ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany businessman Sanford Hillsman was selected to serve as chief executive officer of Georgia's Knights of Columbus fraternal organization at the organization's recent 111th Georgia State Council meeting.
Hillsman, the president and CEO of the Sanford Hillsman & Associates construction management firm, is the first African-American to hold the State Deputy position.
"This is a phenomenal honor; it's really just beginning to sink in now," Hillsman said. "To be afforded this opportunity is a tremendous honor, and I am blessed to be in a position to accept it and help move our organization forward. Being a part of the Albany council, I take this as a pretty big deal for our community."
Hillsman said that while being the first African-American to hold the State Deputy title is an honor, he's more proud of what his election says about the Knights of Columbus.
"What this shows about our organization is that a door has been opened," Hillsman said. "I'm trying to think of the right verbs. ... I'm just extremely honored. Being the first African-American in this position is special because of who the organization is.
"I think this speaks volumes about who we are as Catholics, and about how the members of the state organization saw me as a viable leader some eight to 10 years ago and maintained their faith in me."
Hillsman said the Knights of Columbus select members of the organization as statewide wardens, then advocates, state treasurer and state secretary before they are eligible for nomination as State Deputy.
A member of the local Knights of Columbus council, Hillsman's election came during the organization's annual meeting in Savannah, during which its members selected a new slate of officers. Also chosen for state office were Mark McMullen of Mableton, state secretary; Mark Corrigan of Savannah, state treasurer; Mark Hofmann of Jackson, state advocate; and Tim DeSmet of Conyers, state warden.
"I had me three Marks there in a row," Hillsman joked as he talked about the new slate of officers. "But I am honored to be among these state leaders. Since taking office, I've gotten nothing but support and kindness from the members of the organization. No one that I've called on to serve in leadership positions or to help with projects has turned me down. That speaks well of the kind of members we have in the Knights of Columbus.
"I'm excited about serving with them. My motto, if I have one, is, 'We're but a pencil in God's hand.' God can write any script He wants in our lives if we're open to Him."
Hillsman is president of the 100 Black Men of America's Albany chapter and is a member of that group's international board of directors. He's also serves on the Albany-Dougherty County Aviation Commission, Planning Commission and Electrical Board of Commissioners. He is a member of St. Teresa's Catholic Church in Albany and serves on the prison ministry staff that visits prisoners at Lee State Prison.
The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic, family fraternal organization founded in 1882 to assist widows, orphans and other needy members within its chapters' communities. The organization has more than 1.8 million members worldwide and almost 16,000 in Georgia.