Colquitt Counties Help South Georgia LEADS Address Regional Challenges

May 12 — MOULTRIE, Ga. — Over the past few months, South GeorgiaLEADS has brought together 14 alumni from its previous leadership classes for an experience called SGL 2.0 in which participants were tasked with creating action plans to address challenges. regional challenges.

The Earls of Colquitt Sarah Adams and Tommie Beth Willis were among the attendees. Adams is the Colquitt County Professional with the University of Georgia Archway Project and Willis is president of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce.

The teams chose to focus on workforce development, regional capacity, health and wellness. With evaluation and feedback from a statewide team of judges with subject matter expertise in each of these areas, SGL 2.0 was Georgia’s first leadership alumni program, according to a press release. by Barbara Grogan, President of South GeorgiaLEADS and Chairman of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority.

Dr. Renata Elad, Dean of the Stafford School of Business at ABAC, Alumni Participant and 2018-2019 South GeorgiaLEADS Class Member, shares her reasons for re-engaging with SGL: “I came back because I wanted to improve my understanding critical issues impacting economic growth, and for the chance to contribute to positive change in our region.”

The class only had five months to get to know each other, come up with a concept, conduct interviews and research their topics, Grogan said. The program used a design-thinking model to solve problems, invited potential funders from across the state to hear their concepts and provide feedback, and finally brought each team together for a brainstorming session. “Shark Tank” style fence in March.

“Regionalism is SGL’s core competency,” Elad said. “As part of this, we were able to use our diverse backgrounds and perspectives to investigate and find solutions to real-world issues that impact our lives. Each team worked on a different concern and had a different approach to the solution. But Universally, we have come to the same conclusion that with a little help, we have the resources in the region to advance our economic growth and shine a light on the aspects that continue to draw people to South Georgia. “

All three teams were paired with mentors from the South GeorgiaLEADS council. Rachael Oliver, regional director of Georgia Family Connection Partnership, was one such mentor.

“SGL 2.0 has been an amazing experience as, as a mentor, I have been able to get to know the class participants in greater depth and work closely with them bringing my own skills, knowledge and leadership to help in the process and ultimately in creating their own unique project,” said Oliver. “This course was a real test of putting leadership into action and creating a viable project that could be sustainable in our region with great benefits for improving the relevant issues.”

In addition to Adams and Willis from Colquitt County, attendees came from Dougherty, Lee, Lowndes, Sumter and Tift counties. They included people working in private companies, government agencies and non-profit organizations.

David Connell, retired president and CEO of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce and current chairman of the state Department of Driver Services, was the keynote speaker at the closing celebration held at Ocean Pond Fishing Club at Lake Park. Calling on the alumni teams to think and act strategically for the region’s long-term growth, Connell was also impressed with the ambitious effort put in by the teams and the passion with which each team shared their plans. and his love for South Georgia.

Guest judges for the final presentations included: Steve Card, executive director, Georgia Recreation and Park Association; Austin Chancy, housing policy analyst, Georgia Department of Community Affairs; DeAnnia Clements, President, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College; Kimberly Hobbs, Director of Community and Economic Development, Southern Georgia Regional Commission; Andrea Schruijer, Chair of the Board of Locate South Georgia and Executive Director of the Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority; and Trevor Quander, President, Regional Business Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta and Area Manager, Metro West, Georgia Power Company.

“What a brilliant concept! Whener said. “Bringing alumni back into the program and providing real-time solutions to pressing community issues and problems is resourceful! This will most likely become a best practice and model standard for other regional and strategic leadership programs. not only helps identify current leaders in the community, but provides metrics when certifying and validating a group’s energy and efforts to contribute. Hats off to South Georgia LEADS 2.0!”

Regarding the future impact of the alumni program in conjunction with the traditional SGL program, Grogan said, “When LEADS was launched, we all knew there would come a day when we had to take the next step. , answering the question “so what” we do it for. SGL 2.0 is the first step to answering this question. , and formulated their ideas into a possible response process. Now, with our network of over 160 alumni, leaders and supporters across the region, we have the ability to operationalize ideas. SGL 2.0 ideas will continue to moving forward as we launch the sixth cohort of LEADS, advancing the topics and leading Southwest Georgia.

South GeorgiaLEADS 2.0 sponsors were: Supporting Sponsor Georgia Power Company, Presenting Sponsor Electric Cities of Georgia, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, AT&T, Collins Event Space, Colony Bank, Cordele-Crisp County Industrial Development Council, First National Bank, Fitzgerald & Ben Hill County Development Authority, Georgia CEO, Greater Valdosta United Way, Leadership Worth, Lee County Chamber of Commerce, Locate South Georgia, Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority, One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, Southern Regional Technical College, Sumter Electric Membership Corporation ( EMC), Sylvester-Worth County Chamber of Commerce, Upland Wealth Advisors and Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority.

South Georgia LEADS is supported annually by the program’s implementing partners, the Center for South Georgia Regional Impact at Valdosta State University and the JW Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia.

South GeorgiaLEADS will return to its traditional lineup in August, with recruiting for the 2022-2023 class slated to begin in June. For more information on South Georgia LEADS, please visit; or contact Barbara Grogan, president of South GeorgiaLEADS, at 229-921-1457; or [email protected]

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