ATHENS, Ga. — Jennifer Frum welcomed 110 attendees from 46 cities and 45 counties in three states to the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development’s inaugural Community Leadership Conference on Feb. 10.

Frum, the vice president for Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia, opened the two-day conference at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. Attendees from Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee had the opportunity to pick from a menu of 16 workshops. Instructors included community practitioners as well as experts from the Fanning Institute and other PSO units.

“Why does the University of Georgia invest in a unit that focuses on community leadership development? Well we know — and you all know — what the data says about the importance of communities having strong leaders and a pipeline of strong leaders,” Frum said. “We know that communities with strong leaders are better able to attract industry and economic development. They have better quality of life. There’s greater diversity. We have more engaged citizens.”

Other speakers included Matt Hauer, a demographer with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, UGA Student Government Association President Johnelle Simpson and Jimmy and Kathy Allgood, residents of Dublin, Ga. who have been involved in Leadership Georgia since 1993.

“The Fanning Institute has been working with communities for more than three decades,” said Fanning Director Matt Bishop. “We are hosting this conference as a way to bring people interested in community leadership development together to talk about best practices and the challenges involved in effectively developing community leaders.”

Bishop said the new conference will be an annual event for leaders across the region to learn from each other. The 2016 attendee list, which numbers well over 100, shows there is great interest in Georgia for programs like this, he added.

“This conference is a great opportunity for our faculty to hear what is working in communities across the state as well as to convey the resources and expertise we have to offer,” Bishop said. “Being part of the public service and outreach mission of the University of Georgia positions us to work throughout Georgia to build leaders and communities.”