Locate South GeorgiaLEADS Expands Regional Impact, Graduates Second Cohort

April 2, 2018

March 30, 2018 Americus – With an impressive showing of local, regional and statewide leaders, Locate South GeorgiaLEADS presented by Electric Cities of Georgia graduated its second cohort in Valdosta-Lowndes County at Quail Branch Lodge Thursday night, March 22.  Following an eight-month leadership development experience that covered site visits to seven South Georgia communities and the State Capitol, 31 regional leaders were celebrated and congratulated for their commitment to the region by Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter and Valdosta Mayor John Gayle.  The graduation ceremony, sponsored by the Georgia Power Company, was hosted by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority and members of Locate South Georgia. 

Colonel Jay A. Vietas, Commander of the 23d Medical Group at Moody Air Force Base, gave the keynote address, sharing insights from Moody’s leadership development initiatives and encouraging graduates to get involved and give back to their local communities.  Graduation sponsor, Scott Purvis on behalf of the Georgia Power Company talked about the importance of leadership development as the basis for effective community and economic growth.  Director of the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia, Dr. Matt Bishop shared reflections from this year’s program, emphasizing mastery of self, content and others as essential leadership components of Locate South GeorgiaLEADS.

With 31 participants representing 21 counties across South Georgia, Locate South GeorgiaLEADS (LSGL) graduates were asked to graduate themselves in a very personal graduation ceremony which included much laughter and poignant moments from their experiences together.  Sharing their personal commitments to playing an active role in the future success and growth of South Georgia in the months and years to come, Incoming Chairman to Locate South Georgia, Jason Dunn of the Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Development Authority challenged graduates to get involved and stay involved as LSGL evolves and grows in the coming years.  Announcing the creation of a LSGL Board of Directors to guide the program, Dunn asked both recent graduates and LSGL alumni in attendance to play an essential role in the success and viability of not only the leadership program, but also the region, going forward.

Continuing what was begun in 2014 as a “historic regional alliance” for South Georgia, Locate South GeorgiaLEADS’ greatest impact may be in the strength of relationships and networks established to address issues such as community and economic development, future growth and planning, critical land use issues centered around conservation and water and land management, workforce development, education, inclusivity and systemic poverty.

LSGL represents a partnership between the regional economic development initiative Locate South Georgia, the state’s premier business organization, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia, to identify and develop regional leaders who can elevate the awareness of regional issues of importance across South Georgia—both within their hometown communities, as well as to elected officials across the region and State.

The largest regional leadership program in the State, South Georgia is raising the bar for leadership, economic development and civic engagement for existing leaders.

Graduates of the 2017-2018 Locate South GeorgiaLEADS class are as follows:

County Name Company/Organization
Ben Hill  Shawn Haralson Ben Hill County School System 
Ben Hill Neesa Williams Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Chamber of Commerce
Berrien Ty Schultz Bank of Alapaha
Coffee Mesha Davis Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce
Colquitt Steadman Taylor Broadlead Trucking
Colquitt Quentin Bates Standard Discount Corporation
Colquitt Jack Loyd JCI Contractors
Crisp Jeffery Hester Colony Bank
Crisp Christy Bozeman Crisp County Industrial Development Council
Decatur Adrienne Harrison Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce
Dougherty Jonathan Siskey SafeAire Heating & Cooling
Dougherty Jim Ligon The Fred Taylor Company, Inc. & Interstate Warehouse Services
Dougherty Jake Reese LRA Constructors, Inc.
Dougherty Clifton Bush Albany Area Primary Healthcare, Inc.
Grady Laura Register Grady County Board of Education
Grady Sara Heady Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce
Grady  Booker Gainor City of Cairo
Irwin Molly Giddens Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Lee Mike Harris Colony Bank
Lowndes Michael Williams Wiregrass Georgia Technical College
Miller KaCee Holt Colquitt-Miller County Chamber of Commerce
Mitchell Alyssa Blakley City of Pelham
Mitchell Shealy Dixon Sweetly, Shealy
Randolph Taryn Roberson Randolph County Board of Commissioners
Randolph Kirsten Cochran Andrew College
Sumter Whitney Kimbrough Southwest Georgia Project
Sumter Ivy Oliver Sumter County Chamber of Commerce; One Sumter
Sumter Rachael Oliver Georgia Family Connection Partnership
Sumter Jessica Wright Innovative Senior Solutions
Thomas Larry Plank New Hire Solutions
Tift Audrey Luke-Morgan Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
Tift Lequrica Gaskins City of Tifton


LSGL links regional site visits and issue awareness to relevant leadership development content within the framework of the Locate South GeorgiaLEADS priorities.  Emphasizing regional priorities throughout the program, each session directly links leadership skills training to issues of critical importance to South Georgia, including regional identity and influence, workforce development, and collective visioning and planning.

Sponsors of Locate South GeorgiaLEADS include:  Electric Cities of Georgia, AT&T, Webb Properties, Inc., Georgia Power Company, Georgia CEO, Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Development Authority, One Sumter Economic Development, Inc., and Leadership Worth, and the Sylvester-Worth County Chamber of Commerce. 

Recruitment for the third year of Locate South GeorgiaLEADS will open in June of this year, with the program to launch in August 2018.  Interested applicants may contact their local Chambers of Commerce or Economic Development Authorities, as well as Locate South GeorgiaLEADS Program Coordinator Mary Beth Bass. 

For more information about LSGL, to participate, or to sponsor a program, please contact Bass, Executive Director, One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, Inc., at 229.815.1669; or at marybeth@onesumter.org. Additional information may also be found online at http://www.onesumter.org/locate-south-georgia-leads.html.


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