Young Gamechangers Project

Atlanta, GA (January 6, 2016) — GeorgiaForward kicks off its third Young Gamechangers class with 50 of the state’s most promising young leaders whose project will focus on Douglasville and Douglas County. They’ll come together at the opening session in Douglasville at 10 am on Thursday, January 21 with a busy day of activities, including: a tour of the area, meetings and historical insights with leaders and stakeholders, leadership training by the Fanning Institute at UGA, and more. The goals of the project are to address the area’s most persistent challenges; re-envision it as a vibrant, world-class community; and present big idea recommendations.

“In fulfilling our mission to harness the brightest young minds in Georgia to make our state stronger, we are optimistic about the future given the caliber of Young Gamechangers we have attracted,” states says Kris Vaughn, Executive Director of GeorgiaForward. “The new class has careers that span urban planning and architecture, business, economic development, education, non-profit, energy, government, arts and culture, and finance. At the end of this rigorous 6 month project, I will be excited to hear their creative ideas and forward-thinking solutions.”

Here’s an introduction to some members of the 2016 spring class of Young Gamechangers:

James Hammond is a communications professional with more than 10 years of experience in the government sector. His expertise includes broadcasting, public relations, social media, and grassroots community engagement. He currently serves at the Media Production Specialist for Atlanta Public Schools, supporting the department of Communications by telling the story of the school district through photography and video programs. His projects include producing videos for the State of the Schools and State of the District, and coordinating a “Selma” movie screening.

“People always say we need change,” says Hammond. “It’s vital to get off the couch and get involved to make a difference. I hope to make a great network of colleagues through this program and that our efforts bring positive change. At the end of the day creating better communities, that’s what I want as my legacy.”

Nicole Hilton is originally from Austin, Texas but she and her husband moved to Douglasville three years ago. She’s the founding Partner and Design Architect at Cole Hil. Her focus is on creating refined architecture that makes a positive impact on the community it serves. Hilton’s projects have included: the Pratt City Library, Brew Coffee and Tea Company (West Georgia Campus), and Lucchese Boot Company. An alumnus of Louisiana State University, she is honored to be recognized as the first African American female graduate of the LSU School of Architecture to become a licensed architect.

“I love the diversity of the Young Gamechangers,” states Hilton. “When you engage people of different backgrounds, genders, ethnicity and experiences you get solutions that meet everyone’s needs. I will bring my skills as a visionary and help connect the dots so that we have truly collaborative results.”

Will Stanford, AIA + LEED Green Associate is a Principal Architect with BTBB, Inc in Macon. Stanford has a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Mississippi State University and became a registered architect in 2011. Stanford appreciates the distinctive characteristics of communities, large and small, having grown up in small town Mississippi and lived in Jackson, MS and Montgomery, AL prior to relocating to Macon in 2012. He was on the design team for the Macon Action Plan, focusing on revitalization through economic and infrastructure development, as well as rehabilitation of downtown. Stanford serves as a Deacon and Sunday school teacher at North Macon Presbyterian Church. He and his wife Mary Frances reside in Macon with their 3 daughters: Anna Lyn, Gracie and Alie Parker.

“It’s vital to the success of our project that the community has buy-in,” states Stanford. “A good example of that is Dublin, last year’s Young Gamechangers focus city. This past year I worked on the design team that renovated an old bank building downtown which had been vacant since 1976. This could not have happened without deep community involvement.”

Carrie Barnes serves as a Community Development Consultant with Georgia EMC. She provides economic and community development assistance to communities on behalf of their 41 Electric Membership Cooperatives. She is responsible for strategic planning sessions, leadership programs, and team building. Barnes began her career with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission then worked with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. A native of Tampa, Florida, Barnes attended Mercer University and completed her Masters in City and Regional Planning with a focus on Economic Development at Georgia Institute of Technology. Barnes lives in Cartersville with her husband.

“I think the one thing that can make or break a community is engaging and retaining their young professionals,” states Barnes. “Young professionals, especially women, are not always invited to the table. I’m a city planner by trade, and I’m always looking for ways to use my skills to give back.”

Cole Posey serves as Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Southern Regional Technical College, in Moultrie. His work takes him throughout Moultrie, Thomasville and Tifton. Prior to joining SRTC Posey was Executive Director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Macon. Mr. Posey holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Georgia College and State University and will complete his Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Strategic Leadership in 2016. He and his wife have a two year-old son. Posey is an avid Georgia Bulldog fan and has attended every UGA home game for the last 19 years.

“The work that GeorgiaForward is doing is important because they focus on the big picture,” says Posey. “Everything across the state is connected, and to be competitive it’s important to get everyone, including the younger generation, involved. I’m looking forward to bringing my expertise in millennial engagement to this project. My hope is to leave an imprint and make Georgia a better place.”

Sponsors for 2016 Spring Young Gamechangers program include: The Commerce Club Foundation,
Google, Douglas County, Douglas County Chamber, City of Douglasville, CITI TV, Fox Hall Resort and Sporting Club, Douglas County Economic Development Authority, Georgia Power, LaQuinta Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

GeorgiaForward is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to improve the state of Georgia by engaging business, political, academic and civil leaders to collaboratively shape a statewide policy agenda. For more information about the Young Gamechangers program and a complete list of the 2016 spring class, visit their web site:

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: