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Lessons in Leadership

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Lessons in Leadership

The President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program is excited to host a new speaker series called “Lessons in Leadership.” This inaugural series featured three individuals who are making a positive impact in the community. The purpose of the program is to gain perspectives from individuals with different personal and professional backgrounds and experiences on what they have learned in their journeys about the power of influence, character, overcoming obstacles, making change, failure, success and more. 

Lessons in Leadership lectures were open to the GSW community and public with each program beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Jackson Hall Auditorium of the GSW campus. 

Fall 2023 Lessons in Leadership Speaker Series

Christopher Mitchell

Christopher Mitchell

GSW Class of ’85 alumni and former President Carter Aide

Christopher Mitchel, GSW Class of ’85, lives in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. He served as a personal aide to President Jimmy Carter from 1986 – 1995 and currently assists with Carter Center various projects. Examples of Christopher’s service to President Carter and The Carter Center are:

  • Overseeing the replication of The Oval Office for the Museum of the Jimmy Carter Library;
  • Serving as the Director of Correspondence for President Carter;
  • Personal aide on overseas travels to Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, England. These trips related to eradicating Guinea Worm disease, stopping the Ethiopian civil war, and helping poor farmers grow their food more efficiently.  Also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with the Carter Family in Tanzania and went on safaris with them.
  • Liaison with The Atlanta Project, a Carter Center program to empower inner-city low-income families.

Jess Sinclair, MPA, PMP, SHRM-SCP

Jess Sinclair, MPA, PMP, SHRM-SCP

Founder and CEO of J. Nicole Sinclair LLC. “Reset with Jess”

Minister Jess is a graduate of Florida State University where she earned a master’s degree in public administration with a specialization in non-profit management and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Sociology. She is a certified project management professional (PMP) and Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources (SHRM-SCP).

Jess made Americus her home in 2016. In that time, she has served as the Director of Sumter County Family Connection, Senior Specialist in Women Build at Habitat for Humanity International, and adjunct English Instructor at South Georgia Technical College, while honing her expertise in management, operations, and human resources.

Her local service has included the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army, the Advisory Council of the Youth Detention Center, and the Judicial Review Citizens Panel for Juvenile Dependency Court, Ignite Workforce Needs and Curriculum Committee where she assisted in the development of the Statewide Entrepreneurship Pathway, volunteer for the Sumter Area Ministerial Association, Facilitator for the Chamber Champion Youth Leadership Program.

She serves on the Board of Directors of the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce and in 2021 she became the first African American elected as Board Chair in the 100-year history of the organization. Jess is also a graduate of South Georgia LEADS (2021), and South Georgia LEADS 2.0 (2022).

She is an entrepreneur and owner of J. Nicole Sinclair LLC, a consulting company offering solutions in project management, operations, human resources, and personal and professional development to organizations and individuals.

She is also the founder of Jess By Faith, Inc. a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and investing in positive outcomes for girls and women. Her first "Girl, You Are ENOUGH! Conference", launched on July 22nd in Americus and was held on the GSW campus.

Jess is a licensed minister serving at The Restoration Church of Americus, Inc. under the leadership of Senior Pastor, Overseer Caleb R. Edge in the areas of wellness and recovery, outreach to girls, youth ministry, logistics, and planning. She teaches Bible study and sings with the praise and worship team. She is currently a student in the Master of Divinity Program at Columbia International University, with a focus on Ministry Studies. Her scriptures of study and reflection are currently Isaiah Chapters 43 & 54.

A creative at heart, Jess enjoys writing, singing, teaching, and reading. She spends her spare time coming up with recipes and designs for her new line of pet treats and apparel and cuddling with her two fur babies, Myles and Shayla. She is the mother of one daughter--a music and sound design graduate of the City University of New York who lives in Los Angeles, California. 


MeriBeth Davis McNeill

MeriBeth Davis McNeill

Owner & Operator Americus Chick-fil-A

MeriBeth Davis McNeill lives on the family farm in Americus, where her husband is the 7th generation farmer of McNeill men to row crop this land.  She met her husband, Jess, on a blind date while attending UGA.  They have 3 rambunctious boys: John Davis, Duncan, and Coop.  When MeriBeth is not chasing her boys or selling chicken, she enjoys riding her Peloton or going to the lake…  Lake Hartwell of course, where she grew up.

MeriBeth began working as a team member at one of the Athens Chick-fil-A locations in 2008.  She intended to enroll in medical school upon completion of her undergrad, but fell in love with her part-time job selling chicken.  After graduating from UGA, she joined the staff at the corporate headquarters of Chick-fil-A in Atlanta.  It didn’t take long for her to realize she missed being in the restaurant.  So, she went back and learned as much as she could about the business before becoming an owner/operator.  MeriBeth opened the Cordele Chick-fil-A in January of 2013, leaving almost 10 years later to open the current Americus location in November of 2022.

MeriBeth loves being a Chick-fil-A operator, and honoring the legacy of its founder, Truett Cathy.  Her favorite part of her operator role is truly getting to make a difference EVERY day.  She is passionate about serving guests, and developing team members to be the best they can become.  When asked to sum up her life’s mission in one word, she simply says to SPILLjoy!