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January 9, 2014 | Spotlight

Institute Faculty Member Recognized for Valdosta Community Development Work

Writer: Roger Nielsen

A Carl Vinson Institute of Government faculty member was honored for her government and community service January 4 at the Valdosta-Lowndes County Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Association's 29th annual Founders' Banquet.

Mara Register, a neighborhood and community development expert with the Institute of Government, was presented with the association's Candle in the Dark award in recognition of her work with the association, in the community, and for the Valdosta city government. Award winners are selected for outstanding dedication to community service.

Register devoted countless hours to mentoring others and nurturing their professional development, and she served tirelessly on community boards and committees, according to Valdosta media coordinator Shemeeka Johnson, who presented the award.

"Her professional accolades don't even begin to describe the dedication, the humility, the service, the commitment, and the compassion that Register has for our community," Johnson said.

Register worked 17 years for the City of Valdosta as director of Main Street Valdosta, community development director, and assistant to the city manager. She also served as community development director for the City of Kingsland, worked with the Coastal Area Planning and Development Commission in Brunswick, and was a special agent with U.S. Naval Investigative Services.

"This award is truly the greatest honor of my career and one I will always cherish," said Register, who joined the Institute faculty in June.

More than 600 people attended the Founders' Banquet at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center in Valdosta to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Candle in the Dark award is designed to spotlight someone who has excelled in community service, and Register embodies that ideal, according to Commemoration Association founder Ruth Kimball Council.

"She's very active in all segments of the community. If she saw the need, she would just jump right in to help," Council said.