Three alumni of the Mary Frances Early College of Education were recently named to the University of Georgia’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2021. The program celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates who are under the age of 40.
This year, the College’s honorees are Eric Gray (B.S.Ed. ’04), executive director of Catalyst Sports Inc.; Willie Mazyck (B.S.Ed. ’04, M.Ed. ’06, M.B.A. ’14), global talent management senior vice president of XPO Logistics, Inc.; and Cara Simmons (A.B. ’03, MEd ’07, Ph.D. ’18), director and adjunct faculty at the University of Georgia.
All three honorees exemplify leadership in their industries and communities and uphold the Pillars of the Arch, which are wisdom, justice and moderation.
Gray, who received his bachelor’s degree in recreation and leisure studies, is the founder and executive director of Catalyst Sports Inc. in Atlanta. With nine established chapters in the southeast, Catalyst is the largest adaptive climbing program in the country.
At the age of 10, Gray received treatment for childhood cancer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Twenty-five years later, he returned to Children’s as a recreation therapist to give back and share his experiences to those facing similar circumstances. His clinical work spans several top rehab hospitals, including the Shepherd Center, Children’s Hospital of Atlanta’s Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit and VA’s Active Duty Rehab Unit.
“It is an absolute honor to be a member of the 2021 40 Under 40 Class,” said Gray. “To be among such talented and accomplished individuals is very humbling. I am proud of the work Catalyst Sports does to provide diversity and inclusion and access to the outdoors for underserved populations in our community.”
Mazyck, who received his bachelor’s degree in technological studies and master’s degree in instructional technology, plays a major role in building talent and performance culture at XPO Logistics, a transportation and supply chain company ranked No. 1 by Fortune in logistics services.
As global vice president of talent development, Mazyck oversees talent management, instructional design, content management, leadership development and facilitation for the enterprise. Additionally, he leads a team that provides talent consultation and training services for all of XPO’s business units globally.
“This recognition is a nice reminder that hard work, leaps of faith and sacrifice truly pay off,” said Mazyck. “I’ve set milestones throughout my career knowing that it may not be the straightest, easiest path. I’ve been fortunate to have the support of my wife, family, friends and mentors who have continuously encouraged and motivated me and have been nothing short of inspirational. It has all been worth it, and the journey continues.”
Simmons, who received her master’s degree in college student affairs administration and doctoral degree in counseling and student personnel services, is an adjunct faculty member and director of the student success and advising center in UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
In this role, she provides leadership in various areas including prospective student recruitment, new student orientation, academic advising, experiential learning, student programming and more. She also collaborates with and helps students, faculty, staff and administrators achieve college- and unit-level planning priorities.
“As a three-time graduate of UGA and a two-time graduate of the Mary Frances Early College of Education, I am humbled by the recognition,” said Simmons. “All I ever wanted to do was give back to my community the way I was poured into as a student. To be named to the 2021 40 Under 40 list is a tremendous honor.”
Gray, Mazyck and Simmons will be recognized during the 11th annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon on Sept. 10 in the Tate Student Center on UGA’s campus.