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Brenda Rodgers

Personnel Profiles

Brenda Rodgers

IT specialist Brenda Rodgers loves finding the most efficient route

Despite growing up first on an orange and grapefruit orchard and later on a poultry farm, Brenda Rodgers does not have warm memories of her early roots in agriculture.

Born in Melbourne, Florida, Brenda loved living near the beach and she didn't mind climbing the citrus trees to pick fruit for her parents' customers. "I would climb the trees and fill up a bag and they would give me twenty-five cents," she said.

But, when her step-father retired and the family moved to a poultry farm in Tennessee, Brenda was thrown into the hard working, early rising, back breaking side of agriculture. "I went from the beach and a multicultural area to a farm that was in the back woods," she said. "It was in the middle of a Mennonite community so I couldn't associate with those kids because they were home schooled. We bought milk from them and they always helped my step-father. And, I did get to see a barn raising that took just two days."

Brenda's chores were much more strenuous on the poultry farm versus the citrus grove. "It was hard work. I hand fed baby chicks, put food in the little plastic trays, dumped the old water, collected dead chicks, stacked hay bales and pushed the feed cart."

The family moved to Georgia in 1981 and bought a poultry farm near Danielsville – Madison County. When her parents decided to move yet again, Brenda was out of high school and decided to begin her adult life in Athens.

She worked at a bank for a few years, married and managed a local skating rink, divorced and enrolled in college. After graduating with honors from UGA's Terry College of Business with a degree in Management Information Systems, Brenda took a job with Deloitte and Touche' Consulting.

"I worked with Fortune 500 and 1000 companies re-engineering their business processes and implementing the Oracle Financial software to facilitate the new processes," she said.

In 1997, Brenda married Richard (Dick) Hudson, who at the time was working for the Board of Regents, but is now a professor in the college's Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication department, and, in her words, "the sweetest man." She also gained a step-daughter, Kate, who lives in Connecticut.

Brenda beams with pride when she describes her husband of 15 years. "He teaches communications and his classes are really popular. The students just adore him."

The couple is very involved with the Athens Symphony; she manages their website and he serves as managing director. They were also heavily involved with the Athens Olympic events back in 1996, and traveled to Australia to work with the Sydney Olympic Committee.

"Dick was asked by President Knapp to spearhead the attempt to get the tennis venue here. He was the coordinator of Olympic events for the university and served as the liaison between UGA and the Athens-Clarke County Government."

In 1999, Brenda joined the CAES "family," first as a temporary accountant in the alumni and development office, then as an IT professional specialist in the Office of Information Technology (now the Office of Communications and Technology Services). She manages IT services for 26 county offices in the northeast district.

"At first, the job was totally fixing computers and working on dial-up modems, but now it's expanded greatly," she said. Her job duties range from helping county office personnel decide which PC to purchase to making sure the county office has connectivity, which enables them to perform their jobs and meet the mission of the college and university.

As a field service representative, Brenda works from her Hoke Smith office on average about four days a week thanks to new technologies like Bomgar. "The only time I'm guaranteed to be out of the office is when we get new equipment or working on a specific project such as the server installations. The rest of the time, my days are response driven," she said.

Most of her calls are about computers working too slowly or being infected with viruses. "Yesterday I helped someone whose icons were all Microsoft Word icons. That was very random and unusual," she said. "I used to get calls about blue screens of death. It's a very different scope now."

She encourages all computer users to "slow down your clicking and watch where you click." "If you click in what appears to be a blank space on a webpage, you can be pushed to another webpage that may have malware infections and puts your computer at risk. Malware can send you messages that you are infected when you're not or that your hard drive is bad, when it's not. So, slow down and be aware of your cursor location before you click."

Her "process engineering brain" recently led her to set up a calendaring system for the northeast district. "When agents add an appointment to one's calendar, they invite the UGE account, and the UGE account calendar becomes a quick snapshot of what's going on in the county office. Since it's color coded, it makes it a lot easier to quickly know who is where. It's a good centralized calendar for the office and really helps the administrative assistants know the availability of the office personnel, which allows them to communicate better with the clientele of the county office."

Brenda says the team she works with across the state works hard to keep the county offices on standardized systems. For this reason, they recommend which computer systems counties can purchase for easier support.

"It's part of our role to do research, especially Travis (Zetterower – southeast district). He's our technical leader and manages all the images we use on the pcs. We try to find the best methods and processes that will help us deliver the best service we can to our county offices. Being standardized on equipment and processes is what has allowed the field services group to be so successful providing service to the state with only six representatives."

If she had her way, Brenda would rather be supporting application. "I really don't have a background in fixing computers. We put computers on people's desks and we don't train the people on how to use them to be more efficient, so a lot of time they end up doing more work to get the end result," she said.

When she's not solving computer problems, Brenda enjoys spending time on her seven-acre farm in Oglethorpe County where she loves to garden. She and her husband have four furry-babies: two cats and two dogs.

(Written by Sharon Dowdy, a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Released July 2012.

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