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Faces of Peachtree Corners

Nominate People for our Annual Faces of Peachtree Corners



Faces of Peachtree Corners 2022

It’s been a monumental two years of change in everything from the way we attend school, work, and travel to how we study, buy groceries (think Instacart), and invest our savings (think Cryptocurrency and Coinbase) This year’s Faces of Peachtree Corners highlights the students who have shown ingenuity and resilience in light of today’s challenges. Plus, those entrepreneurs, influencers, creators, everyday citizens and leaders that have contributed to the community in a significant way.

Ages 12 and up. We’re celebrating those that we feel express the best of who we are. We’re seeking nominations of students (public and private schools, and colleges) plus everyday citizens, leaders, and community members.

Nominations are welcome from teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, colleagues, community leaders, neighbors, and organizations. And yes, self-nominations are fine too.

Here is the information we need:

  • Nominator (name, relationship to nominee and contact information)
  • Nominee
    • For students: name, age, grade, school, parent or guardian names, contact information
    • For adults: name, profession, company, contact information
    • Must reside or work full-time in the City of Peachtree Corners.
  • Characteristics and service: Please provide a paragraph describing why this nominee deserves recognition. Include service projects, goals, accomplishments and areas of interest to help illustrate your point. Please try to keep it under 500 words.
  • A high resolution photograph (1MB in size or more) in any setting – though we’ll be doing a photo session with each of the final chosen we’d appreciate any photos available for possible use.

The deadline for nominations is Tuesday, March 1, 2022. The results will appear in our April/May 2022 issue.

Please email nominations to our publisher Rico Figliolini at
editor [@] livinginpeachtreecorners.com. We’ll have an online form up in a few days for convenience.

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20 Faces of Peachtree Corners



Discover the Faces of Peachtree Corners and see how each person’s unique contribution creates an extraordinary community.

Peachtree Corners, recognized as a top place to live and work in Georgia, owes its accolades to its residents. Here are 20 individuals known to embody the heart and spirit of the community. They share what they love and how they contribute to the city’s desirability and uniqueness. From a caring veterinarian and proactive city council members to innovative entrepreneurs and gifted students, these are the faces that shape our city. Discover the Faces of Peachtree Corners and see how each person’s unique contribution creates an extraordinary community.

Alex Wright

Councilman Alex Wright’s connection to Peachtree Corners began in 2003. A Georgia native, he returned to the state in 2001 after serving in the military. He was drawn to Peachtree Corners by job proximity but quickly felt at home.

“Peachtree Corners is like a small town, with a tight-knit community feel, but it’s free from the usual limitations of small-town life,” he said.

Wright’s motivation to enter local politics stemmed from a desire to protect and guide the city’s future.

“My goal when I was running for Council in 2012 was to prevent Peachtree Corners from becoming another city where people say, ‘Yeah, that area used to be nice.’ No, let’s stay here and fight to keep it nice,” Wright added.

In fact, let’s make it better! That really was what motivated me to get involved. Be part of the solution, not the problem,” he went on to say. 

When considering recent projects in the city with impact, the Veterans Monument and the redesigned playground at the Town Center stand out. These projects aren’t just amenities; they’re symbols of what local government in touch with its citizens can achieve.

“The origin story of the idea behind the playground also shows the advantages of local government. A resident with a great idea helped jump-start a project that has been an absolutely huge success story.”

Drawing from his diverse background in the military and finance, Wright approaches his role on the Council with a focus on problem-solving.

“Though the military and the finance worlds are quite different in most ways, there are some similarities that have influenced how I approach being a member of the Council,” said Wright.

“Both heavily emphasize problem-solving skills. More specifically, they both emphasize having a solution or end result in mind. Working backward from there to determine a route to achieve the desired result,” he asserted.

Wright believes that most residents evaluate their government based on safety, economic well-being and minimal unnecessary intervention.

These principles guide his decision-making, especially in matters like land development, where he weighs the community’s safety and long-term economic benefits.

Wright’s journey reflects a life dedicated to service, problem-solving, and a steadfast commitment to the community he calls home.

Dr. April Coleman, Psy.D.

Dr. April Coleman, Psy.D. is the contract psychologist for the International Charter Academy of Georgia. Her lifelong commitment to community service stems from her childhood, influenced by her parents’ involvement in charitable acts.

“I watched my parents in their roles with the United Way, our church, and their social and civic organizations participating in holiday toy drives,” she said.

I watched them feed the homeless and lead several other initiatives. It just made sense to me that as I grew older, I would continue this same drive and passion for community involvement,” she added.

This dedication continued through her college years, where she was actively involved in organizations like Key Club International, Circle K International, the National Council for Negro Women (NCNW), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Dr. Coleman’s passion for community service has only grown since college. She is a board member of the Spectrum Autism Support Center and actively contributes to the Junior League of Gwinnett and North Fulton Counties.

Dr. Coleman serves in various roles at Trinity AME Church and in the Sister2Sister Mentoring program. She also continues her advocacy work at the Georgia State Capitol.

“My drive for giving back and helping others comes from a deep sense of compassion and empathy. When I see someone in need or a cause that resonates with me, I feel a strong desire to make a positive impact and improve their well-being,” she reflected.

Dr. Coleman contributed to the establishment of a permanent SPECTRUM location in Gwinnett County. The organization supports individuals and families impacted by autism.

She advocates for mental health through the Junior League by focusing on challenges faced by women and girls. Her efforts include mentoring programs and initiatives to provide essential products to those in need.

Dr. Coleman also aims to alleviate the mental health effects of poverty and resource scarcity.

Dr. Coleman confronts challenges like the stigma of seeking mental health support. She sees the rise in anxiety and depression among children post-pandemic. To help, Dr. Coleman advocates improving the number of school resources for mental health needs.

She addresses the need through educational seminars, panel discussions, community events and professional development training for teachers.

Her efforts extend to sharing resources, contributing to publications and authoring a children’s book on anxiety. Dr. Coleman’s work exemplifies a commitment to enhancing the well-being of the Peachtree Corners community and beyond.

Bertrand Lapoire

Bertrand Lapoire, originally from France, found a warm welcome in the community of Peachtree Corners. Attracted to the beautiful landscapes and great schools in 2013, his family knew they had found their home.

A true Frenchman, Lapoire owns Neodistributing, LLC in Norcross. The company is an exclusive distributor of Enomatic Wine Serving Systems for 18 states in the eastern and southeastern U.S. The company serves customers like the Ritz Carlton, Kroger, and REGAL Cinemas.

Lapoire has contributed to the growth of the French American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) in Peachtree Corners since 2012. Currently Vice Chairman, he moved the FACC office from the French Consulate to Curiosity Lab in Peachtree Corners.

This decision was driven by the support and opportunities offered by the city and Curiosity Lab.

“Thanks to key people I met at the city and at Curiosity Lab who showed immense support and interest in having the FACC join the ecosystem, coupled with the ability to grow our operation and host international interns in the facility, our decision was easy to make,” he said.

“We immediately benefited from the constant activity at Curiosity Lab and the support of the city as a partner and member of the Chamber. This even led to a delegation trip to visit different incubators and mobility research hubs in France early this year,” he added.

The move has proven beneficial, enhancing the Chamber’s operations and fostering international connections.

During Lapoire’s tenure as the Chairman of the Peachtree Corners Downtown Development Authority, he made tremendous strides to revitalize Technology Park. He focused on improving amenities and daily life for employees and residents, bringing new energy and focus to the board.

“I spent a few months as the Chair of the DDA before joining the Economic Development team for the city. I’m still proud of being able to insufflate a new energy on the board for a few months during which we have started to focus on the amenities and activations that would help improve Technology Park and the everyday life of the employees and citizens,” he explained.

Lapoire is an enthusiastic traveler, looking forward to visiting family in France and exploring Italy and Germany next summer. He also has a long-term goal of traveling to Japan.

Lapoire’s journey from France to Peachtree Corners exemplifies a successful integration into American life while maintaining strong ties to his roots.

His professional life and community involvement highlight his commitment to fostering relationships and development. He is a truly valuable member of the Peachtree Corners community.

Bill Diehl

William “Bill” Diehl is chairman of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and president of the Peachtree Corners Rotary Club. He’s been instrumental in leading initiatives to strengthen community ties and support local families in need.

Under Diehl’s leadership, the Chamber supported meal preparation and delivery for families facing economic hardships. They accomplished this by partnering with local nonprofits such as the Alliance and Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries.

Diehl initiated Career Exploration Night for the Rotary Club. The evening grants high school students the opportunity to learn about various professions and scholarships.

“What sets this event apart is that we try to find professionals and careers that many students may not have considered or even known existed. It’s neat to see the wheels turning as kids hear about possibilities they never knew were there,” he shared.

As a board member of Revved Up Kids, Diehl helps promote the organization’s mission. The program helps prevent child abuse through educational programs for children and parents.

Diehl and his wife, Kassie, reside in Norcross with their two children. Diehl, a land use and commercial litigation attorney, is heavily involved in Peachtree Corners and values the area’s diverse range of experiences.

For example, historic landmarks, modern technological advancements and the variety of dining options from global cultures.

“This area has Gwinnett’s second oldest city and its newest. It has a historic train depot and a worldwide leader in automated transportation systems only two miles apart from each other,” said Diehl.

A well-known figure in Peachtree Corners, Diel is a testament to fostering community where you live. Although he recently accepted a new role outside of the city, the roots Diehl and his family have planted here are sure to remain strong.

Bob Ballagh

In 1991, Bob Ballagh, posted to Fort McPherson by the Army, and his wife Ella began their search for a new home in the Atlanta area.

After exploring different neighborhoods, the charm and potential of Peachtree Corners felt like home.

Friends from Ballagh’s army days pointed him toward a new subdivision named Riverfield and thus began the journey of owning a home after 27 years of Army accommodation.

Bob shared, “We were drawn to Peachtree Corners because of the excellent schools and the overall community ambiance.”

With roots starting to deepen, Ballagh became an active community member.

He said, “Being among the initial residents of Riverfield, I naturally involved myself in the HOA and the emerging Fields Club, serving on the inaugural boards of both.”

Speaking on his military experiences, Ballagh shared, “Military communities thrive on volunteerism. From coordinating large youth sports programs to assisting on-base services, my time in the military emphasized the essence of community service. It’s this spirit that translates seamlessly to civilian life.”

After his Army retirement in 1993, life took Ballagh on a brief detour to Croatia for four years. On returning in 1998, his commitment to Peachtree Corners resumed, securing a role at CheckFree and re-engaging with the community organizations.

Discussing his efforts for the Peachtree Corners Veteran’s Monument Association, Ballagh recalled how the community showed up to support the occasion.

“We had significant contributions by Charlie Roberts, Doug Heckman, Gina Bryant, Lisa and Bob Cheeley, the city of Peachtree Corners, Barbara & Brad Howard (Suzanna’s Kitchen), and Fisher Sculpture, and Kent Feuerbach who built the monument,” he explained.

“We had nearly 1,000 donors who gave donations ranging from $100 for a brick to $75,000,” he went on the say.

On the horizon, Ballagh is optimistic about the association’s evolution from focusing solely on the monument to becoming a broader service organization for Veterans.

Offering advice to fellow Peachtree Corners residents, Ballagh stated, “There is an abundance of opportunities for you to continue to make the city a great place to live–volunteer for scouting programs, at the YMCA, for food lockers, or at schools. Peachtree Corners is only as good as the people who live here. We have a great legacy–let’s keep it that way.”

Bobby Cobb

Upon relocating from Phenix City, Alabama, Bobby Cobb found purpose in the community spirit of Peachtree Corners.

This was a pivotal time in Cobb’s life, as he was relocating during the pandemic. He soon felt a true sense of belonging.

That support, along with the city’s inclusive leadership, spurred him to establish Cobb Global Outreach (CGO). An organization that focuses on decreasing the wage gap through scholarships and financial literacy for youth.

“Our mission is to decrease the wage gap by providing scholarships and education about financial literacy to youth. We believe that equipping students with knowledge about finance can help narrow the wealth gap and empower future generations,” said Cobb.

CGO’s initiatives, like the “Start to Success Backpack Campaign” at Norcross High School, have shown measurable success. In fact, he provides increasing support to families each year.

Partnering with local organizations, CGO also conducts “The Future Is Yours,” a program offering holistic development tips to students.

In addition to CGO, Cobb supports Project Kids and actively participates in the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and the Peachtree Corners Business Association, contributing to various local causes.

“By working together, we can create a supportive, nurturing environment that empowers every student in Peachtree Corners to reach their full potential,” Cobb shared.

“Yes, I’m a dreamer. But I’m also a doer. And I’m committed to doing everything I can to make this dream a reality for the students of Peachtree Corners,” he added.

His vision for the students of Peachtree Corners is comprehensive and includes academic success, secure living and well-being. Cobb emphasizes collaboration across sectors as the key to realizing this ambitious goal.

Chris Cleveland

Chris Cleveland, a native Atlantan and long-time Peachtree Corners resident, witnessed the transformation of Peachtree Corners first-hand.

He observed how the growing desire to reduce commuting times has expanded the community. And now, the sleepy town he once knew has become a vibrant hub.

Peachtree Corners has become a place where people can work, live and enjoy leisure without extensive travel.

As the headmaster of Wesleyan School since 2002, Cleveland has contributed in his own ways to the city’s transformation. He views the school not only as an educational institution but as an integral part of the city’s development.

“What I appreciate about the people of Peachtree Corners is the expressed desire for this to be a true community. Authentic community can’t exist at arm’s length. We must take the time to get to know one another and to work, volunteer and serve with each other,” he explained.

Despite the demands of his role, Cleveland finds ways to engage with the local community through family activities, dining and shopping. He considers Peachtree Corners a true home where his social networks come alive.

Cleveland’s educational philosophy is shaped by his experiences and the leaders he’s encountered throughout his career.

He emphasizes the importance of personal relationships in education and warns against the impersonality that can accompany technology.

“Our world is becoming increasingly impersonal. While advancements in technology have served us well in terms of efficiency, if we aren’t careful, we lose sight of the need to invest in each other,” he asserted.

Cleveland identifies innovation as the primary challenge and opportunity for education in Peachtree Corners. He underscores the need for schools to adapt quickly to societal changes while focusing on children’s needs.

“Schools need to remain focused on the needs of children. This is becoming increasingly difficult as schools continue to feel the pressure to do more and more for children, including things for which schools were not designed,” Cleveland explained.

“Finally, in the midst of new initiatives and innovative curricula, we can never lose sight that education is about the development of children, which demands the personal investment of loving and caring adults,” he continued.

With increasing pressures on schools to take on roles beyond their traditional scope, Cleveland pushes back. He insists that schools must remember that education is fundamentally about the development of children.

To be successful, education requires personal investment from dedicated adults. Under Cleveland’s leadership, Wesleyan School aims to embody these principles, playing a vital role in the community’s youth support and development.

Jaime Cho

Jaime Cho has made it her mission to bring a sense of family and personalization to local veterinary care.

Cho had a dream that sparked in the halls of the University of Georgia (UGA), where the challenge of veterinary medicine called to her.

“I’ve always had a love for animals. I daydreamed about nursing animals back to health and releasing them back into the wild,” she recalls.

“During my freshman year of college at UGA, I listened to a professor talking to pre-vet students about the UGA veterinary medicine program. The more he talked about it, the more it piqued my interest. I distinctly remember him saying how difficult and competitive it was to pursue veterinary medicine,” Cho shared.

“It was at that moment that a light switch went off in my head. It never crossed my mind to pursue a career in veterinary medicine,” she added.

Her dedication to animal welfare and the animals she treats in the community has since created a river of care and trust that extends beyond the walls of her practice.

Cho’s vision for Peach Paws was clear from the onset. She aimed to build a clinic that didn’t just know its patients by their medical records, but one where personal stories were shared and remembered, and where each visit felt like coming home.

Cho remarks, “It wasn’t until 2019 when I realized I wanted to open my own practice. I didn’t know it then, but ultimately, my mother inspired me to open my own practice one day.”

“She raised me and my twin sister as a single parent while running her own business. My mother showed me what work ethic, courage and grit look like. She was the one who showed me the importance of treating people, especially customers, with kindness and patience,” she explains.

Within this inviting space, Cho and her team have worked tirelessly to embody integrity, empathy and compassion, values that clients recognize and appreciate.

The clinic’s warm environment reflects Cho’s belief in the healing power of a community that cares.

“I wanted to bring back that family-feel type of business where you could walk in the door of our hospital and we would know you, your family and pets by name,” Cho said.

Beyond her career as a veterinarian, Cho is deeply invested in nurturing future generations. By providing internships and hospital tours for high school students, she aims to light the same spark in young minds she felt years ago.

“One thing I missed out on as a young child was mentorship,” Cho recalled.

“I felt the mentorship opportunities were especially minimal for girls and minorities. So, I told myself if I ever were in a position of influence, I would use that opportunity to pour into the younger generations by encouraging, challenging and teaching them through vet medicine,” she asserted.

Cho’s influence stretches across Peachtree Corners, where she’s become a cornerstone of empathy and guidance, especially in times of joy and sorrow that pet ownership entails.

She stands with families as they welcome new furry members and holds their hands through heart-wrenching farewells, embodying the poignant beauty of the human-animal bond.

The community, to Cho, is a tapestry of lives interconnected, where each thread supports another. Her actions, rooted in the love for her neighbors and the shared journey of pet care, have knitted a stronger, more resilient community fabric.

“I feel honored that people trust me with the care of their beloved companions. It’s a responsibility I cherish deeply,” she expresses.

The families of Peachtree Corners have a place to care for their pets and a place that cares for them, where every face is familiar, and every story is cherished. Through the doors of Peach Paws, Cho continues to live out her dream of healing and unity, paw in hand.

James Chien

Chef James Chien has become a culinary staple in Peachtree Corners. Chien’s path to the kitchen was surprisingly nontraditional. He started as an art student, transitioned to fashion illustration and then into design.

His journey brought him to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. To support his studies, he drove a taxicab, all the while harboring a passion for culinary arts.

“I drove for two and a half years. But I always knew I wanted to be involved in the culinary industry, which to me was another art form,” he said.

Bringing a rich blend of flavors and experiences to the local food scene, chef Chien’s journey in the area began before Peachtree Corners was formally established.

His first restaurant venture, Some Like It Hot, opened in 2001. Specializing in New Orleans cuisine with an Asian twist, chef Chien pioneered the “Asian Cajun” concept. Although the restaurant closed in 2006, it left a lasting impression.

Next, chef Chien spent seven years as an executive chef for various hotels. However, corporate life left him yearning for the creativity of running his own establishment.

He opened his third restaurant, Eating Americana, in Peachtree Corners, and his loyal customers followed.

Chef Chien draws inspiration for his dishes from his extensive international travels. He also uses his professional experiences, including working under a chef who trained with the late chef Paul Prudhomme.

This diverse background informs his unique approach to “chef crafted foods,” familiar American comfort foods reimagined and elevated.

“Unapologetically American. Every meal that you’re familiar with growing up but better! What I do is not necessarily genius. But the idea of the genius behind great food,” he asserted.

Beyond the kitchen, chef Chien emphasizes connecting with his patrons. Contrary to the stereotype of the aloof chef, he believes in the power of personal touch.

He walks the dining room, meets customers, expresses gratitude and remains accessible. This philosophy of community and connection has made chef Chien a beloved figure in Peachtree Corners.

Jim Gaffey

In 1980, Jim Gaffey and his young family found their home in Peachtree Corners. Influenced by his service-oriented Irish immigrant parents, Gaffey immediately began shaping the community we love today.

Gaffey reminisced, “Growing up, I witnessed my parents, particularly my mother, immerse themselves in community service. Their dedication instilled in me the value of community, and as Peachtree Corners developed, I channeled their spirit to usher in positive change.”

One of his early accomplishments was helping to stop the East Jones Bridge Rd expansion.

Gaffey’s leadership drove residents to attend a Board of Commissioners meeting in Lawrenceville, where their overwhelming presence ensured the board’s rejection of the project.

By stopping the expansion, Gaffey helped preserve land for town staples like The Forum and Simpson Elementary School.

He also led the creation of the Peachtree Corners Swim & Racquet Club in 1985, addressing a growing need for local pools. His efforts didn’t stop there.

Gaffey’s influence brought the YMCA to Peachtree Corners, initiated a marathon training program and backed community-building festivals and races.

Perhaps one of the most challenging tasks he pursued was campaigning for schools in Peachtree Corners. It was a journey filled with numerous state, county and community meetings.

Yet, Gaffey didn’t back down from the challenge. He gained the community’s support, which led to solidifying Peachtree Corners as a nurturing environment for growth and learning.

Mayor Mike Mason is a long-time friend of Gaffey’s and one of his biggest fans.

“In a time of narrow tribal alliances and polarization, he has surprised me more than once with the breadth of his life experiences,” Mason shared.

“His generosity and focus on the common good mark him, in my world, as a true old-school gentleman. He is unfailingly polite, doesn’t speak loudly when a whisper will do, and generously gives credit to others while accomplishing his goals. I am proud to call him my friend. He is a role model for young people everywhere,” he added.

His dedication to Peachtree Corners never waned, even as life took its course.

“I helped support a group of church-based women, who had formed a prayer group, as they worked to establish a mission church here,” said Gaffey. “My late wife, Terry, helped form that prayer group.”

Gaffey collaborated with the prayer group and helped in successfully bringing a mission church to town in 1994, which now hosts 1,000 families.

Mary Our Queen recently finished its beautiful traditional sanctuary on The Corners Pkwy NW. Recently, he shared his expertise with the Chabad of Gwinnett as they looked to build an Enrichment Center in Peachtree Corners.

Gaffey married his second wife, Carol, a former Simpson Elementary teacher. The duo continues to champion community causes, most notably with the Assistance League of Atlanta, where Carol served as President during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gaffey reflected on his journey: “It was about taking lessons from those who came before me and pouring that legacy back into the community.”

Through decades of unwavering commitment, Jim Gaffey stands as a testament to the power of community spirit, laying the foundation for Peachtree Corners’ bright future.

Josh Whitlock

Josh Whitlock, a technology teacher at Cornerstone Christian Academy, has made a profound and fun-filled impact on youth sports.

Since moving to Peachtree Corners five years ago, Whitlock brought an innovative and inclusive method to coaching. His special approach? He emphasizes enjoyment and teamwork over competition and winning.

He believes that each player, regardless of skill level, should be actively involved and have an equal opportunity to play. Whitlock also challenged his sons to assist every player on their coed team in scoring a goal.

The experiment resulted in nine out of twelve players scoring, some for the first time.

“I like to design special trick plays to get some less experienced players a chance to score. We had one called Preston’s Special Delivery that got a kid several touchdowns last flag football season,” he explained.

Whitlock is also known for his unique coaching activities. His teams enjoy face painting with their team colors, creating creative team chants and awarding unconventional trophies to highlight individual achievements.

“I give secret missions to my players before the game. This may be something like, ‘Tell the other team, nice shot,’ or ‘say thanks to the ref at the end of the game,’ or ‘high five every player on our team,’ or ‘make five strong passes,’” he explained.

“These are ways for kids to have a goal that fits their skill level, try hard to meet that goal and celebrate the success of meeting that goal,” he said.

Aside from his role as a coach, Whitlock is deeply involved in his community. He leads the worship for children services at Perimeter Church and has a significant presence at Cornerstone Christian Academy.

His passion for helping others feel seen continues at Cornerstone, where he can name over 400 students.

His impact on the community is a testament to his dedication to making sports a positive and inclusive experience.

Louis Svehla

As City Communications Director, Louis Svehla has dedicated himself to the well-being of the Peachtree Corners community, touching on aspects from local business support to safety initiatives.

In his role, Svehla is responsible for overseeing various communication channels— from websites and social media to newsletters and public communications. He ensures that information is accessible, honest and easy to comprehend.

Svehla’s enthusiasm shines when discussing the Choose Peachtree Corners Shop Local app he helped to implement. The app allows residents to earn points, which can be redeemed later, for shopping at local businesses.

This initiative encourages a symbiotic relationship between local businesses and residents, creating a supportive ecosystem within the community.

“There is no cost to the public or the business, and both parties benefit,” Svehla shared. “It emphasizes supporting local small businesses, which leads to the businesses supporting the residents.”

Among the lesser known but highly impactful initiatives Svehla has assisted in is the Camera Registration program called Connect Peachtree Corners.

This program allows residents to register their home cameras into a database accessible by law enforcement. While it doesn’t grant real-time access, the registered information aids in quick evidence collection, contributing to the overall safety of the area.

Looking forward, Svehla is excited about the expansion of the Town Green, which includes a custom-designed tot lot playground focused on children six and under, as well as a 9,000 sq. ft. off-leash dog park.

Svehla and his team are also excited about providing family-oriented events at no cost, such as live music shows, the Curiosity Lab Criterium cycling race and the Atlanta Sci-Fi Film Festival.

Svehla is deeply invested in the community. Through his work, he aims to enhance the quality of life in this diverse and welcoming city, one project at a time.

Whether promoting local businesses, ensuring public safety or adding to the community’s recreational outlets, Svehla is pivotal in making Peachtree Corners a great place to live.

Michael Pugh

Michael Pugh is a vital part of Peachtree Corners’ community fabric. Pugh, now a partner and shareholder at Thompson, O’Brien Kappler & Nasuti, P.C., joined the firm in 2010 as an associate attorney. At that time, the firm was known as Thompson, O’Brien, Kemp & Nasuti, P.C.

After working in Peachtree Corners for the last 13 years, Pugh understands the tight-knit community atmosphere. This sense of connectedness, he finds, is shared by residents and businesses alike.

“The most appealing thing about Peachtree Corners for me is the overwhelming sense of pride in the community shared amongst residents and businesses. I also love the feeling that Peachtree Corners is a large-small town,” said Pugh.

“By that, I mean it is not usual to bump into neighbors, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and clients whether out to dinner in one of Peachtree Corners’s many restaurants or shopping,” he explained.

Pugh’s community engagement is marked by his roles in the Peachtree Corners Business Association (PCBA) and the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCCA).

His involvement with the PCBA includes contributing to business growth initiatives and community outreach. In the UPCCCA, Pugh enhances residents’ quality of life, including hosting events and debates and awarding scholarships.

Pugh’s legal acumen, especially in bankruptcy litigation, extends beyond professional realms into community service. He participates in speaker panels, shares insights in his field, and does pro bono work with Gwinnett County Legal Aid.

In addition to his board roles, Pugh contributes to the community through his law firm’s involvement in local fundraisers and events. His expertise in estate planning further assists residents, providing vital legal services in preparing wills and handling probate matters.

Michael Pugh’s dedication to Peachtree Corners is evident in his diverse roles and contributions. From providing legal expertise to engaging in community initiatives, he embodies a balance of professional excellence and community commitment.

Ora Douglass

Freshly elected to the Peachtree Corners City Council, Ora Douglass brings a rich history of service and community engagement to Peachtree Corners.

Douglass and her husband moved from Norcross to Peachtree Corners 25 years ago. Drawn by the community-focused environment and amenities like the Robert D. Fowler YMCA, Peachtree Corners was a natural fit.

Douglass’ first job out of nursing school was as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. She credits the Army, and her stint at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu for her values of discipline, respect and cultural sensitivity.

“As an officer, it was my responsibility to demonstrate leadership at all times. There were many rules to be followed; the first was to represent the U.S. Army in a respectable manner at all times,” said Douglass.

“As a nurse, I had to lean on the ethical principles of justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, accountability, fidelity, autonomy and veracity. These principles shaped who I am as an individual. I believe being an Army Officer and a registered nurse enhanced what was already there,” he explained. 

After serving two decades in hospital administration, Douglass returned to federal service. She led a significant expansion of the home-based primary and palliative care program at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

Douglass also successfully secured a $10 million grant to extend services to rural areas, providing comprehensive care to veterans.

As the chartering president of the Peachtree Corners chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Douglass has led community-focused initiatives.

“The fundraising component of our chapter is a 501c3., Georgia Pearls of Service Foundation (GPOS). GPOS raises funds each year to support community service programs and organizations such as Backpack Buddies and the YMCA,” Douglass continued.

“I firmly believe that to whom much is given, much is required. Even though I was orphaned at 18 months, I’ve been given very much, as evidenced by being Councilwoman Elect for post 5. I plan to coordinate with the city and other service organizations to offer community events for Peachtree Corners,” she confidently asserted.

She envisions festivals celebrating diverse cultures, health fairs, job fairs and more, reflecting her commitment to inclusivity and community welfare.

Douglass’ efforts in securing resources for veterans, addressing childhood hunger and planning community events showcase her commitment to making Peachtree Corners a better place for all its residents.

Papa Mensah

Born and raised in Peachtree Corners, Papa Mensah is currently a senior at Wesleyan School. While in school, he was integral in fostering the development of a Student-Led Worship program.

“My faith in Jesus influences every aspect of my life, especially my perspective on community service. Some verses that I cherish are Galatians 6:2 and 1 Peter 4:8-10,” said Mensah.

“The 1 Peter verse emphasizes deep love and using our gifts to serve others. It mirrors my approach to organizing worship services and how I view community service,” he explained.

“It’s not just about doing good deeds; it’s about genuinely caring for one another. This idea of being faithful stewards of God’s grace has made me more aware of the diverse needs in our community,” he continued.

He contributes heavily to the Peachtree Corners community and beyond. GIVE Charity, co-founded with his brother Nana, reflects Mensah’s dedication to educational equity and addressing global issues.

The Mensah brothers spent three years living with family members in Ghana as children. This experience, along with their mother’s teaching services in Ghana, inspired the charity.

The initiative refurbishes and repurposes technology for schools in Subi, Ghana. It addresses the educational resource gap, inspired by his mother’s educational bond in Ghana and his own in Peachtree Corners.

“I am very aware of the privilege I have in attending a school like Wesleyan, but I also recognize my educational foundation, which was built in Ghana. Not everyone has this same experience,” he said.

“My older cousin Mimi who lives in Ghana, my older brother Nana and I had a vision to reach out to local technology companies in the metro Atlanta area. We look for companies with surplus or slightly outdated devices that could be repurposed for classroom use in Subi,” he remarked.

He credits his family, particularly his parents and brother Nana, for their support and exemplifying excellence. Their sacrifices have been a motivating force behind his commitment to GIVE Charity and his broader goals.

Mensah plans to integrate technology with community service further. He aims to develop machine learning software for disease detection, targeting underserved communities.

“We hope to continue growing GIVE to have a greater impact in the number of schools in Subi reached, the number of devices repurposed, and the number of people inspired to take action in their communities,” he asserted.

Scott Hilton

Scott Hilton and his family moved to Peachtree Corners in December 2011. As a Georgia State Representative, he has played a significant role in the community’s development.

During his term in the Georgia General Assembly, Hilton championed school choice and the empowerment of individuals with disabilities.

His legislative efforts, particularly the passage of House Bill 787, led to the establishment of the Paul Duke STEM School.

The bill also created the International Charter Academy in Peachtree Corners, a new Japanese-English dual-language immersion school. These institutions have broadened educational options in the community.

“As the father of three children, I’ve witnessed firsthand how every child learns differently. Students and families should be given an educational option that best fits their needs,” he stated.

Hilton advocates for reducing government regulations and taxes to spur small business growth.

“The reality is that small businesses are the economic engine of Georgia, employing more than 70% of all workers in our state,” he asserted.

My wife, Meredith, is an amazing small business owner and local attorney. She provides estate planning services for many in our community. I see daily the government red tape, taxes and hurdles her business faces.”

Currently, his focus includes collaborating with the Georgia Department of Economic Development to attract quality companies and high-paying jobs. He believes revitalizing Technology Park in Peachtree Corners is a significant first step.

Hilton holds leadership roles at the Robert D. Fowler YMCA and the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

“Long before I considered a run for the State House, I worked as a community volunteer serving on our HOA Board, United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA), and the Fowler YMCA,” Hilton explained.

“These roles taught me so much about what’s important to our community and what makes it tick. I absolutely love Peachtree Corners, and my goal is to keep our city one of the best places in Georgia to live, work and raise a family,” he concluded.

Suzanna Martinez

Suzanna Martinez‘s journey from Denver, Colorado, to Peachtree Corners, Georgia, in June 2020 is a story of purpose and passion. The search for a new home brought Martinez and her family to a place where the community’s energy was palpable.

With a personal history in the Professional Employer Organization (PEO) industry, Martinez identified an opportunity to enhance corporate operations across sectors.

“I assist my clients in achieving purchasing power for health insurance, workers’ compensation and other HR solutions. A PEO enables company leaders to concentrate on their bottom line. Consolidating the backend of HR operations saves time and money and provides a unified system for enhanced efficiency,” Martinez shared.

Her enterprise has become integral to the local business landscape, enabling her to invest deeply in the community through the Peachtree Corners Business Association and scholarship initiatives.

“As a business owner, I invest time in serving the local Peachtree Corners Business Association and be involved in our community outreach for nonprofit grants and college scholarships,” explains Martinez.

Martinez’s roles, including her position on the Peachtree Corners Business Association Board and her ambassadorship for the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, create movements that bolster community and economic development.

She views her work with nonprofits and educational institutions as vital for nurturing the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs in Peachtree Corners and the broader Hispanic community.

Her influence extends to arts and culture, mainly through her involvement with the Georgia Latino Film Festival.

Martinez firmly believes in the arts’ power to create inclusivity and serve as launching pads for local talent.

Martinez has played a pivotal role in philanthropic efforts that resonate throughout Peachtree Corners.

Through PCBA’s charity events, she has helped raise significant funds for various organizations and created avenues for local businesses to gain visibility and support.

Martinez envisions first expanding her company to provide jobs and further support to the community.

Additionally, her sights are set on completing “La Luchador,” a memoir reflecting her journey from hardship to success, which she hopes to see adapted into a film, celebrating the rich tapestry of Latino culture and the spirit of Peachtree Corners.

As Peachtree Corners grows, Martinez stands at the forefront, embodying the spirit of entrepreneurial innovation and cultural inclusion.

With a heart set on fostering a community where business and culture converge, her upcoming initiatives promise to enrich Peachtree Corners even further.

Taylor Hammett

Taylor Hammett, who serves as the Lead Pastor at North End Collective, founded Launch Local Network, which describes itself asincubating good works by equipping others to launch hyperlocal, small-scale, redemptive initiatives in their city.

Hammett and his team envision a community where individuals, regardless of their faith or non-faith, can unite to make a meaningful impact right where they live.

Each role gives Hammett a unique perspective as he identifies opportunities for “good work” in the vulnerable pockets of Peachtree Corners.

While North End Collective has always worked in these spaces, Launch Local Network extends this vision to the broader community, inviting everyone to contribute to the common good.

Hammett is excited about several projects, but the current concession stand and mobile coffee cart initiatives are particularly impactful.

“For the past six months, we’ve been running a concession stand and a mobile coffee cart to engage with the social desires of our city, snacks and coffee, and to help meet the social needs of our city, which are food, clothing and shelter,” Hammett shared.

“It’s amazing the depth of conversation that can happen between two people or a small group in the time it takes to make someone’s caramel oat milk latte!” he said excitedly.

“After just over six months of operations, our board of directors has already set aside our first $10,000 disbursement to give to organizations addressing food insecurity, housing, education and addiction recovery.”

Though the organization is relatively new, Hammett looks forward to leveraging his experience in business and non-profit work to help others in the community bring their ideas to life for a positive impact.

Launch Local Network welcomes volunteer involvement, particularly in running concessions at Pinckneyville Park. The organization will also host events next year aimed at helping community members explore and act on their ideas for “good works.”

Interested parties can contribute financially through the Launch Local Network website at www.launchlocal.network/give, ensuring that donations go toward amplifying the excellent work already happening rather than just sustaining the organization.

To stay in the loop, community members are encouraged to follow Launch Local Network on social media or reach out directly to Hammett via email at taylor@launchlocal.network.

William Susskind and Rohan Kumar

Rohan Kumar and William Susskind are two award-winning Paul Duke STEM High School students. Together, they developed DoorBully, a device designed to counteract the threat of school shootings.

Kumar, a life-long resident of Peachtree Corners, attributes the development of DoorBully to the community-oriented atmosphere of the suburb.

He also credits the collaborative culture at Paul Duke. The project received positive feedback following its presentation at the National Invention Convention.

“The school’s culture of collaboration, empathy, innovation and diversity has made it almost second nature to think about creating products that benefit our community. It’s at Paul Duke that I’ve acquired invaluable skills, both technical and social, which have been essential in developing DoorBully,” Kumar said.

Susskind, also a lifelong resident, was motivated to join Kumar in creating DoorBully after becoming aware of the prevalence of school shootings in the United States.

The engineering and mechatronics studies at Paul Duke were pivotal in the invention process.

“I was fortunate to immerse myself in engineering and mechatronics, which honed my technical skills to bring our concepts to fruition. The commitment of our teachers allowed us to engage in numerous competitions and present our ideas to influential figures, furthering our project’s reach and impact,” said Susskind.

The invention has received local media attention and led to establishing a student club focused on innovation. The implementation of DoorBully in Peachtree Corners schools indicates the broader potential for student-led safety initiatives.

“As for the future of our invention, we’re not only eyeing local implementation but also global expansion. DoorBully is in place at Fulton Science Academy, and discussions are underway with Bryan County. This is just the beginning of its journey to enhance community safety everywhere,” said Susskind.

Kumar and Susskind’s efforts have been recognized by the community, including the Norcross Police Department and local educators. The students advise peers interested in innovation to embrace failure as part of the learning process and to engage in the community.

“My advice to other young innovators in Peachtree Corners is not to fear failure. Embrace it because failure is an extraordinary teacher,” shared Kumar.

“Each setback is an opportunity to learn and refine your ideas, and each success will only fuel your passion further. So, keep inventing, keep iterating and stay committed to creating solutions that positively impact our community,” he added.

Zoey Schlueter

Zoey Schlueter, involved with the National Charity League since the seventh grade, has woven her commitment to philanthropy into the very fabric of her life.

Her early initiation into the world of service with the National Charity League ignited a passion for volunteering, highlighting charity work’s profound impact on local communities.

As co-president of Greater Atlanta Christian School’s Beta Club chapter, Schlueter has led numerous initiatives, but she finds the organization of the Special Olympics particularly rewarding.

“Special Olympic events are extremely impactful because Beta Club members can work directly with the Olympians throughout the day. I love organizing this event because it is so much fun for both the Beta Club members and the Olympians, and it creates a deeper understanding of the disability community for the Beta Club members involved,” she shared.

Holding the prestigious role of Head Prefect, Schlueter’s leadership extends into enhancing student culture and addressing community issues.

“I work with Maddie Burrough, Greater Atlanta Christian’s Service Prefect, to highlight service opportunities that go beyond Greater Atlanta Christian School and connect with our broader Norcross community,” Schlueter continued.

“Specifically, one thing that the prefects work closely with is Can-A-Thon, a collection of cans for the Salvation Army, helping fight against food insecurity. It is exciting to see the impact that we can make not only at GAC but in the Atlanta area, too!” she beamed.

Schlueter’s insights into the community spirit of Peachtree Corners were sharpened through her summer internship at Peachtree Corners Magazine.

“Being able to meet the people I was writing about face-to-face and hear their stories and experiences gave me perspective on the importance of the community around me,” she reflects.

“Peachtree Corners has so many individuals who positively influence the world around us daily and being able to see that over the past summer was incredible, and I am so grateful for that experience,” she continued.

Schlueter’s journey is a testament to the younger generation’s potential to lead with heart and vision, creating ripples of change that can grow into waves of community transformation.

As she prepares to take the following steps in her career, one thing is clear: she wants writing to serve as a catalyst for good, continuing her unwavering commitment to the service she nurtured in Peachtree Corners.

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Peachtree Corners’ First Lady Debbie Mason



Debbie Mason

My husband Bob and I had the pleasure of volunteering with Mike and Debbie Mason for at least two decades. We worked alongside them volunteering with middle and high school drama projects and volunteered as chaperones for the 2004 NHS drama trip to NYC.

She supported Bob’s Crooked Creek clean-up efforts where he served alongside Debbie on the City’s Green Committee. In 2012, Debbie approached me to volunteer with vendor call marketing projects with the Peachtree Corners Festival.

Subsequently, Debbie asked me to serve as board secretary, capturing meeting minutes and assisting her further in vendor projects. She was an amazing community volunteer all the way around!

Bob and Lori Howard

Debbie Mason
Debbie and Mike Mason with former Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux

PTC has been my home for my entire life and is where we now raise our children. Debbie has been a fixture of Peachtree Corners for many years, and throughout my life, starting at about 15 years old as a freshman in NHS Theatre.

Nick [Mason, Debbie’s son] was a role model for me as an aspiring actor, but more importantly, as a respectful and high-integrity young adult. Over the years, it became more and more obvious where Nick got his kind and charismatic nature.

Debbie was always so supportive of our theatre troop and continued to be a comforting smile and source of inspiration until the end. Her presence will be missed by many and remembered by all.

Sam Hoover, Brazilian Wood Depot

It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to our City’s first lady, Debbie Mason. She always had a smile for the camera. From the first time I photographed her, back in 2014, she was always kind and exuberant.

Words are not my strength, so I wish to share just a few of my photos.

Ludwig Keck, Photographer

Words cannot express how deeply sorry I was to learn of Debbie’s passing. The thought of not seeing her smiling face again makes me so very sad.

Debbie brought, and leaves behind, a great light and legacy to our City and to all who had the pleasure to know her. I am blessed to have been able to call Debbie my friend and will forever think of her with love in my heart and the memories of her will always bring a smile to my face.

Alan Kaplan

Being a community leader is not an easy task. She faced the conflict between responding to the needs of her family and the collective needs of our community. Debbie was always able to balance these needs and secure the resources necessary to accomplish the task at hand. 

She engaged the support of her family in everything she did and made them a part of the solution. That made her a magnet for any task needed. She not only showed the way, but she made things move.

Being friends and neighbors for 38 years, it was a privilege to work together on projects you championed. You will be greatly missed, dear lady, but never forgotten for all the gifts you gave us of time, talent, and treasure. Rest in peace.

Nick Mason with his Mom
Nick Mason with his Mom

Lorri Christopher

I first met Debbie early on in researching the City’s history. I’ll never forget her enthusiasm and love for Peachtree Corners or her razor-sharp memory of the events that culminated in the YES campaign. Mrs. Mason was a true community hero.

Carole Townsend

I met Debbie Mason in February of 2011 when we were brought together by a mutual friend to discuss the idea of organizing a festival for Peachtree Corners. Although neither one of us, nor any of the people we brought into the project, had any idea how to put on a festival, we found a way.

Debbie and I always had a great relationship and not just because of the festival. We learned so much together.

I always admired her work ethic and principles. She taught me “You can’t fix stupid,” and she was sure right about that. I was lucky enough at the 2021 Peachtree Corners Festival to find a plaque from one of our vendors with that very saying, and I got it for her.

Debbie absolutely loved the Peachtree Corners Festival. This photo exemplifies how much fun she and her adoring husband Mike had every year. No one had a bigger smile.

I will always miss her. 

Sam Hoover and his wife Vanessa with Debbie Mason (center) during a Peachtree Corners Fall Festival

Linda O’Connor

Debbie Mason was a great and enthusiastic leader and supporter of the Gwinnett County Public School system during the years her two sons were students in our schools and for many years after they graduated.

As parents in the school system, Debbie and Mike Mason were co-presidents of the Pinckneyville Middle School council, leaders in the development of the Norcross High School Foundation for Excellence, and among the parents who went with Mrs. Gina Parish and her student actors to see live theatrical performances in New York City.

Whatever the need in the schools, [the mayor and first lady] worked to meet it. They supported scholarships for Norcross High School students through the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association.

They supported the naming of Paul Duke STEM High School and the opportunities provided to Duke students to experience internships with businesses in Norcross and Peachtree Corners.

Debbie Mason served our community in many roles, but never in a more important role than as a supporter of public education for all students and their families in Norcross and Peachtree Corners.

We will miss her greatly.

Mary Kay Murphy, Ph.D., District 3 School Board Member

For 19 years before Peachtree Corners became a city, the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA) was the de facto government for land use in our area. Debbie Mason was unquestionably one of the engines in UPCCA that drove our pride of place and the quest for our ultimate cityhood in 2012.

One of UPCCA’s big successes was to improve the look of the ragged highway medians along Peachtree Parkway. Debbie, herself a consummate gardener, administered that detailed landscape job for six years.

She dreamed up the Peachtree Corners Festival, believing deeply that we all needed space and time to celebrate Peachtree Corners and make memories.

Her thousands of volunteer hours were distributed in so many more places. 

Gay Shook

I met Debbie in July 2021 when Rico sent me to take photos of her for a feature article they were writing. She shared her story with me about her recent diagnosis and her hopes and fears for her future. I felt as if I had always known her.

We enjoyed roaming through her luscious garden and stopping to take pictures as we went. She was wearing a bright green sweater that complemented the colors in the garden perfectly. Her smile was beautiful, and her sense of determination came through in every photo.

It was a very special time, and I had no idea that one of those photos would become what Mike Mason calls her “signature photo.” 

Tracey R. Rice

There was no cause too great and no task too small for Debbie Mason. She was always ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work without a thought as to whom would get credit. She was in the foreground when necessary, but also a humble and diligent worker behind the scenes.

Debbie often said, “You can get a lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit.” What she accomplished through the gift of her time and tireless efforts on behalf of our City will live on in perpetuity.

Lewis and Amy Massey

Debbie had many titles, some official and some unofficial, but after wife, mother, and grandmother, she was proudest of being the first First Lady of the City of Peachtree Corners. 

She and Mike were true partners, and she was instrumental in creating the vibrant community in southwest Gwinnett that became the City of Peachtree Corners in 2012. For the past 10 years, Debbie has supported the development of the City in many ways, both large and small. 

Debbie will be missed deeply by the entire PTC community.

Eric Christ, Council Member, Post 2

For those of us fortunate enough to know Debbie Mason, it is impossible to overestimate her contributions to our community and city. She was involved at some level with so many worthwhile organizations that make this area such a wonderful place to live.

It was my privilege to work with Debbie on the Peachtree Corners Festival committee, the festival she helped to found. She was always thinking of ways to make the festival more fun and meaningful for our attendees, vendors, and sponsors.

If I had to describe Debbie in one word, it would be “selfless.” She knew so many people in our community and she knew how to get things done. She is truly irreplaceable.

Dave Huffman

The City of Peachtree Corners has lost a shining light. Our first lady, Debbie Mason, lost her battle against cancer, and we lost a great lady. Watching Debbie accomplish goal after goal was not surprising because she had such a positive attitude and a strong belief in others. When she spoke, you were compelled to act. 

Many times, I would see Debbie quietly working in the background to do something that would benefit our community. Long before there was a city, and long before there was a title of First Lady, Debbie was working to improve the neighborhoods we love. I remember Saturday mornings, Debbie giving of her time to clean 141. 

Anytime Debbie was asked to be involved, she did so with great enthusiasm. Christmas Parades and The Peachtree Corners Festival are both a result of her strong desire to create a better community.

There is no question about her love for family, friends, and our city. It was evident in all that she did. She will be missed by all, but her imprint on our hearts and our great city will remain forever.

Nancy Minor

Debbie Mason has had a tremendous impact on the City of Peachtree Corners. She was the type of person who was willing to not only get involved in a project but also take a leadership position to help it be more successful.

She sacrificed much of her time and effort to bring growth and progress to our community. She did so much for others and had a burning drive to bring about positive change. She was a hard worker and knew how to make things happen!

Debbie was also a great wife, mother, and grandmother. She was very devoted to her husband Mike, and it was rare to see one without the other. I’m grateful to have known Debbie and for the positive example, she represented to me and many others.

Phil Sadd, Council Member, Post 1

Debbie Mason was a person of courage and leadership, who demonstrated a “can do” attitude and a never-ending love for her family and friends. Once Debbie set her mind to getting something done, she believed failure was not an option, and she would rally the people and resources around her until she got the job done.

Her footprint laid part of the foundation for the City she loved so much. She will be remembered for the love, guidance, and support she showed to her family and friends. The Peachtree Corners Community will continue to grow and develop because of the seeds she planted and shared with us all.

Lisa Proctor, President, Sanford Rose Associates – Lake Lanier Islands

Debbie was an incredible individual whose presence lit up every room and created an amazing environment for everyone. We learned at her funeral service that Debbie had an army of resources at her disposal.

But what is remarkable for me was the gift of love that she showered to her team of volunteers — and the community at large. Debbie was generous and gave to us without hesitation whenever we asked.

She welcomed us to Peachtree Corners and made us feel like family. I am blessed to have known her and I will forever miss her.

Thank you so much, Debbie Mason. We lost an angel.

Helen Odundo-Wanda, CPA, MBA

I had the good fortune to interact with Debbie a number of times for a number of different reasons. Debbie was a shining light in our community and meant so much to so many. Debbie was, and always will be, The First Lady of Peachtree Corners!

Gene Witkin

Peachtree Corners resident since 1994

I wish to send my sincere condolences to Mayor Mike Mason. I regret I never got to meet Debbie! Mike Mason is a great mayor and I assume the First Lady of Peachtree Corners was very supportive of her husband and his activities on behalf of Peachtree Corners residents. May Debbie rest in peace!

Clément Desaulniers

I had the privilege and honor of volunteering with Debbie for more than 20 years — UPCCA Board, PTC Tour of Homes, and the PTC Yes Campaign. We sat around many tables together. It was a joy to work with her. You knew if Debbie said she was going to do something, she did and gave 110%. And she was an A+ hostess who made the best lasagna. RIP, dear Debbie.

Pat Bruschini

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Faces of Peachtree Corners

Faces of Peachtree Corners (2022)



Outstanding individuals who help keep our city interesting and thriving

Written and Compiled by Arlinda Smith Broady and Karen Huppertz. Photos by George Hunter.

Faces are generally how we recognize people we know. In Peachtree Corners, the diversity of people who inspire and make the community a great place to live are perhaps our greatest asset. So, for this edition, Peachtree Corners Magazine is highlighting a few faces who make us shine.

When I see your face
There’s not a thing that I would change
‘Cause you’re amazing
Just the way you are

— “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars

Kiko and Olga

Kiko and Olga (studio photos by George Hunter)

Kiko and his wife Olga were high school sweethearts in Monterey, Mexico before getting married and coming to the U.S.in the mid-1980s. By that time, the now owners of Kiko’s Tacos & More, 3435 Medlock Bridge Road, were seeking additional degrees in English to support their careers as elementary school teachers back in Mexico.

“Bilingual teachers in Mexico were making a lot of money,” said Kiko.

But life took a turn. The opportunity to become U.S. citizens presented itself and they began working with Kiko’s sister at her Mexican street food restaurant in Norcross, El Grille. In 1986, the couple opened Los Arcos on Jimmy Carter Boulevard, which relocated in 1995 to Peachtree Parkway, long before Peachtree Corners was a city.

In April 2012, the couple allowed their lease to expire. They closed Los Arcos and reopened around the corner as Kiko’s Tacos & More. Their customers moved with them.

On any busy Friday night, one or more of the couple’s four grown children may be found greeting customers or waiting tables. This family business caters to the families in and around Peachtree Corners. “We belong to the community,” said Olga.

The couple takes great joy in watching kids who first came to the restaurant with their parents now returning with their own families for their first taco.

“I love walking out of the kitchen and hearing laughter,” said Kiko. Olga agreed, “When the restaurant is full, seeing people enjoying each other, making friends with each other makes me happy.”

Like all small business owners, the couple’s biggest challenge has always been juggling the demands of a growing family with the business. Often one would be at a football game while the other covered the restaurant.

Olga shared that one thing people probably don’t know about them is their real names. Olga, known to most as “Kiko’s wife,” is Olga Cazares-Alanis. Kiko is in fact a nickname for the restaurant’s namesake. But Higinio Alanis Delgado is delighted to be Kiko to everyone seeking a family-friendly night of Mexican food in Peachtree Corners.

Tiffany Broussard Anderson

Several readers nominated Tiffany Broussard Anderson “for all the wonderful work she does with the kids in her classroom.” The educator and pre-K coach has won the respect and admiration of parents across the area.

Regarding an afterschool program at the YMCA her son attended when he was small, Deanna Riley said, “She is one of the only teachers/caregivers that I even remember. My son is now 18½; he was in elementary then.”

“She stood out because she was so very sweet and kind to the children, Riley added. “She kept it fun and interesting for the children. They all seemed to love her. My son didn’t exactly have great luck with teachers in school, but Ms. Tiffany made an impact on him as well as myself.

“I do not know all the things she has accomplished since then, but I know she has continued to work with children over the years. She has never lost focus of the children and she is making a difference in so many lives. She is the kind of woman who is changing the world for the better through the children (and parents) she interacts with. She is like an angel sent from above to bring light and love into this world. She should definitely be awarded for all of her efforts, dedication and commitment to helping the children. She is amazing!”

And there’s this from Daniela Palacios: “She is the best teacher. She taught my daughter six years ago and now she is the teacher of my son. I have never met a person like her who loves her job, love kids. She is so passionate about what she does.”

Jacob and Katie Moebes

Jacob and Katie Moebes are seniors at Norcross High School. Both of them are an active part of the community and school.

Jacob is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Spanish Honor Society, and he has received a Congressional Award silver medal. He takes part in the Gwinnett Youth Honors Orchestra and Metro Youth Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

A member of the Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse Team for four years, Jacob also played four years for the Brookwood/Norcross Ice Hockey Team, serving in the 2020-21 season as assistant captain and in the 2021-22 season as the captain.

He was involved in an Eagle Scout project building book cubbies for the “Mommy and Me” Literacy Program, a part of Friends of Refugees. Jacob has logged over 200 service hours with a variety of organizations including Honduras Outreach International (HOI) and Thornwell Children’s Home.

He plans to attend the University of Georgia where he will pursue majors in sports management and music.

Katie Moebes, also a Congressional Award silver medal recipient, is a member of the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and National English Honor Society. She serves as President of the Random Acts of Kindness Club and the Women Empowering Women Club at NHS, plays percussion and is a member of the Wind Symphony.

A four-year varsity cross country runner, Katie also has played soccer for four years and varsity lacrosse for one year.

She worked on a Girl Scout Gold Award project of creating and leading the Women Empowering Women Club at NHS. Katie has over 250 service hours, volunteering with a variety of organizations — including HOI and Thornwell Children’s Home — and as a poll worker and assistant coach for the Pinckneyville Middle School Girls Soccer Team.

Katie’s future plans include attending the University of Georgia to pursue a double major in political science and international affairs.

Chris Lindenau

Leadership is about trust and mutual respect, according to Christopher “Chris” Lindenau, Chief Executive Officer of Fusus. They are qualities he attributes to his five years as a military officer in the Navy. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Lindenau served as a military officer, navy diver and supply corps officer while serving on the USS George Washington, as well as various locations overseas. He later obtained his MBA at Georgia Tech.

“The military taught me a lot about leadership,” Lindenau shared. “It taught me that the way to motivate people is not through rank; it really is building trust and mutual respect. I think when you’re young and a 22-year-old out of college, that some kid from the streets of Detroit is not going to listen to you just because you’re an officer, but you’ve got to earn that respect. The way you do that is lead from the front, so a lot of what I learned in the military has been kind of a corollary for what I do here in the business world.”

As CEO of Fusus (Latin for fusion), Lindenau is helping chart a course for his company, which specializes in helping law enforcement agencies provide more effective public safety. “We take all these disparate license plate readers, video surveillance, 911 dispatch, gunshot detection systems, burglar alarm and fire alarm systems and unify their technologies to make them accessible,” he explained.

When not working, Lindenau can be found coaching his son’s lacrosse team. He and his family like living in Peachtree Corners because of the fun lifestyle and tight knit friendships.

He also finds it easier to attract young professionals to join the Fusus team of about 75 employees because of the city’s mission to become a major part of the area’s Silicon Orchard. Lindenau believes current and future employees can find the work/life balance they’re seeking in Peachtree Corners.

Lacy Gilbert

Lacy Gilbert, Wesleyan School Athletic Director, has worked in Peachtree Corners for 25 years, lived in the area for 15 years and has played a significant role in shaping the city’s largest independent school, Wesleyan School. While her role as the school’s athletic director is not typically held by women, she coached the Wesleyan Varsity Girls Soccer Team to its first state championship in 2017.

Originally from the metro Atlanta area, Gilbert first lived in Peachtree Corners back when it wasn’t a city and Neely Farm was still an actual farm. She began working at Wesleyan 25 years ago as a middle school physical education and high school health teacher. Gilbert has also worked in athletics administration, first serving for nine years as assistant athletic director and then taking the helm of the department in 2020 as the athletic director.

In the early years of the school, Gilbert was part of the faculty team that launched one of the school’s flagship service programs — domestic and international mission trips. Since Wesleyan’s first mission trip to Honduras in 2000, she has led over 20 mission trips with Wesleyan chaperoning hundreds of students to destinations that include the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Peru, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, South Africa, Jamaica, New Orleans, Bulgaria, Tanzania, France, Ukraine and Romania.

“The missions program is an integral part of the Wesleyan high school experience,” said Chris Cleveland, head of Wesleyan School. “These trips are a foundational part of our students’ time at Wesleyan, and this program would not exist were it not for the investment of faculty members like Lacy Gilbert.”

Wesleyan’s athletic program has experienced growth and success that make it another hallmark of the Wesleyan experience. Over 80% of Wesleyan high school students participate in at least one sport each school year and the program has won 65 state team championships and 134 individual state championships. It has also won the GHSA Director’s Cup, an honor is presented to the top overall athletic program in each classification, ten times.

Taffeta Connery

Although Taffeta Connery doesn’t have any biological children, she’s a mother many times over as the principal at Simpson Elementary School. “I just think the good Lord knew what part of my future was. And he just blessed me with 1,000 students to take care of,” she said.
Connery became the school’s principal one month before schools went virtual. Although Gwinnett County Schools had systems in place for distance learning, it was a challenge for everyone to do it every day. And not every student opted for at-home instruction.

A lot of the teachers taught concurrently, which is basically having a dual schedule. “They would still do a mini lesson or virtual lesson with the camera pod in their classrooms and then have the students go into breakout groups while the teacher continued to do guided lessons in person in class,” Connery explained.

When asked about the end results, she smiled. “We were building that plane as we were flying it,” she said. “But it ended very well. It was new for veteran teachers, it was new for beginning teachers — and we just basically went with the flow.”

Just as any parent would, Connery looks for ways to enrich the lives of her students. After more than a year of distance learning, she worked hard with her staff to make sure this school year was as rewarding and purposeful as the learning experience had been before the pandemic.

“I like to bring passion and excitement into everything that I do,” she noted.

During Black History Month, the school celebrated in special ways. “Every year we try to add on a little bit more to the celebratory events that have happened with African Americans. Last year, we were in the midst of a pandemic, so we did a lot of awesome things virtually,” Connery said.

In addition to speakers and essays, students dressed up as favorite heroes and historical figures. There were Black History Month facts during the morning announcements, field trips, art displays and a virtual wax museum.

As a resident of Peachtree Corners, Connery is at home with the community. “I’ve been living in Peachtree Corners since 2012, and I love being here in the community. I like to call it friendly, my bubble, because I love to work, play and enjoy the wonderful town center,” she said. “At any time you can find me at The Forum, having dinner with friends or family, and I always see our students in the community.”

At the end of the day, however, Connery said her success is due to her incredible staff — administrators, teachers, classified clerical and managerial staff as well as custodial and food service staff. “We’re all part of a team at Simpson Elementary School. That’s the only way to be successful.”

Jean Yu

During the pandemic, Jean Yu, a junior at Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology, began a community project to serve seniors isolated due to COVID regulations at assisted living and other senior homes. She wanted to help keep them connected and practicing stress-reducing activities.

Yu started her project in 2020 and spent close to 200 hours bringing the project to life — and it is still continuing and supporting the community today. She led weekly mindfulness sessions over Zoom to more than 50 senior living communities. One of the most popular was her Nature and Sound-Based Mindfulness live interactive Zoom class.

Another way Yu serves is by sharing her musical talent. She has performed concerts during holidays such as the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. She performed a winter concert and a holiday concert through her YouTube channel and Zoom. She even took requests and played songs like “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain.”

She even made dozens of handmade cards for senior living residents.

A bright and caring member of Girl Scouts and an active community volunteer, Yu received the Gold Award, the organization’s highest honor that is earned by only 6% of Girl Scouts.

Lauren O’Connor

A teacher at Paul Duke STEM High School, Lauren O’Connor helped form the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) chapter’s installment in 2018. Since then, the school has doubled its number of members and competitors.

“We began our first year with 20 students and through the pandemic we were able to continue growing, even when we had students learning online,” O’Connor said. “This year we have over 60 members and more than half of them were competitors this year. We had 21 placements at the regional level, 15 placements at the state level and we are taking 12 competitors to the international conference for competition in late April. We had so many placements at the regional level that we placed third in the district.”

DECA’s mission is to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. O’Connor explained that in these competitions, business professionals judge students either through role play of a problem in the marketing industry or through a paper and presentation based on marketing ideas.

In addition to sponsoring a Career and Technical Student Organization, O’Connor also advises the school store for Paul Duke STEM and advises the yearbook. “The school store is a learning lab for my third-year marketing students to see the principles of marketing come to life. Students act as employees and managers operating the store and preparing the deposits,” she said.

The yearbook is also one of her passions. “I have been an adviser for 14 years and enjoy memorializing the school year with a student staff,” O’Connor said. “My staff gets to design the book from a blank piece of paper and fill it with images and stories of the faculty, staff and students.”

In 2018, the year Paul Duke STEM opened its doors, she was named the inaugural Teacher of the Year. “I believe my peers chose me for my work in helping to build the school culture and form its traditions, something I insisted [Principal] Dr. Wetherington allow me to do when I joined the staff.”

In July 2021, O’Connor was named the Georgia Marketing Educator of the year. She does a great deal of work helping support teachers across the district and state. “I hold two lead teacher roles with Gwinnett County and support teachers with curriculum and instruction for the upper-level marketing courses and using the school store point-of-sale,” she said.

Recently, she was named one of Gwinnett’s Shine Teachers of the Year. “I shine because I help students bring out the best in themselves every day,” O’Connor explained. “I help them discover who they are and what they are capable of.”

Philip Peavy

As an adviser of Career & Technology Student Organizations (CTSOs) at Paul Duke STEM High School, Philip Peavy advises several organizations.

“Our student and teacher awards and recognitions extend beyond our city limits across the county, state and nation. Through the pandemic, we have worked harder than ever to help our students express the best of who THEY are as we were presented with many challenges,” Peavy said. “Our clubs extend what kids are thinking and learning about in the classroom and add critical thinking, problem solving and 21st century skills. To say we are passionate about our subjects, clubs and students would be an understatement.”

He has been the founding Technology Student Association advisor at Paul Duke STEM since the school’s founding year in 2018. Each year the chapter numbers have increased, as well as the success, Peavy reported, “to this year having 17 events at the State Leadership Conference place in the top 10 with seven of those events being in the top three. We came away from two student events with the first-place finish, and they will be continuing their success at nationals this summer.”

Peavy is also the CyberPatriot advisor at the school and has grown the club from six members to over 50 active members. “This year we had eight teams, with one team placing second in the State round for the Silver Level that went on to compete nationally where they placed 10th in the nation in the Silver Level — and was also the top team in Georgia,” he said.

In addition, Peavy has been named the Gwinnett County Public Schools High School Teacher of the Year for 2021 and the National Educator Recipient for the National Center for Women in Technology in 2021 for increasing exposure and opportunities for young women and underrepresented students in computer science.

Lily Owenby

Greater Atlanta Christian School (GAC) eleventh grader Lily Owenby has gained resilience in many ways over the past two years, cultivating a healthier mentality and mindset. As a competitive student and volleyball player at GAC, she has learned that self-talk and attitude are the most significant contributors to success in all areas of her life.

Owenby has been an athlete for many years and started playing volleyball in the 5th grade. Her current team role at GAC is the libero, which requires her to be the “voice” of the back row. Her keen eye must locate open spots on the court for the hitters and talk through seams during serve-receive. Connecting with the action and her teammates requires both focus and positivity.

A shiny Volleyball State Championship Trophy is a friendly reminder. Much of Owenby’s grit gained on the court has transferred to her schoolwork and personal life. When the country shut down in March 2020, she found that virtual school made it challenging to grasp complicated concepts fully. Having the confidence to share her needs led her to take advantage of help sessions and one-on-one meetings with her teachers. She learned that she could overcome any difficulties if she remained communicative and optimistic.

“Willingness to dig deep and develop in every aspect of my life: academically, socially, spiritually and mentally, has helped me gain resilience during these COVID years,” Owenby said.

Tim Shaw

Tim Shaw is the managing partner for J.R.’s Log House Restaurant, a local business known for its community spirit. “J.R.’s has been a neighborhood favorite for more than 30 years, and we believe they have some of the best biscuits in Atlanta,” wrote one nominator. “J.R.’s supports so much in our community. I know they serve meals at various churches in the area and do so much they never talk about.”

Shaw is married to Wendy and has four children and three granddaughters. Recently, he and his wife have become empty nesters and enjoy traveling together when time allows.
As a member of Perimeter Church, Shaw is active in Men’s Discipleship. In the past two years, he has been a community coach and helped with the Duluth High School baseball team.

In 1983, Shaw opened J.R.’s Log House as an employee with J.R. himself — Jerry Romano. “In the 39 years of doing business, we have had thousands of employees,” he shared. “Over the years, we have been the place where many have had their first job. Watching young people grow in ability, maturity and confidence always brings me great pleasure.”

He said that sometimes past employees make him feel old by coming to visit and bringing their children. “Right now, I have an employee working for me whose mom and dad I worked with the year we first opened J.R.’s!”

Shaw is thankful to have been part of the Peachtree Corners community for nearly 40 years.

“My goal each day as a business owner remains the same — to provide a great dining experience and a place for fellowship for our customers, whether you’re eating in the restaurant or we’re catering at your home or business,” he said. “I’m especially grateful for the support our community has shown J.R.’s the past two years and that so many of you continue to let us serve you.”

“Lastly, I am proud of the people I work with every day,” Shaw continued. “Of the 40 employees, more than half have worked for me for more than 15 years, some as many as 25. I appreciate that and, as a customer, I know you do as well!”

Wendy Willis

Wendy Willis has been an active member of the Peachtree Corners/Gwinnett community, since 1995. She is a wife and mother of two adult daughters and has made notable contributions to the Southwest Gwinnett area.

Her positive energy, vibrant enthusiasm and commitment to service in her community is evident. Willis currently serves on the Executive Board of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries Board of Directors, Sugarloaf Rotary Club Board of Directors, Community Advisory Team for Paul Duke STEM High School and University of Tennessee Women in Philanthropy. She is a member of the Peachtree Corners Business Association, volunteers as a student mentor in Gwinnett County Public Schools, Junior Achievement and is a champion in childhood hunger relief serving with several organizations.

Willis’ past service includes time on the Board of Directors for Norcross High School Foundation for Excellence and PTA service at Simpson Elementary, Pinckneyville Middle and Norcross High Schools.

She was instrumental in the creation and execution of a summer-long lunch program “Smart Lunch Smart Kid” for six years, in partnership with Action Ministries, a program that focuses on feeding at-risk children who might not eat lunch because they are not in school. The program engaged hundreds of community volunteers who gave time and resources to assemble and serve food to approximately 100 children a day, create enrichment and recreational activities for them and build relationships with the kids and their families.

Willis was also part of the two largest single food donations (25,000+ canned goods) and volunteer servers to-date for the Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries before the pandemic. Both projects took place while she was working as Director of Missions & Connections at Simpsonwood United Methodist Church, a position she held for six years, after working part-time at Perimeter Church in Community Outreach while she was raising her children.
Willis has left another lasting impression on our city. After Peachtree Corners’ formation, she served on the design team to create the city’s logo.

Georgia Thomas

Georgia Thomas, a 12th grader at Greater Atlanta Christian School (GAC), caught the acting bug in fourth grade. However, no amount of preparation could have readied her for performing in a facemask, being physically distanced from other actors or auditioning via Zoom. Yet she ascribes those challenges to better crafting her skills.

As the pandemic emerged, New York’s Broadway canceled their shows and the rest of the country followed suit, causing many performers to lose passion or drop out. However, Thomas seized the opportunity to hone her skills with online lessons and masterclasses. Over time she became proficient in Zoom shows, self-taped auditions and performing in an online space.

Thomas quickly adjusted her techniques to sing through a facemask and express with only the top portion of her face.

“I was in a one-act version of “The Misanthrope” [at GAC] that was performed socially distanced, which was a great exercise in acting with other people while not having any physical contact or closeness with them,” she said.

Her determination to cultivate innovative ways of acting led to a plethora of roles. She performed as Katherine Plumber in “Newsies” and Katherine Blake in “Freaky Friday” in late 2021. Thomas also played Mama Noah in “Children of Eden” and Crystal in “Little Shop of Horrors.” In 2022, she earned the lead in “Anastasia” with GAC’s theatre program and Fantine in “Les Misérables” with Christian Youth Theater (CYT) Atlanta.

In addition to these roles, Thomas also competed in the 2021 Georgia National Association of Teachers of Singing (GA-NATS) Competition and was awarded first place in the Upper High School Musical Theatre division. She represented the state of Georgia at the Southeastern Region Competition at Florida State University.

James “Jim” Blum

James “Jim” Blum and Kristina Hammer Blum

Attorney James “Jim” Blum is a partner with the Peachtree Corners-based Blum & Campbell. His practice specializes in real estate and construction litigation, tax, title and other property matters, as well as things that he admits could be boring to many. He and his partner, Jody Campbell, counter that potential boredom by emphasizing personal relationships and communication with their clients.

Jim Blum, his wife, Kristina Hammer Blum, and their two children moved to Peachtree Corners in 2005. He was here to support the area becoming its own city, and for those first six years after the city incorporated, Jim volunteered on the Zoning Board of Appeals. Recently he was asked to join the Planning Commission. Both positions work with the city staff to review zoning and permit requests before making recommendations to the mayor and city council on what actions might be appropriate.

“The toughest part about the planning commission is knowing what the future will hold, and nobody knows that,” Jim stated. “Everybody wants development, everybody wants the newest and greatest hotels and mixed-use developments, and everybody wants such a cool place to live, but that comes at a price.”

For him, the challenge is finding a way to balance the interests of all citizens while helping to ensure the city grows and prospers.

When not working or volunteering with the city, Jim and his wife enjoy scuba diving – recently with great white sharks — and camping with friends. He is also a member of the home brewing PC Mashers Club.

The couple is very proud to have raised their children in Gwinnett public schools. “Our kids were able to walk to both elementary and middle school,” Jim said.

Having put down roots here, both professionally and personally, he added, “There is no way in the world I’m leaving Peachtree Corners.”

Kristina Hammer Blum

If Peachtree Corners had a cheerleading squad, Kristina Hammer Blum and her husband, Jim Blum (also featured) would most likely be co-captains.

Kristina currently serves as Gwinnett County’s Chief Magistrate Judge. Her court handles everything from arrest and search warrants to civil claims and protective orders related to domestic abuse.

“My court is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Kristina. “Public safety is a big component. But more than that we also are the guardians of everyone’s due process rights. During COVID, we were the ones trying to get people out of jail. We were the ones making sure people were in jail based on the requisite finding of probable cause.”

Kristina, and those she works with, found extra time during the pandemic to “reimagine” how they might serve the community better. Working with the HomeFirst Gwinnett initiative and Project Reset 2.0, an emergency rental assistance program, her court was able to decrease eviction filings by 40%.

This model for “holistic justice” worked to keep people in affordable housing. “I choose to believe we see good people on their worst days,” noted Kristina. Helping people navigate through these tough situations is forefront in her mind.

Perhaps because she often sees people at their most challenged, Kristina has taken the Latin phrase “carpe diem” to heart and looks at every day as a gift.

Her long list of activities includes skiing, CrossFit, camping — or, as she calls it, glamping — mountain biking, scuba diving and guitar playing with a local band, “Honey & Oates.”

Having her children remain in the same public schools from elementary through high school has been important. “It’s a big deal for me because I grew up in the military and lived a little bit of everywhere,” Kristina said. “I went to five different schools in five different states in five different years and I, well, I fell in love with Gwinnett County and Peachtree Corners.”

Zachary Schlueter

A senior at Greater Atlanta Christian School (GAC), Zachary Schlueter has volunteered at a variety of organizations with his mother, Mikki Schlueter, over the past four years. Serving others had always been a part of the Schlueter family’s values and activities, but the pandemic quickly altered when and where they could serve.

“Volunteering during the pandemic showed me how important serving others is, Schlueter said. “Everything slowed down out of caution [during the initial phases of the pandemic] but many places were even more desperate for help than ever before. Volunteering with my mom taught me about the non-stop needs of many organizations — no matter what was happening in the world.”

He and his mother founded the Young Men’s Service League, a four-year program for mothers and their sons in high school, which is a great conduit for getting service hours while also branching out and trying something new together.

The “Men’s Club” at Sunrise Senior Center quickly became a hit with the residents, and a way for them to share their life stories with the young men. But once the pandemic hit, volunteering in person ceased, so they searched for alternative opportunities. Sending in food, games and various supplies helped during the early months, but Schlueter and his mom preferred the hands-on experiences.

As the pandemic restrictions lightened, a need at Veterans Walk presented itself, so they went to work scrubbing the monuments and marble benches, picking up trash and polishing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. They also found the opportunity to serve lunch on Sundays at Seven Bridges to Recovery’s “The Garden”.

Rebecca McGlothlin

Rebecca McGlothlin provides cardio tennis in Peachtree Corners to people of all ages and skill levels. She also captains multiple tennis teams here and volunteers her time to help the needy. In addition, she organizes free fun runs for New Years and Thanksgiving and tirelessly fundraises every month to help the Jones Bridge Swim and Tennis Club.

Since retiring from the corporate world, McGlothlin has stayed busy teaching, volunteering, fundraising, traveling and being a wonderful person, wrote the person who nominated her, adding that she is the ultimate role model, selfless and trying to ensure everyone has a good time.

“I retired almost eight years ago. Since I really liked tennis and like being active, I got certified to teach cardio tennis,” McGlothlin said. “I have a blast teaching four to five classes a week. It keeps me active, and I’ve developed some close friendships in the tennis world.”
She said she plays ALTA and USTA, but when USTA over-55 started sending the team to far away matches, “I created a fun league on Wednesdays. We play year-round. We are just a bunch of ladies who love playing tennis and we love the no-pressure, fun tennis and enjoy each other.”

McGlothlin has a walking group that walks three miles Monday through Friday and often farther on Saturdays. “And I’ve also started a drop-in pickleball league. Since I really like tennis, I run a fundraiser for our club one time a month,” she said. “We have a tournament called triples. It is a signature cardio tennis game; you play three on a side, one at the net and two at the baseline and rotate every point.”

Low-pressure balls are used for safety, as well as cardio. “The points last longer with these balls so you can burn some serious calories while having a blast,” she added.

The running/walking group has regular events such as an annual half marathon/10K on Thanksgiving Day, a Christmas light run and a New Year’s Day resolution run. Some of these things having been going for 20 years,” McGlothlin said, noting “I have been very blessed with good health and try to be thankful for it every single day.

Hannah Creedon

A senior at Duluth High School, Hannah Creedon is a native of Peachtree Corners. She is a well-rounded, naturally curious teenager who makes the most out of every day and every experience.

Creedon has devoted herself to giving 100% in every activity she decides to pursue. Whether she is participating in local school or church programs, volunteering her time, participating in internships or working to earn some extra cash, she approaches each activity with a can-do attitude and a smile.

Some of her activities, in addition to her classes, include: president of Student Council, Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, Governor’s Honors Program, Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent Student Advisory Committee, treasurer of Theatre and International Thespian Society Troup 5160, National Honor Society, BETA Club, Interact Club, secretary of the Young Democrats Club, school orchestra, track and field team and the volleyball team.

In the fall of 2021, Creedon interned with the City of Peachtree Corners and she is part of Growing Leaders for Spring 2022.

Rachel Todebush

A junior at Greater Atlanta Christian School GAC), Rachel Todebush serves as the junior athlete representative for the State to the USA Swimming Association. USA Swimming is the national governing body for competitive swimming in the United States and is charged with selecting the Olympic team as well as the organization and operation of swimming within the country.

Todebush represents the state of Georgia within USA Swimming and serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Georgia Swimming. Winning a statewide election for this position, she will serve a two-year term. Todebush became the Athlete Rep in 2021 and works hard to preserve in her own swimming as well as to enhance the sport of swimming for those around the state.

“Georgia Swimming will increase opportunity, recognition and growth in competitive swimming. We believe that swimming provides life-changing experiences for young people,” she said.

Todebush swims with the Peachtree Corners North Manor (PCNM) Waverunners for summer swim league and has been a Waverunner for over 12 years. She has volunteered as an intern on the team, and she has spent countless hours teaching swimming to Peachtree Corners youth.
Outside of the pool, Todebush has organized food drives with Georgia Swimming and the PCNM Waverunners to support local food banks. She has also supported Swim Across America, USA Swimming’s foundation for Cancer Awareness and Fundraising.

Todebush is a member of the President’s Honor Roll at GAC, and a member of the National Honor Society, Tri Beta (a science service club), and Phi Mu (the math honor society).

A member of Senior Girl Scout Troop 4488, Todebush has been a Girl Scout for 11 years. She received the Girl Scout Silver Award and represented Peachtree Corners as one of only 11 girls from across the country — and the only one from Georgia — to participate in the San Juan Islands Girl Scout Destination.

Todebush is a member of Mary Our Queen (MOQ) Catholic Church where she participates in youth group and volunteers her time at the MOQ food pantry. She is looking forward to pursuing a career in biomedical engineering and competing as a collegiate swimmer.

Jeremy Evan Pruett

Jeremy Evan Pruett, 14, is in the 8th grade at Pinckneyville Middle School. To say that he is versatile and accomplished is an understatement. He fully believes that if he can think it, he can “be it or do it.” — and his activities support that belief.

Not only is Pruett an A-B gifted student at his school, but he is also a member of the school’s News Crew and a musician in the school’s Symphonic Winds advanced band, where he plays euphonium.

He has excelled on the neighborhood swim team, the Jones Bridge River Station Rapid Barracudas, for eight years and was awarded Barracuda of the Year last summer. Pruett was awarded the Iron Eagle award for 2019-20 and consistently earns high points during meets. As a beloved junior assistant coach, he helps the youngest Barracudas during the summer.

He is an active member of Simpsonwood United Methodist Church and participates in the youth group. At the time of this writing, Pruett is the only teenage video camera operator on the technical support crew.

Another role he plays is an essential assistant in his mother’s home craft business, Chili P Designs. Pruett established the company’s website, does research on financial and logistical software options, tests new equipment and provides IT support. In his family home, he installed a theater system, lighting and smart home system throughout the house. He even performs small electrical and plumbing work when needed.

It’s apparent that Pruett is a well-rounded, intelligent young man with principles. He understands commitment and focuses on doing a job well. With a servant’s heart, he donates his time and many skills to his family, his home and his community.

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