Annual Volunteer Appreciation

Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

April 16, 2019


View more pictures from the event here


Adwoa Seymour from Cox Enterprises, Inc. received our "Honorable Glenda Hatchett Volunteer of the Year Award".

For nearly 14 years Adwoa has impacted almost every aspect of TIP, serving as a board member, training speaker, recruiter, donor, mentor, and most importantly, volunteer. Adwoa joined TIP as a law student in the fall of 2005 and immediately volunteered as a Guardian ad Litem on a truancy case. From that first case, Adwoa has advocated for truancy, educational neglect, and early intervention clients with an energy and passion matched by few others. As a recruiter, Adwoa led the charge to bring TIP into her former firm by pulling together a group of Bryan Cave attorneys and staff for a training and then mentoring them as they took their first cases. Not surprisingly, this group was awarded what would become TIP’s Chamion for Children Award. Notcontent to rest on these laurels, Adwoa continues to recruit for TIP and has recommended volunteering with TIP to many of her Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA) and personal colleagues. Recently, Adwoa represented a client who was identified as a School Refusal case. While reviewing the student’s evaluation, Adwoa discovered the client had been diagnosed with a disorder marked by a severe fear of going to school. For nearly two years she communicated with the school on options for her client’s education. When trying to bring all parties from the court and school together to make an educational plan for her client, she was told that her presence may cause the meeting to be significantly delayed. Not wanting to cause additional harm to her client, but unsure why her presence was suddenly not welcomed, Adwoa reached out to TIP and the school’s legal counsel and got the meeting back on track, this time with her presence allowed. Just as Adwoa piloted a TIP group with her recruitment of Bryan Cave volunteers, her recent work is an example of how TIP volunteers can positively interact with school officials to gain access to the schools and school meetings to advocate for their clients, opening doors not only for one client but future students as well.


The Coca-Cola Company's Legal Department received our "Champion for Children Award"

The Coca-Cola Company’s Legal Department has been a longtime supporter of the Truancy Intervention Project’s mission and has recently enhanced its involvement through increased financial support, hosting training seminars, and increased volunteer engagement. In 2016, the Coca-Cola Company Legal Department held a TIP training in conjunction with King & Spalding LLP at its offices, a training that resulted in a 2017 Volunteer of the Year honoree. A consistent supporter of TIP’s outreach programs, the company’s legal department also generously donates to TIP’s holiday celebration and counts Marc Goncher among TIP’s governing Board of Directors.

And our honorees were:

Billy Baucom
Troutman Sanders LLP
Billy became a TIP volunteer in 2018 and immediately jumped in with both feet. Unbeknownst to anyone, Billy’s first client would take him from TIP newbie to seasoned volunteer within 12 months. Billy tirelessly battled his client’s apathy by encouraging and supporting his client’s family and partnering with his client’s probation officer to brainstorm creative solutions and opportunities. Above all else, Billy continued to show up for his client when so many others had given up. In addition to providing zealous advocacy in the courtroom, Billy skillfully represents TIP clients in the crucial contexts of special education and student discipline meetings. Billy’s service to TIP also includes speaking at TIP’s CLE trainings, and representing TIP at pro bono meetings at his firm. Billy’s volunteer spirit has inspired TIP staff and touched the lives of every child and family he has worked with.

Karen Butler
Alston & Bird LLP
Spotlighting the impact one person can have on TIP clients without volunteering for traditional TIP cases, Karen Butler has led Alston & Bird’s annual Holiday Adoption efforts for the past 8 years. A native of Atlanta, Karen has more than just an inconsequential interest in what happens to youth in her hometown. Karen has been a Legal Administrative Assistant at Alston & Bird for 18 years and is a dedicated volunteer with numerous organizations in support of Alston & Bird’s pro bono and community service work. She is a longtime TIP supporter, and for over 8 years her commitment and attention to detail have contributed to the continued success of the TIP Angel Tree Holiday Adoption Pro- gram, a gift drive held every holiday season requiring late evenings and weekends of collecting, wrapping, and organizing gifts for TIP families. Spearheading the effort at Alston & Bird, Karen has helped bring smiles to over 550 families since the program began. In December of this school year, Karen’s efforts saw the collection of nearly 1,000 gifts for close to 300 individuals.

Russell Dunlap
Taylor English Duma LLP
New to TIP, Russ began volunteering in January 2018 after attending our first training held at Taylor English Duma LLP. Just weeks after being trained, Russ accepted his first case and came to court. As occasionally happens, Russ’ TIP client failed to appear that day but rather than accept that his duty was complete, Russ offered to fill in on other cases that needed a volunteer. Taking multiple cases on his first day, Russ demonstrated professional and personal flexibility and a commitment to the work of advocating for students in need. In only thirteen months, Russ has represented six clients, most of whom have closed their cases and gone back to school and returned to regular school attendance. Russ’ eagerness and professionalism have helped TIP through our busiest times and helped many clients receive much-needed representation.

Dan Murphy
Constangy Brooks Smith & Prophete LLP
Accepting his first TIP case in February of 2002, Dan is a wonderful example of consistent and energetic volunteer advocacy over time. As a seventeen year TIP volunteer, Dan is this year’s longest serving volunteer at- torney. In order to maintain this longevity, Dan has shown more than just loyalty, he has worked to educate himself on the changing landscape of juvenile law, its impact on TIP operations, and our client population. Specifically, as the complexity of TIP cases and client needs have evolved, Dan has modified his advocacy to keep up with his clients’ ever-changing educational needs. One of Dan’s recent case successes involved an exceptionally bright client who was in the school’s A.V.I.D. pro- gram (a program for gifted students), but who was refusing to go to school. Dan worked to understand the driving force under- lying the child’s behavior and was able to form a bond that led to his client receiving the necessary services and advice so that he could go back to school consistently and with purpose. Dan exemplifies the tenacity, creativity, and adaptability that TIP clients rely on from their volunteers.

Megan Pearson
Smith Welch Webb & White LLC
Megan is no stranger to taking on difficult TIP cases. After completing her TIP training in 2017, Megan’s first two cases consisted of four clients, two sets of siblings, each with a completely different set of educational needs and reasons for missing school. Megan was able to use her special education expertise to improve the academic trajectory of her clients, as well as increase TIP’s overall capacity in special education issues. Megan has become a resource for TIP staff in navigating special education law and has helped TIP increase its overall ability to serve clients with special education needs - all while continuing to accept cases.

And thank you to our 2019 sponsors:


Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on April 24, 2018!


Adwoa "Adj" Awotwi from received our "Honorable Glenda Hatchett Volunteer of the Year Award".

Adj joined TIP in December of 2003 and for nearly 15 years, she has exemplified what it is to be a great volunteer, advocate, mentor and role-model. Adj has taken interest in every facet of TIP from volunteering for early intervention, educational neglect, and truancy cases to serving as TIP’s Board chair since September 2014. She is a fixture at all TIP outreach events and even deejayed our holiday party briefly. Adj is also a tremendous recruiter, and routinely speaks at swearing-in services and at TIP training seminars. Even through multiple job changes, she has stuck with TIP, and brought awareness of TIP and the truancy problem to her new employers. As a volunteer, Adj has committed to working with two clients at a time and can routinely be seen outside of the courtroom counseling clients or inside the courtroom calmly reassuring them or holding a hand when nerves set in. On one of Adj’s recent cases, near the end of the life of the case, her client decided that the National Guard Youth Challenge Program was something that she wanted to pursue. However, in order for her client to avoid any trouble at home, the student’s guardian, probation officer, and Adj, with the student’s input, decided that the student should live with Adj for the 6 weeks leading up to the Youth Challenge start date. So for six weeks, Adj rearranged her schedule so that she was able to drop her client off at her educational program and make sure that she was available to pick her up after her counseling session every day, both of which Adj was instrumental in securing for her client. The end result was, her client successfully enrolled and transitioned to the innovative National Guard Youth Challenge Program.

Law firm, Troutman Sanders, received our "Champion for Children Award"

Led by the efforts of Terri Hendley and Kevin Coleman, Troutman Sanders increased its commitment to TIP’s pro bono service by hosting a TIP informational session and then hosting a CLE seminar. Both added many new Troutman volunteers to the TIP ranks and informed the firm of all of the great things that TIP is doing in Atlanta. In conjunction with United Way week at the firm, Troutman attorneys and staff members participated in a school supply donation drive, helping TIP eliminate one barrier that often prevents our clients from going to school. In addition to the donation of school supplies, Troutman also contributed a sizable financial gift to support TIP’s mission. Troutman’s partnering with TIP has expanded our reach in the legal community and increased our benefit to TIP children and families.

And our honorees were:

Bill Fletcher
Gibson, Deal and Fletcher, P.C.
As one of TIP’s most seasoned volunteers, Bill accepted his first case in September of 1995. Over the last two decades, Bill has volunteered on at least one case every year, easily making Bill one of our most consistent volunteers. We honored Bill for his successful advocacy on a case where his client won TIP’s Hank Aaron Award, as the student who showed the most improvement during the school year. Not resting on his laurels since his last honor, Bill continued his involvement by accepting at least one case each year, while elevating his involvement and agreeing to speak at our CLE trainings. Most recently, Bill received a client who plainly refused to go to school. Through building a rapport with his client, an unlikely pairing, Bill was able to identify many of the issues that consumed the student. He was then better able to advocate for his client’s educational needs in court and help the student get into the court’s GED program. Bill has always been a reliable volunteer and one that can be counted upon no matter the circumstance. It is with the help of volunteers like Bill, that TIP children succeed in school.

Anthony “Tony” Greene
Alston & Bird LLP
Tony became a TIP volunteer in 2017 after receiving a firm email announcing a fellow Alston & Bird associate, Andrew Hatchett, as the 2017 Glenda Hatchett Volunteer of the Year winner. After learning more about Andrew’s work with TIP, Tony contacted TIP, and within a few weeks was a trained volunteer. Capitalizing on his excitement, Tony immediately volunteered for a truancy case and quickly followed it by accepting a second. Tony routinely steps beyond his role in court to advocate on his client's behalf and increase parental involvement. In his most recent case, Tony’s advocacy included: making sure family and individual counseling was secured, seeing a marked attendance improvement, helping with course credit recovery, and even providing transportation to the client and family when that was the only barrier to success.

Joshua “Josh” Harris
Community Volunteer
Josh became a TIP volunteer in the fall of 2014 and immediately began taking cases. As one of TIP’s first ERP volunteers, Josh was paired with a family who he would get to know intimately over the next 4 years. As fate would have it, Josh not only met his first official TIP client, but also his second client, his first client’s brother. Since that initial ERP meeting, Josh has attended countless review hearings, school meetings, counseling sessions, and even a detention hearing, all in the name of advocating for his clients. Josh has even found time in his schedule to share his TIP experience as part of our 25th Anniversary video. Josh has demonstrated a consistent dedication to his clients while showing a contagious enthusiasm for education, as well as being a positive influence. He truly represents the tenacity of the TIP volunteer and refuses to give up on the potential that lies within every TIP child and parent.

Mark Silver
Mark was introduced to TIP in 2014, after learning that his colleague was recently honored as a TIP volunteer. Intrigued, Mark sought out the volunteer to inquire about TIP and its mission. Mark has a remarkable knack for engaging with his clients and believes that his advocacy is just as important outside of the courtroom as inside. Mark shared his philosophy when working with TIP students, stating “I obviously act as his lawyer, but I see my role as that of a mentor as well. I try to be available to assist him with any issues that may arise, whether they involve schooling or some other aspect of his life.” Recently, Mark was able to show his client what happens to adults who display the behaviors that his client was displaying. With the help of a public defender, he was able to take his client with him to court and observe a day of criminal proceedings. Afterwards, Mark and his client were able to visit with the judge to have a frank, but nurturing conversation. Today, Mark’s client is doing better at school and at home. Mark’s efforts stand out in furtherance of TIP’s mission and he continues to be a great asset to the TIP students he represents.

And thank you to our 2018 sponsors: