For 40 years, Louise Hill has dedicated her life to developing leaders of all ages in communities of all sizes across Georgia.
“Since J.W. Fanning himself, no single individual has focused their life’s work solely on developing community leaders more than Louise Hill,” says Matt Bishop, director of the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. “There are very few community leadership programs in Georgia that do not have Louise’s fingerprints on them.”
Hill’s career as senior public service faculty at the Fanning Institute and UGA came to a close with her retirement on Oct. 1.
A 1979 UGA graduate, Hill began her career with the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation, where she developed leadership programs for youth, women and ultimately all of Farm Bureau’s constituents. In 1996, she returned to UGA to serve as director of development and alumni relations for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Then in 2003, Hill joined the faculty at the Fanning Institute and for the last 16 years, she has guided the institute’s community leadership programming.
“I don’t think anyone exhibits the principles of leadership that Dr. Fanning gave us more than Louise Hill,” says Jimmy Allgood, chair of the Fanning Institute Advisory Board. “Louise has been instrumental at the Fanning Institute and is a driving force for our advisory board.”
J.W. Fanning was UGA’s first vice president for services, a position he held from 1965 until he retired in 1971.
Hill has worked in most of Georgia’s 159 counties to establish leadership programs, translating into thousands of Georgians assuming community and civic leadership roles.
“Louise always made everyone in the room feel on the same level playing field while encouraging each one in their greatness and value,” says Kristie Rucker, co-chair for Leadership Hart in Hart County. “She is one of a kind.”
Carol Tyger, chairperson for Leadership Dawson in Dawson County, says she knew Hill was special from the moment they first worked together.
“Each time she either facilitated a session for our class or when I spoke to her at the leadership conference, I appreciated her even more,” Tyger says. “I’d be talking away, asking her opinion, and I could see her eyes twinkling as she got ready to put a positive twist on my dilemma. What a shining jewel she has been for the Fanning Institute.”
Along with developing community leadership programs, Hill helped develop the institute’s regional leadership programming and specialized leadership programs, such as the Public Health Leadership Academy, in partnership with the UGA College of Public Health.
“Louise was one of the first people I met when I took on the role of program coordinator for Leadership Dalton-Whitfield County,” says Phyllis Stephens, chief operating officer for the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, who has worked with Hill on both community and regional leadership programming. “She guided me in this role and I consider her a mentor and a friend. She has pushed me out of my comfort zone when needed, and she has been my ‘go to’ person for advice and ideas.”
Hill also contributed to leadership development on the UGA campus, serving as lead faculty for the Vivian H. Fisher Public Service and Outreach Leadership Academy. In 2011, she received the Walter Barnard Hill Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach from UGA Public Service and Outreach.
“It is often said in the workplace that everybody is replaceable, but I think everyone would concur that Louise Hill is absolutely irreplaceable for her contributions to the institute and UGA and for her very real and sustained impact on people in communities throughout Georgia,” says Jennifer Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “If you lined up those she’s positively affected shoulder to shoulder, they would stretch all across the state.”
To continue her leadership development work, the Fanning Institute has established the Louise Hill Community Leadership Development Fund.
Through this fund, the Fanning Institute will work with communities that are underserved in leadership development because of a lack of resources to create, restart and/or revamp adult and youth community leadership development programs.
“With this fund, we want to focus attention on those places where, with a little bit of seed corn, we can help cultivate new leaders, which we all know is a cornerstone to community and economic vitality,” Bishop says. “We’re setting up this fund to continue the legacy that Louise forged for us at the Fanning Institute and throughout Georgia.”
To donate to the Louise Hill Community Leadership Development Fund, make a check payable to the UGA Foundation (note “Louise Hill Fund” in memo) and mail to:
J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development
1240 South Lumpkin Street
Athens, GA 30602
Donations to the fund can also be made online at www.fanning.uga.edu/give.
Writer: Charlie Bauder, firstname.lastname@example.org, 706-542-7039