Leading up to the 50th celebration next August, we will be featuring various alumni and professors of the Cortona alumni family. This week we would like to introduce you to Cheri Leavy!
Name: Cheri Leavy
University/Major/degree: University of Georgia BSED
Semester in Cortona (season and year, or program if it was after college): My mother-in-law and I went on an alumni development trip in fall of 2005
Course(s) taken in Cortona: Photography
Favorite flavor of gelato: Lemon
Currently residing in: St. Simons Island and Athens, Georgia with our two golden retrievers
Tell us a little more about your career path.
My publishing career started when I joined my husband Vance Leavy’s family business, Brunswick News Publishing where I managed their island office and served as Editor of Coastal Illustrated for five years.
Vance and I created Bulldawg Illustrated in 2002, a glossy magazine celebrating Georgia football and the fanfare surrounding it. With a passion for not only sharing the lifestyle of Georgia Bulldog fans, but also, the stories and talents of those who make Athens and the University such a special place, this is a labor of love! Serving on the University of Georgia Alumni Association board has only helped me find and tell the stories better. Spending so much time in Athens, Vance and I developed another publication called Guide2Athens ten years ago. The pocket-sized square book and social media channels capture the people and businesses that make America’s best college town so culturally rich. I founded The Southern Coterie with friend and business partner, Whitney Long, to provide a resource for the entrepreneurial south. The Southern C was designed to offer a community of passionate business owners, makers and doers the opportunity to connect, collaborate and create both online and in person through our annual Summit events that we started in 2013.
Let's talk about Cortona. What is one of your favorite memories from your time there?
I loved taking photos of everything: locals, architecture (even door hardware), churches, vegetable stands in the open air market and expansive countryside views. To bring back memories, we had a case of wine including several beloved Brunello di Montalcinos from sommelier Marco Molesini shipped home. Although you can’t recreate the sunset view at Ristorante Tonino.
I will never forget the feeling of pride to experience the positive impact on Cortona from UGA having a campus in town. There were Georgia Gs in shop windows and the Italians even know how to cheer like a Bulldog which means they bark woof woof woof!
How did studying in Cortona influence how you live or work today?
It instilled a lifelong love of travel and exploring other cultures in a deep and meaningful way. We search out locals and their favorite spots anywhere we go, always looking for that insider perspective. It is largely why we created guide2athens for visitors to our special town to see the best of it through our take.
Speaking of influences, if you could have dinner with any three people, from history or alive today, who would you pick?
I would want my husband Vance there because we do everything together so I wouldn’t want him to miss out and I would invite our favorite author Ernest Hemingway and favorite musician Tom Petty. It was hard not to include Picasso with Hemingway. Can we do it at La Bucaccia in Cortona with at least one pasta dish with tartufo and big bold Super Tuscan? The guys can pick the rest.
Before we go, what are you currently working on? Any projects or announcements you would like to share?
We just launched tickets for The Southern C Summit set for February 6-8. 2019 at Forbes Five Star resorts on Sea Island, Georgia. I am super excited about our workshops and sessions covering social media strategy, branding and marketing, PR, best practices for websites and newsletters, entrepreneurial advice/tips/motivation, partnerships and collaborations, among others. One of my favorites this time is Sean Low presenting on the Business of Being Creative. But it isn’t all work and no play! We have numerous social events to provide opportunities to connect, collaborate and create!