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Kennesaw State Hosts National Conference for Undergraduate Research

April 16, 2019

Kennesaw State University recently hosted the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), the largest event of its kind in the country, from April 11-13. More than 4,000 undergraduate students presented their research at the Kennesaw Campus, including more than 800 attendees from 30 colleges and universities in Georgia — 400 of those from KSU.

Thousands of students descended on Kennesaw State University today for the start of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the largest event of its kind in the nation. Photo by Rob C. Witzel

The three-day conference gave undergraduate student researchers the opportunity to share their scholarly abstracts and creative works in a formal, professional setting and interact with students and faculty.

NCUR featured oral and poster presentations, visual arts exhibits and performances, as well as workshops and graduate and career fairs. All academic disciplines were represented, with the largest group from biology, followed by psychology and engineering.

Prashant Bashyal of the University of Houston-Downtown talks with visitors about his research on bridging the gap between education and the workforce through operations management. Photo by Rob C. Witzel

KSU conference co-organizer Amy Buddie, director of undergraduate research and psychology professor, said that this conference was the largest in NCUR’s more than 30-year history and the first time the event will be held in Georgia.

“Undergraduate research is a cornerstone at Kennesaw State, and by engaging our students in research pursuits, we are strengthening their educational experience,” said Buddie, who launched the Office of Undergraduate Research after securing the NCUR 2019 bid three years ago.

KSU College of the Arts students entertain NCUR participants with a musical
theater sing-along on the Campus Green.
Photo by Rob C. Witzel

The event was the culmination of more than a year of planning at KSU, only possible with the assistance of approximately 1,000 community volunteers, predominately KSU’s own students, faculty, and staff.

“We’ve made every effort to convey the importance of undergraduate research on a national level, and this conference is possible because of the hard work and support of the Kennesaw State community,” Buddie said.

The opening plenary for the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, which attracted more than 4,000 students from 45 states, kicked off Thursday morning with Alistair Dove, VP of Research and Conservation at the Georgia Aquarium.

During the conference, Kennesaw State classes were redirected to attend NCUR, and professors have been encouraged to create assignments that allow KSU students to experience the conference sessions.

Cherelle Cortez Celebrates 15-Year Anniversary with JE Dunn Construction

April 15, 2019

Cherelle Cortez, East Region Senior Diversity and Inclusion Manager for JE Dunn Construction, recently celebrated her 15th anniversary with the company.

Cortez is perhaps most identified with providing regional leadership of JE Dunn’s signature Minority Contractor Development (MCD) Program. This initiative provides construction-related business development training and pathways to contract opportunities for MCD graduates.

Currently, Cortez is piloting the revamped MCD program company-wide.

More broadly, Cortez teams with regional leadership to ensure JE Dunn achieves diversity goals consistent with company values, and promotes connectivity between JE Dunn and minority and women-owned businesses that are potential trade partners, suppliers and vendors.

Purpose driven

Cortez began her JE Dunn career in the company’s Denver office, working as a receptionist, then in preconstruction/estimating, and later as a marketing specialist. She relocated to Atlanta in 2013 and soon after began focusing full-time on advancing women and minority preparation and participation in the industry.

“Cherelle is tireless in her leadership journey to learn more and contribute,” said Regional President Dan Kaufman. “She is truly focused on diversity in business — on making JE Dunn a better, more vibrant and thoughtful organization.”

Cortez has supported development of a wide range of diversity and inclusion programs. Professional organizations with which she is active include Georgia Hispanic Contractors, Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Project (WEOP) and Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC).

Her awards include GMSDC’s George Lottier Rising Star and the Georgia Mentor Protégé Connection’s Magnificent Mentor, the program’s highest mentor award.

Cortez chairs the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. She serves on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

The Maynard H. Jackson Jr. Legacy Awards — the City of Atlanta Office of Contract Compliance’s recognition of outstanding performance by contractors, subcontractors and consultants for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport projects — recently honored JE Dunn with an ATLNext Soar Award. The award cites a joint venture team — in this case, Dunn Aviation Group, with which Cortez works closely — for its record of mentoring and using small, minority and women-owned firms for airport projects.

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About JE Dunn – Atlanta

JE Dunn Construction, founded in 1924, is one of the largest general building contractors in the United States, providing construction management services through 22 offices nationwide, and self-perform services at select locations. JE Dunn’s Atlanta office, established in 1985 and consistently recognized as a “best places to work” employer, as well as for leadership in both sustainable and lean construction practices and for community philanthropy, services an array of market sectors, including healthcare, higher education, K-12, commercial, industrial, manufacturing, mission critical and aviation. Atlanta is also headquarters for JE Dunn’s East Region. The Atlanta office’s portfolio includes repeat work for clients including Atlanta Public Schools, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Institute of Technology and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The JE Dunn organization is employee and family owned, and today is represented by three generations of the Dunn family in its day-to-day operations.

Renasant brings on Senior VP Commercial Relationship Officer

April 10, 2019
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Renasant today announced the hire of Christal McNair as Senior Vice President Commercial Relationship Officer. McNair will be located at the George Busbee Parkway location.

“We are excited to have Christal join us as a Senior Vice President on our Cobb Commercial Banking team. Christal’s over 25 years of banking experience, 19 in the Cobb market, will be a tremendous advantage for the team. Christal brings with her a reputation for high levels of service and community involvement, key qualities of the Renasant organization.”

Chris Gruehn, Commercial Banking Executive Officer for the Cobb market

McNair has served in the Cobb County, GA and surrounding areas as both a commercial banker and small business owner. McNair is active in her community by volunteering for several non-profits in the Atlanta area. She also recently served as the Chair for The Center for Family Resources in 2018.

McNair has been married for 20 years to her husband David. She has two daughters, Victoria and Sydney, and one grandson, Camden.

You can contact Christal by calling (470) 322-7334 or by emailing

About Renasant Corporation:

Renasant Corporation, a 115-year-old financial services institution, is the parent of Renasant Bank. Renasant has assets of approximately $12.9 billion and operates more than 190banking, mortgage, financial services and insurance offices throughout Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Renasant was named the “Best Bank in the South” by Time Magazine’s for 2018-19.

For more information please visit or Renasant’s IR site at

IAG Forensics and Valuation names new Principals

April 10, 2019

IAG Forensics and Valuation recently announced the promotions of two employees, Pat Salem and Tammy Thomas, to Principal.

Pat Salem, CPA, CFE, MPA joined IAG in 2010 after a twenty-plus year career in software development.  Her practice focuses on fraud investigations, trust & estate litigation, government and school investigations and matters involving complex data analytics.  Her software and big-data background have proven invaluable to our clients.

Pat Salem, Principal
Pat Salem
Tammy Thomas, Principal
Tammy Thomas

Tammy Thomas, CPA/CFF, CFE, CGMA joined IAG in 2014.  She has over 20 years of public and  private experience as an auditor at Arthur Andersen, a management accountant at a real estate development firm and forensic accountant in litigations services at another professional services firm.

She focuses her practice on complex commercial damages, such as lost profits, professional malpractice matters, trust and estate litigation and matters requiring funds tracing.  Her public and private accounting background has served her clients well as she has served as an expert witness at both deposition and trial for over 15 years.

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About IAG Forensics

Investigative Accounting Group (IAG) Forensics & Valuation is a CPA firm in Atlanta, Georgia, that provides financial investigation and expert witness services to attorneys and their clients – businesses, government, not-for-profit organizations, and individuals.

IAG Forensics & Valuation specializes in forensic accounting, fraud investigation, business valuation and litigation support. Our professionals have served clients in many different industries, including wholesale, retail, manufacturing, construction, real estate development, service, hospitality, government, non-profit, high technology, and more.

CobbForward Comprehensive Transportation Plan meetings set

April 8, 2019

CobbForward Logo

Join us at a public meeting about the County’s transportation future

Cobb County last completed a Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) in 2015—and much has changed in that time! Population has increased, and transportation needs and opinions have shifted within the County and region. At the same time, new technologies and transportation solutions are now available that can enhance and transform Cobb’s future transportation system. To update the CTP and leverage these new tools and strategies, the County and the Cities are embarking on CobbForward—the County’s CTP for 2050.

CobbForward will result in a series of project lists that will position the County and Cities for future implementation. Some projects will form the transportation basis of the County’s next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) while other projects may be identified for potential future funding sources. Some projects may be elevated for consideration in the Regional Transportation Plan and compete for federal and state funds. Additionally, the CobbForward will include County transit recommendations that can be incorporated into the region’s transit vision, which will be developed and managed by the newly formed Atlanta Transit Link Authority (The ATL).

Atlanta Skyline and Highway at Night


Wednesday, April 10th | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
District 1/Powder Springs – West Cobb Senior Center
4915 Dallas Hwy, Powder Springs, GA 30127

Wednesday, April 17th | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
City of Smyrna – Community Center
200 Village Green Cir SE, Smyrna, GA 30080

Thursday, April 18th | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
District 2 – East Cobb Library
4880 Lower Roswell Rd, Suite 510-B, Marietta, GA 30068

Monday, April 29th | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
City of Marietta – Cobb Senior Wellness Center
1150 Powder Springs St, Marietta, GA 30064

Tuesday, April 30th | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
City of Austell – Threadmill Complex
5000 Austell Powder Springs Rd SW, Suite 101, Austell, GA 30106

Monday, May 6th | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
City of Acworth – Acworth Community Center
4361 Cherokee St, Acworth, GA 30101

Tuesday, May 7th | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
District 3 – East Cobb Senior Center
3332 Sandy Plains Rd, Marietta, GA 30066

Wednesday, May 8th | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
City of Kennesaw – Ben Robertson Community Center
2753 Watts Dr., Kennesaw, GA 30144

Thursday, May 9th | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
District 4 – South Cobb Community Center
620 Lions Club Dr., Mableton, GA 30126

For more information, visit CobbForward


About You Family Medicine offers health screening deal

April 8, 2019

Direct Primary Care (DPC) is an affordable, transparent, and cost-effective healthcare solution. Brian P. Sanders, MD provides unlimited access and personalized care at an affordable rate.

Membership Rate: $75 per member per month

Membership Includes:

  • Extended, unhurried office visits
  • Same-day or next-day access for urgent needs
  • Telemedicine
  • Access to Dr. Sanders by phone/text after hours and weekends for acute needs
  • General office procedures
  • Office visits without copay
  • Greatly reduced cost for lab tests
  • Discounted medications
  • DOT exams
  • LGBTQ-friendly healthcare

Call (770) 648-3462 to schedule your appointment.

LGE Community Credit Union receives local and national recognitions in Q1

April 3, 2019
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LGE Community Credit Union received several local and national recognitions during the first quarter of 2019, including Atlanta Top Workplaces, Best of Cobb, and a CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Diamond Award.

LGE was given a Top Workplaces honor by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the seventh year in a row. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner Energage, LLC, a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools.

The survey gathers responses to 24 factors covering seven areas, including organizational health factors relating to workplace culture. Employee engagement, company leadership and the basics (pay, benefits, flexibility, training and expectations) are among the questions. For the 2019 rankings, 4,343 companies were nominated or asked to participate after metro area employees responded to print and online solicitations that began appearing in September.

Cobb Life Magazine named LGE the best credit union in Cobb County in its annual Best of Cobb contest. Members of the community were asked to nominate local businesses in a variety of categories. 23,368 people voted 247,337 times to select the final winners.

LGE was also honored with a CUNA Diamond Award, which recognizes outstanding marketing and business development achievements in the credit union industry. The award was given in the Complete Campaign category for LGE’s 2018 “Not 2 Serious” campaign which promoted its High Rewards Checking account product.

The award was presented by the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, a national network comprised of over 1,300 credit union marketing and business development professionals. Awards are given in each of 36 categories ranging from advertising to community events and beyond.

About LGE Community Credit Union
LGE Community Credit Union provides full-service, federally insuredbusiness within Cobb, Paulding, Cherokee and Fulton counties. Since 2010, LGE has invested over $950,000 in the lives of those in the community including children, homeless, abuse victims and those that fall on hard times. For more information, visit