Gator Nation

Under 40 and On Top of Their Game

Since 2006, UF has honored outstanding young graduates whose achievements give the Gator Nation its great name. Meet 2022’s 40 Gators Under 40 honorees, who will be honored at an event later this month. (Well, make it 41 under 40 this year. They were so stellar, judges couldn’t decide!)

40 Gators Under 40
40 Gators Under 40 honors outstanding young Gators who are going greater in their communities and professions.

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Yaser Ali (BA ’08) is a wealth planning attorney and founder of Yaser Ali Law in Arizona. Recognized as a Super Lawyers’ Rising Star in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and a winner of the Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 under 40 award, Ali advises business owners and families on their corporate, tax, philanthropic and estate planning needs. Since founding his firm in 2015, Ali is proud to have planned hundreds of millions of dollars of assets for his clients and to have structured tens of millions in bequests and charitable gifts. After law school, he worked as a judicial law clerk for the late Judge Damon J. Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals and at the law firm of Osborn Maledon, in Phoenix. Outside of the office, Ali serves as an imam and teacher at his local mosque, as the executive director of a nonprofit scholarship organization and on the Phoenix Community Foundation Professional Advisory Board.

Jessica Anderson (BSPR ’04, JD ’07) is a litigator by training and a diversity, equity and inclusion advocate by passion. She works for Delta Air Lines as the general manager of global DEI. Anderson also created and leads a professional development class at Delta to empower new leaders. Anderson’s career started at the Florida-based law firm of Cole, Scott and Kissane, P.A., where she practiced in employment and general commercial law, and continued at RSUI Group, an Atlanta-based insurance company, where she handled professional liability claims. She serves on the UF Law Alumni Council and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Sheyan Armaghani (BS ’07, MD ’10), a specialist in degenerative spine conditions, practices at Orlando Health. He is trained in new motion preservation and minimally invasive techniques, with the goal of enabling patients to return to the activities they love in the safest way possible. Armaghani has co-authored more than 25 publications and has presented at national meetings on topics ranging from postoperative pain management to treating patients with diabetes. Recently, he is researching the factors that influence outcomes following surgery and minimizing complications.

Aisha Ayoub (BSME ’07) graduated from UF with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering under the direction of Dr. David Hahn and Dr. William Lear. She has extensive engineering and leadership experience at multiple Fortune 100 companies, leading development on automobiles, airplanes, spacecrafts, rockets, operating systems and, most recently, augmented/virtual reality devices. Ayoub was part of the core team at SpaceX that delivered industry-leading historical firsts, such as the first reusable rocket (Falcon) to land and be used for re-flight; the first private spacecrafts (Dragon) to dock and berth at the International Space Station, delivering cargo and crew. These launches brought crewed spaceflight back to the United States after nearly a decade. She is currently working on the next generation of AR/VR devices at Microsoft.

Pascale Bélony (BSHED ’15, BSN ’18) is a surgical nurse at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. She made world headlines in December 2021 when she represented Haiti in the 70th Miss Universe pageant. She is a founding member of P4H Global (Projects for Haiti Global), a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating poverty in Haiti through education, and is a spokesperson for MamaBaby Haiti, which runs birthing centers and health clinics on the island. She immigrated to the United States with her family at age 12 and was the first member of her family to attend college. At UF, Bélony served as a Cicerone and as a student Gator Nurse Ambassador for the College of Nursing. She came to the world of beauty pageants in her mid-20s and was crowned Miss Universe Haiti and Miss Supranational Caribbean in 2021.

Nathan Blinn (MSCM ’15, PHD ’18) is vice president of construction and strategic innovation at Eagle Construction of Virginia. He also is founder and principal researcher of archi-TEC-tonic, Virginia. Blinn works to reduce the technological barrier to entry for trade partners, residential AEC professionals and affordable housing organizations to “meaningfully disrupt the industry at its core.” In tandem with his alma mater, Blinn provides mentorship and internships for UF students, conducts guest lectures and partners on research projects. Among his areas of specialization are Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) and Building Information Modeling (BIM).

Kenny Brighton (BA ’07, MA ’09, MFYCS ‘11) is head of philanthropy for the Chordoma Foundation, a global cancer research foundation dedicated to curing the rare and often aggressive type of cancer. He ensures adequate funding for the foundation’s global initiatives, from early-stage research through clinical trials and beyond. Among his awards are Top Workplace Professional from the Sun-Sentinel, and Up and Comer Finalist from South Florida Business and Wealth. Brighton was a member of Florida Blue Key and an inductee in the UF Hall of Fame. He also leads volunteer organizations, such as the Deerfield Beach Kiwanis Club, Relay for Life and the Chi Phi Alumni Association, and is a board member of Partnership for Strong Families Alachua County.

Tiffany Brown (BSADV ’03, JD ’07) is in-house counsel for Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company in Fort Lauderdale. Brown began her legal career in securities litigation and helped clients in investigatory and legal court proceedings against agencies such as the SEC, the U.S. Department of Justice and NASDAQ. She has also participated in delisting and class action proceedings representing publicly traded corporations. A 2017 fellow of the Business Law Section of the Florida Bar, she is currently a fellow with the Florida Bar’s Leadership Academy and has been annually designated a Rising Star by Super Lawyers since 2017. She founded two programs to help her community: Sarai 2 Sarah Enterprises, a leadership development program for young women in South Florida, and Legalize My Hustle, a corporate training program for entrepreneurs.

Christopher Bucciarelli (BSESS ’06, MD ’12, HS ’13) is the chief medical officer of St. Joseph’s Hospital-South in Tampa Bay. He provides clinical oversight to physicians on staff, ensuring regulatory compliance and evaluating quality of services. He also is affiliated with Bay Area Emergency Physicians in Clearwater. Prior to becoming CMO at St. Joseph’s, he served as assistant CMO at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, where he created efficiencies in operations and flow in the emergency department and throughout the hospital. He served on numerous BayCare and Morton Plant committees that covered strokes, emergency department and hospital services, emergency department COVID-19 testing, hospital and health care policy, quality review and physician credentialing.

Erin Collins (BA ’05, BSTEL ’05) is the executive director of the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking, based in Tallahassee. The nonprofit alliance was created by the Florida Legislature to provide funding, support and assistance to the statewide effort to end this criminal activity. Prior to this role, Collins served as external affairs manager for the Agency for State Technology, overseeing legislative affairs and communications efforts. She also held various positions with Florida TaxWatch, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit, taxpayer research institute and government watchdog. She is a current member and past president of the Capital Area Gator Club board of directors. She has also served as the statewide chair of the Junior Leagues of Florida State Public Affairs Committee and currently serves on the board as membership chair.

Ekta Desai (BDES ’08) is a partner at SchenkelShultz Architecture in Orlando — the youngest partner in the firm’s history. She spearheads the firm’s efforts to enrich their work portfolio and to foster an iterative design process supported by research and analysis. Previously, she served as the firm’s design lead. Her 15 years of design experience spans the globe and includes UF’s new three-story Public Safety Building and projects at the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, the 53rd Street New York Public Library and the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation headquarters. She cultivated her creative roots for eight years working for international design firms in New York City and Mexico City. In an environment where men have historically dominated the design lead role, Desai stands as a passionate woman leader who is pioneering a more diverse and inclusive industry.

John Dicks (BA ’06, MBA ’10, JD ’10) is a partner at Akerman LLP, in Tampa, where he practices litigation, land use and bankruptcy. In the legal community, Dicks is known as a results-oriented, outside-the-box problem-solver. His wide litigation experience encompasses business litigation, contract disputes, fraud, fraudulent transfer, D&O litigation, real estate litigation, landlord/tenant disputes, judgment collection, employment and banking disputes. He also has significant appellate experience. He is chair of the statewide Ag Innovation Working Group and vice chair of the Florida State Fair Authority, and is always willing to handle matters pro bono for local charitable organizations. In addition to practicing law, Dicks has published two children’s books and a collection of poetry.

Evan Ferl (BA ’07, JD ’10) is general counsel to Poshmark, a social commerce marketplace for new and used merchandise. While earning his bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctor at UF, Ferl played in the drumline of the Fightin’ Gator Marching Band and drew cartoons for the Independent Florida Alligator. After working for NASA while at UF Law, he began his career at a software company in California, which won him over to the technology sector. He has run his own law firm, worked in-house for large public companies and led private companies through venture financing and successful exits. Outside of his legal career, he was a professional standup comedian for many years, performing at colleges, comedy clubs and various dive bars nationwide. He just finished writing and illustrating a children’s book that he hopes to publish to raise money for charity.

Charli Nicole Goodman (BA ’04) has spent 14 years with the Salt Lake City Police Department, where she is captain over the Liberty Patrol Division. In her career, she has served as a patrol officer, an undercover vice detective, a narcotics sergeant and an internal affairs lieutenant. Passionate about community-oriented policing, she was one of six police officers selected nationally in 2015 to speak in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden about 21st century policing practices. In 2019, she served on the United Nations Task Force. She currently volunteers with Camp Fury Utah to develop leadership skills and confidence in young women, and works with the Refugee Center of Salt Lake to provide education on gang activities and police encounters.

Samantha Greer (BA ’11, MA ’13) is UF’s director of government relations, advancing the university’s interests at the state level. Before joining UF, Samantha served as vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs for the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, a P&C insurance trade association based in Tallahassee. Her main responsibilities included advocating the association’s interests before the Florida Legislature, Florida Cabinet and executive branch agencies, and developing legislative and regulatory strategies to advance the collective priorities. She volunteers with the South City Foundation, UF Health Leadership Council and Junior League of Tampa.

Kiley Harper-Larsen (MS ’09) is a food safety specialist who advises the USDA and Florida agencies. She owns NK Lago Farms and is CEO of The Ag Safety Lady consulting firm. Located on the shores of Lake Okeechobee, NK Lago Farms produces bananas, plantains, turmeric, avocados and cattle, and is a licensed nursery. The Ag Safety Lady is a produce-industry compliance firm focused on food safety, workplace, environmental, social responsibility and farm-to-school consulting, training, auditing and crisis management. Her extensive experience covers roles in private industry in the United States and Canada and as a UF/IFAS Extension agent in Palm Beach County. She is currently the Food Safety Issues working group chair for the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee.

Samantha Hockenberry (BSISE ’12) is director of sub-same day network for Amazon, leading 17,000 Amazon associates and 430 operations managers throughout North America. She oversees the “faster” same-day delivery of 400 million units throughout the region. She previously launched a new initiative for Amazon called Central Operations that transformed scaling and driving automation in grocery delivery. Hockenberry also helped Amazon adopt a large-scale incident response model that was key to its groceries success in the COVID-19 pandemic. Her impact also includes incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion as a way of doing business at Amazon.

Andrew L. Hoffman (BA ’06, BS ’06, JD ’09) is a data protection and privacy attorney at Goldman Sachs in New York City. Prior to joining Goldman, he worked at multiple American Lawyer top 50 law firms in New York and Florida, representing companies ranging from venture capital-funded startups to Fortune 100 corporations. In his practice, Hoffman advises on legal requirements, best practices and risk management strategies for the collection, use and protection of personal information and confidential corporate information. In recognition of his expertise in privacy law, Hoffman has been named a Privacy Law Specialist, one of 15 legal specialties accredited by the American Bar Association.

Daniel Hyer (PHD ’10) is a medical physicist and associate professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Iowa. While working primarily as a clinical physicist and leading Iowa’s residency program, he invented and patented a device to narrow proton radiation beams as they treat patients, aiming to reduce secondary cancers and treatment side effects. He also led Iowa’s implementation of an MRI-guided radiation treatment machine, the third of its kind in North America. This machine allows daily customization and real-time monitoring of radiation treatments, and Hyer has helped cancer centers around the world integrate this new technology. Hyer’s dedication to improving cancer treatment has resulted in two book chapters, over 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts and more than 70 conference abstracts, including two cover articles, two editor’s choice awards and the Edwin C. McCullough Award of Excellence for an Outstanding Medical Imaging Physics Article.

Matthew Jaeh (BS ’05) is co-founder and CTO of ProctorU, an online proctoring service that enables students to take exams online while ensuring test integrity. He is the 2022 Velocity Accelerator Entrepreneur in Residence at Birmingham’s Innovation Depot and serves as secretary-treasurer for the Commercial Development of Authority for the city of Pelham. He has been awarded two patents, named Alabama CIO of the Year and received Birmingham’s Top 40 under 40 award. Whether it is pioneering online proctoring operations, using computer vision and machine learning to detect cheating or simply building unstoppable teams, Jaeh’s 20-plus years of leadership, software and technology experience have shown his passion for solving complex problems.

Ben Kennedy (BSSPM ’14) is senior vice president of strategic development for NASCAR. Under his leadership, NASCAR has experienced tremendous growth. Kennedy has transformed the NASCAR Cup Series schedule by introducing the sport to new venues, new markets, new track configurations, new digital platforms and, ultimately, new fans. Nationally recognized for his leadership, he was recently honored in Sports Business Journal’s New Voices under 30 class. He also etched his name in the record books in 2012 when he won the first oval race in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series history at Tours Speedway, outside of Paris. As an advocate for the NASCAR Foundation, Kennedy helps the nonprofit provide health and medical attention to children in underserved communities.

Dave Kerner (BA ’06, JD ’10) was elected to the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners in 2016. He is a Palm Beach County native, born and raised in unincorporated Lake Worth. Prior to his election to the County Commission, he served two terms in the Florida House of Representatives as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee and a member of the Gator caucus. His prior government experience includes service as a police officer and special prosecutor. In 2021, while serving as county mayor during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was selected by Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve on the executive committee of the Re-Open Florida Taskforce.

Patricia Louzon (DPH ’07) joined AdventHealth Orlando in 2009 as a critical care specialist in the Intensive Care Unit and is currently clinical manager of Critical Care and the Emergency Department, where she leads COVID-19 ICU response efforts. Louzon is also a clinical assistant professor at the UF College of Pharmacy. She is a committee chair for the Society of Critical Care Medicine, served on the board of directors for the Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and has made sustained community contributions as a board member and vice president of the Apple a Day Foundation.

Cameron MacMillan (BSAC ’07, MS ’09) co-founded two companies after graduating from UF’s entrepreneurship master’s program: Raise the Village brought him to Africa to help villages, and the other,, sold for $60 million in 2021. Now, he focuses on angel investing, philanthropy and generally giving back. is the leading community and content provider for Daily Fantasy Sports and Sports Betting. Its 150-plus staff produce content on SiriusXM, online TV shows and dozens of written articles daily. MacMillan is a repeat donor to P4H Global, the First Tee Foundation of Tennessee, The Love McKinley Foundation, Susan G. Komen for Breast Cancer and is a Bull Gator.

Dominique McLeggan-Brown (BA ’07, MS ’08) is an attorney for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, where she helps communities experiencing distress reach economic equity and resiliency by promoting innovation and funding infrastructure that attracts business growth. As a member of EDA’s legal team, she advises on university centers, business incubators, broadband and water infrastructure projects across the country. Prior to her current role, she served as an attorney for the Public Interest Counsel at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, where she was an advocate for the protection of Texans’ environmental and human health interests. She is the founder of The Sisters in Law, LLC, an online platform for minority women in the legal profession to share experiences, reflections and advice to inspire the next generation of young attorneys.

Greg Mondshein (BSTEL ’04, MS ’05) is co-founder and managing partner of SourceCode Communications, one of AdWeek’s Fastest Growing Agencies and PRWeek’s 2020 Boutique Agency of the Year. Known for his no-ego, no-excuses approach, Mondshein has an unparalleled ability to build trusted relationships with clients and teams. For more than 15 years, he has worked with technology companies with bold, creative campaigns and grown some of the world’s most notable technology PR firms.

Andrea Piazza (BFA ’17, BS ’17) is director of virtual programming for Discovery Behavioral Health, overseeing the expansion of inclusive virtual behavioral health services across the United States. She is also the founder of Inclusive Impact Therapy, which was recently selected Orlando’s Best Mental Health Practice by Orlando Magazine, as well as founder and owner of Inclusive Impact Initiative, which was nominated as Orlando’s Best Activist Organization by Orlando Weekly. She is an award-winning choreographer for Florida’s first sensory-friendly dance studio. Piazza consistently donates to the University of Florida and supports the graduates of the UF Dance Program.

Kristina Pink (BSTEL ’07) is a reporter for FOX Sports’ NFL coverage of Thursday Night Football.She was a reporter for FOX Sports during the playoffs in 2018-2019, covering Wild Card, Divisional and Championship games. Pink is also a courtside reporter for the Los Angeles Clippers on Prime Ticket. She joined the FOX Sports family in 2012 as an NFL reporter and quickly established herself as a trusted, well-informed reporter. She also served as a reporter for FOX Sports’ college football coverage during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. She began her professional career in 2008 as a sports anchor/reporter at WDBD-TV in Jackson, Mississippi.

Nicole Plunkett (BLAE ’10) is a landscape architect, certified land planner and partner at Cotleur and Hearing in Jupiter. She leads high-level land development projects throughout South Florida. Along with her work at Cotleur and Hearing, Plunkett is founder of Future Landscape Architects of America, a nonprofit that educates K-12 students about careers in landscape architecture. Her work with FLAA led to her winning a $25,000 Innovation and Leadership fellowship from the Landscape Architecture Foundation in 2018.

Jennifer Reissman (BSBA ’03) is CMO at Seacoast Bank, one of the largest community banks in Florida. She is responsible for strategic planning, marketing and public relations, and leads a team focused on driving customer acquisition, deepening customer relationships and protecting the company’s brand. In 2021, American Banker named her to its Most Powerful Women in Banking Next list, which celebrates women who are 40 and under and whose achievements have set them apart within their companies and the industry.

Dwight Roache (BHS ’06, MHA ’08) is assistant vice president of operations at Atrium Health-Mercy, a 212-bed adult health tertiary acute care facility. His core responsibilities include clinical and nonclinical operations and business oversight. Roache provides leadership for security, plant operations, environmental services, food and nutrition services, integrative therapies, respiratory therapy, lab and pharmacy. A fellow in the American College of HealthCare Executives and a member of the National Association of Health Services Executives, he is involved in local and national memberships in ACHE and NAHSE. Roache is active in the Charlotte community, serving in various volunteer capacities, such as the Renaissance West Community Initiative, a large-scale effort to revitalize Charlotte’s West Boulevard corridor.

Donna Rivera (DPH ’12, MSP ’14) is the associate director for pharmacoepidemiology in the Oncology Center of Excellence at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and leads the Oncology Real World Evidence program. As a pharmacist and pharmacoepidemiologist, she has interests in the use of Real World Data to advance health equity, observational study designs and methodological approaches, as well as appropriate uses of RWD for drug development to increase access of effective therapies to patients. She is a member of the Scientific Executive Committee for the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium, and leads Project Post COVIDity — a collaborative RWD effort to assess sequalae, outcomes, safety, vaccination and immunity.

Mohamed Shahin (PHD ’15, MS ’18) is a clinical pharmacology lead in global product development at Pfizer. Over the past 10 years, he led several research projects, both in academia and the pharmaceutical industry, to optimize drug response for patients with complex diseases and support drug development in different therapeutic areas. He has published several research articles in high-impact journals and chairs several workshops and symposiums in national and international scientific meetings. Shahin serves as vice chair of the Translational Informatics Community at the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and co-chairs the communication committee at the Pharmacogenomics Global Research Network.

Jessica Thomas (MEd ’16) serves as an assistant principal with Brevard Public Schools. She advocates for all students and works closely with teachers and school staff to give students the best opportunities for success. She also bridges with the local police department, businesses and community groups to benefit students. Previously, she was a teacher for 8 years and is thrilled to continue serving students as an administrator in the same community where she grew up. As a young girl, she felt as though the school system – and all the wonderful people in it – had a significant influence in raising her. She joined the field of education to make the same difference for the next generation. Thomas’s focus on education extends to her own. She is currently completing the district’s Level II leadership-development program, which prepares assistant principals for future roles as school principals. She is also completing her doctorate in organizational leadership from Grand Canyon University and expects to graduate by summer 2022.

James Tyger (JD ’10, PHD ’20) leads multiple departments focused on campus engagement at the University of Florida. He is a key leader in creating student-centered programs that support practical skill development and cultivate lifetimes of memories. He is also responsible for preserving time-honored traditions and building new ones. Tyger is a national thought-leader in his field, actively contributing to knowledge communities on student development, student government and First Amendment issues.

Cierra Ward (BSF ’04, MFRC ’06) is district manager for Resource Management Service, LLC, one of the world’s largest timber investment management organizations with 2.2 million acres and $4.2 billion under management. She manages the 80,000-acre Hofmann Forest, owned by the North Carolina State University Endowment. Ward was appointed to the North Carolina Board of Registration for Foresters by Gov. Roy Cooper and currently serves as chair. In 2020, she was elected to lead the Association of Southern Boards of Registration for Foresters and in 2019 was named a Forest Resources Association Emerging Leader. She is a Natural Resources Leadership Institute Fellow, serves on the board of directors of the N.C. Forestry Association and is communications chair for the N.C. Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s implementation committee.

Daphne Valcin (BSPR ’06) is an executive coach, keynote speaker and corporate trainer. Her executive coaching clients include Fortune 50 and Fortune 500 companies, including UnitedHealthcare, United Parcel Service, VMware, JPMorgan Chase and Caterpillar Financial Services Corp. Since 2014, she has served over 400 clients in 20 states and four countries. A results-driven business coach and corporate trainer, her work has supported a number of small and mid-sized business clients to enhance organizational culture, improve team dynamics, increase clientele and enhance operations. She is a two-time finalist for the Washington, D.C., Capital Cause Changemaker of the Year award in recognition of her work with at-risk youth.

Jacob Vencil (BS ’09, DVM ’13) is a veterinarian in St. Augustine. In 2016, he became owner of Palencia Pet Clinic, taking over for Dr. Peter Veling, who selected Vencil to uphold the excellent medical standards he had established. Though he enjoys all aspects of veterinary medicine, Vencil takes a special interest in surgery, dermatology and internal medicine. He worked for three years as veterinarian at a large 24-hour animal ER in Palm Coast.

Brandon White (BSBA ’10, JD’ 13) is a privacy, data security and consumer litigation attorney at Holland & Knight LLP. He was recently named a Rising Star by Florida Super Lawyers and a Top 40 under 40 attorney by the National Black Lawyers Association. White also supports the UF legal community by serving on the UF Law Alumni Council. During his time at UF, he was president of the Theta Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and a leader in student government. As an acknowledgment of his commitment to the UF community, he received the John Kinzer Award for Outstanding Service and was inducted into the UF Hall of Fame.

India White (BA ’07, MED ’13, EDD ’20) is a motivational speaker, author and national educational consultant. Audiences learn from her hardships and triumphs in life. A former homeless student, she was kicked out of her home on Christmas Eve at the age of 16 but still earned three UF degrees. She was named Teacher of the Year in two counties, published 37 books and was an assistant principal and business owner. White also held prestigious membership in the Golden Key International Honor Society. She has been given the title Most Successful in Business by 100 Successful Women in Business and named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women.

Monica Wilson Dozier (BSBA ’07, JD ’10) is co-chair of Bradley’s Renewable Energy Practice Group. She represents contractors, subcontractors, developers and engineers in utility-scale renewable energy projects, focusing on risk mitigation and dispute avoidance throughout the development, construction, operation and maintenance phases of projects. She has significant experience with utility-scale energy developers and contractors, including drafting and negotiation of EPC agreements and subcontracts for utility-scale projects around the world. From contract negotiation to project management through operation and maintenance of energy projects, Wilson Dozier is committed to her clients’ successes.