Young Gamechanger Alumni Spotlight: Odie Donald

OdieDonald_RT_0406-2A 2014 alumnus of Young Gamechangers, Odie Donald has spent his career helping Americans develop the skills to find and keep good jobs. While a Young Gamechanger in Dublin/Laurens, he served as Executive Director of Coastal Workforce Services, developing solutions to address workforce issues in ten counties along Georgia’s coast. Later, as the WIOA Services Director for the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Workforce Division, Odie managed more than $90 million in federal funds, and Georgia was twice recognized as the nation’s number one destination for business with the most skilled workforce.

Odie became the Executive Director of the DC Workforce Investment Council in 2016, where he directed more than $100 million in local, state, and federal funds earmarked for workforce, economic development, health and human services programs. In this role, he nearly doubled the number of adult participants completing workforce development training programs and tripled out-of-school youth participants. He led a turnaround of the office, prompting Mayor Muriel Bowser to appoint Odie Acting Director of the District Office of Employment Services. In this role, Odie oversees all labor and workforce development functions for the District including unemployment insurance, employment and training services, labor law enforcement and workers compensation funded at more than $150M.
An Atlanta native, Odie earned a BA in history and an MBA from Georgia State University. He has been recognized by Georgia Trend’s 40 Under 40, and his community leadership service includes the Mayor’s 100 Resilient Cities Executive Cabinet, the advisory board of the DC Career Academy Network, the Georgia Workforce Leadership Association, and the Georgia Energy and Industrial Construction Consortium.

Young Gamechanger Alumni Spotlight: Kyle Hood

HoodHeadshotYoung Gamechanger Alumni Spotlight: Kyle Hood

Fall 2016 (Augusta-Richmond County) Young Gamechanger participant Kyle Hood always knew his passion for public service and interest in political science would lead him to Georgia’s Gold Dome, and starting April 3, 2017, he’ll be within walking distance of it as he begins a new chapter working in the Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Unit of the Georgia Department of Education.  In his position as Education-Workforce Development Liaison, Kyle will be tasked with facilitating leadership engagement opportunities for CTAE professionals, strengthening relationships between industry leaders, legislators and educators as well as crafting promotional materials that highlight the competitive advantage students gain in the future by choosing to participate in one of the state’s relevant, high-demand course career pathway offerings.

For more information on educating Georgia’s future workforce, please click here.

 

Call for Community Applications to Host Young Gamechangers

GeorgiaForward, a statewide nonpartisan nonprofit, is working to strengthen communities, unite our State and create a talent pipeline within Georgia. Our leading program, Young Gamechangers, is a leadership action program that brings 50 of our State’s best and brightest together to make big idea recommendations to longstanding challenges in ONE Georgia community.

The program is built on action and collaboration with a community that is eager to harness the power and creativity of young professionals. With a track record of success in Americus/Sumter County (2012), Dublin/Laurens County (2013-2014), Douglasville/Douglas County (Spring 2016), Augusta (Fall 2016), a current program happening in in LaGrange/Troup County and the Fall 2017 program to be announced in April, GeorgiaForward is looking for its next locations!

The program, which runs approximately six months, asks the host community to help identify four challenges that could use a fresh perspective and bold solutions. The Young Gamechangers then spend time learning about the community, meeting with leaders, and beginning to understand and examine longstanding challenges in the focus community that have a widespread effect on the vibrancy, livability and overall success of the city/county. From increasing the vitality in downtown to connectivity with bike routes and interstates to overall branding, Young Gamechangers make creative, out-of-the-box recommendations that have the power to make true, long-lasting impacts in communities around our state.

To view the Final Recommendations from previous programs, visit

http://georgiaforward.org/young-gamechangers/.

GeorgiaForward is accepting applications through April 14, 2017 for the host communities for its 2018 programs. The Spring program will run from January through June and the Fall program will run from August through December. There are 50 participants in each class with roughly one-third coming from the host community, one-third from Metro Atlanta and one-third from Greater Georgia. Each class meets three times (five days) over the class period: two Thursday-Friday meetings and the Final Recommendations to the community on a Friday.

The host community must work with GeorgiaForward to raise a minimum of $50,000 in sponsorship dollars for the program. Up to $25,000 can be in-kind donations in the areas of hotel rooms, meeting space, meals and transportation.

It is vital to the success of the program that we have community support. GeorgiaForward brings Young Gamechangers to communities that are eager to host this program, have businesses (companies, foundations, governments, individuals, etc.) that will help support the program and have overarching challenges that realistic solutions can be developed for in a six-month period.

To apply, please email a letter of interest to kris@georgiaforward.org by midnight on Friday, April 14, 2017. The letter can come from anyone in the community and must have at least five signatures of support from leaders in your community. The letter should outline community challenges that effect a broad range of citizens as well as address the potential support in your community for the program.

Should you have any questions about the application process or Young Gamechangers, don’t hesitate to contact GeorgiaForward’s Executive Director Kris Vaughn at kris@georgiaforward.org.

GeorgiaForward Accepting Venue Proposals for 2017 Forum

GeorgiaForward, founded in 2010, has a track record of bringing together leaders from across sectors to explore long-term solutions to Georgia’s pressing policy challenges and serving as a catalyst for statewide partnerships and collaboration.  Our statewide nonprofit has hosted four successful Forums that facilitated a statewide conversation about the future of Georgia in a way that is not currently taking place. One major success that has come from the Forum is the Young Gamechangers program.

January of 2017 marks the start of GeorgiaForward’s fifth leadership action program, Young Gamechangers. With over 150 alumni, Young Gamechangers have been working in various communities throughout the State to develop big idea recommendations to some of that community’s most persistent challenges.

With our previous successes in facilitating impactful statewide conversations and the large number of engaged Young Gamechanger alumni working to better our State, GeorgiaForward is planning a 2017 Forum!

GeorgiaForward is now taking proposals for venues to host the 2017 Forum! 

Who: 300-400 business and community leaders from across the State of Georgia

What: 2017 GeorgiaForward Forum 

When: Two Days in September 2017

Where: Within an hour’s drive of Downtown Atlanta 

Why: To craft a statewide vision for Georgia 

GeorgiaForward is accepting proposals through January 31, 2017. Email Kris Vaughn kris@georgiaforward.org to submit.

GeorgiaForward Names LaGrange/Troup County as Focus Community for Spring 2017 Young Gamechangers

GeorgiaForward Announces LaGrange/Troup County as Spring 2017 Focus Community for Statewide Leadership Action Program, Young Gamechangers; 

Calls for Participant Applications

Spring 2017 YG - LaGrange Apply - LaGrange

August 23, 2016: Statewide non-profit GeorgiaForward announced LaGrange/Troup County as the location for its Spring 2017 Young Gamechangers leadership action program at the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Lessons in Leadership Forum. In its fifth class, Young Gamechangers brings together 50 emerging leaders from around the state to one Georgia community to propose big idea solutions to some of their longstanding challenges. Applications for participants are now open at georgiaforward.org.

“We are excited about having the Young Gamechangers leadership program focus on LaGrange and Troup County next Spring.  I believe that putting fresh eyes and young minds to work on community issues will result in new and innovative solutions.  To be able to tap into the creative thought processes of emerging leaders from throughout the state is a wonderful opportunity for our area.  We look forward to their ideas,” said Kathy Tilley, Executive Director of the Troup County Center for Strategic Planning

“Our community is renowned for its commitment to working with all stakeholders to create a robust environment in which to live and to do business,” said Page Estes, President of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce. “Having the Young Gamechangers participants look at our community from their unique lens will help us make wise decisions to improve the quality of life for everyone.”

“GeorgiaForward is looking forward to bringing our leadership action program to the western border of our state as we explore challenges such as millennial tourism and retention, innovation development, and environmental sustainability,” said Kris Vaughn, Executive Director of GeorgiaForward. “The existing community-wide cooperation and strong leadership in Troup County will provide a solid foundation for the Young Gamechangers’ work as the strength of the program comes when we all work shoulder to shoulder with the community.”

Young professionals from across Georgia with a passion for uniting our state and strengthening our communities should apply online at georgiaforward.org to be a member of the Spring 2017 Young Gamechangers in LaGrange/Troup County.  Applicants must be between the ages of 24-40. Ambitious minds from any professional sector will be considered. Roughly two thirds of the class will be made up of participants from outside of the Troup County community. Applications must be received by midnight on Friday, September 30, 2016.

Previous Young Gamechangers focus communities include Americus/Sumter County, Dublin/Laurens County, Douglasville/Douglas County and Augusta/Richmond County. This leadership action program in LaGrange/Troup County is made possible in part by: Central Atlanta Progress, Troup County Center for Strategic Planning and the LaGrange/Troup County Chamber of Commerce.

About GeorgiaForward: GeorgiaForward is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working as a catalyst to improve Georgia through cross-sector, statewide conversations and partnerships by engaging young professionals and business, political, academic and civic leaders.

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Contact: 

Kris Vaughn

Executive Director, GeorgiaForward

478-550-2185

kris@georgiaforward.org

georgiaforward.org

GeorgiaForward Announces Augusta as Fall 2016 Focus Community for Statewide Leadership Program, Young Gamechangers; Calls for Participant Applications

April 17, 2016: Statewide non-profit GeorgiaForward named Augusta as the location for its Fall 2016 Young Gamechangers leadership action program and opened applications for participants. In its fourth class, Young Gamechangers brings together 50 emerging leaders from around the state to one Georgia community to propose big idea solutions to some of their longstanding challenges.

“Augusta is at a critical juncture as our city is undergoing a transformation into a more knowledge based economy. In order to help shape this transformation to the benefit of our entire community, our city applied to enlist the best and brightest young minds from throughout the State of Georgia to help shape the future of our region through GeorgiaForward‘s Young Gamechangers program,” said Deke Copenhaver, former Mayor of Augusta and owner of Copenhaver Consulting.  “As this transformational shift occurs, the Young Gamechangers program could not be more timely and we firmly believe that the program will help us to better recruit and retain the millennial workforce needed to help support and sustain our forward momentum.”

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis says “The explosive growth that our city is beginning to experience must be managed and coordinated strategically to enable the entire Augusta community to reap the maximum economic benefits. A focus on smart growth and emphasizing connectivity with recommendations on best practices and community engagement would undoubtedly serve to the long-term benefit of Augusta and its citizens. Engaging the Young Gamechangers to explore solutions to the challenges we face as a city allows Augustans to get the benefit of seeing what can happen when people from different walks of life come together for transformational collaborations that move beyond the traditional narratives that often stifle community growth and development.”

“GeorgiaForward is excited to bring our Fall 2016 Young Gamechangers program to Augusta this August,” said Kris Vaughn, Executive Director of GeorgiaForward. “With the potential of the downtown/riverfront area, their recent shift in tourism focus to millennials, and their eagerness to bring this innovative program to their community, as well as several other transformational opportunities, Young Gamechangers in Augusta is a great next step for both the community and the program.”

Young professionals from across Georgia with a passion for uniting our state and strengthening our communities should apply online at georgiaforward.org to be a member of the Fall 2016 Young Gamechangers in Augusta.  Applicants must be between the ages of 24-40. Ambitious minds from any professional sector will be considered. Applications must be received by midnight on Friday, May 27, 2016.

Previous Young Gamechangers focus communities include Americus/Sumter County, Dublin/Laurens County and Douglasville/Douglas County. This leadership action program is made possible in part by: The Commerce Club Foundation, Central Atlanta Progress, Georgia Cities Foundation and GeorgiaTrend Magazine.

About GeorgiaForward: GeorgiaForward is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working as a catalyst to improve Georgia through cross-sector, statewide conversations and partnerships by engaging young professionals and business, political, academic and civic leaders.

###

Contact: 

Kris Vaughn

Executive Director, GeorgiaForward

478-550-2185

kris@georgiaforward.org

georgiaforward.org

Young Gamechanger Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Harwell-Dye

Jonathan Harwell-Dye is a proud Young Gamechanger Alum who was a member of the 2013/2014 Dublin-Laurens County cohort that worked to re-envision the Dublin Community. A native of Cochran, Georgia, Jonathan currently serves as the Director of Creative Placemaking for the Macon Arts Alliance.

Today we had the opportunity to tour one of Macon’s newest revitalization projects, Mill Hill: East Macon Arts Village, which Jonathan is spearheading.

Click here to hear about the project from Jonathan! 

For more information about Mill Hill: East Macon Art Village, check out this article written by Creative Exchange.

#YGAlumni

Thoughts from Current Gamechangers

The Young Gamechangers working in Douglasville/Douglas County were immersed in the Douglasville community just a little over a month ago. We asked a few of them for their initial thoughts on the program and community that they’re working to improve.

Here’s what they had to say.

IMG_6733“Going in to the session all I could think was, “How does Douglasville possibly have any economic development challenges!?” They are in the metro area, they have interstate access, the region continues to grow, Hartsfield-Jackson is in their backyard etc. I was thinking that if they wanted to see economic challenges they should come to rural South Georgia! However, I quickly realized they do have some pretty substantial challenges like: attracting residents to the area south of Atlanta; changing population demographics; creating a unique identity among many similar suburban Atlanta areas; and fostering community engagement. Being able to get a better understanding of the community’s needs was the most impactful for me.” Jordan Stone, Douglas/Coffee County

“I think the most impactful part of the opening session is the way we got to know each of the young gamechangers. I think the exercises with the Fanning Institute was very helpful in getting to know everyone.DSC_0006 I learned that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did about Douglas County, even though I lived here for 11 years. It was great to hear from community leaders about the past, present and future endeavors of the county. As we continue to work in Douglas County we are going to have to keep in mind the “wish list” that many of the community leaders stated they wanted. I think it will help us to keep things in perspective, and it also gives us a great starting point as we start formulating our thought and ideas.” Myseha Good, Douglasville/Douglas County

DSC_0025“The most impactful thing from the Opening Session of Young Gamechangers were the fifty young people that came together to make a change in a community for the better. I am very excited to be a part of this project. Being born and growing up in this county, it is great to have a chance to improve a place that my family has lived in for so many generations.” Kyle Gable, Douglasville/Douglas County

DSC_0008
“The panel discussion with the community leaders was definitely the most impactful as they were so honest about the challenges and opportunities facing the city.  I was unfamiliar with Douglasville before, but it was a great, holistic introduction to the community.” Alvin Huff, Marietta/Cobb County
 

Community Applications for Young Gamechangers: Deadline Extended

Young Gamechangers Logo 2016Each year, GeorgiaForward‘s Young Gamechangers program brings together 50 emerging leaders from across Georgia to work to propose solutions to long-standing challenges for one Georgia community. The program is built on action and collaboration with a community that is eager to harness the power and creativity of young professionals. With a track record of success in Americus/Sumter County (2012) and Dublin/Laurens County (2013-2014) and a current program happening now in Douglasville/Douglas County, GeorgiaForward is looking for its next location!

The program, which runs approximately six months, asks the selected community to help identify three challenges that could use fresh perspective and solutions. The Young Gamechangers then spend time learning about about the community, meeting with leaders, and beginning to understand and examine longstanding challenges in the focus community that have a widespread effect on the vibrancy, livability and overall success of the city/county. From increasing the vitality in downtown to connectivity with bike routes and interstates to overall branding, Young Gamechangers make creative, out-of-the-box, big idea recommendations that have the power to make true, long-lasting impacts in communities around our state.

To view the Final Recommendations from previous programs, visit

http://georgiaforward.org/young-gamechangers/.

Between now and Friday, February 5, 2016 we are accepting applications for the Fall 2016 Young Gamechangers Focus Community. The program will run from August to December 2016 with 50 participants from across the state. The group will meet three times (five days) over this five month period: two Thursday-Friday meetings and Final Recommendations to the community on a Friday in December.

We are thankful for our sponsors, The Commerce Club Foundation and Google, for their support of Young Gamechangers; however, it is vital to the success of the program that we have community support in both in-kind donations and cash sponsorships. GeorgiaForward brings Young Gamechangers to communities that are eager to host this program, have businesses (companies, agencies, governments, etc) that will help support the program, and have overarching challenges that realistic solutions can be developed for in a six-month period.

To apply, please email a letter of interest to kris@georgiaforward.org by midnight on Friday, February 5, 2016. The letter can come from anyone in the community but must have at least five signatures of support from leaders in your community. The letter should outline community challenges that effect a broad range of citizens as well as address the potential support of your community for the program.

Should you have any questions about the application process or Young Gamechangers, don’t hesitate to contact Kris Vaughn.

Young Gamechangers’ Opening Session in Douglasville/Douglas County

IMG_6713The Spring 2016 Young Gamechangers kicked off their six-month program in Douglasville/Douglas County with an Opening Session on January 21 and 22. Over the course of these two days the Young Gamechangers were introduced to the community meeting many leaders that gave insight into the community’s opportunities, challenges, and successes. 12628440_10100636830400139_4223806886661593078_o

The day started with a driving tour of Douglas County led by Douglas County Chairman Tom Worthan, Douglas County Chamber President & CEO Kali Boatright, Douglas County Chamber Director of Communication and Community Affairs Sara Ray and Douglas County Economic Development Authority Project Manager Breezy Straton.

IMG_6721The tour ended at Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club where Mr. Harrison Merrill, Sr., founder of Foxhall, gave an inspirational talk about the importance of millennial engagement in our state as well as the history and vision of Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club.

IMG_6738After lunch, the Young Gamechangers had an afternoon of training from UGA’s J. W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. Our participants went through exercises in personality traits and communication skills.

Dinner was sponsored by Georgia Power at The Irish Bred Pub.

DSC_0042Friday’s session was held at The Centre at Arbor Connection. GeorgiaForward’s  Board Chairman A.J. Robinson welcomed the group and gave an overview of GeorgiaForward along with a background of why and how Young Gamechangers was started. The Gamechangers also heard from GeorgiaForward’s founding director Amir Farokhi and board member Hill Hardman.

Friday was full of community panels and the Gamechangers first heard from aDSC_0046 Community Leadership panel moderated by Douglas County Chamber’s Kali Boatright with panelists including Douglasville City Manager Marcia Hampton, Cultural Arts Council Chair Patti Puckett, Douglas County School Superintendent Dr. Gordon Pritz and Douglas County Economic Development Authority Board Member and Georgia Power’s John Sell. Here participants received an overview of the community regarding education, arts and culture, economic development and their downtown.

Lunch on Friday was provided by Sam & Rosco’s Restaurant and sponsored by the Douglas County Economic Development Authority.

After lunch, the Gamechangers learned their challenge questions that they’ll be working on over the next several months to provide big idea recommendations for. The challenge questions are below:

  • As a growing county in the metro Atlanta region, how can the community align their arts and cultural offerings to attract and retain Generations X, Y, and Millennials?
  • In light of the relocation of Highway 92, how can downtown position itself for success?
  • As a suburban county in a major metropolitan area, how should Douglas County leverage its history, assets, human capital, and rural roots alongside the Atlanta region’s growth and opportunity? What role should Douglas County play in Metro Atlanta’s eco-system?
  • What can the community do, outside of the school system, to enhance the educational opportunities of Douglas County students to prepare them for the jobs of the next century?

Each group met with community leaders on Friday afternoon to learn more about their specific question regarding the past, present and future plans and ideas. A very special thank you to all of the community involvement!

The Young Gamechangers are working virtually over the next several weeks to generate BIG, out of the box, creative ideas that they will bring back when we reconvene at the end of March for our Mid Point Meeting. They will meet again with community leaders doing more research and getting feedback. Then they will perfect their ideas for the Final Recommendations to the Community this summer.

Save the Date: Friday, June 10, 2016 at 2 pm for the Final Recommendations to the Community in Douglasville/Douglas County. 

©2017 GeorgiaForward