Topics include Public School Innovations, Creating a Talent Pipeline, and a New Look for Downtown!

Since the beginning of the year 48 of Georgia’s brightest young professionals have researched Albany’s history, met with community leaders, toured campuses and neighborhoods, visited recreation areas, and re-imagined downtown in their quest to come up with big ideas and innovative solutions to some of the area’s most persistent challenges. Their hard work will be revealed when they 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.

“The community, business and political leadership in Albany/Dougherty County have given the Young Gamechangers tremendous support during our time here,” states Kris Vaughn, Executive Director of GeorgiaForward. “This area has had weather-related disasters in the last few years and other challenges, but they are rebuilding better and stronger. I’m excited for the Young Gamechangers to share their recommendations designed to help take Albany to the next level.”

The Young Gamechangers are made up of professionals from across the state between the ages of 24 and 40 who work in diverse sectors including business, law, non-profit, education, finance, media, engineering, agriculture, healthcare, politics, tourism, marketing, urban and economic development.

Below are the four challenge questions that the Young Gamechangers have been working on:

  • In what ways can Albany-Dougherty County grow a sustainable downtown business corridor that will increase the vitality of the community?
  • How can Albany-Dougherty County leverage existing natural resources to develop a more connected and walkable community?
  • How can Albany-Dougherty County improve efficiency and effectiveness of the community to meet current and future challenges?
  • What can Albany-Dougherty County do to grow their talent pipeline and be the hub for innovation and business in Southwest Georgia?

Here’s an introduction to some of the Young Gamechangers with a few sneak previews.

Kimberly Scott serves as Horizons Community Solutions’ Vice President of Community Health where she oversees public education and outreach concerning disease prevention, screening and early detection, treatment and population-based research. Additionally, Kimberly is responsible for implementing evidence- based models to improve health outcomes by addressing social determinants impacting community health. A native of Milledgeville, Georgia, Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree from Albany State University majoring in Biology. She also received a Master of Public Health degree in Community Health Education from Georgia Southern University and is currently a doctoral student studying Public Health Leadership. She lives in Albany, Georgia.

“Our group is working on the Albany/Dougherty County efficiency question and we took a creative approach to increasing the spirit of connectivity,” explains Kimberly. “One of our big ideas centers around a plan for a unified state-of-the-art high school campus. I look forward to giving more details when we make our presentations to the community.”

“The Young Gamechangers is a unique platform that allows young leaders to build our leadership capacity though experiential learning,” adds Kimberly. “It’s an action-oriented program and at the end we’ll produce a practical product that the community can use as a blueprint.”

Beau Sinyard is a pharmacist at U-Save-It Pharmacy in Albany, Georgia, where he was born and raised. After attending Deerfield-Windsor High School, Beau moved to Athens to attend the University of Georgia. While in undergrad, Beau was the assistant manager of Onward Reserve, a men’s clothing store. Once accepted to the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, he became a pharmacy intern at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. His undergraduate and pharmacy studies allowed him to spend five years in Athens, and then relocated him to Savannah for his last year of pharmacy school to complete his clinical rotations. After graduating UGA with his Doctor of Pharmacy degree in May of 2017, Beau moved home to Albany to start his career.

“We are working on the question about the downtown business corridor,” says Beau. “Our ideas view downtown in a cohesive way, blending practical concerns with aesthetics. When you look out the door of a nice business, you don’t want to see broken sidewalks. If Albany is the Artesian city, how does that concept connect to business?

“I have high hopes for this project,” adds Beau. “Like me, many people from this group went away to school but came back because we love this community. We’ve been joined by young professionals from around the state who have taken their time to come here and help. I want to wake up in a few years and see the tangible difference we helped make.”

Sarah Cook is the Director of Domestic Trade at the Georgia Department of Agriculture. She is also the West Central Georgia area market coordinator for the Georgia Grown program and has served in that position for two years. In her previous role, Sarah served at the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness for nearly ten years specializing in small food processing and agritourism. She is a 2008 graduate of Georgia Southern University with a BBA in Regional Economic Development and a 2014 graduate of the University of Georgia with a Masters in Agricultural Leadership. She is a 2014 graduate of the inaugural class of Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry. Sarah and her husband Justin have two children, Wyatt and Georgia, and they live in Coverdale, Georgia.

“I’m also working in the downtown business corridor group,” states Sarah. “Our task is to help Albany emphasize what they have –  music, art, culture, civil rights – and to show the personality of the area, what you can expect when you go there is a really rich experience.

“I hope we see the ripple effects of this project for years to come,” Sarah adds. “I’d like to be part of the Albany community tangentially, by attending festivals, coming to art exhibits, and shopping downtown.”

Anthony Adam Ross is originally from Irwin County, Georgia, where he grew up on his family farm. After earning his political science degree from the University of Georgia in 2013, he accepted a fellowship in Governor Nathan Deal’s Office. In that position, he served six months in the Office of Chief Operating Officer. After serving with Governor Deal, Adam joined Lt. Governor Casey Cagle’s re-election efforts in 2014 as Field Director. Achieving victory on the campaign, Lt. Governor Cagle invited Adam to join his office in January 2015 as the Communications Officer. After serving two years with Lt. Governor Cagle, Adam decided to go into the private sector. In December 2016 he started his public relations company with an emphasis on social media, graphic design and web services, and currently serves dozens of clients across the state. Adam lives in Gainesville, Georgia.

“Our group is working on how to grow a talent pipeline and help Albany become a hub for innovation and business,” states Adam. “One of our ideas expands on the success of the Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy. It has to do with bridging the gap between jobs that need to be filled with students coming into the workforce, and some unique ways to partner with local businesses.

“I have been pleasantly surprised by how the people in leadership and the Albany community have taken the Young Gamechangers seriously,” continues Adam. “The mayor, police chief, and others have made themselves available to us. And Dr. Parker at Albany Tech has been incredibly helpful. They all agree that Albany has some issues to deal with, but they want to come together and solve them.”

Kelli Bennett is a media specialist recognized for her editorial, social media marketing, and brand storytelling abilities. She is the Communications and Marketing Associate for the Georgia Municipal Association where she serves as the Managing Editor of the association’s monthly publication, social media coordinator, and provides creative communications support on a variety of projects and video productions. Kelli received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Ball State University in Indiana. Prior to joining the association, she worked in the non-profit sector, as a news reporter, and as the Communications Coordinator for a group of audio visual integrators, where she created white papers, case studies, and marketing strategies. Kelli lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Sometimes we think high-powered business owners don’t want to hear from younger people about what they could do to make their businesses better,” adds Kelli. “We can be intimidated by approaching more experienced business people. The Young Gamechangers program has shown us they do want to hear from us, and that’s empowering.

“I’d love to see the community embrace and own this plan,” continues Kelli. “I hope we can also put a spark in the surrounding communities. As managing editor at GMA I want to be able to brag about a boom coming to Southwest Georgia by way of Albany.”

Mitchell Perry was born and raised in Forsyth, Georgia. After college, Mitchell spent seven years leading companies that were focused on 24/7 emergency response and preparedness.  In this capacity, he worked with many of Georgia’s school districts in preparing and implementing proactive emergency communication plans.  Since then, Mitchell has supported executives working to increase efficiency in their organizations and now serves as a financial analyst at Freudenberg Performance Materials Macon. Mitchell received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Georgia and a Master of Business Administration from Mercer University.  He and his wife are raising their two young children in Macon, Georgia.

“Our team is working on the question about leveraging existing natural resources to create a more connected community,” explains Mitchell. “We will be presenting ideas that celebrate Albany’s history and plentiful natural resources. One of our ideas is to create a unique, adventure-themed attraction.

“The diversity of the Young Gamechangers program has proven to be important to this project,” adds Mitchell. “Having team members from across the state, including Atlanta and Albany, from different business sectors and backgrounds, has brought a richness of perspectives.”

Sponsors for the 2018 Young Gamechangers program includeCommerce Club Foundation, Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, Albany-Dougherty County Economic Development Commission, Georgia CEO, Georgia EMC, Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, WALB TV, Georgia Trend, Georgia Power, Adams Exterminators, AB&T, Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia, W&A Engineering, City of Albany, AT&T, Stewbos, Albany Museum of Art, The Albany Herald, Albany State University, Albany Technical College, Phoebe Putney Health System and Bishop Clean Care.

GeorgiaForward is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to improve the state of Georgia by engaging business, political, academic and civil leaders to collaboratively shape a statewide policy agenda.  For more information about the Young Gamechangers program and a complete list of the 2018 class, visit their web site:  http://georgiaforward.org/young-gamechangers.

MEDIA Contact: Karen Hatchett – [email protected]