ACCG Civic Affairs Foundation - Board of Directors
Samuel F. Hart, Sr., President has had a distinguished public service career with Bibb County government. He served for five years as Chairman of the Bibb County Board of Commissioners and, prior to election as chairman, served an additional ten years as a district commissioner. He is recognized for his role in reshaping county operations, implementing constituent feedback processes, spearheading efforts to increase transparency in government, overseeing the construction of major facilities including the Bibb County Justice Center and supporting the work of other government and civic organizations working to improve the community. Under his leadership, Bibb County also launched the Georgia Civic Awareness Program for Students (GCAPS) program, an initiative developed by the Civic Affairs Foundation to foster greater awareness of county government programs and services in high school youth. While an elected county official, Mr. Hart was very active with ACCG. He was elected by his peers to serve in various leadership roles including the position of ACCG 2nd Vice President. He is the 2013 recipient of ACCG’s Emory Greene Leadership Award, the highest recognition a county commissioner can receive from his peers.
James P. Monacell, Vice President is a Partner in the Corporate and Bond Practice of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. Mr. Monacell heads the firm’s Bond and Public Law Practice. His practice includes assistance of for-profit and nonprofit enterprises locating or expanding projects with tax-exempt and taxable financing, tax abatement and other governmental incentives. Mr. Monacell’s practice is concentrated in the areas of bonds, public law, public finance and project finance. Mr. Monacell has participated in several billion dollars in tax-exempt financings, including general obligations, revenue bonds, SPLOST borrowings, contract-backed and tax-backed obligations, tax anticipation notes, leasing, certificates of participation, Section 501(c)(3) bonds and private activity bonds, most frequently as bond counsel. Projects financed include the High Museum of Art, the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Atlanta Public Safety Headquarters, Zoo Atlanta, Scottish Rite Medical Center, Upson and Tift Regional Medical Centers, the Medical Partnership at the University of Georgia and student housing at Georgia State University and Spelman College.
Dave Wills, Secretary-Treasurer is Interim Executive Director of ACCG, Georgia’s county association. ACCG works on behalf of Georgia’s county officials and their communities, with a focus on public policy and advocacy, leadership development, civic and community engagement and cost-efficient programs such as insurance and retirement.
Roger C. Byrd is the Associate Dean of Adult Education at Oconee Fall Line Technical College and is also an adjunct professor of Political Science at Brewton-Parker College and East Georgia State College. Before his education career, Mr. Byrd served in the Georgia General Assembly for 22 years where he chaired the House Human Relations & Aging and Intra-governmental Coordination committees. Byrd was the sponsor of the House intern program for 15 years and chair of the Youth in Government Committee for the State YMCA Youth Assembly for 12 years. After serving in the General Assembly as a State House member, he was elected as House Messenger and served as Chief of Staff for the Speaker of the House. His recent research projects include “When the Devil Turned Around; Lessons from the 1977 Georgia State Prison Riot” and “A Short Route to Chaos; Lessons of Leadership from the Civil Rights Movement”.
Ben Harbin has spent much of his career engaged in public service. Currently, he is president of the Southern States Group Georgia Division, a recognized government relations firm provides strategy development and lobbying support to companies and organizations. He may be most recognized from his 20 years of service as State Representative for Columbia County in the 122nd District. During his tenure in the state legislature, Mr. Harbin served as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee where he was influential in assisting officials with balancing Georgia’s budget during one of the biggest financial recessions in state history. Along his journey he has been actively involved in many civic organizations that shared a unanimous goal of improving the Georgia communities, including his service as an Advisory Board Member for Child Enrichment. His has been recognized by many organizations for his leadership and received many awards and honors including the 2008 Legislator of the Year by the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, the 2009 Legislator of the Year by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the 2011 Champion of Business Award by the National Coalition for Capital.
Robert S. Highsmith, practices legislative, administrative and regulatory law, government relations and litigation, representing diverse large corporate and governmental clients at the law firm of Holland & Knight. Mr. Highsmith leads the firm’s State Capitals Team and Georgia Government Relations Practice, and is the executive partner of the firm’s Atlanta office. He represents clients before the Georgia General Assembly and before state and local government agencies. He also engages with the firm’s federal lobbying practice where firm client interests require advocacy before Georgia’s congressional delegation.
Jai Rogers, serves as the President of the Greater Atlanta Credit Union Chapter. She is responsible for identifying and developing business and community strategies within Metro Atlanta and surrounding states. The skills acquired within the workforce have allowed her to successfully assist businesses and organizations in creating community engagement strategies to promote civic awareness. Since the inception of her career she has served as the Director of Corporate Partnerships with the United Way of Metro Atlanta, where she highlighted the importance of corporations committing to embracing community needs through gratis services for non-profit agencies and employee volunteerism. Ms. Rogers is also the Immediate Past President of the Board of Trustees for the Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta, a member of the Greater Atlanta Credit Union Chapter Board of Directors, and has served on many boards such as Georgia Council for International Visitors and The National Academy Foundation.