News & Stories
January 5, 2024

Honoring excellence

Berry Alumni Council 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards



Distinguished Achievement

Robert Carpenter’s life is a testament to the faithfulness of God and the profound impact of his experiences as a Chick-fil-A employee and inaugural WinShape Scholar. A severe stutterer from age 9, he found community at Berry where “people accepted me for who I was regardless of how I talked.” After graduating, he stepped out in faith, enrolling in a master’s program and applying for the Navy Chaplain Corps. What followed was a decorated career for the retired captain spanning 31 years as a chaplain with the Navy and Marine Corps, two Doctor of Ministry degrees and 27 years of pastoral ministry, all demonstrating “the power of what God has done.”





Distinguished Service

Atlanta Magazine regularly ranks Mark Banta among the city’s most powerful leaders, citing the Berry agriculture major’s work as president and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy. After previously excelling as general manager of Centennial Olympic Park, he led an impressive resurgence at Piedmont Park, with annual attendance increasing from 4 million to more than 6 million during his tenure. When he retired in late 2023, Banta left a stable organization with such strong financial footing that it is now considered one of America’s most successful conservancies. He is married to Anita Marion Banta (81C).




ROBERT Swarthout (04C)

Entrepreneurial Spirit

From a partnership launched while a Berry student, Robert Swarthout has honed his business acumen while demonstrating time and again the ability to think creatively, take calculated risks and capitalize on unique opportunities. The seasoned technical founder boasts 18-plus years of experience creating, leading and selling multiple start-up SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses, the most recent with more than $10 million in annual recurring revenue. Today, he focuses on digital assets as CEO and portfolio manager of Teton Crypto Capital. A Berry trustee since 2020, he and wife Tessa Frye Swarthout (07C) regularly support the student entrepreneurs now seeking to follow in their footsteps.




Caroline Gettis Huffaker (09C)

Outstanding Young Alumni

A student volunteer post at the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia ignited a passion for advocacy and launched Caroline Gettis Huffaker’s career aiding victims and survivors in their pursuit of justice. She led formation of victim services units for the Hamilton County (Tennessee) and Chattanooga police departments and today works at the National Policing Institute, supporting law enforcement through research, technical assistance and comprehensive programming to promote equitable public safety outcomes. She recently partnered with Berry staff, including fellow alumna Ashley Demonbreun-Chapman (10C), on the BRAVE Project to raise awareness about gender-based violence and promote healthy relationships.



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