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(SAVANNAH, Ga.) United Way of the Coastal Empire is excited to announce the graduates of the Young Leaders Board Readiness Program.  The graduation ceremony took place on Tuesday, December 7th at the United Way of the Coastal Empire office in Savannah at 6:00 pm.  This year, 37 participants graduated from the program. The leadership and professional development program trains tomorrow’s nonprofit board leaders, ensuring that the Coastal Empire’s nonprofit sector reflects the rich diversity of our community.


“I’m always looking for new ways to grow my non-profit career and give back to my community; the United Way Young Leaders Board Readiness Program provided me with opportunities for both,” says Justin Bristol, Membership and Development Specialist at Historic Savannah Foundation and one of the Board Readiness participants. “I got brand new perspectives on board relations for my current work and inspiring new ideas on how I can contribute as a volunteer board member for other organizations. I was impressed with the diverse and broad-ranging guest speakers that UCWE invited to present at our sessions and can’t wait to apply their expertise to my own role.”


The program framework was designed by the 2020 Young Leaders Executive Committee: Nathan Benson, Director, Occupational Safety, Risk Management and Disability Services at Chatham County; Andrew Cosey, Realtor at Austin Hill Realty; Craig Tootle, Executive Assistant to CEO at United Way of the Coastal Empire; Will Gruver, General Manager of Operations at JAN PRO; Kristin Masse, Partner at Ellis Painter Ratterree & Adams LLP; Tara Nobles; and Caitlin Teuton, Landscape Designer at Thomas & Hutton, along with United Way Community Investments staff.


“The Board Readiness Program provided a comprehensive foundation upon which to continue building my involvement with nonprofit boards in the region. Now as I enter an organization in the future I can more effectively utilize my time bypassing the learning curve and jumping right into action to support positive change in the community I love,” said Jessie Jenkins, Director of Research and Trade Development at the World Trade Center Savannah. “It gives me huge confidence knowing that not only am I equipped with this new skill set, but I have dozens of peers who also graduated in this cohort who will be joining me out in the community. I look forward to seeing my peers take on leadership positions knowing that they also have this foundational knowledge in ethics, board-staff relationship, fundraising, etc.”


“The Young Leaders Board Readiness program has renewed my desire to meaningfully serve and advocate for others. Like for many others, 2020 required a major pivot in my life,” says Quineshia Peterson, Realtor at Luxe Real Estate Services. “Sharing this experience with my classmates served as a timely reminder when we come together we can always make a difference.”


The program officially kicked off in August when the Board Readiness cohort met for orientation.  Throughout the program, the cohort covered Introduction to Board Service as well as a series of free workshops over the four months. The lesson plan included topics on ethics, strategic planning, fundraising, advocacy, board-staff relationships, resume and bio writing, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Congratulations to the graduates of the 2021 Young Leaders Board Readiness Program:


• Zylphia Nobles, Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority
• Kelsey Elam, Choate Construction Company
• Allen Cantrell, Chatham County Internal Audit
• Ambria Berksteiner, Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia
• Austin Rojas
• Bradley Morgan, Hancock Askew & Co. LLP
• Brianna Polite, Pharmaceutical Product Development
• Camille Cook, Savannah State University
• Chase Cowart, St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System
• Danielle Riley, City of Savannah
• Hope Gruver, TravelNet Solutions
• Irina Sadovova-Brown, RGIS
• Jermaine Maxwell, Georgia Ports Authority
• Jessie Jenkins, World Trade Center Savannah
• John Fulton, Columbia College
• Jose Saravia, Student
• Joseph Mongold, Union Mission, INC
• Justin Bristol, Historic Savannah Foundation
• Kayce Bradbury, TMX Finance Family of Companies
• Keli Berkman, Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia
• Laurie Humphries, United Way of the Coastal Empire
• Lindsay Schilder, Family Promise of the Coastal Empire
• Quineshia Peterson, EPIC Healthcare Solutions
• Randall Mathews, Chatham Emergency Management Agency
• Shakari Smiley, Dollar Tree
• Tosca Morgan, Chatham Orthopedic Associates
• Tramayne Young, The Law Offices of Jonthan J. Hunt LLC
• William (Josh) Pharr, City of Savannah
• Ashley ‘Elbi’ Elm, Self-Employed
• Ivory Brown, Effingham County School District
• Matt Smith, Hancock Askew and Company, LLP
• Stephanie Cox, Chatham Emergency Management Agency
• Victoria Brown, Chatham County
• Aminata Traore, Liberty Landscape Materials
• Thomas Adkins, Professional Contract Services, Incorporated
• Joni Miller, Effingham County
• Lindsey Clay, Effingham Hospital, Inc.

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