Congratulations to the Spring 2017 Young Gamechangers that will work in LaGrange/Troup County from January through June 2017.
Jason Allen, Atlanta
Family Academic Engagement Specialist, Atlanta Public Schools
Over the last 10 years, Jason B. Allen has worked in Education serving our students, families and communities in various positions from Summer Camp Director, Teacher Assistant, and Associate Teacher, ELA & Reading Teacher (middle and high school), Parent Liaison and currently working as a Family Engagement Specialist in Title I. A major goal of his is to ensure that all youth have positive role models to emulate.
Throughout his academic career, he has mentored many young, African American males through his national mentoring program, BMWI (Black Men with Initiative), serving as the third National President. He has also volunteered with several community organizations including the Darnell Senior Center of Fulton County, PAL (Police Athletic League), PTSA, Atlanta All Stars. He has served as GA PTA’s District 10 Male Involvement Committee, GaDOE Region 5 Parent Coordinator, completed Board Certification through the GA Charter Schools Commission and been a longtime advocate with Dignity in Schools and other National Organizations for Educational Advancement.
Embedding the spirit of service, the main goal of Mr. Allen is to simply help others along his life’s journey. He’s dedicated to servicing those in need, determined to do the right thing for the right reasons and dependable; living by his word being his bond.
Jeremy Andrews, LaGrange
Staff Writer, Troup County News
Jeremy Andrews is a young professional out of the LaGrange and Troup County area. Graduating from a local private school, Lafayette Christian School, he then went on to obtain his Bachelor’s of English from Columbus State University where he graduated with honors. Since that time, Jeremy has become an active part of the community by joining the staff of Troup County News where he works hand in hand with many key leaders, organizations, and elected officials throughout the area. His job has brought him face to face with tough decisions and actions in the community that he lives in and has provided him with a great understanding of the community’s needs going forward. In the future, he plans to obtain his Master’s degree in Journalism and continue to try and contribute to his community, possibly extending his reach to other places in the state of Georgia and beyond.
Megan Baker, Fayetteville
Public Policy Director, Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Megan is a Public Policy Director for the Georgia Chamber’s internal think tank, the Georgia Chamber Center for Competitiveness. In this role, she serves as a staff liaison to member-led policy committees, researches innovative policy solutions, and analyzes Georgia economic and demographic data to inform the Chamber’s strategic direction.
Prior to joining the Chamber, she worked at Clayton State where she championed a number of initiatives to enhance the overall operations of the university including implementing an automated class scheduling system and analyzing the effectiveness of student success strategies.
Megan also served as a budget and policy analyst at the Georgia Governor’s Office of Planning & Budget and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. She has an MPA from Indiana University and a BS in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State. Originally from North Carolina, both she and her husband Adam are proud to call Fayetteville, GA their home.
Earl Barnett, LaGrange
Digital Resources Manager, Columbus State University
Earl is the Digital Resources Manager for the Ivey Center for the Cultural Approach at Columbus State University. His recent work includes editing a teacher’s resource guide to be published late 2016/early 2017. He has lived in Lagrange since 2010 and is deeply vested in the success of his surrogate home with his wife and son. Earl is also a brain cancer survivor and a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
Whitcomb Barnhill, Albany
President, Complete Carriers
Whitcomb Barnhill was born and raised in Albany, GA and attended high school at Deerfield Windsor graduating in 2009. He furthered his education at Auburn University majoring in Agricultural Business and Economics. While at Auburn he started a company called Complete Carriers and shipped semi trucks and trailers to Benin West Africa after visiting in 2010 and seeing a need for reliable trucking providers. With operations in West Africa and the United States, Complete Carriers has grown into a full service logistics provider specializing in domestic/international trucking, ocean import/export, and air freight.
Whitcomb continues to be passionate about West Africa as well as his home town of Albany, GA serving on local boards and throughout the community.
Tony Barrett, Roswell
Department Chair of World Languages, Forsyth County School and Adjunct Instructor, Lanier Technical College
Tony currently serves as the Department Chair of World Languages at Lambert High School and is also an adjunct instructor at Lanier Technical College. He has experience in the field of secondary education in the states of Georgia, Texas and Virginia and has taught various levels of Spanish at the high school and university level and in both private and public schools. Tony began his career teaching in Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia after graduating from UGA and shortly thereafter moved to the Houston, Texas area in 2009 and returned to his home state of Georgia in 2014. He holds a Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas at Arlington. He is certified in Educational Administration as well as in teaching Spanish and French and is currently a doctoral student in Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky and hopes to complete his PhD in 2019.
Casey Bethel, Douglasville
2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year, Georgia Department of Education & Douglas County School System
Casey M. Bethel, the Georgia Teacher of the Year, is a passionate educator, an accomplished scientist and a mentor to students of all ages. He earned his B.S. in Biology from Fort Valley State University and his M.S. in Plant Genetics from the University of Georgia. Prior to teaching conducted research at the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies. During that time he published experimental findings in various peer reviewed journals.
Mr. Bethel is involved in STEM education on every level. He tutors elementary and middle schoolers, teaches high school Biology and Physics, and is an Adjunct Professor at a local university. In 2015, he was nominated for the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.
As a scientist he now conducts research in biochemistry at GA Tech, hoping to find cures for Alzheimer’s disease and Inherited Glaucoma. His research team’s most recent publication appeared in Nature – Chemical Biology Journal.
As the Georgia Teacher of the Year, Mr. Bethel travels throughout the State speaking, conducting workshops and representing the 114,000 teachers in Georgia.
Quay Boddie, LaGrange
Behavior Specialist, Troup County School System
Quay Boddie is an author, motivational speaker, and behavior specialist. He was born and raised in LaGrange, GA and graduate of Callaway High School in 2009. Continuing on, he not only played college football but received his degree in Business Administration in 2013 from Shorter University. Out of all the things he could say about myself, he can say that making an impact on this world through positive works and sharing his time/loving on people is what he loves the most.
SooBin Brown, LaGrange
Operations Manager, Kimberly Clark
SooBin Brown studied Economics at University of Wisconsin-Madison and received an MBA from Arizona State University. After multiple investment banking internships throughout college, SooBin proceeded to work in fast and dynamic manufacturing industries managing best class operation and supply chain practices. Her expertise covers wide range of functions including logistics and transportation, negotiations, operations management, project management, budget planning, best practices, industry benchmarking, inventory control and purchasing, import/export operations, warehousing, customer relationship management, packaging optimization, and business systems analysis. She built a strong foundation of industrial experience at two Fortune 500 companies (Illinois Tool Works & Kimberly Clark).
Wesley Brown, Atlanta
Project Manager, Planning & Capital Projects, Central Atlanta Progress
Wesley Brown is the Project Manager of Planning and Capital Projects at Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) Downtown Atlanta’s Community Improvement District. In this role, Wesley is responsible for managing Downtown Atlanta’s infrastructure improvements and planning efforts, strategically coordinating CAP’s investments with constituents of the Downtown community to create sustainable public spaces and improve mobility in Downtown Atlanta.
Prior to his current position, Wesley worked for HDR, Inc., Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and Alta Planning and Design (formerly known as Greenways, Inc.).
Wesley received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from North Carolina State University and a Masters of Science in Urban Design from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He co-authored an essay published in Retrofitting Sprawl: Addressing Seventy Years of Failed Urban Form and is an avid college football fan.
Jana Byrd, Macon
Executive Secretary, Macon Bibb Mayor’s Office
A native of Clarkesville, Georgia, Jana has worked in a variety of capacities throughout the state at both non-profit and government organizations including March of Dimes, Family Life Broadcasting and Warner Robins Convention & Visitors Bureau. Currently, she is the Executive Secretary to Mayor Reichert in Macon-Bibb County
With her time at the CVB, she helped redesign the marketing plan which increased online traffic by 400% in 9 months. Jana has a passion to use marketing and community partnerships to make her community a spotlight for economic growth and quality of life in Georgia.
Jana earned her Bachelors in Business Administration from University of North Georgia and Masters in Non-profit Management from Walden University. She has also served on boards for Feed The City, Caring Solutions, Loving Care Learning Center. She lives in Warner Robins, GA with her husband and two children.
Troy Clark, Augusta
Assistant United States Attorney, United States Department of Justice
Troy Clark serves with the United States Department of Justice as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Georgia. As a federal prosecutor, Troy leads the investigation and prosecution of various white collar, fraud, public corruption, and child exploitation offenses. Collaterally, Troy serves as the SAUSA Coordinator for the Ft. Gordon military installation. In that role, Troy oversees and directs the prosecutions of civilians who commit crimes while under federal jurisdiction. Troy has earned recognition from FBI Director James Comey for his work in United States v. Regina M. Preetorius and United States v. Asha Spaulding, et al.
Troy is a 2014 graduate of Leadership Columbia County and currently serves on the Leadership Steering Committee as Day Chair of the Community Support and Diversification Day. In addition, Troy is an active member of the Central Church of Christ serving as a Care Group Leader, teacher, and speaker.
Ameia Cotton, LaGrange
Manager of Probation Company, Hamils & Associates
Ameia Kimberly Cotton is a 2008 graduate of LaGrange High School and a 2012 graduate of Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama, where she received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. Ameia also has a Master in Public Administration from Strayer University. Upon graduating from Miles College, Ameia returned to her home town LaGrange, GA, where she was the dance and color guard coach and mentor for Callaway High School. She is now the Varsity Basketball coach.
Ameia is currently employed with Hamils & Associates, Inc., as a Probation Officer for the City of Hogansville, where she is the manager over the probation company. In addition to her wanting to give back to the community, Ameia started an organization called the Troup County Anchor Foundation Inc, where their mission statement is to to promote and perform charitable services while strengthening our communities one person, one neighborhood, and one city at a time. She is executive consultant for Greater Achievement Youth Empowerment Academy. Ameia also serves on the Community Outreach with Chief Lou Deckmar and LaGrange Police Department and she is a part of Racial Reconciliation here in LaGrange, Ga . Ameia was also the 1st Ruth Moore Humanitarian Award recipient in November 2013. This award was derived and presented in honor of charter member Continental Ruth Moore for her dedicated service to CSI, Inc.
Nate Crawford, LaGrange
Gift Officer, LaGrange College
Having received his B.S. from LaGrange College, Nate Crawford continued his education on the Hill and recently completed his master’s degree in Philanthropy and Development. Nate is currently serving as a member of the development team at LaGrange College where he works to raise annual support for student scholarships. Nate serves on the Troup County young professionals board (HYPE) and has recently been selected as a board member of the Hillside Montessori School. Nate and his wife Allie love being part of the LaGrange community and are pleased to call it home.
Larkin Dorsey, LaGrange
Senior Development Specialist, WellStar West Georgia Medical Center
Larkin Dorsey was born and raised in LaGrange, GA and has worked at WellStar WGMC in Development for 12 years raising money to further the mission of the hospital. Larkin has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Georgia College and State University, a MBA from Columbus State University, and is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). She is on the Lions Club Board of Directors, a sustainer in the Junior Service League, member of the Rewards and Recognition team at WellStar and Past President of the Georgia Association of Development Professionals.
Jessica Dudley, Atlanta
Associate, Accelerated Development Rotation, Ultimate Software
Jessica Dudley is an Associate in Ultimate Software’s inaugural Leadership Development Program. Jessica’s professional background includes six years of management consulting experience with companies such as Accenture and IBM.
She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Spelman College, MBA from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, recognition as a Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow, and is a current participant in the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2017.
Jessica is active in the community with organizations such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, United Way V.I.P., YouthSpark, Junior League of Atlanta, GA Cares, and Spelman College’s Sister2Sister mentor program.
Jessica currently resides in the Old Fourth Ward area of Atlanta, and enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and experimenting with new recipes.
Adam Edge, Atlanta
Downtown and Business Development Manager, City of Suwanee
Beginning his career with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), transitioning to the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), and currently working with the City of Suwanee, Adam Edge truly enjoys public work and assisting communities in implementing their plans and ultimately realizing their vision. Edge specializes in community outreach, public involvement/engagement, economic development, project management, and intergovernmental relations. As Downtown and Business Development Manager for the City of Suwanee, Edge utilizes these skills to recruit/retain businesses to the City of Suwanee, manage the Downtown Development Authority, develop and implement City Wide plans, and recruit development Projects. In addition, he is a project manager for the Suwanee Youth Leader program. A nine month leadership program geared toward leadership development, civic engagement, and volunteerism for high school sophomores and juniors. Edge holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, and Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Georgia College and State University.
Matt Forshee, Evans
Team Supervisor/Region Manager, Georgia Power
As the Community Development Manager for Georgia Power’s East Region, Matt is responsible for helping 11 counties around Augusta become economically diverse through new industry recruitment, existing industry expansion, downtown redevelopment, community leadership development and community marketing. He also serves as the Chairman for the CSRA Workforce Development Board, as a lecturer for the Georgia Academy for Economic Development and as a presenter at Georgia Tech’s Economic Development BASIC Program.
Prior to his work with Georgia Power, Matt served as the President/CEO of economic development organizations in Georgia’s Fayette, Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties. During that time, he recruited the largest Chinese manufacturer to Georgia, Sany Industries, and the largest film studio in Georgia, Pinewood Atlanta Studios. In his work with Pinewood, he also launched a Film Commission, serving as Film Commissioner, helping production companies like Marvel’s Ant-Man and AMC’s The Walking Dead with film location assistance.
Matt’s work in economic development has seen him named twice to the International Economic Development Council’s “40 Under 40 Rising Stars in Economic Development” award, the only person to receive this designation more than once.
Matt has a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia and utilized that degree in his first career as a land planner and urban designer for an Atlanta land planning firm and as Planning Director in Oconee County, GA.
Matt is about as true a Georgian as there can be. He was born in Statesboro, and spent his childhood in Dublin, LaGrange, Jesup, Ashburn, Tifton, Gainesville and Athens. He, his wife Allison and their three children live in Evans, GA.
Rahn Gatewood, Tucker
Attorney, Lazega & Johanson, LLC
Rahn earned his Bachelor in Arts degree from Dillard University, in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2002. There, he majored in Urban Studies and Public Policy. He later enrolled at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta. Now, he is a practicing attorney at Lazega & Johanson, LLC, in Atlanta, Georgia, and specializes in business litigation and creditors rights law. He also supervises his firm’s business litigation department. Most of his clients are financial services industry participants, and he has represented Fortune 500 companies. He has also provided legal representation to small businesses and volunteer lawyer programs. Rahn regularly handles trials, motion hearings, reviews pleadings, drafts or edits contracts, leases, servicing agreements, and promissory notes. He also ensures compliance of his staff under federal and state consumer protection laws. Rahn also remains involved in several community service efforts in the Atlanta community.
Amy Grantham, LaGrange
Real Estate Development Director, DASH for LaGrange, Inc.
Amy Grantham has been working as a Real Estate Development professional at DASH for LaGrange, Inc. since 2011. She specializes in residential rehabilitation and new construction. Her experience includes all aspects of project and program management, grant writing, development consulting, and leadership. Under Ms. Grantham’s management, her team has successfully secured and administered over $3 million grant funds to support housing programs for various local governments. Ms. Grantham earned her B.A. (07) and M.A.T. (09) degrees from LaGrange College. In 2015, she became a certified Housing Development Finance Professional. In addition, she has obtained more than 20 professional certifications related to the housing industry. Ms. Grantham’s professional memberships include the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH) Pine Mountain Team and the West Georgia Homebuilder’s Association. Her volunteer experiences include the National History Day Program, CASA of Troup County, and the Diplomat Committee for the LaGrange Troup County Chamber of Commerce.
Jennifer Grier, LaGrange
Executive Director, Tree of Life
Jennifer Grier is the Executive Director for Tree of Life Incorporated. This agency provides education and job training to individuals with barriers. Her background is in education, social services, and workforce development. She received her Bachelors from Columbus State University in Sociology. She received her Masters from Troy University in Public Administration. Her passion is serving her community and helping others.
Dr. Lamar Hardwick, LaGrange
Lead Pastor, New Community Church
Dr. Lamar Hardwick is a father, husband, and Lead Pastor of New Community Church located in Lagrange, GA. In the past he has served as youth/young adult pastor, high school football coach, and hospice chaplain. He is a graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin (BA Criminal Justice), Emory University Candler School of Theology (Master of Divinity), and Liberty University School of Divinity (Doctor of Ministry). He is also a graduate of St. Luke’s Training and Counseling Center in Atlanta, GA as well as Leadership Troup Program. In 2014, at the age of 36, Dr. Hardwick was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As an autism advocate he is a contributing writer to a number of autism and disability sites including Autism Speaks, The Autism Society of America, The Mighty, and Huffington Post to name a few. Dr. Hardwick’s book “I am Strong” will be released through Electio Publishing on January 24th, 2017.
Ali Harp, Dalton
Wylly Harrison, Atlanta
Senior Project Manager, Georgia Department of Economic Development
Wylly Harrison was born and raised in Milledgeville, Georgia. He attended Georgia College and State University and received a degree in political science in 2004. After interning for the Georgia Senate, he returned to GC&SU and received his Master’s degree in Public Administration. Over the past few years, Wylly has interned in Governor Perdue’s office, worked on Gary Black’s campaign for Agriculture Commissioner and lobbied on behalf of several technology companies and the Council for Quality Growth. Wylly has been at the Georgia Department of Economic Development since 2011.
Lora Hawk, Stone Mountain
Political Consultant, Self-Employed
Lora Scarlet Hawk is originally from Social Circle, Georgia and received her undergraduate degree in International Relations and French from Agnes Scott College and her Master’s in Public Administration from Georgia State. She has served various elected officials in the Georgia General Assembly, including a House Hawk, House Majority Caucus Secretary, the Senate Majority Leader, and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. Lora has worked on, consulted, and or managed numerous state and local campaigns within Georgia. Lora has lobbied for the Georgia Pharmacy Association as well as the Georgia Alcohol Dealers Association prior to starting Scarlet Hawk Consulting.
Jessica Hood, Burke County
Executive Director, Development Authority of Burke County
Jessica began preparing for a career in economic development in 2003 while attending Georgia Southern University. Pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics and a minor in Regional Development, she developed a real passion for community and economic improvement.
Jessica began her career at the Liberty County Development Authority in 2008 where she served as project manager for 5 years. During her tenure at the LCDA, Jessica was involved in many local and state organizations including employer committees, leadership groups, and professional organizations.
In 2012, she took a position at the Savannah Economic Development Authority, where she honed her skills for attracting new industry to a booming market. Jessica continued to remain engaged in community and state organizations.
In 2015, Jessica became the Executive Director of the Development Authority of Burke County, where she has been working to develop a highly responsive and successful industry recruitment and retention program. Jessica currently serves on the board of her local Rotary Club and is the Sponsorship Chair for GEDA.
Ebony Johnson, Hapeville
Manager, Health Integration, United Way of Greater Atlanta
Ebony Johnson currently serves as Manager of Health Integration for United Way of Greater Atlanta. In this role she oversees grantmaking for health programs in the Impact Fund, Innovative Community Health programs, and special projects for maternal, child and mental health issues. Ms. Johnson also oversees United Way’s Community Health Worker program, Choose HEALTH. Ms. Johnson received a B.S. in Public Policy and Management from Georgia State University and a Masters of Public Administration from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Additionally, Ms. Johnson is certified as a Nonprofit Professional from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance in Kansas City, Missouri.
Shemeeka Johnson, Cobb County
Communications Specialist, Georgia Department of Economic Development
Shemeeka Johnson is the Communications Specialist at the Georgia Department of Economic Development where she manages all external communication and media relations for the Workforce Division.
Shemeeka’s most recent accomplishment in this role was the successful management and execution of the WorkSource Georgia branding campaign, Georgia’s first unified brand associated with its workforce system.
Prior to this role, Shemeeka served as the Media Coordinator for the City of Valdosta. She also worked as the Executive Producer and News Anchor for the local government broadcast, City Focus. In this role, Shemeeka reported on the City of Valdosta’s budget, local events and community news, spreading awareness to viewers in the Metro-Valdosta area.
Shemeeka is a graduate of Valdosta State University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Mass Media and an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, Georgia Chapter and is pursuing her Masterâ€™s in Business Administration. Shemeeka resides in Smyrna, Ga.
Kelsey Jones, Atlanta
Advancement & Donor Relations Coordinator, The Technical College System of Georgia
Originally from Leesburg, GA, Kelsey Anne Jones serves as the Advancement and Donor Relations Coordinator at the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). In this role, Kelsey cultivates and stewards donors, maintains the donor database, plans events, creates development messaging, and serves as a staff liaison to the Board Development Committee within the TCSG Foundation Board of Trustees. Prior to joining TCSG, Kelsey served as the Graduate Assistant and then as the Development and Alumni Relations Coordinator at the My Carolina Alumni Association of the University of South Carolina (USC). While at USC, she earned her Master of Education with her focus in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration. She is dedicated to combining her love of student affairs with her passion for philanthropy. Kelsey earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from Mercer University in Macon, GA. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA.
Anna Knight, LaGrange
Manager & Event Coordinator at the Del’avant Event Center, Downtown LaGrange Development Authority
In 2011, Anna Knight was drawn from a career as a successful custom artist and designer to the opportunity to serve as the Event Coordinator at Del’avant, LaGrange’s newest special event center. Being a hometown girl with a Fine Arts degree from Presbyterian College and a minor in Interior Design from Converse College, coupled with extensive marketing and design experience, Anna was the perfect fit for the new position. At Del’avant, Anna can also serve as the wedding weekend coordinator to direct the wedding rehearsal, wedding ceremony, work with the vendors and provide a detailed itenerary for the entire weekend. Prior to working at Del’avant, Anna was the Merchandise Manager for Milliken and Company for 5 years and the creative director and interior designer for DASH, a revitilization company in LaGrange for 4 years.
Shondra Knight, Austell
ELA Teacher, TNT Academy
When one thinks about poise, class, professionalism, perseverance and talent, there is only one young lady who comes to mind, and her name is, Shondrae D. Knight. Ms. Knight holds a Bachelor of Art in English from Kennesaw State University and a MBA/ HRM from University of Phoenix. While Shondrae attended Kennesaw State she took every education class required in the Secondary English Education program. She has a passion for education, specifically Special Education. Shondrae has worked with children who have Autism Spectrum, Asperger’s Syndrome and ADD. In addition to love for education, she has over sixteen years of Property Management experience where she worked as a Training Director. Shondrae facilitated Adult Education training and she created curriculum for all areas of training and development. In 2015, Shondrae left the field of Property Management, and she started her own business. Shondrae Knight is one half of Knight & Hill Associates, LLLP, where she manages the business transactions, on-boarding and new acquisitions.
Although starting a new company is a dream fulfilled, there was still one professional area that she had not fulfilled, education. In addition to starting her own business Shondrae became a Reading and ELA tutor. She was also hired by the Dekalb Youth Leadership Academy as a Public Speaking Instructor for their summer program. Additionally, Shondrae was requested to serve on the Advisory Board for Pebble-brook High School in Cobb County. Currently, Shondrae is the ELA Instructor at TNT Academy, in Stone Mountain, Ga and she is a highly sought out tutor in the Greater Atlanta area.
Trae Long, LaGrange
Senior Accountant, Gay & Joseph, CPA, PC
Trae Long is a senior accountant at Gay & Joseph, CPA, PC. He was born and raised in LaGrange, Georgia. He graduated as the valedictorian from LaGrange College in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in accountancy and mathematics, and he began working at Gay & Joseph in October 2012. Trae obtained his CPA certification in January 2014 and was honored by the AICPA with the Elijah Watt Sells Award for his performance on the CPA exam. Trae is actively involved in the Troup County community and holds leadership roles in a variety of community programs, including the Rotary Club of LaGrange, HYPE (Helping Young Professionals Engage), the LaGrange-Troup County Small Business Networking Group, the American Red Cross of Central Midwest Georgia, Leadership Troup, and the Miracle League of LaGrange. When not at work, Trae enjoys reading, drawing, and volunteering with local nonprofit organizations.
Matt Mallory, LaGrange
Executive Vice President, Mallory Agency
Matt Mallory is the Executive Vice President & Principal of Mallory Agency; a 110 year old property and casualty insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm. With strong belief in LaGrange, Matt has chosen to give back to his community in several ways: Graduate, Leadership Troup; Past Campaign Chair, March of Dimes; Incoming Chair, YoungLife; Member, LaGrange Rotary Club; Trustee, Troup County Historical Society; Past board member, LaGrange Art Museum; Past board member, Lafayette Society of Performing Arts; Member, LaGrange/Troup County Chamber of Commerce.
Matt believes very much in the growth and prosperity of LaGrange. He hopes to see his home city increase its attractiveness and desirability, while preserving its current and timeless southern charm.
Brittany Marshall, Atlanta
ORISE Evaluation Fellow, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A West Palm Beach, Florida native, Dr. Brittany Marshall received her Bachelors in Health Education from the University of Florida, Masters in Public Health from the University of South Florida, and Doctorate in Public Health from the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
Broadly, Dr. Marshall’s practice and research interests include HIV prevention among vulnerable populations, program evaluation, and implementation science. Her ultimate goal is to lessen the research-to-practice gap and build community level evaluation capacity to support improved health outcomes produced by HIV evidence-based interventions. Currently, Dr. Marshall is an ORISE Evaluation Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta where she works in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. Dr. Marshall has held leadership positions at the local, state, and national level. Notably, she served as the Chair of the American Public Health Association (APHA) Student Assembly and member of APHA’s Executive Board.
Kristen Miller, Jackson
Griffin-Spalding Archway Professional, University of Georgia Archway Partnership
Kristen serves as liaison between the Griffin-Spalding community and the university as she works to connect higher education resources to locally identified issues and priorities.
Prior to joining Archway, Kristen directed the development, implementation, and maintenance of a comprehensive internal and external resource development plan for Southern Crescent Technical College, located in Griffin, Georgia.
Kristen has also worked for the Henry County Development Authority, the Governor’s Entrepreneur and Small Business Office, a division within the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the Henry County Chamber of Commerce.
Kristen is active on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta advisory board and has participated in two local leadership programs. She is a graduate of Georgia Southern University where she received her BS in Public Relations and MBA in Business Administration. Kristen is currently pursuing an EdD in workforce education from the University of Georgia.
Kristen resides in Jackson, Georgia, with her husband, Curt, and two daughters, Olivia and Ava.
Michael Norris, Forsyth
Economic Development Director, City of Forsyth
During the completion of his Master’s in Public Administration from Valdosta State University, Michael interned with the Global Commerce Department at the GDEcD. It was here that he found his calling and realized that economic development and promoting growth in the state of Georgia was what he wanted to do moving forward. He is currently a resident of the City of Forsyth where he is employed as the cities first Economic Development Director. With a clean slate and the support from city officials, Michael has a vision and is jumping at every opportunity to create economic growth in the City of Forsyth.
Kent Patrick, Valdosta
Associate Wealth Advisor, Bush Wealth Management
Kent was born and raised in Leesburg, Georgia and came to Valdosta in 2009 where he attended Valdosta State University. He graduated from the Langdale College of Business in 2013 with a Bachelors Degree in Finance.
As Associate Wealth Advisor, Kent currently holds a Series 7 and Series 66 registration with LPL Financial as well as Life & Health Insurance, and Variable Annuities. He serves on the firm’s investment management committee to create and manage portfolios as well as meet with and educate clients.
Kent’s other responsibilities at the firm include preparing financial plans, investment/risk analysis, and keeping the firm up to date with new technology and processes. He specializes in making the information interesting and engaging using his technological skills. He is also the main contact for anyone wanting to learn more about Bush Wealth.
Outside of work, he enjoys fishing, hunting, playing golf, and spending time with his friends and family.
Marion Phillips, Atlanta
Economic Development Research Analyst, Georgia Power Company
As a research analyst in Georgia Power’s Community & Economic Development organization, Marion is responsible for researching and analyzing a wide variety of information and data. Her work includes responding to project RFIs (requests for information), developing detailed industry research reports in support of target industry recruitment, and giving presentations to community leaders on the role of research in Economic Development.
Marion began her career at Georgia Power in September 2014. Her previous work experience includes software sales in Washington, DC and internships with the research teams at Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Partnership Gwinnett while in graduate school.
Marion holds a bachelors from the University of Richmond and a masters in City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology, with concentrations in Economic Development and Community Development. Marion is a member of Georgia Economic Developers Association and the Atlanta Economics Club.
Dr. Joel Pritchett, LaGrange
General Dentist & Practice Owner, Kid’s Zone Dentistry & Refresh Me Dental
Dr. Joel Pritchett is a general dentist and partner in Kid’s Zone Dentistry, serving the pediatric population of Troup & surrounding counties of GA with in-office, IV sedation, and hospital dentistry. He is an associate dentist in Refresh Me Dental, serving adult clients from many areas in Georgia.
Dr. Pritchett is driven by his strong desire to provide the highest quality of comfortable, compassionate, and comprehensive dental care to children and adults. â€œI love serving with positive and supportive teammates and helping our patients & parents learn and practice good oral hygiene, he says. To help patients take pride in their smiles is a professional goal that Dr. Pritchett enjoys achieving.
Graduating (’14) from the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University (previously MCG), Dr. Pritchett is a member of both the American & Georgia Dental Association. He earned his Bachelor of Science (’10) in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harding University (Searcy, AR).
While not practicing dentistry, Dr. Pritchett spends time with his wife, Emma, an elementary school educator, and their dog, Henry. He is a tennis player with deep roots in volunteer and service activities, including Lads to Leaders/Leaderettes, Habitat for Humanity, Dentists for Della (serving War Veterans), and Georgia Mission of Mercy (serving the indigent population).
Kat Reynolds, Fulton County
Corporate Relations Manager, United Way of Greater Atlanta
Kat is the Corporate Relations Manager for United Way of Greater Atlanta and has been working with the Donor Engagement team for two years. In short, she is responsible for building relationships with The Coca-Cola Company, UPS, Alston & Bird, Sutherland, Kilpatrick Townsend, and other legal partners to engage there teams with the Greater Atlanta Community! In her free time she is an active member of the Junior League of Atlanta and held positions on their Fund Development, Community, Training, and Centennial councils over the past four years. As a graduate of The University of Georgia and SCAD- ATL, she is passionate about Georgia. As a community leader, she is passionate about ensuring the longevity of our cities.
Aaron Ruffin, Peachtree Corners
Network Real Estate Manager, Mobilitie
Aaron L. Ruffin is a graduate of Mississippi State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture and a master’s degree in public policy and administration. He currently serves as a Network Real Estate Manager with Mobilitie for parts of the northeast region and resides in the Atlanta, GA area. He offers a unique background of land use planning, permitting, design and landscape architecture. He has demonstrated a capacity to incorporate various planning concepts into real-life applications, resulting in planning processes and documents that can be easily applied by local jurisdictions. Aaron began his career working for Henry County, GA within their Community Development office and later transitioned to the private sector with such firms as JACOBS Engineering and The Collaborative Firm, providing Urban Planning and Design services to the City of Chamblee, DeKalb County and Clayton County.
Sarah Beth Snider, Troup County
President, Advertising Made Easy
Sarah Beth Snider is a highly motivated young professional. After growing up around family businesses in tourism and marketing she decided to take her own stab in the industry. In 2013, Sarah Beth graduated from Troy University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. She currently is the President of Advertising Made Easy, a family business in Troup County, Georgia. Sarah Beth is active in the LaGrange- Troup County Chamber of Commerce where she serves on the board for the young professionals group, HYPE (Helping Young Professionals Engage) and also serves on the Marketing Committee Board. She is a 2016 Leadership Troup graduate.
Jared Tolbert, Atlanta
Policy Analyst, Centers for Disease Control
A Savannah, Georgia native, Mr. Jared Tolbert is a current Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Population Health Reform Initiative. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Biotechnology from Fort Valley State University (FVSU) in 2011. While at FVSU, Mr. Tolbert was elected as Student Body President for two consecutive terms. He then went on to get his Masters of Science degree in Biology/Human Evolution from Georgia College & State University. While there, he organized many town hall meetings to address the racial disparities in the city of Milledgeville, Ga. A proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Mr. Tolbert plans to attend medical school to become and OB/GYN upon the completion of PMF.
Tene Traylor, Atlanta
Fund Advisor, The Kendeda Fund
Tene Traylor joined the Kendeda Fund as a Fund Advisor in March 2016 and oversees the Atlanta program.
Prior to joining the Fund, Tene was a senior program officer at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. For ten years, she led their community development and neighborhood transformation grant making, including the Neighborhood Fund. Tene launched several programs and initiatives for the Community Foundation, helping identify, develop and steward collaborative relationships and resources to amplify the importance of place-based philanthropy, equity and civic leadership.
A proud Atlanta native, Tene has spent her career in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, spending nearly six years at United Way for Greater Atlanta, before moving to The Zeist Foundation, Inc.
Tene holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in public policy and nonprofit administration from the University of Georgia, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Georgia State University.
Jimmy Whaley, Americus
Jimmy Whaley is a very active and contributing young leader in Americus/ Sumter County. He is a Realtor with Century 21 Americus Realty where he is an associate broker. He is currently serving as the President of the Americus Board of Realtors. He is also President Elect 2018, current program chairman, former secretary and former local service project chair for the Rotary Club of Americus 2018-2019. He has a passion for leadership and has graduated from Leadership Sumter, Advancing Sumter, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, Undergraduate Interfraternity Leadership Institute. Jimmy has also been an instructor and counselor for those camps and classes. Jimmy picked up real estate quickly where by year three was in the Top 5 in sales and received the Ruby Award. Jimmy has always been 100% committed to everything he has done and that will not change now.
Holly Winner, LaGrange
Regional Tourism Project Manager, Georgia Department of Economic Development
Holly Winner is the Regional Tourism Project Manager for the Presidential Pathways region with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). As Tourism Project Manager, Holly works in collaboration with tourism industry partners, communities, elected officials, business owners and the GDEcD product development team to develop and enhance potential and existing tourism product in the Presidential Pathways region and to work effectively to market those products to the broader public.
Holly is a graduate of Georgia College & State University and Georgia State University with degrees in Art History and Journalism. She is a Fall 2015 graduate of Georgia Academy for Economic Development. Prior to working with GDEcD, Holly was the Director of Development at Roosevelt Warm Springs Development Fund and worked with Meriwether County’s tourism initiative. She is a Fayette County native who now calls LaGrange home.
Ashley Yaunches, Douglas
Events Director, Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce and EDA
Ashley Yaunches is a recent graduate of The University of Alabama (Roll Tide) where she pursued a degree in Restaurant, Hotels, and Meetings Management, with a Concentration in Events. During her four years in Alabama she worked for The City of Tuscaloosa in the Arts and Entertainment Department. A month before graduation Ashley secured a position at the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Authority where she currently serves as the Director of Events.
Cam Yearty, Athens
Community Development Specialist, Georgia Department of Community Affairs
Cam Yearty is a community planner who currently works at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Throughout his career, Cam has developed a passion for finding innovative solutions to difficult problems, specifically within the public realm. Previous work in transportation, environmental planning, and historic preservation allows Cam to draw from a great variety of experiences and tools. He believes that a community must be looked at holistically, giving citizens and leadership an informed perspective, when attempting to create positive momentum for the community.
Cam was blessed to earn his Bachelors in Economics and Environmental Studies at Mercer University in Macon prior to obtaining his Masters of Environmental Planning and Design from the University of Georgia. He is a resident of Athens, where he lives with his wife, Kasey Leigh, and dog, BoBo II.