Reinhardt announces Distinguished Alumnus and 10 Under 10


Dr. Brian Hightower, superintendent of the Cherokee County School District, was honored April 15 with the 2015-16 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award.

Reinhardt University announced its best of the best for its 2015-16 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year and “10 Under 10” at the Inauguration Gala for Dr. Kina S. Mallard, Reinhardt’s 20th President.

The gala was held April 15 at the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center in Canton with more than 200 guests in attendance.

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower was honored as the university’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. The award recognizes an individual with “outstanding personal achievement and an unselfish and dedicated personal devotion to Reinhardt.”

“I would not be the leader, the educator or the person I am today without my Reinhardt experience,” Hightower said. “Reinhardt confirmed my pathway was education, that my home would be Cherokee County and that my wife would be the lovely Sue Hightower. To be recognized with such an award by the university that has given me so much is an honor that truly humbles me.”

Hightower graduated from Reinhardt in 1983 with an associate degree in liberal arts. While continuing his education at then-Kennesaw College, he remained at Reinhardt as a resident assistant and coordinated housing. Hightower went on to earn several degrees including a Bachelor of Science in Education, Master of Education, Education Specialist and Doctorate of Education.

For 30 years, he has been an educator and administrator, all but one at the Cherokee County School District. He started in Cherokee County as a teacher at E.T. Booth Middle School and later became assistant principal then principal. He moved to central office for the district to work in school operations, and this past February, he took the role as superintendent.

He has supported Reinhardt for many years, including service as a charter member and co-chair of the Price School of Education’s Alumni Association from 2004-2015.

Also at the Gala held Friday night, Reinhardt University named its “10 Under 10,” which recognizes a group of alumni who graduated in the last 10 years and are successful in business, the military, nonprofits, government, ministry and/or the arts.

The 2016 “10 Under 10” are:

  • Anas Altarawneh, of Atlanta, Class of 2013. He is a senior consultant at Accenture. He helps Fortune 500 clients implement Oracle Business Intelligence Application suites and he is in charge of organizational change management to help the business users adapt to the newly implemented software. Altarawneh’s

    Reinhardt announced its 10 Under 10 for the 2015-16 school year during the Inauguration banquet held at the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center on April 15. Pictured, from left, are Anas Altarawneh, Elizabeth Coe Carnes, Mallory Childers, Stefanie Jones, Dr. Lena Joseph, Cobb Fire Chief Randal Crider, Samantha Lane and Kelsey Syers’ mother, who stood in for her since she is in Taiwan.

    functional and technical knowledge, as well as his tenacity, have helped him climb the corporate ladder quickly. Altarawneh graduated from Reinhardt University’s McCamish School of Business with a Bachelor of Science in business administration.

  • Elizabeth Coe Carnes, of Roswell, Class of 2013. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in music performance. She served as Artist in Residence at the Atlanta Harp Center. Carnes made the decision to enter into vocational ministry and accepted a position in Young Adult Ministry at First Redeemer Church in Cumming. She oversees the young adult division and the music in the contemporary worship service. Carnes also maintains a private teaching studio and is a freelance performer.
  • Randal Crider, of Powder Springs, Class of 2015. He is the fire chief at Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services, a department that employs 684 paid personnel and serves more than 700,000 citizens. Since joining Cobb County in 1990, Crider has worked his way through the ranks of firefighter, engineer, lieutenant, captain and deputy chief to fire chief. He has several certifications for fire and emergency services and holds degrees in fire science, organizational management and leadership. He earned an MBA from Reinhardt.
  • Mallory Childers, of Jasper, Class of 2010. Childers graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education in 2010. She was certified to teach early childhood education and special education general curriculum. Childers has worked at Tate Elementary since 2011. She serves as the lead special education teacher at her school and was named the school Teacher of the Year for 2013-14. She is pursuing her Master of Special Education degree at Kennesaw State and will graduate in May.
  • Jeffrey Weber, of Canton, Class of 2010. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business administration. After graduation, Weber began working for Infinite Energy Inc. as a sales representative. He earned a promotion to senior sales representative and has finished in the top five in sales within the company each year since being employed. He was awarded Inside Sales Rep of the Year in 2011 and Senior Sales Rep of the Year in 2013 and 2014.
  • Stefanie Jones, of Canton, Class of 2008. Jones graduated from Reinhardt in 2008 and shortly after began an on-the-road and online antique store. She created Junk Drunk Jones LLC and in March 2015, purchased and renovated a 100-year-old building in downtown Canton to house her store. Junk Drunk Jones specializes in authentic vintage collectibles, and superior quality reproductions. The business motto and her personal mantra is that “every day should be a treasure hunt.”
  • Lena Joseph, of Stone Mountain, Class of 2005. She graduated with a BA in organizational leadership and a Master of Science in organizational leadership in 2007. In 2015, she earned a Ph.D. in public safety with a concentration in criminal justice. She works as a victim-advocate with the Cobb District Attorney’s Office, where she manages witnesses and victims in the criminal justice system. She was named “Victim-Advocate of the Year” in 2015. She also volunteers at Reinhardt University on the Alumni Board of Governors.
  • Samantha Lane, of Marietta, Class of 2012. She worked in radio promotions for 94.9 The Bull before moving on to the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program at Kennesaw State. Lane is the program coordinator and assists in the development of the study abroad program to London, coordinates industry events, oversees social media marketing, budgeting and operations. A highlight in her career was attending the Country Music Awards in 2014 on behalf of Joel A. Katz.
  • Beth Pullias, of Manassas, Virginia, Class of 2010. Pullias is the social engagement specialist for the American Red Cross. She works as the community manager for the Red Cross social media channels, assists chapters throughout the country and prepares social media reports while contributing to the daily content strategy. Pullias previously worked at George Mason University where she was a public relations and social media coordinator. In that role, she helped begin the social media user group and started the Mason Nation Project on Twitter.
  • Kelsey Syers, of Canton, Class of 2012. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in middle grades education in 2012. After studying abroad in China, she completed her Master of Education in teaching English Speakers of Other Languages at Kennesaw State University. Syers spent a year as a Spanish and Japanese ESL teacher at a public school in Illinois and she is a literature and writing teacher at Hsinchu International School in Taiwan.