Sheree Mitchell Earns Top CSU Alumni Honor

Sheree Mitchell, who distinguished herself nationally this year as owner of Growing Room Inc. of Columbus, is the 2004 winner of the Thomas Y. Whitley Award, the highest alumni honor conferred by Columbus State University.

CSU presented the award to Mitchell, the 2004 National Small Business Person of the Year, during its 33rd annual President's Recognition Banquet Tuesday night.

Named for CSU's first president, the Whitley award signifies professional and/or community accomplishment. Mitchell is a 1975 professional nursing program graduate; however, she has distinguished herself as an entrepreneur.

She opened the first Growing Room Inc. in 1989 as a 12,500-square-foot facility for child development. Today her facilities serve more than 850 children and employs more than 170 people in five Columbus-area centers including three operated on-site at large businesses including AFLAC.

In addition to the U.S. Small Business Administration honor, Mitchell in 2004 also was named Georgia's Small Business Person of the Year by the state Small Business Administration, and the Concharty Council of Girl Scouts named her a Woman of Achievement. In 2000, she was named Women in Business Advocate of the Year in Georgia and the Southeast. Two years later, she was first runner-up for the Georgia Women Entrepreneurs Award.

Her community service includes serving on the executive committee and board of directors of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. She also serves on the board of directors of the Concharty Council of Girl Scouts, as a member of the Rotary Club of Columbus and as a board member for the Better Business Bureau. She has supported CSU as a Tower Society member and as an annual fund volunteer including CSU Day campaign chair for 2005.

Honorary Alumni

Also at the recognition banquet, CSU conferred Honorary Alumni designations to business executive George Jeter, philanthropist Moselle Fletcher and state representative Thomas Buck.

Jeter is immediate past chairman of the CSU Foundation and serves the foundation as an executive committee member, on the foundation properties board, and as a member of the CSU Legacy Society. A retired AFLAC executive and consultant for the company, Jeter also serves as a director for Consolidated Research Technology, SouthTrust Bank of Columbus, Corral of Columbus, Denim North America and Delta Data Software, Inc.

Fletcher's support of CSU has benefited music studies and the Coca-Cola Space Science Center. Separate, recent gifts to the Investment in People capital campaign established a faculty endowment fund and the Moselle Worsley Fletcher Faculty Chair in Teacher Education. She is active with Patrons of Music, an organization supporting the Schwob School of Music through activities including the Orpheus Ball.

Buck, who is serving his final term as a 38-year member of the Georgia House of Representatives, was cited for his advocacy for higher education in his service to Columbus. As chairman of the appropriations ways and means committee, his leadership has helped provide CSU with crucial state funding. He also serves on the RiverCenter, Springer Opera House and St. Francis Hospital foundation boards.

Alumni Service Awards

CSU also presented Alumni Service Awards to Lavonda Forbes and Christopher and Sarah Luby (husband and wife).

Forbes, a 1983 CSU graduate, was elected in 1992 to the CSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and has served on every alumni association committee and chaired most of them. In 2001-02 she served as Alumni Association President. She retired in 2003 from the directorate of information management for Fort Benning.

Christopher Luby, a 1997 CSU graduate and account manager for TSYS, has worked as an annual fund/CSU Day volunteer since 1999. He chaired CSU Day in both 2003 and 2004.

Sarah Luby, a senior sales analyst for TSYS, has volunteered for various CSU alumni programs since earning a CSU communication degree in 1999. For the past two years she has administered the 'CSU Day TSYS Casual Day' campaign at TSYS.

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Contact: Geri Regnier, (706) 562-1589