LaDonnah Roberts Chosen to Serve as Deputy Executive Director

Ship navigation is something many in our community do for their career while others do it for fun. Steering a vessel of any size can be a challenge when faced with obstacles, weather events and limited resources. The captain of a ship will call on the assistant captain, often called the first mate, to supervise members of the ship’s crew, stand a regular watch to pilot, navigate and oversee the vessel while at sea, and help with daily operations.

In much the same way, steering an organization like the BGJWSC brings with it a particular set of challenges.  Following his appointment by the Board to serve as Executive Director in November 2019, Andrew Burroughs vacated the Deputy Executive Director position he had previously held.  After interviewing candidates for the position, the most qualified applicant was chosen internally. According to Mr. Burroughs, “Strategically, we found that the greatest needs that had to be filled were already present in the talents and skill set of Mrs. Roberts. Her financial and administrative expertise will allow additional focus on these key areas.  We have made steady improvements over the past few years, and I’m very confident that this progress will continue for many years with Mrs. Roberts helping to steer the ship.” Aside from 15 years in private sector business ownership and management, close to ten years of supervisory experience within a public municipal government helped bolster the decision.

Prior to joining the BGJWSC team in 2018, Mrs. Roberts most recently served the City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama in various roles where she oversaw customer service, water and sewer utility billing, managed divisional budgets, wrote and instituted standard operating procedures, and developed relationships with other local agencies and community groups.  This experience is what led her to be drawn to serve our community when the Senior Financial Analyst position was made available. While settling into her new home on St. Simons Island, she quickly began to understand the benefits of our community and aligned her efforts with the vision of the BGJWSC being a critical part of our local way of life. Under the guidance of John Donaghy, BGJWSC Director of Finance, her focus was immediately set on streamlining the annual budget review, development and approval process. She also helped to prioritize capital reserve allocation to support future needs while aiming to reduce operating expenses with the goal of maintaining rate stability. This goal was met and a budget yielding no rate increase has been prepared for public review and Board approval in June 2020.

Even when the seas are calm and the winds are favorable, sailors must still remain alert. Mrs. Roberts joined our staff one month before Hurricane Michael and helped with the process of ensuring documentation of any weather related damages was timely and accurate, efforts that would have helped with FEMA reimbursement requests had damages been widespread and severe.  This focus and experience was gained as a result of serving as the Tuscaloosa Area Coordinator of Volunteer Resources following the devastating April 2011 tornado outbreak. As a liaison with department heads, local state and federal officials, the media and other partners, she developed a skill set that will be critical to the building of relationships in our own community. This experience will be helpful should we encounter any future weather-related or other hazardous events that bring local impacts.

“The resourcefulness this organization has demonstrated and the commitment to being a dependable resource for our community are remarkable,” she stated. “I am tremendously appreciative of the confidence that has been placed in me by Mr. Burroughs and our Board of Commissioners. I am fully aware that I might be a new voice or face of the organization but the dedicated men and women on our staff continue to be the heart and soul of JWSC.”

While the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic limits visiting Mrs. Roberts to welcome and congratulate her on the advancement, you are invited to reach out to her at lroberts@bgjwsc.org or 912.261.7153 if you would like to do so.