Alaa Elassar is a junior at Georgia State University. She is a journalism and political science double major who graduated high school two years early. Last May, she received her Associate of Arts degree in journalism at Georgia State’s Perimeter College and plans to graduate Georgia State in Spring 2018. Alaa became an intern at CNN International in 2016 and worked in writing and production with CNNI Special Projects. She is also the managing editor of AtlantaMuslim.com and has been featured with CBS46 and WSB-TV. Alaa’s free time goes into her writing and photography, with her passions surrounding politics and social justice.
Angela & Dennis Buttimer
Together, Angela and Dennis Buttimer are partners at Atlanta Center for Mindfulness & Well-Being and are authors of CALM: Choosing To Live Mindfully, “Mindfulness, Yoga, and Compassion: Clinical Interventions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression” (PESI, 2013) and are regular contributors at Huffington Post. Their work has been featured on CNN, NBC/11 Alive, Newstalk 1160AM and in Best Self Magazine. Their life’s work is to help individuals and organizations defuse stress, overcome obstacles, and live healthier, happier lives.
Clinical Assistant Professor
Gregory Gimpel is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at Georgia State University. Prior to this role, he worked for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Digital Business and he headed the team that designed Ball State University’s business analytics major. His research focuses on the intersection of emerging technologies, analytics, and digital business transformation. He holds a Ph.D. from Copenhagen Business School and an MBA from University of Southern California. He worked in senior management positions for a decade before entering the academic world. His research appears in international journals and conferences.
Before starting his business career, Pete attended the U.S. Naval Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science in physics. Pete served in the Navy as an aviator honing his leadership and decision-making skills as commander of a large multi-engine aircraft and 12-member crew during the height of Cold War tensions. Clear-headed and decisive under those extraordinary circumstances, he has applied that same leadership style to every challenge and opportunity he has faced in a distinguished career with such firms as Coca-Cola, Newell Rubbermaid and most recently, Licensing Brands, a business that he founded in 2009. Before transitioning to marketing, Pete earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School where he was a Richard H. Jenrette fellow and salutatorian. Pete has operated in the global arena, having worked in more than 40 countries and managed extensive projects across national and continental borders.
Soniah Kamal is a Pushcart Prize nominated essayist and fiction writer. Her debut novel, An Isolated Incident, was a finalist for the Townsend Award for Fiction, the KLF French Fiction Prize, and is an Amazon Rising Star pick. Soniah’s work appears in The New York Times, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Catapult, The Missing Slate, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Huffington Post, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, The Normal School, ArtsATL and more. Her essays and short stories are included in The Best Asian Short Stories, award winning anthologies and have been short listed for the Sequestrum Editor’s Reprint Award, The Agnes Scott Festival Award, and the Payton James Freeman Prize. Soniah is the recipient of the Susan B. Irene Award from St. Johns College where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Paul Bowles Fiction Fellowship from Georgia State University where she received an Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
Steven Agudelo is a junior at Georgia State University majoring in Physics with a concentration in Astronomy. He is a midshipman at the Atlanta Region Naval Reserve Officer Training program where he aspires to commission as an officer and a Naval Aviator. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts but lived in Colombia, South America for five years after. During his sophomore year, and after a year of living in Atlanta he saw firsthand the homelessness epidemic in our city and how normalized it had become. For that reason, he and his friends decided to be an active part in changing that by creating 20 for 20. The idea of helping someone, once a month, until we had helped 20 people before we graduated was launched. However, in less than a year they have helped over 52 people get on the path to a changed life. Steven is a member of Lead Team, building an airplane at the Gwinnett Airport with the EAA 690 Chapter, and has competed in ESPN Battlefrog College Championship for Georgia State.
Tim Merritt is Manager of Technology Education Programs in Georgia State’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. He’s seen many changes in more than 20 years in instructional technology – in devices and interfaces we depend on for work, for entertainment, and more and more for our most personal relationships. What do you do when an update to the tool you depend on – for email or messaging, for presentations or data management, for living your life – changes right in your hand? Tim will talk about a flexible mindset that can help us not just react to these evolutionary challenges, but to respond thoughtfully and grow with them.
Timothy Renick is Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success, Vice Provost, and Professor of Religious Studies at Georgia State University. He has served as Chair of the Department of Religious Studies and Director of the Honors Program. Since 2008, he has directed the student success and enrollment efforts of the university, overseeing among the fastest improving graduation rates in the nation and the elimination of all achievement gaps based on students’ race, ethnicity or income level. Dr. Renick has testified on strategies for helping university students succeed before the U.S. Senate and has twice been invited to speak at the White House. His work has been covered by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and CNN and cited by President Obama. He was named one of 2016’s Most Innovative People in Higher Education by Washington Monthly and was the recipient of the 2015-16 Award for National Leadership in Student Success Innovation.
Tisha Jones is a dedicated educator with more than 11 years of experience teaching elementary students. Early in her career she discovered her passion for teaching elementary math and has since worked to develop better methods of teaching math to children. She strongly believes that all children can learn and enjoy math. Tisha is also a mom to two amazing boys, Ty (8) and Jaxton (4).