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Congratulations to our Georgia Certified Economic Developer program graduates!

 

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Jillian Bowen is a Project Manager for the Development Authority of Peach County. While working for Peach Count for the past 10 years, Jillian’s understandings of economic principles, cultures, and policies have provided invaluable resources to regional and international projects over the years. 

Due to her background in marketing and project management – with clients such as the Atlanta Motor Speedway, FEMA, and GEMA – Jill became well-versed in the art of innovative deal structuring and negotiations.  Upon leaving the private sector to pursue her passion for helping others through economic development, Jill's skill sets in communication, finance, graphic design, web design, and marketing have led to multiple successful developments.  Her most recent collaboration led to the location of Pure Flavor's $100MM investment in hydroponic greenhouses in Peach County.

Larry Brooks is the executive director for the American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia, where he leads and directs volunteers and employees in Northwest Georgia to ensure the American Red Cross goals and mission are achieved. Formerly served as the executive director of the Walker County Development Authority for over a decade, he oversaw the expansion of several of Walker County’s leading industries including Roper Corporation, Nissan Brake Georgia , and Unique Fabricating South. He led a successful deal reached with Audia Plastics and Walker County manufacturers and was awarded the Walker County Development Authority GEDA’s (Georgia Economic Developers Association) 2014 Deal of the Year for a Mid-size Community.

Larry holds a Master’s Degree in Management and Leadership from Liberty University’s School of Business, where he was inducted for academic merit into the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society in Business, Management, and Administration. He also was granted the Georgia Certified Economic Development certification in 2017 by University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the GEDA’s Annual Conference.

Matt Carter is the Executive Director of the Pierce County Industrial Development and Building Authority where he leads product development, new industry recruitment and existing business expansion. He has overseen the recruitment of Southern Ionics Minerals, LLC, and expansions of Stewart Distribution, Southern Eagle Distributors, Progress Rail A Caterpillar Company.

Matt holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resources from Georgia Southern University. He has also graduated from Leadership Pierce and Georgia Academy for Economic Development.

Tammy Caudell serves as a Senior Project Manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development in Northeast Georgia, managing for Existing Industry and Regional Recruitment projects in Region 2 of the state. Since joining the Department in 2013, Tammy has overseen over $1 billion in investment to Northeast Georgia, she works to provide resources and assistance to developing companies and local economic developers within the state.

Tammy began her career as a marketing strategist, previously working as a media buyer and marketing manager for Buckhead Brokers and Prudential Realty in the Atlanta real estate market. Tammy continued to enhance her marketing career, working as a special events manager for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and as a sports and leisure account manager and national account executive with the Coca-Cola Company also in Atlanta. Tammy has a Master of Business Administration at Brenau University and is a graduate of the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She is also a member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) and a 2009 graduate of Leadership Georgia, serving as Program Chair in 2010.

James Coughlin, executive director of the Camden County Joint Development Authority, grew up along Florida’s Gulf Coast and immediately felt at home when he arrived in coastal Georgia. He attended the University of Florida for his undergraduate work and later the University of Georgia, where he also served as a graduate assistant athletic trainer.

Previously, James served as the director of professional recruitment and retention for Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Ga. In this role, he traveled the southeast region, recruiting physicians to Northwest Georgia. James was a 2011 graduate of Leadership Rome. In 2013, he was the governor’s appointee to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission. James is also a 2016 graduate of Leadership Southeast Georgia and now serves on its board. He is also vice-chair of the Southeast Georgia Alliance.

As director of economic development at Southern Regional Technical College, Kelly Daniell is responsible for developing a network of industry contacts, planning and implementing contract training, and developing continuing education and professional development programs. She works to maintain a high-performance environment characterized by positive leadership and a strong team orientation in her department. 

Kelly built a career with the Technical College System of Georgia, starting with Southern Regional, formerly known as Moultrie Technical College in 2003, as the assistant to the vice president. Kelly’s experience in various roles within the Economic Development Department has been instrumental in the performance of the Tifton campus.

A native of Tifton, Ga., Kelly holds a bachelor’s in business administration from Georgia Southwestern State University and will graduate in June 2020 with her master’s in business administration from Western Governors University.

Jana Dyke is the Executive Director of the Waycross and Ware County Development Authority.

Jana’s passion for economic development began in her young adult years in Leesburg, Georgia, which cultivated into tenure of serving in her hometown’s Chamber of Commerce and local Development Authority at the age of just 19. Jana later worked at the Walton County Chamber of Commerce, and Destin, Florida, Chamber of Commerce where she was the recipient of the ACCE 2005 and 2006 Award of Excellence respectively. During her time as a licensed REALTOR®, Jana received several top sales awards for her production. Jana later found her way back to the economic development arena when she secured the position of Main Street and Downtown Development Authority Director for the City of Sylvester, GA.  

Jana received her bachelor’s degree from Columbia Southern University. She currently serves as the alternate state director for SEDC and was recently selected by her statewide peers to serve as the Georgia state director for SEDC in 2020.

As the Region 5 representative for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Beth Eavenson serves governments and citizens in the region by identifying state and federal resources for community and economic development. She also provides technical and educational assistance to enhance local and regional leadership capacity, and works with groups to encourage regional cooperation. She works closely with local leadership to provide specialized service to each community.

A Georgia native, Beth received her bachelor's degree from Lander University in Greenwood, S.C., double majoring in political science and Spanish. She earned her master's degree in public administration from the University of Georgia. Prior to joining DCA, Beth served as the executive director of the Development Authority of Elbert County, Elberton and Bowman.

In addition to her work at DCA, Beth is an adjunct instructor of public administration at Lander University. She also serves on the Athens Tech Foundation Board of Directors and on the Lander University Alumni Association Board, where she is vice president for young alumni. She has also served on the International Economic Development Council’s Young Professionals Committee and on the Joint Development Authority of Northeast Georgia. She is a graduate of Leadership Elberton and the Georgia Academy for Economic Development.

Kevin Ellis serves as the Executive Director for the Bacon County Development Authority. Since returning home from serving in the United States Air Force, Kevin has worked to foster growth and development in his rural South Georgia community. He is responsible for local business expansions, product development and new industry recruitment. He also serves on the Southern Georgia Workforce Development Board and is Chairman of the Southeast Georgia Regional Development Authority.

He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics from Kennesaw State University and an Associate of Applied Science in Electronic Systems Technology from the Community College of the Air Force.

Kyle Fletcher has served as Executive Director of the Thomaston-Upson County Industrial Development Authority for the last six years. Originally from Marianna, Florida, she graduated from Auburn University in 1987 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Public Relations/Journalism.  She’s been active as a volunteer in the public school system, served on numerous boards including the Upson Regional Medical Center Foundation Board, Upson County Department of Family and Child Services Board, Southern Crescent Technical College Board and Georgia Economic Development Association Board. She is also a founding member of the Flint River Area Auburn.

Bekki Fox serves as the Community Development Director for the City of Rome, GA managing Community Development Block Grant Entitlement program funds and develops all Consolidated Plans, Action Plans and annual reports as required by HUD. She works to receive grant funding from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs through the CHIP program and HOME program to address housing needs identified in the City of Rome low income neighborhoods, and manages the Rome/Floyd Land Bank Authority.

Bekki has a Bachelor of Science in Management degree from Shorter University; a Certificate of Local Government Management from the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government; successfully completed the Georgia Academy for Economic Development; is a HUD certified HOME Program Specialist in Regulations; received a HUD certificate of training for Environmental Review Procedures for Responsible Entities and is graduate from the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce Leadership Rome program. She is a member of the Georgia Association of Land Bank Authorities (GALBA) and the National Community Development Association (NCDA).

Mitch Griggs has served as the executive director of the Union County Development Authority in Blairsville, Ga., since 2008. HeMitch has a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography from the University of Georgia, where he was an honor graduate.

He is a certified economic development finance professional from the National Development Council and a graduate of the South Carolina Economic Developers School. He is a member of various organizations, including the Georgia Economic Developers Association and sits on the board of the Blairsville–Union County Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as the chair of the GEDA Rural Development and Membership Services Committees and board of directors.

Trisha Growe has served as the president and CEO of the Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce since 2009. During her tenure with the chamber, she has been committed to supporting existing business and industry, while attracting significant new investment from around the nation. As the official Destination Marketing Organization for the city, the chamber is responsible for attracting visitors and publicizing the community to encourage sustainable economic growth. Trisha has overseen these marketing efforts.

Before assuming her role at the chamber, Trisha enjoyed a successful career in broadcast media in Savannah, Ga. She worked for WJCL-TV/WTGS-TV and then WTOC-TV to bring awareness and support for local, regional and national businesses and organizations.

Trisha has a Travel Marketing Professional Certification through the Southeast Tourism Society as well as successfully completing the Georgia Academy for Economic Development. She also was recognized in 2019 by the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives with a service award for 10 years of working in the chamber industry. 

Kimberly Hobbs has worked for the Southern Georgia Regional Commission for 22 years. She began her career there as public relations coordinator and then transitioned to community and economic development 15 years ago. She initially served as a grants specialist in that division before becoming its director in July 2016. She oversees a staff of five grants specialists. Together, they manage over 80 community and economic development projects totaling more than $65 million and assist thousands of people throughout southern Georgia.

Kimberly holds both a Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership and a Master of Public Administration from Valdosta State University. She is a certified economic development finance professional through the National Development Council and is a graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development.

 

Angel Jackson joined the Archway Partnership in January of 2010. She has served in various capacities and has been responsible for communications, budget and finance, human resources and project management across all of the Archway communities. She currently serves as an operations coordinator and oversees Archway operations in Hart and Spalding counties, working closely with public service units, colleges and schools at UGA and other higher education institutions.

Prior to joining the Archway Partnership, Angel worked for the UGA vice president for student affairs where she focused on communications, data management and event planning. Before that, she taught English in Verona, Italy, and worked as an on-site coordinator for the Verona International Program, a private study abroad and touring company.

Angel earned her BA in speech communication and Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Georgia. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in workforce education in the College of Education.

Elizabeth Jones joined the Stephens County Development Authority team in May 2017.

Elizabeth earned her bachelor’s of business administration in information systems with a double minor in information security assurance and computer science from the Michael J. Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University.

Adela Kelley is a Senior Project Manager, Global Commerce for the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). Adela is with the Existing Industry Regional Recruitment Team, where her focus is to increase jobs and investment through locating and expanding businesses, as well as growing small businesses.

Adela joined the Georgia Department of Economic Development in 2005 after previously working with three development Authorities in the economic development field.  Recent company locations or expansions she has assisted with include Starbucks (Augusta), Scot Built (Jenkins), Textron (Augusta), and several others in the region.  She has over 17 years’ experience in economic development and over 5 years in the education field, as a Director of Career Development.  Adela served as a committee chair for the Georgia Economic Developers Association from 2009-2016.   She is a member of Economic Development Leadership, Economic Development Network and the Georgia Economic Developers Association, and is a board member for the WorkSource program/Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act and the Fort Gordon CSRA Alliance.

Sadie Krawczyk serves as Economic Development Specialist for the City of Monroe overseeing industry and retail recruitment, downtown development, small business support programs, and the day-to-day operations of the Downtown Development Authority and Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau. In addition, she represents the city at the state level for economic development and serves as the point of contact for new and current business growth. Prior to working in this position, Ms. Krawczyk worked in financial management for small businesses and helped with the development of non-profit organizations. Ms. Krawczyk has a Master of Business Administration from Brenau University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in History from Furman University.

 

Sharon Liggett serves as a state-wide Operations Coordinator with the UGA Archway Partnership overseeing several Georgia communities and numerous initiatives covering a wide-variety of content areas. She serves as the Archway Liaison with several colleges and departments on campus to link UGA resources (faculty and students) to community-identified needs.  Additionally, she networks with regional partners, state agencies, USG and TCSG institutions, business and industry and other resources to leverage assets and build collaborative opportunities.

Prior to the Archway Partnership, Sharon had a well-established career in the public sector through governmental and nonprofit arenas. Her portfolio includes years of experience from local, regional, state and federal positions. Her tenure includes staff to two Florida governors, Deputy Chief of Staff for both U.S. Senator Bob Graham and U.S. House of Representatives member Jane Harman as well as Special Advisor to the President and Advisor to the Special Envoy for the Americas in the White House.

Sharon earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and a Masters of Public Administration from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.

 

Holly Lynde has been with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government since 2014 and has worked with a wide variety of state agencies and local governments on topics such as economic development, workforce development, university system enrollment, and criminal justice and mental health. Her clients have included the Council of Accountability Court Judges; Development Authority of Fulton County; Superior Court of Fulton County; Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Georgia Department of Education; Georgia General Assembly; Georgia Rural Development Council; Georgia Power; the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and a variety of local government entities throughout Georgia. Holly also analyzes proposed state tax legislation to estimate its potential impacts on the state budget and helps prepare fiscal notes for the members of the Georgia General Assembly.

Prior to joining the Institute of Government, Holly was the research and policy coordinator for the Southern Regional Education Board’s Educational Technology Cooperative. She has worked in policy and fiscal analysis for more than 15 years for the Washington State House of Representatives, the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board and management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

 

David A. Milliron serves as City Manager for the City of Hogansville in Troup County, Ga., where he manages the day-to-day operations of the local government in addition to serving as Public Works and Utilities Director. He has over 30 years of management experience in the private and public sectors and previously served as City Manager for the cities of Villa Rica in Carroll and Douglas counties and Stockbridge in Henry County.

To further economic development in Hogansville, David has focused on the development and implementation of a downtown master plan and economic development corridor study. Economic development efforts have resulted in new industry, nearly every downtown business filled and development commitments for over 1,000 new rooftops over the next seven years that will more than double the city’s population. Hogansville is only one of 19 Georgia cities to achieve Rural Zone status, awarded in January 2019, that will enable businesses and investors to obtain state tax credits for qualified economic development expansion and activities.

Edward Morrow is a regional planner for the Central Savannah River Area Regional Commission, helping Augusta-area municipalities coordinate effective community planning initiatives and foster their growth through the creation of locally appropriate land-use regulation schemes.

Edward is skilled in the use of geographic information systems, having been a GIS intern with both the City of Houston, Texas, and the Atlanta Regional Commission. He also worked with the South African town-planning firm SatPlan Alpha as a graduate student, investigating the use of a GIS-based decision support system to help municipal governments prioritize informal settlements for upgrade funding.

Previously, Edward served as a public-school educator, teaching high school civics, geography and economics. He was also a municipal land-use planner, administering the zoning ordinances of Henry and Augusta-Richmond counties in Georgia.

Edward holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Morehouse College, and a Master of City and Regional Planning with a specialization in economic development from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Molly Olson is the executive director of the Development Authority of Burke County. Molly is a native of Johns Creek, Ga., and a graduate of the University of West Georgia with a degree in international economics. Molly has worked with the Savannah Economic Development Authority and the Candler County Industrial Authority during her career in economic development. She is a member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the CSRA Unified Development Authority, the Southern Economic Development Council, the International Economic Development Council, and the Junior League of Augusta. Molly currently chairs the Annual Awards Committee with the Georgia Economic Developers Association.

Keri Orvin was born and raised in Appling County and is part of a fourth-generation family farm that raises horses and cows, and grows pecans, pine trees and satsuma oranges. She graduated magna cum laude from Valdosta State University in 2009. After college, Keri worked with Fram Renewable Fuels doing international sales and marketing. She traveled to Europe and Asia marketing wood pellets and negotiating contracts with European utilities for five years. In 2014, she was hired as president/CEO of the Baxley Appling County Chamber of Commerce. In that role, and with the help of the board of directors, she was able to update operations, grow membership and add programs to help businesses in Appling County. In 2019, Keri assumed the role of executive director of the Development Authority of Appling County, where she is actively working with existing and potential industry projects to provide jobs and increase capital investment in the region.

 

Jessie Owensby is the Community Development Manager for the City of Cornelia. She oversees Economic and Community Development and the Main Street program.

Jessie is originally from Oakwood, Georgia and is a 2001 honor graduate from Rabun Gap Nacoochee School.  Jessie previously worked as the Stroke Outreach Coordinator at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where she developed and implemented an outpatient program that helped stroke patients prevent readmission to the hospital.

Jessie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications degree from Piedmont College. She is a board member of the Georgia Downtown Association, an active member of the Habersham Chamber of Commerce, a member of GEDA and a member of GAZA.

Jessie was designated as a Georgia Downtown Development Professional from the Georgia Downtown Association and GMA in May of 2019. She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Administration degree from University of North Georgia.

 

Kathy Papa is the Region 2 Representative for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) serving the 13-county Georgia Mountains Region. In her role, Kathy serves governments and citizens in the region by identifying state and other resources for community and economic development; providing technical and educational assistance to enhance local and regional leadership capacity; and working with groups to encourage regional cooperation. Kathy coordinates the Georgia Academy for Economic Development Program annually in the region. She received the Chairman’s Award of Excellence from the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission in 2016 for extraordinary service to the region. 

After completing her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Georgia, she went on to receive a Master of Arts from the University of South Florida and has been working for the Department of Community Affairs for 19 years.

Dr. Amy Parker serves in a dual capacity for Gordon County Schools. She is the CEO of the Gordon County College and Career Academy and also serves as the district’s Director of Communications. Dr. Parker has been with Gordon County Schools since 1997, when she began her teaching career at Gordon Central High School. After leaving the classroom, she served as the Career Transition Specialist for Gordon Central High School through Coosa Valley Technical College. Since that time, she has served as Director of CTAE and has been the CEO of the Gordon County College and Career Academy since its inception in 2011.

As the College and Career Academy CEO, Dr. Parker works to develop business partnerships to benefit the community's workforce development efforts. In her role as Director of Communications, she oversees a wide variety of platforms designed to inform the community about its schools. In addition, she provides marketing and community relations support to individual schools and departments to assist in fostering a culture of success for the district as a whole.

Dr. Parker holds an undergraduate degree in secondary English education from the University of Georgia, a master's degree in Leadership and Administration from the University of West Georgia, and a doctorate of education in workforce education, leadership and social foundations from the University of Georgia.

Matt Poyner serves as the Vice President of Business Development for the Savannah Economic Development Authority building relationships with companies to promote the Savannah region. Previously, Matt served for six years as the Executive Director for the Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville and Baldwin County. He facilitated the relocation of businesses and industries within the community and managed the Development Authority properties and buildings.

Matt began his career with the Macon Economic Development Commission as the Manger of Business & Industry. He created and managed relationships with the business community and supported local development by marketing properties to site consultants and the real estate brokerage community.  He established a retention program to address business needs by identifying and resolving issues that may inhibit growth and expansion.  He was also instrumental in establishing the Middle Georgia Manufacturing Council and the Safety & Environmental Group of Middle Georgia. Matt is also a Registered Landscape Architect in the state of Georgia with experience in design and engineering of subdivision, commercial developments and industrial tracts.  He has also worked as the lead for communities on several TEA-Grant projects with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Maggie Reenstra serves as a community and economic professional with Coweta-Fayette EMC, managing commercial and industrial accounts. She focuses on assisting members with energy audits and optimization. She also develops programs to bring STEM lessons on solar energy and electric vehicle charging stations to students in the area. Previously, Maggie was the Region 4 project manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. She has also held technical sales positions and owned an online marketing agency.

Maggie received a Master of Business Administration from Georgia State University and a Bachelor of Science in textiles from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is a graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development and a member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association. In addition, Maggie enjoys mentoring students in the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science Engineering. She is also a member of the board of directors for both the Southeast Korean Chamber of Commerce and Bloom Our Youth, a foster care agency.  

 

Stephanie Scearce serves as Vice President of Economic Development for Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

Stephanie graduated from Kennesaw State University in May 2008 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications. She is also a graduate of the TVA Rural Leadership Institute, Georgia Tech Basic Economic Development Course, the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, and has received her Georgia Economic Development Certification through the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Previously she served as Executive Director of the Fannin County Development Authority from 2009 – 2015. While there, her role was to promote rural economic development in Fannin County by creating jobs through product development, new industry recruitment and existing business expansion.

Travis Stegall is currently the economic and community development director for the City of Brunswick. He is responsible for managing and administering HUD Community Development Block Grant entitlements as well as state and city development incentives. Prior to this role, Travis served for five years as the regional director of WFE Corporate, a social impact investment firm focusing on small business and municipality development. Prior to that, Travis spent 12 years in commercial and residential wholesale finance.

Travis's love and passion for both entrepreneurship and community leaders led him to create his nonprofit organization, the T.R. Stegall Education Foundation, in 2013 to increase upward mobility and economic development in low- to moderate-income communities.

Gina Webb currently is the Region 10 representative for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Prior to joining DCA, Gina served as executive director of the Terrell County Chamber of Commerce for 10 years. She has served on the boards of the Southwest Georgia Chamber Council, Locate South Georgia, the Plantation Trace Travel Association, the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and the Dawson Rotary Club. She has also been a member of the local steering committee for the Georgia Quail Hunt. Gina is a graduate of Leadership Terrell, the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, Leadership Georgia and Young Gamechangers.

A Georgia native, Gina Webb received her bachelor’s degree from Valdosta State University and her master’s degree in business administration from Georgia Southwestern State University. 

 

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