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Leadership Southeast Georgia 2024 Class strengthens skills during deep dives into regional issues

The class recently visited Bulloch County and learned from experts at the Georgia Southern University Institute for Health Logistics and Analytics, participated in discussions with Bulloch County Youth 4-H, received a presentation on Ogeechee Tech’s workforce development initiatives, enjoyed a wildlife demonstration by the Georgia Southern University’s Wildlife Center, and visited Double B Ranch and Poultry Farms and Wade Hodges Farm.

The Leadership Southeast Georgia (LSEGA) Class of 2024 honed their leadership skills through a series of immersive sessions focused on critical regional issues. This premier leadership development program for the 10-county coastal Georgia region recently completed sessions in Bryan, Bulloch, Effingham and Screven Counties, exploring infrastructure, workforce development, education, and agriculture.

“The LSEGA program provides a unique opportunity for emerging leaders to gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our region,” said Kendria Lee, Chairwoman of Leadership Southeast Georgia. “Through interactive sessions, discussions with industry experts, and site visits, participants are developing the skills and connections necessary to make a positive impact.”

During Session Three, the class explored the impact of infrastructure on various aspects of regional growth, including transportation, regional water and sewer operations, employment opportunities for underserved communities, affordable housing solutions, and its impact on Georgia's substantial film and entertainment industry. Participants received a presentation and participated in an exercise on navigating workforce realities led by Justin Farquhar of the Savannah Economic Development Authority. They also gained firsthand insights by touring a water treatment plant and participating in a poverty simulation organized by Family Promise of the Coastal Empire.

“Experiencing the challenges faced by our communities firsthand is a powerful learning tool,” said Kathryn Johnson, one of the LSEGA Program Managers for Session Three. “By meeting the people on the front lines and engaging in practical exercises, participants gain a deeper understanding of the issues and how they can contribute to solutions.”

Building on the theme of community engagement, Session Three offered a unique opportunity that transcended classroom learning. The class visited a Habitat for Humanity house under construction, not just to see the physical structure, but to connect with the future homeowner and experience the tangible impact of affordable housing solutions. This visit provided a powerful bridge between policy discussions and the human stories that illustrate the need.

"The opportunity to visit a Habitat for Humanity home with the LSEGA class this year was incredibly rewarding," said Zerik Samples, CEO of Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity, and a 2023 LSEGA graduate. "We saw firsthand the impact this organization has on families, and the class members were able to write messages of encouragement and scripture on the frame of the house itself. Witnessing their enthusiasm to contribute to the community was truly inspiring, and it exemplifies the kind of leadership development this program fosters."

Session Four delved into the critical areas of education and agriculture. The class learned about zoonotic diseases in agriculture from experts at the Georgia Southern University Institute for Health Logistics and Analytics. They also participated in discussions with Bulloch County Youth 4-H on youth education for agriculture and technology, received a presentation on Ogeechee Tech’s workforce development initiatives, and enjoyed a wildlife demonstration by the Georgia Southern University’s Wildlife Center.

The cohort further explored the region’s agribusiness sector with a visit to Double B Ranch and Poultry Farms and Wade Hodges Farm that included a panel discussion with local farmers. Throughout the program, participants also engage in activities designed to strengthen their communication, management, networking, and team-building skills.

“The LSEGA program fosters a strong sense of camaraderie and collaboration among participants,” said Lee. “As the program progresses, the class is building a valuable network of leaders who are committed to working together to improve the quality of life for everyone in Southeast Georgia.”

The Leadership Southeast Georgia 2024 overall program sponsors include Evans General Contractors, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Georgia Power, Georgia Southern University, M.E. Sack Engineering, Thomas & Hutton, International Paper, The Sack Company, Coleman Company, Goodwill Southeast Georgia, Bouhan Falligant, Rhowe Design + Build, Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, Savannah Economic Development Authority, World Trade Center Savannah, HunterMaclean, Hussey Gay Bell, Bank of Newington, Strategic Biz Solutions Unlimited LLC, Global Business Development Strategist LLC, Cecilia Russo Marketing, Dabbs Hickman Hill & Cannon, LLP and Georgia CEO.

Specifically for the Bryan and Effingham Session, local sponsors include Coleman Company, Inc., Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity, C&H Precision, The Claxton Bank, United Community Bank, Kelly Johnson & Associates, Bryan County Development Authority, and the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority.

Specifically for the Bulloch and Screven Session, local sponsors include BBWH Insurors, Synovus Bank, Renasant Bank, Morris Bank, Dabbs, Hickman, Hill and Cannon, LLP, Hubbard & Hudson Construction, Black Creek Baits, Lavender & Associates, Dabbs Williams Construction, and Planters Broadband Cooperative.

To learn more about the Leadership Southeast Georgia program, visit