The University of West Georgia’s National Alumni Association is pleased to announce nine alumni will join its board of directors. These UWG graduates will serve a three-year term from July 2021 through June 2024. New members are Tracy Fields ‘88, Courtney Cook ’04 ’07, Shelby Scott-Guinn ’17 ’19, Ashton Blackwood ’13, Sam Gentry ’10, Ashley Kovac ’11 ’13, Troy Crittendon ’16, Donte Gilbert ’13, ’15, and Justin Monsewicz ’13.
“We are thrilled to welcome these fellow alumni who represent various generations, industries and talents to the board of directors,” said Allyson Bretch ’14, UWG’s executive director of alumni relations. “I am excited about the association’s work as we prepare for a return to normal operations and look forward to partnering with each of our board members to create meaningful and engaging experiences for our 70,000-member association.”
A new slate of executive committee members will also begin their service on July 1, 2021. Brad Mock ’12 ’15 will serve a two-year term as board chair, following Melanie Hildebrandt ’03 ’08, who has served as chair since 2019. Christopher Sanders ’03 will serve as vice chair, Brian Nichols ’11 as secretary, and Philip Cochran ’99 will continue his service as treasurer.
The new members and executive committee slate were unanimously approved at the Association’s annual meeting on Saturday, May 22.
Class of 2024 Board Members
Tracy Fields ’88 is a senior housing program officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In her role, Tracy manages a team that provides grant funding to support clients with various housing needs including pre-purchase, post-purchase, rentals and mortgage delinquencies. In her spare time, Tracy volunteers as a member of the Parent Advisory Council, PTA Treasurer, and ExtServices. She is no stranger to serving the students and alumni of the University of West Georgia. In 2018, she helped coordinate a group of alumni that created a scholarship to support Black students at UWG. Tracy graduated from UWG with a bachelor of business administration degree in finance.
Courtney Cook is a business owner, author, volunteer and public speaker. She is the director of education for a non-profit organization in PAC. In her role, she facilitates classes for adult learners, coordinates and organizes the education department, and manages the volunteer program for the organization. Courtney is an active volunteer, having worked with The Moth, an international storytelling organization. Courtney is a proud birth mom and serves as a facilitator/group leader for birth mom support groups.
She is a proud UWG alumna and says she hopes by serving on the Alumni Association board of directors she can help students take advantage of the many opportunities available to help them succeed. Courtney is a double graduate of UWG, having earned her bachelor of arts degree in psychology in 2004 and her master of education degree in school counseling in 2007.
Shelby Scott-Guinn is a coordinator of supplemental instruction at the University of West Georgia. In her role, Shelby achieved accreditation for UWG’s Supplemental Instruction Program and redesigned the program to be more user-friendly for students and student assistants. She also implemented virtual programming for the Center for Academic Success and was a recipient of the Go West Award for the College Student Affairs Program in 2019.
Shelby hopes through her service on the board of directors she can use her unique perspective as a UWG alumna and employee to enhance the university’s reputation, traditions, and community. Shelby earned her bachelor of arts degree in studio art in 2017 and her master of education degree in professional counseling/college student affairs in 2019.
Ashton Blackwood is assistant director of state government relations at Augusta University. In her role, Ashton represents Augusta University and works with their undergraduate university. She also works with the Medical College of Georgia, Dental College of Georgia, Augusta University Health and the Georgia Cyber Center. Her team advocates for state funding, builds legislative relationships and works with stakeholders statewide to further the university’s growth and research. In her career, Ashton has served in multiple public sector roles and built a statewide network of professionals. Having previously served on the board of directors from 2013-2016, Ashton decided to rejoin the board to continue serving the university she loves so much. She is looking forward to giving back to her alma mater and working with alumni statewide to further the success of UWG. Ashton earned her bachelor of arts degree in mass communications from UWG in 2013.
Sam Gentry ’10 is the manager of media relations at the University of West Georgia. A police officer turned news reporter, Sam is experienced in public relations, crisis communications, managerial communications, copywriting and radio production. In his previous role at a monthly newspaper, he led the restructuring of the publication’s layout, production, delivery, graphic design, content and business model, which resulted in a large increase in revenue and continued success that helps sustain it to this day. Sam and his wife, Becky, will be launching an event planning business and venue, Between the Vines Events, later this year. In his free time, he enjoys writing songs and traveling with his family. Sam looks forward to nurturing alumni camaraderie with a shared goal of continuing the legacy of excellence at the university. Sam graduated from UWG with a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications.
Ashley Kovac ’11, ’13 is a speech-language pathologist at Tender Ones Therapy Services where she works with mild to severe communication disorders. Previously, she spent three years as a school-based speech therapist in Gwinnett County Public Schools, working with young children with mild to severe-profound disabilities. She is also the director of the special needs ministry at her local church.
Ashley has received multiple awards recognizing her work, including UWG’s Thriving Under 30 award for outstanding young professionals. Ashley is a two-time alumna of the University of West Georgia, having earned her bachelor of science in education degree in speech-language pathology in 2011 and master of education in speech-language pathology in 2013.
Ashley is eager to work alongside fellow board members to continue to strengthen the ties between the university and its alumni. She looks forward to finding ways to improve networking and mentorship between UWG's diverse alumni community and the students enrolled at UWG.
Troy Crittendon ’16 is a fiscal policy analyst for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, where he works with several executive state agencies to perform revenue and expenditure projections and to ensure they are compliant in the state of Georgia's budgetary process. Additionally, he tracks legislation and crafts white papers and policy briefs for the governor and his staff during the legislative session.
Troy, a former Blue Coat, is an active volunteer, having participated in several community service initiatives with Grant Park Conservancy, CARE, and the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance at Georgia State University. He is also a member of the Young Alumni Council for Georgia State University. Amidst the challenges of COVID-19, Troy remains eager to participate in community service and persistent in his commitment to public service. Troy earned his bachelor of science degree in political science from the University of West Georgia in 2016. He also holds a master of public administration from Georgia State University, a certificate in nonprofit management from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, and a certificate in budget and financial management from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.
Donte Gilbert ’13, ’15 is a fifth-grade teacher at Love T. Nolan Elementary of Fulton County Schools where he was a finalist for Teacher of the Year in the 2018-19 school year. Donte is a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. (2011), where he was initiated into the Kappa Kappa Chapter at the University of West Georgia. Outside of work, Donte is a volunteer with Hands on Atlanta, Male Achievement Program, Keep Troup Beautiful, Voter Registration Drive and Girls on the Run organizations. In 2020, Donte was recognized in UWG’s Thriving Under 30 class for his outstanding work in his career and philanthropic efforts. Donte graduated from the University of West Georgia with a bachelor of science degree in early childhood education in 2013 and a master of science in early childhood education in 2015. Donte will graduate with his doctorate of education in educational leadership from Liberty University in 2022.
Justin Monsewicz ’13 is a Content Writer at Instacart Care, where he provides strategic consulting, content creation, and advocacy for customers. In his role, Justin collaborates regularly with cross-functional partners in product, engineering, business development, support, and field operations to ensure the Care team is always ready to support consumers, shoppers, and retailers on the platform.
He is a seasoned communications and marketing professional, having assisted in the re-election of four local level politicians and aided in the sale of individual hotel properties and portfolios, totaling more than $100 million in sales. Justin is an active member of the UWG family, regularly participating in volunteer opportunities like the Department of Mass Communications’s Media Day event. Justin earned his bachelor of science in mass communications from UWG in 2013.
UWG’s National Alumni Association aims to foster relationships between alumni and the university through local, national, and international events and programming. The Association operates in support of UWG’s mission while creating opportunities for meaningful engagement and to increase awareness, pride, participation, and philanthropic commitment to the University of West Georgia. Applications for future board service will open from Sept. 1 through Dec. 15. For more information about the Alumni Association or the board of directors, please visit the association's website.