Matthew Colvin named UGA’s Economic Development Director in Atlanta

Longtime economic development professional, Matthew Colvin, has been selected as the University of Georgia’s next economic development director in Atlanta, succeeding Sean McMillan, who retires Dec. 31.

Colvin is currently the executive director of economic development for the University System of Georgia. Prior to that he worked on economic development and workforce initiatives first for Electric Cities of Georgia, then as state initiatives director for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“Matt has a deep understanding of economic development and the inextricable link between higher education, innovation and job creation,” said Jennifer L. Frum, UGA vice president for Public Service and Outreach. “He is the ideal person to succeed Sean, who stepped into this new position in 2013 and helped bolster UGA’s partnerships with the private sector, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Georgia Economic Developers Association and chambers of commerce.”

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UGA’s vice presidents for public service and outreach and research are jointly responsible for UGA’s Atlanta economic development office. Colvin will be based in Midtown Atlanta in the Centergy Building, near the offices of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. UGA’s Atlanta-based economic development efforts complement the University’s many economic and community development efforts across all of Georgia.

“UGA’s robust, diverse, and expanding research expertise can be a major draw for companies considering relocating to Georgia, and it is an important asset for those already established in the state,” said David Lee, UGA vice president for research. “Sean McMillan has done an outstanding job of connecting UGA’s research expertise with economic development efforts that help communities across Georgia, and Matt Colvin has the right background and personality to continue these critically important efforts. I am delighted to welcome him on board.”

Colvin has three degrees from UGA, with undergraduate degrees in political science and broadcast journalism, and an MBA from the Terry College of Business. He also is pursuing his PhD in higher education from UGA.


Kelly Simmons Public Service & Outreach Director of Communications • 706-296-0855


Jennifer Frum Vice President for Public Service & Outreach • 706-542-6167

Rob Gordon named director of the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government

Rob Gordon, who now heads the UGA Archway Partnership, will become director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, effective Jan. 1, 2021.

Gordon succeeds Laura Meadows, who is retiring after more than 30 years in state government, 11 of those at the UGA Institute of Government, almost 10 as director.

“We are very fortunate in Public Service and Outreach to have an abundance of strong leaders, whose priority is making the state more prosperous for all Georgians,” said Jennifer L. Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “Laura is one of the finest, most dedicated public servants Georgia has ever seen. She has improved the state and UGA in measurable ways and she leaves the Vinson Institute well-positioned for the future. Rob’s previous experience at the Vinson Institute, his years of leading the Archway Partnership and his governmental service have prepared him for this new position. I am confident he will continue to elevate the institute’s service to governments of all levels in Georgia.”

Michelle Elliott, an operations coordinator with the Archway Partnership, will serve as interim director. A search for a permanent director will be launched after the first of the year.

Both the Archway Partnership and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government are UGA Public Service and Outreach units.

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Gordon, a native of Jesup, Georgia, joined Archway as director in 2015. There, he is responsible for the unit’s overall strategic direction and programs that address a wide-range of locally-identified community priorities intended to strengthen economic development.

Since 2015, the Archway Partnership has completed more than 600 community projects addressing a diverse array of community needs. Through its work, Archway has funded more than 80 graduate assistantships, provided over 500 students with experiential learning opportunities and supported over 300 faculty partnerships, representing all UGA colleges, schools and Public Service and Outreach units. Gordon also increased external funding dollars and other external support to the unit and to the Archway communities.

From 2010 to 2014, Gordon worked for the Institute of Government as manager of its economic development and fiscal analysis unit, overseeing the Applied Demography Program, Tax and Expenditure Data Center, and Fiscal Analysis Program. Gordon served as a special agent in the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service from 1999-2002 in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Albania. He received a Superior Honor Award from Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and a Meritorious Honor Award from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell for crisis management and performance in the line of duty. Prior to first joining the Institute of Government in 2010, Gordon practiced public finance law at Troutman Sanders in Richmond and King & Spalding in Atlanta.

Gordon holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Georgia and a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C.


Kelly Simmons Public Service and Outreach Communications Director • 706-296-0855


Rob Gordon Archway Partnership Director • 706-542-3268

Georgia Blue Key recognizes UGA graduate student for commitment to public service

UGA graduate student Nipuna Ambanpola has engaged in public service since he was a child in Sri Lanka. In 2017, he created an online nonprofit organization to link volunteers around the world to projects in their local communities.

Here in Athens during the pandemic, Ambanpola used the same technology to create GroceryAid, which connects Georgia residents at high risk of the virus with volunteers who can grocery shop for them.

“Volunteerism has always been a major part of my life,” said Ambanpola, a graduate student in the UGA School of Public and International Affairs and a graduate assistant with the J.W. Fanning Center for Leadership Development, a UGA public service unit. “When I came to Georgia, I found that most volunteer opportunities were led by organizations on campus or in the community. I started thinking about a way to help people identify volunteer opportunities no matter where they are, making it easier for them to get involved in their communities.”

The Georgia Chapter of Blue Key recognized Ambanpola by naming him the winner of the 2020 Tucker Dorsey Award during a virtual ceremony on Oct. 23. The annual award, which includes a $750 scholarship, goes to students whose leadership, dedication and ideals reflect those of Tucker Dorsey, founder of the Blue Key Awards Banquet. Tucker was an outstanding student leader dedicated to UGA, its heritage, its tradition, its ideals and its goals. He exemplified the quality of mind and spirit that the university seeks to cultivate through a well-rounded education. Ambanpola is the 2020-21 vice president of Georgia Blue Key.

“Nipuna has a servant’s heart,” said Jennifer Frum, UGA vice president for Public Service and Outreach, who nominated him for induction into Blue Key earlier this year. “He is absolutely the most effective student leader I have ever known and perhaps the most deserving recipient of the Tucker Dorsey Award.”

At the Fanning Institute, Ambanpola helps faculty with research, leadership program design and program implementation.

He is a tremendous asset to the institute, said Maritza Soto Keen, Fanning Institute associate director and senior public service faculty.

“Nipuna is exceptional at combining his creativity with service, and he looks for ways to join with others at every opportunity,” Keen said. “Servant leadership is his calling.”

He launched his international online nonprofit organization, IVolunteer, in 2017 before coming to UGA. Since then, more than 6,000 volunteers have connected with over 200 projects through IVolunteer International.

He got the idea for GroceryAid from Shopping Angels, an organization created during the COVID-19 pandemic to shop for residents of Nevada and other states who were deemed especially at-risk of the virus.

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“Once I saw what they were doing, I felt like we could use our technical expertise to build a platform for Georgia,” Ambanpola said. Shopping Angels “agreed and supported our efforts.”

“Putting this together has definitely been a community effort.”

GroceryAid went live in late April and has since had 158 volunteers in Georgia sign up to participate.

IVolunteer International is growing in other areas as well. The organization is developing a social impact mobile app for release later to complement its online efforts and make it easier for people to sign up. The UGA Kickstarter Fund awarded the organization $5,000 to support the app’s development.

“My involvement at the Fanning Institute allows me to explore and learn the true breadth of the public service industry,” Ambanpola said. “The skills I gain from my Fanning experience directly contribute to the way I sustain and grow IVolunteer International.”

For more information on GroceryAid go to To learn more about IVolunteer International, visit


Charlie Bauder Fanning Institute Public Relations Coordinator • 706.244.6534


Nipuna Ambanpola UGA Graduate Student • 912-484-1295

North Georgia farm has success with strawberries and pumpkins despite pandemic, thanks to UGA

Johnny and Kathy Burt’s first year farming strawberries was nearly a disaster.

COVID -19 hit just two weeks before the berries ripened and their first spring strawberry festival was to begin.

“That wasn’t possible. We were on pins and needles and I figured we wouldn’t have much of a year at all,” said Johnny Burt, who has been farming pumpkins in the north Georgia mountains since 1972

Thankfully, the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was there to help.

With SBDC assistance, the Burts applied for and received a federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from Pinnacle Bank. They got the money at the end of April, in time to move forward with the strawberries.

The PPP, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act approved by the U.S. Congress and signed by the president in March, covers employee salaries and other essential costs of business during a crisis.

An aerial shot of Johnny and Kathy Burt's pumpkin farm.

An aerial shot of Johnny and Kathy Burt’s pumpkin farm. (Submitted photo)

The PPP money covered the cost of the labor the Burts needed to work the fields and paid for them to rent much-needed farm equipment.

“We were able to offer work in April to people that normally wouldn’t have had a job here, and get the equipment to work on one of our fields,” Burt said. “Without the PPP loan, we wouldn’t have been able to afford that.”

A fall festival with pumpkins, hayrides and a country store has become a tradition for Burt’s Farm, near Amicalola Falls, Georgia. In 2019, the Burts began thinking about ways to expand their business, perhaps through a second location or by adding an additional crop. They heard about the SBDC and turned to the office in Gainesville for help.

Patrick Fulbright, area director of the Gainesville office, worked with the Burts to develop a business plan for year-round offerings, starting with strawberries in the spring of 2020.

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“We worked on a marketing plan for a launch with the strawberry festival and all the strawberry products they could offer in their store,” Fulbright said. “Everything was set to go. We had the strategy ready to implement and then COVID hit.”

Now, well into pumpkin season, Burt’s Farm is doing well, with a regular stream of visitors keeping them busy.

This might even be their best year yet, Burt said. They plan to add more strawberry plants next year.

“[The SBDC] is a program that takes care of people and I didn’t even know it was there until just last year,” Burt said. “I’ve referred people to Patrick and he’s helped them too. They are top notch people, willing to help and they do an excellent job.”


Émilie GillePSO Public Relations Coordinator • 706-583-0964


Patrick Fulbright Gainesville SBDC Area Director • 770-531-5681

New entrance at UGA State Botanical Garden of Georgia makes grounds and facilities more accessible

A new entranceway to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia includes an outdoor elevator to allow visitors to more easily reach the grounds and facilities from the parking lots, and is the first of a trio of garden construction projects to be completed.

The entrance, which was completed and opened in mid-October, improves accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers, as well for as people who aren’t comfortable on stairs.

“I’ve been trying to convince my department to come here for a field trip and this makes it more likely,” said Christine Bishop, a special education teacher from Atlanta, who was in Athens to visit the garden. “A lot of my kids have wheelchairs and it’s difficult when we go on field trips sometimes, but this elevator here is a big game changer. All the wheelchair accessible walkways make a big difference too. The proximity to the parking lot is also just really nice and convenient for people with special needs, both young and old.”

The well-marked entrance also helps visitors know immediately where to go after they park, and they can glimpse the Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center & Conservatory and the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden from an overlook before taking the elevator or stairs to the ground.

“It’s a completely new view of the botanical garden and really ties together the area where people come in and first become oriented,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden.

A man, a child, and woman pushing a stroller exit the outdoor elevator at the new entrance to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

Linda Rivers (pushing stroller) visited the garden with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson. (Photo: Shannah Montgomery / PSO)

The entranceway, with a bridge and walkway, is one of three projects that have been underway at the garden since August 2019. A Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum and Discovery and Inspiration Garden, which make up the garden’s Center for Arts and Nature (CAN), are nearing completion.

The interior of the Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum is expected to be finished by the end the year, with a variety of porcelain pieces from around the world installed before the center’s dedication on Jan. 29, 2021.

The extensive collection, donated by long-time garden supporter Deen Day Sanders, will be exhibited in permanent and rotating displays.

“Displaying the pieces on a rotating basis will give us an opportunity to create unique experiences,” said John Graham, director of finance and administration for the garden. “This way we can bring in new audiences and highlight different aspects of Deen’s collection.”

The Discovery and Inspiration Garden will surround the museum, with native plants and pollinators on display at eye level for adults and children. A pond will support the life cycles of frogs, dragonflies and other animal life in the garden. A great lawn will provide space for classes and special events.

The projects are privately funded, with gifts from Sanders, the Callaway Foundation, Tom Wight, Jim Miller, Mike and Betty Devore, Chuck and Suzanne Murphy, the Garden Club of Georgia Inc., and donors from across Georgia.

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Émilie Gille PSO Public Relations Coordinator • 706-583-0964


Jennifer Cruse-Sanders State Botanical Garden Director • 706-542-6131

Engage GA helps Athens community find volunteers

The Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA) depends on volunteers to help provide services to older adults in the Clarke County area.

When the pandemic hit in March, almost half of the volunteers—many of them older adults themselves—had to stop volunteering in order to protect themselves from the virus.

At the same time, the need in the community for ACCA services was increasing.

Using UGA’s Engage Georgia online platform, the ACCA was able to find other volunteers to fill the void.

“We had no online volunteer onboarding or scheduling presence except for our website,” said Ellen Everitt, ACCA volunteer coordinator. “Now, we have a page where people can see what we’re doing and what they can do to help.”

The University of Georgia Office of Service-Learning (OSL) used an online program called GivePulse to develop the local, online platform called Engage GA. Through Engage GA, organizations can publicize their need for volunteers and community residents, including students, can find volunteer opportunities. In addition, faculty members can track a student’s engagement in experiential learning, now a requirement for graduation.

As of October, students had logged over 117,931 verified service hours online through Engage GA, with 35,406 hours in 2019 alone.

Three volunteers stand around a cooler.

From left, AmeriCorp VISTA Martinique Edwards works with UGA students Camille Steyeart and Matt Sartorato at the ACCA food distribution center. The students are both in a leadership class and signed up using the Engage GA platform. (Photo: Shannah Montgomery / PSO)

Nina Sassano, an educator and intern coordinator with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, set up an online time sheet tracking system in Engage GA for student interns and fellows.

“They can submit their hours for me to approve as well as share an experience or photos from their day that stood out, which we’re able to use later to showcase the program,” Sassano said.

County government offices, nonprofits and student organizations are among the Engage GA users.

Local nonprofit Books for Keeps, which provides books to children who might not otherwise have them, has been using the online platform for over three years to manage volunteer shifts, promote volunteer opportunities, meet new people and connect with other service organizations, said program manager Justin Bray.

“We’re a small organization, there’s only three of us, so we’re able to punch above our weight class, so to speak, because we have automated and streamlined processes through [Engage GA],” Bray said.

The data stored in Engage GA can show the impact of a specific event, course, or span of time, which can be useful for annual reporting, grant-writing and promotions.

“A nonprofit, campus organization or department can engage with both their campus community and their local community in the same online platform with ease,” said Josh Podvin, the UGA OSL assistant director for community partnerships, who manages Engage GA.

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For volunteer organizers, Engage GA makes the management of volunteer data simple and keeps it all in one place, which is a big benefit, said Cecile Riker, program education specialist for the Athens Clarke County Stormwater Management Program.

Riker has been using Engage GA for nearly three years for online volunteer recruitment and retention, and event promotion and planning for small and large-scale events like Rivers Alive, an annual program that draws community volunteers to clear trash and debris from Athens area rivers, lakes and streams.

“For Rivers Alive we usually have anywhere between 300 and 450 volunteers, but with this year’s circumstances, we knew things were going to need to be a bit different,” Riker said. “Engage GA really helped us communicate all our COVID-19 guidelines ahead of time and allowed us to register volunteers in small groups in advance in a completely contactless way.”

The ACCA has added 150 new volunteers since the pandemic began, enabling the organization to serve 2,000 clients—almost three times the number served before.

“We have 59 food delivery routes now and [Engage GA] has been so handy for managing that along with our phone buddy and card writing volunteer slots,” Everitt said. “It’s been a really great organization tool.”


Émilie Gille Public Service and Outreach Public Relations Coordinator • 706-583-0964


Josh Podvin OSL Asst. Dir. for Community Partnerships • 706-542-4511

“Trailblazer in online learning” recognized with PSO Employee Spotlight Award

A routine Zoom meeting was anything but when Dave Lakly, a public service associate at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, was surprised with a Public Service and Outreach Employee Spotlight Award.

PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum announced the award for Lakly, which comes with a framed certificate and a box of assorted treats.

“I just want to thank you for everything you’re doing for PSO and for UGA,” Frum told him and others on his team in the institute’s office of Governmental Training, Education and Development.

In her nomination of Lakly, institute public service associate Tracy Arner called him a “trailblazer in online learning.”

“During the pandemic, Dave has been our technology lead to transition CVIOG programs to online. Within days of the shelter in place order, Dave delivered the first online all day training for our Certified Public Manager program and went on to train other groups in online delivery,” Arner wrote. “So many of us have benefited from his guidance.

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Dave Lakly provides financial management training for state government officials and personnel through the Financial Management Program’s Budget and Financial Management Certification Program, a series of courses designed to offer an overview of the state’s budget and fiscal management cycle. He also coordinates and teaches in the Charter Schools Financial Management Certification Program, with special emphasis on budget and financial policy development.

Before joining the Institute of Government, Lakly served as education division director in the Georgia Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget and as deputy director for the Georgia Senate Budget and Evaluation Office. He earned his BA in journalism and film studies from UGA, and his MPA from Georgia State University.

Lakly is the eighth recipient of the PSO-wide award, established in 2019 as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and contributions of employees throughout the year. The Employee Spotlight highlights employees who go above and beyond their normal responsibilities, who produce outstanding work and who contribute significantly to the strategic mission of the division.

UGA builds Little Free Pantries for Athens communities

Residents in two Athens apartment communities have ready access to food and basic personal needs through Little Free Pantries built by UGA’s Office of Service-Learning (OSL).

OSL’s Grow It Know It (GIKI) program built the wooden boxes for the Bethel Homes and Clarke Gardens apartment complexes using money from a Youth Service America grant, which encourages youth and young adults to engage in community service.

The original plan was to launch a Junior Campus Kitchen program at Clarke Central High School, said Wick Prichard, GIKI program coordinator. Campus Kitchen is a student-run organization at UGA that gathers, prepares and delivers meals to food-insecure families in the Athens area.

“But with COVID-19 and the school moving online, that didn’t happen,” Prichard said.

The Little Free Pantry project was a viable alternative, Youth Service America told Prichard.

CCHS junior Mara Smith, who had worked with Prichard on the Junior Campus Kitchen project and knew him from the Grow It Know It program at Clarke Middle School, helped launch the pantry project.

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“I know how it is when you really need help and there is no one there to help you,” Smith said. “I love Grow It Know It; I’ve been with it since sixth grade. They helped me and I’m so grateful to be able to help others now.”

The pantries were built and installed by Smith, Isaac Gay and Graham Gay, Clarke Central students who also had been involved in planning the Junior Campus Kitchen program. Youth in Bethel Homes helped with installation as well. Prichard plans to involve youth in Clarke Gardens when the pantries are installed in that neighborhood.

Community volunteer Hallie Celestand also became involved in the project. Celestand had gotten to know Prichard over the summer through work with Americorps VISTA, Grow It Know It and tending gardens at Clarke and Hilsman middle schools where Prichard runs GIKI, teaching sixth to eighth grade students about agriculture and nutrition. Prichard and the VISTA volunteers provided Celestand with produce from those gardens to give to 300 Bethel Homes and Clarke Gardens residents each week. In addition, chef Hugh Acheson and the staff at Athens 5&10 restaurant prepared meals for Celestand to deliver to the residents.

Prichard learned Celestand had local connections that could make the pantries a reality. Community organizations, UGA student groups and churches are among those being asked to sponsor the Little Free Pantries and keep them stocked.

Smith plans to stay involved too.

“I would like to do more volunteering or work and get more involved,” Smith said. “With [Prichard’s] help, I can keep working on this project and help keep the pantries stocked.”


Shannah Montgomery Public Service & Outreach Public Relations Coordinator • 706-542-3638


Wick Prichard GIKI Coordinator • 707-623-7459

A different kind of happy meal

No one wants to be in quarantinebut the experience is a whole lot better with Ronald Bernard on kitchen duty. During the pandemic, Bernard has jumped from line cook in the University of Georgia’s Savannah Room to preparing fresh hot meals for students quarantined in the Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

A veteran of high-volume kitchens for 30 years, Bernard is used to cooking for a wide variety of customers including various luminaries and the football team, but now he’s focused on giving the same high-quality fare (and care) to these students.

“I take care of those kids like VIPs because right now they are my VIPs. I want them to be happy,” said Bernard, noting that his whole team has risen to the challenge during this unusual time. That happiness comes in the form of three freshly prepared meals a day. Every day students choose what they want to order from a wide variety, including the ultimate comfort food: Bernard’s homemade mac and cheese.

Ronald Bernard cooking chicken on a grill

Ronald Bernard cooks chicken on the grill in the kitchen of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Vegans and vegetarians are covered, too, with options at breakfast, lunch and dinner. A crowd favorite is the pulled pork sandwich, which is smoked for 13 to 14 hours in the on-premise smoker, then covered in freshly made barbecue sauce. (To hear Bernard passionately describe the careful preparation of the pulled pork is to want that pulled pork now.)

To keep everyone safe during the process, managers wearing protective masks deliver the food to each student’s door. Managers leave the packaged meals in a bag at the door and knock before stepping away, allowing for a contactless delivery to each student.

Ronald Bernard hands off a to-go container of food

Ronald Bernard (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Bernard grew up in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, immigrating to the U.S. in 1988 and becoming a citizen in 2011. His cooking model when he was growing up was his mother, Monique Edouard. Food is Bernard’s love language, his way of showing love and care. “I work from my heart – it’s been over 30 years and this is what I do,” he said. “If you taste something, I love to see you say, ‘Hey, it’s good! I like it.’ I love to cook and I love to see people happy.”

A father to four adult children – Allan 29, Jade 25, Daphney 20, and Christopher 18, with wife Sophia – Bernard treats the students like extended family. “We make sure everything’s nice because right now these kids are here and even if they live in Georgia, they’re not home.”

He also knows that when parents call their kids, one of their big questions is going to be “What have you been eating?” Bernard wants them to have a reassuring answer.


Jill Hamilton

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UGA’s continuing education certifications and credentialing help individuals adapt to a changing workforce

In 2019, pulmonologist Dr. Tim Moriarty closed his clinical practice in Panama City Beach, Florida, after he lost hearing in his left ear. That’s when his daughter suggested he look into a career in medical consulting.

He did, and found the online Medical Professional Legal Consultant course offered through the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

“If you’re a lung doctor and you can’t hear through a stethoscope, you’re not much of a lung doctor. So, that forced some changes,” Moriarty said. “I went through all the universities that offered a course and UGA was the best fit.”

It was Moriarty’s first experience with online learning, but he didn’t stop there.  His experience with the Georgia Center led him to pursue other continuing education opportunities that enhanced his expertise as a medical consultant.

“Continuing education is so important. The day you stop learning is the day you die intellectually,” Moriarty said. “There’s a whole world of interesting things out there. Just go find something you enjoy, get online and find a course.”

Moriarty’s experience is part of a growing trend of continuing education outside of traditional undergraduate and master’s degree programs, which can be prohibitive to people with limited time and resources.

A graph showing the growing number of students attending UGA continuing education classes over the years.
With rapid changes in technology, workforce needs evolve and employees that have been out of school for years find they need additional training and education to stay employed or move up. More portable credentials or badges—such as on-the job training, online or in-person instruction, or other learning outside the traditional education environment—are also increasingly important to individuals in the workforce as they seek advancement.

Both the Georgia Center and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government offer in-person and online continuing education programs to help individuals fill in the gaps, build on their existing skills or developing skills for a new occupation. These affordable courses, certificates and micro-credentials offer competency-based skills and knowledge that are critical to professional growth and development.

Specialized continuing education programs can lead to promotions and career advancement. The Institute of Government offers certifications that require participants to attend multiple sessions. Those, like the Certified Public Manager (CPM) program, help prepare current government employees for different roles and positions.

Of the 44 Fulton County employees who completed the CPM program in 2017, 61 percent were promoted within two years and received a salary increase. Notably, 98 percent of those employees are still employed by Fulton County.

“Thanks for another great experience for all of our [Fulton County] employees,” Fulton County Manager Dick Anderson told institute faculty member Walt McBride earlier this year. “One of the best investments in management development in my career. ”

It was Fulton County that encouraged the Institute of Government to get the CPM started in 2017. Fulton’s human resources director, Kenneth Hermon, had led a similar program in the U.S. Virgin Islands and was anxious to have it available in Georgia. Almost 400 Fulton County employees have completed  the program since it began.

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The Georgia Center also awards digital badges for a number of programs. The digital badges are offered to many certificate programs as well as content-specific programs that are akin to micro-credentialing, said Kiel Norris, director of continuing education at the Georgia Center.

An example is the Principles of Market Research Express courses that allow market research professionals to participate in specific short topic classes relevant to their industry. Upon completion, they are awarded a digital credential that they can use to show proof of their learning and expertise. The goal of these programs is to allow the participant to pick and choose the topics most relevant to their needs and thus create their own credentialing path, Norris said.

Principles of Market Research was the Georgia Center’s first online continuing education course and it has attracted 9,000 participants in more than 109 countries since 1996. The Georgia Center now offers the course in cooperation with Market Research Institute International .

“I’ve been in the market research industry my whole career, spanning over 20 years. [The Georgia Center] is very well-known in the industry,” said Kevin Lyons, a research supervisor in the Boston area who recently took the Georgia Center’s Ethical and Legal Issues in Market Research course. “If you want to keep your skills current in the market research industry, the best place to do that is through the University of Georgia.”

Today online continuing education is more important than ever. Seventy-five percent—604—of the courses offered through the Georgia Center were online in 2019.

In fiscal year 2020, the Institute of Government provided 83 unique online courses to nearly 2,000 participants.

A laptop screen showing a map of Georgia which indicates the location of online continuing education students.Having that experience made it easier to quickly pivot other in-person courses to online once the statewide shelter-in-place mandate was issued in April, said Tracy Arner, a program manager with the Institute of Government.

“The combination of having known how to use the online learning management system, how to do webinars, and having done it for a long time enabled us to really quickly ramp up our classroom training online to meet the needs of our students,” Arner said. “We’re finding our students are very eager to continue pursuing their certifications online.”

Carlos Thomas, a division manager with Fulton County Government, had been taking the Institute of Government’s CPM program in-person for six months when the pandemic hit.

“For our last session we moved to a virtual model due to the pandemic,” Thomas said. “This was my first time with an online course and it went very well.”

Putting programs online also means the educational opportunities are not limited to Georgians. In 2019, the Georgia Center’s online programming was accessed by students in 59 different countries; including Canada, Australia, Vietnam and India; in all 50 U.S. states; and in all 159 Georgia counties.

“With in-person instruction you can only pull in students from a small area because you have the issue of travel,” Norris said. “Online courses offer flexibility to do the course on your own time and from whatever institution you choose, regardless of location.”


Émilie Gille PSO Public Relations Coordinator • 706-583-0964


Kiel Norris Georgia Center Director of Continuing Education • 706-542-6663

Tracy Arner Institute of Government Program Manager • 706-202-8169

Marine educator awarded PSO Spotlight Award for developing virtual programming during the pandemic

Kayla Clark, a public program coordinator and educator at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, is the most recent Public Service and Outreach Employee Spotlight awardee.

“We are so proud of your work and its impact. Both really embody the spirit of this award,” PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum said in presenting the award at the start of a Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Zoom meeting.

A framed certificate and a box of treats were delivered to Clark, who is based at the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant office on Skidaway Island.

Clark was nominated for the award by Anne Lindsay, associate director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. In her nomination Lindsay cited Clark’s role in researching, creating and implementing virtual activities for the summer, when the UGA Aquarium was closed because of the pandemic.

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“The result of her leadership has provided the public with a series of exciting online explorations that show the world the work of our unit and the impact Public Service and Outreach has on the State,” Lindsay wrote in her nomination.

“Kayla makes us proud to be her colleague each and every day, but especially so over the last several months,” Lindsay wrote. “She sets the bar higher for all of us! Her foundational work now provides us with a springboard for developing and implementing virtual programming through the school year.”

Clark came to UGA in 2015 for a one-year Sea Grant Marine Education Fellowship. She was hired as a public programs coordinator when she completed her fellowship in 2016. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is working on a master’s degree in biology from Miami University of Ohio in Oxford, Ohio.

Clark is the sixth PSO employee to receive the spotlight award since it was launched by the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach in November 2019.

Regions Bank pledges $500,000 to UGA for service-learning, small business aid

Staying true to its vision to be an institution “deeply embedded in its communities,” Regions Bank has pledged $500,000 to the University of Georgia to impact communities around the state of Georgia.

“The educational and economic impacts of the University of Georgia reach throughout the state, the nation and even the world,” said John Turner, President and CEO of Regions Financial Corp. “At Regions Bank, we are proud to be part of these important programs, which will serve as valuable resources for entrepreneurs looking to start or strengthen businesses – and for students who are learning the important qualities needed to serve as tomorrow’s leaders.”

Through Regions Bank’s financial support, the Institute for Leadership Advancement (ILA) in the Terry College of Business will receive $300,000 to endow a fellowship program for service-learning projects across the state. ILA provides unique, values-based leadership training for students in all majors that promotes self-awareness, effective communication, teamwork, innovation and adaptability in a changing global environment.

“The Regions Bank Service-Learning Projects Fund will offer our students new possibilities to put their leadership skills into action and provide valuable community service in creative ways,” said Benjamin C. Ayers, dean of the Terry College of Business. “The University of Georgia is a national leader in experiential learning, and this gift from Regions Bank will make a meaningful difference for our students and the communities where they volunteer and serve.”

In addition to Regions Bank’s contribution to ILA, the company has made a $200,000 commitment to small businesses across Georgia through its gift to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

“Education and economic development are two key priorities for the bank’s community engagement,” said Bill Linginfelter, Metro Atlanta Market Executive for Regions Bank. “Through the Small Business Development Center and the Institute for Leadership Advancement, Regions Bank is providing resources to help create long-term success, not only for students and businesses, but also for the communities they will serve.”

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As part of UGA’s Public Service and Outreach, the SBDC provides tools, training and resources to help small businesses grow and succeed. SBDC programming provides a unique opportunity to support small business owners in the state of Georgia. There are 18 UGA SBDC locations statewide.

“We are grateful for Regions Bank’s generosity in providing this funding, which will help small- business owners in many underserved areas, as well as in our urban communities,” said Jennifer L. Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “The spirit of this gift is directly in line with our mission as a land-grant and sea-grant institution, and we welcome the community partnership.”

Through the SBDC, Regions Bank will support the Regions Bank Entrepreneurship Academy this fall, which will feature a series of webinars open to the public at no cost. The SBDC and Regions Bank are ideal community partners: two respected organizations that share a commitment to the success of businesses and economic development throughout the state of Georgia.

“Regions Bank is helping the UGA SBDC provide needed information and training to small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs throughout Georgia beyond our ordinary reach,” said Allan Adams, State Director, SBDC. “The better equipped these business owners are to make sound decisions for the growth of their enterprises, the better off local economies will be across the state.”

The University of Georgia is grateful to Regions Bank for their demonstrated commitment to the university, its programs and the state of Georgia.

UGA helps small businesses succeed during pandemic

From Hiawassee to Hahira, Hatcher to Hinesville and points between, UGA has helped thousands of small businesses in Georgia stay afloat during the pandemic.

Consultants in the 17 regional offices of the UGA Small Business Development Center helped 3,309 small businesses secure $88 million in grants and loans through the federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act from March through August.

During the same six-month span, UGA SBDC consultants heard from thousands more who were seeking information but not direct assistance in applying for funding. Many tuned in to SDBC-hosted webinars about the CARES Act funding or spoke by phone with an SBDC consultant.

Traffic on the SBDC web site increased by 328 percent as businesses sought information from a web page of COVID-19 resources, created in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Georgia Department of Community Affairs at the direction of Gov. Brian Kemp.

CARES Act funding helped businesses continue to cover their payroll and essential costs during the state-mandated shelter-in-place. Others were approved for loans to provide relief for lost revenue.

“We needed the help,” said David Peeler, vice president and CFO of Peerless Manufacturing in southwest Georgia, an area hit hard by COVID-19. “We probably would not have survived had we not gotten it.”

With SBDC assistance, Peeler got a Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loan through the CARES ACT, which enabled him to rehire the 40 employees he’d had to lay off.

“Georgia’s small businesses were hungry for any information about accessing federal assistance,” said UGA SBDC Director Allan Adams. “We made efforts to reach every small business in the state to make them aware of the federal support and our other services.”

“The ones we helped were those most in need of assistance,” Adams said.

Joseph Malbrough’s UPS store in Smyrna was considered an essential business, so he was able to stay open when most others were forced to close. However, foot traffic slowed significantly and Malbrough had to cut the store’s hours.

He applied for loans through the CARES Act, but had no success until he reached out to consultant Antonio Barrios at the UGA SBDC office in Cobb County.

“He was able to help me walk through the process and reach out to the SBA (federal Small Business Administration) to get an update as to whether or not they had my loan package, where it was in the process and what to expect,” Malbrough said. “The funds helped me stabilize and I was able to work with my landlord to get a deferment during that time as well.”

A graphic showing the number of clients and amount of money the UGA SBDC assisted with in North Georgia, Metro Atlanta, and South Georgia.

Nelson Wells also hit a wall when applying for funds until he reached out to the UGA SBDC office in Athens. His company, Team Clermont, promotes musicians and musical releases, so when the clubs and bars closed, so did Wells’ business.

He reached out to the big banks with whom he had previously worked, but found no success. Laura Katz, a consultant in the Athens UGA SBDC office, suggested trying a local bank.

“Sometimes if you go to a local community bank, they have a better of understanding of the needs of their home town businesses,” Katz said.

First American Bank & Trust, with its headquarters in Athens, came through for Wells with enough money for him to cover payroll, utilities and rent for 10 weeks, giving the business time to get its feet back on the ground.

“We would’ve had a very difficult time without it,” Wells said, “I honestly don’t know what we would’ve done.”

Down in St. Marys, Deborah Cottle wasn’t looking for financial help, she just wanted to continue selling during the shelter-in-place. Since her eclectic shop, Cottle & Gunn, already had a significant online following through Facebook and Instagram, SBDC consultant Jordan Tippett suggested she begin selling online as well.

Over the years, Tippett had worked with Cottle on ways to improve the business, from implementing QuickBooks software to keep her bookkeeping in order to helping her navigate the intricacies of buying out her partner and becoming a sole proprietor in 2016.

After pivoting to online sales, Cottle saw her sales double, and then triple during the pandemic. People were buying her wares— reclaimed vintage furniture, housewares, local crafts and more—online and receiving them by mail or picking them up from the store’s front porch.

“Oh my gosh, I recommend the UGA SBDC to everybody,” Cottle said. “I think that people would be crazy if they didn’t utilize the services of the SBDC, because they’re invaluable. Especially with no cost to me, it’s great to have that business mentor that’s there to just bounce things off of sometimes.”


Kelly Simmons PSO Dir. of Communications • 706-296-0855


Allan Adams UGA SBDC Director • 706-542-2762

UGA reaffirmed as Innovation and Economic Prosperity University

The University of Georgia has been reaffirmed as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU).

The Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) designation recognizes institutions that demonstrate a substantive, sustainable and institution-wide commitment to and strategy for regional economic engagement, growth and economic opportunity. UGA was one of only 16 universities in the country to receive the initial designation in 2013.

“This recognition by APLU is a symbol of the University of Georgia’s national leadership among land-grant institutions,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I commend our faculty, staff and students for their hard work and commitment to strengthening the state of Georgia through innovation and economic development.”

“UGA was one of the very first institutions to earn this distinction and remains one of only 66 to be recognized as IEP designees,” said Shalin Jyotishi, program director for APLU’s IEP Universities. “Its successful completion of the five-year interim process affirms UGA’s substantive commitment to promoting regional economic and community development.”

To be recognized as a designee, UGA completed a rigorous and reflective self-study with both internal and external stakeholders to pinpoint what it was doing well and what it needed to improve. For its interim report to reaffirm its designation status, the university proved that it had made progress and continues to make progress toward the goals it laid out five years earlier.

The university and a diverse group of statewide stakeholders identified three main goals in its initial application: (1) partnering for economic growth, (2) facilitating interactions between the public and the university and (3) improving communication of economic development contributions.

“The reaffirmation recognizes that we have continued to build upon our initial goals and strengthen our public partnerships,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “Economic vitality is at the heart of the land- and sea-grant mission and ensures prosperity for all Georgians.”

“Our team’s five-year review process revealed that UGA has remained true to those three core goals and has constantly improved its efforts,” said Sean McMillan, director of economic development for UGA in Atlanta. “It is an honor for the university to be once again recognized as a national leader by APLU.”

UGA has expanded upon numerous community- and technology-based development initiatives since it was first named an IEP designee. Some include UGA’s economic development office in Atlanta, which serves as a connection between the university and Georgia’s economic development community; the UGA Archway Partnership, which helps identify and address community and economic needs across the state; and Innovation Gateway, UGA’s research commercialization program.

“Partnering with industry to help move research discoveries to the marketplace has long been a priority for UGA, and we can point to significant successes for the state and beyond,” said David Lee, vice president for UGA research. “The relatively recent reorganization of our technology commercialization activities into one seamless unit, Innovation Gateway, has allowed us to take our game to an even higher level.”

APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The association’s membership includes 246 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations.

“APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) University designation recognizes institutions that are truly ‘walking the walk’ when it comes to maximizing the learning, discovery and engagement mission pillars of higher education institutions,” Jyotishi said.


Tyler Wilkins

Veteran UGA Public Service and Outreach faculty member tapped to head Georgia Center

Stacy Jones has been named director of the UGA Center for Continuing Education and Hotel, effective immediately.

Jones, formerly the associate director for governmental training, education and development at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, has served as interim director of the Georgia Center since Jan. 1, 2020.

“Stacy’s expertise managing a large portfolio of continuing education and outreach programming made her the ideal person to step in when the former Georgia Center director retired,” said Jennifer L. Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “Just a few months into the position, she adeptly managed the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. I have no doubt Stacy will lead the Georgia Center’s outstanding team into a successful future, post-pandemic.”

The Georgia Center is a 300,000-square-foot facility that opened in 1957 as part of a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to UGA. The center’s expansive continuing education programs focus on conferences and professional development both online and through the use of two auditoriums, 18 conference rooms, three executive boardrooms and a computer training lab. The building also houses 195 hotel rooms, banquet areas, and two restaurants.

At the Vinson Institute, Jones led a multi-million dollar operation that includes partnerships and programming with state agencies; local governments; the major associations representing Georgia’s cities and counties; associations of clerks, human resource officers, and finance officers; and economic development organizations across Georgia. She has led the development and delivery of continuing education, training, and professional conferences for thousands of state and local government officials. In fall 2016, Jones served as interim director of the Carl Vinson Institute, during a temporary leadership transition in Public Service and Outreach.

Prior to coming to UGA, Jones was chief development officer for Clearview Regional Medical Center, now Piedmont Walton Hospital, in Monroe, Georgia. As a member of the senior executive team, she managed business development for the 77-bed acute care hospital, overseeing physician recruitment, creating and executing marketing campaigns, and developing patient loyalty and affinity programs.

Jones earned her Ed.D. in higher education management, and a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences from UGA. She also has an MPA from Troy State University.


Kelly Simmons Public Service and Outreach — Director of Communications • 706-296-0855


Stacy Jones Georgia Center — Director • 706-542-6285

Archway communities provide opportunities for UGA College of Public Health students

As a high school student in Hawkinsville, Georgia,  Helley Patel was involved in a youth leadership program developed through the Pulaski County Archway Partnership, a UGA program that connects rural Georgia communities to university resources.

This summer, Patel reconnected with Archway to complete the internship required for her undergraduate degree in health promotion.

She and two other College of Public Health undergraduates were placed as virtual interns with Archway Partnership programs in rural Georgia communities.

“Colquitt, McDuffie and Washington counties had existing health and wellness initiatives which amid COVID-19 now required all hands-on deck,” said Sharon Liggett, an operations coordinator with the Archway Partnership, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. “This is what the Archway Partnership does, identify UGA resources to benefit Georgia’s communities.”

Patel worked with a team in Colquitt County to create user-friendly social media posts to help promote maternal health best practices and reach pregnant women in southwest Georgia with CDC messages on pregnancy during COVID-19.

A graphic designed by Haley Patel for pregnant women in southwest Georgia.

One of the graphics designed by Patel to help inform pregnant women in southwest Georgia of maternal health issues.

In addition, Archway was able to help 13 CPH students identify an “observation” required for their foundations class.

Katie Hein, a faculty member in health promotions and internship coordinator for the College of Public Health, reached out to Liggett when the students learned their summer internships, which they had lined up during the previous semester, were cancelled.

“I immediately began to contact sites that might be able to work with students remotely,” Hein said. “We have health promotion students who become Archway Professionals after graduation, so I’ve known about Archway for a long time and I use it as an example of an excellent community health model in my community health class.”

“If the students this summer had not found a site with Archway, I would have kept working to find other sites for them. Worse case scenario would have been to delay graduation, but I sure didn’t want that to happen,” said Hein.

In Colquitt County, Patel worked with Archway Professional Sarah Adams, who graduated with a degree in health promotions from UGA’s College of Public Health, and also holds a master of public administration from UGA.

Working with Adams and a nutritionist from the Southwest Georgia Public Health District, Patel learned about maternity health issues, barriers to healthcare for pregnant women and possible solutions.

“She is conscientious about her work and sincerely wants to provide something that is useful to the community,” Adams said. “She has a heart for service and is flexible in considering different ways to support communities in rural Georgia. Her name will certainly be one to watch for in the future.”

As a student back in Pulaski County, Patel was the first recipient of the Robert Herman Leadership Scholarship, named for a former chairman of the Pulaski Archway Partnership executive committee. Jason Lord, then-chairman of Pulaski Tomorrow, a leadership group that grew out of the Pulaski Archway Partnership, called  Patel “a great example of the kind of young person that will lead Pulaski County in the future.”

After graduating from UGA, Patel plans to enter the dual Master of Health Administration/Master of Business Administration program at Georgia State University. She wants to work for a hospital system in Georgia after graduation.

“Ideally, it would be nice to come back to central/south Georgia so I can have the opportunity to give back to the community where I grew up,” she said. “Receiving a scholarship from Pulaski Tomorrow was a very special moment for me. It helped to fund my education which was a big step in my career. I am grateful to come from a community where education is considered a priority.”

The core function of the UGA Archway Partnership is to bring together local leaders who prioritize local needs and identify projects that benefit the community. Projects are not decided by UGA but are determined by members of a local, community-based Executive Committee with help from other members of the community who attend listening sessions or participate in various Work Groups. Archway then acts as a connection point between communities and students and faculty to work on selected projects.


Baker Owens Archway Partnership Public Relations Coordinator • 706-510-962


Sharon Liggett Archway Partnership Operations Coordinator • 229-507-6869

Katie Hein College of Public Health Internship Coordinator • 706-542-3313

UGA partners with Okefenokee swamp to conserve and protect native alligators

A partnership between University of Georgia researchers and the Okefenokee Swamp Park focuses on conservation and education efforts needed to maintain the swamp’s native alligator population, which is vital to the economic vitality of the region.

On Aug. 27, UGA’s Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant and the Okefenokee Swamp Park (OSP) signed a commitment to continue its Alligator Education and Research Project, work that informs the OSP on conservation and management of the swamp, provides a better understanding of alligators, and enhances wildlife education.

“Applied research like this project in south Georgia is helping communities throughout the state address critical, local challenges,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “This is a great example of how UGA is fulfilling its mission as Georgia’s land-grant and sea-grant institution.”

The OSP first began funding the project in 2017, and since then UGA scientists have conducted field research in the swamp, located on the Georgia-Florida border, to inventory the current alligator population by sex, age and size.

Kimberly Andrews holds several juvenile alligators in her arms.“The American alligator remains a conservation concern for a number of reasons, including human persecution and loss of native habitat,” said ecologist Kimberly Andrews, a faculty member with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “It is important for us to understand how these reptiles are adapting to survive in a human-dominated environment.”

Using satellite tags and cameras, Andrews and her team at UGA have tracked seven adult alligators in the swamp, observing interactions between the sexes and age classes, courtship between males and females, maternal care and interaction with other species, such as bears or otters.

They regularly survey areas of the swamp to get approximate counts of the alligators there and their activity levels during day and night, from season to season and under changing environmental conditions.

So far, their research has shown that adult females and their guarded young, ages one to three years, are typically the most visible while the males are on the move and the mid-size subadults are more covert. Alligator activity and their visibility in the swamp is influenced by social structure and the presence of dominant individuals and changes in environmental conditions, such as temperature and rainfall.

“We are excited to renew our partnership with Dr. Andrews and UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant,” said Dr. William Clark, an ophthalmologist in Waycross and chair of the OSP Board of Trustees, a 501.c.3 non-profit organization. “So far, the results of the alligator research have already changed the way many people view this apex predator and we look forward to increasing our collaboration for years to come.”

Alligators are a conservation success story: they were the first species to be listed federally as an endangered species. Alligator farming replaced the overharvesting from the wild that caused their decline and alligator populations began to rebound.

Alligators are apex predators, consuming a diversity of food sources and regulating prey populations. At the swamp, researchers have seen that a single adult alligator may eat prey that range in size from a moth to a deer. When alligators are lost from a system, this balance is lost and the ecosystem instability impacts many other species, including people who rely on predators to manage prey populations, such as deer, that pose risk to our safety when overabundant.

Alligators are the engineers of their economy, creating habitat that is used by other smaller animals. During drought, alligators create “wallows” or use den sites that retain water after it becomes scarce in other areas. These wallows can be critical for breeding habitat for frogs. The loss of alligators in some ecosystems has contributed to subsequent declines in amphibian populations in many of their habitats where they have been removed.

The Okefenokee is the largest blackwater swamp in North America, serving as the headwaters of the St. Mary’s and Suwanee rivers. Most of the swamp is located in Southeastern Georgia and is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the state. Protected largely by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Okefenokee Wilderness, the swamp has an array of habitats including cypress swamps, peat bogs, marshes, open lakes and wooded hammocks. The diversity of ecosystems encompasses an assortment of over 620 plant species (including four carnivorous plant species), 39 fish, 37 amphibian, 64 reptile, 234 bird and 50 mammal species.

An alligator floats in the water at Okefenokee Swamp Park.

An alligator floats in the water at Okefenokee Swamp Park. (Submitted Photo)

About the project:

About the swamp:


Kelly Simmons PSO Dir. of Communications • 706-296-0855


Kimberly Andrews Marine Extension & Georgia Sea Grant Coastal Ecology Specialist • 912-261-3975

UGA commits new leadership development program to support underserved populations across Georgia

A new University of Georgia leadership initiative is partnering with eight organizations across the state to build stronger communities by developing leaders within underserved populations.

The J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, developed the Innovations in Community Leadership Initiative (ICLI) with private funding donated by members of the Fanning Institute Advisory Board, most notably a lead gift from the James L. Allgood family.

“The program specifically targets organizations or communities that do not have the resources or technical expertise to sustain effective leadership programing,” said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute.

“The funds raised for this initiative allow Fanning to invest its resources and expertise in these partner communities and organizations to enhance and innovate community leadership programming,” Bishop said.

The inaugural ICLI recipients are:

“We are very excited to be working with the Fanning Institute,” said Sharon Edwards, founder and executive director of Community Outreach Training Center, Inc. “Through the Innovations in Community Leadership Initiative, we’re going to be able to incorporate leadership development into our existing services, equipping program participants to lead and build better futures for themselves and their communities.”

Over the next year, Fanning Institute faculty and staff will work with these organizations to develop and build out their proposed leadership programming.

“We received a large number of very strong applications that all received serious consideration,” said Brittany Adams-Pope, a Fanning Institute public service faculty member. “These inaugural recipients represent a diverse cross-section of the state, and we look forward to working with them to develop their programs.”

As part of the ICLI, communities are expected to sustain and continue the programming over multiple years.

“Sustainable, consistent leadership development programming positions a community for economic development and other opportunities,” Bishop said. “The correlation between leadership development and community vitality is a clear one, and communities that innovate their leadership programs to better serve all of their citizens are the ones best prepared for a better future.”

The institute will accept applications for a second round of the ICLI in spring 2021. For more information, visit


Charlie Bauder Fanning Institute Public Relations Coordinator • 706-542-7039


Matt Bishop Fanning Institute Director • 706-542-6201