2021 Four for the Future

Now in its ninth year, the Four for the Future Awards, co-sponsored by Georgia Trend magazine and UGA, recognize communities and regions that have worked across public- private sector and nonprofit boundaries to address challenges in ways that will lead to improved quality of life. These partnerships demonstrate effective collaboration, leadership and innovation, and offer the promise of long-term community benefits. The 2021 recipients are:

Washington County Branding Initiative

Washington County and its eight communities have a lot to offer but did not have a unified brand identity, tools or message needed to maximize promotion, marketing and economic development efforts. The Carl Vinson Institute of Government was commissioned by Archway Partnership on behalf of Washington County to facilitate a countywide branding process and create a brand identity. Vinson Institute graphic designers took the information provided by county residents and created a visual identity that captured the county’s diverse and unique sense of place. Each community designed its own logo to fit within the county brand. The county now has tools to use for recruiting industry and the Chamber of Commerce has a brand message to attract tourism, enhance marketing and aid local merchants.

Barrow County Grow It Know It

A needs assessment conducted by UGA showed that teachers in Barrow County were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about farm to school programming. However, there are significant barriers to starting the programs, including a need for teacher training, support for starting and managing school gardens, securing garden materials and supplies, coordinating cooking activities, and integrating farm to school programming into the curriculum. The Office of Service-Learning partnered with Barrow County Extension, Georgia Farm Bureau, and Barrow County School District to launch Grow It Know It (GIKI), an experiential training program for educators to learn a food- and garden-based curriculum. Since 2018, 53 Barrow County educators have participated in Grow It Know It training, serving 1,239 students in 2019-2020. UGA received a $150,703 USDA grant to support the Barrow County farm to school effort through GIKI.

NewTown Macon Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy

The nonprofit NewTown Macon, which focuses on economic and cultural development in downtown Macon, saw that many people trying to start new businesses needed coaching to help them find funding. Current and aspiring business owners also needed leadership and entrepreneurial skills. So NewTown Macon reached out to the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development for help. Fanning faculty designed curriculum for the NewTown Macon Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy and facilitated the first class in fall 2018. Over four sessions, participants focused on leadership skills critical to carrying out a business vision, and learned more about business plan development. Participant Scott Mitchell, owner of Travis Jean Emporium, reported that his revenue increased in the months following the academy. Also, Mitchell became more involved in the business community, which he said also opened doors for his business.

Camden County Coastal Green Infrastructure

The Camden County Extension office regularly experienced flooding when it rained. In addressing that problem, Camden County and Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant created a demonstration site to support educational outreach and engagement. Using grant money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund the project and assistance from state and local partners, Camden County Extension now has a 262-square-foot bioretention cell that manages more than 14,000 gallons of water annually. The bioretention cell not only addressed the county extensions office’s flooding problem, but provided a new teaching tool to help local residents learn about stormwater management. In addition, a UGA Public Service and Outreach Student Scholar, who interned with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, helped design the cell and coordinate construction training for Camden County’s Public Works Department—a valuable experiential learning opportunity.

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Grover Andrews, who ushered the UGA Center for Continuing Education into the 21st century, dies at 91

Former UGA Public Service and Outreach Vice President Grover J. Andrews died March 26, 2021. He was 91.

Andrews was associate vice president for Public Service and Outreach and interim director of the Georgia Center from 1998 until he retired in 2001. From 1989 until 1998 he was director of instructional services for the Georgia Center. He also served as adjunct professor of adult education in the UGA College of Education from 1989 through 1996.

As interim director, Andrews oversaw the Georgia Center’s continuing reorganization, which began in FY 97.

In FY 2000, the center completed a strategic plan that called for “sweeping initiatives that will greatly enhance UGA’s ability to serve the people of Georgia and beyond.” Among those initiatives was to transform the Georgia Center into a Center for the 21st Century and to expand distance education activities to interface with the Global Learning Online for Business and Education (G.L.O.B.E.) Initiative of the University System of Georgia. The Web version of Principles of Marketing Research, implemented in July 2000, was UGA’s first Web course to offer continuing education credits.

Over the next year, before Andrews retired, the center added a Conference Services Area and hired an assistant director to oversee it; expanded distance education, particularly Web-based programming; and expanded efforts in campus and state outreach.

Andrews’ career in higher education began after his service in the U.S. Navy and spanned more than 40 years with six institutions, where he was dedicated to teaching, research and practice in the field of adult education and accreditation.

He also served as an associate executive director for the Commission on Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. There he directed the research project that produced the first comprehensive accreditation standard for continuing education programs within colleges and universities. He also conducted research and developed guidelines for the use of the Continuing Education Unit and was instrumental in establishing the International Association for Continuing Education and Training, for which he then served as president.

Andrews was inducted into the inaugural class of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame (IACEHF) in 1996. The IACEHF, based at the University of Oklahoma College of Continuing Education, recognizes men and women who have made distinguished contributions to the field of adult and continuing education.

His many honors include being selected for the Julius Nolte Award given by the National University Continuing Education Association (1995) and the Southern Association of Colleges Meritorious Service Award (2003).

According to his obituary, Andrews’ greatest legacy may be his dedication of hours and years to mentoring colleagues young and old. “They surely benefited from his graciousness, support, and wisdom beyond what any award could possibly measure. As one colleague stated, he will also be remembered as a true southern gentleman.”

Born in Batesville, Arkansas, Andrews was preceded in death by his parents Grover Jones and Ruth Burlie Andrews, and his three siblings.

Memorial gifts may be directed to the UGA Foundation, Development and Alumni Relations, Athens, Georgia 30602 with memo designating gifts to the benefit of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

Lyndhurst Foundation awards sixth round of funding to Institute of Government

The Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership, a program of UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, was recently awarded $120,000 by the Lyndhurst Foundation. This is the sixth time the foundation has funded the program since 2015, bringing its total support to $590,000.

Since its first gift, the Lyndhurst Foundation, based in Chattanooga, has enabled the Institute of Government to assist local governments with revitalization efforts in northwest Georgia and southeast Tennessee. Over the course of its partnership, the foundation has empowered communities and improved the region by supporting planning and design projects in McCaysville, Trenton, Chickamauga, Chatsworth, Rossville, Ringgold, Lookout Mountain, and Murray County, Georgia, as well as Copperhill, Ducktown, and Athens, Tennessee. The latest round of funding will support downtown master planning efforts for the cities of LaFayette and Fort Oglethorpe.

Funds from Lyndhurst converted a historic rail depot in Chickamauga into a welcome center, and in Rossville were used to update the grounds around the duck pond at the historic John Ross home and to improve an old textile mill for use in business and social ventures — initiatives that contribute to long-term livability and resilience of Lyndhurst’s greater Chattanooga service region, which includes communities in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.

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More recent funding supported a unique economic development partnership with communities on the Georgia and Tennessee border. The Copper Basin Renaissance Strategic Visioning and Planning (RSVP) collaboration united key leaders from McCaysville, its twin city of Copperhill, Tennessee, and nearby Ducktown, Tennessee, in a community-driven alliance to help the region’s economy flourish. It was the first two-state RSVP, a component of the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership, which is a revitalization initiative of the Institute of Government conducted with cooperation from the Georgia Municipal Association, the Georgia Cities Foundation, and other partners.

The Copper Basin RSVP strategy complements public and private quality-of-life amenities already in place or under development. The RSVP also served to enhance existing partnerships among the cities, all of which are members of the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and his staff supported the work on the Copper Basin RSVP with the Institute of Government since the initial discussions about the project. Ralston, a longtime proponent of economic development initiatives like the RSVP, represents a district that includes McCaysville and Fannin County.

In 2020, UGA Public Service and Outreach (PSO) recognized Lyndhurst with its annual Door Impact Award in recognition of its support of helping Georgia communities.

Institute of Government employee receives PSO award for virtual programming during the pandemic

Carl Vinson Institute of Government Program Coordinator Michael Moryc is the 10th recipient of the Public Service and Outreach Spotlight Award for his work helping institute faculty transition to online programming when the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

“It’s no surprise how you all responded to COVID and helped governments get through these times,” PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum told Moryc during a Zoom meeting on Feb. 19. “I’m always inspired and in awe of you all.”

Moryc , who works out of the institute’s Atlanta office, enabled the institute to conduct dozens of events virtually including the 2020 Biennial Institute for Georgia Legislators, webinars designed to help cities and counties navigate the fiscal crisis created by the pandemic and planning sessions with local governments.

His innovation led to a new line of service for the institute’s state services unit: customized virtual meeting management.

“Michael has consistently provided a high level of service for clients,” said Beverly Johnson, a faculty member in the Vinson Institute who nominated Moryc for the award. “However, his desire to use his skills to help his colleagues and their clients above and beyond his normal duties is worthy of recognition at this level. Because of his willingness to work long hours, problem solving abilities, and collaborative spirit, the institute was able to identify new ways to support clients, create a new line of business and fulfill its mission to ‘promoting excellence in government’.”

Moryc received a gift box of treats and a framed certificate recognizing his Employee Spotlight Award. The award, launched in November, is presented to PSO employees who go above and beyond their normal responsibilities, who produce outstanding work and who contribute significantly to the strategic mission of the university.

For more information or to make a nomination, go to

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PSO award goes to Fanning Institute researcher for determination, dedication and loyalty

A strategic planning meeting at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development appeared routine until UGA Public Service and Outreach (PSO) Vice President Jennifer Frum appeared on the Zoom screen and called out the latest PSO Employee Spotlight Award winner, Karen Duncan.

“Karen always goes above and beyond the call of duty to assistant whomever she’s working with in her role as a research professional. Her attention to detail and work ethic is present in all of her interactions with faculty, staff and students,” Frum said. “During COVID 19, Karen quickly and seamlessly adapted all of our reporting strategies to meet the evaluation and data needs of teaching and facilitating virtually.”

Duncan received a gift box of treats and a framed certificate recognizing her Employee Spotlight Award, presented to PSO employees who go above and beyond their normal responsibilities, who produce outstanding work and who contribute significantly to the strategic mission of the division.

Duncan’s primary responsibility is to manage Fanning’s administrative database system that records and reports the institute’s work. In this role, she works with all faculty, program coordinators, public relations coordinators and others to ensure the institute’s work is accurately represented and promoted.

Fanning Institute Director Matt Bishop nominated Duncan for the award

“For 30 years, Karen has remained a constant strength and supporter of the units and faculty she has served through her work at the Fanning Institute, Public Service and Outreach, and the University of Georgia,” Bishop wrote in his nomination. “Her determination, dedication and loyalty exemplify commitment to excellence and servant leadership.”

The PSO Employee Spotlight award was established in 2019 as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and contributions of employees throughout the year. Duncan is the ninth PSO employee to receive the award since November 2019.

For more information or to make a nomination, go to

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Georgia Center food and banquet manager is in the PSO Employee Spotlight

Katie Phillips is the latest Public Service and Outreach employee surprised with an Employee Spotlight award during a Zoom meeting.

Phillips, food and beverage banquet manager at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, was nominated for the award by Georgia Center Director Stacy Jones after Jones received two letters from customers praising Phillips for her service.

“Thank you for helping me provide a (First Year Odyssey) social event this year that was enjoyable and relatively stress free,” wrote education professor Michele Lease. “It’s part of my FYOS each year that students really enjoy, and I was worried that it would not be possible to pull it off this fall.”

Lease placed individual orders for each of her students so that they could get exactly what they wanted. Phillips labeled each wrapped order with the students’ names so they could easily pick their meal out of the bunch without lingering close to other people.

“You really embody the spirit of what we want to recognize with the Employee Spotlight,” PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum told Phillips in presenting the award over Zoom. “Thanks for making the Georgia Center look good. Thank you for making UGA look so good. It really reflects so well on all of us.”

Phillips also heard from Naomi Norman, associate vice president for instruction and director of the FYOS program.

“Everything that has been so disrupted for everyone that it’s wonderful to know that people are finding creative ways to bring people together,” Norman wrote.

Phillips received a gift basket of treats and a framed certificate recognizing the award.

“Not only did these individuals see Katie’s commitment to the Georgia Center but they also saw an employee who pays attention to the details, understands the individuals she is serving, and does it all with enthusiasm and a smile,” Jones said. “She personifies the service standard we want and strive for in our work at the Georgia Center.”

Find out more about the PSO Spotlight and how to nominate an employee at

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UGA poised to assist nonprofits apply for COVID-19 relief funding

Nonprofit organizations in Georgia that have been hurt financially by the pandemic can reach out to the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development for assistance in applying for federal aid.

The Economic Aid Act, a part of the overall Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, allocates more funding to support nonprofits through both the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has both increased the demand on many nonprofit organizations and hampered their ability to raise the funds necessary to operate and support their communities,” said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute, a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit. “This additional funding, which includes increased nonprofit eligibility, will help these organizations continue their vital work.”

The legislation also creates a set-aside for small nonprofits with 10 or fewer employees and nonprofits located in distressed areas, and sets up targeted programs for disadvantaged nonprofits and nonprofits that have been hardest-hit by the pandemic.

“Often times, it is the small nonprofits and those in distressed areas which are called upon the most in difficult times like these, yet they can often suffer the most from funding interruptions and declines, so this funding is of particular importance to them,” Bishop said.

Key components of the legislation include:

  • A second draw of the PPP loan that will now be available to additional nonprofit organizations who do not employ more than 300 employees. This program provides Small Business Administration (SBA) loans of up to $10 million to certain nonprofits and tax-exempt veterans’ organizations. Nonprofits are also eligible to have portions of these loans forgiven, effectively turning the loans into grants.
  • An emergency EIDL advance grant that will allow eligible nonprofits that have applied for an EIDL loan to request an advance on that loan up to $10,000.
  • Elimination of the requirement to deduct an EIDL advance from the PPP forgiveness loan.
  • The Save Our Stages Act , which allocates $15 billion in SBA grants to live venues, independent movie theaters, and other cultural institutions—including those operated by nonprofits.

The institute has set up a nonprofit assistance help line to field inquiries and provide guidance with the funding opportunities. The number is 706-363-0926.

“We encourage nonprofits who have questions to reach out to us and we will connect them with the resources and support available to them,” Bishop said.


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


Sayge Medlin Fanning Institute Asst. Director and Public Service Associate • 706-542-4550

Public Service & Outreach COVID-19 Resources


UGA SBDC offers no-cost online small business training

Online courses and business success training programs offered by the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center will be provided at no cost to small business owners through 2020.

“During this time, it is more important than ever for us to continue to offer accessible and high-quality educational resources for small businesses,” said Allan Adams, UGA SBDC state director. “We’re happy to have the opportunity to temporarily offer all our training programs at no cost as small business owners get back on their feet.”

The UGA SBDC is able to offer the programs at no direct cost through new federal funding allocated to the U.S. Small Business Administration through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and through corporate sponsorships.

Kyle Hensel, UGA SBDC director of continuing education, has been helping SBDC consultants design their content for an online format as well as develop new curricula addressing current challenges. Topics include business planning, operations and strategy, marketing, financials and accounting, human resources and more.

“We’re continuing to innovate to deliver educational resources for Georgia’s businesses,” Hensel said. “Like many of the small businesses we serve, we’ve taken this as an opportunity to adapt.”

Programs will be offered through each of the UGA SBDC’s 17 center locations throughout the state. Training participants will also have the opportunity to connect with their local UGA SBDC consultants to learn more about the resources available.

To find an upcoming training program visit

UGA’s 72nd Georgia Science and Engineering Fair held online

The premier annual science and engineering competition for Georgia middle and high schoolers was quickly transitioned to an online judging format for 2020 because of growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Normally, the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair is held at the Classic Center in downtown Athens, with about 750 students, and hundreds of judges and volunteers in attendance.

Despite the major changes to the format of presentations and judging, 593 students from across the state participated in the online competition by recording videos of their projects and uploading their supporting materials. Spread out over several weeks, more than 200 judges evaluated the senior division projects in late March and junior division projects in early April. Finalists were judged in additional rounds, and 225 students were awarded nearly $25,000 in prizes. This year’s main event sponsor was Burns & McDonnell, with individual awards sponsored by a host of organizations.

The fair is a program of the Office of Academic Special Programs, which is part of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel. Every year, thousands of students compete in local science fairs across the state. The winners are invited to compete in one of the GSEF-affiliated regional fairs, and the top projects from each regional fair are invited to attend and compete at GSEF.

“This year’s exhibitors have demonstrated exceptional skill, creativity, and perseverance in the face of uncertainty,” said Laura Brewer, fair director and program coordinator in the Office of Academic Special Programs at the Georgia Center. “Many of them are already developing technologies and discovering solutions that will be critical to overcoming global challenges, and all have made great strides toward bettering our world. This is a testament to not only the students’ talents and hard work, but also to the support provided by their parents, mentors, teachers, and fair directors.”

A screen capture showing an online GSEF presentation

Milton High School student Shreya Ramesh, winner of the 2020 Pinnacle Award, is among the students who opted to display their project online on the GSEF Showcase website.

Students who opted-in to display their projects publicly are highlighted on the GSEF Showcase website. The top awards include:

  • Pinnacle Award: “Identification of Auditory Biomarkers for Neurological Disorders” by Shreya Ramesh, a student at Milton High School, Fulton County
  • Junior Division Pinnacle Award: “How Clean Are Stethoscopes?” by Rachel Dressler, a student at Chamblee Middle School, DeKalb County

In addition to the Pinnacle Awards, Georgia Science & Engineering Fair Regeneron ISEF Awards were presented to the following four projects:

  • “The Amazing MYO” by Yashua Evans, Union Grove High School, Henry County;
  • “RadioWrite: Rapid Machine Learning Approach to Radiology Analysis” by Krishi Kishore, Lambert High School, Forsyth County;
  • “3D Printing Hierarchical Porous Glassy Carbon for Supercapacitors” by Howard Hua, Wheeler High School, Cobb County; and
  • “Detecting and Imaging TNB Cancer Using Perovskite Quantum Dots” by Vinod Ruppa-Kasani, Chattahoochee High School, Fulton County.

Although the 2020 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair competition has been cancelled, these students will still be honored by the Society for Science & the Public as ISEF finalists. To view the GSEF Showcase, visit The Showcase site, which includes student project videos, will be viewable through May 31, 2020.

Other notable awards from this year’s fair include:

  • Rebecca Winters, a student at Bonaire Middle School in Houston County, and Ella Dommert, a student at the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science & Technology in Gwinnett County, each won the Georgia Aquarium Conservation Award for their projects, “Biogas: From Trash to Gas,” and “Oil Adsorption Capacities of Organic Materials,” respectively. The students will each receive two tickets to the Georgia Aquarium, a behind-the-scenes tour, and a job-shadowing opportunity. Dommert recently also won first place in the Georgia Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium, held at the Georgia Center in February, and third place in the national symposium, held online in late April.
  • A new award was sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. Cash awards went to first, second, and third place projects in both the Junior and Senior divisions and ranged from $50 to $250 each.
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development also sponsored a new award that recognizes projects that have the potential to significantly impact the lives of people around the world. The three recipients are Ana Carvalho, Jenkins High School, Chatham County, for “Zeolite Based Water Generation”; Candy Zheng, Rockdale Magnet School, Rockdale County, for her work on “Pathways to Educational Equality in China”; and Arnav Jain, Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science & Technology, Gwinnett County, for “The Intelligent Medical Stapler: Ending the Emergency Room Crisis.”
  • Kevin Davoud, Statesboro High School in Bulloch County, and Parvati Menon, Lambert High School in Forsyth County, were awarded the UGA Charter Scholarship, a renewable $2,000 annual scholarship for students attending the University of Georgia.

All of the 2020 awards are listed on the GSEF website:

About the UGA Office of Academic Special Programs
The UGA Office of Academic Special Programs equips Georgia’s pre-college students to succeed and to flourish in an increasingly complex and highly technical world by becoming problem solvers, critical thinkers, inquirers, reflective learners, and more productive and influential members of their communities. For more information call 706-542-6473 or visit


Sue Myers Smith Georgia Center Public Relations Manager


Laura Brewer Georgia Center Program Director

UGA quickly ramped up online education options to keep state and local officials on track

The University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government didn’t waste any time moving its popular continuing education programs online so that state and local officials wouldn’t fall behind during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vinson faculty offered its first online class in its Certified Public Manager program on March 19, a week after the state effectively shut down because of the pandemic. All 31 participants enrolled in the program, which began in August, participated.

Students in the current CPM program have been meeting since August so it’s important for classes to continue uninterrupted, according to participant Tracy Mason.

“It was good for the institute to have a plan and be able to deploy that videoconferencing program so fast,” said Mason, senior assistant director of the Judicial Council of Georgia/Administrative Office of the Courts. “I don’t feel that I would have preferred to wait until we could meet face-to-face again.”

The CPM program provides professional education to managers throughout city, county and state government that helps them make fiscally and socially responsible decisions that benefit their communities. Having this kind of education will be even more important now as Georgia’s cities and counties deal with the impact from the coronavirus.

This program, like most of the Vinson Institute’s certification programs, is offered through a series of courses that build upon each other over a period of months. It would be a setback for participants if there was a long delay between classes.

The institute already had been moving some of its classroom courses online, which would increase accessibility for government officials spread throughout the state. But the virus, and subsequent statewide restrictions on gatherings in groups, made the changes more critical, said Tracy Arner, financial management program manager at the Vinson Institute.

“It’s shaping, really moment by moment, how we’re delivering services,” Arner said.

Vinson faculty used Blackboard Collaborative Ultra to videoconference the March 19 CPM class on budgeting. Through that platform, class participants could raise a virtual hand if they had a question, gather into small discussion groups, and “talk” back and forth with the instructor and among themselves.

“The class itself went on without missing a beat,” said participant Trey Wood, Jackson County finance director. “Once everybody got comfortable and started communicating back and forth, it was easy to stay engaged.”

Even though they weren’t in a room together, participant Niki Lemeska said the interaction via video kept the class on track.

“It allows you to feel like you’re picking up on the vibe of what’s going on in the classroom even though you’re not seeing your classmates live,” said Lemeska, program manager with the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.

Vinson already offered online learning, with standalone courses and webinars, said Laura Meadows, director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

“What’s new is we’re now providing live online instruction for courses we have previously delivered face-to-face,” Meadows said.

Another Institute of Government course, the North Atlanta Regional Management Development Program, was taught online using Zoom on March 25.

Participant John “Kevin” Norred, deputy chief of the Troup County Fire Department in LaGrange, found the process unusual but fulfilling.

“I really thought I would be working today with this Zoom thing going ‘wah, wah, wah’ in the background,” Norred said. “But I found myself engrossed and engaged just like in class. I just don’t have to drive home.”

While many classes are being adapted for videoconferencing, the institute will continue to offer webinars and self-study online classes for government officials throughout Georgia. Many are certified by the Georgia Department of Revenue, allowing local tax officials to earn continuing education credit. Others allow local and state leaders to work toward or maintain certification. You can find available classes at


Roger Nielsen Carl Vinson Public Relations Coordinator • 706-542-2524

UGA, economic developers thank Gov. Kemp for Georgia’s business success

Sean McMillan, director of UGA’s Economic Development office in Atlanta, joined economic developers from around the state thanking Governor Kemp for making Georgia the number one state for business.

Christina Allen-Wise wins PSO Employee Spotlight Award for work with Fanning Institute

Christina Allen-Wise, a program operations coordinator with the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, was surprised with the Public Service and Outreach Employee Spotlight Award on February 5 during the Community Leadership Conference luncheon.

Allen-Wise, who helps coordinate the CLC for the Fanning Institute, was busy working to make sure the conference was running smoothly and had to be coaxed into the luncheon for her surprise award.

“The best way to sum up everything Christina does is the fact that we kept trying to get her in here for the surprise, and she kept trying to work,” said PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum. “She helped make this conference happen and is critical to the success of the Fanning Institute.”

The fourth winner of the PSO Employee Spotlight Award, Allen-Wise has worked with the Fanning Institute since 2015, where she coordinates numerous leadership conferences including the CLC and Locate South Georgia Leads. She also added the Vivian H. Fisher PSO Leadership Academy to her responsibilities in 2019.

Fanning Institute Director Matt Bishop personally nominated Allen-Wise for the award.

“Whether it is preparing refreshments for a program or assisting faculty with budgeting and contracting programs, Christina plays a vital role in ensuring the institute promptly and effectively responds to clients to ensure they receive the best program experience possible,” Bishop wrote in his nomination. “She always ensures that programs run smoothly, the clients and participants have a positive experience and the institute faculty are supported in every way possible to allow them to focus on their work.”

The Employee Spotlight Award was created as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and contributions of PSO employees throughout the year. The award 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.

Any full or part time employee of the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, the eight PSO units, and the Atlanta economic development office are eligible for the award. Employees can nominate themselves or someone else.

For more information or to nominate someone for the award, go to

Walton County high school honored at Fanning Institute leadership conference

Walnut Grove High School in Loganville, Georgia, was honored by UGA with the 2020 Innovations in Community Leadership Award for its success in implementing a leadership curriculum that has led to higher graduation rates and greater student engagement.

The award was presented to Walnut Grove High School Principal Sean Callahan by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development during the institute’s annual Community Leadership Conference Feb. 5.

Walnut Grove began implementing the Youth Leadership in Action curriculum, developed by Fanning, in 2015. The school’s graduation rates increased from 78.3 percent in 2013-14 to 93.6 percent in 2018-19. The state average is 82 percent.

“I think this approach and our partnership with the Fanning Institute not only gives students a voice and makes Walnut Grove High School a better place, it builds a legacy that will continue for Walnut Grove for years to come,” Callahan said in accepting the award. “This is a real honor for our school. This project is a school commitment to our students and our community as well.”

The Innovations in Community Leadership Award recognizes individuals or programs that have moved beyond traditional community leadership programming through innovative practices, partnerships and activities that better serve participants and their communities.

PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum talks with representatives from Walnut Grove High School during the 2020 Community Leadership Conference.

PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum (L) talks with representatives from Walnut Grove High School during the 2020 Community Leadership Conference.

Also during the conference, Fanning Institute Director Matt Bishop announced a new Innovations in Community Leadership Initiative (ICLI), that will provide resources to underserved communities and organizations across Georgia that aspire to begin, restart or revamp a leadership program.

“Communities that provide leadership development opportunities for its citizens, across all ages, have a competitive advantage in attracting investment and opportunities for the community,” Bishop said. “Recognizing the correlation between leadership development and economic vitality, this initiative will help communities and organizations leverage the Fanning Institute’s leadership development expertise to create and implement solutions to community challenges.”

Projects the ICLI could support include community-focused, skills-based programming that focuses on community and civic engagement; leadership development for underserved populations within a community; programming that enhances workforce vitality; leadership programs that enhance student opportunities and leadership skills; entrepreneurial leadership development; or multi-county, regional leadership development programming.

This year’s conference, “Together. Serve. Transform.” drew about 120 people to Athens to participate in workshops and panel discussions on innovations, research and best practices in adult, youth and nonprofit leadership.

“This is my third time attending the Community Leadership Conference, and it was a great experience,” said Tommie Beth Willis, president of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce. “The breakout sessions were right on point with what I needed professionally and what our community needed for our leadership program.”

For more information in the ICLI, including deadlines for application, go to


Charlie Bauder Public Relations Coordinator • 706-542-7039


Matt Bishop Fanning Institute Director • 706-542-6201

UGA receives $50,000 grant from AT&T to address flooding in Athens-Clarke County

A grant from AT&T will help an interdisciplinary team of UGA faculty assess long-term flood frequency and severity for Athens-Clarke County in order to better plan for future development and infrastructure investments.

Paul Chambers Jr., regional director of external affairs for AT&T presented the check to Jennifer Frum, UGA vice president for Public Service and Outreach, and Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. Risse will work with Shana Jones, planning and environmental services program manager at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, and Brian Bledsoe, the UGA Athletic Association Professor in Resilient Infrastructure, in the UGA College of Engineering. Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government are UGA public service and outreach units.

The UGA project will assess potential future flooding issues for Athens-Clarke County. The county and UGA’s Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems will work together to develop flood inundation maps, visualizations and a modeling framework for rapidly assessing flooding pressure points at the municipal scale. These products will create an improved understanding of future flood hazards and inform long-term planning and infrastructure investment priorities.

UGA is one of five southeastern institutions selected for AT&T’s Climate Resiliency Community Challenge, a project designed to help communities in the United State build a resistance to climate change. The teams will use data commissioned by AT&T from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and funding from AT&T to conduct innovative research on climate impacts and community responses in the southeastern United States.

Marine Extension & Georgia Sea Grant’s Karlsson honored with PSO Employee Spotlight Award

Sara Karlsson, the administrative financial director at UGA’s Marine Extension & Georgia Sea Grant, became the third winner of the Public Service and Outreach Employee Spotlight Award on January 30 with a surprise appearance by PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum.

Karlsson was in a staff professional development committee meeting in the Treanor House boardroom when Frum surprised her with the award along with red and black balloons and a gift basket.

“Sara is a joy to work with and is so beloved by all her coworkers,” said Frum. “I’m impressed with how you willingly and effectively took on additional responsibilities and helped continue the great work at Marine Extension & Georgia Sea Grant.”

Karlsson was hired by Marine Extension & Georgia Sea Grant in July 2018. Over the next year, she took on additional responsibilities beyond her external grants coordinator job, helping to carry the load of two other vacant positions.

She was eventually promoted to administrative financial director in September 2019.

Karlsson was nominated for the award by Marine Extension & Georgia Sea Grant Director Mark Risse.

“Essentially, Sara has been doing the work of three individuals for much of this year and has managed to not only keep us running but has done so with grace and competence while learning new systems and procedures,” Risse wrote in his nomination. “I feel that Sara deserves recognition for going above and beyond the call of duty.”

Karlsson is the third PSO employee to be honored with the award since it was established last fall. The Employee Spotlight Award was created as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and contributions of PSO employees throughout the year. The award 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.

Any full or part time employee of the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, the eight PSO units, and the Atlanta economic development office are eligible for the award. Employees can nominate themselves or someone else.

For more information or to nominate someone for the award, go to

Fanning Institute to host fifth annual leadership conference at UGA this week

A native of southeast Georgia, Lynda Brannen Williamson spent her life working to improve the Statesboro community as a civic leader, a legacy that continued after her passing with the creation of the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation in 2014, and later the LBW Leadership Academy.

That legacy now extends to northwest Georgia, where the LBW Foundation launched a leadership academy last fall, supported by Georgia Power.

“Lynda had the vision of these academies expanding throughout the South,” said Lisa Lee, president of the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation. “Taking this program and expanding it to other cities is an easy and natural progression. Our original goals were to focus on servant leadership, mentorship and building a base of community servants that would build upon itself to ensure a community of servant leaders. We are also grateful to Georgia Power for its support of Lynda’s vision to develop women leaders throughout the state.”

Building these successful collaborations for leadership development is a focus of the fifth annual Community Leadership Conference, Feb. 4-5, 2020, at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel. Organized by UGA’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Advancement, the conference draws participants from across Georgia as well as from neighboring states.

This year’s conference theme is “Together. Serve. Transform.”

“When we pool our leadership skills and talent in communities, we can work together to collectively serve the needs of our citizens and thus transform our communities through leadership development, building a stronger future,” said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute. “Again this year, our conference will highlight successful leadership programs, initiatives and collaborations that attendees can implement in their own communities.”

The Lynda B. Williamson Foundation worked with the Fanning Institute to develop a leadership curriculum for young women in southeast Georgia. Since the academy began in 2015, more than 70 women have participated in the program, which covers personal leadership, communication and conflict, strategies for effective leadership, career and professional skill development, and multigenerational leadership. Once they’ve completed the program, the women mentor high school girls in their communities, helping them better understand social media etiquette, build their resumes and manage conflict.

Representatives from the Lynda B Williams Foundation with the Fanning Institute’s Innovations in Community Leadership Award in 2019.

Representatives from the Lynda B Williams Foundation with the Fanning Institute’s Innovations in Community Leadership Award in 2019. (PHOTO: Shannah Montgomery/PSO)

“Lynda Williamson was a personal friend and colleague,” said Anne Kaiser, Georgia Power vice president for community and economic development. “To see a foundation created in her honor that supports the development of women leaders in communities across Georgia and promotes the ideal of servant leadership epitomizes what Lynda believed in and stood for. At Georgia Power, we are proud and honored to support the Lynda B. Williamson Women’s Leadership Academy (LBWLA) to help carry on Lynda’s spirit.”

The LBWLA was the recipient of the Fanning Institute’s Innovations in Community Leadership Award in 2019. The program also was recognized as a Four for the Future community partnership by Georgia Trend Magazine and UGA Public Service and Outreach in 2016.

Sessions at this year’s conference will highlight nonprofit leadership development, leadership development programs, and innovations and research in leadership development.

Also this year, the Fanning Institute will offer Reflective Structured Dialogue training as a post-conference opportunity Feb. 6 – 7.

“An important skill for any leader is the ability to bring people together and lead difficult conversations on sensitive issues,” Bishop said. “Reflective Structured Dialogue is a proven method that gives everyone in the room a voice and creates an atmosphere to move forward.”

During the conference, the institute will also present the 2020 Innovations in Community Leadership Award.

For more information on the 2020 Community Leadership Conference, visit


Charlie Bauder Public Relations Coordinator • 706-542-7039


Matt Bishop Fanning Institute Director • 706-542-6201

SBDC Contractor Academy supports local businesses

Food may be the love language of the Classic City. From staples to newly established restaurants, Athens is never short on good eats. So, in a town with a lively food scene, how can a small business stand out?

For Rashe Malcolm, chef and owner of Rashe’s Cuisine, the answer came in the form of the Contractor Academy, a training program for local business owners offered by the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a unit of Public Service and Outreach.

The Contractor Academy provides resources for small businesses, ranging from caterers to real estate developers, looking to work with larger corporations or government agencies. On Oct. 23, Malcolm joined 14 other business owners in the second of four sessions held in Clarke County. The day’s topic? Marketing and business development.

From cooking lessons to personalized meal prep, Malcolm understands that it’s not just her food that drives business. “The Contractor Academy has made me realize there’s a way I can present my services to enhance how I introduce my product, so people will look at it in a different light,” she said.

Over the course of six weeks, SBDC consultants helped contractors position their businesses to break into new markets and expand their client base.Sessions covered strategic planning and execution, financial readiness and scalable infrastructure.

SBDC consultant Bart Njoku-Obi speaks at the Contractor Academy

The Contractor Academy is one of many SBDC resources helping local business owners grow their accounts. Bart Njoku-Obi, a consultant with the SBDC Office of Minority Business Development, explained, “The individuals here have the opportunity to come back and connect directly with our consultants to take the principles they’ve learned in the program and apply them.”

“I’m really changing my business, and a lot of it is through advice that I’ve been getting from the SBDC,” said Julie Lorenz, CEO of Olis, an Athens-based company that makes lab instruments called spectrophotometers. For Lorenz, the Contractor Academy refreshed her perspective and got her thinking beyond the day-to-day grind of running a business. “One of the most important lessons that these classes teach us is to make time to work on your business—not just in your business,” she said.

Malcolm agreed.

“Because I took this class, I don’t have to be just another restaurant. I don’t have to be just another caterer,” she said. “I can be an expert in this field, providing services that others, who didn’t come to this class and didn’t do the research, may not be able to tap into.”

The SBDC serves communities through 17 regional offices across the state, six of them in partnership with other University System of Georgia universities. The first Athens Contractor Academy was supported by the University of Georgia Office of the President, in collaboration with Athens-Clarke County Economic Development, Envision Athens and the Northeast Georgia Business Alliance.


Hayley Major Editorial Account Manager • 706-542-0060