My Journey Series

This series is an array of professionals that share their personal stories with you and how they arrived at the professions they currently work. Included are who or what they wanted to be when they grew up and if they achieved that dream.


John Hudgison

John (JC) Hudgison is a native of Columbus, Georgia. He advanced his education by attending and graduating from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Architecture & Design (B. Arch), and is scheduled to attain a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from Troy University in 2022. JC is currently the Construction Services Center Manager and Chief Building Official for the City of Tampa, FL. Prior to working for the City of Tampa, John worked for the Columbus Consolidated Government in Columbus GA and John I Rivers Associates as an Architecture Intern.

John has more than 13 years of experience in the fields of architecture, building code, construction, and construction management. In the ten years of service to the Columbus Consolidated Government, he managed numerous projects including new public buildings, streetscape improvements, and a wide range of renovation and rehab projects at various scale. JC has also demonstrated keen skills at introducing innovative processes to improve service delivery to the public. JC has progressively taken on new roles and responsibilities at the department and tackled numerous special projects spanning other service areas of the City. Most recently, JC served as Director of Building Inspections and Code Enforcement where he directed the plan review and inspections program relative to the construction as well as Property Maintenance and Special Enforcement Divisions.

JC has received his Certified Building Official (CBO) certification from the International Code Council (ICC), is an associate member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and is a licensed Building Code Administrator through the State of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). In his commitment to building design and safety, He previously served on the board of the Building Officials Association of Georgia (BOAG), Department of Community Affairs (DCA) 2018 International Building Code Task Force, the AIA Georgia Board and still active on the ICC Emerging Leaders Membership Council (ELMC) and a member of the Suncoast Chapter of the Building Officials Association of Florida (BOAF).

Robert Peterson

Robert Peterson is a contemporary artist currently living and working in southwestern Oklahoma. Born in 1981, Peterson picked-up a paintbrush for the first time in July of 2012. Emerging as one of this country’s most celebrated new artists, Peterson has exhibited his works in some of this nation’s hottest art markets that include: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami.

The living definition of triumph over tragedy, the self-taught artist’s journey has revealed him to be nothing short of a modern-day phoenix. Peterson’s career as an artist began five years ago; completing his first professional art piece the same day he was advised that a major surgery was required to improve his quality of life. Peterson left the doctor’s office that day and purchased a $6 paint set and a $7 double canvas from the local art store. It was this life altering experience that he credits with giving him his new appreciation for life and love for art. With the core belief that when you believe in yourself enough others will too, Peterson has seen this life philosophy fully-manifested as art collectors across the globe have sought him out to purchase his paintings and commission artwork for their collections.

Peterson’s raw and spontaneous abstract portraits are now collected by nouveau art collectors and fans worldwide, including professional athletes, platinum-selling recording artists and entrepreneurs. Named the 2016 “Artist of the Year for Southwestern Oklahoma” by the Oklahoma Arts Council, Peterson made history by becoming the first African-American to hold that title in the state’s history. In December of 2017 during the Art Basel Week Miami Robert earned the Spectrum Spotlight Artist of the Year. Peterson and his work has been featured in the Huffington Post, Studio Visit Magazine, as one of their Artist to Watch. Peterson has also been featured on, WABC-TV ABC 7 news – NYC, and numerous other publications.

Robert Peterson resides in Lawton, OK, with his wife of 17 years, Marina, and the couple’s three children, Caleb, Joshua, and Breianah.

Dr. Lonnie Johnson

Dr. Lonnie Johnson is the founder and CEO of Johnson Research and Development , three technology related spin off companies as well as a non- profit organization dedicated to educating disadvantaged youth in STEM through the international FIRST robotics program. Dr. Johnson is a prolific inventor and holds over 100 patents. He began “tinkering” as a young child and would often rip apart his sibling’s toys to figure out how they worked. His insatiable curiosity and imagination inspired him to create, experiment, and invent.

His first invention, “Linex”, a high school project, was a remote controlled robot, which he created from scrap metal he found in a junk yard. Linex won first place in a state wide competition and this was one of many significant milestones to come in his life time and as the first African American to ever achieve it.

Dr. Johnson attended Tuskegee University on a Math scholarship and graduated with distinction with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. Two years later, he earned a Master’s in Nuclear Engineering and decades later, was bestowed an honorary doctorate in Science from Tuskegee University. He served in the U.S. Air Force where he analyzed NASA space systems and worked on the Stealth Bomber Program. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), he helped develop some of the nation’s most advanced technology in the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Mars Observer Project and the Cassini Mission to Saturn.

He has received numerous honors including two Air Force Commendation Medals, an Air Force Achievement Medal, NASA awards, The Trumpet Award, Lifetime Achievement Awards, Engineering Hall of Fame Award, and Business of the Year Award just to name a few.

A bona fide rocket scientist, Dr. Johnson is happiest spending the majority of his time inventing. When he is not working on his innovative heat engine which converts heat into electricity, he is working on his advanced battery technology, his revolutionary water condenser or any number of other inventions he has created. In his spare time, he advocates for inner city youth.

Salonick Amos

My name is Salonick Amos and I am a Region Manager for Waffle House Inc. I have been in restaurant operations with Waffle House for nearly 8 years now. As I navigate through my career, I have found that I enjoy teaching and developing people personally and professionally. In 2008 I was fortunate enough to recieve an athlete scholarship to attend Brevard College. In 2012 I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. My passion is to simply make a positive impact on as many people as I can.

Teresa White

Teresa White is a veteran in the financial services industry with two decades of experience. Currently serving as president of Aflac U.S., Teresa is a visionary leader with a proven track record of augmenting operations, driving revenue, ensuring equal pay for equal work, and fostering an inclusive and diverse workforce. She has created effective business and leadership strategies across multiple organizations to achieve corporate targets and has extensive experience increasing operational efficiency, enhancing customer experience and utilizing technology to enable growth.

Recognized as an expert in her field, Teresa is responsible for creating the vision of Aflac U.S. and driving execution of long-term strategy while strengthening the growth and value proposition of Aflac U.S. Under Teresa’s leadership, Aflac U.S. is reshaping its internal processes to respond to the changing dynamics in the marketplace. She is leveraging technology innovation, strategic partnerships and corporate development to bring solutions, tools and services that consumers, employers, and brokers want and need.

Teresa is passionate about employee development, as she knows this is a cornerstone to her strategy for future growth. This is demonstrated in the investments Aflac U.S. is making into employee upskilling — talent assessments, partnerships with colleges and universities for skill certifications, and workspace enhancement such as agile spaces and data command centers. Through this holistic strategy, Teresa plans to both maintain Aflac’s culture and drive the organization to become more agile and efficient in a digital future.

Teresa is the recipient of a number of awards. Some of those awards include Savoy’s 2020 Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America, New York Moves’ 2019 Power Women, Black Enterprise’s Most Powerful Women in Corporate America for the third consecutive year, Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America (2019), and Technology Association of Georgia’s Financial Technology Game Changers for the third consecutive year.

Teresa holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Arlington and a master’s degree in management from Troy University. She is a fellow of the Life Management Institute (FLMI) and an alumna of Leadership Columbus. She currently serves on the board of directors for Synovus Financial Corp in addition to her role as the 2021 Chair of the Georgia Chamber Board of Directors.

Christina Wagner

Christina has been in the payments industry long enough to realize that she’s still a student! A payments geek at her core, she currently leads high performing global product teams whose mission is to deliver the best omnichannel experiences and expand FIS’ already impressive global payments footprint.

Prior to joining FIS, Christina held senior executive roles at some of the most well-known brands in payments and fintech. Her experience includes product management, strategy, strategic partnerships, business development, sales, marketing, and corporate development.

Christina earned her bachelor of science in management information systems from Troy University and her master of business administration from Auburn University. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, cooking and traveling. To really wind down, she enjoys jogging, yoga and reading.

Ebone’ Cutts

Graduated c/o 1999 from Kendrick High School. Earned a Full Track Scholarship to Alabama State University. Graduated from Alabama State in 2005. Started teaching at Russell County Middle School in August of 2005. Started teaching at Rothschild Leadership Academy in 2009. Earned a Master’s Degree from CSU in Educational Leadership. Earned a Specialist Degree from CSU in (System Level) Educational Leadership in 2012. Currently working as the Instructional Technology/Media Specialist at Rothschild Leadership Academy.

Robert Landers

Rob Landers has over 10 years of experience in Event Operations and Venue Management. He has a proven record of successfully overseeing logistics and administration of Events, Security, Guest Services, Crowd Management, Food Services and Operations. Rob has executed successful events on a large scale at the Mercedes Benz Stadium, and the Phillips Arena ranging from 5K-70K attendees.

He is certified as a Trained Crowd Manager Instructor through the International Association of Venue Management; Risk and Incident Certified through the National Center of Spectator Sports Safety and Security and a ServSafe Manager, certified through the National Restaurant Association. He has successfully managed budgets exceeding $10M. His emphasis has been in the area of revenue enhancements and spectator experience.

Rob was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and a master’s degree from the University of West Alabama in Business Administration. Rob is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and a member of 100 Black Men of Columbus. Rob has been tasked with special events for the City including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Celebration and the First Annual City of Columbus Unity Week & Juneteenth Jubilee. He has been married to Marissa for 6 years. Rob and Marissa have 3 children.