I’m the current Interim Downtown Manager, but more than that, I’m a citizen and advocate for Albany Georgia.  So being part of the Young Gamechangers was an opportunity for me to exchange ideas with other like-minded individuals from all over Georgia with a range of professions, from teachers to water conservationists, lawyers, pharmacists, you name it, we’re a true cornucopia of professionals.  The great thing about having different professionals from different parts of the state is that they bring different points of view and different methods to the table.  I’ve worked with the City of Albany for almost ten years in some capacity, and sometimes innovation is hard, sometimes its rejected, sometimes it gets buried under paperwork.  But this initiative gives all of us a chance to come from behind our desks and think outside of our silos.

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I was chosen to be a Young Gamechanger, but it’s definitely been more work than I thought it was going to be.  Which is excellent for Albany, because you have 50 passionate people that have researched, interviewed, collaborated, edited, analyzed all for the single purpose of making Albany great.  You have people that never been to Albany that recognize the gems that we have that a lot of us who see it every day may take for granted.   So, the recommendations that you’ll hear on August 10th, aren’t based on fluff, they are based on passion first, and facts second.  Albanians aren’t known for sugarcoating their opinions, so when we met with citizens, business owners, stakeholders they were frank and honest, and that’s what makes a process like this work. We were able to identify the challenges head-on and get feedback on solutions.

But after August 10th, the Young Gamechangers initiative will be over, that’s when you become the True Gamechangers.  You and others like you that live in Albany will be the ones that support these initiatives or push the implementation of these recommendations to happen.  You’ll be the ones that advocate for the change that Albany needs.  You’ll be the ones that see the recommendations come to life.  I challenge you, Gamechangers, to be open-minded and open to change.  And you may not personally agree with zip lining across Radium Springs, that’s certainly not high on the list because I would be deathly afraid, but maybe you realize the potential economic impact that water recreation can have on this community.  Change takes risk, opportunity, investment, and support and it is often times the scariest element of life to face.  So, I ask you, will you also be a gamechanger?

*** The Young Gamchangers present their final recommendations to the community on Friday, August 10 from 2-4 pm at Albany State University’s West Campus Theatre, Building J  Room 171, 2400 Gillionville Road, Albany, GA 31707. The event is free and the public and media are invited. If you plan to attend, please RSVP here: www.georgiaforward.org/young-gamechangers.

Jackie Teemer, Matt Reed, and Kris Vaughn at Dougherty County Kiwanis Club on 7-30-18