By Sara Ray, Douglas County Chamber
The Young Professionals Connection (YPC), a program of the Douglas County Chamber, is pleased to announce its Top Ten Young Professionals of 2012. The Top Ten Young Professionals of 2012 is recognition of young professionals in Douglasville and Douglas County who embody YPC’s mission and vision. The awards were presented at the GreyStone Power Luncheon on Feb. 12. These awards were presented by the Douglas County Chamber and Douglas County Sentinel.
The Young Professionals Connection was founded in 2008 and its mission is to provide opportunities for young professionals to connect with their peers, connect with their community, and connect with their future. YPC combines personal and professional development through social, community service and professional activities. YPC’s vision is to create an inclusive and collaborative network of resources that empowers talented individuals to achieve their goals for professional growth and success; provide employers with an engaged and competitive workforce; and propels Douglasville and Douglas County forward. More information about YPC can be found on their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/young-professionals-connection or by contacting Sara Ray at the DC Chamber, 770-942-5022.
Top Ten Young Professionals of 2012
Chris Acker, Metro Bank, age 33
Chris has helped start two community banks from the ground up and is currently helping Metro Bank thrive in a slow economy, and was named a Vice President at age 30! He has created a Georgia based communication group for other bank officers to share ideas and ask peer questions regarding procedures and new regulations. Metro Bank has allowed Chris the opportunity to represent the bank within the community through active roles in Leadership Douglas, SHARE House, Douglas County Schools, Boy Scouts of America, Young Professionals Connection and Youth Leadership Douglas.
Jason Anavitarte, Kaiser Permanente, age 34
Jason has developed one of the deepest and broadest networks of business, community, and political relationships throughout Georgia. Jason was elected Mayor ProTem and Councilman in the City of Doraville at 25, the youngest hispanic elected into office in the state. In 2011, He was selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the top 40 Under 40 in Georgia. Jason has been a member of Leadership Atlanta and Leadership Douglas along with a long list of accomplishments ranging from starting the City of Doraville Soccer program to establishing the second “Three Strikes and You’re Out Law” for underage drinking in 2006.
Jamie Bennett, Douglas County Government, age 36
Jamie was writing for her hometown newspaper when she decided to take a more active role in the government initiatives she was covering. She went to work for Douglas County, where she established a courthouse recycling and energy efficiency program that earned “Government Building of the Year” recognition by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Atlanta and an Energy Star Award. Earlier this year, she became the first female – and youngest ever – commissioner for Haralson County, where she is developing a website to make government services more accessible.
Dr. Donita Cullen, Douglas County Schools, age 36
Working in the Douglas County School System since 2004, Donita has worked as a teacher, a graduation coach, led the development of the Freshmen Academy, and has worked with at-risk students which led to her current position as the Academic Coordinator at the Performance Learning Center which has served 400 at-risk students. Her work with non-traditional programs has allowed Donita to be a part of the planning committee for the National Alternative Education Association Conference and other opportunities in the community such as Leadership Douglas, Youth Leadership Douglas and Supporting Teens Overcoming Maternal Pressures (S.T.O.M.P.).
Diane Daniel, Diane Daniel Enterprises, age 36
As if not impressive enough that Diane has owned a succesful business since age 33, Diane Daniel Enterprises was named the 2010 Small Business of the Year and continues to be a leader in the industry. In addition to running a business, Diane finds time to give back to the community through multiple organizations including WellStar Douglas Hospital Community Board, Cultural Arts Council, Douglas County Schools, Leadership Douglas, Youth Leadership Douglas, DC Parks and Recreation and many more! Diane and her husband Omar also travel to New England each summer to run the Vineyard Streetball Classic encouraging children to excercise and live healthy lifestyles.
Dustin Hightower, Miller & Hightower - Attorneys at Law, age 31
Dusty was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2012 at only 30 years old. During the 2012 Legislative session, Dusty received the “Legislative Leadership Award” for his work battling against family violence in Georgia. A partner in his law firm, Dusty manages his professional career, being an elected official, and a family man. Two years ago Dusty and his Wife Christina started their own fitness business and in two years they have brought on four new instructors and have three locations. In his spare time, Dusty gives back to the community he has grown up in through multiple organizations including Carroll County Child Advocacy Center, Kiwanis Club, DC Chamber and Leadership Douglas.
Kizzy Howell, Douglasville Convention & Visitors Bureau, age 28
Recognized locally and nationally for her talent in writing and design, Kizzy has dominated the industry and is an outstanding leader here in the community. At 27 she had written and published her first book, “Lighting the Way: A History of GreyStone Power Corporation” which later won an award and locked in a second book deal. Kizzy has taken the initiative to create a hands-on marketing plan to provide a structured approach on how the CVB will achieve its goals and growth potential, and has supported the Douglasville CVB to reach new heights in promoting Douglasville and Douglas County. Kizzy donates her creative talent to design and print obituaries for families that otherwise could not afford them. She has a proven track record in leadership and community support through her participation in many groups such as Leadership Douglas, S.H.A.R.E. House and Partners in Education.
Jeff Noles, City of Douglasville, age 38
Wearing multiple hats is something Jeff is a pro at doing. Holding current positions of City Engineer and Executive Director of the City of Douglasville’s Development Authority, Jeff continues to exceed in both positions. He has successfully commissioned the first public LEED Building in Douglas County, the Douglasville Public Safety and Municipal Court Facility along with many other major improvements to the community and still finds time to give back to the town he grew up in and raise a family. Jeff is active in the community through Leadership Douglas, Downtown Business Group, Boys & Girls Club, and on the state level through GEDA, GA City County Managers Association and many more!
April Phillips, American Red Cross, age 33
Since joining the American Red Cross in 2007, April has risen to every challenge placed before her. In just five years’ time, she has gone from a Communications Specialist to Communications Director of the Southeast Blood Services Division, helping to spread awareness of the ongoing need for blood for patients depending on transfusions in more than 400 hospitals throughout the Southeast. As the youngest Communications Director in the national American Red Cross Biomedical Services, she leads communications, media outreach and digital engagement efforts in eight blood services regions covering 12 States & Puerto Rico. Through all of her roles with the Red Cross, April still finds time to be engaged in the community she works in through Leadership Douglas, Youth Leadership Douglas, Young Professionals Connection, Cultural Arts Council, and mentoring for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.
Chris Pumphrey, Development Authority of Douglas County, age 33
Since becoming the Executive Director of the DADC in 2011, Chris has helped bring four new companies to Douglas County which when at full capacity will represent 220 jobs. Chris previously worked at the Georgia Department of Economic Development and his relationships through Leadership Georgia, GEDA, and other state-wide programs continue to benefit our community and put Douglas County on the map. Chris also represents DADC on the Chamber’s Chairmans Club as its youngest member. Chris has embraced the community and serves Douglas County in many organizations such as S.H.A.R.E. House Board member, Youth Leadership Douglas mentor, WGTC Board Advisor, and at his church