Effingham County Chamber of Commerce Announces New Officers for Coming Year

The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce has announced that Ryan Thompson will serve as Chairman of its board of directors for 2020-2021. Thompson, a Principal and Landscape Architecture Department Manager at Thomas & Hutton, has served on the chamber’s board since 2017, and as Vice-Chairman since July 2019.

After earning his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia, Ryan joined Thomas & Hutton in 2002. A licensed Professional Landscape Architect and certified LEED Accredited Professional, he and his team of more than 10 landscape architects collaborate with the over 350 other Thomas & Hutton employees to ensure that clients are provided with unique, sustainable, and innovative landscape, hardscape, and planning solutions. He has resided in Effingham County with his wife (Leslie Arden Thompson) and daughters since 2005.

Dr. Fran Baker-Witt, Chief Executive Officer of Effingham Health System, was elected Vice-Chairman for 2020-2021. She has served on the chamber’s board since 2018. Under her leadership, Effingham Health System has launched a cancer care center, da Vinci robotic surgery, and a pediatrics practice. She has developed partnerships to provide local access to the region’s leading cardiology and orthopedic specialty physicians. A registered nurse by background, Dr. Witt has a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Master’s in Business Administration. She is also a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator.

Brett Bennett, Principal of Laurel Street Consulting LLC and interim City Manager in Guyton, was chosen to be Secretary/Treasurer, replacing Abby Smith of LEAP Youth Development Program. Bennett was City Manager in Springfield, Ga., from 2007 to 2019, and was Finance Director for the City of Rincon from 2005 to 2007. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Georgia Southern University and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Valdosta State University.
Joe Marchese of Joe Marchese Construction, Chairman for 2019-2020, becomes the board’s Immediate Past Chairman, replacing Ed Vance of Ardry Trading Company. Both Smith and Vance will remain on the board as directors. They are joined by Troy Allen of Southern Oak Advisory, James Carlson of Carlson’s Premier Events, Toni Hardigree of Platinum Properties, Brandt Herndon of the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority, Kimberly Iler of Coldwell Banker Commercial Platinum Partners, Freddy Long of Long Builders, Inc., Swann Seiler of Georgia Power Company, and Carrie Thompson of Georgia-Pacific. Andrew Cripps, IOM serves as Chief Executive Officer.