THOMASVILLE – Kha McDonald, the city of Thomasville’s executive director for Human Resources and Community Relations, has announced her retirement, effective Dec. 1. McDonald has served the city for more than 30 years. She joined the city of Thomasville in 1988 as its first personnel director.
“At the end of every great journey, you should ask yourself: ’Did I have fun … would I recommend it to others … would I do it again … was it worth the trip?” McDonald said in a news release. “In my case, working with the city of Thomasville for 32 years has been a source of pride, a means of community fellowship, and an opportunity to work with some of the most talented and dedicated individuals that I could have ever imagined.”
McDonald began her career with the city as personnel director, which would later be reclassified as human resources director. The Thomasville native continued her professional growth within the organization, adding the title of assistant city manager in 1999 and five years later, through a departmental reorganization, had her title changed to senior assistant city manager for employee & community services. In 2018, McDonald would be called upon to step into an even larger leadership role when she would serve as interim city manager.
“When I was hired, I thought I was just going to be a personnel director,” she said. “However, over the years I have had oversight of various projects and departments that gave new insight to the phrase, ‘Sure … no problem.’”
Thomasville City Manager Alan Carson said that McDonald’s time has been influential and consequential, not just for the organization but for the city as a whole.
“Kha lives and breathes Thomasville; her experience and knowledge about our local community has been invaluable throughout my first two years as city manager,” Carson said. “Her overall experience and the year she spent as interim city manager have been invaluable to our leadership team. Kha spent her career committed and dedicated to doing what is best for the city and ‘Team Thomasville.’ While she will be missed greatly, we wish her nothing but the best as she moves into this new phase.”
In McDonald’s current role, she provides direction, oversight and overall leadership to many key areas, including human resources, community relations, risk management, historic cemetery preservation, and planning. She has been as an advisor, coach, and advocate for staff and has worked integrally with them on projects. One of McDonald’s most recent projects has come in her leadership of the city’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Team, whose focus is to highlight and bring awareness to the importance of the organization’s overall workplace diversity.
McDonald’s impact has stretched beyond the walls of the city’s administration building to the local community and throughout the state. Across Georgia, she has served on the board of the Georgia Alliance of Preservation Commission and as a region director, vice president of the Georgia Municipal Cemetery Association and a board member of the American Public Power Association’s Human Resources Committee. Her passion for the community has allowed her to serve on many local boards and committees, including Southern Regional Technical College, Goodwill Industries, MacIntyre Park Middle School, Thomasville Landmarks, Hands on Thomas County, Habitat for Humanity, Marguerite Neel Williams Boys & Girls Club, Thomas County Historical Society, and Archbold Medical Center Board of Directors. She has been recognized for her community service by commanders with the 1230th Army National Guard and by Veteran Boosters Inc.
Over thirty-two years McDonald has impacted employees in a multitude of ways.
“The first time I spoke to her, I did not like what she said to me,” said Anthony Choice, manager of Purchasing & Fleet Services. “Those words turned out to be life-altering; they helped me become a man that took responsibility for my actions. Years later, I came to realize that was the day she became ‘Ma’ to me, and I am forever grateful that God placed her in my life.”
According to Thomasville Police Chief Troy Rich, McDonald has not only impacted the city of Thomasville, but she has also played an influential role in the careers of many employees, including his own.
“Kha has been a mentor, leader, and above all, a dear friend,” he said. “I attribute my hiring back in 1990 to her and believe that her leadership assisted me in my journey. Kha is invaluable and will be missed dearly by all of Team Thomasville.”
Sheryl Sealy, executive director of Marketing & Customer Service, has worked with McDonald since 1989 and said she considers McDonald a mentor.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and learn from Kha for a very long time. It was by watching her that I learned what it meant to be a true professional,” Sealy said. “She has set a very high example for me and many others. Kha has always been the heart of Team Thomasville, and she will be missed.”
“Working with the city of Thomasville has been challenging, fun, fresh, and full of camaraderie,” McDonald said. “My kids gained many ‘mentors, cousins, aunts and uncles’ that have been instrumental in their overall development. I gained lifelong friendships that will be in my heart forever, and my gratitude list is endless. My ‘HR Divas’ — Sandra Piland, Lawana Jackson, and Christine Forbes — along with so many others, have been my rocks. Thank you for making this a one of a kind, unforgettable journey so remarkable.”
McDonald’s last day with the City of Thomasville will be Monday, November 30th.