The Cobb Chamber’s Area Councils and the local business associations have selected their 2023 Citizens of the Year and Businesses/Members of the Year to honor those who have made our community a better place in which to live and work. The awards were announced recently for the following communities:
Acworth Citizen of the Year: Bertha Nelson. Nelson, the Principal of Acworth Elementary School, has been passionate about serving students and families in the City of Acworth for nearly a decade. Dedicated to student success, and business and community partnerships, Nelson works tirelessly to ensure all Acworth students can succeed. She works closely with the Acworth Elementary math team and advanced content classes to promote critical and creative thinking, advanced research skills, and accelerated academics.
Nelson has created a school environment that is focused on student success and supported by strong parent and community relationships. She works closely with local businesses, churches, and members of the community to provide opportunities and experiences for Acworth students that foster positive relationships that benefit the school and the surrounding community. Organizations she has volunteered with include MUST Ministries, Piedmont Church, and Acworth Elementary School Food Pantry.
Austell Citizen of the Year: Delores Powell. Powell is Founder and Executive Director of the Cool Kids Committee. The mission of the Cool Kids Committee, (Courageous Outspoken Outgoing Leaders Kind Independent Determined) Inc. is to positively influence the lives of at-risk youth through a Gang and Bullying Prevention Program by uniquely bridging partnerships with local law enforcement, schools, community leaders, and parents to build a sense of awareness, love, and unity through communication and social interaction.
Powell has a heart for all young people, believing that all deserve a fair chance at life and can recover from difficulties to prosper and grow into fine, upstanding, contributing individuals. Over her 20 years in Cobb, Powell has continuously contributed to the wellbeing of the Austell community through her servitude and dedication.
East Cobb Citizen of the Year: Irene Barton. Irene Barton is Executive Director of Cobb Collaborative. She works every day to ensure that the East Cobb community is a wonderful place to live, work, and play. Since becoming the Executive Director in September 2018, she has quadrupled the organization’s budget through earned income, grants, donors and sponsorships; launched the Connecting Cobb Veterans program; established key partnerships with local organizations; brought critical mental health, suicide prevention, and trauma-credentialed training to over 4,000 individuals through the Mind Your Mind mental health awareness campaign; distributed over 8,300 books to children; and installed over 50 Little Free Libraries across the county and grown the membership from 78 to 125.
Kennesaw’s Citizen of the Year is Allison Giddens. Giddens is the Co-President for Win-Tech, an aerospace precision machine shop. She is actively involved in local workforce development and industry groups, including Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board, Leadership Cobb Alumni Association, LiveSafe Resources, Women in Manufacturing, National Tooling & Machining Association, and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance.
As the Founder and Executive Director of the Dave Krache Foundation, she and her board of directors have helped hundreds of kids in the Kennesaw community be able to participate in sports activities by helping to cover of the costs of registration fees and equipment costs. She has volunteered with the City of Kennesaw’s Grand Prix 5K race series as both a race director and Grand Prix Series Director helping non-profits raise money for their various causes.
Mableton Citizen of the Year: Dr. Christopher Boyd. Boyd is General Manager at Riverside EpiCenter, a 113,000-square-foot multi-function/multi-purpose facility owned by Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral, constructed to promote the balance of life in service to the Mableton/Austell community and beyond. Dr. Boyd is a tremendous community partner and advocate for the residents of the Mableton community. For the past several years, he has expanded the services offered at the EpiCenter to make it a hub in South Cobb. For example, he has launched a business incubator space and hosted countless business and community groups regardless of their ability to pay.
Marietta’s Citizen of the Year is Bonnie Buckner Reavis. Reavis is the owner of The Brickyard, a special event venue on the Marietta Square that launched in 2010. She is also the founder of the marketing and advertising firm Zenith Design Group, named one of Atlanta’s Top Ten Fastest Growing Woman-Owned Firms, a Top 25 Small Business of the Year by the Cobb Chamber and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and a two-time recipient of the Business Community Service Award by Georgia Trend. In 2018, Reavis opened The Loft, a fine art gallery and event space on the Marietta Square.
She serves as Executive Director of the Marietta Arts Council, a nonprofit group working to enrich the artistic and cultural landscape of the City of Marietta through advocacy, education, and public art. A graduate of Berry College, she has been inducted into the Academy of Women Leaders, and is a graduate of Leadership Cobb Class of 2010, and co-chaired the Class of 2015. Reavis was honored with the Ernest Barrett Award during her class year in Leadership Cobb. The Ernest Barrett Award is selected at the conclusion of each class year by the co-chairs for personal extra effort and commitment to excellence as a participant in the program.
Powder Springs Citizen of the Year, Laurie Wong, is Founder & Executive Director of Reflections of Trinity, an organization that serves families in need and combats hunger in the community through service and education. Every weekend she serves more than 350 families with healthy food and necessary supplies. She and her team of 22 employees manage the daily operations of Reflections of Trinity and have served 13 million pounds of food to more than 500,000 individuals in need.
For the past 20 years, Wong has faithfully served communities within and around Powder Springs as a provider of resources to families facing crisis. Her entrepreneurial spirit, her visionary leadership, and her heart of service are reflected in the charity organization she founded more than two decades ago.
Smyrna’s Citizen of the Year, Eric Homansky, is a teacher at Teasley Elementary School. He has been teaching in the Cobb County School District for 22 years. In addition to teaching, he owns two Smyrna-based small businesses, Way2Play Sports and FNA Flag Football. Homansky volunteers his time as a coach with Smyrna Little League, NASA TopHat Soccer, and the Kyle Pease Foundation. When not running around fields, he enjoys spending time with his family, staying active, being outdoors, cheering for the New York Mets, and assisting the efforts of the Support Smyrna Board of Directors. Homansky has been a proud resident of Smyrna since 2003 where he lives with his wife, Kristy; two sons, Benjamin and Andrew; and their dog, Frankie.
West Cobb Citizen of the Year: Joy Doss. Joy Doss, attorney with The Doss Firm LLC, is an unsung hero who is constantly working behind the scenes to serve others. Joy currently serves on the board of directors for the Center for Family Resources, as Vice President of the Cobb Schools Foundation, and former Chair and Officer of the Board for Marietta Mentoring for Leadership. She is an active member of Marietta Kiwanis and has served on multiple committees across local non-profits, such as the Center for Family Resources Silent Auction and Thanks For Giving initiative, Communities in Schools of Georgia, Cobb/Marietta Adult Spelling Bee, LiveSafe Resources Que & Brew as Volunteer Coordinator Co-Chair, Kiwanis Veterans Day Parade & Ceremony Co-Chair, and the Marietta MDE School’s Silent Auction. Doss is also an active alumna of Leadership Cobb Class of 2023.
Business Association Awards
Acworth Business Association’s 2023 Person of the Year is Bob Brooks. Brooks almost single-handedly initiated the ABA Outreach program, providing a vital avenue for both the ABA and the Acworth community to engage in meaningful acts of service. Under Bob’s leadership, the Outreach program has become a beacon of hope, offering support and assistance to those in need. One of his remarkable achievements was the facilitation of the cleanup and repair of a home, providing solace to a family coping with the tragic loss of a child to suicide. His compassion and dedication have made a lasting impact on the lives of those facing adversity.
Brooks’ commitment to community service extends beyond the ABA Outreach program. As a volunteer, coach, and buddy, he actively participates in fundraising for Horizon special needs sports teams, embodying the spirit of inclusivity and support for everyone in the community.
Kennesaw Business Association’s Business of the Year is Forks & Flavors. Owners David Willmott & Darnell Morgan took KBA by storm. As brand new 2023 members, they hit the ground with passion and enthusiasm that is rarely encountered from new members. Their participation and sponsorship in events were immediate and their involvement within the Kennesaw community was impressive. Fun & excellence are synonymous terms that define Forks & Flavors
Kennesaw Business Association’s Member of the Year is Brent Rittersdorf. He has been active with the KBA for over 10 years and has been a member of the KBA board for the past two years. Rittersdorf is the chairperson for Wake Up KBA and has grown that segment to new levels of success. He is the managing broker for High Caliber Realty and past president of the Marietta Business Association.
The Marietta Business Association gives out awards for member and business of the year to recognize the contribution and dedication of that member or business to the association. “As it is a hard choice with all the great members and businesses out there that are involved, we vote as a board of directors on making this decision for the year,” says MBA President Michelle Garland, Biltmore Insurance Services. This year, the MBA chose the President’s Choice Award recognizing a member for their overall dedication and contribution to the MBA.
The MBA recognized the following members and businesses: Zach Hiatt with Modern Woodmen is Member of the Year, LGE is Business of the Year, and Akella Clore with Kolorful Kreations is the President’s Choice Award winner. “These three have gone above and beyond for Marietta Business Association for being involved and contributing to our association at a high level,” Garland says. “We thank them for what they have done in my year of Perseverance as President in 2023.”
West Cobb Business Association’s Business of the Year is Aflac Independent Agent Jennifer Carnahan. Carnahan is the current WCBA Education Director and has been a benefits counselor for more than 15 years.
West Cobb Business Association’s Member of the Year is Wayne Newland, President of Lighthouse Investment Advisors, Inc. Newland enjoys helping his clients organize their financial lives. His company provides the families and businesses it serves with innovative financial strategies, solutions, and planning that result in financial clarity, security, and overall financial health.