GSAB Profile: Quanza Brooks-Griffin

Quanza Brooks-Griffin (ABJ ’01) is a public health advisor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where she has worked for nearly two decades. Four years ago, Brooks-Griffin was inducted into UGA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2018 for the impact she has made in her career.

Following is a brief interview with Brooks-Griffin.

GC: What are you hoping to contribute to the GSAB during your time of service?

QBG: I can remember walking the halls of Grady. I loved my courses, classmates and professors. It was very exciting to be a student at one of the top journalism schools in the country. Now, as professional adult, my top goal is to give back to the university that groomed me into who I am today. During my time of service on GSAB, I hope to share my experiences and knowledge to keep the legacy of Grady alive. I want to influence decisions that benefit the students and staff for years to come. 

It is also my hope to be an example to students of how your initial career goals can shift in a major way. I always knew I wanted to work for a PR firm. But, look at me today. I work in public health. My Grady education has allowed me to be successful in a public health career. This field requires good writing, strategic thinking and the ability to tell the true story in an impactful way. Ultimately, I am doing PR for public health. I love it. My path is a great representation of the diverse careers that can come from Grady. 

Quanza Brooks-Griffin sits in front of the CDC sign.
Griffin outside of the CDC. (Photo: Submitted)
GC: What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?

QBG: Keep in contact with your classmates and professors! I worked alongside some amazing students and professors during my time at Grady. I wish I could call some of my classmates and catch up over coffee. But, after 20 years of life passing by, I have lost all contact with people who were really impactful in my life. It would be awesome if I could catch up with one of my favorite professors, Ruthann Lariscy.  She was amazing!

Grady College students should keep in contact with everyone – whether you are close friends or not. Everyone you meet is a part of your network. I am sure it is a lot easier now because of social media. One tip I learned from my mentor is to add contacts’ birthdays to your calendar. If possible, add other details, like their favorite store, activity, etc. When their birthday comes around, you can call or email them. You can even invite them to their favorite coffee shop! It’s a nice way to keep your professional network active.

GC: What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today?

QBG: One of the biggest influences of my time at Grady College was my senior PR project where I worked in a small group to create a PR plan for an actual client. Our client was the Athens Transit Authority. It was a real-life experience that encouraged us to be dependable, academically savvy and professional. At the time, I was working in Atlanta and would drive to Athens for our group meetings. I was committed to my group and the work. This experience helped to prepare me for my career in public health where there are similar workgroups and expectations.

A photograph of Quanza Brooks-Griffin wearing a white shirt.
Brooks-Griffin’s first internship was with the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC peer-reviewed journal). (Photo: Submitted)
GC: Looking back at your time at Grady, is there anything you wish you had done (classes you had taken, skills you would have liked to have learned, clubs to be involved with) that would help you with what you are doing today?

QBG: I would encourage every student to learn a skill that you can use as a hobby or way to earn extra cash. Learn the basics of using a professional camera or understand the concepts of basket weaving. Find something you are interested and make a side hustle out of it!

GC: What is your favorite place on campus and why?

QBG: My favorite place on campus was the Tate Student Center! It was the hub of random engagement on campus. One day there could be a step show, and the next you may have people drawing cool pictures on the ground with chalk. It was the place to be between classes to relax, have lunch and chat with friends. When I visit campus today, I feel a sense of joy whenever I am at Tate.


This series profiles members of the Grady College Alumni Board who make a positive difference in our College. We are grateful for the support and enthusiasm of our Grady Society Alumni Board members.


Quanza Griffin among seven Grady College alumni inducted into UGA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2018

The University of Georgia’s Alumni Association annually recognizes outstanding alumni who have made an impact in their careers through its 40 Under 40 program. Grady College is proud to have seven honorees in the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018: Brooke Bowen (ABJ ‘07, JD ‘10), Chase Cain (ABJ ’05), Meredith Dean (ABJ ‘14), Josh Delaney (ABJ’11, AB ‘11), Ivey Evans (ABJ ’06, BBA ’06, MBA ‘13), Quanza Griffin (ABJ ‘01) and Lauren Pearson (ABJ ‘02).

Selections were based on the graduates’ commitment to a lifelong relationship with UGA and their impact in business, leadership, community, artistic, research, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors. The 2018 Class will be honored at the awards luncheon on Sept. 13 at the Georgia Aquarium.

Grady College will release profiles of the winners leading up to the awards luncheon.

Name: Quanza Griffin

Graduation Year: 2001

Quanza outside of the CDC

Occupation: Public Health Analyst, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Grady College: How did Grady College help prepare you for your career?

Quanza Griffin: Grady College has wonderful faculty and staff, and I was challenged and inspired by all of my professors.  Dr. Lariscy was tough but fair.  Dr. Acosta-Alzuru was demanding but welcoming.  They motivated me to always do my best, because my work is a reflection of me. While at Grady, I had several opportunities to help me prepare for my career. For example, in 2000, I received an award and scholarship from the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).  I used the scholarship money to help fund a down payment for a car.  That car allowed for me to travel to Atlanta for job interviews and ultimately my first job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It was amazing to see how my journalism and PR skills could be applied towards promoting public health at CDC.  My first internship was with the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC peer-reviewed journal).  Working with this journal allowed me to learn about different health challenges faced by communities.  This experience caused me to fall in love with public health.  During my senior year, I worked at CDC Monday, Wednesday and Friday and commuted to Athens on Tuesday and Thursday.  Receiving the PRSSA award because of my student work with Grady benefitted me for years to come.

After that internship, I decided to stay with CDC, and I have been here for over 15 years!  I would have never guessed that my journey at Grady would bring me to a point where I promote public health and disease prevention across the world, and work with people of different culture and backgrounds. Without Grady, I am not sure I would have taken this path. Grady provided a positive learning environment and the opportunity for me to develop my skills and discover my passions – all which guided me to a fulfilling public health career.

GC: What skills and/or values and/or circumstances do you attribute most to your success?

QG: Throughout my career, I have always had a natural inclination to want to help others.  To be a leader and to succeed, you must first be a servant.  It’s my goal to carry the title of “servant” in all aspects of my life. For example, I am a servant in the office, my community and in my family.  Being a servant allows me to put the needs of others first and, ultimately, help others develop and grow.  Many may wonder how serving someone could have personal benefits. My pastor, Andy Stanley, gave a great answer. He stated, “The value of life is always determined by how much of it is given away.”  Having a servant lifestyle is invaluable.

I attribute the value of servant-leadership to my success.  Having a servant-mindset has allowed me to soar in my career and community.  Recently, I started a community garden in a low-income area of Decatur, Georgia.  This garden will provide fresh fruits and vegetables for community members and provide an after-school program for the elderly and children.  This initiative was started because I saw a community in need, and I wanted to help.  I have galvanized residents and community organizations to pull together resources to make the garden accessible and successful.

GC: What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned as you’ve navigated through your career?

Quanza with her children, Kylah and Christopher.

QG: The most important lesson I have learned is that failure does not exist.  I believe failure should be considered a naughty word!  Failure is only a successful way of learning what does and does not work.  Failure is an opportunity to take a lesson and improve upon your skills and mindset.  There have been many times in which some might have I thought I failed.  But, those “failures” have allowed me to be better prepared and more equipped for future challenges. For example, I have always wanted to own a business. I have attempted several business ideas in the past. But, ultimately, my mistakes allowed me to grow mentally and spiritually. After prayer and meditation, I was lead to start a business in which I can earn additional income and do what I love. I started Griffin Treasures by Q photography and photo booth. It has been extremely successful and allowed me to meet with clients such as Steve Harvey, Dark and Lovely and famed photographer, Rob Ector. One of my greatest clients for photo booth has been the University of Georgia. So, failure is just a stepping stone to get to where you need to be.

GC: Describe a moment in your professional/personal career that you are most proud of. 

QG: There are two moments that I am most proud of in my life – the birth of my two kids.  Kylah (4) and Christopher (2) are literally the salt of my life.  They bring hope and joy in all circumstances.  I enjoy teaching them how to be leaders that serve and help others.  It is exciting to know that one day, they could continue the legacy and become alums of the University of Georgia.  I am also teaching them the importance of college football.

Seven Grady alumni among UGA’s 40 under 40 class of 2018

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 under 40 Class of 2018.  The program honors outstanding UGA alumni who are under the age of 40 for their professional and philanthropic achievements.

This year’s class includes the following Grady alumni: Brooke Bowen (ABJ’07), Chase Cain (ABJ’05), Meredith Dean (ABJ’14), Josh Delaney (ABJ’11), Ivey Evans (ABJ’06), Quanza Griffin (ABJ’01) and Lauren Pearson (ABJ’02).

The honorees will be recognized at the annual awards luncheon on Sept. 13 at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Registration for the event is now open.

Nominations for 40 Under 40 were open from February to April.  Honorees must have attended UGA and aspire to uphold the Pillars of the Arch. Additional criteria are available on the UGA Alumni Association website.

This year’s 40 under 40 honorees, including their graduation year, city, title and employer, are:

  • Kristen Bernhard, 2009, Atlanta, deputy commissioner for system reform, Georgia Department for Early Care & Learning
  • Brooke Bowen, 2007 and 2010, Atlanta, legal counsel, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
  • Chase Cain, 2005, West Hollywood, creative producer, Hulu
  • Matt Coley, 2003 and 2005, Cordele, owner/operator, Coley Gin and Fertilizer/Coley Farms
  • Caitlyn Cooper, 2007, Marietta, president, Caitlyn Cooper Consulting
  • Matthew Crim, 2005, Athens, general cardiologist, assistant professor of medicine, Piedmont Heart Institute, Augusta University/UGA Medical Partnership
  • Meredith Dean, 2014, Charlotte, founder, Dean’s List, program coordinator, Seacrest Studios
  • Joshua Delaney, 2011, Washington, D.C., senior education policy advisory, U.S. Senate, Office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Ivey Evans, 2006 and 2013, Columbus, social purpose manager, Aflac
  • David Felfoldi, 2001,Brookhaven, chief experience officer, SHERPA Global
  • Cartter Fontaine, 2010 and 2012, Athens, CEO, DT Productions
  • Quanza Griffin, 2001, Decatur, public health analyst, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Betsy Grunch, 2002, Gainesville, neurosurgeon, The Longstreet Clinic, PC
  • Tyler Harper, 2009, Ocilla, Georgia state senator, District 7, owner/operator, Tyler Harper Farms
  • Scott Irvine, 2002, Birmingham, associate professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Alabama
  • Jonathan Jones, 2013, Indianapolis, improvement engineer, Corteva Agriscience
  • Chloe Kelley, 2006, New York, senior vice president, PIMCO
  • William Keyes, 2010 and 2013, Washington, D.C., prosecutor, Department of Defense, captain, U.S. Army
  • William “Billy” Kirkland III, 2009, Washington, D.C., special assistant to the president, deputy director of intergovernmental affairs, The White House
  • Ryan Leveille, 2013, Atlanta, global design manager innovation lab, General Electric
  • Erin Lincoln, 2005, Atlanta, associate director, Tretra Tech, Inc.
  • Carrie Settles Livers, 2002, STEMpreneurship educator, Brookwood High School
  • Mohamed Massaquoi, 2008, Atlanta, owner, Mohamed Massaquoi Inc.
  • Margaux Charbonnet Murray, 2002, Atlanta, medical director, Medically Complex Care Program, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • Muktha Natrajan, 2011, Atlanta, postdoctoral fellow, Emory University
  • John Ozier, 2002, Nashville, vice president of creative, ole Song LLC
  • Lauren Pearson, 2002, Birmingham, managing director, Hightower Twickenham
  • Ryan Prior, 2012, Atlanta, cross-platform associate producer, CNN
  • Lucas Puente, 2010, San Francisco, lead economist, Thumbtack
  • Tameka Rish, 2003, Atlanta, vice president of corporate partnerships, AMBSE
  • Ben Ross, 2008, Statesboro, owner/pharmacist, Forest Heights Pharmacy
  • Latham Saddler, 2005, Washington D.C., director of intelligence programs, National Security Council, Navy SEAL, U.S. Navy
  • Adrianna Samaniego, 2010, San Francisco, CEO & co-founder, Area 120, Google Inc.
  • Julie Secrist, 2006, Atlanta, senior project manager, Southeastern Engineering
  • Rhondolyn Smith, 2004, Winterville, clinical pharmacist, Northside Hospital
  • Jabaris D. Swain, 2001, Philadelphia, fellow cardiothoracic surgery, hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Amy Washington, 2009, Bogart, founder/ executive director, Kupendwa Ministries
  • Chip Wile, 2002, Ormond Beach, president, Daytona International Speedway
  • Michael Williams, 2001 and 2006, Kennesaw, director of finance, The Home Depot
  • Stephanie Yarnell, 2006, New Haven, physician, division of law and psychiatry, Yale University Department of Psychiatry.