Regional Leadership Program Pivots to Focus on High Priority Needs in South Georgia

Staff Report

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

Five years into fostering and developing the leadership capacity of South Georgia, South GeorgiaLEADS (SGL) is hitting pause on its traditional leadership development program to drill down on one of its original objectives—“to work collectively towards creating effective solutions to address significant challenges related to workforce development, education, and economic growth throughout the region.” They are doing so by identifying a select, 28-member cohort of alumni from the five years and over 160 graduates of SGL to develop implementable action plans directly related to the most pressing issues and challenges facing South Georgia today.

With what is being called South GeorgiaLEADS 2.0 (SGL2), the SGL Board of Directors is endeavoring into unchartered territory with a first-of-its-kind alumni leadership engagement experience that challenges those selected to work collaboratively across the region on real issues and real solutions that will make a difference in South Georgia. 

But to be clear—this is not a leadership development program, it’s a call to action. Bringing together alumni to address real issues facing South Georgia in an action-oriented approach is a first of its kind for leadership development and alumni engagement in Georgia.

SGL2 is designed as a “capstone experience,” that is robust, ambitious, and nimble in its intent. Over a period of five months, SGL2 will provide participants with five practitioners-oriented, leadership development sessions designed to develop implementable action plans directly related to the most pressing issues and challenges facing South Georgia today. Working within a cohort representative of all five classes of South GeorgiaLEADS alum, planning will take place within four intentionally selected Implementation Teams established to maximize talent, resources and passion around key issues in the region. Beginning in October 2021, the program will be held once a month in different locations throughout South Georgia.

South GeorgiaLEADS Chair Barbara Grogan shares the importance of this new program, “Having been involved with South GeorgiaLEADS since its inception, I am immensely proud of the organizations and many dedicated, committed volunteers who have worked since 2016 to bring South GeorgiaLEADS to fruition. Now, with the 2.0 session, we will provide an opportunity for alumni to join together, tackling regional topics, with a goal of implementing a response, something most leadership programs do not have the capacity to do.”

Guided by the leadership development expertise of the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia and with regional support from Valdosta State University’s Center for South Georgia Regional Impact, South GeorgiaLEADS 2.0 is positioned to be catalyst for change in the region.

The purpose of South GeorgiaLEADS 2.0 is to create action around South Georgia’s most pressing issues and challenges by:

  • Building on SGL’s values to establish robust, multi-faceted teams to address the regions greatest needs from among SGL alumni, Board members and key stakeholders;

  • Identifying dynamic and cross-functional solutions that link  assets and resources holistically across South Georgia;

  • Utilizing strategic action plans and leveraging implementation partners to go beyond the program to make an impact where it is most needed; and

  • Committing to sustainability and advocacy on behalf of the region.

Tuition is $1,250 per participant, with a limited number of scholarships available.

For more information about South GeorgiaLEADS, please visit their website at  Interested applicants may also contact South GeorgiaLEADS Chair Barbara Grogan at 229.921.1457; or 

Application materials may also be found online at 


Applications are due on Friday, September 10, by the close of business.  Interested candidates may also contact their local economic development team—Chambers of Commerce and Development Authorities—for further information.