Since its founding in 1919, the State YMCA of Georgia has served more than 1,000,000 teens through its programs. We are proud of our history and of the incredible leaders that our alumni has grown up to become. Whether they are leaders in their industry, members of the state legislature or Congress, or community leaders, our alumni shine as stars in the work they do. In 2012, we started the Alumni of the Year Award to be presented each year to those Alums who have noteworthy achievements. Previous recipients are listed below.
2012 Robert McGaughey
Bob spent his entire career of 40+ years working within the YMCA movement. Places he served include Tennessee, South Dakota, and he retired as CEO of the Montgomery YMCA in Alabama. During his career, Bob was instrumental in starting and growing a number of Youth and Government programs across the nation.
2013 U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson
Senator Isakson attended the 1953 Youth Assembly as a member of the press corps. He has often said that this program was very influential in his decision to run for office. Prior to his run for Congress, Isakson served in the state legislature.
2014 Beth Yearwood Bernard and Trisha Yearwood
The Yearwood sisters were very involved in the "Y" Club program at Piedmont Academy, both serving as officers--and eventually as Club president. Both recall fondly their times at Youth Assembly and at Rock Eagle for Youth Training Conference. Trisha is an award winning Country Music artist. Beth and Trisha have several cookbooks and can often be found together on their show on the Food Network.
2015 Bill Crane
Bill began his career in broadcasting, and later served in senior communications staff positions under Georgia's Gold Dome as well as on Capitol Hill, working for two U.S. Senators and one Governor, in both major political parties. Crane also has significant economic development experience, serving as Vice-President of Marketing and Communications for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce during Atlanta's Olympic years. During the past decade, Crane was a Senior Vice President with the GCI Group, a global public relations firm, where he helmed client engagements for AFLAC, Cousins Properties, Deloitte Consulting, InterContinental Hotels Group and Johnson & Johnson among others. Since the 2000 Presidential Election, Crane has become one of the southeast’s most visible political analysts and commentators, first with 11Alive News, Atlanta's NBC affiliate, and now Channel 2’s WSB-TV Action News. Crane added radio in 2006, since providing commentary for WSB-AM News/Talk 750 and now 95.5 FM. In 2008, Crane began a weekly political column, carried initially by The Champion, DeKalb County’s legal organ, and in 2010 a monthly column in Georgia Trend. Crane’s analysis is also regularly contributed seen Georgia Public Television, “The Lawmakers,” CNN International and AlJazeera English. Crane is a graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia. He remains an avid Bulldog fan, and the proud father of two daughters. Crane lives in Scottdale, Georgia.
2015 Kelvin Walker
W. Kelvin Walker is a Managing Director at RLJ Equity Partners, a private equity fund with over $230 million under management. RLJ Equity Partners is a middle-market private equity firm focused on generating long-term capital appreciation by investing in profitable and growing businesses led by strong management teams. Founded in 2006 by Robert L. Johnson and The Carlyle Group, RLJ invests in traditional buy-outs, recapitalizations, and growth capital infusions. Mr. Walker joined RLJ Equity Partners in 2015, opening a Dallas office for the firm. Prior to RLJ, he served as the Managing Partner of 21st Century Group, a lower middle-market private equity firm with $166 million of assets under management, where he was responsible for originating, structuring, executing and monitoring the firm’s investments. Prior to that, Mr. Walker was Vice President at Bank of America. Mr. Walker serves as a director of Spencer Enterprises and Modulant. Mr. Walker earned his B.A. degree from More-house College in 1984 where he graduated with honors. He received his MBA in 1986 from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University and was a Johnson & Johnson Fellow. He is a native of Griffin, GA and was active in the Y Clubs in junior high and high school. He served as Youth Governor of Georgia during the 1979-80 school year. Mr. Walker has been active in the Dallas community for over 15 years and is currently on the board of directors for the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas where he serves as Vice Chairman; Methodist Dallas Health System; The Dallas Foundation Board of Governors; and The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Business Community Advisory Council.
2016 Irene Munn
In her role as legislative counsel Irene serves as the legal advisor to the Lt. Governor, ethics officer, and provides valuable expertise during the legislative session. As Policy Director she oversees the advocacy of legislation championed by the Lt. Governor and assists with the implementation of the Lt. Governor’s initiatives throughout state agencies. Her main policy areas are education, healthcare, public safety and the courts.
Irene has worked for Lt. Governor Cagle since his election in 2006. She came to the office with 18 years of political and legal experience. She served as an Assistant District Attorney for Douglas Judicial Circuit, Douglas County Georgia. In that role she also served as legislative advisor to the Georgia District Attorneys’ Association. Prior to the completion of law school, she served as Director of Public Affairs for the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association. Irene is a graduate of Cartersville High School, where she participated in our programs, the University of Georgia and Georgia State University College of Law.