Full Circle

Mary Ann Parsons takes helm of CAES Office of Development and Alumni Relations

In moving to a director position within the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Office of Development and Alumni Relations, Mary Ann (Davis) Parsons (BSA – Agricultural Communications, ’02; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’06) feels her career has come full circle.

As a CAES graduate student, Parsons worked in the college’s Office of College Advancement as an alumni and development specialist in 2004. She accepted a full-time position with Georgia 4-H in 2005, most recently acting as the executive director of the Georgia 4-H Foundation. There, she managed a team that, last fiscal year, put the foundation 164 percent over its fundraising goal. She was named assistant director of the CAES development office in 2011, then interim director in 2013.

As of August, she’s returned to the college, to the same office — it’s now called the “Office of Development and Alumni Relations” — and, as the senior director of development, she has a vision of engagement.

“Moving into this role, I’m excited because the university’s in a capital campaign and our college has an opportunity to increase the donor base with alumni and other supporters and for them to see the value of what we do through instruction, research and Extension.”
Parsons sees her role, and that of her team, as one of fostering connections. By engaging stakeholders, she hopes to continue increasing alumni involvement and giving to meet the goals of the dean and the needs of the college.

“(We) should be seen as a connector and trusted resource to connect their (stakeholders’) passions to priority needs of the college,” Parsons said. “In turn, that will open doors for us.”

Parsons grew up in Bainbridge, Georgia, on a cotton and peanut farm. She raised swine beginning in fifth grade — she sold that operation when she came to UGA — and raised and showed cattle starting in 10th grade. She was actively involved in Georgia FFA as state vice president from 1998 to 1999, was a Georgia FFA Southern Region Star Farmer and National FFA Prepared Public Speaking finalist. She earned her American FFA degree in 2000.

Parsons entered UGA as a sophomore — she stayed in Bainbridge her freshman year while she was a state FFA officer — and was immediately approached about starting an agricultural sorority on campus. She became the charter president of Sigma Alpha that fall. Parsons belonged to numerous other CAES and South Campus organizations during her time as a student.

Since receiving her graduate degree, she’s served on CAES Alumni Association, Sigma Alpha, National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, and National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association boards and committees. She’s been presented with awards by the some of the same organizations and was a part of Georgia Trend magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2012.

Parsons started in her new position on Aug. 1 and is available at parsonsm@uga.edu.

By Kathryn Schiliro

Mary Ann (Davis) Parsons (BSA – Agricultural Communications, ’02; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’06)