MGA Announces Fall 2023 Commencement Speakers

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2023 12:00 AM
Categories: Faculty/Staff | School of Education and Behavioral Sciences | School of Business | Pressroom | School of Aviation | Events- Students | Students | School of Health and Natural Sciences | School of Arts and Letters | School of Computing | Honors/Awards

Macon, GA


12:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 6

As president and owner of Collins Manufacturing Company in Macon, Gwen Collins is involved in day-to-day operations of the business. In 2006, she and her husband, Larry, who is vice president of the company, purchased Greene Machine & Manufacturing, Inc. Under their ownership, GMM is doing business as Collins Manufacturing Company.

Services provided by Collins Manufacturing include precision CNC machining, precision sheet metal, certified welding, engineering services, assemblies, and laser tracking. Customers of the woman-owned small business include commercial interests and military.

In 2020, Collins added two manufacturing facilities on Lower Boundary Street in Macon, formerly Steel Services, and the following year acquired another location on Avondale Mill Road, formerly Schwartz Precision Manufacturing, also in Macon.

Collins earned an engineering-biomedical degree from Mercer University in 1998. Before acquiring the company, she worked as a software engineer at Robins Air Force Base for 13 years.

4 p.m. Wednesday, December 6

Donald R. Avery, FACHE (Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives), has served as president and CEO of Fairview Park Hospital since 2008. He is responsible for the management and day-to-day operations of the 190-bed facility located in Dublin, Ga.

During his tenure, the hospital has earned recognition and awards for safety and quality outcomes and has successfully recruited more than 50 new physicians to the community to ensure better access to care.

Prior to serving in this role, Avery was the CEO of the Hughston Orthopedic Hospital in Columbus, senior VP at Columbus Regional Health System, and the COO at South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta.

After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Avery served in the Air Force as a pilot, instructor pilot, and operations officer for six years. He later enrolled in the University of Florida, earning master’s degrees in business administration and health science.

He is a past president and board member of the Georgia ACHE and a board member of the Alliant Health Group. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, in the Executive MBA program. He is a past chair of the board of trustees of the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA).

9 a.m. Thursday, December 7

Dr. Cassandra Miller-Washington, director of Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education for Bibb County Public Schools, began her K-12 educational journey in Bibb County in 1999. She has served in the following positions: technology director for Edison Schools; Career, Technical, and Agriculture Education (CTAE) instructor (Northeast and Central); and CTAE instructional coach. She was appointed CTAE supervisor for Central, Southwest, Westside, and Howard schools in 2009 and CTAE director in December 2012.

During her career as technology director for Edison Schools, Miller-Washington was named Technology Start-Up Director of the Year. Additionally, during her teaching career, she was named Teacher of the Year for Northeast Health Science Magnet High School and Georgia TAPP Ambassador by Georgia Professional Standards Commission. She is a graduate of the Bibb County Teacher and Administrator Leadership Academy.

Miller-Washington received a Bachelor of Science from Tuskegee University, an MBA from Mercer University, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Capella University.

12:30 p.m. Thursday, December 7

Brig. Gen. Jon A. Eberlan is commander, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, Robins Air Force Base. He serves a world-class workforce of more than 7,200 personnel. The complex performs programmed depot maintenance and modification on all variants of the F-15, C-130, C-5, C-17, and special operations forces aircraft as well as the RQ-4, E8C, and TH-1H. Additionally, he is responsible for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of diverse aircraft components, avionics, and electronic warfare equipment along with development and sustainment of missions-critical software, test program sets, and automated test equipment.

Eberlan enlisted in the Air Force in 1990 and earned his commission as a distinguished graduate of Officer Training School in August 1998. He has commanded at the squadron, group, and wing levels. He also has served in key major command, Air Staff and joint duty positions.

Among his degrees are a Bachelor of Science in business management from Park College, a Master of Science in logistics management from the Air Force Institute of Technology, a top-third Graduate of Squadron Officer School from Maxwell AFB, a Master of Military Operational Art and Science from Air Command and Staff College, and a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from Dwight D. Eisenhower School at Fort Lesley J. McNair.

In 2020, he served as a Military Fellow on the Council of Foreign Relations in New York City. In 2021, he served as the director of Budget Programs and deputy assistant secretary for Budget in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller at the Pentagon.

4 p.m. Thursday, December 7

Col. Sheldon B. Wilson is the commander of the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, Savannah. As the commander, he provides leadership to more than 1,400 Airmen organized across four Groups and two geographically separated units, the 224th Joint Communication Support Squadron in Brunswick and the 117th Air Control Squadron at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia. He helps ensure the wing and its airmen are trained and equipped to support domestic operations and overseas missions at a moment’s notice.

Wilson enlisted in the Air Force Reserves in 1993 as a medical technician, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. Upon graduation from The Citadel, he was recruited as an Air Battle Manager with the 117th Air Control Squadron, Savannah. After being commissioned, he was assigned to a two-year tour as an executive officer with the National Guard Bureau, Command, Control, Communications, Airspace and Ranges Branch, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. During his tour, he was selected for a Mobility Pilot position with the 165th Airlift Wing. He entered undergraduate pilot training in 2000 and earned his wings in 2002 at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. He was deployed nine times in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Freedom Sentinel, and Inherent Resolve.

He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from The Citadel, South Carolina; Intermediate Development Course, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland; Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College, both by correspondence, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.