Building Our Community Together

I grew up in a small town in Kentucky, where most people farmed or worked at the local clothing factory. Over the years, it became difficult to make a living on a family farm. So, some did both just to get by.

Then the factories closed.

I watched as my small but thriving hometown shrank dramatically.

Many of the downtown businesses have closed. Now, only one small grocery store remains, and so my mother travels longer distances to a larger store that carries more of what she needs.

I know that is part of the reason Dalton State College was established in this community. Community leaders in the 1960s did not want to see Dalton, or Northwest Georgia, suffer a similar, seemingly irreversible, decline.

We do more than prepare graduates for their careers. We impact this community in many other ways, too.

Colleges ensure a presence of young people, who are more likely to settle in the area where they attend college. This cycle of renewed youth helps the community continue to grow. I am so proud to see our students and graduates employed in the Dalton/Whitfield County or Northwest Georgia areas.

A college attracts employees to our community. Our faculty and staff live near the college and raise families here, contributing to the economy and the successes of our local schools.

We value community service and believe in the work of nonprofits and other schools in our region. Our employees and students spend time engaged in service activities with those organizations.

Many of our students work with nonprofits as part of their educational experience, whether as part of their required curriculum or as a volunteer. We know how impactful hands-on learning is and how beneficial these experiences are to our students and the organizations.

Our employees serve as volunteers in their children’s schools and with other nonprofits, as well. They want to support and live in a thriving community.

For several years, I have served on local boards including the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia and the Greater Dalton Chamber Executive Board. Most recently, I transitioned into the role of board chair for the chamber. A college president has a very full plate already, but I engage in these community boards and other activities because I want to give back to the community that supports our college and because the success of our community impacts the success of our college.

As we recruit employees and students to Dalton State, these prospects consider the location and the offerings in the surrounding community.

First, they look at the campus. Is it attractive? Is it safe? Is it welcoming? Next, they focus on the community around the campus. Is it safe to go downtown at night? Are there fun things to do in the evenings and weekends? Are there opportunities for my spouse and children? Can I find an affordable home that suits my needs? Are the local stores able to provide my routine needs?

I think we can check most of these boxes, and we are working as a community to address those in need of improvement.

I am very proud of the progress I have witnessed in our community in the (nearly seven) years I have been here. There are fun new businesses for a variety of interests and ages. We are addressing areas of blight and picking up trash from our roadsides. We have services for families who need support to meet their basic needs. We are volunteering additional assistance for our local schools with serving at-risk students.

We enjoy an unusually high level of philanthropy in this community for these organizations that make our community better, including Dalton State. Our annual Giving Day is just around the corner on Thursday, Oct. 21. If you are interested in supporting us, visit

There are many people in this community who are making a difference. I am proud “Dalton” is part of our college’s name and we are located in such a welcoming, safe community that cares about others. I can’t wait to see what comes next!