Foundation Adds To Its Board With Three New Board Members

By ANNA HALL The Brunswick News | Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2015

A nonprofit agency that touches three coastal counties has added to its impressive list of supporters by bringing three skilled, new board members to its team.

The Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation announced recently that its board is now operated under the guidance of 20 members, with new additions Sandi Channell, Mac Nease and Rene’ Shelnutt.


“When looking for board members, we look for someone who has strong connections with the community,” said Valerie Hepburn, executive director of the foundation, which strives to strengthen the communities in Glynn, McIntosh and Camden counties through engaged partnerships.

“We look for individuals who have the background to be very good governors of our resources. We work to find individuals to serve as board members who have worked before with donors and who can help supporters with philanthropic taxes, so it creates a win-win for everyone.”

Channell, Nease and Shelnutt fit that bill perfectly, Hepburn said.

“These are three individuals who are stand outs” in their fields of expertise, which include insurance, grant writing, financial management and overall oversight with philanthropic detailing, she said.

A Glynn County native, CPA and long-time community leader, Channell has served as finance committee chair for Frederica Academy, president of Cherokee Garden Club and as a board member of St. Simons Land Trust and Hospice of the Golden Isles.

As president of the Atlanta-based Nease, Lagana, Eden & Culley firm, which specializes in complex estate and business insurance placement, Nease is a certified life underwriter who has served in various leadership roles in the insurance industry, including national president of the Advanced Association for Life Underwriting, president of the Atlanta Estate Planning Council and the Society of Financial Service Professionals. He is also a part-time resident of the Golden Isles, Hepburn said.

A CPA and a partner in the accounting firm of Schell & Hogan, Shelnutt is an Alma native and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants. She has held several offices, including past president of the local chapter of the Georgia Society of CPAs. She also has served in a financial capacity on the boards of several volunteer organizations, Hepburn said.

“We are honored to have these three new members join our board for continued success of the foundation,” Hepburn said. “These are three professionals who are highly respected in our community and in their career fields.

“We are dedicated to having a top-notch board of leaders and these three additions to our team are moving that goal forward.”

The three new board members will serve four-year terms beginning in January 2016.

Hepburn said the foundation also is looking forward to making a difference in the tri-county region through a series of new initiatives in the health and conservation fields.

“We have some very exciting things coming up for 2016,” Hepburn said. “We are definitely keeping ourselves busy.”

Reelected to serve another four-year term on the board during the foundation’s recent annual meeting were Alfred Sams III, senior vice-president with SunTrust Investment Services, and Janet Shirley, an estate planning and fiduciary law attorney with Atwood Choate.

The foundation’s officers for the coming year will be Rees M. Sumerford, chair; Arthur M. Lucas, vice chair; and Jeff Barker, treasurer. Claude H. Booker Jr., Bonney S. Shuman, and William J. Stembler serve as at-large members on the executive committee, Hepburn said.

Incorporated in 2005 as a tax-exempt public charity, the foundation now has assets nearing $17 million and hosts more than 60 distinct funds. Since its inception a decade ago, the foundation has awarded more than $7 million in grants to community organizations in the three county-region and beyond, Hepburn said.