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Digital Edition - May / June 2016

Rushion McDonald: Journey to Become the Perfect Baker

May/June 2016

successful Women in Broadcasting

Arts Clayton hometown teams

2016 Top Attorneys

Jovita Moore: Georgia’s Most Beloved Broadcaster

May/June 2016

successful Women in Broadcasting

Arts Clayton hometown teams

2016 Top Attorneys

Jonnetta Patton: love, life and living to the fullest

May/June 2016

successful Women in Broadcasting

Arts Clayton hometown teams

2016 Top Attorneys

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features Arts Clayton No need to travel all the way to Washington DC, because your family can experience the Smithsonian’s newest interactive exhibit “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” at the Arts Clayton Gallery on Main Street - Jonesboro from July 5 through August 5. The only metro location selected for the Georgia tour in 2016-2017, Arts Clayton Gallery will be hosting “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” as part of the State and National Museum on Main Street program which is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and Georgia Humanities with support from the U.S. Congress. This specially designed exhibit has already toured in several states including Kansas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Illinois and neighboring North and South Carolina before coming to Georgia.


Ortho Atlanta OrthoAtlanta orthopaedic and sports medicine specialists has 12 physician offices throughout Atlanta, Georgia, including convenient locations in Fayetteville, Newnan and Stockbridge in the Southern Crescent. OrthoAtlanta offers easy accessibility to patient services including on-site physical therapy, pain management clinics, five imaging centers and two AAAHC surgical centers. Dedicated workers’ compensation coordinators are available at each office to serve you.


2016 Top Attorneys Even if you are not currently searching for an attorney to represent you in a legal matter, you will want to read the features on SJM’s top attorneys. Their practice areas span from Probate to Criminal Appeals and everything in between. You will read about dynamic legal minds and how they are impacting their clients, the community and the legal profession. The experience of these individuals is unmatched and certainly sets them apart as “Top Attorneys.”




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publisher’s letter


e have had big issues before but even we are pretty blown away by the amazing powerhouses we have to share in the May/June 2016 issue of Southern Journal Magazine. Jonnetta Patton, mega-business mogul and mother to Usher Raymond, shares her new culinary venture in an exclusive interview. She is just as beautiful, gracious and inspirational in person as she appears to be in her interview. Rushion McDonald was introduced to me by a business associate who said “you need to meet him, he is amazing”. She wasn’t kidding, he is amazing in every way and not only a phenomenal baker he is a dedicated family man to his wife and tennis super star daughter. He is also hilarious! Jovita Moore defines the meaning of professional journalism yet that is not all we love about her. When I sat down with her for her interview she immediately begins to share her love and pride for her children. Jovita is also very proud of her humble beginnings in New York with her single mother. We loved that she embraced her struggles and her gratefulness for the gifts she was given and worked for. If you take our three covers and lay them side by side you will see that they all have something in common…an inner shine, a thankful heart for God’s love and mercy and a core strength that has given them the perseverance they have needed to reach their goals. Also on our Publisher’s Page it is also our pleasure to share with you the beautifully talented photographers who capture the magic for Southern Journal Magazine. Thank you for allowing us to share with you those who make the world a better place to be. Warmly,

Lisa Kinchen Publisher/Editorial Director

Lisa Kinchen

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#behindthepictures Jamie Katz

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Photo: Images by Amie Photography


#behindthepictures Amie Groover

publisher/ editorial directoR

Lisa Kinchen | Managing Editor

Tammy Callahan | Senior editor


Beverly Van Gorder Denese A. Rodgers Jennifer Agress Lisa Kinchen

Regain Life

Restore Function Renew Hope

Pat Prosser Graphic design

Michael Birchall Michelle Robb Anne Nava Troika Studio, Inc. | photography

Image Bureau Images by Amie Photography Jamie Katz Photography Picture This Studio

Working together

since 2007

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Lisa Kinchen | Web Design

Seth Ferreira Troika Studio, Inc. | We welcome your company and community news. Please include digital photos with your press release and send to Forward product samples or press kits to the Publisher. We cannot be responsible for unsolicited product samples. Publisher does not assume liability for products or services advertised herein. Southern Journal Magazine is published bimonthly by Southern Journal Magazine, Inc. All content is copyrighted by Southern Journal Magazine and reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Southern Journal Magazine reserves liability in the event of an error to a printed correction.

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may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com





40 20

inside: 30


26 22



Publisher’s Letter




Chaplain’s Corner


Southside Realtors: Agent Spotlight


business profile: OrthoAtlanta


Women in Broadcasting: Jovita Moore


Women in Broadcasting: Jennifer Valdez


Women in Broadcasting: Jennifer Leslie


Jonnetta Patton


Arts Clayton: Celebrating Team Spirit


Rushion McDonald


Top Attorney: Emmett Arnold


Top Attorney: Pandora Palmer


Top Attorney: Smith, Welch, Webb and White LLC


Top Attorney: Terri Sutton


Henry County Bar Association


Arts Clayton: Sports For All Ages


Image Bureau may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


chaplain’s corner

Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go

Brother Ralph and Gwen Easterwood Pastor Emeritus---Glen Haven Baptist Church, McDonough

By: Beverly Van Gorder | Photo: Picture This Studio


he heart of every home is created by the people who dwell within it. And what is taught in that home has an enduring effect into the next generation. Brother Ralph Easterwood believes his adoption at the age of three by a dedicated Christian mother and a hardworking, honest, moral father made impressions which shaped him into the man he is and the lessons they taught continue to influence his actions every day. Brother Ralph says, “My parents instilled three distinct ethics in me when I was growing up. And each of those ethics were demonstrated either in the life of my mother or my father. For them to personally live out what they expected was very impactful.” Being raised on a 120-acre farm in Decatur, Georgia meant there was always an abundance of work to be done. By the time he was 11, Brother Ralph had plenty he was responsible for doing by himself. He shares, “My father had a rule: ‘You don’t play until the work is done and done right. If it is not done right you do it again.’ This WORK ethic has been a blessing in all aspects of my life, but especially in equipping me with the mindset of making a living for my family and of being a focused pastor.” The second ethic Brother Ralph was blessed with before he left home was taught through a confrontation with humiliation and ultimately shame. For some reason, when he was ten years old, he became upset with his school bus driver. He sat down in a huff on the bench seat and in frustration took his own pocket knife and cut up the upholstery on the seat. When his dad learned what he had done, he took Brother Ralph to the bus driver’s home, made him walk to the door alone, confess what he had done to the seat and pay out of

his allowance the money necessary to have it repaired. “The humiliation and shame I endured by acknowledging my wrong deed to the bus driver as well as the spanking my father gave me afterward corrected for all time any bent I had toward vandalism. My dad purposefully taught me a WORTH ethic. I learned the value of other people’s property and I respected it.” Thirdly, Brother Ralph’s mother taught him a WORSHIP ethic. She saw to it that he went to church. “But developing a worship ethic meant more than just going to church or having a devotional here and there,” Brother Ralph emphasizes. “It was a lifestyle of learning from God’s word what was right and doing it. It was an understanding that the things I did represented who I was and after I had given my heart to Jesus I needed to observe the worship ethic to keep me focused on serving Him well. My mother firmly believed we needed God’s help to live in a way which would please Him, so Psalm 127:1, ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it,’ had strong significance in our lives. My mother taught me, ‘Don’t make a mess for the Lord, do your best for the Lord.’” From his childhood home Brother Ralph brought these three ethics into his adult home and together with Mrs. Gwen raised their five children in the theme of Joshua 24: 14-15, “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth. And if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Consider teaching your children with the wisdom found in these three ethics. God’s word tells us we will not regret it, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Proverbs 22:6. may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


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may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


Agent Spotlight

Brandy Fields Phone: 770-560-9107 Email: My real estate career began in 1999, and I immediately fell in love with this business. My first year began as a licensed assistant, as well as a buyer’s agent to top producer Donna Tidwell. The next year, I became a full time buyer’s agent, while also managing a new construction subdivision. With each year, I have successfully continued to grow my business working with buyers, sellers, and builders. In the midst of working full time, I was also a full time student and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Clayton State University in 2006. Throughout my seventeen years in real estate, I have gained a great deal of experience in all parts of real estate including (but not limited to): new construction, resale listings, foreclosures, short sales, land, buyer agency, and rentals. I work diligently with each client to understand their needs and concerns and walk them through each part of the buying/selling process. I am happy that in this season of my career, all of my business comes from repeat clients and referrals. I pride myself in doing a great job and making my clients feel comfortable in all aspects of buying, selling, or renting real estate. My goal has always been to have clients for life! 14


Gloria Easler Phone: 770-318-8623 Email: | With thirty-one years of industry experience and success, Gloria is an Associate Brokerand a Certified ResidentialSpecialist (CRS), a designation held by less than 4% of agents nationwide. Other achievements include, Graduate Real Estate Institute (GRI), Lifetime Circle of Excellence agent, Zenith Award recipient, 2014 Womens Council of Realtors Entrepreneur of the Year and serves on the 2016 leadership team for the Metro South Womens Council of Realtors (WCR). Other honors include, 2007 Metro South Chapter President of the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association, past WCR President and 2016 President of the McDonough Womans Club, a local civic organization. Gloria works her business applying new technology and education to provide excellent service to her clients with the professionalism everyone deserves. “I help buyers and sellers make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace. Real estate practices and guidelines are continually changing. I am highly focused on relationship building and providing my clients with the best professional care for a successful transaction. I am proud to be with Southside which supports that goal. I love referrals and love to serve my community as an involved citizen and as a professional REALTOR.”

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When “Break A Leg”

Means More Than Good Luck

By: Pat Prosser, OrthoAtlanta | Photos: OrthoAtlanta


t’s no secret, Georgia’s film and television production industry is booming to the tune of some $6 billion in 2015* and growing every year. Georgia’s Southern Crescent may be the epicenter, with entities including Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayetteville, TWD Production’s The Walking Dead in Senoia, and countless feature films, television pilots, reality series, and commercials being filmed every day. Couple that with traveling Broadway theatre productions in Atlanta and musical events across the state, the entertainment industry is hot in Georgia. The industry accounts for some 30,000 working professionals across the state in jobs ranging from studio and sound stage builds, to camera work to catering services. Casting calls for extras are becoming as common on social media as restaurant reviews. From set up to shoot, production schedules can be brutally tight, and production days long. As with any other employer, injuries and accidents can happen. Just ask Dr. Michael J. Behr, Medical Director and orthopaedic surgeon for OrthoAtlanta, one of the largest orthopaedic and sports medicine practices in the greater Atlanta area. “The physicians and staff of OrthoAtlanta serve an active and growing role in supporting the burgeoning entertainment industry in Georgia,” explained Dr. Behr. “OrthoAtlanta offices in Fayetteville, Newnan and Stockbridge in the Southern Crescent are particularly adept at answering the call when an injury to muscles, ligaments or bones threatens a production. Musculoskeletal injuries of performers or crew member on a television or film set are not dissimilar to those of the sports athletes, from professional, to little league team, to weekend warrior, that OrthoAtlanta physicians treat on any given day. The need to get back on the set is just as urgent as getting back in the game.” These sentiments are shared by Dr. Joseph S. Wilkes, also a founding partner and orthopaedic surgeon with OrthoAtlanta. Dr. Wilkes has served as Medical Director for Broadway traveling productions including “Wicked: The Emerald City Tour,” and “Movin’ Out.” He has served as orthopedist for the Emory School of Dance. Dr. Wilkes regularly sees patients from the movie and entertainment industries. 16


“The expression ‘Break a leg’ takes on a whole new meaning when a star performer or key production member gets hurt on set. “The show must go on,” cites Dr. Wilkes. OrthoAtlanta orthopedic surgeons are fellowship trained in general orthopedic care. Each physician holds additional certification in one or more specialties such as sports medicine, hand and upper extremity, total joint, or spinal surgery. Together with OrthoAtlanta physiatrists who are trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation, plus a full complement of care providers including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, hand therapists and occupational therapists, the staff at OrthoAtlanta diagnose and treat sprains and strains, torn ligaments, broken bones and much more. They work to restore movement through physical therapy and occupational therapy treatments. Their workers’ compensation expertise is instrumental in ensuring that excellent orthopaedic care is provided and employees are able to return to work as soon as medically appropriate. OrthoAtlanta Healthy Return™ liaisons provide constant communication and coordination regarding treatment and work status to employers, case managers, and claims adjusters. Whether you are a weekend warrior on the athletic field, or playing the role of warrior in the next major feature film, you may find the need for orthopaedic and sports medicine care. The physicians and staff at OrthoAtlanta are here to serve you. OrthoAtlanta orthopaedic and sports medicine specialists has 12 physician offices throughout Atlanta, Georgia, including convenient locations in Fayetteville, Newnan and Stockbridge in the Southern Crescent. OrthoAtlanta offers easy accessibility to patient services including on-site physical therapy, pain management clinics, five imaging centers and two AAAHC surgical centers. Dedicated workers’ compensation coordinators are available at each office to serve you. Comprehensive operative and non-operative musculoskeletal care and expertise includes sports medicine, arthroscopic surgery, hip replacement, knee replacement, neck and spine surgery, elbow and shoulder surgery, ankle and foot surgery, pain management, general

orthopedics, work related injuries and acute orthopedic urgent care. In Fayetteville, the OrthoAtlanta OrthoQUICK Urgent Care services provides after hours care until 9 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Learn more at: or call 770-953-6929. *Source: Georgia Film and TV Production web site [] TWD Productions LLC, The Walking Dead, Wicked: The Emerald City Tour and Movin’ Out are registered trademarks.

‘Break a leg’ takes on a whole new meaning when a star performer or key production member gets hurt on set. As they say in the industry, ‘The show must go on.’ may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


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Women in


Lights, Camera, Action! By: Lisa Kinchen


very day millions of viewers turn on their TV for the latest in sports, weather and what is going on in the world they live in. We wanted to show the diversity in the women in broadcasting

and reached out to you to find out which ones you wanted to know more about. Jovita Moore, Jennifer Valdez and Jennifer Leslie made the top of your list. We reached out to each of them and graciously they all agreed to share their journey with us. Three amazing, hard working, family loving and professional women who are dedicated to those they serve, their viewers. We loved interviewing them and we hope you will enjoy reading about their lives and journeys. As always, thank you for “tuning in.” may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com




Jovita Moore: There is so much “Moore” to her story.

By: Lisa Kinchen | Photos: Images by Amie Photography


itting down to have lunch and to catch up with Jovita Moore is as natural as if you were sitting down to catch up with a life-long friend. You may think it is because you see Jovita everyday on the 5 pm, 6 pm and 11 pm Channel 2 Action News. Seeing her posed, polished yet warm and engaging, you can see why millions of viewers consider her not only a part of their day but a part of their life. Since 1998, Jovita has been sharing the top, most important and impactful stories with her TV family. It is a nonstop pace that starts with seeing her children off to school, getting in a work out and then to the station for her daily 2 pm meeting, which is followed by hair and make up. Jovita thrives on this nonstop pace, which makes her feel that she is truly found her life’s work. We asked Jovita if she always knew she was going to be a broadcasting journalist. She shared “not exactly, but I can see where the influence began”. Jovita grew up in a one bedroom apartment in New York with her mother. Because they had one tv, when her mother would come home the channel would change from cartoons to the news. “My mother and I would watch the news together. I was definitely the kid who was most up-to-date on current events.” Jovita credits her mom as the greatest influence in her life. “She taught me perseverance, dedication and hard work. I tell the youth I mentor all of the time that hard work is the key to success, for there are no short cuts to building a solid foundation.”

may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


She taught me perseverance, dedication and hard work. I tell the youth I mentor all of the time that hard work is the key to success, for there are no short cuts to building a solid foundation.



While attending college in Bennington, Vermont, a college professor noticed Jovita’s writing style. He suggested she should think about journalism. Jovita took an internship at the Amsterdam News in Harlem. “It was the first time I had an opportunity to put a story together from scratch. I loved the feeling and from that time on, I have been hooked.” Although she loved sharing the news with her audience, she did not love the process of print. “The very story I was writing up was already being played on TV. It was then I realized that I wanted to pursue broadcasting.” Which, she did by enrolling in Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she received a Master’s of Science Degree in Broadcasting. Graduation brought a position with a New York Times TV-owned station KFSM in Fayetteville, Arkansas, a position which gave her the opportunity to be on air and so much more. “I drove the truck,” she said with a smile. She also set up the equipment, shot the video and preformed the interview. “We had a budget for me to be a “one man band”. I was happy to be doing what I loved, but I wanted to do so in a bigger market. I knew it would be a process, and this was part of the process.” She spent the next three years at KFSM-TV and was promoted to anchor. After Arkansas she took a position at WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee. Her dream to join a bigger market came in 1998 when Jovita realized she needed an agent to help her achieve her goals. WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia offered her a position, and she quickly accepted it. At first, Jovita started off as a weekend anchor but never passed up an opportunity to network with her peers and mentors. She worked hard in the community and engaged with local business leaders. She is a member of Leadership Atlanta’s Class of 2007 and a

After over ten years of working and training with my WSB-TV team, I felt ready to step into the role. It would not have happened without the support and love of our viewers. may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


member of Outstanding Atlanta’s Class of 2004. She was featured in the 2007 list of 40 under 40 by Georgia Trend Magazine and was selected as one of Jezebel Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful people. In 2001, she won an Emmy for a piece on a medical issue that she had had personal experience with- fibroids. She is a member of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists. And even though she is a single mom, she still manages to donate countless hours to civic associations and non-profit organizations across metro Atlanta. Her passion for giving back and mentoring comes from knowing first- hand the impact of those who helped her along the way. Jovita sits



on the board of the Genesis Shelter, a non-profit dedicated to making sure new mothers and newborns are not homeless. When Monica Pearson retired in 2012, Jovita was given an opportunity of a lifetime as anchor. “I was very excited and grateful,” said Jovita. “After over ten years of working and training with my WSB-TV team, I felt ready to step into the role. It would not have happened without the support and love of our viewers.” Her team continues to grow and evolve. Jovita is very involved in social media and feels this has been a great way to personally connect with her viewers. The future is as beautiful and bright as Jovita’s warm smile. Clearly, Georgia is thankful she calls us home.

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may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com




Jennifer Valdez: Family, Fun and Forecasting

By: Denese A. Rodgers | Photos: Jamie Katz Photography


ennifer Valdez, morning meteorologist for CBS46, is enthusiastic about her work. “I get to do something I absolutely love! I’ve been fascinated with the weather ever since I was a little girl.” The CBS46 morning show airs weekdays from 4:30 to 7:00 a.m. Jennifer has been a part of the team since 2008, “I’m very passionate about what I do and feel very fortunate that I get to do it each and every day.” Jennifer grew up in Orlando, FL where she was often amazed and fascinated by the weather, “We had strong thunderstorms almost daily in the summer. We were also plagued with hurricanes and extreme heat.” She reminisces, “When I was little, my brother would use my dad’s big camcorder and film me pretending to be a news anchor and a weather person. This is definitely what I was destined to do.” “My mom and dad were the major influences in my life. I know, everyone says that – but in my case it is absolutely true.” Jennifer continues, “My parents were born and raised in Argentina – and moved to the United States about 40 years ago. They had very little and moved here with an infant daughter (my older sister) as my dad started his medical residency in New Haven, CT. My mother spoke very little English. They had no car, little money, and didn’t know anybody in this country. My mom and dad worked very hard – and taught me that hard work, perseverance, good grades, and good morals lead to a successful and happy life. It was always very important to them that I worked hard in school and made good grades. They always stressed the importance of family. By example, I saw what it was like to work hard for what you want in life. That hunger for success and working hard stayed with me – and helped me land my dream job here in Atlanta when I was only 27 years old. Eight years later, I’m still doing what I love in this AMAZING city.”

A typical day in the life of Jennifer starts at 2:30 am. She gets to work around 3:30 a.m. “I do my make-up and hair at work. Forecast the weather. Then, I make all the weather maps I’ll be using that day. Update our website. Tweet and send Facebook updates about the forecast.” The morning show starts at 4:30 am and continues through 7 am – with weather updates at least every 10 minutes. She adds, “Between 7 am and 9 am I do weather cut-ins during the CBS Early Show. Then I work on interviews and segments for Atlanta Plugged In – which airs on CBS46 from 12:30-1 pm. After that, I get to go home, run errands, see my beautiful babies (who are now 3 & 4 years old), make dinner, and go to bed by 6:30PM. I don’t get to put my kids to bed. It’s ironic, because my four-year-old daughter tucks me in every night. She puts the covers on me, turns off the lights, and says, “Mommy, have a good day at work tomorrow,” before she leaves the room and shuts the door. It makes my heart melt every time!” Atlanta weather can escalate quickly, “The busiest days are certainly those that involve severe weather. Severe weather events involve being on air – continuously – for sometimes several hours or even days at a time. It definitely gets adrenaline going through your veins. It’s a big responsibility, because you have to warn people of upcoming danger – sometimes involving life or death. I take this responsibility very seriously. Sometimes these days involve sleeping at the station on the floor under my desk. Not being able to go home – and not seeing my family for several days. But it is what I love doing – and I’m so appreciative that people trust me to come into their homes and guide them during these potentially life changing events.” You can e-mail Jennifer at

may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com




Jennifer Leslie: Mom, Ministries and Media Powerhouse

By: Denese A. Rodgers | Photos: Image Bureau


ix-time Regional Emmy Winner, Jennifer Leslie, has been an integral part of Atlanta television for nearly two decades. She is a Broadcast Journalist, reporting for 11Alive’s morning newscasts. Jennifer is enthusiastic about her hectic, early morning schedule, “I wake up at 2 a.m. to get to work by 3 a.m. and take a nap after work every day. I really enjoy the chance to be at home when my boys get off the school bus.” When asked about the best and worst aspects of her job, Jennifer replies, “The best part of my job is that every day is different. It’s a privilege to meet and interview people from all walks of life from different communities across metro Atlanta. I’m a naturally curious person, so this job feeds my need to know. The worst thing about my job is trying to interview crime victims and their family members. It’s never easy, but I learned in my first reporting job that it’s always important to ask. You never know when they might WANT to talk about what happened to help solve a crime or warn others or remember a loved one. If they don’t want to talk, I respect their wishes and move on.” Jennifer has covered some of biggest stories in metro Atlanta over the last 18 years: the Birmingham bombing and search for Eric Robert Rudolph, the Buckhead massacre, the Cotton Mill crane rescue, hurricanes, tornadoes (the one that hit Dunwoody in 1998 hit just four miles from her home at the time), the flood of 2009, Snow Jam 2014, the murder of Jorely Rivera and the APS cheating scandal. “I feel proud of the stories I do that make a difference or shed light on a problem that might otherwise go unnoticed or unresolved. My heart still races on the way to a breaking news story, and I feel a great sense of responsibility to get the facts first and make sure they’re right,” Jennifer said. Jennifer has won regional Emmys for live reporting, breaking news and spot news reporting, medical series reporting and her work with 11Alive’s web team. Prior to joining 11Alive in 1998, Jennifer worked as a reporter for WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, FL; WBIR-TV in Knoxville, TN, and KJAC-TV in Port Arthur/Beaumont TX. She is excited about the energy at 11Alive and has embraced social media, “Our Facebook pages and Twitter feeds are more robust than ever before with news stories and original content. We rely on both for news tips and feedback.” Jennifer is married with two boys, ages 8 and 10. They live in Dunwoody. “I’m a hockey mom. And a baseball mom. I love volunteering in the boys’ elementary school. We’ve grown deep roots here. Even though I grew up in Houston, this feels like home.” You can follow Jennifer on Twitter (@jleslie11alive) and Facebook (Jennifer Leslie 11Alive).

may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com




Peace Up, A-Town Down:

Jonnetta Patton

Takes on Atlanta’s Culinary Scene

Past music industry executive and Usher’s mom-turned-manager, Jonnetta Patton, launches J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator – the first joint workspace and business development program for the nation’s top chefs.

By: Jennifer Agress | Photos: Image Bureau | Location: Chops Lobster Bar | Make-up Artist, Stylist: Herman Ward


s past CEO of her very own celebrity management company, JPat Management, 17-year music industry executive, Jonnetta Patton, has proven she can handle anything that comes her way. Most known for managing her two superstar sons – multi-platinum, eight-time Grammy Awardwinning artist, Usher, and Grammy-nominated, ASCAP Award-winning producer, J Lack – as well as her behind-the-scenes work in television and film, go-getter Jonnetta is a visionary, an incredibly hard worker and a true entrepreneur. But at the heart of it all, this Chattanooga, TN-native is a God-fearing woman with character, integrity, a giving heart, and a passion for helping others make their dreams come true. She’s everything you’d want in a manager, and more than that, she’s everything you’d want in a mother, a colleague and a friend. For Jonnetta, the career she built wasn’t at all what she expected, but being the positive woman she is, she’s absolutely loved every minute of it. “I always had the American dream, which was to be married, have a 9-to-5 job, come home and cook dinner for my family, go to church on Sunday and have a normal life,” Jonnetta says. “That was what I envisioned for me, but I had a son who was determined to be in entertainment, and I wanted to be there for him.” Now retired from the music industry for nearly a decade, Jonnetta has spent the past eight years with one goal in mind: enjoying her life. When she wasn’t traveling the world or spending time with Usher, J Lack and her grandchildren, she was doing something else she loves – throwing unbelievable dinners and events for family and friends at her home in Atlanta. From Easter egg hunts and back-to-school parties for her grandkids and their friends, to fashion shows for St. John’s, and some of the best Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties the city has ever seen, Jonnetta Patton is a staple on the A-list Atlanta social scene. And as fun as they were to plan, for her, these parties have always been a celebration of family and friendship, and a time to be grateful for the simple things in life she knows she is fortunate to have. “Sometimes we get so caught up in ourselves and all of the great

things that God has blessed us with, that we don’t realize that there are people around us who have nothing around the holidays,” Jonnetta says. “Years ago, I asked my employees what they were doing for Thanksgiving, and so many of them said things like, ‘I’ll probably just stay home’ or ‘I don’t really have any family here.’ It was so normal for me to have Thanksgiving dinner for my family that I started telling everyone to come have it with us! It kept growing year after year, and at one point, I entertained 150 people in my own house.” With parties that big, Jonnetta turned to some of the best chefs and catering companies in the business to help make them happen. “I’m not a good cook – I’m not a good cook at all,” Jonnetta jokes. “I always have to hire a chef. Unless, of course, you’re talking about my chicken in tomato and Alfredo sauce, greens, and macaroni and cheese. If I invite someone over I want to impress, and I don’t have a chef, I’ll cook that. It’s a no-brainer. Ask my kids!” The more Jonnetta got to know the talented chefs she hired, the more she learned about their industry and the problems that came with it. The main issue had to do with insufficient shared kitchen space, and the fact that – because these chefs are licensed by the county, state and Department of Agriculture – they are required by law to prepare food in a shared kitchen, and not at home. “These chefs are all so good at what they do, and their presentation is phenomenal,” Jonnetta says. “But they always talked about wanting to have their own restaurant or catering companies, yet still did everything themselves; the cooking, billing, marketing and more. From talking to them, it was obvious that they didn’t have a reliable shared kitchen where they could prepare their food, or the business savvy to bring it all together. They needed someone with business experience to take their craft and guide the ship.” Enter: J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator. Fusing her passion for entertaining with her entrepreneurial spirit, Jonnetta came up with the concept of a shared kitchen that doubled as an incubator. It’s a haven for chefs, catering companies and specialty-goods producers that gives them the space they need to prepare their dishes and products, while also equipping them with the business knowledge and resources to make their dream a reality. It’s may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


unlike anything the culinary world has ever seen. “What I’ve done is transitioned my business background from music to catering, and I’ve paired it with some of the best talent on the market,” Jonnetta says. “They bring the passion and skill, and I help them develop the business strategy to succeed. I want to produce rockstar chefs – because chefs are artists, too!” Inspired by her parties, but never actually having worked in the food industry a day in her life, Jonnetta knew this venture came with much to learn. But for her, that’s all part of the fun. “I remember when I first started off with Usher, because that’s how I pair the two. I was going into an industry that I knew nothing about. It was someone else’s dream – it was his dream – and I had to learn that whole industry,” Jonnetta recalls. “I’m doing the same thing with my new culinary project, and on purpose. I want to go in the trenches and really learn it, because once you do that, and you walk it, then no one can touch you. I look at what happened with Usher’s career, and I know I am going down that same path. It’s all new to me, but it’s something I’ve truly enjoyed and become so passionate about.” As a nurturing environment that aims for growth, the mission of J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator is to inspire and empower the next generation of culinary entrepreneurs, and to establish ownership and a sustainable culinary business. Located in the heart of Atlanta, J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator will have five kitchens – a baker’s kitchen, a private kitchen and three shared kitchens – as well as a tasting room, cooler and freezer storage, a dry food storage area, a procurement service, and a business center with independent offices and conference rooms where incubatees and members can make calls and meet for appointments. As a threeyear program, incubatees will spend their first year working with a dedicated life coach who will help them map out exactly what they want to do, as well as a team of CPAs, attorneys, bankers, insurance brokers and marketing specialists who can help them properly establish their business from the start. During the second year, these chefs will prepare for the permits they need and learn what it takes to work with the city. By the third year, they’re ready for business. Chefs, catering companies and specialty-goods producers who are working outside of Atlanta will even have the option to do all of this virtually and take classes online. “When you come to J’s Kitchen, you have to be focused, committed and passionate about where you want to go in your career,” Jonnetta says. “There’s an extensive interview where we find out what each incubatee wants to do, and the life coach is there to help them transition into their ‘new normal.’ Things are going to change, and they need to learn how to adjust financially, be a successful entrepreneur and actually have ownership in their business. That’s why we’re here – to take them through the process and give them the tools to grow, arrive and sustain.” With the burgeoning food scene in Atlanta, Ms. Patton knows there is no better place to helm this new venture than in the city she now calls home. “By pumping out some unbelievable chefs, caterers and specialty-goods producers, I think our program will really solidify Atlanta’s reputation as a food-centric city. From an economic standpoint, I also think it will help the city and state as a whole,” she says. “When our chefs open restaurants or catering companies, they’re creating jobs for Atlanta. This city has been so good to Usher and me – it’s where we got our big break. I would love to invest back into the community that has given me so much, and with this incubator, I really think we’re going to make Atlanta grow.” And even though J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator has yet to officially open, signs of its success are already beginning to show, including getting calls from interested chefs in as far as California and NYC. And to get it there, when her business was just starting, Jonnetta met with the best of the best: Certified Master Chef, Daryl Shular – Director of Education and Executive 32


By pumping out some unbelievable chefs, caterers and specialty-goods producers, I think our program will really solidify Atlanta’s reputation as a food-centric city. From an economic standpoint, I also think it will help the city and state as a whole.

may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


For me, when it comes to pursuing success, you need four things: integrity is number one, and that means everything to me. Loyalty is second, and along with it, you need to be totally passionate and have the tenacity to sustain. 34


Chef at Le Cordon College of Culinary Arts, the first African American to earn the American Certified Federation (ACF) title of Certified Master Chef (CMC), and one of only 68 CMCs in the entire United States. “I’m proud to share that he’s the first chef I have officially signed to my culinary management company, JPat Management! I’m working on a restaurant and culinary school concept for Chef Shular, the latter of which will be called Shular Culinary Institute and will open in 2018,” Jonnetta said. “We’re even going to put together a TV show about a day in the life of a Certified Master Chef, which will really show how he got to where he is and what he does in his normal life. To see someone of his caliber happy and appreciative to work with someone like me just makes me want to really dig in and give it everything I have. For me, it’s a clear indication that God has already blessed my new venture.” And to help her dig in, Jonnetta is taking it back to the basics; hosting the school in the very same office where she once managed Usher’s fame and surrounding herself with a winning team that will help her take it to the next level. “For me, when it comes to pursuing success, you need four things: integrity is number one, and that means everything to me. Loyalty is second, and along with it, you need to be totally passionate and have the tenacity to sustain,” Jonnetta says. “As a female in a male-dominated music industry, I learned that it was really hard to find all of those qualities

in the people you work with. But when you do, the sky is the limit.” With her own top-notch team by her side – including CPA Solomon Smallwood; attorneys Jennifer Simpson and Geoffrey Daxe; banker David Innis, of First City Bank; her consultant, Waleed Shamsid-Been; J’s Kitchen Life Coach, David Smith; and her two public relations firms, M-Squared and Simone Smalls PR, Inc. – Jonnetta is ready for any challenges that come her way. But no matter how successful J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator gets, Jonnetta Patton will never forget where it all started. “The music is something that will always be special to me. I nailed that! I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, but only I know what I went through to get there,” Jonnetta proudly recalls. “But what I’m doing right now is all for me. My second time around, I’m calling it, and it’s everything that makes Jonnetta happy. I’m passionate about these incubatees, I really want to see them fulfill their dreams, and I know how to do it, if they’ll just trust me. I’m going to blow it up – just like I did with Usher.” J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator is expected to officially open in August – September 2016, at 3996 Pleasantdale Road, Suite 203, Doraville, GA 30340. All appointments can be made by contacting the facility at (844) 609-4678 or For more information about J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator, visit www.jkitchenculinaryincubator. com or find them on Facebook as “J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator.” may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


Specializing in Gynecology & Urogynecology Surgery

Dr. Stephanie Gordon

Dr. Trent Rice

Maria Epling, CNP

Lanie Vu, NP

Board Certified in Urogynecology-Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery Care We Provide:

Procedures We Provide:

• Well Women Health Care and Comprehensive Annual Exams • Pap Smears, Breast Exams, and In-Office Ultrasounds • Full range of Contraception Options • Menopausal Management - Traditional and Alternative • Adolescent and Pediatric Gynecology • Infertility Workups • Hormone Replacement Therapy (including pellets, injections and compounding cream) • Bladder Problems and Incontinence • Accidental Bowel Leakage or Chronic Constipation Management • Pelvic Relaxation or Prolapse Management • Treatment for Fibroids, Endometriosis, Abnormal Bleeding, and Ovarian Cyst • Osteoporosis Screening and Treatment • Screening for Sexually Transmitted Diseases

• Davinci Robotics Gynecological Surgery • Traditional Abdominal Hysterectomy, Vaginal Hysterectomy, and Laparoscopic Assisted Hysterectomy • Myomectomy for Fibroid Tumors • In-office ESSURE Tubal Ligation • Laparoscopic Surgery for Ovarian Problems, Endometriosis, Tubal and Adhesive Diseases • Hysteroscopic Surgery • Colposcopies for Abnormal Pap Smears and LEEP Procedures • Repair of Pelvic Prolaspe, Relaxation and Surgery for Bladder Leakage • In-Office Endometrial Ablation for Excessive Menstrual Bleeding • Procedures for Accidental Bowel Leakage including Interstim and Solesta Injections • In office Anesthesia provided by Board Certified Anesthesiologist

Most MAjoR MedicAl insuRAnce And MedicARe AccePted 140 Eagles Spring Court 2750 Owens Drive Stockbridge, GA 30281 Conyers, GA 30094


770.302.0878 Privileges At Rockdale & Piedmont Henry Hospitals

What is a Urogynecologist? By: Stephanie Gordon, MD A urogynecologist is a surgeon who has specialized in the care of women with pelvic floor disorders. The pelvic floor is a set of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues in the lower part of the pelvis that provides support for a woman’s internal organs, including the bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum. Pelvic floor disorders can occur when women have weakened pelvic muscles or tears in the connective tissue due to excessive strain on the pelvis due to childbirth, repeated strenuous activity, menopause, chronic disease, or pelvic surgery. Other factors that can weaken the pelvic floor include repetitive heavy lifting, tobacco use, and genetics. Dr. Stephanie Gordon is one of only 10 Board Certified Urogynecologist in the State of Georgia. She is double Board Certified in the subspecialty of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery as well as General Gynecology. With this background, she is able to take care of the Well Woman as well as to give cutting edge medicine to the patient with complicated gynecology issues. What type of problems can Dr. Gordon manage and treat? Incontinence: loss of bladder or bowel control, leaking or urine or feces. Prolapse: descent of the pelvic organs, a bulge and /or pressure; dropped uterus, bladder, vagina or rectum. Pain: discomfort to the lower back, pelvic, bladder, or urethra- including Interstitial Cystitis (IC) or painful bladder syndrome, pain with sex. Overactive Bladder: frequent need to void, bladder pressure, urgency, leaking of urine on the way to the bathroom. How can Dr. Gordon treat these problems? With conservative (non-surgical) or surgical therapy depending on your wishes, the severity of your condition, or your general health. Conservative options include medications, pelvic exercises, behavioral and diet modifications, vaginal devices (pessaries), Pelvic Floor Therapy (including InTone), and Biofeedback and Electrical Stimulation. Safe and effective surgical procedures are also utilized to treat incontinence and prolapse. Dr. Gordon also provides advance gynecology care including: Well Woman Annual Exams, Contraception including hormonal and non-hormonal therapies, ESSURE tubal lig tion in office, Nexplanon, Mirena and Paraguard IUDs, traditional tubal ligation. Treatment for heavy menstrual cycles-including endometrial ablation in office (Novasure, Thermachoice, and HTA. Myomectomy (fibroid removal) and Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) –over 95% of these can be performed vaginally or thru a laparoscope (tiny incisions on abdomen)-can be performed with the Da Vinci Robotic system with only an outpatient admission to the hospital. Menopausal Management -including natural therapy, bio-identical hormones, compounded creams, injections, pellets, and traditional hormone replacement. Pediatric and adolescent gynecology-HPV vaccines, acne, heavy/painful cycles, endometriosis, STD testing, and chronic infections. Infertility work ups and therapies. For your convenience-In office Ultrasound, Bladder testing, surgical procedures with IV anesthesia available with anesthesiologist.

For more information, visit our website at



Celebrating Team Spirit

STEVE LUNDQUIST – two-time Olympic Gold Medalist who broke world and American records on 15 occasions. At the 1984 Olympics, Steve won gold medals swimming the 100-meter breaststroke and the 400-meter medley relay. In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, he was an Olympic Torch Bearer, the Clayton County Master of Ceremonies for the torch run, and he was also given the honor of being the Olympic Flag Bearer at the Opening Ceremonies. He currently runs his own digital media company in the Stockbridge, Georgia area.

D. J. SHOCKLEY – will be featured at the “Hometown Teams” Tailgate Party in Jonesboro. A football standout at North Clayton High School, D.J. earned national accolades including USA Today’s All-USA team, AJC’s Super Southern 100, Top 50 in Georgia and Class AAAA All-State Quarterback. He quarterbacked on the University of Georgia SEC Championship teams in 2002 and 2005 and was awarded the 2005 MVP. He played professionally for the Atlanta Falcons.

COACH BILL CURRY is Honorary Chairperson for the “Hometown Teams” tour in Georgia, and has chosen Arts Clayton Gallery as one of three exhibit locations to visit during the Georgia tour. Coach Curry was an NFL Super Bowl Champion, an elite college head football coach at Georgia Tech, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia State University. He was both ACC and SEC Coach of the year and served as an ESPN sports analyst. Coach Curry was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL - first introduced as an official Olympic sport at Clayton County International Park, the sport quickly become one of the most popular spectator events of Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic Games -- thanks to the professional athletes, a healthy and colorful international ambience, exciting competition and entertainment, and the equal treatment of men and women. We’re celebrating the 20th Anniversary during the “Hometown Teams” exhibit.

SPORTS FOR ALL AGES – the impact of sports begins early for little leaguers learning to play team sports in recreation programs and backyard games with friends. The life-long impact comes from experiencing team spirit, leadership of coaches and camaraderie of team-mates. “Hometown Teams” celebrates these special relationships.

ALL SPORTS – “Hometown Teams” includes every conceivable type of sport: swimming, surfing and water sports ~ track, running, biking and road sports ~ tennis, basketball, volleyball and court sports ~ golf, soccer, football, softball, baseball and turf sports ~ and yes, cheerleading. Come as a family, bring your friends, but definitely come to experience this unique Smithsonian exhibit close to home! may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


From Comedy to Crumb Cakes

Emmy-winning Executive Producer and comedian Rushion McDonald makes baking easy. By: Jennifer Agress | Photos: Images by Amie Photography


hroughout life, we meet many people who impress us; whether it’s by their intelligence, their wit, their talent or their accomplishments. Only a few of those times are we lucky enough to meet someone who can take that dexterity, throw in some passion and a desire to help others, and inspire us – someone like Rushion McDonald: a corporate executive-turned-comedian, Emmy Award-winning Executive Producer, writer, co-creator of the national Neighborhood Awards, business partner, mentor, father, award-winning baker and so much more. Most known today for being Executive Producer of “The Steve Harvey Show” and one of Showtime’s top 50 comedians in America, Rushion’s rise to fame started as a story most of us know too well: a confused college student trying to find his calling. Graduating from the University of Houston, where he was recently recognized as a 2015 Distinguished Alumni, Rushion studied everything from civil and chemical engineering, physics and biology, to his eventual major in mathematics and minor in sociology. “I kept stumbling into different degrees to see if they could be easier than the last one I dropped, mostly because I could not pass physics,” says Rushion. “Eventually, I realized I just needed to focus on the opportunity college was giving me to graduate with a degree. It took me seven years to get there, but it taught me that there are no easy routes to success.” Upon graduation, Rushion took that realization and entered the real world with a newfound perseverance; leading him to land his very first adult job as an Administrative Accountant at IBM. “IBM was a great company. When I worked there, they hadn’t laid off a single employee in 40 years, so their track record for being a good and innovative company and a groundbreaking corporation was there,” Rushion said. That said, as far back as college, something inside of him always craved a creative outlet. A natural comedian with a love for entertainment, he turned to his surrounding Houston community – a hotbed of standup comedy at the time, known for producing greats like Bill Hicks, Brett Butler, Sam Kinison and Janeane Garofalo – and started doing standup on the side. “I loved comedy, but when I was in college, I would only do it in the summer. So every time I came back, everyone was funnier 40


may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


In a movie between Superman and Batman, Superman has one role and Batman has another. As a writer, you get to work with both. And that’s an amazing level of creativity you need to be able to pull all these things together.

than me,” Rushion remembers. “At one point, the guy producing one of our shows tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘If you had just kept doing it, you’d be just as funny as Bill Hicks.’ So I started taking my comedy more seriously.” And what a difference that made. Winning the title of Showtime’s “Funniest Person in Texas” for three consecutive years, Rushion went on to compete for “Funniest Person in America,” only losing in the video finals to Ellen DeGeneres. Eventually quitting his job at IBM to pursue his love of comedy full time, Rushion started performing all over the nation, and even opened a comedy club in Houston called the Hip Hop Comedy Stop. Having gained a huge following, in the mid-1980s, he 42


was invited to headline a show at a hotel in Texas, when a comedian from Cleveland, OH he didn’t know at the time opened for him. That man was none other than the current “king of media,” Steve Harvey. “Steve and I met in 1986, I believe. You know, when you get into comedy, you start telling these tall tales, and you get your years confused – so it could be 1985, but I’ll say 1986,” Rushion laughs as he recalls. “Later in life, Steve opened a comedy club in Dallas called the Steve Harvey Comedy Club at the same time I opened the Hip Hop Comedy Stop in Houston. Not knowing this, we used to play each other’s comedy clubs, which helped us get reacquainted again.” Around that same time, Rushion’s creative

itch was starting to come back, and unknown to those around him, he started considering taking his comedy career behind-the-scenes. He wanted to write sitcoms. “When you write, you have a hand in everybody’s role in a show. If you just act, you only have a hand in your own role,” he said. “In a movie between Superman and Batman, Superman has one role and Batman has another. As a writer, you get to work with both. And that’s an amazing level of creativity you need to be able to pull all these things together.” As Steve Harvey’s fame grew, he wanted Rushion’s talent to be involved in the process – which opened doors for Rushion that he never saw coming. “One day, Steve got an opportunity to get his own

show on ABC, and he asked me what I wanted to do with my career. I told him ‘I want to write,’ which completely surprised him, because he thought I still wanted to do stand-up comedy,” Rushion said. “He asked me to come onboard, and my very first writing job was for his show on ABC, ‘Me & The Boys.’” Fast forward almost 30 years later, and Steve Harvey has built a media empire. Throughout his career, Rushion co-created radio hits like “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” and negotiated major book deals with Harper Collins Publishers for Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man; Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find and Keep a Man; and Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success. Rushion also negotiated and was Executive Producer for hit movies like “Think Like A Man” and “Think

Like A Man Too,” served as Executive Producer of “Steve Harvey’s Big Time” and “The Steve Harvey Show,” and was a Consulting Producer for the highly-rated, syndicated game show “Family Feud.” Since 2001, the dynamic duo has also hosted and produced the Neighborhood Awards, a national awards show that recognizes local businesses and leaders who make a difference in their community, and the only show in America that lets communities from around the country nominate and vote for winners in each category. On his own, Rushion has produced “The Jamie Foxx Show,” “The Parkers,” “Sister, Sister,” and ABC Network’s “The Arsenio Hall Show.” He was Executive Story Editor of “The Parent Hood,” and has produced reality TV shows like “Mobile

Disaster,” “Pulled Over” and “Mr. Rooney’s Barbershop.” As a result of his work in TV and radio, he won the Living Legends Entrepreneur Award, as well as both a Daytime Emmy Award and the NAACP Image Award, and this year, he will be inducted into the Personal Managers Hall of Fame. Combining his business experience with his love for people – and an innate desire to give back to the community – Rushion even hosts a hour-long “Money Making Conversations” session on his Facebook page every Monday, where he proudly mentors people across the U.S. on all things business, career, branding, entrepreneurship and most importantly, making money. “People always ask me to mentor them and it’s impossible to do it for everyone, so this lets may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


Desserts baked using the Perfect Bake Smart Scale and Interactive Recipe App.

me reach more people across the country every week, and it’s all free,” Rushion says. “It’s one of the projects I’m most proud of. I like to help people, and they need the help, so it’s a two-way street that I’m enjoying, too.” And now he has another, admittedly surprising passion to add to the list: baking. Having never baked a day of his life, and a selfproclaimed chili cook-off winner and “fried food guy” who can’t even make cornbread, Rushion was first introduced to baking when he was tricked into making a bundt cake on Steve Harvey’s talk show. “When they pranked me, I told myself, ‘I’m going to show them – I’m going to make three bundt cakes!’” Rushion remembers. “Just to show you how little I knew, I thought it took one 5-pound bag of flour, one 5-pound bag of sugar and a dozen eggs to make just one bundt cake. So when I came home from the store, I had 36 44


eggs, 15 pounds of flour, 15 pounds of sugar, vanilla extract and a bunch of other stuff. When I finally looked at a recipe and made everything, I barely used one bag of flour. I had so much left over, that I had to keep baking to use it up.” And the rest is history. The more Rushion baked, the more creative he got. To keep himself from getting bored, he started experimenting with different flavors of bundt cakes and other kinds of desserts. When recipes called for sour cream, which he didn’t like, he would make them with cream cheese, and found that people really loved it. He invented his own Brown Sugar Monkey Bread, his favorite dessert to bake, and added pumpkin to a childhood favorite, sweet potato pie, to come up with Sweet Pumpkin Pie. He baked for himself, friends, family, and of course, his coworkers: the cast and crew of “The Steve Harvey Show.” “I’ve done a lot of things with Steve and a lot of things in television, but The Steve Harvey

Show is what really kept me involved in baking,” Rushion said. “The beauty of it is that, when you work on a television show, you always have a captive staff for sampling. So every time I brought something into work, I knew immediately if it was good or not because if people liked it, it wouldn’t stay on the table very long.” As you can imagine, his dishes rarely stayed on the table for more than minutes, and for good reason. In fact, Rushion was so good at his hobby that one of his own creations, a Vanilla Wafer Pecan Coconut Bundt Cake that used vanilla wafers instead of flour, even placed first in an original recipe and bake-off competition hosted by MGM in Las Vegas, NV. “I won the Atlanta zone, but when I got to Las Vegas for the national finals, I realized pretty quickly that I was not prepared for the competitive world of baking,” Rushion jokes. “Don’t get me wrong, everyone loved my dish!

I always tell people never to close their eyes to what’s around them, and everyday you wake up is another

Baking Like A Man

opportunity to make it a great one. I went from never baking a day in my life to being an award-winning baker. Never ignore the opportunity in front of you; it

Left to right: Prentice Gardner, Gentry Shelby, David Coleman, Khary Turner and Will Burnett.

may be the blessing you’ve been looking for.

Baking Like A Man works its magic in Detroit.

But you know when you go to a restaurant, and you get a dessert that has confectioner’s sugar, or chocolate sauce, on it that really has nothing to do with the dessert, but makes it look nice? I cut a piece of cake and put it on a white plate. They all looked at me like I was crazy.” Either way, “fried food guy” Rushion McDonald was now an award-winning baker, and it’s only gone up from there. He started his own “Baking Like A Man” series, which went viral, and most recently, partnered with the Perfect Company, creators of the Perfect Bake Smart Scale and Interactive Recipe App – a brand that combines mobile app technology with a scale to weigh ingredients perfectly and help people bake without any measuring cups or spoons. “I had uploaded a series of still photos of me making my Baked Banana Pudding, and Perfect Company heard about it and came to my condo in Chicago to have me try out their Perfect Bake Pro scale,” Rushion remembers. “I baked a

Pineapple Cherry Crumb Cake, and it was so easy and fast that I started using it all the time. All I needed was my smartphone or iPad with Bluetooth, and I could make everything from green pea and onion salad and Thanksgiving dressing, to carrot cupcakes and my Brown Sugar Monkey Bread. I met them in September 2015, and by that December, they wanted me to be their spokesperson.” For Perfect Bake, the decision to work with Rushion was a no brainer. Through the partnership, Rushion now has his own recipe app, and is even discussing plans to turn those recipes into a cookbook. “Rushion is an accomplished man of many talents and when we learned that he is also an amazing baker, we had to introduce him to Perfect Bake,” said Michael Wallace, co-founder and CEO of Perfect Company. “We are so proud to have Rushion as an avid user of our product and share

his delicious Southern-inspired recipes with the world through the Perfect Bake App. He is the perfect ambassador for our brand.” Of course, for Rushion McDonald, a man of many talents, being able to do a hobby he loves – especially one that lets him play with his creativity – is just another blessing life has thrown his way. “When you bake, it’s all about focus; you can just tune out the world and enjoy the moment,” Rushion says. “I always tell people never to close their eyes to what’s around them, and everyday you wake up is another opportunity to make it a great one. I went from never baking a day in my life to being an award-winning baker. Never ignore the opportunity in front of you; it may be the blessing you’ve been looking for.” You can learn more about Rushion at or follow him on his Facebook FAN page @Rushion McDonald. may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


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topattorneys By: Lisa Kinchen The 2016 Top Attorneys are a group of elite lawyers who practice law with their eyes trained on excellence and service. Each person profiled herein is accomplished, experienced, and highly decorated. From exemplary service in the armed forces, outstanding professional accolades, amazing community engagement, and leadership within the profession; these attorneys exemplify commitment and dedication to client service. Each attorney has garnered the respect of his/her colleagues - an admirable feat within such an esteemed profession. And each attorney has shown a commitment to professional achievement, not only by the awards bestowed upon them by professional and civic organizations (of which there were many), but also in the number of clients served and the successful results obtained on those clients’ behalf. Even with all the work that these attorneys clearly have on their plates and their family obligations, they still make time for service. Each attorney is engaged in meaningful civic engagement, serving in roles that help and serve others. The service includes programs for music scholarships, mock trial training, domestic violence support, and clothing the less fortunate. This service at first glance has nothing to do with law, but in actuality has everything to do with law. Lawyers are members of the community, just like everyone else. They practice law and empathize with clients based on their interactions with the members of the communities in which they live and serve. The fact that the SJM Top 2016 attorneys know and understand make them the preeminent choice to represent one’s interests in any matter. Why? Because the most powerful advocate is one who understands where you come from and where you are trying to go. What better person to do that than your fellow community volunteer? Enjoy the profiles of these extraordinary people, and consider them when you need legal representation.

may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


emmett arnold topattorneys

Photo: Picture This Studio

When Experience Counts!


aving lived in Atlanta’s Southern Crescent for over 55 years, Emmett Arnold knows the area like the back of his hand. His Father, the late Judge Emmett J. Arnold III, began practicing law in Jonesboro in 1968 and Emmett has continued his Father’s tradition of assisting people with their legal problems. Emmett has practiced law for 29 years and handled hundreds of family law cases, including divorce, custody, support, adoption, and bankruptcy. Emmett also assists with the administration of the estates of the deceased, frequently appointed by Probate Courts state-wide as an Administrator of estates as well as the Conservator of the property of minors and incapacitated adults. In all of these matters, Emmett knows that experience counts more than anything else. Deeply committed to community service, Emmett has been involved in the Boy Scouts of America for over 24 years, serving on the Executive Board of the Atlanta Area Council BSA, District Chairman, Troop Chairman, Assistant Scoutmaster and Cubmaster. He has mentored 38 Eagle Scouts from his Troop, including his son, and received Scouting’s Award of Merit for his contributions. He currently serves on the District Eagle Board of Review. Emmett has served many years on the governing board of Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity and also served for several years as the Chairman of the Board of the local housing authority. 50


Emmett is also very active in the legal community. He serves on the Board of the Pro Bono Project, which provides free legal services to those in need. He is a member of the Lawyer’s Foundation of Georgia, The Lawyer’s Club of Atlanta, and served as President of the Bar Association, earning the Excellence in Bar Leadership Award. Emmett also has volunteered with the high school Mock Trial competition for the past 28 years. Practicing in one of the most beautiful law offices in Henry County, Emmett has provided legal representation of the highest quality for 29 years in the community. Whatever your family legal problem, he will provide very effective legal counsel with a personal touch. As he often tells his clients: “There is no substitute for experience.” For more information or to schedule a consultation: Law Office of Emmett J. Arnold, P.C. LawSouth Building 30 Woodruff Street McDonough, GA 30253 770-320-8280

topattorneys pandora palmer

Photo: Images by Amie Photography

Experience You Can Trust


andora Palmer has been practicing law for 22 years and enjoys serving our community and helping clients resolve complicated matters. She was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1994 and Hawaii Bar in 2001. She has experience litigating in courtrooms throughout Georgia, including the Georgia Supreme Court. Pandora focuses on the following areas of law: family, criminal, juvenile, and personal injury. She and her staff are dedicated to helping people who are going through a difficult time in their lives and who need not only a lawyer but someone who has compassion and understanding for the issues they are facing. Pandora has been recognized for her outstanding contributions in the legal profession. For the past several years, she has been recognized for her Pro Bono Service by the Georgia Legal Services Pro Bono Project. She was named as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association for 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2014, she received the AV Preeminent Peer Review rating by Martindale-Hubbell which is the highest rating that can be obtained by an attorney. Review ratings are determined by reviews given by both peers and clients.

Pandora is deeply committed to the community. She currently serves as the president of the Henry County Bar Association and was previously the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Henry County Haven House. Pandora is also a member of the Towaliga Bar Association, Rockdale County Bar Association, Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Lawyers Club of Atlanta, and National Association of Professional Women. Pandora coached the Ola High School Mock Trial team for the 2015-2016 school year and has served as an evaluator and former coach for high school teams for the past twenty years. Pandora is committed to providing you with excellent service.

For more information or to schedule a consultation: Pandora E. Palmer, P.C. 80 Macon Street, McDonough, GA 30253 678-432-9958 may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


Smith, Welch, Webb & White


Photo: Images by Amie Photography

Trusted Service For A Lifetime


he southern crescent law firm of Smith, Welch, Webb & White, LLC can trace their heritage back to 1890 when E.M. Smith began his practice in McDonough, Georgia. His son, Ernest M. Smith, followed in his father’s footsteps and in 1970 Mr. Smith hired A.J. “Buddy” Welch, Jr. In 2011, Buddy collaborated with John Webb, Will White and Andy Welch to form Smith, Welch, Webb, & White, LLC. Today Smith, Welch, Webb, & White, LLC is the largest law firm south of Atlanta with offices in McDonough, Stockbridge, Jackson, and Barnesville. The firm now employs more than 65 attorneys and support staff, who offer aggressive, comprehensive, and professional legal services that make a positive impact on the lives of their clients. Frequently asked questions and online consultation are available on the web at Now, Smith, Welch, Webb & White introduces its newest attorneys: Janet C. Scott, Esq. is a former educator who practices Education law. She holds a B.A. from Spelman College, cum laude; M.Ed., Mercer University; and J.D., John Marshall Law School. Lajuana C. Ransaw, Esq. focuses her practice on the following areas: • Local Governments and Public Sector Entities • Construction Litigation • Divorce • Education Law • Employment Law and Litigation • Family Law • General Civil Litigation Bianca Davis, Esq. practices Real Estate Law, both Residential and Commercial. Prior to joining Smith, Welch, Webb & White, LLC, Bianca worked at a major mortgage default firm focusing on lender compliance, complex title clearance/resolution and governmental claim conveyances. Orion G. Webb, Esq. specializes in the following areas of law: • Estate Planning and Probate 52


• Debt Settlement • Consumer Advocacy • Telemarketing/ Debt Collection Phone Call Litigation • Unfair Debt Collection Litigation • False Credit Reporting Litigation • Employment Law and Litigation • Local Governments and Public Sector Entities • Personal Injury Warren M. Tillery, Esq. specializes in the following areas of law: • Eminent Domain / Condemnation • Local Governments and Public Sector Entities • Real Estate: Residential and Commercial • Zoning Matters and Litigation • Environmental Law Miranda N. Hanley, Esq. specializes in the following areas of law: • Consumer Advocacy • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act • Debtors’ Rights • Unfair Debt Collection Litigation • Personal Injury • Workers’ Compensation • Products Liability • Civil Litigation The firm is also committed to supporting the communities it serves. Smith, Welch, Webb & White LLC was recently recognized by the Atlanta Community Food Bank for its contribution to the 4th annual Georgia Legal Food Frenzy. Smith, Welch, Webb & White’s Mission Statement exemplifies their practice of service to others: “To provide our clients with a wide range of top quality legal services in a highly professional and ethical manner.”


Terri S. Sutton, ESQ.

Photo: Picture This Studio

Committed to Excellence


uper Lawyers” utilizes a stringent selection process to create a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys. Terri Sutton, Esq. received that designation in both 2015 and 2016. “I felt a sense of achievement and was humbled to be included in the company of the other family law attorneys selected.” She also achieved an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell® Terri, a partner with Meadows & Macie, P.C. provides a range of family law services including: Adoption, Divorce, including division of assets, alimony, custody, and child support; Modifications of alimony, custody and child support; Contempt of Court, Separate Maintenance, Prenuptial Agreements, and Grandparent Visitation. In addition to her extensive work as a family law attorney, Terri is qualified to serve as a Guardian Ad Litem. Terri explains that a Guardian Ad Litem is, “An attorney who is appointed by the court to conduct an independent investigation and make a recommendation to the court about what custody and parenting time arrangements are in the child’s

or children’s best interests in disputed custody actions.” Terri also handles wills and general estate matters, and is trained in collaborative law, which gives Terri’s clients additional options and flexibility in handling their case. She explains the concept, “Collaborative law is a transparent legal process which includes a team of “experts” and clients who work together to best address and resolve the issues involved in the legal matter.” Terri holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Virginia Tech and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Loyola College. Terri worked as a family counselor for approximately ten years before joining the practice of law. She earned her law degree from Georgia State College of Law in 2002 and began her legal career at Smith, Welch, and Brittain. Terri and her husband have been residents of Henry County for two decades. Terri donates numerous hours each year working with students at Henry County high schools’ Georgia High Schools Mock Trial competition. Terri also serves on the local advisory board for United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta. may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


Henry County Bar Association By: Elizabeth P. O’Neal | Photo: Images by Amie Photography


he Henry County Bar Association (HCBA), with over 100 members, is comprised of lawyers who practice law in Henry County and surrounding areas, as well as local Judges, law clerks, and other legal professionals. Meetings are held on the last Friday of each month and often host speakers of interest to those in the legal profession. In February, Herman Cain spoke to the members about the upcoming election and the state of politics in general. In August, the members are looking forward to hearing from Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. In addition to monthly meetings, the HCBA hosts a variety of other events for members. In 2015, HCBA hosted the first annual Law Day with Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias as the speaker. This year, Law Day was celebrated on April 22nd with distinguished Georgia lawyer, Bobby Lee Cook, as the speaker. In addition to hearing from notable speakers, attendees also renew the Attorney’s Oath during the Law Day celebration. The HCBA also hosts an annual continuing education conference for attorneys in the Fall. Additionally, the HCBA is active in serving the local community. In February, the HCBA sponsored the Georgia High School Mock Trial Regional Competition where high school students from all over the county compete to move on to the District Competition and eventually to the state-wide competition in Gwinnett County. On March 12, 2016, the HCBA hosted a Wills Clinic in conjunction with the Young Lawyer’s Division of the State Bar of Georgia to provide free wills, powers of attorney, and advance healthcare directives for first responders and their spouses in Henry County. Also in March, the HCBA not only donated to several nonprofit organizations in Henry County to assist with programs and services offered to the public but also had representatives from these organizations speak to our bar members about how they could be more involved in their community. The representatives who spoke at the March meeting included Prevent Child Abuse, Henry County Haven House, the Georgia National Guard Youth Challenge Program, and Hands of Hope Clinic. Lastly, the HCBA actively supports the Georgia Legal Food Frenzy, which is a food and funds drive to help increase the amount of food local food pantries need to support children and families during the summer months. In an effort to recognize outstanding legal professionals who have served our community, the HCBA created a Distinguished Service Award in 2015. The first recipient of the award was Alex Crumbley, who was honored at the HCBA annual Christmas party. Mr. Crumbley has served the Henry County and surrounding communities not only through the practice of law, but also as a judge, legislator and friend for over 50 years, and was more than deserving of this special recognition. The HCBA is excited to present this award in his name beginning in 2016 as the Alex Crumbley Distinctive Service Award. For more information about the HCBA, please visit their website at or contact any of the officers pictured right.



Photo L to R: Elizabeth P. O’Neal, Anita M. Lamar, Amanda R. Flora, Suesan A. Miller, Pandora E. Palmer, Maritza S. Ramos.

may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com


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Experience the Smithsonian’s

Sports for All Ages


ports have touched every level of American culture – even art through colorful uniforms and exciting team mascots, as well as the mastery, skill and style of athletic performance. Arts Clayton Gallery will capture the thrill of victories by showcasing local championship trophies and colorful spirit-inspired team jerseys as part of a new exhibit. No need to travel all the way to Washington DC, because your family can experience the Smithsonian’s newest interactive exhibit “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” at the Arts Clayton Gallery on Main Street - Jonesboro from July 5 through August 5. The only metro location selected for the Georgia tour in 2016-2017, Arts Clayton Gallery will be hosting “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” as part of the State and National Museum on Main Street program which is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and Georgia Humanities with support from the U.S. Congress. Communities throughout Georgia were selected to share stories about their sports traditions and home-town heroes. The exhibit brochure features Jonesboro native and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Steve Lundquist, who broke world and American records on 15 occasions swimming the breaststroke. “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” is interactive with sections on every conceivable type of sports – from water sports to team sports. The exhibit includes Nike’s first Air Jordan shoe, 1934 Lou Gehrig Wheaties’ cereal box, Topps baseball cards, Mattel soccer Barbie recognizing girls in sports, and a John Madden “digital sports” video game. To make this a true sports fan experience, “Hometown Teams” includes interactive sections: audio interviews with prominent athletes, a stereo viewer to see 10 great sports venues, a bleacher section with hidden questions to answer, and familiar sports-inspired phrases to identify their origin. Coincidentally, the “Hometown Teams” exhibit is in town for the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Centennial Olympics, when the world literally came to Main Street - Jonesboro for the Torch Relay. History reflects that the Olympic torch was in America for 100 days – commemorating the 100th Olympic competition and covered 42 states involving millions of spectators along the route to seize a memory for a lifetime. Arts Clayton is very pleased to be able to bring ”Hometown Teams” to our area as part of celebrating this historic event, said Arts Clayton Executive Director Linda Crissey. We are beginning to collect Olympic items from individuals to showcase alongside the ‘Hometown Teams’ exhibit – whether you were a torch runner, volunteered at an event, or 60


collected pins and T-shirts, let us know what souvenirs you saved! Community partners joining Arts Clayton in planning the local Smithsonian “Hometown Teams” experience are the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, City of Jonesboro, Clayton County’s Public Access TV23/99, Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Parks & Recreation Department – all are focused on celebrating teams, athletes, and the colorful sports history of the southern crescent area. Pictured with this article is the exceptional student art that started the sports focus. The Arts Clayton Gallery sponsored the exhibit by students from Adamson, Pointe South, and M.D. Roberts Middle Schools who accepted the challenge to create the art of sports. A series of sports-themed programs and events are planned throughout the spring and summer to share community pride and show team spirit as part of the “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” experience: • June 6-17 Arts Clayton’s Kaleidoscope Summer Art Camps will utilize “High School Musical” and Young Teen campers will create “Darn Braves” as sports-themed musicals for their finale productions – as campers experience the true connections of art and sports. • June 28 is the annual Allan Vigil Golf Classic to support education initiatives through Arts Clayton, and this year will recognize the strong impact of sports in developing civic, business, and elected leaders. • Saturday July 16 is “Kids Sports Day” at the Gallery with special sports and art activities to compliment the “Hometown Teams” exhibit and Olympics display. • The City of Jonesboro is hosting a “Tailgate Party” on Saturday, July 23 in the new Lee Street Park to recognize local sports heroes. The Tailgate Party will celebrate sports success and athletes of all ages, cheerleaders, bands, booster clubs, families and friends. Clayton County joins the celebration on the 20th anniversary of the Centennial Olympic Games and the inaugural beach volleyball competition at Clayton County International Park, which became one of the most popular spectator events of Atlanta’s 1996 Summer Games. Once the “Hometown Teams” exhibit opens, team spirit becomes the name of the game! Arts Clayton Gallery is highlighting different aspects of the Smithsonian exhibit with a weekly focus to challenge audiences. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a world-class Smithsonian exhibit in your own backyard. Stay up to date on “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” events on Facebook at #ArtsClayton, #HometownTeams, and the Gallery’s website

Top Left: Morgan Miles, Pointe South Middle School Bottom Left: Amyra Wherry, Adamson Middle School Top Right: Skye Johnson, MD Roberts Middle School Bottom Right: Lashondra Gordon, MD Roberts Middle School

Anyone interested in sharing your personal Olympic items for this unique display can contact the Arts Clayton Gallery via email at or phone at 770-473-5826. may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com




may/june 2016 • SouthernJournalMAGazine.Com











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SJM May/June16 Digital Edition  

Welcome and enjoy the Digital Edition of the May/June 2016 issue of Southern Journal Magazine.