Anna Chafin is CEO of the Development Authority of Bryan County.
She is SPECIAL in capital letters! Anna smiles as I ask her about herself. “I love the Georgia coast, I feel at peace. I’d come home from college in the summer and run to the beach. On the boat I could feel the wind, smell the marsh, it smells like home.: A tomboy whose mother wanted her to be a ballet dancer but her dad signed her up for softball. She said she wasn’t the best player but learned to work harder.
“We tryin’ to win” was the team’s motto. Her dad instilled in her a love for sports – baseball, basketball, football, tennis, cross country. It was about the team. Skills from the past shaped her future. She was a Bulldog fan who loved college football. She wanted to attend the University of Georgia, her parent’s alma mater, and become a sports reporter, but, fearing the size of the school and the adjustment that might require, they wanted her to spend her first year elsewhere.
She attended Mercer University and never left. It was, she said, the school for her.
I have learned that Anna always works hard, a lesson impressed upon her from her role in team sports.
Doing one’s part, helping the team be as successful as possible translates in the present into creating a place for those who contract with the County, never letting anyone, any client, down.
“When I entertain prospects I enjoy taking them to The Ford Field and River Club main house up to the second floor to look out at the river, it’s the best view. It’s an asset, a differentiator for Bryan County and serves to emphasize the beauty of our county,” Chafin said.
Often the prospects are looking at a number of locations so showing off the setting of Bryan County, its history, its beauty and uniqueness is consequential. Her goal is to always set Bryan County apart. She looks for “drivers” for their projects and tailors her presentation to those needs. She recognizes everybody. Every business likes to feel they are special so she likes the intimacy, the beauty, the anecdotal stories attached to the area to connect those business representatives to here, making them part of the team.
Stacy Watson is the Georgia Ports Authority director of economic and industrial development and a commissioner on the Bryan County Planning and Zoning Board who, in his roles, interacts often with Anna. When I asked him about Anna, without hesitation he said “I knew she’d be a standout to prospects, and colleagues. She makes you want to know her. Talking with her, sharing ideas and seeing her complete grasp of difficult and many times complex ideas and positions it was clear to me she is a special talent.”
Mr. Watson, in the course of conversation, spoke of her magnetic personality, interpersonal skills, and ability to build relationships.
The more I hear about her, see her in action, her professionalism stands out. She is a sharp woman, a talented woman who holds great power in her hands.
Dimitry Dukhan is the Medline Industries vice president of real estate, facilities, security, supply chain national programs and has been the key contact for the company during the site location process in choosing Richmond Hill for their location.
Medline is a family owned business, manufacturing and distributing medical supplies. They are the largest privately owned manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies.
The Medline facility being built is over a million square feet with 400,000 square feet leased to FedEx.
An investment of over $70 millions to build and bring 150 new jobs with the capacity for more than 600 workers as the company grows. A major company, major space, major opportunity for Bryan County.
Mr. Dukhan told me why his company chose Richmond Hill. As I spoke to him he comfortably and assertively said to me, “Anna worked with a speed of execution, was clearly anti procrastination. She brought us into her vision and made us want to be here. She connected all the dots... outstanding, best I’ve dealt with in 30 years. The speed of execution, smooth. It was an honor and privilege to work with her, one of the main reasons why we chose to come here.”
He told me she was one of the finest executives he ever worked with.
“Anna’s destined for great things.”
As I reflected upon these comments and observations I clearly realized titles are not the essence of a person.
Achievements, big or small, are.
Being reasonable and being decisive are hallmarks of a strong leader.
It is clear Anna is comfortable in her own skin. She clearly, both philosophically and from an implementation viewpoint, is carrying out what she learned early on from her family abut the importance of team.
When I asked about the hours and the responsibility that goes with success, she stressed the role of family.
Her husband is the introvert to her extrovert, and their son is a well balanced member of the Chafin team, which is just another word for family.
And, Anna she talks about the development of the industrial parks in both north and south Bryan, she perks up and tells me about their role with family.
As the parks develop, jobs will be available. People will live here, work here, be involved here with their families. There will be less need to commute away from the county.
No matter who I talked to about her it was clear she is a special partner to all who know her.
A teacher by example, not by intention. In my relationship with her it is clear one can learn from her constantly. All with whom I spoke told me of her boundless talent.
She just strives to get the job done, as a collaborator, a unifier and a builder of team.
She just gets the job done.
Thank you, Anna, for helping Bryan County grow and flourish.
Georgene Brazer is chair of the Downtown Development Authority of Richmond Hill and a Ford resident. You can reach her at georgenebrazer@ gmail.com.