Mara is currently serving as Interim Associate Director for the Governmental Training,
Education, and Development division. She also manages all leadership development training
programs for more than 5,000 local and state government officials annually. She works
with officials and staff from local and state government in managing and providing
various professional and leadership development training programs in multiple state
agencies and a variety of local government professionals associations in the state.
Her primary areas of focus as the unit manager are the evaluation of all educational
programs and the development of public sector competency-based learning objectives
and course curriculum. She has more than 25 years of experience in local government,
primarily in the areas of administration, downtown and community development, code
enforcement and local government planning. Before joining the Institute of Government
in 2013, Mara served as the assistant to the city manager with the City of Valdosta.
She successfully completed the course of study as a Certified Main Street Manager
through the National Trust Main Street Center in Washington, D.C., in 2000 and was
named the 2005 Sen. Loyce Turner Outstanding Public Official by Valdosta State University
and received the Department of Community Affairs Outstanding Leadership Award in 2006.
Mara was honored with the Candle in the Dark award in 2014 for her government and
community service by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration
M.P.A., Georgia Southern University, B.S.C.J, Valdosta State University
Areas of Expertise:
facilitation, local government administration, neighborhood and community development,
downtown development, historic preservation, code enforcement, local government planning,
public information/communications, land bank authority development and administration