Michael Patrick (BBA ’03)

Michael Patrick’s eureka moment occurred during the public phase of the Building Terry campaign with $15 million still to be raised before the college’s new Business Learning Community passed the $70 million mark.

“The end of the public phase is where you shake all of the trees in order to reach your goal,” says Michael (BBA ’03), who was Young Alumni Board chairman at a pivotal time when the college counted on its under-35 alumni to make meaningful contributions for the new six-building business school home.

But how, Michael wondered, do you galvanize a loose-knit group of young business professionals into a fundraising entity when many of them are not remotely close to their peak earning years?

Looking at a map of Building Terry regional funding centers and targeted metropolitan areas — each of which would surpass their $1 million fundraising goal — Michael turned to fellow board member Asa Candler (BBA ’09) and said:

“What if YAB were a city?”

The challenge Michael threw out — go bold, or go home — was just food for thought when he, Asa and YAB planning committee members first discussed it. But for Michael, a recent Chick-fil-A hire who talked his way onto the Georgia basketball team as an undergraduate and ended up in the starting lineup, life is a lot more interesting if you present yourself with major challenges.

He admits there was initial skepticism from some board members.

“They said, ‘A million dollars? Are you kidding?’ But a million dollars has such a nice ring to it and I was convinced we could get to a million!” Michael says. “Blake Bruce, a former YAB chair, had just made a $100,000 pledge over five years. That was an inspiration, but it also made some people nervous. When we talked to Blake about it, he said, ‘I am passionate about Terry and committed to making a gift; I asked my family if they would contribute whatever they could as a Christmas gift to me that year, and then I asked my company to match the gift. There are a number of ways to make meaningful gifts work.’”

As it turned out, the biggest obstacle wasn’t young alums’ earning power. It was figuring out how a “meaningful gift” should be defined for a population of 30-somethings, many just 10 years removed from graduation.

“We came up with $5,000 over five years as the definition of a meaningful gift, and we got started by asking senior board members to host young alumni private gatherings at their homes,” says Michael, whose résumé includes stints at Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and The Carroll Organization before joining Chick-fil-A’s year-old Beyond the Restaurant team in November.

The committee asked Mike Ivey (BBA ’86) to host the first private gathering and the event raised $25,000.

“OK,” said Michael. “We have a recipe for success here.”

But a crash course in Development 101 was still necessary.

“Buying bricks and pavers for the new Business Learning Community was important . . . but we needed people to make significant gifts of $5,000 to $10,000,” says Michael. “So we put together what we called the A.S.A. Team because Asa Candler was a significant force throughout this whole endeavor — and we turned his name into an acronym for ‘A Significant Ask.’”

The campaign then gained momentum, but with $400,000 still needed to be raised Michael refused to take his foot off the gas.

“At one point, I was calling people who didn’t go to Terry . . . didn’t even go to UGA, in some cases. Just friends of mine who I was pretty sure would at least buy a brick for $250. My friend Kurt said, ‘You know I went to Bucknell, right?’ And I said, ‘You’re not focusing on the right thing, Kurt. My dad went to Bucknell, but I need you to buy this brick for Terry!”

Michael remembers what it felt like to click on an email from Director of Annual Giving Emma Holman, who delivered the good news that YAB’s million-dollar campaign reached its goal:

“I almost blacked out!” says Michael.

Michael’s leadership was no surprise to those who knew him as Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity president at UGA and then president of his MBA class at UNC-Chapel Hill. If you’re curious who inspired this quietly charismatic and self-possessed young man . . . well, it’s a long list. It includes his father, a former Army Ranger who now builds schools for military bases and his mother, who taught science and math. His sister Sanchia is also an overachiever, serving as student government vice president and homecoming queen when she was at UGA.

Among Terry alums, Michael points to four who went out of their way to mentor him: Barbara Hampton (MBA ’06), Cecil Cook (BBA ’75), Rick Griffin (BBA ’77) and Jason Brady (BBA ’92). Here’s what he has to say about each of them:

“Barbara Hampton was my Alumni Board mentor for a year. She is incredibly busy as CFO of a major company, but she has never cancelled a single meeting with me. I don’t make many important decisions without talking with her first.”

“Cecil Cooke has my grandfather’s caring spirit. He has the biggest heart.”

“Rick Griffin gave me incredible business advice. He once cleared an entire eight-hour day for me!”

“Jason Brady is a phenomenal business mind, and he’s also the kind of guy who energizes you. I always feel better when I’m around him.”

Taken collectively, Michael adds, his Hampton-CookeGriffin-Brady brain trust “is an example of the kind of education you can get both inside and outside the classroom at Terry. I owe so much to this college.”