Sumter County residents graduate from South GeorgiaLEADS program

Published 8:46 am Wednesday, March 27, 2024

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AMERICUS, GA (March 26, 2024) – Sundie Avery, Planning and Zoning Administrator and Code Compliance Specialist for the City of Dawson; Chelsea Collins, Director of Marketing and Communications at Georgia Southwestern State University; Sennica Harris, Retail Support Specialist for Food Lion; and Betty Suggs, Work-Basked Learning Coordinator for Ignite College and Career Academy, recently graduated from South GeorgiaLEADS in the 2023-2024 cohort.

South GeorgiaLEADS, a comprehensive leadership development initiative spanning 21 counties, is committed to investing in and enhancing the communities of South Georgia by strengthening the region’s leaders. LEADS is designed to raise awareness about challenges and opportunities unique to South Georgia and vital to the future success of the region. Participants are equipped with the skills and training needed to lead effectively with a deeper understanding of how to engage on issues and find meaningful solutions.

Facilitated by the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, the eight-month program included 29 participants in its seventh cohort. With a strong emphasis on this year’s theme of ‘Telling Our Story’, the sessions aimed to empower leaders to become effective communicators, storytellers, and advocates, thereby fostering greater understanding, collaboration, and positive change within their spheres of influence.

LEADS participants actively engaged in a variety of activities to help them effectively articulate and share their experiences, challenges, and successes within their communities and beyond. Avery, Collins, Harris, Suggs, along with other members of their cohort, explored the following communities and learned about:

  • Valdosta – Understanding Regional Leadership and South GeorgiaLEADS
  • Fitzgerald – Telling Our Story, Boundary Spanning, FLEX
  • Waycross – Making an Impact in Our Region, Regional Collaboration
  • Albany – Supporting the Healthcare Talent Pipeline Throughout Our Region
  • Thomasville – Telling Our Story Through Economic Development
  • Tifton – How Collective Impact Can Expand Leadership Tenacity
  • Atlanta – Leveraging Leadership to Impact South Georgia

“This was truly a transformative experience,” said Collins. “I’ve had the privilege of meeting countless individuals passionate about their communities and dedicated to improving the economic vitality of South Georgia. While I anticipated to further develop my leadership skills and learn more about the partnerships, resources and needs of our region, I was pleasantly surprised by the genuine friendships formed within our diverse group. We forged unexpected bonds, created cherished memories, and shared invaluable experiences. My heartfelt gratitude goes to the generous sponsors whose support made this program possible, and to the board of directors and day chairs who carefully organized each session and community visit.”

The LEADS program is supported by sponsors and partners such as Georgia Power, Colony Bank, AT&T, Georgia EMC, Locate South Georgia, NEOS, Coleman Talley Strategies, Georgia CEO, South Georgia Medical Center, One Sumter, and numerous other sponsors of sessions, curriculum and scholarships. The Center for South Georgia Regional Impact at Valdosta State University serves as the implementation partner and the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development as the facilitation and training partner.

Further details and pictures from each session can be found on South GeorgiaLEADS Facebook.

PHOTOS ATTACHED: Betty Suggs, Sennica Harris and Chelsea Collins at South GeorgiaLEADS Graduation Ceremony in Tifton. Not pictured: Sundie Avery