A native of southeast Georgia, Lynda Brannen Williamson spent her life working to improve the Statesboro community as a civic leader, a legacy that continued after her passing with the creation of the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation in 2014, and later the LBW Leadership Academy.
That legacy now extends to northwest Georgia, where the LBW Foundation launched a leadership academy last fall, supported by Georgia Power.
“Lynda had the vision of these academies expanding throughout the South,” said Lisa Lee, president of the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation. “Taking this program and expanding it to other cities is an easy and natural progression. Our original goals were to focus on servant leadership, mentorship and building a base of community servants that would build upon itself to ensure a community of servant leaders. We are also grateful to Georgia Power for its support of Lynda’s vision to develop women leaders throughout the state.”
Building these successful collaborations for leadership development is a focus of the fifth annual Community Leadership Conference, Feb. 4-5, 2020, at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel. Organized by the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Advancement, the conference draws participants from across Georgia as well as from neighboring states.
This year’s conference theme is “Together. Serve. Transform.”
“When we pool our leadership skills and talent in communities, we can work together to collectively serve the needs of our citizens and thus transform our communities through leadership development, building a stronger future,” said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute. “Again this year, our conference will highlight successful leadership programs, initiatives and collaborations that attendees can implement in their own communities.”
The Lynda B. Williamson Foundation worked with the Fanning Institute to develop a leadership curriculum for young women in southeast Georgia. Since the academy began in 2015, more than 70 women have participated in the program, which covers personal leadership, communication and conflict, strategies for effective leadership, career and professional skill development, and multigenerational leadership. Once they’ve completed the program, the women mentor high school girls in their communities, helping them better understand social media etiquette, build their resumes and manage conflict.
“Lynda Williamson was a personal friend and colleague,” said Anne Kaiser, Georgia Power vice president for community and economic development. “To see a foundation created in her honor that supports the development of women leaders in communities across Georgia and promotes the ideal of servant leadership epitomizes what Lynda believed in and stood for. At Georgia Power, we are proud and honored to support the Lynda B. Williamson Women’s Leadership Academy (LBWLA) to help carry on Lynda’s spirit.”
The LBWLA was the recipient of the Fanning Institute’s Innovations in Community Leadership Award in 2019. The program also was recognized as a Four for the Future community partnership by Georgia Trend Magazine and UGA Public Service and Outreach in 2016.
Sessions at this year’s conference will highlight nonprofit leadership development, leadership development programs, and innovations and research in leadership development.
Also this year, the Fanning Institute will offer Reflective Structured Dialogue training as a post-conference opportunity Feb. 6–7.
“An important skill for any leader is the ability to bring people together and lead difficult conversations on sensitive issues,” Bishop said. “Reflective Structured Dialogue is a proven method that gives everyone in the room a voice and creates an atmosphere to move forward.”
During the conference, the institute will also present the 2020 Innovations in Community Leadership Award.
For more information on the 2020 Community Leadership Conference, visit https://www.fanning.uga.edu/community-leadership-conference/.