About

LSEGA Program Overview

The Leadership Southeast Georgia program will focus on improving leadership competencies most important to regional leadership.  Those competencies include:

Emotional intelligence or 'mastery of self'

Integrity and trust

Ethics and values

Building and sustaining collaboration

Conflict resolution and mediation through different interests

Effective communications with individuals and large and geographically dispersed audiences

Systematical thinking and long-range decision making

Program Goals

Increase knowledge about Southeast Georgia

Explore key issues that are common to every community

Develop informed perspective on relationship between individual communities in region

Improve individual leadership competencies of participants

Our History

The 10 counties of BryanBullochCamdenChathamEffinghamGlynn,

LibertyLong, McIntosh, and Screven and 35 municipalities

comprise the Coastal Georgia region.

Beginning in January 1999, leaders representing the business, local government, and education communities set about the difficult task of creating a regional strategic plan for community and economic development.  The group quickly settled on leadership, workforce development, and infrastructure as the three most vital areas of concern for the region.

​A regional leadership program that would bring together citizens from each of the 10 counties was envisioned as a means to reinforce the regional capacity to address challenges and capitalize on common opportunities.  The program content focused on the assets of the area, as well as potential threats to those assets.  Convinced that skills are every bit as important as knowledge, the group insisted that the program provide an educational component meant to strengthen the leadership abilities of each participant.

From 2000 to 2009, Georgia Southern University hosted Leadership Southeast Georgia (LSEGA).  When Georgia Southern University was no longer able to host the program, a committed group of alumni who did not want to the see the program dissolve, actively sought options to keep LSEGA active.

 

Alumni worked with the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute to develop a new format and curriculum for the LSEGA program.  To put the plan into action, alumni pursued host agency options.  In January, 2010, the Coastal Regional Commission (CRC), whose domain covers the same 10-county region as LSEGA, agreed to serve as the host agency through 2014.  In January of 2015, LSEGA teamed up with Georgia Power as a Presenting Sponsor of the program and new class of 2015.

 

Since 2000, LSEGA has produced over 350 graduates.

Meet our Board

Brynn Grant

Brynn Grant

Chairwoman

Brynn Grant is chief operating officer at the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) and vice president of World Trade Center Savannah. In her role at SEDA, Brynn works to make Savannah and SEDA as competitive as possible in the effort to create, grow and attract business and create jobs. In 2011, after working with a small team of SEDA board members to evaluate international business development strategies, which led to the securing of a World Trade Center Association license for Savannah, Brynn was asked to lead the startup of the World Trade Center Savannah. Having been with SEDA for more than 17 years, she has held several positions including director then vice president of marketing and public relations when her work was recognized with several national and international marketing awards. Most significantly, she was a member of the SEDA team named one of the ten best development groups in the country in 1998 after having attracted more than $103 million of investment and helping to create 2454 new jobs. Prior to and in between tenures at SEDA, Brynn served as vice president of communications for EM Services, Inc., marketing and development director for the Savannah Music Festival and director of development and executive director of the Savannah Technical College Foundation. She also worked at the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau and Georgia Golf Hall Fame early in her career. Brynn is a graduate of Leadership Savannah, Leadership Southeast Georgia and Leadership Georgia. She is vice chair of the LSEGA board. She has been named one of the Top Ten Working Women by AWWIN, the Community Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Chamber of Savannah and a Woman of Distinction by the Girls Scouts of Historic Georgia. With a commitment to education, she currently serves on the Savannah Technical College Foundation Board of Directors, Georgia Southern University College of Business Advisory Board, Georgia Southern University College of Science and Mathematics Advisory Board, and the Georgia Tech Professional Education Advisory Board in Savannah. She also serves on the Georgia advisory board of the U.S. Global Leadership Council. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism.

Jared Downs

Jared Downs

Vice Chair

Jared Downs currently serves as the Southeast Georgia Regional Director for Senator Johnny Isakson. As the Southeast Georgia Regional Director, Downs serves as the senator’s top representative in a 48 county area with over 1.6 million constituents. Downs manages a three-member team that responds to local elected officials, the business community, school systems, law enforcement, state agencies and other constituents in his region who need help from Senator Isakson or from the federal government. Downs is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Southeast Georgia and a 2008 graduate of Leadership Savannah. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Alumni Association of Young Harris College. Downs is married to Kathryn Murph and they are the proud parents of Carolyn Emma Downs, who was born on March 2, 2015. They currently reside in Saint Simons Island, GA.

Lee Beckmann

Lee Beckmann

Immediate Past Chairman

Lee Beckmann has been the Manager of Governmental Affairs for the Georgia Ports Authority since 2003.  His responsibilities include managing government relations and a statewide outreach campaign for the GPA. Prior to joining the GPA, Lee served as a Legislative Assistant to Congressman Jack Kingston in Washington, DC.  During his four years in Washington, Lee oversaw several legislative issues as well as appropriations for the Congressman – helping to secure funding for various projects such as harbor deepening in Savannah and Brunswick. Lee received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  He is a member of the Metro Savannah Rotary Club and a graduate of Leadership Savannah. His other civic & community interests include serving as Chairman of Leadership Southeast Georgia and the Islands YMCA, and as Second Vice President of the Propeller Club of Savannah.

Margaret VanHouten

Margaret VanHouten

Secretary

Margaret VanHouten graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1998 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (BBA). After 18 years in the banking industry, VanHouten began work in the manufacturing industry. She has been with Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas, Inc. for five years. VanHouten is a graduate of Leadership Liberty and Leadership Southeast Georgia. She has served as LSEGA’s acting secretary since September of the same year. VanHouten currently lives in Pooler with her 11-year-old son, and she enjoys running and exercising in her free time.

Jesse Bentley

Jesse Bentley

Treasurer

Jesse is the Division Manager of Evans General Contractor’s Savannah office. He has over nine years of experience working in the construction industry. Jesse’s hands-on approach has made him very knowledgeable in all aspects of project management including preconstruction, design-assist, design-build, field and office operations and the commissioning/startup of commercial, industrial, manufacturing and office projects. His background consists of distribution, logistics, multi-story offices, assembly and manufacturing projects. Jesse is also a graduate of the 2016 LSEGA class and a large supporter of the Bulloch County Backpack Buddies program. Jesse has overall responsibility for the direction and growth of the Savannah division. Jesse’s project experience is extensive in heavy manufacturing/industrial facilities, distribution/warehousing centers, corporate environments and healthcare facilities. He has a detailed knowledge of the industry including all civil, architectural, structural and MEP design aspects of a project.

Kendria Lee

Kendria Lee

Class Nominations/Selection

Kendria Lee is a “Double Eagle” graduate of Georgia Southern University, earning both a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Information Systems from the College of Business. Prior to her current role, Ms. Lee held the position of Operations Manager and Executive Associate for Government and Community Relations – both for the Office of External Affairs. Ms. Lee is a member of Protocol and Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association. She is a graduate of Leadership Southeast Georgia as well as Georgia Academy for Economic Development. She is also a member of the Statesboro YMCA Board and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Rural Prosperity Council. In addition, she is currently serving as Chair of the University System of Georgia Staff Council and she also works as a mentor for the REACH program.

2019 Site Coordinator:Bulloch County

Stephanie Dammen-Morrell

Stephanie Dammen-Morrell

Site Coordinators Chair

A native of Osage, IA, Ms. Dammen-Morrell joined regional architecture/engineering design firm, Hussey Gay Bell in 2013 and currently serves at the firm’s Director of Marketing with an area of responsibility spanning six offices in three states including Savannah, Statesboro and Atlanta, GA; Charleston and Columbia, SC; and Nashville, TN. A cum laude graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Ms. Dammen-Morrell is the recipient of the 2013 Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Colorado Business Developer of the Year Award and 2010 SMPS Colorado Marketer of the Year Award in addition to being a 2016 Leadership Savannah graduate. An avid supporter of personal and professional growth, Ms. Dammen-Morrell has served in a variety of industry association capacities including: SMPS Colorado Executive Board, SMPS Colorado Secretary, SMPS Colorado Director-at-Large, SMPS National MCA Juror, AIA National Convention Committee, ASHRAE Annual Conference Sustainability Project Committee and Bryan County Zoning Update Committee. Current/recent activities include: ACEC-GA Engineering GA Editorial Board, SAME Savannah Post Young Member Chair & Board Member, SMPS Palmetto Membership Committee, SMPS Atlanta Coastal Committee Chair, 2018 SMPS Atlanta Board, Richmond Hill Historical Writers Guild and Richmond Hill Historical Society Member.

2019 Site Coordinator:Bryan and Liberty Counties

Alyce Thornhill

Alyce Thornhill

Alyce Thornhill is a Regional Project Manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, representing Region 12. As a Regional Project Manager, Alyce provides assistance with Existing Industry and Regional Recruitment. She works closely with Economic Development Authorities in her 10 county region as well as with Chambers of Commerce implementing Business Retention and Expansion Programs (BRE), making sure our current industries know what opportunities and incentives are available to them when considering expansion in Georgia. Alyce has been involved in economic development for over 18 years. Prior to joining the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Alyce was employed for 6 years with the City of St Marys, where she was the Director of Economic Development and worked for the Downtown Development Authority, St Marys Mainstreet and the Industrial Development Authority. She also has a background in Business Development and Public Relations in the Credit Union Industry and has owned and sold two small businesses. Alyce is a graduate of both the Camden County and Southeast Leadership Programs and is a member of the Georgia Economic Development Association. Currently she is serving on the Coastal Workforce Investment Board. Alyce followed her husband, during a 23 year Navy career, and stated “As a Navy wife you learn to embrace change and find the good in every place you are planted, I think it was getting me ready for an ever changing career in Economic Development, no two days are ever the same”. Alyce and her husband have three children and three grandchildren.

Brianne Yontz

Brianne Yontz

Cedric King

Cedric King

Cedric Z. King, PHR, SHRM-CP, CEO of King’s Consulting provides support services to companies that need assistance with human resources, business development as well as community and governmental relations strategies. Cedric was the former Manager of Community Relations at Pinova, Inc. a subsidiary of DRT. He is a graduate of McIntosh County Academy (’90) and The University of South Carolina, Coastal Carolina College (’95), where he holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Criminal Justice. Cedric formally managed all Community Relations and Workforce Training Development activities for the business. Over the last 20 years at Pinova, Cedric held a wide variety of leadership positions ranging from human resources, logistics, operations, public-governmental relations, quality control, safety and training development. In addition to his career achievements, Cedric is very active in his community, currently serving on the Boards of Southeastern Bank, College of Coastal Georgia Trustee Foundation, Coastal Area District Development Authority (CADDA), Glynn County Airport Commission, Congressional Manufacturing Council-District 1, Fourteen Black Men of Glynn, Georgia SHRM Governmental Affairs Committee, Georgia SHRM Advocacy Team (SHRM A-Team), NAACP Member, Coastal Georgia Basketball (Founder) and Communities In Schools of Glynn Advisory Board. In the past, Cedric has served on the Brunswick-Glynn County Development Authority as Chairman, Vice Chair and Treasurer, Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber Executive Board, NAACP of Glynn County Executive Board, Golden Isles Society of Human Resources Management Executive Board, United Way of Coastal Georgia Executive Board as Campaign Chair, 2016 BIGWIG for Susan G. Komen Coastal Georgia, Jax Chamber Board of Governors, Jax Chamber Trustee Board, Communities In Schools of Glynn, Grace and Truth Advisory Board, Jacksonville, Fla., McIntosh Sustainable Environment and Economic Development (McSEED) as Board Chair in Darien, Ga, Glynn Academy School Council and Jane Macon School Council. Cedric was recently selected to the Prestigious Leadership Georgia Class of 2019. He has completed Leadership Programs in Glynn and McIntosh Counties, as well as his recent graduation with the 2018 Class of Leadership Southeast Georgia. In addition to being recognized in the Golden Isles Magazine 20 under 40. He has received numerous awards such as the 2017 Georgia State Council SHRM Volunteer of the Year, 2016 Brunswick NAACP Community and Justice Award, 2016 & 2013 Brunswick Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Citizen of the Year, United Way of Coastal Georgia, Board Member of the Year, Linda Bobbitt Educational Foundation Community Service Award and The Tunis Campbell Wings of Freedom Award for Community Service. Cedric is married to his lovely wife Crystal and they have two children, Cekayla (20) and Cedric Zachary II (13). Their family, faithfully serve and attend, Greater Works Than These Ministries in Brunswick, GA.

2019 Site Coordinator:Glynn County

Frank Fortune

Frank Fortune

President of The Fortune Image, specializing in Commercial Photography and Advertising, Frank Fortune is the Director of Photographic Services at Georgia Southern University, a role which he has served for 28 years. A native of Augusta, Ga., he now abides in Statesboro, Ga. Frank was a member of the 2011 LSEGA class, and was a member of the 2006 Leadership Bulloch Class. He received a BBA of Marketing from the University of Georgia in 1980. He currently serves on the communications committee.

James Coughlin

James Coughlin

James grew up along Florida’s Gulf Coast and immediately felt at home when he arrived here in beautiful coastal Georgia. He attended the University of Florida for his undergraduate work and later the University of Georgia, where he also served as a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer. James comes to Camden from Rome, Georgia, where he served as the Director of Professional Recruitment and Retention for Floyd Medical Center. In this role James traveled the Southeast region, recruiting physicians to the northwest Georgia area. James was a 2011 graduate of Leadership Rome and in 2013 he was the Governor’s Appointee to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission. James lives in Kingsland with his wife, Diane, and daughter, Autumn. He believes that above all else, people are the greatest asset this community has to offer.

2019 Site Coordinator:Camden County

Jason Coley

Jason Coley

As Georgia Power’s community and economic development manager in Coastal Region, Jason supports local communities through leadership development, strategic planning, existing industry retention and expansions, and with new companies considering an expansion or relocation to the area. Jason began his career at Georgia Power in 1994. He worked in many areas of the company, including marketing, customer service, local management and engineering, before joining the Community & Economic Development team in 2015. He has held leadership positions on several community boards, including industrial development authorities and regional commissions, and is a member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association. Jason earned a bachelor’s of Business Administration from Brenau University at Kingsbay. In his free time, Jason enjoys fishing, hunting, golf, and volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America Coastal Georgia Council. He and his wife, Lorie, live in Richmond Hill with their two children.

Jessica Hood

Jessica Hood

Director of Economic Development & Existing Industry, Jessica Hood, specializes in business attraction and business retention for the Effingham County Industrial Authority (ECIDA). Her focus includes promoting the organization and community to external audiences, coordinating and executing client visits and correspondences, and serving as the organization’s point of contact for both existing industries and potential industrial clients. Jessica is a cum laude graduate of Georgia Southern University with a bachelor of business administration in economics and a minor in regional development. She also earned her Masters in Business Administration from the Parker School of Business at Georgia Southern University. Jessica began her career in economic development at the Liberty County Development Authority, where she served as project manager for nearly five years. Prior to rejoining the LCDA as the Director of Business Development, Jessica worked on the business development team at the Savannah Economic Development Authority for over a year, and most recently served as the Executive Director at the Development Authority of Burke County. Jessica is actively involved on the board of the Georgia Economic Developer Association, and has served on the boards of the Greater Savannah Regional Alliance, an Leadership Southeast Georgia. She is a graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, Leadership Liberty, Leadership Burke, and Leadership Southeast Georgia. Jessica is also an Economic Development Finance Professional as designated by the National Development Council.

Joe Marchese

Joe Marchese

Joe Marchese is a founding board member and a past president of the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society in Savannah. He is married to Molly Kight Marchese and they have three wonderful children, Katie, Ella and Lucy. He is the owner of Marchese Construction. He is an Accredited Professional through the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. He is the past recipient of the Helen V Head business advocate award (2013) and the past Entrepreneur of the year (2011). He is a third generation construction professional with over 30 years in the construction industry. He began as a laborer, masons tender and pipe insulator and now his duties include project management, construction supervision, estimating, pre-construction services, budgeting, contracting, purchasing, scheduling and client relations. He received his B.A. from the University of Massachusetts.

Jon Seagraves

Jon Seagraves

Jon Seagraves graduated from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. Seagraves has been in the banking industry for 12 years and currently holds the position of Senior Vice President and Coastal Market Executive for Citizens Bank. He graduated from the University of Georgia’s banking school in 2012. Seagraves completed both Leadership Bryan County in 2009 and Leadership Southeast Georgia in 2015. Having been Richmond Hill resident for 26 years, he is heavily involved in the area. In addition to serving as the President Elect of the Richmond Hill Rotary Club, Seagraves is also a member of the Richmond Hill and Bryan County Chamber Executive Board, the City of Richmond Hill Architectural Review Board and the Bryan County Planning and Zoning Commission. In his spare time, Seagraves enjoys being outdoors, boating and fishing on the coast with his wife and three children.

Krystal McGee

Krystal McGee

Krystal McGee was born in Bowdon, Georgia, and attended the University of West Georgia. In 1995, Krystal graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation and began her career working for the Army in the Republic of Panama at the US Army Physical Fitness School where she developed the Department of the Army’s (DA) Pregnancy Physical Training Program for the Soldiers and the Civilian Fitness Program for DA civilians. She also worked several years working with the Army’s Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation directorate. Krystal worked for the YMCA for 10 years in positions from Sports Director, Executive Director and her current role as the District Vice President for the YMCA of Coastal Georgia which serves communities in Brunswick, McIntosh County, Richmond Hill, Liberty County, Chatham County, Effingham County and Statesboro.

Marcus Sack

Marcus Sack

Marcus Sack is the Vice President at PC Simonton and Associates. Residing in Hinesville, Georgia, Marcus has a civil engineering degree from Southern Polytechnic State University. He is a member of the Hinesville Rotary and Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.

Robert Grant

Robert Grant

Robert Grant is the Director of Development at Junior Achievement. His is a former High School Teacher and currently serves as an elected school board member for District One for the Effingham County Board of Education. Grant has worked with Backpack Buddies for nearly 10 years and helped to facilitate the group’s efforts to collect, fill and deliver backpacks of food for at-risk youth. A graduate of Clemson University, Grant earned a B.A. in secondary education, history and geography. Grant, the child of a career Air Force officer, grew up all over the world, and has lived in Effingham County for almost 15 years.

2019 Site Coordinator:Chatham County

Patton Dugas

Patton Dugas

Patton Dugas is a commercial banker with SunTrust Bank. He has served other institutions in SBA, special assets, construction & development, and disaster assistance lending. An entrepreneur at heart, he began in business by co-founding an audiovisual contracting firm while attending college. Raised in Macon, Ga., Patton earned a B.B.A. in Finance from UGA. He serves in board positions with Chatham County Resource Protection Commission, Savannah Community Foundation, Metropolitan Savannah Rotary, Savannah CFO Council, March of Dimes, Clean Coast. He serves as a non-lawyer member of the State Bar of Georgia Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee.  He was named a Generation Next Rising Star by Savannah Magazine.  He is a graduate of Leadership Savannah and Leadership Southeast Georgia.  He resides in Savannah with his wife, Mary, and two daughters.

Wade Herring

Wade Herring

Wade W. Herring, II is a partner in the Savannah office of Hunter, Maclean, Exley & Dunn, P.C. Representing employers, Mr. Herring’s law practice focuses on all aspects of employment problems and issues. He is a frequent speaker on employment law topics, bringing a sense of humor and practical solutions to audiences of business and human resources managers. Mr. Herring is involved in many charitable and civic organizations. He previously served as president of the Savannah Bar Association, president of the Savannah East Rotary Club, chair of the Board of Trustees of Savannah Country Day School, president of the University of Georgia Law School Alumni Association Council, and chair of the Board of Trustees of Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church. Mr. Herring served a three-year term on the Dartmouth Alumni Council and has served as Dartmouth Class of 1980 Secretary for almost 20 years. He is a 1992 graduate of Leadership Savannah and a 2016 graduate of Leadership Southeast Georgia. Mr. Herring received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College and his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law. At Dartmouth, he was Phi Beta Kappa. He was a Woodruff Scholar and a member of the Order of the Coif at Georgia. Following law school, Mr. Herring clerked for two years for The Honorable Dudley H. Bowen, Jr., Judge, United States District Court, Southern District of Georgia. Mr. Herring and his wife, Susan, are the parents of Wade, III, a staff attorney at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and Kathleen, a fourth-year medical student at the Medical College of Georgia, Athens Campus. 

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