A last minute invitation from Savannah Jaycees’ Steven Williams landed me at the Courtyard Savannah Downtown / Historic District for the introduction of ? LeAndrea Mikell at the Georgia Jaycees annual year-end convention on January 22.
Let me start at the beginning. I met LeAndrea when she was an intern at Savannah Master Calendar, followed her to Small Business Assistance Corporation, referred her to Savannah Morning News, screamed with pride as she made the drive across the big bridge to the World Trade Center Savannah before landing her dream job at Savannah State University as Executive Director of Governmental Relations and Community Engagement; Needless to say, I’ve been cheering for this amazing woman since the day we met in 2013.
Knowing that LeAndrea was inaugurated as the first African-American president of the Georgia Jaycees made me sidestep my original plans, as there was no way I wouldn’t see her before this monumental event. And if you know LeAndrea, you know she’s late for her own ceremony!
Not too late is the most visible guy in town, Richard Sanders! I walk past him as he holds the courthouse in the lobby with his fellow Jaycees, and go to an awards ceremony to meet the local Jaycees Dan Kamykowski and current president Hillary Bradbury. The petite brunette tells me she’s proud of how they continued their momentum and got creative in how they achieved our numbers and our community.
Next up is the genius of the videographer Tyler Edic and fellow New York native Colin Brady. As I talk to Tyler about his podcast, guitar playing and his dog Lilly, followed by Colin about his love for the South and our kindness, I find out I’m speaking to the most eligible singles in town!
My next Jaycees member is Zerik Examples. The CEO of Habitat for Humanity is rushing me to finish interviewing people so I don’t hold up his timeline! I hurry, but since I’m talking to his fiancée Alexis Burkes about how they “meet with Armstrong when I was a sophomore and he was senior and reconnected ten years later” – I guess he won’t mind.
Hoping to hear the makings of Hallmark’s love story, I chat with the practice manager at the CASE Veterinary Clinic about her November wedding plans, her involvement with the Young Black Professionals Group and the Georgia Southern Armstrong Campus Young Alumni Board, and then ask how the two of them have time to see each other, because Zerik is busier than me!
Speaking of busy – The Dive Savannah is catering tonight! Bumped into Savannah Market last year, Kristy Crill and her team have stepped into the role of rescuer for the homeless and our veterans. Every catering function and home delivered meal supports her mission of outreach and I cannot express how much I admire the genuine dedication this woman and her family have for those in need.
Standing next to a lovely looking buffer, Kristy’s daughter Susannah hug me hello while their Outreach Coordinator Jeremy Minton introduce me to new team member John Reuter. Delighted when Susannah tells me there will be a quiche, soup, and chai tea Monday morning, I skip a photo of Danielle Vis, George Seaborough and Jo Hannah Burch.
I love Jo Hannah’s energy and talk to the Jaycees secretary about life as a single in her hometown, her job with Hunter Maclean and her boxing obsession, then turn to get an update on George. Always up for a photo, I learn that the executive director of Chatham Savannah Citizen Advocacy is a billiards fan, a graduate of Savannah High School, former chef and supporter of LeAndrea.
Sitting next to us is another LeAndrea fan, 5th District County Commissioner Tanya Milton. I have loved her red hair, big smile and amazing personality for the past twenty years, I promise to send her all my pictures tonight because now is the time we have all been waiting for!
Amid cheers, claps and screams, outgoing Georgia president Jaycees Lee Snow announces LeAndrea as the 2022 state president. LeAndrea raises her right hand, promising to “empower members with professional development and leadership opportunities while making friends and making a positive impact in our communities.”
In Savannah, since 1942, this international group of men and women between the ages of 21 and 40 has lived by a creed in God, brotherhood of men, free enterprise, and that service to humanity is the best work of life. Can’t wait to see where LeAndrea leads this thriving nonprofit and I’m confident the world will be a better place with her leading the way!