The Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce (CBCCOC) quarterly luncheon Tuesday was highlighted by an awards presentation honoring young talent throughout the community.
Five individuals were recognized at the Impact Awards ceremony held at the Clarence Brown Conference Center. CBCCOC Executive Director Cindy Williams said the recipients have gone above and beyond to not only lead their respective fields but also to give back to Bartow County residents.
Twenty-nine people were nominated, with 17 completing full applications. From there, five judges from outside of the county whittled down the list to this year’s five finalists.
Kelly Armstrong, a parts operation manager for Yanmar America Corp., was the first recipient recognized.
“In her career with Yanmar, Kelly became the company’s first female quality manager in its 100-plus year history,” Williams said. “She has shared her experience with other female leaders in the company, serving as a mentor and helping them navigate the workplace.”
Williams also praised Armstrong for her work with the company’s quality improvement team.
“She led a team of existing managers to develop a leadership training course for existing and emerging leaders,” she said, “which launched last year and has been highly received, creating a waiting list of supervisors and managers and identified talent to develop into leaders within the company.”
Cartersville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Marc Feuerbach was the next honoree to take the stage.
“Dr. Feuerbach spent his first year in this role focused on building on the system’s solid foundation,” said CBCCOC Board Chair Jayce Stepp. “He shares that ‘Any ideas that we implement, regardless of their innovation or good intentions, will crumble if our foundation is not strong.’”
Stepp cited Feuerbach’s “Capturing Kids’ Hearts” initiative as an example of the innovative programming the award winner is bringing to the local school system. To date, Stepp said more than 150 employees have been trained in the relationship-building curriculum.
“It’s a way to show teachers how to create high-achieving centers of learning by strengthening students’ connectiveness to others through enhancing healthy bonds with their teachers and establishing collaborative agreements of acceptable behavior," he said.
Stepp noted that, while serving as Cartersville High’s principal, the school’s graduation rate increased from 79.1% to 91.6% under Feuerbach’s leadership. He also noted that, upon becoming superintendent, Feuerbach restructured the school system’s organizational chart, placing himself and the school board at the bottom of the pyramid.
“This does not mean that students are calling the day-to-day shots,” Stepp said. “But it helps keep the focus where it should be, on the students and teachers.”
Williams praised award recipient Jessica Mitcham, who has served as the executive director of Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter since 2009, as a passionate and committed social servant.
“As the principal leader of the organization, she works hand-in-hand with the board of directors to secure the present and envision the future,” Williams said. “During her tenure, Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter has grown from serving 23 individuals per day at the Porter Street location to 30, currently.”
With the opening of a new shelter location off Townsley Drive, Williams said the nonprofit anticipates its service numbers increasing to 100 people per day — including about 45 children — by the end of the year.
Williams also brought up the transitional housing program Mitcham kicked off in 2013. Starting with three units, the program will have 13 by the time 2019 concludes, serving about 45 people in total.
And there’s no doubt that Mitcham has succeeded in reaching out to the community.
“Under Jessica’s leadership, fundraising revenue shelter has increased by 340%,” Williams added.
Impact Award recipient Lillie Read has been the director of the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority since 2009.
“In this role, she strives to enhance the downtown streetscape with public art, promote representation and diversity through public projects and offers grants for businesses development,” Stepp said. “She serves on various committees, works to find new funding sources for downtown events and encourages business retention.”
During her tenure in the position, Stepp said downtown Cartersville has experienced a revitalized business improvement district, with an occupancy rate exceeding 90%. He also celebrated Read for her efforts in drawing funding for various projects to the local community.
“Two of her most significant accomplishments include obtaining a Georgia Humanities grant that evolved into the African American Heritage Trail of Bartow County,” he said, “and a Georgia Vibrant Communities grant for public arts that successfully brought three pieces of public sculptures into the downtown district, two of which have been permanently given to the City since that time.”
The final recipient — Tom Shinall, director of development for the Savoy Automobile Museum — can trace his Bartow roots back to the mid-1800s.
“He will be the first to tell you that the legacy comes with responsibility,” Williams said. “He sees it as an honor to uphold and build upon his family’s reputation, and strives to lead with a servant heart.”
Shinall previously served as a marketing director for the Booth Western Art Museum, while the TC Show — a special events company he co-founded alongside Chad Oates in 2002 — was named the Chamber’s Small Business of the Year in 2012.
“I want my service to this community to be felt long after I am gone, to impact the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth generation of Shinalls,” Williams read from the recipient’s awards application. “I may never know the true impact of my service … and I am OK with that, as long as it benefits others for the greater good.”
The special guest speaker at the luncheon was Steve Dennis, founder of Rome-based Motivation Unlimited.
“Success is knowing your purpose in life,” he said. “Success is growing to your maximum potential, but I believe that significance is a little different from success — significance is when you always seize that benefit of the people.”
He spoke about the characteristics that make an individual “a class act,” which he described as any individual who is outstanding or elegant in quality or performance. He encouraged attendees to hold character in high esteem, and to never forget that people matter.
“You know as well as I do that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” he said. “People who are class acts, are they going to have the best clothes? They may not look the best on the outside, but oh, they are strong, they are big on the inside. And I want to challenge each and every one of you as we celebrate our recipients today … to recognize how valuable it is to be bigger on the inside than you are on the outside.”