South Georgia Women’s Leadership Initiative Graduates 19

Friday, April 5th, 2024

Just six months after the launch of the inaugural class of the South Georgia Women’s Leadership Initiative, 19 ladies from across South Georgia celebrated a milestone as the first group of women to complete the program dedicated to empowering women to make an impact in the region. With keynote speakers who echoed the importance of women supporting women, the Empowerment Celebration bookended the program with a trio of female leadership from Lowndes County—County Manager Paige Dukes and architects from a female-only firm, Gladwin Vaugh Architecture. Their remarks resonated with the inaugural cohort, as they have recently celebrated the grand reopening of the Historic Lowndes County Courthouse in Valdosta with the project being spearheaded by the female-driven team. 

Aligned with the recognition of Women’s History Month, Dukes charging the cohort to serve as only women can serve.  She urged the graduates to take on projects with passion,

sharing the following advice: “Lead with logic, celebrate with emotion. Don’t ever let the two things get confused—make sure logic stays part of the process.” Dukes closed by encouraging the women to be the leaders they have needed over the course of their careers to other who are beginning their journey.

Founding Sponsor Georgia Power Company was well represented with the program being led by SGWLI Planning & Steering Committee Chair Toni Reid. Reid shares her excitement over the success of the inaugural year of the women’s program, “This program year has surpassed the expectations of everyone. The leadership learnings through one another, support from across the region and engagement from leaders in our communities have contributed to a significant and successful first year.” She continues, “It is an honor to work alongside other phenomenal ladies from across the region facilitating a women's leadership program in our community that fosters the strong leadership needed to sustain the growth in our region for years to come.” 

In partnership with Georgia Power, the South GeorgiaLEADS (SGL) Board of Directors is proud to announced the first graduating class of the South Georgia Women’s Leadership Initiative:








Dale Rickett

Colquitt County Schools Foundation


Carrie Viohl

Southern Regional Technical College


Emily Watson

College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, UGA


Tommie Beth Willis

Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) South Georgia


Lori Clemons Gadson

Keller Williams Realty Group


Lequrica Gaskins

City of Albany


Cicily Florence



Cindy Wisham

United Way of Southwest Georgia


Mary Crawford

Girls on the Run South Georgia


Kristi Hill

Performance Foodservice


Christie Moore

Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce


Chanel Randolph

Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) South Georgia


Dr. Veronica Brown

Mitchell County Schools


Nancy Bryan

Ruth’s Cottage and Patticake House


Melody Cowart

Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce


Cindy Evers

Alliance for Children Georgia


Dr. Audrey Luke-Morgan

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College


Dr. Tonja Tift

Tifton Urban Redevelopment Agency


Christy Wray

Turner County Schools 

SGWLI launched in September in Albany-Dougherty County with the Opening Retreat being facilitated by Georgia Power and faculty from the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. Sessions rotated throughout the region, focusing on women in business, nonprofit management, women’s health, the second half life, holding elected office and shaping policy. Facilitators, practitioners and experts from around the state engaged with the women, sharing their personal experiences and providing guidance on how to excel while balancing the work-life demands that women often face throughout their careers.

Sponsors of the inaugural South Georgia Women’s Leadership Initiative included:  Georgia Power Company, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) South Georgia, Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce, CJB Industries, Inc., Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Girls on the Run South Georgia, Greater Valdosta United Way, Innovative Senior Solutions, Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, Southern Regional Technical College, South Georgia Banking Company, TruVista, and Senator Sam Watson and Representative Chas Cannon.

Nominations and applications for the upcoming SGWLI class (2024-2025) will open later this summer, with the program set to launch its second cohort in September 2024.  Interested applicants may contact Toni Reid, Tifton Area Manager for Georgia Power and Chair of the SGWLI Planning & Steering Committee at (404) 831-4010 or at[email protected]. More information regarding SGWLI can also be found online at, or on Facebook and Instagram.