About the Leadership Institute

The Leadership Institute is a leadership development program designed to explore the core values Zell Miller felt were essential to becoming a more effective leader and decision maker.

Launched in January 2018, with 40 members in the inaugural class, this nonpartisan program consists of five weekend summits in Athens, Macon, Augusta, Columbus, and Savannah.

2018 Leadership Institute
Featured Topics and Speaker

Athens Summit: Leadership in State Government

  • Charles Bullock, Richard B. Russell Chair in Political Science, University of Georgia
  • Jennifer Frum, Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, University of Georgia
  • Steve Wrigley, Chancellor, University System of Georgia
  • Dubose Porter, Chairman, Democratic Party of Georgia
  • John Watson, Chairman, Republican Party of Georgia
  • State Rep. Robert Trammell
  • State Rep. Terry England
  • State Sen. Butch Miller
  • State Sen. Nan Orrack

Macon Summit: Public Service and the Judiciary

  • Cathy Cox, Dean of Mercer Law and former Georgia Secretary of State
  • Yvette Miller, Presiding Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals
  • Harris Hines, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Tilman E. (Tripp) Self, U.S. District Judge, Middle District of Georgia
  • Verda Colvin, Superior Court Judge, Macon Judicial Circuit

Augusta Summit: Education and Cyber Technology

  • Brooks Keel, President, Augusta University
  • Hardie Davis, Jr., Mayor of Augusta
  • Joanne Sexton, founding Dean of the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences, Augusta University
  • Major Brian Retherford, Director, Cyber Leadership College at Fort Gordon

Columbus Summit: Workforce Development

  • Amy Carter, Deputy Commissioner, Georgia Department of Economic Development
  • Brian Sillitto, Executive Vice President, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce
  • Chris Markwood, President, Columbus State University
  • Lorette Hoover, President, Columbus Technical College
  • Major General Gary M. Brito, Commanding General, U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence
  • Shirley Miller, Former First Lady of Georgia
  • State Rep. Calvin Smyre
  • Teresa Tomlinson, Mayor of Columbus

Savannah Summit: Economic Development

  • Bart Gobeil, Senior Director of Economic Development & Governmental Affairs, Georgia Ports Authority
  • Bryan Miller, Founder and CEO, Zell Miller Foundation
  • Shirley Miller, Former First Lady of Georgia

Class of 2018 Participant Profiles

Casey Altman

State Relations Manager, Office of Government & Community Relations
Georgia Institute of Technology

Casey joined the Georgia Tech Office of Government and Community Relations in May 2013 after graduating from Tech with an undergraduate degree in International Affairs.  In her role she serves as the primary state government liaison for the Institute and manages legislative advocacy initiatives. She is currently completing her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Georgia. Casey is a Georgia-native from Savannah and currently resides in Midtown, Atlanta.

Kristin Bernhard

Deputy Commissioner for System Reform
Georgia Department of Early Care & Learning

In her role as Deputy Commissioner for System Reform, Kristin is responsible for providing leadership and building a high-performance culture for a statewide team of four direct reports and 54 employees with direct oversight of Georgia’s Child Care Resource and Referral agencies, the state’s Early Head Start Child Care Partnership grant, and the state’s Early Education Empowerment Zones. She manages policy development and implementation of Quality Rated, Georgia’s statewide Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS) for child care and early learning programs.                   

Greg Boike

Director of Public Administration
Middle Georgia Regional Commission

Greg Boike joined the Middle Georgia Regional Commission in May 2014, and in August 2016 was promoted to the position of Director of Public Administration. During his tenure, his work has focused on local and regional planning, ordinance development, grant writing, and project management. Prior to joining the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, he held internships with the Georgia Municipal Association, Gwinnett County Government, and the Washington, DC office of Congressman John Lewis. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Geography in 2012 and his Master of Public Administration in 2014, both from the University of Georgia. Greg is a native of Snellville, Georgia and currently resides in Macon.

Anne Brody

Policy Analyst
The Council of State Governments

As a policy analyst for the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments, Anne provides research and policy support to state legislators in 15 Southern states. Her policy purview encompasses issues related to energy, the environment, agriculture and rural development.

Wes Chambers

Realtor and Co-Owner
Chambers Family Enterprises and Dahlonega Country Day Academy

Wes is a graduate of the University of North Georgia, a decorated Marine Corps combat veteran, and an entrepreneur (co-owner of Dahlonega Country Day Academy and Chambers Family Enterprises).  Wes lives in Dahlonega with his wife, Heather, and their three children.

Donovan Eason

Lewis Brisbois

Donavan Eason is an associate in the Atlanta office of Lewis Brisbois. Prior to joining Lewis Brisbois, Donovan served as General Counsel to the Georgia Senate Majority Leader where he drafted and advocated leadership priorities regarding domestic terrorism, access and funding for rural healthcare, as well as regulatory reform. He also clerked for the judges of the 25th Judicial Circuit of Virginia and the Hon. John Ellington of the Georgia Court of Appeals. While in law school, Donavan served as Chair of Washington & Lee’s Moot Court Executive Board and was awarded the Charles V. Laughlin Award for excellence in moot court.

Chris Green

Associate Vice President, External Relations
Georgia Student Finance Commission  

Chris serves as the Associate Vice President of External Relations for the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC). In this role, he is responsible for strengthening and building positive relationships to advance GSFC’s mission to promote and increase access to education beyond high school for Georgians. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Georgia and is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration. Prior to joining GSFC, he served as the Deputy Policy Director for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Dominique Holloman

Chief of Staff
Office of State Representative William K. Boddie, Jr

Dominique is a native of Atlanta. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia and the University of Georgia School of Law. She was recently appointed to the UGA Board of Visitors.

Jamie Jordan

Programs & Business Services Director
Technical College System of Georgia

Jamie Jordan is the Programs & Business Services Director for the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). In this role, he oversees the Programs, Business Services, and Apprenticeship teams in the Office of Workforce Development at TCSG. Previously, Jamie served as the High Demand Career Initiative (HDCI) Program Manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). Managing HDCI from its inception when launched by Governor Deal in 2014, Jamie actualized the governor’s vision of an initiative to make Georgia’s workforce and education efforts cooperatively more responsive to private sector demands.                      

Tyler Mashburn

Legislative Liaison
Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts

Tyler currently works on behalf of the judicial branch as an advocate for its interests under the Gold Dome. Tyler has always embraced leadership opportunities whether those be in social/professional organizations, college student government, or as president of the Student Bar Association at Mercer Law. The Miller Leadership Academy has been a tremendous experience and has presented an incredible opportunity to work with and learn from others who are likewise committed to making Georgia better.

Liz McLean

City Manager
City of McRae-Helena

Liz has worked in local government for ten years serving as the City Manager of McRae-Helena for four years. She is a proud graduate of the University of Georgia and is currently completing the the Masters of Public Administration program at Valdosta State University. Liz also serves her community as a firefighter with the McRae-Helena Firefighters Association.

Brad Mock

Deputy Director of Government Affairs
Georgia Association of REALTORS 

Brad is a graduate of the University of West Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Masters of Public Administration with a Public Policy Focus. Since December 2014, he has served as the Deputy Directors of Government Affairs for the Georgia Association of REALTORS. Previously, Brad worked as the Georgia Republican Party Field Representative and as the Secretary of the Senate Aide for the 2014 Legislative Session.

Michael Nix

Executive Director
Georgia Emergency Communications Authority

Michael is the Executive Director of the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority at GEMA/HS which has jurisdiction over 911, FirstNet, land mobile radio interoperability, and emergency communications for the State of Georgia. He previously served as the local government liaison and deputy director of executive appointments in the Office of Governor Nathan Deal.

Kyle Owenby

Assistant District Attorney
Bibb County District Attorney’s Office 

Kyle is a prosecutor in the Property Division, where he seeks justice for citizens and businesses who have been victims of thefts, burglaries, and criminal damage to their property.

Jessica S. Sills

Guidance Counselor
Jasper County High School

Jessica Sills is a counselor at Jasper County High School in Monticello. At JCHS, her responsibilities include overseeing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, increasing awareness of college & financial aid programs, helping students with education, social, and emotional issues to become high achieving adults, and many more. She previously held the same position at Jackson County Comprehensive High School in Jefferson. Jessica holds a BA from Clemson University and a M.Ed. from the University of Georgia College of Education.

Taylor R. Sills

Director of Public Affairs
Georgia Cotton Commission

Taylor Sills is the Director of Public Affairs of the Georgia Cotton Commission. At the commission, he oversees the promotional and educational programs, which are designed to increase awareness of cotton as a fiber and food crop and display its importance as a commodity in Georgia’s diverse agricultural economy. Before joining the GCC team, he held positions at Georgia Farm Bureau, working with young farmers and in feedgrain and oilseed commodity programs. Taylor holds degrees from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and the University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.

Zachary Earl Tumlin

Owner, Tumlin Law Group
Proprietor, Tumlin House – Dahlonega

Zack Tumlin is northeast Georgia native practicing law on the historic Dahlonega Square. He and his wife are raising a beautiful little girl named Tallye Kate, and they are engaged in land planning and development in their spare time. Zack is an advocate of moderation in politics and is active in community outreach