The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Alumni Advisory Board (“A.A.B.”) was formed in 2006 by alumni Scholars to help support the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s mission and goals. Currently 15 alumni serve on the A.A.B. on a three year rotation. This year they voted on five new members, Rudy Fernandez (1991), Mary Kathryn Covert Steel (2003), TJ Abrams (2001), Megan Harney (2004) and Sarah Williams (2011 and Sandy Williams Alumni Legacy Scholar). Get to know them here…
Rudy Fernandez is a 1991 Coca-Cola Scholar from Miami, Florida. He is currently the Chief of Staff to University of Miami President Donna Shalala and also serves as Vice President for Government and Community Relations at the University. Before joining UM in 2007, he was Special Assistant to the President in the George W. Bush White House, serving as one of President Bush’s senior liaisons to state and local elected officials throughout the country. Prior to joining the White House staff, Rudy held senior positions in the United States Department of Transportation, the Bush-Cheney 2004 Campaign and the Republican National Committee.
Rudy makes regular appearances on television and radio as a political analyst. He also serves on the board of directors of several nonprofits including the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Miami-Dade. Rudy has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Miami, receiving the valedictorian and the leadership awards in his MBA class. He is a CNBC junkie and a die-hard fan of the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes. Rudy and his wife Jennifer are the proud parents of four kids ages 6 and under.
Mary Kathryn Covert Steel is a Senior Vice President in the Washington, D.C. office of FTI Consulting, a global business advisory firm. Her expertise includes corporate social responsibility and reputation management, focused primarily on the pharmaceutical and food industries. Her clients include Pfizer, Shire and the GE Foundation. Mary Kathryn has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, BusinessWeek and The Huffington Post, among others. She was recently named one of PR News’ “15 to Watch” Star of PR.
Prior to FTI Consulting, Mary Kathryn worked at the corporate headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, in Worldwide Public Affairs in Corporate Responsibility. She created the Company’s first external online Global Reporting Initiative Index for reporting key Corporate Social Responsibility performance indicators. She became the youngest full-time associate of
The Coca-Cola Company, working in the Public Policy and Stakeholder Relations Group on environmental issues management, helping Coke to “go green.”
A New York Times-published essayist, Mary Kathryn Steel is a 2003 National Coca-Cola Scholar from Meridian, Mississippi. She graduated summa cum laude from Samford University, with a University Honors Bachelor of Arts in History and a Political Science minor. She was selected as Omicron Delta Kappa’s National Leader of the Year for 2008 and was a national finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. In 2013, Mary Kathryn was selected to be a Vanguard Fellow for the Aspen Institute.
TJ Abrams is a 2001 Coca-Cola Scholar and Brand Manager on Coca-Cola at the Coca-Cola Company where he leads the planning and implementation of brand growth strategies and national system programs (including Olympics, NASCAR and 2014 FIFA World Cup). Prior to joining the Coca-Cola Brand Team, TJ spent two years as the Associate Brand Manager on Coke Zero helping propel the brand to 21 consecutive quarters of double-digit growth. He joined Coca-Cola with previous experience working in marketing at Lowe’s Home Improvement where he built the multicultural marketing strategy, specifically leading the Hispanic commercial business plan, local marketing strategy and sports programming. TJ was recently named to Forbes 30 under 30 list for Marketing and Advertising.
TJ earned a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2005 and an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from Duke in 2009. TJ currently resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife and son. He’s an avid runner, lover of the arts and a huge Tar Heel fan.
Megan Harney is a 2004 Coca-Cola Scholar from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. In 2007, she founded, and continues to direct, The Scholar’s Choice Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enable individualized learning for every student by making educational data accessible and actionable. To do so, Scholar’s Choice built a new, integrated enterprise software platform for schools. Megan also enjoys coaching mock trial, teaching, and offering professional development for teachers. She has previously worked for Microsoft as a program manager, conducted neurodegenerative and neurogenetic research, and produced An Evening with Champions, a nationally-recognized figure skating exhibition that benefits pediatric oncology care and research at Dana Farber. Megan earned her master’s degree in Technology, Innovation, and Education and her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in English and computer science from Harvard University.
Sarah Nicole Williams attends Scripps College in Claremont, California where she is currently completing a double major in Psychology and Global Leadership. Her studies at the Kravis Leadership Institute combined with her research working with the Psychology Department Chair at Scripps College, have led to insights helping to identify the risk and preventive factors of elder financial exploitation. Recently, Sarah presented these findings at the International Neuropsychology Society Conference in Hawaii. Currently, Sarah is in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she is studying the behaviors and learning differences of children in a multicultural context.
Sarah Williams is a young entrepreneur with a strong desire to give back to her community. While in high school, she founded “A Blanket of Their Own”, a project committed to helping foster care youth. The project continues to thrive today.
Sarah is a 2011 Sandy Williams Alumni Legacy Scholar and she is extremely excited and honored to join the AAB.