When pondering the perfect gift for a milestone birthday of his significant other, Georgia Tech alum Bill Todd initially felt stymied, thinking of the cliché about what to buy the “woman who has everything.”
He decided that jewelry or other expensive gifts wouldn’t be as meaningful for either of them as starting a scholarship in her name for undergraduates in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. So, in early 2022, his gift created the Cheryl Johnson Weldon Scholarship Fund.
Weldon graduated with a chemical engineering degree from Georgia Tech in 1985, while Todd earned an industrial management degree at the Institute in 1971.
“We’re both beneficiaries of a Georgia Tech education and share a desire to pay it forward, so I created a need-based scholarship,” said Todd, a professor of the practice in Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business. “We both would have been good candidates for this kind of scholarship during our own undergraduate years. We want to find those bright, motivated people who deserve to be here, but might not be without some help.”
Of the birthday gift, Weldon said she knew Todd “had something up his sleeve,” but she wasn’t sure what until he presented her with the scholarship documentation at her birthday dinner at Canoe restaurant. “I was so pleasantly surprised,” she said.
Todd said he is happy that some of his alumni friends are emulating this giving model of naming gifts honoring loved ones.
Bill Todd and Cheryl Johnson Weldon with Hannah Clay (center), first recipient of the scholarship created
Hannah Clay, Georgia Tech cheerleader and Weldon Scholarship recipient
First Scholarship Recipient
Todd and Weldon said they were delighted by the student selected by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.
Hannah Clay, a Georgia Tech cheerleader who just finished her sophomore year, said she was shocked when she got the call informing her of the scholarship, which she hadn’t known existed, and how it was created in honor of Weldon.
“I was just so surprised and honored that her birthday present was a scholarship that went to me,” Clay said.
She received $5,000 of support from the scholarship during 2022-23, and she said she plans to reapply. Having the Weldon scholarship helped ease the burden of living expenses and loans, she said.
“I absolutely love Georgia Tech, and I would love to give back to the school one day,” said Clay, who grew up in Statesboro, Georgia, and is considering a career related to renewable energy.
After graduating from Tech, Weldon earned an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University in 1989. She was part of the founding management team of a medical device company, Novoste Corporation, which went public in 1996.
But she stepped away from her career as vice president of investor relations for Novoste in 2001 after marriage and becoming a stepmother. A few years later, she entered the world of fashion, working as a personal stylist for Worth and later with other fashion brands such as Peach and Etcetera. Earlier this year, she launched a new business with Cabi, an innovative boutique fashion brand sold direct to consumer through personal style sessions, hosted shows, and online.
Weldon, who served on the ChBE External Advisory Board for many years, was inducted into the College of Engineering’s Council of Outstanding Young Alumni in 2002. She first met Todd around 2009 while the two were both serving as members of the board of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. They began dating nine years ago.
Todd, a member of the College of Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni and recipient of Georgia Tech’s 2010 Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Progress and Service, began his career at Emory University hospitals, where he rose to the executive level during his two decades there.
His 40-year career in health care included eight years as president and CEO of the Georgia Cancer Coalition prior to joining Scheller College of Business as a professor of the practice in 2011.
In 1990, he became the founding president of the Georgia Research Alliance, which fosters advances in medicine. He also founded Encina Technology Ventures in 2000.
Since joining Scheller College, Todd has taught the Management in the Healthcare Sector seminar every semester, winning teaching awards from both the College and Institute. In addition, he leads practicums on leadership and healthcare consulting.
“What I’m doing as a professor of the practice is giving my students very practical exposure to rich, rewarding careers,” Todd said.