Writer: Staff Reports
Leigh Askew Elkins is a senior public service associate with the Planning and Environmental Policy Program at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. She has been instrumental in helping communities integrate natural resources into economic development projects and protecting the state’s environment.
The Hill Award recognizes distinguished achievement in public service and outreach by UGA faculty members and service professionals who have made contributions to the improvement of the quality of life in Georgia that greatly exceeds the normal accomplishments of a productive faculty member.
Over her 15 years of service at UGA, Elkins has used her skills as a facilitator and strategic planner to lead more than 80 distinct projects representing over $4.4 million in grants and contracts.
She has built a reputation across the state as a specialist in natural resources and community planning, policy, and design. While she focuses on Georgia, she has led or collaborated on projects in Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Costa Rica.
Since joining UGA in 2005, she has provided technical and research assistance to local governments, state and local agencies, UGA Extension and academic and Public Service and Outreach units, and national nonprofit organizations. She has been a key figure in facilitating water resource management and other environmentally related topics for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division and Coastal Resources Division, the Jekyll Island Authority, and dozens of cities and communities across the state.
While working as a Public Service Associate with the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development from 2005-2012, Elkins facilitated and managed the public input process for the development of Georgia’s Statewide Water Management Plan. This included coordinating seven Basin Advisory Committees along with the collaborative facilitation of the State Advisory Committee, totaling nearly 50 group meetings and 22 town hall meetings. Elkins’ efforts on the project led Georgia DNR’s Environmental Protection Division to once again work with her on reviewing plan implementation and determining next steps for four Regional Water Planning Councils representing 62 counties across Georgia.
“I have worked with Leigh in several capacities since 2006 and am truly impressed with her commitment to public service,” said Lindsay Thomas, a five-term former U.S. Congressman from Georgia. “Her thoughtful and humble approach to her work, her ease of facilitating challenging conversations, and her ability to communicate with diverse audiences are assets that not only benefit the University of Georgia, but the State of Georgia as well.”