B U S I N E S S + C U LT U R E 51 Zoe Myers Zoe Myers, executive director of the Cook County Family Connection, has been instrumental in building and directing a collaborative partnership that seeks to positively impact the lives of families needing assistance in Cook County. The collaborative effort involves more than 40 sectors of the community including schools and colleges, child care providers, public agencies, private businesses, healthcare providers, civic clubs, faith- based groups, government agencies, and literacy advocates. Recently the Cook County collaborative group was one of 29 communities in the nation that was recognized by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading with Pacesetter Honors for their work in 2017. “The Pacesetter recognition is a great honor as our partners are working creatively and passionately to improve literacy,” said Myers, who has worked for Cook County Family Connection for almost 20 years. “Our efforts are based on the premise that a child’s potential, imagination, and educational possibilities should never be inequitable because of their geographic location. We are honored to receive this recognition, and it helps to motivate further our community partners to facilitate change.” The collaborative group is a community-based, data-driven effort to identify and address the inequities and barriers that foster poverty and literacy disparities. Outreach projects include the delivery of free fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income children each month and access to free books, educational supplies, and reading materials. The collaborative recently co-hosted a Migrant Family Education Day at a local school, where more than 200 migrant families learned about the services, programs, and educational opportunities available. Francis Lott A lifelong resident of Douglas, Francis Lott was one of eight alumni recognized at this year’s Georgia Tech annual Gold & White Honors Gala. A former chair of the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce and past board member for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Lott has been instrumental in the enhancement of economic growth for Coffee County for several decades. A champion for education, Lott and his wife, Diane, established an endowed scholarship to assist qualified students in attending Georgia Tech. The Francis and Diane Lott Promise Scholarship Endowment gives priority to residents of Coffee County, and then to students from 64 other counties within the South Georgia region. Lott not only provides the financial backing for the scholarship, but he also visits local schools and encourages students to excel in their academic studies, especially within the areas of math and science. Jason Shaw State Representative Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland) helped provide a boost for rural communities throughout Georgia when he introduced legislation that created the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation. The newly formed center, which is housed in Tifton on the campus of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, is charged with being the central resource for research and training on economic development opportunities in rural Georgia. Rep. Shaw serves the citizens of District 176, which includes all of Atkinson and Lanier counties and portions of Lowndes and Ware counties. He currently serves as chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. He also serves on the Economic Development and Tourism; the Game, Fish and Parks; Industry and Labor; and Insurance and Small Business Development committees. Jason Sha w Zoe Myers Francis Lott. Photo Georgia Tech.