VALDOSTA — Five Lowndes County women are among the inaugural cohort of the South Georgia Women’s Leadership Initiative.
A Thursday email from SWGLI announced the list of women leaders “who will engage in an immersive development experience designed to create clarity of voice and intentionality for female leaders across the region.”
Representing a broad cross-section of public, private and non-profit sectors, the SGWLI cohort will be a part of a seven-month program focused specifically on the needs, challenges and opportunities facing women in 32 counties throughout the region. With an emphasis on what is unique to female leadership, SGWLI will provide women with a platform to discuss the challenges they face in business, education, local government and non-profit management in this part of the state, the initiative said.
In partnership with Founding Sponsor Georgia Power Company and South GeorgiaLEADS (SGL), the South Georgia Women’s Leadership Initiative announced the 2023-2024 inaugural class:
Colquitt: Dale Rickett, Colquitt County Education Foundation.
Colquitt: Carrie Viohl, Southern Regional Technical College.
Colquitt: Emily Watson, Colquitt Regional Medical Center.
Colquitt: Tommie Beth Willis, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE).
Dougherty: Lori Clemons Gadson, Keller Williams Realty Group.
Dougherty: Lequrica Gaskins, City of Albany.
Lee: Cicily Florence, entrepreneur/self-employed.
Lee: Cindy Wisham, United Way of Southwest Georgia.
Lowndes: Mary Crawford, Girls on the Run South Georgia.
Lowndes: Sharah’ Denton, City of Valdosta.
Lowndes: Kristi Hill, Valdosta Daily Times.
Lowndes: Christie Moore, Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce.
Lowndes: Chanel Randolph, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE).
Mitchell: Christy Wray, Mitchell County School System.
Tift: Nancy Bryan, Ruth’s Cottage and Patticake House.
Tift: Melody Cowart, Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce.
Tift: Cindy Evers, Alliance for Children Georgia.
Tift: Dr. Audrey Luke-Morgan, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
Tift: Dr. Tonja Tift, Tifton Urban Redevelopment Agency.
Tifton Area Manager with Georgia Power, Toni Reid serves as the chair of the SGWLI Planning & Steering Committee.
“It’s exciting to see all of our planning efforts come to fruition and to know the names and faces of the women who will be starting this journey with us,” Reid said. “Georgia Power strives to empower communities and enhance the capacity of individuals, businesses and nonprofits throughout our state by supporting efforts like the South Georgia Women’s Leadership Initiative. We believe elevating the voices of women in South Georgia will not only do just that, but it will also further enhance economic empowerment in some of Georgia’s most rural communities.”
Rob Collins, CEO/Founder of NEOS Technologies and chair of the South GeorgiaLEADS Board of Directors, sees the program as a natural evolution of the mission of SGL.
“LEADS is about building the capacity of leadership in the region,” Collins said. “Part of doing that is supporting efforts like the South Georgia Women’s Leadership Initiative. We are proud to see this group of women, many of whom are alumni of the LEADS program or who have helped LEADS as it has grown in impact over the years, take this next step to facilitate growth in female leadership here in South Georgia.”
SGWLI will officially launch on Sept. 27-28 in Albany-Dougherty County with the Opening Retreat being facilitated by Georgia Power and faculty from the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. Sessions will rotate around the region, culminating in an Empowerment Celebration during the month of March in recognition of Women’s History Month.
Planned for women by women, SGWLI will feature a Lunch ‘n Learn series during each session sponsored by Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), a community development funding institute that specializes in providing capital to small to medium sized businesses and some nonprofits.
With a lens towards female equity, the program seeks to establish a stronger network of women who can work to elevate issues around economic and social parity in South Georgia, while also creating a platform where women support women — helping them thrive in their own leadership journeys, the initiative’s email said.
For more information about the South Georgia Women’s Leadership Initiative, please contact Toni Reid, Tifton Area Manager for Georgia Power and chair of the SGWLI Planning & Steering Committee at (404) 831-4010 or at email@example.com. More information regarding SGWLI can also be found online at https://southgeorgialeads.org/sgwli/, or on Facebook and Instagram.