Our Board Members

D. Hal Averett

Hal Averett was born and raised in Columbus, Georgia and is married. He attended Georgia Tech where he studied architecture. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in real estate. Hal traveled the world to see great architecture. His travels gave him an eye for quality and detail. These experiences encouraged him to strive for a high level of quality in the homes that he would build.

 Karl Douglass

Karl Douglass is a native of Columbus, GA and a graduate of Spencer High School. He attended Yale University where he received his BA in Economics and Political Science. He then earned his Master of Education Degree in Education Administration & Policy from the University of GA. Karl leads the Commercial Real Estate Division for ERA Elite Ventures Realty. Prior to ERA Elite Ventures Realty, Karl served as corporate officer with AFLAC. He was Political Director for Georgia State Senator Jason Carter’s 2014 Gubernatorial Campaign after several years as Finance Director for Congressman Sanford Bishop. Karl is a candidate member of the CCIM Institute and served as Chair of the Planning Advisory Commission for Columbus, GA. He currently serves on Columbus’ Board of Water Commissioners. Karl serves on the Board of Directors for SunTrust Bank of West Georgia and as a Trustee of Fourth Street Missionary Baptist Church. He also served as Regional Political Director for the Obama-Biden Campaign for Change during the 2008 general election.

Lou Dillard

Lou Dillard is a Columbus native and works as a business system consultant in the Global Products Division at TSYS. She has served in many volunteer capacities and is especially excited about the opportunity that Columbus Scholars offers to exceptional children who are from a disadvantaged socio economic background.

Joy Holden

Joy Holden is a sophomore studying Social Policy and Legal Studies at Northwestern University. She graduated from Columbus High School in 2014. Joy is passionate about educational equity for all, and has been a member of the Columbus Scholars Board since September of 2010.

Benjamin Holden, Chairman of the Board

Benjamin Holden teaches media law in the Department of Journalism at the University of Illinois College of Media and is a visiting faculty member at the National Judicial
College. He was formerly an Associate Professor of Journalism and the Director of the Reynolds National Center for Courts & Media at the University of Nevada, Reno. His media consulting work includes assignments in the former Yugoslavia (Kosovo) on behalf of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the US Department to aid judges, journalists, and public information officers in developing professional press coverage of the courts. Ben was executive editor of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. He spent his daily news-reporting career at The Wall Street Journal, where he covered race and urban affairs and was eventually National Utilities Correspondent.

Bianca Brown

Bianca H. Brown is a native of Tallahassee, Florida. She received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration from the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida. Upon graduation from Business School, Bianca worked with Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Following that she enrolled at the Wake Forest University School of Law. While enrolled at Wake Forest, Bianca clerked with the North Carolina Supreme Court. Bianca graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law and is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and the District of Columbia. Bianca currently practices Immigration Law with the Department of Homeland Security.  Bianca then relocated to Columbus, Georgia and immediately and her husband, Ramon Brown, contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Chattahoochee Valley to get involved in the local community.  Bianca joined Columbus Scholars in 2011. She was selected as Big Brother Big Sister of the Chattahoochee Valley – Big Sister of the Year in 2014. She was elected to the Board in 2013.

LaRae Moore

LaRae D. Moore is a native of Kansas City, Missouri and is a partner at the law firm of Hatcher Stubbs.  She is a graduate of the University of Missouri at Kansas City and Mercer University, Walter F. George School of Law. In addition to her service with the Columbus Scholars, LaRae also serves as Board Chair for the West Center Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Crime Prevention Board.  As the mother of a 12 year old son, LaRae is committed to ensuring opportunities for success of all children.

Melanie Slaton-Holden

Melanie Slaton-Holden, originally from Merced, California, is a partner at the law firm of Hall Both Smith, PC. She is married to Benjamin Holden and is the mother of Joy Holden. Melanie graduated from California State University, Fresno and University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation and is passionate about helping children receive an excellent education.

Wade “Trip” Tomlinson

Wade “Trip” Tomlinson was born in Tampa, FL, and graduated from the University of GA with a BBA. After teaching elementary school for several years, he received his JD from the University of GA. He was the Judicial Law Clerk for the Hon. Wilbur D. Owens, Jr., Chief Judge, US District Court, Middle District of Georgia and the Hon. Albert Henderson, Senior Judge, US Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit. Trip is a member of the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Georgia. He is actively involved in The Columbus Museum, Columbus Library Foundation, and the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. He formerly served on the Boards of the Muscogee Excellence in Education Foundation, The Housing Authority of Columbus, University of Georgia Honors Program Advisory Board, and the Chattahoochee RiverKeeper and Chattahoochee RiverWatch.