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|Board and Staff Directory|
The GEDA Nominating Committee meets annually in the summer to select a slate of Officers and Directors for the coming year. The Nominating Committee consists of the five current Officers, the Chair from two years ago (Past Past Chair) and three at-large members appointed by the current Chair. Officers generally start as Secretary-Treasurer and then progress through the positions over a five-year period.
Click here for a list of past Board chairs.
To submit names for the Nominating Committee to consider for the Officers and Board of Directors, fill out this form and e-mail to Kevin Shea, GEDA President.
Anna Chafin joined the Development Authority of Bryan County as CEO in November 2013. She has worked in economic development in the coastal region for over 10 years. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Mercer University with minors in Business Administration and English. She is a graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, Leadership Bryan, Leadership Southeast Georgia and Leadership Georgia. Anna is chair for the Georgia Economic Developers Association. In 2015, Governor Deal appointed Anna as a board member to the Georgia Student Finance Commission. She is also a past chair of the Leadership Southeast Georgia Alumni Association and is a member of the Rotary Club of Richmond Hill. In 2015, Anna was named one of the Top 5 under 40 by Richmond Hill Reflections magazine. Anna and her husband, Justin, are the proud parents of a 4-year-old son named Samuel, and the family lives in Richmond Hill.
First Vice Chair
Missy Kendrick is the Executive Director for the Barnesville Lamar County Industrial Development Authority. Missy has worked in Chamber or Economic Development agencies for more than 20 years. She is a Certified Economic Development Finance Professional and a recognized Chamber Institute for Organization Management graduate. She serves on the Board of GEDA (Georgia Economic Developers Association) as Second Vice-Chair and serves on several local boards in varying capacities. It was just announced that Missy will be the new President of the Development Authority of Polk County (DAPC) on Monday, starting September 19, 2016, and will be based in Rockmart, Georgia.
Second Vice Chair
Pat Merritt, CEcD, is Vice President, Community and Economic Development for Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (Georgia EMC). Georgia EMC represents Georgia’s 41 electric membership cooperatives (EMCs), Oglethorpe Power Corporation, and Georgia Transmission Corporation in the areas of community and economic development, government relations and regulatory affairs, public relations and communications, and technical training and safety education.
Pat leads the company’s comprehensive statewide community and economic development program that includes providing free and confidential location assistance services to prospective businesses and industries considering a location in Georgia.
Prior to being named Vice President, Pat managed Georgia EMC’s Community Development Team for 16 years while also providing communities in Southeast Georgia and Northeast Georgia with leadership
Pat is a Past President of the National Rural Economic Developers Association (NREDA) and a two-term past board member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA). Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, the Board of Advisors for the Georgia Department of Economic Development and on the Board of the Georgia Allies, Georgia’s public-private economic development marketing partnership. She is past Chair of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development Curriculum Committee and was instrumental in the founding of the Academy in 1993 at the request of Governor Zell Miller.
Pat holds a bachelor’s degree in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations from Auburn University. She is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma, a graduate of the Institutes for Organizational Management at the College of Charleston and a 1997 graduate of Leadership Georgia. She and her husband, Buz, live in Tucker, GA.
Chris Pumphrey is Executive Director of the Development Authority of Douglas County. Prior to this role, Chris led numerous business recruitment efforts for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. While at the department he worked on new company locations resulting in more than 3,000 new jobs to the state and $850 million of private capital investment. Through his time in economic development, he advised many of Georgia’s communities on improving their competitive position.
Chris grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida. He came to Atlanta in 1998 where he earned his Bachelor’s in Economics from Morehouse College. He is a graduate of Leadership Georgia 2010 and Leadership Douglas 2012. He serves as the Chair of the Prosperous Subcommittee for Atlanta’s Regional Competitive Strategy, boards of directors for the Georgia Economic Developers Association, Douglas County Chamber, and Regional Business Coalition and The Atlanta Neighborhood Partnership. He also is on the advisory board for Georgia’s QuickStart program.
Chris devotes a considerable amount of time and energy as a servant leader at World Changers Church International in College Park. He and his wife Rosalind have two children and live in Lithia Springs.
Immediate Past Chair
Greg Wright serves as President of the Coweta County Development Authority and works to promote Coweta County as a location for new businesses and industries and works to encourage the expansion of Coweta’s existing industrial base.
Wright’s previous economic development experience includes seven years as president of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce. During his tenure, the Chamber served as the business catalyst for the development of Central Educational Center, which became the model for technical and adult education in Georgia. Wright remains a strong supporter of CEC, serving as an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors.
Wright served previously as one of Georgia’s representatives on the Board of Directors of the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC). He is a past chairman of the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (GACCE) and has served as an instructor for the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, for Development Authority Board Member Training through the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, and for several community leadership development programs.
In addition to his economic development work, Wright served as legislative director to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and as state director to United States Senator Saxby Chambliss.
A Coweta County native, Wright is a graduate of LaGrange College. He is a past president of the college’s Leadership Council and was awarded the 2006 Walter Malcolm Shackelford Distinguished Alumnus Award. He is a 1998 graduate of Leadership Georgia and a 2000 graduate of the Institute for Organization Management through the United States Chamber of Commerce.
Board of Directors
The GEDA Board of Directors consists of the five Officers and twelve Directors. Each Director is nominated by the Nominating Committee and voted on by the GEDA membership at the Annual Conference each September. Directors generally serve three year terms, so a "class" of four Directors will begin service every year.
Trip Tollison serves as the President and CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) and the World Trade Center Savannah (WTC Savannah). Before joining SEDA in October 2012, Trip served as the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Savannah.
He received his degree from the School of Public and International Affairs from the University of Georgia. Upon graduation, he served as an aide in Washington and Georgia for the United States Senate, United States House of Representatives and a Washington-based governmental affairs consulting firm.
Trip serves as the Vice Chairman of the State of Georgia Department of Community Affairs and Georgia Housing and Finance Authority and Chairman of the Second Harvest Food Bank Board of Directors. He also serves on the board of directors for the Georgia International and Maritime Trade Center Authority, the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of the Coastal Empire.
Trip is a graduate of Leadership Savannah, Leadership Georgia and currently serves as a Trustee for the Leadership Georgia Foundation. Trip and his wife, Tracey, have two children and attend Community Bible Church.
Some of the company locations or expansions on which Tom has worked as a Project Manager include Pilgrim’s Pride in Douglas-Coffee County, Medline Industries in Lithia Springs-Douglas County, Dollar Tree in Savannah, DeWaffelbakkers in McDonough-Henry County, and, more recently, Starbucks in Augusta. He is a part of the Georgia Allies Working Committee and serves on the Georgia Quick Start Industry Services Advisory Committee. Tom holds a degree in Economics from Florida State University. Tom lives in Roswell with his wife Suzanne and their three children.
During his tenure with the electric cooperatives, Ricky has assisted more than 100 clients from across the state in site planning. This work has included identifying, analyzing and marketing their industrial sites, comprehensive site planning and site analysis services, as well as industrial park feasibility studies and site engineering for prospects on both a county and regional basis. In addition to site planning work, Ricky is responsible for Georgia Electric Membership Corporation’s Economic Development Department’s aerial photography program, GIS and Ga-sites.com website.
Andrea Schruijer is the executive director for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA). Before joining the VLCIA, Schruijer was senior vice president for the Albany-Dougherty County Economic Development Commission. Her primary responsibilities were business retention and expansion, operations, and development of industrial parks.
She spent ten years with The Ritz- Carlton Company LLC, serving in different roles. She completed several different levels of training to include: The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Course, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Mastering Sales and Presentations, and customer service training. Schruijer was part of the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award Team and Sales Team of the Year, and she was nominated for Leader of the Year.
Schruijer is a member of the 2012 Leadership Lowndes class. Schruijer has been a member of Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) since 2007. She served as GEDA’s chair for the Special Awards Committee in 2010 and 2011. Schruijer was appointed to the 2012 GEDA Board of Directors to serve a three year term. Schruijer is a member of the Wiregrass Georgia Technical College Foundation. She is currently a member in Leadership Georgia Class of 2014.
Schruijer is a native of Cordele, Georgia and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. She is married to Raymond. They are the proud parents of three children; Justin, Emma, and Willem.
Mary Ellen is also an Existing Industry Project Manager within the Metro Atlanta region. She calls on growing companies making them aware of state resources and incentives and provides assistance with their growth plans and decision-making process. She also works closely with the local economic developers with their existing industry support efforts.
During her 18 years with the department, she helped develop and grow its regional economic development program, the “Entrepreneur Friendly” Initiative and acted as legislative liaison. Prior to that, Mary Ellen was the economic developer and president of two rural South Georgia chambers of commerce in Dodge and Sumter Counties.
Originally from Erie, PA and in Georgia since 1973, Mary Ellen serves on the boards of GEDA (Georgia Economic Developers Association), GACCE (GA Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives), Georgia Mentor Protégé Connection, Advisory Council for the Edge Connection, the DeKalb Workforce Investment Board and Sandy Springs Economic Development Advisory Council.
She is a 1997 graduate of Institute for Organization Management, Leadership Georgia and a 2000 graduate of EDI (Economic Development Institute).
As a Georgia Power project manager, Charles Stallworth is responsible for facilitating the location, expansion, or start-up of businesses wishing to invest in Georgia. Charles assists companies in identifying potential buildings or sites throughout the state; he also provides market evaluation, construction information, engineering assistance, and serves as a liaison between the businesses and governmental agencies in the site selection process.
Sean McMillan is the Director of Economic Development for the Office of the Vice President for Service and Outreach at The University of Georgia. Previously, he served as a Regional Director for Georgia Quick Start and the Director of Business Recruitment for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Sean received his undergraduate degree from Auburn University and his Executive MBA from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.
Dorie Bacon is an experienced economic developer with a record of leading regional initiatives, assisting existing business partners, and attracting new industries to communities. She is the current chair of the 13-county Middle Coastal Unified Development Authority (also known as the Greater Savannah Regional Alliance) and previously served as Chair of the Magnolia Midlands Travel Association. She was key in the recruitment of Omega Piezo Technologies to Sylvania and in her previous tenure at the Douglas-Coffee County Economic Development Authority assisted with the recruitment of Premium Waters. She is also currently serving as the Chair of the Georgia Economic Developers Association's Rural Development Special Interest Group. Bacon holds an A.B.J. in Public Relations from the University of Georgia and an M.P.A. in City Management from Valdosta State University. In 2015, she became a Certified Economic Developer as recognized by the International Economic Development County.
Lee Chapman joined Jackson EMC in 1988 as a Residential Marketing Representative. He was promoted in 1990 to Jackson EMC’s Commercial/Industrial Marketing Department. In 1998, Lee was again promoted to Director of the Commercial and Industrial Marketing Department before assuming his present position in 2016. He is responsible for managing all marketing and sales strategies for residential, commercial and industrial power supplies and services in a highly competitive marketplace. Lee and his professional sales team are also responsible for developing and implementing grassroots state legislative initiatives, representing the cooperative at the Georgia Public Service Commission on territorial issues, as well as coordinating and maintaining community involvement. Lee is also responsible for overall customer service and member satisfaction.
Lee received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Brenau College. He is also a graduate of Leadership Jackson, Leadership Hall, Leadership Georgia, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Management Internship Program.
He was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to the Georgia Public Service Commission Advisory Committee in 2013, and service on the Board of the Georgia Economic Developers Association. He previously served on the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the United Way of Hall County Board of Directors, the Gainesville College Board of Trustees, Gainesville Jaycees Board of Directors, March of Dimes Board of Directors, and Gainesville/Hall ’96 Olympic Committee. Lee also has served as the president of the East Hall High School Tip-Off Club and an AAU Basketball Coach. He has been named Gainesville Jaycees Young Man of the Year, and was a 1994 recipient of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Silver Shovel Award.
Lee and his wife Karen live in Gainesville and have two children that are fourth generation UGA graduates. Go Dawgs!
Andrea Taylor grew up in Coffee County, Georgia before attending college at Valdosta State University, achieving a degree in English and Art. She then attended The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa where she received a graduate teaching assistantship while completing her Master’s Degree in Art History, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
After finishing her degree, she stayed on as a full-time Professor of Art History, lecturing in the classroom and directing study abroad programs for students to Italy during the summers before moving home to Coffee County in 2008.
After returning to Coffee County, Andrea continued to work for The University of Alabama teaching online courses in Art History as well as working as a staff writer for The Douglas Enterprise for two years before taking a job with the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Authority as Vice-President in 2010. After the retirement of her mentor JoAnne Lewis in 2015, Andrea was named Executive Director of the Chamber and EDA.
Andrea has served as the Chairperson for the Rural Development Shared Interest Group for GEDA and the Membership Committee Chairperson. She also serves on the Board of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Executives (GACCE). She is an active member of the Douglas Lions Club and serves on the Preschool Committee for Douglas First United Methodist Preschool.
In her spare time, Andrea enjoys spending time with her family, reading, cooking and traveling. She and her husband Lee have two children, Grayson (8) and Whitley (3).
Benjy Thompson presently serves as Chief Executive Officer for the Development Authority of Bulloch County. Before assuming his present position, Mr. Thompson served in the following positions:
Benjy was born in Millen, GA. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgia Southern College in 1990; a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1994; and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University in 2002. He is married to Delaine Thompson (works for AgSouth Farm Credit, Information Systems Coordinator); one son, Lucas; one daughter, Sarah Kate; two Golden Retrievers, one “hybrid” dog, and one cat.
The GEDA address is: 75 Fifth St, NW, Suite 1200, Atlanta, GA 30308
Nia Z. Harper