2016-2017 Board of Advisors
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 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.
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.