Young Gamechangers

GeorgiaForward’s Young Gamechangers is a unique and proven leadership action program that gathers 50 of Georgia’s brightest young minds to develop creative and viable recommendations for one community.

Host Communities present the class with several of their most significant challenges and receive detailed and well-researched “big idea” proposals with timelines, potential funding sources and prospective partners.

Class participants tackle real community and economic development issues with colleagues from across the state, building up civic engagement tools like collaboration, compromise and negotiation.

2022 Young Gamechangers in Dalton-Whitfield County

In 2022 the Young Gamechangers will be hosted by Dalton-Whitfield County. “The timing is perfect for the Young Gamechangers program to come to the City of Dalton to bring fresh ideas and perspectives as our community continues to grow and evolve,” said City Administrator Andrew Parker. “There are so many exciting projects taking place within the City over the next few years, and the Young Gamechangers will help us continue to think critically to best position the community for long term success.”

GeorgiaForward thanks Dalton-Whitfield County’s Host Committee for their support and guidance:

  • David Aft, President, Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia
  • Rob Bradham, President & CEO, Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce
  • Allyson Coker, Project Manager, Believe Greater Dalton
  • Jevin Jensen, Chairman, Whitfield County Board of Commissioners
  • Jackie Killings, President & Co-Founder, K & M Technologies
  • Zab Mendez, Senior Vice President, North Georgia National Bank
  • Andrew Parker, City Administrator, City of Dalton
  • Viviana Ramirez, Owner and Developer, Block 79
  • Chris Shiflett, Chairman, SPLOST Project Committee

Applications for GeorgiaForward’s 2022 Young Gamechangers program are now closed. Selected participants will be contacted in November and recognized at Georgia Municipal Association’s Cities United Summit in January 2022.

Become a Young Gamechanger

Young Gamechangers are civic-minded individuals with big-picture mindsets and a willingness to learn.

An immersive and impactful leadership action program that goes way beyond networking, Young Gamechanger participants receive expansive, multi-faceted leadership development on three levels:

  • Traditional training such as networking, personal assessments, and education;
  • On-the-ground community and economic development training through engaging with the real problems and real people of a particular place – and seeing real impact from their work;
  • Training and practice in critical civic health skills such as a greater understanding and openness to other points of view, building broad alliances, and negotiating across divides.

Eligibility & Requirements

Applicants are welcome from every industry, background and corner of the state.

Applicants must be between the ages of 25 and 40.

Applicants must attend all four in-person meetings. These meetings are held in the Host Community over the course of the program. Several of the meetings require overnight stays. Spending time in the Host Community and spending time with classmates are critical and non-negotiable aspects of the Young Gamechangers program. Participants who are unable to attend all four meetings may be asked to leave the program.

For example, the mandatory dates of the 2022 Young Gamechangers program are:

  • January 26-28
  • April 28-29
  • June 16-17
  • August 12

The cost to be a member of the program is $500 per participant. Each participant is also responsible for their own travel to and from the focus community for all four meetings.

One-third of each Young Gamechangers class is selected from the Host Community, one-third from the Atlanta metro region, and one-third from greater Georgia.

Host Young Gamechangers in your community

Young Gamechangers’ success is dependent on support from the Host Community. GeorgiaForward brings Young Gamechangers to communities that are forward-thinking, curious, and receptive to out-of-the-box thinking.

Proposals & Implementations

GeorgiaForward encourages community leaders to select the most promising proposals and work to bring them to life. Our goal is to see one or more of the recommendations implemented. It is up to the local community to prioritize and implement the recommendations. We are proud that at least one recommendation has come to fruition in almost all of the communities that we’ve worked in.

A successful Young Gamechangers program is built on three pillars: broad community support and buy-in; a strong and collaborative relationship between city and county government; and an openness to big new ideas. Host Communities are responsible for raising a minimum of $75,000 in sponsorship dollars for the program. Up to $25,000 can be in-kind donations in the form of hotel rooms, meeting space, meals and transportation. Depending on the size of the community, location, or specific Host Community needs, additional funds may be required and can be secured through sponsorship.

Previous Young Gamechangers Host Communities are: Americus-Sumter County, Dublin-Laurens County, Douglasville-Douglas County, Augusta-Richmond County, LaGrange-Troup County, Milledgeville-Baldwin County, Albany-Dougherty County and Monroe-Walton County.

If your community is interested in hosting a future Young Gamechangers program, please reach out to Brenda Belcher ( for an introductory discussion.

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