Barbara Grogan

MOULTRIE – Thirty-two participants from across south Georgia have committed to investing in the future vitality of the region by participating in the 2020-2021 class of South GeorgiaLEADS.

Representing 14 counties in the 21-county region, the desire to engage in the issues facing south Georgia is a consistent passion of this year’s class, South GeorgiaLEADS officials said in a news release. At a time when leadership is critical, the Board of Directors of South GeorgiaLEADS, in partnership with Valdosta State University, is proud to announce the participants of this year’s class.

“On behalf of the board of directors, I welcome the 2020-2021 class of South GeorgiaLEADS,” Chairwoman Barbara Grogan said. “Representing an array of communities, professions and cultures across southwest Georgia, we are excited about the great conversations and skill sharing the class will experience — and take back to their hometowns.

“Reflective of the diversity of our region, we have professionals from an array of sectors, including nonprofits, K-12 and post-secondary education, local government, financial institutions, utility companies, the fashion industry and more. We will gather for the kickoff retreat in late August with a robust plan of activities taking us into the next eight months.”

Supported by strong corporate sponsorships — Georgia Power Company as the sustaining sponsor and Electric Cities of Georgia as the presenting sponsor — South GeorgiaLEADS links business and civic leaders, educators, nonprofit professionals, elected and public officials, and other interested participants to the region’s economic development agenda and efforts.

The 2020-2021 South GeorgiaLEADS class includes:

Ben Hill County

Melissa Dark, Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Chamber of Commerce;

Colquitt County

Sarah Adams, UGA Archway Partnership;

Justin Cox, Colquitt County Board of Commissioners;

Jordan Hammack, Colquitt Regional Medical Center;

Caroline Horne United Way of Colquitt County;

Summer Richmond, Ameris Bank;

Cook County

Heather Green, Adel-Cook County Chamber of Commerce;

Chris Posey, ANS Signs Inc.;

Crisp County

Rusty Slade Planters First Bank;

Dougherty County

Chris Hatcher, Commodore Conyers College & Career Academy

Bridges Sinyard, Adams Exterminators;

Tom Sullivan, Phoebe Putney Health Systems

Grady Whitney, Brannen UGA Archway Partnership;

Lee County

Joey Magaddino, People South Bank;

Lowndes County

A.C. Braswell, City of Valdosta;

Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Company

Jessica Catlett, Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority;

Michael Smith, Greater Valdosta United Way;

Merritt Wall, Valdosta State University;

Mitchell County

Vance Green, Planters and Citizens Bank;

Randolph County

Kayla Wall, UGA Extension, Quitman County;

Sumter County

Elena Carne, T31 Handcrafted Activewear;

Edward Jackson, New Horizons Habitat for Humanity;

Darrell Sabbs, Barnum Funeral Home;

Jessica Sinclair, Sumter County Family Connections;

Stephen Snyder, Georgia Southwestern State University;

Thomas County

Chandler Foy, New Hire Solutions

Tift County

Sara Hand, ABAC Museum of Agriculture;

Eric Larson, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College;

Tom Mark, Tom Mark Diversified Enterprises;

Katie Murray, University of Georgia-Tifton Campus;

Worth County

Donald Gilman, Ignite College & Career Academy.

“At Georgia Power, we have well over 100 years of community and economic development experience,” sustaining sponsor and Georgia Power Regional Director in Valdosta Joe Brownlee said. “From that experience, we’ve come to realize and firmly believe that the most successful regions have committed, engaged leaders. When communities and regions consider leaders to engage in the economic development planning process, it’s important to include stakeholders that bring a different perspective, innovative ideas and contagious enthusiasm.

“Community and regional leadership is too important to be left up to chance. South GeorgiaLEADS has been very intentional about bringing together leaders who can help foster change and growth and create strategies for collaboration throughout south Georgia. That is why Georgia Power is committed to this program as the sustaining sponsor.”

Daryl Ingram, senior vice president and chief external officer for Electric Cities of Georgia and the presenting sponsor of South GeorgiaLEADS since it launched in 2016, talks about the importance of grassroots leadership.

“LEADS connects local stakeholders with sound leadership values that result in economic prosperity for so many,” he said. “These grassroots principles of LEADS align with the Electric Cities of Georgia’s rich history of helping communities and why our continued support of this LEADS program is a perfect fit in our support of southwest Georgia.”

South GeorgiaLEADS will kick off on Thursday, at Southern Woods in Sylvester-Worth County. Emphasizing regional priorities throughout the program, SGL links regional site visits and issues awareness to relevant leadership development content within the framework of the South GeorgiaLEADS priorities.

Sponsors of the 2020-2021 South GeorgiaLEADS program include AT&T, Colony Bank, CTSI, Electric Cities of Georgia, Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Development Authority, Georgia CEO, Georgia Power Company, One Sumter Economic Development Inc., Leadership Worth, Lee County Chamber of Commerce, Locate South Georgia, Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority, Sylvester-Worth County Chamber of Commerce, Tift County Development Authority, and Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority.

For more information about South GeorgiaLEADS, visit, or contact Grogan at (229) 921-1457 or

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