Emily Jean McAfee, who this week took the reins of the Flint RiverQuarium as its volunteer interim CEO, speaks with Marilyn Odum of AB&T at Thursday’s annual meeting of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. McAfee was later recognized with the chamber’s 2013 Lifetime Service Award. (Jan. 31, 2013)
ALBANY -- A young public relations professional, a stalwart volunteer and leader in the local business scene and an organization that has provided a safe haven for domestic violence victims for decades were all honored by the Albany-Area Chamber of Commerce.
Haryl Dabney, a public relations specialist with L2Networks and a coordinator of Emerge Albany, an initiave of the chamber to get young people involved community issues and service projects, was named the 2013 Ambassador of the Year for the chamber.
Dabney, along with a group of others, has worked to promote downtown Albany by starting monthly "cash mobs" at downtown businesses in which he and his group patronize downtown businesses.
Emily Jean McAfee, chair of the Flint RiverQuarium board and who started this week as the RiverQuarium's volunteer interim CEO, was given the chamber's 2013 Lifetime Service Award.
There are few volunteer boards or organizations that McAfee hasn't held an active role with in Albany.
She is a former Dougherty County School Board member, chair of Albany Tomorrow Inc., president of the Junior League of Albany, Community Action Council member, chair of the Andrew College Board of Trustees, board member of the United Way of Southwest Georgia, board member of the Albany Museum of Art, past president of the YMCA of Albany, past chair of the Albany-Area Chamber of Commerce Board, president of Girls Inc., board, board member of the Thronateeska Heritage Center Board of Directors.
It's that laundry list of volunteerism, work that is entering its fourth decade, for which McAfee was honored.
The chamber's 2013 Not-for-Profit of the year went to the Liberty House, a domestic violence shelter in Albany, provides services to victims of domestic violence, their children and families in 17 Southwest Georgia counties.
Founded in 1981, the organization has worked with other organizations within the region, including the Dougherty County Victim's Assistance Program and local schools, colleges and universities to promote a strong domestic violence awareness initiative throughout the region.
Executive Director Silke Deeley accepted the award on behalf of the organization and said Thursday that it was an honor to be recognized for their work and service to the community.
Finalists for the award also included the Alzheimer's Outreach Center and Chehaw.
In addition to the awards, chamber President Chris Hardy unveiled a new chamber website and logo. The site, Hardy noted, is meant to give the site a more professional look while making it more user-friendly. Additionally, the chamber has overhauled its logo, adding a new graphic design and the slogan "Proactive, Progressive, Pro-business."
The new design will go live in the next few weeks, Hardy said.
Chamber Board Chairman Miles Espy turned control of the board over to Cynthia George, the owner of an Albany consulting firm who will carry the gavel for one year.
"As we begin a new year we will no doubt face some challenges ... but I pledge to be inclusive, optimistic and to bring a community minded spirit to Albany," George said. "We have to be optimistic about our community. We must talk up our community. We are absolutely the best advertisement for our town."
The awards were presented amid the backdrop of motivational speaker and former news broadcaster Patrick McGaughey, who is now a consultant for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
McGaughey talked of business as a game that needed to be changed. He said that business is hindered by roadblocks like individualism, a lack of compassion and discipline, and minimalist thinking.
McGaughey also urged the hundreds in attendance to embrace change in the business world whether it be technology or business practices using metaphors of former president John Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
"People don't mind change, just being changed," he said. "And the only way to facilitate change is to have vision."