50 of Georgia’s Brightest Join Young Gamechangers to Tackle Project in Milledgeville

In August, 50 young professionals from across the state will head to Milledgeville to start a new project as part of the Young Gamechangers program. These young innovators, between the ages of 24-40 years old, have diverse backgrounds and careers spanning law, healthcare, non-profit, technology, marketing & communications, education, religion and economic development. They will work for five months to come up with big ideas and solutions to help the Milledgeville-Baldwin County community solve some of its most persistent challenges.

The opening session for the Young Gamechangers project will kick off on Thursday, August 10 at 10 am at Georgia Military College Legislative Chambers of the Old Capitol Building, 201 East Greene Street, Milledgeville, GA 31601. Media are welcome from 10 am to 11:30 am.

“We are excited about starting our sixth Young Gamechangers project,” states Kris Vaughn, Executive Director of GeorgiaForward. “As communities begin implementing the Young Gamechangers’ ideas and reaping the benefits, we know we are on the right track to help make Georgia stronger and more prosperous, and grow a talent pipeline of the next generation of leaders.”

Here is an introduction to a few of the Young Gamechangers in the Fall 2017 Class:

Ian M. McMullen is an attorney at Waddell & Associates, LLC in Milledgeville where he practices in the areas of real estate, probate, and local government law. He graduated from Baldwin High School in 2003, Georgia College & State University in 2006, and the Walter F. Georgia School of Law in 2009, where he was a member of the Mercer Law Review and Journal of Southern Legal History. McMullen practiced law in Macon for five years before returning to Milledgeville in 2015.  He is active in the community as the Worship Committee Chairman for First United Methodist Church, Secretary for the Milledgeville Jaycees, Senior Steward of Benevolent Lodge #3 F&AM, Trustee of Lockerly Arboretum and board member of the Old Capital Museum Society. McMullen lives with his wife, Ruth, and sons Jack and George in Milledgeville.

“Milledgeville hasn’t had an outside group like this come in and give a perspective on what we could do to make our community better,” states McMullen. “I’m interested to hear new approaches and ideas.”

“I look forward to sharing my history and deep knowledge of the area,” he continues. “My family has been here well before the Civil War since the 1820s. I went to college here, then moved away, but came back home to raise my family. I want the area to be thriving with good jobs and opportunities so my two sons will grow up and want to stay here, too.”

Karen Judd has worked in the communications and media relations industry for 13 years. She is a communications specialist for AECOM, a global civil engineering firm, and serves as a PR consultant to AECOM’s program management and transportation sector clients. She is currently leading all aspects of communications for the Georgia Department of Transportation’s implementation of the Transportation Investment Act program, a $1.8 billion multi-region initiative. Judd completed her undergraduate studies at the University of South Florida, and holds a M.A. in Global Communications from the University of Florida.  In her free time, she volunteers with GeorgiaFIRST Robotics. Judd resides in Atlanta, with her husband, Will, and rescue dog, Dresden.

“When you think of Georgia cities in terms of economics, Milledgeville might be overlooked,” says Judd. “I believe the adage that a rising tide raises all boats. If each city achieves its potential, it benefits us all. I saw first-hand how a city can find its niche and prosper when I grew up in a poor county in Florida that transformed into The Villages, one of the nation’s largest retirement communities.”

“One reason I wanted to join the Young Gamechangers is that unbridled creativity is encouraged,” Judd adds. “We’re asked to think big. I’m excited to see what they throw at us and what we can do!”

Tray T.S. Deadwyler, CVM, CLC is leading generations through the civic engagement continuum as the Director of Social Innovation at Think For Good. Affectionately nicknamed Service Nerd by his teammates and colleagues, Deadwyler is a sought after civic engagement trainer, facilitator, and design consultant. He is a recurring speaker at the Conference on Volunteerism and Service hosted by Points of Light and The Corporation for National and Community Service State and National Symposiums. Over his 15 years of experience, he has worked with American Red Cross, Atlanta Police Department, Morehouse College, Points of Light Foundation, San Francisco Food Bank, Spelman College and the AmeriCorps*NCCC. Deadwyler lives in Austell.

“I’m interested in this project because we will use the collective brain,” states Deadwyler. “People from different backgrounds, biases, and viewpoints will come together to focus on helping others. It will connect us to what Dr. King called the Beloved Community.”

“We need to counter the empathetic deficit in our communities, and we can do that through deliberate action,” Deadwyler adds. “People are stopped by their fear of the unknown. It takes courage to reach out to others and it’s risky. But the risk is worth the reach. By building connection, communities thrive.”

In December 2016, Mary Kathryn Griffin became Director of the Claxton-Evans County Economic Development Authority. She is involved in numerous community endeavors including the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing, Downtown Development Authority, Shop Local Initiative, Evans County Board of Education C.A.F.E., and the Historical Society. She is currently enrolled in the Georgia Academy for Economic Development. Griffin is a 2016 graduate of Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication. While in Milledgeville, she was an intern at the Georgia Department of Economic Development in the communications department. After graduation, she moved back to her hometown of Claxton, where she currently resides.

“I attended GC & SU so working on a project in Milledgeville will be a great opportunity for me to give back to a community that helped me immensely during my formative years,” states Griffin.

“Now as a professional with experience in economic development, I bring a fresh perspective,” Griffin continues. “I’m particularly interested in the economic growth potential of Baldwin County.”

Kyria Williams has worked for state and local government for over 10 years. She is currently the Assistant to the Human Resources Director for Spalding County.  Prior to moving to Georgia, she worked for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.  She has a Bachelor’s of Sociology and a Master’s of Public Administration from Penn State University, and has earned graduate certificates in both Public Financial Management and Human Resources.  She is a recent graduate of the Leadership Griffin+Spalding program. She has volunteered at her local library teaching children to play chess, and served on the 2016 United Way Allocations Committee for her community. She lives in Griffin.

“I’ve only lived in Georgia for three years, so this will be a great way to see more of the state,” says Williams. “I look forward to meeting new people and learning from them, contributing my time and skills to another community, and bringing ideas back home to share.”

Sponsors for the 2017 Fall Young Gamechangers program includeCommerce Club Foundation, Central Atlanta Progress/Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, Community Foundation of Central Georgia, Baldwin County, City of Milledgeville, Milledgeville Baldwin Chamber, The Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville and Baldwin County, Magnolia State Bank, Century Bank and Trust, Exchange Bank, Union Recorder, Leslie Outdoor Advertising, Georgia Trend, Williams & Associates, Georgia CEO, Milledgeville Main Street, Milledgeville Rotary, Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority, Georgia College, Central Georgia Technical College, Milledgeville CVB, Georgia Military College, Simply Southern Barn, Coca Cola, Tri County EMC, LaQuinta Inns and Suites and M&R Marketing Group.

GeorgiaForward is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to improve the state of Georgia by engaging business, political, academic and civil leaders to collaboratively shape a statewide policy agenda.  For more information about the Young Gamechangers program and a complete list of the 2017 fall class, visit their web site:  https://www.georgiaforward.org.

MEDIA:  Karen Hatchett – karen@hatchettpr.com.