This year marks a milestone for the Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals To Watch award – it is the 10th anniversary of the program. For ten years, the Augusta Metro Chamber, with Augusta Magazine, has been on a mission to recognize the outstanding talent and achievements of our young professionals in the Augusta Region. We knew then, as we know today, that our future success as a community depends on encouraging, embracing and celebrating future leaders.

Young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35 can be described by a variety of adjectives – movers and shakers, disruptors, innovators; but by all definitions young professionals are most recognized for how they shape the business landscape with their passion and sense of community. Including this year’s honorees, we have now recognized 100 individuals who are leading the charge and changing the landscape of our community.

The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Augusta Magazine, is pleased to announce and showcase the 2018 Top 10 in 10 representing Augusta’s most outstanding young professionals. The young professionals featured in this article entered into a competitive nomination process in March and have emerged as this year’s most promising and rising stars. These outstanding individuals exemplify what can be achieved with passion and vision, and while we congratulate their current achievements, we look forward to watching them reach their dreams.

To further recognize these individuals, the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce will submit a nomination on their behalf to the 2018 Georgia Trend’s 40 Under 40 competition and they will also be honored at the Chamber’s Member Economic Luncheon on June 7 at the Olmstead Hall in the Marriott at the Convention Center.   

Augusta’s reputation for youthful and extraordinary talent is growing both regionally and statewide. With the program now in its tenth year, we have much to be proud of both now and in the future as these incredible individuals take their places among our community’s leadership.

 

Sue Parr, President/CEO
Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce

 


 

SETH BABB

Age: 35

Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, Augusta State University; MBA, Georgia Southern University

Occupation: Director of Consumer Products

Employer: TaxSlayer

Primary responsibilities: Directs strategy for consumer facing products – most notably TaxSlayer.com, a nationally-used tax preparation product. He also serves as the representative on two working groups that collaborate directly with the IRS to improve the tax filing process. He is a member of the executive committee for the IRS Free File Alliance, a non-profit cohort of industry-leading DIY tax prep companies that provide free services to millions of taxpayers.

Long-term goals: To serve as an executive leader for TaxSlayer as well as increase the company’s national reach and image. Babb hopes to impact younger generations by creating STEM educational resources that are free to the public.

Is a big believer in: Giving back to a community that has given so much to him. Through his role at TaxSlayer he has participated in many local events that are working to better Augusta’s future as a technology leader in Georgia. He has also volunteered with SafeHomes of Augusta, South Carolina Parks, Recreation, & Tourism, and the Golden Harvest Food Bank.

Is secretly talented at: Disc golf

Significant career achievement: Babb led the launch of a groundbreaking product never available in the online DIY tax industry. Previously only available in a brick-and-mortar tax office, refundNOW, which allows online filers to receive an advance on their tax refund, launched in 2018 and is being considered for multiple nationally-recognized awards.

 


 

CRYSTAL BASS

Age: 32

Education: Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Industrial Engineering, Mercer University; MBA, Georgia Regents University

Occupation: Project Manager

Employer: Textron Specialized Vehicles (TSV)

Primary responsibilities: Coordinates and manages all aspects of the new product development process. Innately results-driven, Bass builds cross-functional relationships among the engineering, manufacturing, and sourcing departments. Over the past seven years she has worked in roles with increasing responsibility in manufacturing engineering, quality assurance, and program management.

Colleagues describe her as: A high-potential individual with impeccable character; confident, personable, and hard-working.   

Favorite project to date: Integrating the Richmond County schools in TSV’s manufacturing process through RPM (Reaching Potential Through Manufacturing). In this role, Bass paired her manufacturing knowledge with her passion for the community by helping disadvantaged high school students learn a trade while getting their high school diploma. She won the Textron (TSV’s parent company) Chairman’s Award for Innovation for her involvement in the RPM program.

While at TSV, Bass has volunteered to help: Habitat for Humanity, Golden Harvest Food Bank, First Tee of Aiken, the Boys and Girls Club, and Safe Homes

Long-term goals: To seek upper level management opportunity within the supply chain; integrate new products and aid new employees in working cross-functionally between operations and engineering.

 


 

BRITTANY BUSH

Age: 30

Education: M.A. in Teaching, Georgia Regents University; M.S. in Clinical/Counseling Psychology, Georgia Southern University; B.S. in Psychology and Minor in Early Childhood Development, Georgia Southern University

Occupation: Fifth Grade Elementary School Teacher; Adjunct Professor of Early Childhood Education

Employers: Gracewood Elementary School, Richmond County Board of Education; Aiken Technical College

Primary responsibilities: At Aiken Tech, Bush develops course syllabi, assignments, and assessments in accordance with departmental, university, and accreditation regulations. As an elementary school teacher, she is responsible for the educational and social development of students ages 5-12.

Long-term goals: To complete her doctoral degree in educational leadership and obtain an administrative position at a Title I school. Bush will have also completed her research study, focusing on the impact of education on children in the foster care system. She hopes to publish a book to help educators and administrators improve the academic experience of students in the foster care system.

Community impact: As co-founder and director of a mentoring program for 5th grade boys at Gracewood Elementary, Bush collaborated with the men’s basketball team at Augusta University to create the Jocks and Gents Mentoring Program. More than 100 young men have completed the program, learning about life skills, etiquette, goal planning, and community service.

One colleague can’t believe that: “Someone this young” has accomplished as much as Bush has in such a short period of time. This colleague attributes this success to Bush’s tireless drive to be an advocate for children.

Significant awards and recognitions: State of Georgia’s Governor’s Greatest Gaines Bronze Award 2016, State of Georgia’s Governor’s Greatest Gaines Silver Award 2017, Child Enrichment Ambassador Award 2017, and Gracewood Elementary Teacher of the Year 2017-2018

 


 

KAYLA EVETTE COOPER

Age: 35

Education: B.A. in Sociology and B.A. in Criminal Justice, University of Georgia; J.D. from University of Georgia School of Law

Occupation: Staff Attorney

Employer: Augusta Utilities Department (AUD)

Primary responsibilities: Handling AUD’s legal matters, acting as primary legal counsel, conducting real estate closings, and conducting research in order to provide legal opinions for various issues and inquiries involving AUD. She has negotiated lawsuit settlements on behalf of AUD to include property damage and personal injury claims.

Long-term goals: Increase her knowledge of the AUD, gain a better understanding of industry standards, and become more familiar with the technical aspect of AUD/utilities operations in order to specialize in utility legal matters.   

A word on Augusta: Cooper says that Augusta is more than just the home of the Masters and James Brown. It’s a place where you can raise a family and have an impact. She hopes to use her profession to inspire and encourage local youth to follow their dreams and then return home to utilize their talents for the betterment of the Augusta community.

Her idea of what it means to be a productive citizen: Balancing family, work, community involvement, personal wellness, and friends.

Is proud of: Leading #Team One Augusta to exceed its goal in raising more than $20,000 for the American Heart Association during the 2017 CSRA Heart Walk.

 


 

CRYSTAL CRAWFORD

Age: 32

Education: B.A. in History and Secondary Education from Augusta State University; Masters in Eduation from Augusta State University and Education Specialist degree from Augusta University

Occupation: Educator

Employer: Various Richmond County schools, including Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School, Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, Glenn Hills High School, and The Academy of Richmond County

Early signs that education was the perfect field for her: As a child, Crawford spent summers teaching young students in her neighborhood. She held classes outside on a blanket, in the grass under the trees.

Most cherished part of her profession: Her relationship with her students. Crawford says they are the reason she gets up every day.

Teaching philosophy: Students must be given the opportunity to think critically and creatively on the spot. On a daily basis, Crawford’s students complete authentic, real-world connection tasks as well as culminating tasks to demonstrate discovery, understanding, and mastery of content. Her classroom is known as a “free-space” where students are not confined to their desks. Each class period is broken into multiple mini sessions with strategically-placed “brain breaks.” 

Long-term goals: Improve educational opportunities for students in Richmond County schools through the use of technology and innovation in the classroom and through the development of the economics curriculum.

Frequently seen in her social media posts: #TeacherLife

 


 

MARY ANNE HARASIM

Age: 33

Education: Bachelor of Science Education, University of Dayton

Occupation: Director of Operations

Employer: IntelliGenesis (IG)

Primary responsibilities: Expanding operations by building employee headcount and working with strategic partners in the community to gain new customers within the Augusta area. Harasim serves on the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s (AFCEA) Emerging Professional in the Intelligence Committee in Washington, D.C., with plans to start the first chapter in Augusta to create a young, networking group for cyber and intelligence professionals.

Long-term goals: Continuing the growth of the IG Augusta office, brand, and presence. Move IG’s office to the epicenter of Augusta Cyber (downtown), thereby encouraging greater synergies between community, families, and business. 

Impressive stats: Harasim has grown the company’s footprint in Georgia by 300 percent, increasing revenue, promoting business, and ensuring expansion and new jobs in the Augusta area. She also has an active top secret/ Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) clearance.

Got her start as: A pricing specialist intern at Northrop Grumman Corporation, Technical Services Sector. She prepared complex pricing estimates on various Department of Defense contract proposals. She ultimately become a business manager for the company and was responsible for all business management functions on a Service Center Operations Support Services (SCOSS) contract that generated $12 million in annual revenues.    

Colleagues commend her: Work ethic, leadership, and business acumen

 


 

GARON MULLER

Age: 31

Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, Mercer University; J.D., Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law

Occupation: Attorney

Employer: Burnside Law Firm

Primary responsibilities: Represents individuals who have been seriously injured or damaged through the negligence or recklessness of others, including automobile collisions, workplace injuries, premises injuries, or defective products. As a former assistant district attorney for the Augusta Judicial Circuit, Muller prosecuted more than 1,000 criminal matters and tried multiple violent felonies to jury verdict.

Career goal: To become a partner at Burnside Law Firm

Seeks to improve the community by: Restoring Harrisburg to its former prominence through his work with Turn Back the Block, an organization for which he serves as vice president. Muller envisions Harrisburg becoming a vibrant community where professionals can live, work, and enjoy nightlife.

Professional associations and memberships: Georgia Bar Association, Augusta Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division / Georgia Bar Association, Young Lawyers of Augusta, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association

Hobbies: Tennis and playing music

Has been described as: A star among stars

 


 

PRATHIK REDDY PADI

Age: 30

Education: Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics & Communications, Osmania University in India; M.S. in Engineering Management, Santa Clara University

Occupation: IT Manager, sales applications

Employer: Textron Specialized Vehicles (TSV)

Primary responsibilities: Leads   team of 10 direct reports comprised of senior IT analysts/programmers, business analysts, and consultants. The team designs, develops and implements software solutions and supports multiple business applications.

Long term goals: To achieve the next level of management, director of IT. In addition, he would like to develop as a leader outside of the IT space in order to hone new skills and expand his portfolio value. Padi anticipates exposure to other Textron businesses such as Textron Aviation, and Textron Tools and Test in order to make a difference in the broader company IT organization.

Big achievement at TSV: In his first year as manager, he was under budget by $1 million and has consistently stayed under budget on several other projects while producing high quality work product. He was also one of only two TSV managers selected by upper management to attend Textron’s Global Leadership Summit.

Is known for: His positive, “can-do” attitude

Helps others through: Local and international charitable donations to Goodwill, the American Heart Association, and Salvation Army.

 


 

ROBERT TRINIDAD

Age: 32

Education: Bachelor of Business Administration/Management, Columbia Southern University; Associate Degree in General Education, College of Southern Maryland

Occupation: Public Relations Coordinator/Ministry Director

Employer: Still Waters Professional Counseling

Primary responsibilities: Building and maintaining the organization’s websites, social media, and marketing outreach. Trinidad also develops and enhances relationships to ensure current and future partnerships as well as leads local and foreign outreach projects.

Is most proud of: Founding Hope Today for a Better Tomorrow, a local nonprofit that fights child sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. According to Trinidad, this group will create hope and empowerment for everyone within the community by pinpointing predators and engaging citizens in service to victims who need help breaking the cycle of being sexually exploited and accepting it as a way of life.

Long-term goals: To build a child sexual exploitation and sex trafficking rescue center to house those escaping sexual and violent situations as well as provide mental, physical, and spiritual support. He plans to increase awareness of these issues by implementing training at schools, churches, and businesses; and creating partnerships with local government, law enforcement, and other agencies.

Is known for: Making a lasting impression through his energy and passion for helping others.

His keys to success: God, family, and dedication

 


 

ALICIA HUFF VINYARD

Age: 34

Education: B.S. in Psychology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; D.O., Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine; General  Surgery Residency, Medical College of Georgia; Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowship, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Occupation: Breast Surgical Oncologist

Employer: Georgia Cancer Center

Medical specialties: Providing breast cancer patients with the best cosmetic results while also making the patient cancer free. Vinyard is the only breast surgeon in the region trained to perform the lymphatic microsurgical preventing healing approach (SLYMPHA), a revolutionary procedure that reconnects lymphatic vessels to small veins in the upper extremity.

Biggest life accomplishment: Standing as an eight-year survivor of breast cancer. She was diagnosed at age 25.

Long-term goal: Improving cancer care via intraoperative radiation treatment, which reduces radiation treatments from five days a week for six weeks to one treatment.

Community message: As a breast cancer survivor, Vinyard promoted breast cancer awareness with multiple television and radio appearances and newspaper articles on fertility preservation for young women undergoing chemotherapy. She has emphasized the importance of self-breast exams and volunteered for events such as the Pink Pumpkin Party to raise funds to help patients pay for mammograms.

Professional affiliations: American Society of Breast Surgeons, American Society of Breast Disease, American Medical Women’s Association, American College of Surgeons, Southeastern Surgical Conference, among others

Article appears in the June/July 2018 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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