Leaders from all over Georgia gathered this week in Macon for GeorgiaForward’s 2018 Forum to learn about ways to engage young leaders.
“The goal today was to bring people that think differently together and to talk about the challenges that different communities of different sizes and locations face around engaging young people and really elevate the level of awareness around the importance of engaging younger people in communities,” said Kris Vaughn, the executive director of GeorgiaForward.
The event was held at the Georgia Farm Bureau on Wednesday.
Leaders from the local community spoke including Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert, Cathy Cox, the dean of the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University and Josh Rogers, president of NewTown Macon.
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“We are working hard to be a logistics and transportation hub, but also a hub for learning, culture . . . and that’s characterized by the history that we have in this community of cherishing higher education,” Reichert said.
Cox gave the opening keynote address, and she said the important thing leaders in communities should do is to listen to young adults and urge them to get involved.
“We are stronger when we bring young voices to the table. We are energized by the excitement of new perspectives,” she said. “We owe it to the health and stability of our communities and our state to engage young leaders and pave a pathway for them to become active participants in our society who own the outcomes in our communities.”
There were two panels at the forum. The first included Amy Carter, the deputy commissioner of rural Georgia initiatives for the Department of Economic Development, and Kasey Carpenter, member of the Georgia House of Representatives. The panel included discussions about the obstacles as well as the opportunities for involving young adults in civic development.
“Young leaders need to really stand out and show what they can do to prove that they have what it takes,” Carter said.
The second panel included a local speaker, Josh Rogers, president of NewTown Macon, Cosby Johnson, the senior government affairs manager for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and Linda Buchanan, the president of Andrew College. This panel focused on creative ways to engage young leaders.
“I think a lot of it is a conscious decision that . . . I’m not going to get stuck in a rut of my own thinking or my own habits or the cultural preferences of my generation,” Rogers said on the panel.
Otis White, the president of Civic Strategies also led two interactive discussions about the challenges and opportunities in different communities and the way in which leaders within those communities can engage young people.
Vaughn said she looks forward to going through the ideas suggested during the forum and finding ways to get that information to different communities throughout the state.
“I’m so pleased with how the forum went today,” she said. “We had a great showing of state-wide leaders who were here to talk about engaging Georgia’s next generation of leaders.”