Raising a family and building a business from his hometown, University of Georgia alumnus Jimmy Allgood feels an obligation to give back to Dublin, Georgia, and communities like it across Georgia.
“I grew up in Dublin, went to UGA, came back, raised a family, opened a business and became more successful as we went along, and I just feel a real obligation to help the community,” Allgood said. “My wife, Kathy, and I never left, nor will we ever leave. Our children have moved, but they really appreciate Dublin and that’s important. I feel like all of us really have an obligation to give back to where we come from.”
Following through on that commitment, Allgood has held numerous leadership roles and invested time and resources in Dublin and throughout Georgia.
Giving back in rural Georgia does not just build stronger communities, Allgood said, it can build a stronger state.
“You can do things and try things in rural Georgia sometimes that you can’t do in Atlanta,” Allgood said. “Everybody talks about what Atlanta can do for rural Georgia, but rural Georgia can do things for Atlanta too.”
Among those ideas is the piloting of innovative new projects in leadership development in rural Georgia through the Innovations in Community Leadership (ICLI) at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. Supported by a lead gift from the Allgood family and donations from members of the Fanning Institute Advisory Board, eight new projects are being implemented in organizations or communities that do not have the resources or technical expertise to sustain effective leadership programming.
Developing leaders takes on a particular importance in rural Georgia, Allgood said.
“When you live, work or own a business in a small community, you have to contribute more and you have more opportunities to contribute whereas in a larger city, you usually end up in a particular lane,” he explained. “Also, it isn’t just about being part of a local government or on a board. Those communities have service organizations, churches and clubs that all need people ready and able to step into leadership roles and rural areas.”
Communities and individuals who see that as an opportunity and take advantage of it can thrive, Allgood said.
“What excites me about the Innovations in Community Leadership Initiative is creating programs, particularly in some rural areas, that will continue year after year,” he said. “These programs will grow, more people will participate and you’ll begin to see a culture of leadership develop.”
Furthermore, the Fanning Institute and UGA are particularly equipped to support these communities’ efforts, Allgood added.
“Fanning is the leadership institute at the state’s flagship land-grant institution,” he said. “Along with that, Public Service and Outreach and UGA tie everything together and work together so well to help communities in so many ways. I think this is just the beginning and this work will help make Georgia a better state.”
Work is already underway on the inaugural ICLI projects. A second round of projects will be chosen in 2021.