PROUST: UGA Alumnus James Gates

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PROUST: UGA Alumnus James Gates

The Gates Family at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.
The Gates Family at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.

Name: James Blair Gates

Family: Elizabeth (AB 2002; J.D. 2005); Anna Blair (7); Davis (4); Honey Badger (4-legged child/Australian Cattle Dog Terrier Mix); James Bruce Gates, Jr (father, DVM 1966). Beth (sister), Sly (brother, MBA 2004). Dianne (late mother) who loved Athens and the Georgia Bulldogs!

Hometown: “Farmville, VA. Founded in 1798 and nestled in the heart of Virginia near the headwaters of the Appomattox River. The site of the one and only 2016 United States Vice Presidential Debate.”

Current Town: “Atlanta, GA. When I decided to enroll at UGA my father told me “son, if you go to Georgia you will likely wind up marrying a girl from Atlanta and moving there.” I thought at the time, ‘yeah right, what does he know?’ Always listen to your parents.”

What Years at UGA: 1997 – 2001; 2002 – 2004

School/Degree: School of Public & International Affairs (AB, Political Science; AB Communications; Master of Public Administration)

Profession: Partner, Bell Oaks Executive Search

Accolades: “2017 UGA 40 Under 40”; J.B. Fuqua School (my high school) Commencement Speaker, 2011

What life lessons did you learn while at UGA? 

“Your network is your net worth. Additionally, working for Woody Chastain, Terry Smart, and Janet Smart at Bulldog Sporting Goods on Baxter Street while in school taught me about running a business.”

What professor did you most admire (and why)?

“Stefanie Lindquist. Former Dean of the School of Public and International Affairs, now at Arizona State University. I took her class in undergrad and was her TA when I was in grad school. She’s a brilliant, endearing, witty person who created an engaging classroom environment.”

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

“However, to engineer those children I had to convince my wife to go out with me which was a formidable task. I received several “not interested” responses prior to securing the first date.”

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

“Thomas Jefferson. His list of accomplishments includes Father of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the commonwealth’s flagship university, second Governor of Virginia, first U.S. Secretary of State, second Vice President of the United States and the third President of the United States. He was also part of the American wine revolution. Jefferson advocated for religious freedom and tolerance in Virginia and executed the Louisiana Purchase while he was president. He fostered altruism while embodying ambition. He did not seek recognition and always did the duty nearest him.”

Who are your heroes in real life?

My wife Elizabeth, my parents and the men and women who have served in our country’s military. And Trey Anastasio.”

Quote to live by:

“My mother frequently told me ‘Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find that you have crossed the mountain.’- Author Unknown”

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

“On a warm beach with a cold beer with all my family wearing my “2017 Georgia Bulldogs Football National Champions” t-shirt watching Georgia’s Varsity Lacrosse team play for the national title while holding tickets to a Phish concert later that evening.”

What is your most marked characteristic?

“My penchant for running 5 minutes behind schedule … and my bold dress socks (thanks to President George H. W. Bush for the inspiration).”

What do you most value in your friends?

“My friends are down-to-earth and relatable … and the fact they have publicly acknowledged they are my friend is something I value. Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side comic strip (my all time favorite) has said that “a shared sense of humor is how friends find each other.””

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

“It’s a toss up. Either be more patient or be taller.”

Who are your favorite writers (and why)?

“Whomever has a book on tape.”

Fave social media and who to follow (and why)?

“DawgNation on Twitter … because it’s the Dawgs! “Phish from the Road” on Instagram and Twitter. Shaun White on Instagram is also a favorite. What he can do on a snowboard seems impossible, yet he does it.”




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Cheri Leavy is a connector, cheerleader and marketing consultant for fellow entrepreneurs. Constantly on the lookout for the newest talent in the South, Cheri has a passion for helping entrepreneurs create and share their brand storytelling through her endeavors - The Southern Coterie • guide2athens • Bulldawg Illustrated