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Executive Committee
Dr. Janie Avant, President

Dr. Janie Avant has worked with students with intellectual, physical, and health disabilities for over 30 years. She has an extensive background in both education and sports with individuals with disabilities. Dr. Avant has taught students with intellectual disabilities for 10 years, and students with physical and health disabilities for over 20 years. She currently teaches elementary age students with physical and health disabilities. She completed her doctorate in Education of Students with Exceptionalities at Georgia State University in May 2013.

Dr. Avant has coached disabled sports at the local, regional, national, and international level. She was a coach for the United States Team at the International Games for the Disabled in New York in 1984, and the Paralympics in Seoul, Korea in 1988. She has coached indoor wheelchair soccer, wheelchair basketball, track and field, bocce, and softball with athletes with physical disabilities as well as athletes with intellectual disabilities. She has also officiated indoor wheelchair soccer and bocce at the national level.

Dr. Avant currently serves at a national level as Co-Chair on the Critical Issues and Leadership Committee/Council for Exceptional Children, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the United States Association of Indoor Wheelchair Soccer.

Dr. Avant has been recognized for her work with individuals with disabilities, including being named teacher of the year at Arcado Elementary School in 1992 and 2007, and receiving awards including Special U.S. Congressional Recognition for Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community – 1999, Georgia Federation Council for Exceptional Children - Outstanding Member – 1987, Metro Atlanta Council for Exceptional Children - Outstanding Professional Award -1985, and the United Cerebral Palsy of Atlanta - Humanitarian Service Award in 1982.

She and her husband, Jimmy, have three children with intellectual disabilities who participate in a variety of sports.

Eric Meyer, Vice President, Marketing
Michael J. O'Connell, Vice President, Operations

Michael’s work career included roles in organizational management with non-profit trade associations and many years in the trade show and event industry working in information technology and tele-communications fields.  He joined Gwinnett Masters as Secretary when GMSO was organization in April 2009 and has served as Coordinator since October 2009. He serves on most all committees, and coached the Mavericks softball start team in 2010.

Michael and his wife Mary have five children, with the youngest “Ellie” participating in Special Olympics every season. They served as foster parents for some 20 years in Gwinnett County and continue now advocating for special need children and young adults through Special Olympics and Spectrum Camps and Clubs which is directed by wife Mary and son Tim is program manager.  

James E. Avant, Jr., Secretary

Jimmy Avant was a founding member and chairperson of GMSO, the precursor to Greater Atlanta Pathways and Gwinnett Masters Special Teams.  Before that he was on the advisory board for Gwinnett County Special Olympics. 

Jimmy and his wife Janie have three special needs kids who have been active in Special Olympics since 1997.  Jimmy met Janie when their kids bowled on the same special needs bowling team.  Jimmy manages the GMST Kool Kats Bowling League in Buford.  He is head softball coach for the GMST Renegades and has SOGA certification in softball, athletics, bocce, bowling, and basketball.

Jimmy is currently employed by SoC Solutions in Suwanee as an electrical engineer.  He graduated in 1982 from Ga. Tech with a BEE degree.  Jimmy grew up in the Atlanta area and moved to Gwinnett County in 1982.

Mary Womble, Finance
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    Phone: 404-625-3988  |  info@GAPathways.org

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