Leadership Southeast Georgia Begins 2024 Class with a Focus on Natural Resources

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024

Leadership Southeast Georgia, the premier regional leadership development program, launched its 2024 programming with a focus on the role of natural resources in the ten-county coastal region. The 29 members of the Class of 2024, representing diverse industries and communities, gathered for an immersive session exploring the challenges and opportunities surrounding water, land and wildlife.

“Southeast Georgia is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, which are a critical component of our regional economy and the perfect topic to start off the year,” said Kendria Lee, Chair of the Board of Directors for Leadership Southeast Georgia. “By bringing together these leaders from across the State of Georgia, we can foster collaboration and innovation to ensure a bright future.”

Organized by Leadership Southeast Georgia alumni and session one program manager Kristin Fulford, the program kicked off with a panel discussion on managing and protecting Southeast Georgia's unique ecosystems, including barrier islands, marshes and waterways. 

Class members then embarked on a boat tour of the St. Marys marsh, experiencing firsthand the delicate balance between thriving natural habitats and sustainable human activity. During the tour, local experts provided insights into the importance of the marsh for coastal protection, fisheries and recreation.

The day concluded with a networking reception where leaders, including Ralph Staffins, III, Director of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber; Regina McDuffie, City Manager of Brunswick; William Fallon, County Manager of Glynn County; and Jamie McCurry, Chief Administrative Officer of the Georgia Ports Authority, addressed the group. These prominent figures emphasized the critical role of responsible leadership in ensuring the long-term health and prosperity of the region, tied directly to the management of its natural resources.

Highlights of the program also included a tour of Sea Island facilities and a presentation by a Sea Island naturalist, offering a glimpse into the island's distinctive coastal environment and commitment to sustainability. The professional development aspect of the program, which sets Leadership Southeast Georgia apart from other regional programs, explored communication preferences using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator with facilitator Suzanne Kirk of Employee Development Strategies, Inc. And finally, a dinner discussion with Bryan Fleuch, Associate Director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, and Karl Burgess, Assistant Director of Georgia Department of Natural Resources - Coastal Resources Division, hearing expert perspectives on natural resource policy.

The first session ended at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island with a thought-provoking speaker sharing information on the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, recognizing the rich cultural history and traditions of the region's African American communities.

"This was an invaluable opportunity for the class to connect with the natural beauty of Southeast Georgia," said Fulford. "Through insightful discussions with each other and other experts, we gained a deeper understanding of how we help shape the future of our region."

The Leadership Southeast Georgia 2024 overall program sponsors include Evans General ContractorsGulfstream Aerospace CorporationGeorgia PowerGeorgia Southern UniversityM.E. Sack EngineeringThomas & HuttonInternational PaperThe Sack CompanyColeman CompanyGoodwill Southeast GeorgiaBouhan FalligantRhowe Design + BuildSavannah Area Chamber of CommerceSavannah Economic Development AuthorityWorld Trade Center SavannahHunterMacleanHussey Gay BellBank of NewingtonStrategic Biz Solutions Unlimited LLCGlobal Business Development Strategist LLCCecilia Russo MarketingDabbs Hickman Hill & Cannon, LLP and Georgia CEO.

Specifically for the Glynn and Camden Session, local sponsors include 1608 LibertyAmeris BankAnchor ExcursionsAtlantic Salt RealtyBrunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of CommerceCamden County Joint Development AuthorityEmerald Princess CasinoGeorgia Ports AuthorityGeorgia PowerGolden Isles CVBGolden Isles Development AuthorityGoodwyn Mills CawoodJoe Tanner & AssociatesKaufman Development GroupLighthouse Benefit AdvisorsMcQuigg, Smith and CorryOkefenokee EMCRoberts Civil Engineering, Social Impact Community Partners, Southeast Georgia Health SystemsSoutheastern BankSt Marys Downtown Development AuthorityTorras PropertiesTourism Leadership CouncilUnited Community Bank, and W.H. Gross Construction Company.

Throughout the year, the Leadership Southeast Georgia Class of 2024 will explore a variety of other topics relevant to the region, including health and safety, infrastructure and workforce, education and agriculture. The program culminates in a graduation ceremony in June, where participants will showcase their leadership skills and commitment to serving the community.

To learn more about the Leadership Southeast Georgia program, visit lsega.com