening is that a lot of churches now will no longer be able to bail people out that cannot afford their bail because of this bill,” she said.

“And churches that have been trying to, for example, reunite a parent with their children for Christmas, or whatever the case may be, can no longer do that. There is actually an exception written into this bill for bail bondsmen. So, it’s not like being able to pay cash bail is completely out of the question. It just means that somebody can make money off of it now,” Romman continued.

Hilton said the state isn’t done with addressing public safety issues as they come up.

“I know that’s been a priority of the governor, and I think rightfully so; you know, there’s a reason we’ve got citizens flocking to Georgia over the last ten years; we’ve added a million Georgians to our state, and they are leaving states with policies that don’t have this. They’re coming to Georgia for economic prosperity, for safety and for good schools,” said Hilton.

House Bill 1105

Another controversial bill, HB 1105, is framed as a public safety bill that requires local enforcement to coordinate with federal immigration officials when someone in custody is suspected of being in the country illegally. 

Some say it’s an immigration bill.

“I know that the federal administration is trying to tell us there’s not a crisis. But there is a humanitarian crisis going on right now on our southern border.  … But they’re not handling it the right way, and it’s starting to impact our communities,” said Hilton.

“We’ve got sheriffs who have folks in their custody, who [need] to be reported up to ICE. And essentially, they’re sort of ignoring what’s in the law right now that says you got to report these folks,” he explained.

Romman doesn’t see it that way.

“Again, when you read the contents of the bill, that is, unfortunately, not what it does,” she said. “I’m one of the few, if not the only, member of the legislature that’s done any border project work,” she remarked.

She talked about her work keeping unaccompanied immigrant minors safe.

“I want to remind people that when we talk about immigration, there’s an entire spectrum of people that we are talking about. And it’s not just at the border, it’s also people that fly into our country legally, that gets narrowed into a terrible immigration system,” Romman said.

“It forces our state and county and city police to do federal-level work without more funding. What we’re doing is we’re actually adding an increased burden, essentially onto their workload that we are not paying for. And in addition, within this bill, if they do not do this, they could lose more funding.”

She added that this will take the police away from focusing on local issues and trying to work with people who live in their communities.

“If a community member feels like if they reach out to police for help, and the police are going to deport them, they are less likely to report crimes and less likely to work with our local police department,” Romman said. “If we’re serious about immigration and its relationship to crime, immigrants are 30% less likely to commit crimes, and I don’t want to vilify an entire group of people.”

Romman said she supports a holistic, three-pronged approach that includes improving conditions on the border and pathways to citizenship.

Business-related legislation

When the smoke cleared, both Hilton and Romman joked that they had different opinions about many issues but agreed that’s a healthy part of how the government works. 

“The fact that we do disagree and the fact that you, the community, have varying choices and options out there. I think it’s a healthy part of the process,” said Hilton. “And we do have fun. I was telling somebody we play kickball about halfway through the session, and we do get along.”

The discussion moved on to topics such as the FTC ruling on non-compete clauses and tort reform, which just about everyone in the room agreed upon. Although employees could see the beauty of disallowing non-compete clauses, as business owners, they’d hate to see trade secrets put in jeopardy or valuable time and money put into training to benefit another company. 

And everyone wanted to see caps on personal injury claims for things like slip-and-falls and fleet vehicle accidents.

“One of the few regrets I have coming out of session is that we didn’t do more on tort reform,” said Hilton. “Right now, Georgia is the number one judicial hellhole in the nation, meaning that we have more lawsuits on businesses and payouts than anywhere else in the country.”

This was one area where both representatives had similar views.

“I don’t think this is a left or right issue,” said Romman. “I want to make sure that whatever tort reform we pursue does not let, for example, a bad-acting company off the hook. But on the flip side, if somebody is just going around and suing everybody all the time to try and make some money off of it, how do you protect corporations and businesses from those kinds of bad incidents litigation?”

“What I will continue to look for when it comes to tort reform is, how are we going about balancing that?” she added.

Looking ahead

As the session wrapped, Romman and Hilton pointed out legislation they’d like to see move forward next year.

“House Bill 971 creates a $300 tax credit for taxpayers who sign up for firearm safety training or purchase a safe storage device. It’s a bipartisan measure, viewed by some as a small but perhaps significant move for gun safety advocates, which was tabled in the Senate room,” said Romman. 

She said the bill wouldn’t even require someone to disclose that they owned a firearm, but it was meant to incentivize people to store their firearms properly.

“There wasn’t a lot of appetite if somebody didn’t properly store their gun to have consequences for that, so we thought it would just incentivize better behavior,” she said.

Hilton mentioned school safety. 

“Over the last three years, every single school in Georgia has gotten a one-time $100,000 grant for School Safety. That’s every school in Georgia; in this most recent budget, we included $45,000 in recurring money for every school in the state to do whatever they want to ensure their campuses are safe,” he said. This includes private schools as well.

At the end of the event, Hilton and Romman reminded the audience that they weren’t running against each other, and even though their views were different, their goals for a better Georgia were equally as passionate.

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City of Peachtree Corners Unveils Space-Inspired Tot Lot Playground



Last November, the city began constructing a new tot lot playground for children under six years old that is themed around space exploration. 
Photos by Dorie Liu

On Friday, May 10, 2024, the City of Peachtree Corners held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony of its new space-themed Tot Lot Playground on Town Green.

Last November, the city began constructing a new tot lot playground for children under six years old that is themed around space exploration.  This new play area includes a rocket ship, a moon rover, a crashed UFO and other fun designs. It was also created to be fully accessible, ensuring all children can enjoy it.

During the ribbon-cutting, children and their guardians enjoyed fun activities, including an ice cream truck, bubble lady, balloon animals, face painting and even a visit from Buzz Lightyear.

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