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Alana Simmons, Director

GEAR UP Dougherty’s Director, Dr. Alana Simmons, was born in Thomasville and raised in Albany, Georgia.  She attained a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University; a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Science in Human Resource Management from Troy University and a Ph.D. in Post-Secondary and Adult Education from Capella University.

When Dr. Simmons first chose her major, she was working for Georgia State University’s police department, and she chose a major to go hand-in-hand with the work she was doing.  As she grew in that field, she became interested in studying leadership and management characteristics in the workplace. She enjoys teaching and the brunt of her experience has been working with adults.  This led to her desire for a Ph.D. in Adult Education.

Dr. Simmons appreciates Georgia State University because the institution gave her the opportunity to learn from and with students from around the globe.  Troy University offered classes from professors who worked in the field, and Capella University provided her with the flexibility to learn without being in a brick and mortar classroom. Capella gave her the tools to expand her interests in working with adult learners.

Dr. Simmons has more than ten years of instructional and administrative experience in adult and correctional education in both Georgia and Virginia. She has six years of experience teaching in the School of Business, Economics, and Technology at King University, where she teaches HR Management, Strategic Management and Business Policy, and Leadership courses. Dr. Simmons worked as a Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention Coordinator, which involved managing a Department of Justice grant, developing and implementing prevention programming, and serving as an advisor in the Inclusion & Diversity Center at Emory and Henry College in Virginia. Dr. Simmons also has experience teaching remedial courses and a first-year seminar class titled #WorkWoke: A Push Towards Justice & Equity in America’s Criminal Justice System.

Prior to relocating to Georgia, Dr. Simmons served her community as a Trustee for Woman’s Missionary Union of Virginia, a Board Member for Theatre Bristol, and as Board President for Abuse Alternatives, Inc. Her scholarship includes establishing a relationship between servant leadership and correctional education, and she has published and presented research at state, national, and international conferences. When asked to name one interesting thing about herself that most people wouldn’t know, Dr. Simmons stated that she is an award-winning radio host (Best Documentary/Public Affairs) presented by the Virginia Association of Broadcasters for “Love Shouldn’t Hurt,” a limited radio series dedicated to raising awareness about intimate partner violence in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

Dr. Simmons’ dream for GEAR UP Dougherty is to become a repository of ideas, resources, and support mechanisms that will enhance the college-going culture of all students in Southwest Georgia. 

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Yolanda Davis, MBA, Administrative Specialist

Yolanda was born and raised in Sylvester, Georgia.  She received a Diploma in Medical Office Specialist and Certification in Accounting Office Specialist, as well as an Associate’s Degree in Accounting and Business Administration Technology from Albany Technical College.  She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Troy University, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Albany State University.  She is currently working on her Doctorate Degree in Business Administration through Walden University. She is also a member of The National Society of Leadership and Success.

Yolanda chose Business Administration because of the exposure to all types of business concepts: because of her studies in the field, she can pursue a career in disciplines such as marketing, operations, accounting, and administrative work. Yolanda has worked as a Refund Specialist and TCRS Accountant Specialist for the Tennessee Department of the Treasury.  She has also worked as a Denial Accounting Specialist, Support Specialist, and Accounting Clerk for a multitude of companies.

Outside of work, Yolanda loves to spend time with her family traveling, shopping, reading and going to church.  When asked about her plans for the future, she stated that “The sky is the limit.”  Yolanda’s goal for GEAR UP Dougherty is to become a huge success for the county while providing effective learning materials and mentoring for Southwest Georgia students.  She wants students to have a prosperous and successful life after completing high school.

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Jasmine Smith, Ed. S, Site Coordinator, Robert Cross Middle Magnet School

Jasmine was born and raised in Leesburg, Georgia. She’s returned home to be close to family and to kick off her new job with GEAR UP Dougherty.  Jasmine earned a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Kennesaw State University, as well as a Specialist’s Degree in Instructional Technology. Jasmine loves Kennesaw State University because of the endless opportunities and close proximity to Atlanta.  Jasmine has taught third grade for eight years in Marietta City schools and North Carolina.  She also has experience tutoring and mentoring students of various ages.

As a child, Jasmine’s parents taught her that education makes any dream possible. With such a strong foundation, Jasmine developed a passion for teaching and learning.  Outside of work, Jasmine enjoys spending time with family, traveling, fashion, sports, hiking, and reading a great book. In the future, Jasmine plans to continue to impact public school systems and ensure students are prepared for college and various post-secondary opportunities.

Jasmine’s goal for GEAR UP Dougherty is to prepare as many students for post-secondary options. It is her hope to make meaningful relationships with students and parents in order to foster essential communication through the program.

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Keva Quimbley, MPA, MBA, Site Coordinator, Merry Acres Middle School

Keva grew up on Palmer Street in the small, but prosperous city of Camilla, Georgia.  She attended the unsinkable Albany State University, where she received a Bachelor’s in Marketing, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a Master’s in Business Administration. When asked why she loves her alma mater, Keva says:

“When I decided to attend Albany State University as a non-traditional student, I thought I knew who I was, but once I attended ASU, I was challenged in way that I can’t explain. I can truly say that I learned so much more about myself.”

Keva chose the business pathway in school because it is her passion; she loves research and reasoning, and the ability to combine that with her passion of helping others make decisions.  When she started school, Keva wanted to be a brand manager, but after putting that into motion, she found that wasn’t a good fit for her.  Keva started as an Administrative Assistant for 11 years, before returning to college to work on her Bachelor’s Degree. She then became a Program Analyst for a government contractor for three years. She returned to college because she missed the education sector. She began working at Albany Technical College as an Academic Coordinator for six years while working on her second Master’s. Keva will soon complete her Doctorate of Education.

Outside of work, Keva enjoys spending time with her family, going to church, traveling, and shopping. In the future, Keva’s dream is to retire and travel faithfully.

Keva’s goal for GEAR UP Dougherty is to help it become the best avenue available for students to gain exposure to college and careers that they believe are unattainable.  She wants all students in the GEAR UP Dougherty program to reach their full potential.

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Amanda Wingate, Site Coordinator, Albany Middle School

Amanda grew up in Albany and is a graduate of the Dougherty County School System.  She attended Georgia State University where she earned a B.F.A. in Journalism and Public Relations, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching in Middle-Level Education.  Amanda loves Georgia State because of the metropolitan campus and diverse student population, which allowed her the opportunity to meet people from all around the world.

Amanda chose Journalism and Public Relations because she is a planner by heart, who loves to tell stories. She continued into education because she has always has a passion for learning, and wanted to share that passion with others.

Amanda has spent the last five years working in middle schools, primarily as a seventh grade English/Language Arts Teacher.  She has worked in public and charter schools, including Crisp County Middle School and Amana Academy. While being a teacher, Amanda coached competitive media teams, hosted community-wide events, and trained faculty in educational technology. Amanda is also part of a competitive trivia team that ranked as one of the top teams in the Atlanta area.

When she’s not at work, Amanda loves spending time with her dog, baking, and traveling whenever she can. In the future, Amanda hopes to continue working with students and serving as an advisor, guiding them towards the college and career options that best suit their goals.

Amanda’s goal for GEAR UP Dougherty is to help ensure students that there are a multitude of opportunities available to them regarding colleges and careers. 

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Dr. Clint Eliason, SpectrumRED, Project Evaluator

Dr. Eliason was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He attended the College of Eastern Utah where he earned an Associate’s Degree with an emphasis in Art.  Next, he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Art (Drawing and Painting) and Business Administration from Southern Utah University. He received a Master’s Degree in Art (Printmaking) and a Doctorate Degree in Research and Evaluation Methodology from Utah State University.  Dr. Eliason chose his doctoral major because he was interested in researching the impacts and efficacy of educational and social programs.

Dr. Eliason loves Utah State University because it offers a broad range of degrees from art to zoology and is a national leader in space sciences education. Also, their football team was ranked #14 last year-Go Aggies!

Earlier in his career, Dr. Eliason was the Executive Director of the Discovery on Wheels hands-on science outreach program at Utah State University. Currently, he is the Chief Operating Officer and Director of Research and Evaluation for Spectrum Research, Evaluation, and Development. 

Outside of work, Dr. Eliason has a broad range of interests which include art, sports, snorkeling, museums, and travel.  Dr. Eliason’s goal for GEAR UP Dougherty is to assist project implementation by providing timely feedback to project stakeholders, enabling them to make data-driven decisions pursuant to helping students achieve their academic, career preparation, and personal goals.