| Accessibility Statement

IDEA Advisory Board


The IDEA Board is a volunteer advisory board that exists to promote Innovation, Development, Education and Access with regard to Odum School of Ecology initiatives, and to provide assistance to the Dean of the Odum School in areas of relevance to development, but not limited to communications, public relations, fundraising and donor prospects.


The IDEA Board meets twice a year, in the spring and fall.  The next meeting will take place in Athens - date has not yet been determined.


Rebecca Bell is Director of the Little Cumberland Island Turtle Project, which has involved and hired many students from the Odum School over the years. Bell lives on Little Cumberland Island, Georgia and in Round Pond, Maine.

Stephanie Stuckey Benfield is the Director of Sustainability for the City of Atlanta. Stephanie received both an undergraduate and law degree from the University of Georgia. She graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1992. After law school, she served as a public defender and then went into private practice before being elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1999. Stephanie served as a State Representative from the Decatur area for 14 years, during which time she was a member of the Judiciary and Natural Resources Committees. Stephanie’s legal expertise was recognized in 2011 when she was given the Outstanding Lawyer in Public Service Award by the Atlanta Bar Association. Stephanie serves on the Boards for the Green Chamber of the South, EarthShare of Georgia, and the Olmsted Linear Parks Association. She is a member of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership Class of 2013.

Bob Berkebile is Principal with BNIM Architects in Kansas City, Missouri.  In 2009, Berkebile received a Heinz Award from the Heinz Family Foundation for his role in promoting green building design and for his commitment and action towards restoring social, economic and environmental vitality to America's communities through sustainable architecture and planning.

Gray Bethea is a 1974 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.  He is former Vice President and Secretary for Scientific Games International, and lives in Atlanta.

Harmon Caldwell is a 1977 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.  He is the founder of Caldwell & Watson LLC, and lives in Alpharetta.

Ron Carroll is an emeritus professor and former director of the UGA Institute of Ecology. Ron’s research interests include conservation biology, sustainable economic development, ecosystem restoration, and invasive species. Dr. Carroll earned his Ph.D. in population biology at the University of Chicago. In recent years, his research work has focused on the mechanisms of ecological restoration in the context of conservation ecology. In addition to many journal publications, he has co-authored several book chapters and a graduate-level textbook on conservation ecology.

Bertis Downs is a 1981 graduate of and Adjunct Professor for the University of Georgia School of Law. He is attorney for and manages the great Athens band R.E.M.  He lives in Athens.

Laurie Fowler is a 1983 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.  She is on the conservation ecology and water resources faculty at UGA, as well as the associate dean of administrative affairs and public service for the Odum School.  Fowler also serves as clinical faculty in the UGA School of Law.

Skelly Holmbeck is a 1998 graduate of the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry.  Holmbeck is with the business management division of NextEra Energy Resources.

Felton Jenkins III is a partner in Trimaran Capital, a Registered Investment Advisory firm in Savannah. A 1990 graduate of UGA in zoology, he also earned two masters degrees from Yale University. Jenkins is a member of the Skidaway Marine Science Foundation Board and the Chatham County Resource Protection Commission.

Wayne King is an entrepreneur and founder of ERTH Products LLC.  He lives in Peachtree City.

Boyd Leake is President and CEO of Community Environmental Management, Inc., an Atlanta-based environmental consulting firm specializing in institutional and municipal solid waste and sustainability issues. Leake has a background in project management, fund raising, nonprofit management and government affairs with an emphasis on historical, educational and environmental issues.

Jianguo "Jack" Liu is a human-environment scientist and sustainability scholar who holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability, is University Distinguished Professor of fisheries and wildlife and also serves as director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University. Liu, who received his Ph.D. in Ecology from UGA in 1992, came to MSU after completing his postdoctoral work at Harvard University. He also has been a guest professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a visiting scholar at Stanford (2001–2002), Harvard (2008) and Princeton (2009).

Jerry McCollum is a professional wildlife biologist, certified by The Wildlife Society. He holds an AB and MS from the University of West Georgia and has served as President of the Georgia Wildlife Federation for more than twenty years. In their personal interests McCollum and his wife, professional horticulturist Terry Tatum, are very active in the conservation of native plants and the eradication of invasive exotic species from our native habitats throughout Georgia.

Sarah Ross is the President and Director of the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History in Savannah and directs the UGA Center for Research and Education at Wormsloe. She is on the faculty of the UGA College of Environmentl and Design. Ross previuosly served as director of education for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In 2010 Steven Saferin was appointed President of Scientific Games’ Properties Group, a newly formed business unit. In this role, Mr. Saferin is responsible for the overall market development of the Company’s licensed properties and promotional opportunities as well as various new media initiatives. Scientific Games’ Properties Group, MDI Entertainment, has the lottery industry’s largest portfolio of licensed properties with contracts in nearly every U.S. lottery jurisdiction. Mr. Saferin received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from American University and received his JD from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Diane Sanzone is a Research Leader at Battelle Memorial Institute which is the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization, Sanzone received her M.S. in Conservation Ecology in 1995 and Ph.D. in Ecology in 2001 from the University of Georgia.

Chris Sawyer joined Alston & Bird in 1978 and has been a partner since 1985.  He specializes in working with and counseling boards, CEOs and senior management on issues relating to corporate governance, strategic and business planning, finance, the environment and real estate.

J. Rutherford Seydel is a 1986 graduate of the University of Georgia.  He is an attorney and partner with Davis, Pickren & Seydel in Atlanta.  He and his wife, Laura, are co-founders of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Fund.  He currently serves as chair of the IDEA Board.

John Sibley grew up in a family committed to community service and the stewardship of Georgia's land.  Sibley practiced law in Atlanta for 12 years before joining the staff of Governor Joe Frank Harris as director of the Growth Strategies Commission in 1987.  He has served as president of the Georgia Conservancy and Utility Program Director of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance and is currently Senior Policy Fellow at Southface Energy Institute.

Steve Weber has a comprehensive background in finance, marketing and real estate.  He is currently president of two real estate companies based in Sherman Oaks, California. One company owns and acquires commercial and industrial real estate. The other company holds first trust deeds in the residential market.  He graduated from the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles with his wife of 35 years.


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John Gittleman
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