For the past 10 years, The Albany Herald has recognized Southwest Georgia’s most promising young leaders through an annual event called 40 Under Forty.
This year’s luncheon, in partnership with the Albany area Chamber of Commerce, was conducted Wedensday at Doublegate Country Club. The banquet room was filled to capacity with award recipients, family and friends, Albany government officials and other community leaders.
“Today’s honorees are growing, capable and impressive representatives of the leadership here in Albany,” Jenny Savelle, chairman of the board for the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, said.
Albany Herald General Manager Ken Boler said it was hard to select just 40 because so many good recommendations and impressive resumes were submitted for consideration.
“I would like to recognize more,” Boler said.
To qualify for consideration, an individual must be younger than 40. Forty men and women are chosen from the nominees.
Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard gave an encouraging greeting to Southwest Georgia’s rising leaders.
“It’s good for you to be here as an example for others. You represent the vision and the potential to impact our city and our state,” Hubbard said. “We encourage you to share your ideas and to listen to the ideas of others.
“You have the ability and the opportunity to truly make a difference.”
The 40 recipients represent a wide spectrum of industries and occupations, including representatives from the military, medical professionals and local educators. This year, 15 of the honorees are employed by the Dougherty County School System. A spokesperson for the school district said 15 teachers were submitted for consideration and all 15 were chosen for the honor.
“This year we recognize all 40 from all fields but especially a large number of school teachers who have the opportunity to shape young minds and to mold the future of our local workforce,” Barbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, said.
Sonya Spillers, public information officer for Dougherty Public Schools, said she personally nominated the 15 school district employees for their hard work and exceptional service in the classroom.
“These are just a sample of the classroom leaders we have here in the Dougherty County School System,” she said. “Because of these and others like them, our district has been able to improve our schools and provide new opportunities for our students.”
One of the honorees, Ashley Morris, who serves as dean of general education and oversees the Learning Support Department at Albany Technical College, is new to the Albany aeea, moving here two years ago. She was previously employed by Savannah Tech and also ran a tutoring business in Central Georgia.
“I think I was nominated because of my service to students and to people in general,” Morris said.
Morris is an ordained minister currently attending Bethel AME in Albany under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Kevin Moore.
“I do ministry whenever I have the time and much of what I do in ministry is related to education,” she said.
As for her work at Albany Tech, Morris said she oversees all of the general education core classes every student is required to take before entering into a specific area of vocational training.
“We are the gateway to the vocational courses. The core classes set the foundation,” Morris said.
Also representing Albany Tech, Mobley is an author, a transformational speaker and a certified life coach. She is the owner of Success and Wealth Institute LLC. A native of Miami, Fla., Mobley earned her doctorate in pharmacy from the Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.
Many of the 40 leaders came from the health profession, including five with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Others included business leaders, attorneys, officials with non-profits and other professionals.
“We recognize leadership from all walks of life, all occupations and all across our community,” said Savelle.
Dougherty County Commissioner Christopher Cohilas said the 40 Under Forty leaders have a greater opportunity to impact others far beyond Albany and South Georgia, mostly because of technology. The window of opportunity is wide open, Cohilas said.
“There is a big generation gap in how we communicate as leaders. This younger generation is more engaged due to social media technology. They can reach a much broader spectrum of people. Essentially, y’all are the future of this community,” Cohilas said while addressing the 2017 honorees.
Cohilas commended Albany for recognizing its young leaders when many other communities do not. He also offered those leaders some wisdom and advice.
“Be willing to step out of your comfort zones. Look at ideas and issues — especially those that have gone by the wayside. Share your ideas. Do research so when you are discussing your concerns and ideas you have measured reasoning,” Cohilas said.
After brief greetings and a bountiful buffet, each recipient was called to the podium to accept a plaque presented by The Herald and the Chamber. Throughout the ceremony, banquet attendees looked on sharing applause, supportive nods and whispering private words of encouragement.
“This is how you change a city,” Boler said. “What each of you do for the workforce and the community is huge.”
Sponsors for the 10th annual 40 Under Forty leadership recognition ceremony include Procter & Gamble; Albany Technical College; WALB; Phoebe Health; Moore, Clarke, DuValle & Rogers Attorneys at Law, and the Dougherty County School System.
(The Albany Herald)