Brasstown 2015: The sun sets on another great GEAC Conference!

The sun sets on another great GEAC Conference!

Inspirational and entertaining keynotes, provocative track sessions and special recognition for two longtime volunteers highlighted the 2015 GEAC Annual Conference, presented by SunTrust and Mauldin & Jenkins.

Nearly 150 advancement professionals – including 38 first-time attendees – gathered Nov. 18-20 at Brasstown Valley Resport & Spa for the three-day conference. Attendees represented a cross-section of higher education in Georgia, hailing from more than 40 different public and private colleges, universities and technical colleges.

The conference got off to a rousing start with a new welcome dinner and team trivia competition on Wednesday night. A full day of track sessions followed Thursday, punctuated by an inspirational keynote address by award-winning educator Kim Bearden, co-founder and executive director of Atlanta’s Ron Clark Academy.

Later Thursday, GEAC honored the best and brightest among Georgia’s higher education advancement community with presentation of the 2015 GEAC Awards. This year’s honorees included Dr. Tom Jackson, who was presented with GEAC’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his many years of distinguished service to his alma mater, the University of Georgia. Also notable are his contributions to GEAC, including the many years he served as treasurer on the volunteer Board of Directors.

“We do what we do because we make a difference,” said Jackson, recently appointed heritage communications executive for the University System of Georgia. "In a profession like this, you make a difference in other people's lives."

Other 2015 GEAC Award recipients included:

  • Outstanding Newcomer: Sarah Dunlap, University of North Georgia
  • Advancement Services: Bonnie Martin, Valdosta State University
  • Communications/Marketing: Stephen Snyder, Georgia Southwestern University
  • Institutional Excellence: Georgia Southern University

The awards banquet also provided the perfect opportunity to honor Frank Hook’s many years of steadfast service as GEAC’s sponsorship chair. Fittingly, the new Annual Conference Scholarship Program – awarded to two individuals in its inaugural year – has been named for the man whose tireless cultivation and stewardship of new and existing sponsors helped to make it possible. In honor of the occasion, Hook – who is lovingly known as “The Mayor” by his many GEAC friends – was presented with a special bobble-head doll bearing his unmistakable likeness.

“My life is better because of the people in this room,” said Hook, perfectly expressing the essence of the organization to which he has devoted so much time and energy. “And I’ve developed friendships that will be with me for a lifetime.”

Friday brought another round of track sessions followed by an entertaining closing keynote by Jason Rollins, manager of corporate communications for Arby’s Restaurant Group.

The GEAC Board of Directors offers special thanks to Conference Planning Chair Amy Lancaster, Awards Committee Chair Frank Pritchett, 2015 GEAC President Wendell Tompkins and the many volunteers who made this year's conference such a tremendous success. We’re also grateful for the friendship and support provided by our generous sponsors.

Mark your calendars now for the 2016 GEAC Summer Conference, to be held July 21-22 at LaGrange College, and the 2016 Annual Conference, which will return to Savannah on Nov. 16-18. If you're interested in serving on the planning committee for the Annual Conference, please contact GEAC President-Elect Stephen Snyder at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

2015 GEAC Award Recipients (from left): Stephen Snyder, Bonnie Martin, Tom Jackson, Sarah Dunlap and Salinda Arthur (representing Georgia Southern University).