Forty and beyond is looking better than ever thanks to our 2018 Over 40 & Fabulous! contest winners. From medicine to media, volunteerism to fitness, our winners reflect the energy and enthusiasm that makes this season of life extra special. Meet them all—and the contest’s Advisory Board members—on the following pages.
Lynne McDonald, 49, wears many hats as a writer, editor, artist, and business consultant. The Type 1 diabetic is determined to never let her illness prevent her from living life on her own terms.
What is your favorite way to work out? I love to dance. Give me a good song and I don’t care how tired I am.
What is your favorite healthy meal? My son and I love to make a delicious and healthy version of ice cream with frozen bananas, cherries and dark chocolate chips.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I am a Development Committee Member and Co-chair of the PR/Marketing Committee with Camp Kudzu, which is an organization dedicated to educating and supporting children with Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when your pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. It’s a complex problem to have while you’re also figuring out who you are. Becoming Type 1 diabetic as a teenager was a struggle for me and I ended up doing some damage until I started learning more about nutrition in my 20s. I hope to shorten that learning process for the campers, be a role model and show them that they can do anything they want.
I’m also on the board of Hands Across Atlanta, an organization working to improve the lives of homeless people in our community. Marcus Acosta, the nonprofit’s president, has been organizing volunteers at Hurt Park every second Sunday of the month. It’s a great way for everyone, including children, to get involved in charity.
What advice do you have for someone who isn’t yet over 40 and fabulous? Look at who you want to be in 10 or 20 years and be that person now.
What is your favorite getaway? I absolutely love going up to Asheville. My perfect day would be to go hiking, go to the River Arts District, and then come back and be pampered at The Spa at The Omni Grove Park Inn.
Name something on your bucket list. I want to learn how to fence.
Who are the experts/professionals who help you be your best self? Christa Burton, who is an artist, model and friend, is my fashion and beauty expert. She makes beautiful jewelry. Salon Brookwood is a fantastic hair salon in West Cobb. I always walk out feeling gorgeous. Maryan Aiken is a powerhouse promoter. Denise Jackson is an amazing art curator and consultant. Dr. Jonathan Ownby is my go-to endocrinologist at Atlanta Diabetes Associates. And Michel Fontaine, the CEO of TransacXion Technologies, is one of my biggest cheerleaders and gets me to step outside the box and get uncomfortable. He hired me to create a go-to-market strategy for his finance technology company.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years? I don’t know. Maybe there will be a Sexy Over Sixty contest then!
Once a single mother on public aid, Lisa Mohager, 41, turned her obstacles into opportunities. Today, she empowers thousands of women through her health and fitness business, The Drab to Fab Life.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? Picking myself back up when my life seemed hopeless. As a bankrupt and overweight single mom, I made the decision that enough was enough.
In 2009, while working full-time as a secretary, I decided to start my own online marketing company in the health and fitness industry. At the time, I had no idea where the opportunity would lead me. I honestly only hoped to earn an extra $100 or so a month just to help keep food on the table for my daughter and I. There were so many times I would come home from work to find the power or water turned off or a foreclosure/repossession notice on my door. Through my business, I quickly discovered my purpose in life—helping other women find hope again. I lost 60 pounds. After moving my daughter and I to Atlanta, I met and married the love of my life, Paj.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? My grandparents always taught me that it’s a greater blessing to give than to receive. I volunteer at Senior Services North Fulton and have worked with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, as well as Junior Achievement. Currently, I am an Image Consultant at Dress for Success Atlanta.
What inspired you to do this particular kind of charity work? Dress for Success is very near and dear to my heart. As a young, single mom I used to live in public housing and was on public aid. I know the feeling of wanting to get ahead but not knowing where to start. To help support and encourage women who may be in a similar situation that I was in, is an incredible opportunity.
What is your most embarrassing moment? While working full-time, I was also attending night classes for my bachelor’s degree. I would often freshen up my makeup while driving to class. One day, I was running extra late and when I walked in, my girlfriend quickly pulled me aside. I had accidently grabbed my black eyeliner instead of my lip liner!
What is your favorite book? “Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins. I read it for the first time about 10 years ago. I was struggling to find my place in the world. I always knew I was meant for more and this book really helped me to take control of my life.
Danielle S. Beverly
As a co-founder of The Eric R. Beverly Family Foundation, Danielle S. Beverly, 44, is committed to making sure breast cancer patients have access to the care they need.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? Beating breast cancer three times by the age of 33. I was 29 the first time I was diagnosed, 31 the second time, and I was 36 weeks pregnant when I received a third breast cancer diagnosis. The biggest blessing—a beautiful, smart and amazing daughter who is now 10 years old—came out of the third diagnosis.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I am very passionate about the underserved breast cancer community. Throughout my battles with the disease, my husband, Eric, and I were very fortunate to be able to focus on my treatment while not having to concern ourselves with how we would pay for it and keep a roof over our heads. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many individuals.
In 2006, we founded The Eric R. Beverly Family Foundation. We work to help people diagnosed with breast cancer, and their families, keep the lights on, keep food on the table, and get them to treatment. Nobody should have to choose between going to work or receiving care.
Name something on your bucket list. My husband is a former Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions player, and I played college basketball. So it’s probably no surprise that most of my bucket list items are sports related—like completing the Grand Slam in tennis as a spectator. I am a sports junkie!
Brenda Hall, DDS, MD
Being a strong role model for her 14-year-old daughter is priority No. 1 for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, Brenda Hall, DDS, MD, 45. The travel enthusiast also has a heart for animals.
What is your favorite healthy meal? I’m a simple girl. One of my go-tos is Dave’s Killer Bread toasted with avocado.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I donate my time to care for the oral needs of the majestic animals at Zoo Atlanta and the Georgia Aquarium. … I also fundraise for and donate my time and money to animal rescue groups, particularly for pit bulls. The main one I support is Friends to the Forlorn Pitbull Rescue, Inc. They are the largest and most committed group to this breed that I have ever heard of. Studies estimate that up to 1 million pits are euthanized per year, or 2,800 per day.
Name something on your bucket list. Traveling through Europe, Asia, and South America and living with families there and getting to experience their cultures for months at a time. I spent time in Russia with my family, as well as local families, and that was an amazing experience. I learned so much more about the culture and the day-to-day lifestyle and philosophies than if I had stayed in a hotel in a large city.
Who are the experts/professionals who help you be your best self? Nutrition guru Michael Bronte, hair balayage wizard Ron Massey, Karen Filos Hair and Makeup Design, chiropractor Dr. Edward Cordovado, dentist Dr. Dina Giesler, coach Chris Romano, holistic health coach Dr. Lauren Polivka, medical esthetician Lauren Bays, lash expert Rin Sangmalee, Juan Dowling at LaVida Massage in East Cobb, and Skin Matters.
Craig Michael Logan, MD
Wisdom isn’t the only thing that has come with age for Craig Michael Logan, MD, 47. The Chief of Radiology for The Southeast Permanente Medical Group of Kaiser Permanente has learned to love himself just as much as he loves others.
What is the best thing you’ve learned since turning 40? Perseverance pays off. I’m the first person in my family to finish college. During my medical training, I worked up to 120 hours a week.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I have packaged medical supplies for MedShare with my Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. brothers for eight years. We have assisted in packing tens of thousands of pounds of surplus medical equipment destined for multiple underdeveloped countries. I have also served on committees for March of Dimes, the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program, and more. In the past, I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Hands On Atlanta, and SafeHouse Outreach.
Name something on your bucket list. I want to see the great apes in Africa. A few years ago, I went on a mind-blowing safari in South Africa, and got within 20 yards of a wild male lion. I’m hooked on wildlife.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years? In 20 years, I will be spending my retirement traveling the world. I am committed to expanding my mind with new life experiences and ideas. Part of working toward that goal is meeting people in new places and learning from different perspectives.
Master stylist and colorist, Dawn Skok, 40, is a fighter. After winning the battle against cancer 13 years ago, she now throws punches at poverty and sex trafficking through her volunteer efforts.
What is your favorite way to work out? I love weight training, which I have done since the age of 13. Pushing myself, staying healthy, and feeling strong mentally and physically are all very important to me.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? Surviving cancer! In August 2005, I was diagnosed with an ‘incurable’ viral form of cancer and given six to nine months to live. My daughter was 3 months old at the time. I made the firm decision to make my health a priority and fight the cancer so I could be alive and healthy to raise my daughter.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? Hands-on volunteering and donating salon services to various charities, women’s conferences, Lou Gehrig’s disease events and the Charity Guild of Johns Creek are my favorite ways to give back. I have participated with Fashion for Freedom, for victims of sex trafficking in Atlanta. I have volunteered at Meals By Grace and local churches for food distribution. I have also spent time at City of Refuge.
What is your favorite quote? “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” —Mother Teresa
What advice do you have for someone who isn’t yet over 40 and fabulous? When we forgive, love and cherish ourselves, it is then that we can conquer anything in life.
CBS46 News anchor Tracye Hutchins is more than just a pretty face. When she’s not in front of the camera, she’s putting in work by serving others. The avid gardener, 49, can be found mentoring today’s youth and supporting local nonprofits.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? My daughter is by far the best thing I’ve created and molded. Now that she’s 20 and out on her own, I’m confident that she has the tools to find her way and create her own success.
What is your favorite book? “Traveling Light” by Max Lucado. It’s an inspirational book about how to let go of the baggage we carry around from day to day—like worry, fear and doubt. It’s a quick read that gives me hope when life gets a little rough.
What is your favorite way to work out? Working in my yard. I can get a full-body workout by clearing leaves, pruning trees and planting shrubs. And I see immediate results … at least in my yard!
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I’ve worked with Doggies on the Catwalk for the last seven years. The event helps support Canine Assistants. I’ve had an opportunity to see the great work they do to provide services for people with disabilities. I’m also proud of the work I do with community organizations like the Boy Scouts of America [Atlanta Area Council] and the countless area schools I work with to read to students and act as a mentor.
Marquetta J. Bryan, Esq.
Marquetta J. Bryan, Esq., 42, uses her legal skills and writing talents to help others find their voice.
What is your favorite healthy meal? These pizza-stuffed mushroom bites prepared by raw vegan chef, Crystal Shae. They are amazing and by far, my favorite!
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I understood very early in life that I was blessed to be a blessing, and that I had a responsibility to give back and make life better for others. Accordingly, I founded the nonprofit Girls Speak, Inc., which is committed to helping girls develop the power of their written and oral voice.
I am also a board member of and involved with many initiatives including the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra, the Georgia Legal Services Program, Leadership DeKalb, American Cancer Society Georgia, American Diabetes Association® [Georgia], Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project, and Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. I have been a member of the Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. for over nine years and have held leadership roles the majority of that time. I also volunteer regularly with the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation and the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta.
Where do you go for “me” time? To my journal. One thing I have learned in my 40s is to not be apologetic about my emotions or who I am. Without fail, writing improves my mood and leaves me feeling calm, centered and capable. It also allows me to examine my feelings and be honest with myself.
Owner of four Café Istanbul locations, Maryam Aytac, 43, is proud to lend a helping hand to anyone in need, especially those coming to America in search of a better life.
How would your friends and family describe you? Fun and busy. My schedule is always jam-packed with family, friends, and work responsibilities. But at the end of the day, I manage it all pretty well.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? Community and giving back are huge parts of my life. I am Persian and moved to the U.S. when I was 6. My parents had to build our beautiful life from nothing. That is why I now dedicate my extra time and resources to any refugee family that needs help starting their new life in America. I work closely with the International Rescue Committee and the Refugee Women’s Network to help collect clothing, kitchen items, furniture, money and more for families that are arriving.
What is the best thing you’ve learned about yourself since turning 40? I have become so much more confident in the woman that I am, and the choices I make every day for myself, my family and my community.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? My family and my children. I live for them.
What is your favorite book? “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne.
What is your favorite way to work out? I love to go walking and to do yoga.
What is your favorite getaway? I love going to Europe and Istanbul, in particular.
Lisa Gabrielson, 49, hit her career stride later in life and couldn’t be happier about it. As the owner of Lisa Gabrielson Design, she gets to put her passion to work day after day.
What is the best thing you’ve learned since turning 40? It’s never too late to figure out what you want to do when you grow up. Although I always had a love for interior design, it took me a few decades to finally make it my career. There is a time for everything—studying, raising children, making mistakes, trying new things—and if you follow your passion, work hard, stay positive and never give up, success and happiness is possible at any age.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I donate to charity events chaired by friends, such as ShamRockin’ For A Cure, which raises money for those with cystic fibrosis. And recently, I started mentoring young interior designers. I am a self-taught designer, so much of what I know has been learned through the school of hard knocks. It is gratifying to assist them on their journeys, and hopefully make things a little easier for those with talent and drive.
What inspired you to do this particular kind of work? My children, actually. They are embarking on a new chapter in life and are looking for internships and mentors. It is up to our generation to help pave the way for younger folks.
What is your favorite way to work out? Yoga, hands down.
Name something on your bucket list. An African safari for my 50th birthday and riding camels in Morocco for my 51st. Traveling is my favorite thing to do!
Tammy McGarity von Nordheim
As a mental health therapist and the owner of Tammy McGarity Photography, 48-year-old Tammy McGarity von Nordheim helps people realize their inner and outer beauty every day.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? Pushing through the pain of a broken tibia and relearning how to walk while completing my graduate schoolwork and finishing with all A’s would be one major accomplishment.
Professionally, starting a women’s empowerment group called Girl in the Glass and a nonprofit called iEmpower Me, Too have allowed me to pour into others a sense of “self” that they had been unable to see for themselves. … Also, being a self-taught photographer and having clients cry tears of happiness as I show them the essence of who they are through my lens gives me great joy.
Marriage and parenting are two of the most complex relationships you can have. Being married for 18 years and raising two amazing girls while furthering your education and running three businesses is not for the weak. There have been many days of exhaustion, but I am passionate about what I do and I love my family.
Kenisha Q. Coleman
Orangetheory Fitness head coach Kenisha Q. Coleman, 41, maintains her youthful energy by staying active and encouraging others to chase their dreams.
What is your most embarrassing moment? Splitting my pants back in college while I was dancing my heart out.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I recently found a new church home at Victory World Church and have begun participating in the youth and fitness departments, which are two areas that mean the most to me.
What inspired you to do this particular kind of charity work? I really wanted to work with teens because I have one. I also know how vital it is for them to have positive examples around in an effort to keep them from becoming a negative statistic. I want to show them that their dreams may not be “traditional” but that does not mean that they are unattainable, especially if they are willing to put in the work.
It was also important to me to volunteer with the fitness ministry so that I could assist people through their journey.
Leila Taylor Jankowski
Leila Taylor Jankowski, 43, founded the online resource Grit & Soul to enhance the mind and body. As a yoga instructor and public servant, she has found purpose through action.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I recently served as a small group leader for high school ministry for four years. During that time, I also led several groups of high school students on mission trips around the world serving at-risk women and children. 410 Bridge, based in Alpharetta, is my favorite charity to support and serve with. They do so much incredible work in Africa and Haiti.
What inspired you to do this kind of charity work? I overcame a childhood that was littered with trauma. By the grace of God, I was able to thrive and I believe that there was a reason I overcame it—to serve others. I never feel more alive, whole, or connected than I do when I’m serving. It’s been life-changing and very healing.
Kamran L. Kurani
The son of immigrants who came to America with less than $200 to their name, Pizza Hut franchise owner and investor Kamran L. Kurani, 42, cherishes every opportunity he is given and always makes giving back a priority.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? My two sisters have grown up to become wonderful adults and one has made me the proud uncle of two beautiful kids. At a young age, my father passed away and I had to step into a parental role.
What is your favorite way to work out? I’ve tried many workouts but none fit me better than Jiu-Jitsu. It is an intense full-body workout and the technique requires as much mental activity as it does physical. It has played a powerful role in my life.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? Giving back is a huge part of my life. I am blessed to be where I am today and sharing with others is a joy of mine. There are five organizations/missions that I truly believe in. These include the program iMentor, wellness nonprofit Park & Roll, international community assistance organization Aga Khan Development Network and the Aga Khan Foundation National Walk/Run, and Thanksgiving Love Feast where my family and team give out free meals during the holiday.
Mia Van Wagenen
As a busy wife, mother and the founder and CEO of MVO Marketing, Mia Van Wagenen, 47, loves her fantastically full life but also believes in the importance of balance.
What is the best thing you’ve learned about yourself since turning 40? In your 20s, things are often overwhelming. In your 30s, you figure out who the best people to learn from are so by the time you’re in your 40s, you know how to get it done. I feel both professionally and personally, I use my experience to look for solutions every day and learn from both successes and failures. I never say, “I can’t,” anymore.
How do you maintain the balance between self-care, family and work responsibilities, and giving back? Prioritizing the most important things that need to be done, which means sometimes letting other things go. Oh, and wine.
Who are the experts/professionals who help you be your best self? I love Blo Blow Dry Bar at Shops Around Lenox for my hair, Nyssa Green for my makeup when I need to look extra pretty, Orangetheory Fitness for a quick workout, and my amazing team for producing all the great work we do at MVO Marketing.
Laura Janelle Downey
Laura Janelle Downey is every woman. The 40-year-old magazine editor is just as meticulous about every word that you’ll find on the pages of Atlanta Best Media’s eight publications as she is about her other leadership roles. Giving each task 110 percent, she puts her heart into everything she does.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? My career, hands down. I’ve worked at People, Southern Accents, ForbesTravelGuide.com, Essence.com, been a magazine journalism professor and more. It’s a dream come true.
What is the best thing you’ve learned about yourself since turning 40? I love to love people. And should they not love me back, I have learned that I am strong, I am soft, I am shy, I am funny, I am happy, and sometimes I am sad but one thing is for sure—I will always love again—I am unapologetically me.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I do a lot of volunteer work through Mount Paran Church, like feeding the homeless at SafeHouse Outreach. And for the past two years, I have led short-term mission trips to India and Indonesia, which upon returing to the U.S., helps me be a better servant for my community.
What is your favorite way to work out? I love running through my Midtown neighborhood. People-watching, perusing street art and breathing the fresh air invigorates me.
What advice do you have for someone who isn’t yet over 40 and fabulous? Live every day in the moment and help others along the way. There is no greater joy than to bless someone and not expect anything in return.