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Advisory Board

Peachtree Academy

2016-2017 Board of Advisors

David BerndDavid Bernd

David Bernd is currently Vice President—Office of Economic Development, Covington/Newton County Georgia, a role he has held since October of 2013. In this position, David is leading the effort to recruit industrial development to Newton County Georgia, currently working on projects that surpass $2B in capital investment, and >5K jobs. Prior, David celebrated a 34-year career, before retiring from Kimberly-Clark, having held numerous international roles of increasing seniority throughout this tenure, most recently having served as Director of Manufacturing from January 2013-November 2013. In that role, David lead Operation Excellence projects in multiple international site locations for all aspects of Tissue based operations. Other roles included Huntsville Ontario Canada Paper Mill Manager/GM (2011-2013), Director of Research – X-Mill (2003-2011), Badger Globe Mill Manager (1999-2003) and Technology Director – Latin America Operations (1994-1998). While serving as Director of Research, David established, developed and executed a multi-million dollar brown field site project to maintain research in-house. Manage all aspects and operations related to R&D on fiber-based/antibacterial, product/packaging and distribution improvements, for businesses and facilities around the globe.

Dan RayDanRay

Dan has been a Rockdale native since 1968 and is a graduate of Rockdale County High School, Class of 1973. He is the Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Tax Officials (GATO) and has been an account Representative with Government Tax Solutions since 2013. He served as Rockdale County Tax Commissioner from 1993 until 2012. Past positions also include 18 years with the Essex Group, a major wire manufacturer in Lithonia where he held various management positions including Personnel Manager, Production Control Manager and Quality Control Supervisor.
Dan is a graduate of Georgia State University with a BBA in Management and a Masters Degree in Finance. Dan is highly involved in several state associations. He is Past President of the Constitutional Officers’ Association of Georgia (COAG), and of the Georgia Association of Tax Officials, 2003-2005 (GATO). He is a member of Revenue and Finance Committee for the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG).

Dan has been honored to be named the 2008 Constitutional Officer of the Year (COAG), 2005 Georgia Association of Tax Officials’ Tax Commissioner of the Year (GATO), and the 1996 Rockdale Jaycees Outstanding Public Servant Award.

Locally, Dan is a member and Elder of New Covenant Fellowship Church of Rockdale and past member of Smyrna Presbyterian Church where he has served as an Elder, Deacon, Sunday School Teacher and Youth Leader. He is a past member of the South Rockdale Civic Association and an Honorary Member of the Rockdale Rotary Club. Dan also served on the Nancy Guinn Library Board of Trustees as Chairman. Other Board memberships have included Rockdale Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse, Chairman Conyers-Rockdale Planning Commission Past President of Edward Middle School’s LSAC, and Past President of Heritage High School Fastpitch Booster Club. Dan also served on the Rockdale School System’s Long Range Planning Committee. He is a 1991 Graduate of Leadership Rockdale.
He enjoyed many years coaching Fastpitch Softball and continues to enjoy watching the sport.
Married to Theresa Ray and they have two daughters Brittany Ray Norton and Meredith Ray; son-in-law Allen Norton and proud grandfather of Macie Norton and Mason Norton. His greatest enjoyment today he finds in playing with his grandchildren.


Sandra Gilbert Matias

Sandra  is a graduate of Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, where she was awarded a degree in Chemistry with a minor in Biology and Math. She has worked for 22 years in Pharmaceutical Quality Control Laboratory Management, which includes 6 years of Pharmaceutical Microbiology Laboratory Management. Gilbert Matias was relocated to Georgia in 2013 by Baxter Healthcare Corporation, BioScience in Covington to join the project as Senior Manager of Quality Control.

Sandra is most proud of serving as founder of Africa United Pharmaceutical Company which serves to provide medicine to those in need in Africa. She has been named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. She received the American Chemical Society Achievement Award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award and was given the Honors Council Highest Academic Average Award.

Ms. Gilbert Matias is the co-leader of Baxter Women’s Leaders, Covington Chapter, a cross continental organization of women leaders within the Baxter organization. She is involved in Project One Haiti, a non-profit organization fostering aid to orphans in Haiti. She serves as a Board Member for Standing in the Gap Ministries, a non-profit organization to promote self-sufficiency for women in Africa.

Sandra is married to Eliezer Matias.

Sherry Lowery

Born and raised in Findlay, Ohio, Sherry moved to Georgia (to escape the cold and snow) as soon as she finished college. While in Georgia, she has been an early learning teacher and director, eventually opening two nationally accredited centers in the Alpharetta area. Leaving the traffic and noise behind, Sherry has settled in Newton County and now calls this her home.
Sherry Lowery has begun her 12th year as a member of the faculty at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. As an Early Childhood Care and Education Instructor, she has come in contact with literally hundreds of students, teachers and administrators in Newton, Rockdale and Morgan Counties.
In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she also holds a State-Approved Child Care Trainer certificate, as well as the designation of Professional Development Specialist with the National Council for Professional Recognition. Within the college, she serves in many capacities, such as, Faculty Liaison on the Achieving the Dream Team and as a member of both the Academic Affairs Advisory Committee and the Articulation Committee.

In the East Metro community, Ms. Lowery is a member of the Board of Directors for Peachtree Academy Private Schools; is on Rockdale Career Academy’s (RCA) Board of Directors, is Chair of the Family and Consumer Sciences Advisory Board for Newton County Schools, and Chair of the ECCE Advisory Board for RCA’s Early Childhood Education Pathway. Sherry Lowery earned her B.S. in Education from Ohio’s Bowling Green State University, and her Masters in Early Childhood Education from University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

In her not-so-much-spare-time, she serves in several leadership positions within her church, is a co-captain for a Relay-for-Life team, and has been a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Georgia for the past 16 years.

David Neville 
David retired with over 30 years of service in the Rockdale County public schools and most recently served as a Registrar for the high schools.  His legacy of service and involvement in the community make him a natural fit for the Board of Advisors.  He graduated in Special Education at Ole Miss, attended the University of Mississippi and graduated from Georgia State University in Education Administration & Leadership.

Ex-officio Advisory Board Members with expired terms – Thank you for your service!

 Jo Carter Harbin

A native of Conyers, Jo has spent the last 32 years as a real estate broker. She considers helping others with their relocation needs as a ministry. She has experience as a human resources director and director of administrative services with a multimillion dollar computer software company. She enjoyed a career as a top level executive recruiter in Fort Worth, Texas. She has owned and operated two highly successful businesses, including her Carter’s Galaxy of Homes, Inc.
In 1980, Jo served on the White House Conference on Small Business by Presidential appointment, working with Congress in enacting new legislation helpful to small businesses. Afterward, she was appointed to the Regional Advisory Board for the Small Business Administration, serving Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. She was influential in the development of the Georgia Small Business Council in Atlanta.
A member of Conyers First Baptist Church, Jo was named Executive of the Georgia Women’s Missionary Union and served for 17 years. She was charged with the responsibility of speaking in all the Baptist churches in the state of Georgia, as well as, the design, rebuild and fundraising for the renovation of Camp Pinnacle.
She has been active on many directing boards including Atlanta Chamber of Commerce – Industrial Council, Georgia Moral and Civic Concerns, Rockdale Board of Realtors and the Georgia Association of Realtors.
Jo enjoys traveling with her husband. As of this date, she has visited 11 countries and 38 states. Included in her travels are three mission trips to Africa which included delivering rice to starving orphans. She is in the development of a plan to grow rice in Cambodia to ship to Liberia through the Harcar Trust Foundation. Funding is currently being secured to bring this latest endeavor to fruition. We wish you God’s speed in your endeavors, Jo.
Joe-HutcheronJoe Hutcheson
Dr. Hutcheson is a native of Georgia and started teaching in 1990. With over 20 years of experience in education, he has served as a classroom teacher, administrator, and now a state representative for a professional development firm.
Starting his teaching career as a middle school band director, Joe was able to grow the Thomson Middle School band program from 42 students to over 400 in just five years. In 1995, he and his family moved to Houston County where the Perry High School band program grew to over 150 students. During his tenure, he started a steel drum band that was invited to perform at the University of Georgia and in 1999, the marching band was asked to perform in the Disney movie Remember the Titans.
In 2002, Joe moved into administration where he spent 4 years as an assistant principal and then 6 years as the principal of a middle school. During this time, he was very involved in the Georgia Middle School Association and the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals. He was a board member for both organizations.
Most recently, Joe was asked to be the Georgia representative for the Thinking Maps Corporation. This professional development company provides resources and training for schools across the nation and Joe coordinates and provides trainings for school systems across the state.
Joe received his Bachelors of Music from the University of Georgia, his Masters of Education from Augusta State University, and his Doctorate of Education from Argosy University in Florida. He is married to Diann and they have two sons that are in college.