Meet our Board of Directors

Jared Downs

Jared Downs

Chairman

Jared W. Downs is the Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Savannah. In this position, he is responsible for advocating on behalf of the business community and working with local, state and federal officials to promote business-positive legislation. Prior to joining the Chamber in May of 2017, Jared served as the Southeast Georgia Regional Director for U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. As the Southeast Georgia Regional Director, he served as the Senator’s top representative in a 48 county area with over 1.6 million constituents for over twelve years. Jared held the same position for U.S. Senator Zell Miller and the late U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell.

Jared is a 1996 graduate of Young Harris College with an Associates of Science in Education and a 1998 graduate of Georgia College & State University with a Bachelors of Science in Political Science. Jared is a 2019 graduate of Leadership Georgia, 2015 graduate of Leadership Southeast Georgia and a 2008 graduate of Leadership Savannah. He currently serves as the chairman of Leadership Southeast Georgia. Jared is married to Kathryn Murph Downs and they are the proud parents of two daughters: Emma and Anna Hughes.

Jesse Bentley

Jesse Bentley

Incoming Chairman

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.

Brynn Grant

Brynn Grant

Immediate Past Chair

Brynn Grant is President and CEO of United Way of the Coastal Empire. Formerly, she served as chief operating officer at the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) and vice president of World Trade Center Savannah.  

Prior to and in between tenures at SEDA, Brynn served as vice president of communications for EM Services, Inc., marketing and development then interim executive director for the Savannah Music Festival and executive director of the Savannah Technical College Foundation. She also worked at the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau and Georgia Golf Hall of Fame early in her career. 

Brynn is a graduate of Leadership Savannah, Leadership Southeast Georgia and Leadership Georgia. She is currently the immediate past- chair of the Leadership Southeast Georgia board of directors and vice chair of the Savannah Technical College Foundation. She also proudly serves on the Georgia Southern University Parker College of Business Advisory Board.  Brynn 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. 

She is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism. She and her husband Tim Feathers have five children.

Kendria Lee

Kendria Lee

Treasurer

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.

Stephanie Dammen-Morrell

Stephanie Dammen-Morrell

Secretary

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.

Lee Beckmann

Lee Beckmann

Ex Officio

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.

Cecilia Arango

Cecilia Arango

Cecilia Arango is the Marketing Manager at professional services and consulting firm, Thomas & Hutton, and oversees company-wide marketing, public relations, and communications for Thomas & Hutton’s nine regions in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Arango is passionate about service to the community and is the current President of the Metropolitan Savannah Rotary and is also a Paul Harris Fellow. In addition, Arango sits on various boards, including Savannah Sports Council and Park Place Outreach, and is a Community Adviser for the Student Leadership Program. 

Named a Georgia Trend’s 40 Under 40 and a Savannah Magazine’s New Guard, Arango is an avid runner on a quest to run a marathon in each state and is the founder of local running book club, Read, Run & Rant, as featured in Shape Magazine. She is a local actress/performer with the Bay Street Theatre and The Collective Face Theatre Ensemble. Arango is a graduate of Leadership Savannah (2016) and Leadership Southeast Georgia (2018) and is currently in the 2020/2021 Leadership Georgia class. 

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.

2021 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.

Leia Dedic

Leia Dedic

Leia Dedic joined SEDA in 2012 and serves as the Director of Research and Grant Management. Leia provides research, data, fiscal impact analyses, and avenues of funding to help bring economic development projects and marketing campaigns to fruition. She also led the effort of identifying target countries for WTCSav and is the organization’s Salesforce administrator helping track progress towards annual goals. Leia received her B.A. in Economics from Armstrong State University. She is an IEDC and C2ER member and currently serves on the Junior Achievement Board. In her free time, Leia enjoys coaching volleyball, traveling and spending time on Georgia’s beautiful waterways.

2021 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.

Robert Grant

Robert Grant

Robert Grant is the Director of Office Development at the Parker College of Business at Georgia Southern University. He was formerly 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.

Krystal Hart

Krystal Hart

Krystal Hart is a Public Relations Strategist known for using her unique gift of storytelling and strategic thinking to help people solve problems using communication. In 2014, she founded Sparrow Communications, a public relations agency in Hinesville, GA where she helps government agencies and nonprofit organizations define their brands, share their stories and create systems for public outreach. Krystal also uses her skills to serve as a volunteer for various historical, cultural, and educational programs. She is a 2013 graduate of Leadership Southeast Georgia.

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.

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.

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.

Chris Nowicki

Chris Nowicki

Chris Nowicki works in Public Affairs at with Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in Savannah Georgia.  Chris oversees Gulfstream’s Public Affairs and Community Investment strategy in Illinois, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, and the United Kingdom by partnering with state and local elected officials, non-profit, school districts and industry associations.  In his role, Chris leads Gulfstream’s legislative priorities, partners with local school systems to develop strategies and partnerships to build Gulfstream’s future workforce, supports Gulfstream’s philanthropic partnerships and the Gulfstream Community Volunteer Program.  Chris also directs the Student Leadership Program, Gulfstream’s marquee community program impacting nearly 1000 students in Georgia and Wisconsin.  Prior to joining Gulfstream, Chris served as the Director of Orientation, Civic Engagement and Student Union at Armstrong State University.  

Chris graduated from Armstrong State University in 2008 with a B.A. in Political Science and from Georgia Southern University in 2012 with a M.Ed in Higher Education.  

In the community, Chris has served on many boards including Park Place Outreach, Islands YMCA of Coastal Georgia, Georgia 4-H Advisory Committee, Georgia Southern University Alumni Board and Georgia 4-H Master Club Board of Directors. 

Royce Proctor

Royce Proctor

Royce Proctor is a Marketing/Member Services representative with Okefenoke Rural Electric Membership Cooperative in Nahunta, GA. The Woodbine resident is a graduate of Camden County High School and has been a member of the Woodbine Lions Club for more than 25 years. Royce is a 2003 graduate of Leadership Southeast Georgia. He has served as chairman of the Woodbine Citizens Steering Commitee since 2011 and on the boards of the Charlton County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Nassau County Chamber of Commerce since 2012. He is married to Denese and has two daughters, Elizabeth and Samantha; and a son, John Royce.

Madison Roesel

Madison Roesel

Madison Roesel is the Vice President of Sales at The Sack Company, a specialty contracting company for commercial and industrial operations since 1945. She was raised in Bulloch County and graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2014. She serves in many roles at the company including business development, strategic planning, hiring and training and marketing. Madison is the third generation of her family involved in the business and is driven by the same aspirations and values her grandfather built it on. With the team at Sack Company she plans to continue expanding on their many successes. 

John Reynolds

John Reynolds

John is the President of Roofing Professionals, Inc. based in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He is an experienced president with a demonstrated history of working in the construction industry. Skilled in roofers, rontractors, sales management, renovation, and team building. Strong business development professional with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) focused in Human Resource Management from Georgia Southern University – College of Business Administration. John served on the board of directors of the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce and on the Pastoral Council of St. Anne Catholic Church, Richmond Hill. He is a 2009 graduate of Leadership Southeast Georgia. He is married to Marci Reynolds and has three sons: Foster, Samuel and Matthew.

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.

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