The Third Annual South Georgia Health & Wellness Summit 2024 will focus on Prevention and Wellness from a Biopsychosocial Perspective. Health and wellness are sustained by an array of complex systems that include our bodies, thoughts, emotions, attitudes, knowledge, and spirits as well as our relationships and environments. In this 3rd annual summit, we will acknowledge the interdependence of these connections.

Sessions include health, mental health, and recovery updates for 2024, financial literacy as wellness, environmental strategies for suicide prevention, and community transformation in rural areas. In this summit, we will again facilitate a time for Voices from the Community, where organizations that provide health and wellness services share their work and insights to promote health and wellness. The presentations will be framed within the bio-psychosocial perspective and we will explore plans for community action for wellness.

Register here
Registration: $30
Registration deadline: April 5th

Date and Time

April 19th 8 am-4 pm


Magnolia Room
University Center North Conference Center; 1203 N. Patterson St. Valdosta, GA 31601
Valdosta State University



  • 8:00 am: Doors open! Sign-in, light refreshments, & Networking
  • 8:15 am: Welcome from Community Leaders: Mayor Scott James, State Representative Dexter Sharper, Judge Voyles, Lowndes County Accountability Court
  • 8:30 am: Welcome
    • Dean David Slykhuis and College of Education & Human Services, and MSW Program Director, Dr. Debra Gresham.
    • Introduction to the biopsychoSOCIAL perspective for the Summit: Dr. Diane Holliman
  • 9:00 am: Kim Jones, Jeff Breedlove, Jennifer Dunn: The 2024 Georgia legislative session.
  • 10:15 am: Break, Visit Display Tables, & Network
  • Breakout Sessions (10:30 am-12:00 pm)
    • Track 1: Making Ends Meet
      • 10:30 am: Rex Taylor, VP First Federal Savings of Valdosta, GA: Empowering Your Well-being Through Financial Literacy & Self-Confidence.
      • 11:15 am: Darcy Gunter, Co-Founder, Living Bridges: Economic Autonomy for Vulnerable Populations
    • Track 2: Wellness in Rural Communities & Small towns
      • 10:30 am: Jennifer Sonne: Suicide Prevention: Reducing Access to Lethal Means
      • 11:15 am: Brittni Brown, Mayor, Greenville, FL & Cheryl Dodson, Executive Director of Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resources Coalition (ASPARC): Community transformation in rural areas.
  • 12:00 pm: Salad & Soup Bar / Voices from the Community
  • 1:15 pm: Lauren Saporito: A Story of Hope
  • 1:30 pm: Jewrell Rivers, Diane Holliman, Hanae Kanno & Laura Starnes: Putting it all together for an action plan - Health & Wellness from a BiopsychoSOCIAL Perspective.
  • 3:00 pm: Summit Evaluation & Networking


Jen Sonne is the Primary Prevention Specialist for the 101st Air and Space Operations Group (AOG) for Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, FL. The 101 AOG is a FL Air National Guard unit responsible for providing aerospace warning and control for defensive counter air activities, directing Air Force air and space capabilities in support of homeland security and civil support missions. Jen's role falls under the FL National Guard's Integrated Primary Prevention Program (IP3), which includes prevention and education activities related to addressing harmful behaviors in the military community, including but not limited to suicide, domestic and workplace violence, sexual harassment and assault, stress, and more.

Her previous job role was here locally in Valdosta, where she served the south-central GA community as the Opioid Prevention Specialist for South Health District. Jen left this role at the end of December 2023 and relocated to Panama City, FL to live with her husband (newly married as of November 8, 2023) who currently serves in the United States Air Force at Tyndall, AFB. Jen has earned a Master of Public Health (MPH), concentration in Community Health Education, a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration, and an Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology. She loves working with people and is passionate about prevention and education as a means for improved health and well-being.

Kim H. Jones is the Executive Director of NAMI Georgia. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, dedicated to building better lives for those affected by mental illness. As executive director, Kim H. Jones is responsible for the strategic management and financial operations of NAMI Georgia. NAMI Georgia is responsible for supporting 21 local NAMI Affiliate’s across the state of Georgia. Under her leadership, the organization has grown its annual budget from $180,000 to $2.6 million and has served up to 30,000 people annually. She has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, education, training, marketing, and business development. Mrs. Jones is also a member of: BH Reform and Innovation Commission, appointed by the late Speaker Ralston, the Crisis Intervention Team Advisory Board, and DBHDD 988 Advisory Board. She is also co-founder of the Georgia Mental Health Policy Partnership (GMHPP).

Under her leadership, NAMI Georgia’s advocacy and GMHPP was key to the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act, Georgia General Assembly - HB 1013 which ensured that behavioral health and physical health are covered equitably by public and private insurance.

Rex Taylor is a Valdosta native. He graduated from Troy State University with a BS in Resource Management. Rex also graduated from Mid-South School of Banking at Memphis State University. He has worked with First Federal of Valdosta for over 37 years where he currently serves as Vice President and Director of Community Outreach and Business Development. He also serves as an Advisory Board Member on the First Federal Savings Board of Directors. Rex is involved in many civic groups and local charities serving on various boards and committees. One of his proudest accomplishments has been to help so many people resolve financial challenges and achieve their goals.

Rex Taylor

Jeff Breedlove serves as strategic policy advisor for the Georgia Council for Recovery and the Georgia Addiction Counselors Association. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Georgia School of Addiction Studies and the Regional Advisory Board for the Rx Summit. Jeff was announced as a member of the 2023 Atlanta Business Chronicle Power 10: Health Care List as one of the 10 most powerful health care leaders in Georgia.

In September 2023, Jeff was awarded a personal proclamation from Governor Brain Kemp, as an outstanding advocate for peer led recovery in Georgia. He was awarded The Erick Allen Recovery Advocate of the Year for Georgia and has received numerous Recovery Leadership Awards from organizations across Georgia.

In the past, Jeff has served as Chief of Staff for DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester, Senior staff member to Congressman Bob Barr in the historic 104th Congress and again in the 105th Congress, Deputy Director for the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development for Governor Nathan Deal, and Policy analyst for the Georgia State Senate. Jeff was selected to serve as a volunteer for the G-8 Summit on Sea Island, Georgia. He has served as a staff vice-chair for The National Conference of State Legislatures on the Transportation Committee and as a member of The Council of State Governments Southern Legislative Conference Committee on Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs. Jeff also served as the Georgia state director for The American Council of Young Political Leaders and was the former Georgia state director Sister Cities International and a member of the City of Atlanta Sister City Commission. Jeff Served as a Commissioner and Assistant Scout Master with the Boy Scouts. Jeff served as PTA President at Imagine International Academy and Vice President of the PTA at Maynard Jackson High School.

Jeff is married to Kathryn Ballou; they reside in the Grant Park neighborhood in Atlanta. They have a son, Lawrence Foster “Jack” Breedlove, who was born in Gansu, The People’s Republic of China. Jeff is a person in long-term recovery with a passion to share his story, so others know Recovery is Real.

Jennifer Dunn is currently serving as the Deputy Assistant Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. She previously worked as the University of Georgia's Rural Health Agent for the Southwest District of UGA Extension. She earned both her bachelor's and master’s degrees in Child and Family Development from the University of Georgia in 1996 and 2001, respectively. Jennifer is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a recipient of the Intensive Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Schizophrenia Certification at the Aaron T. Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Philadelphia, a trainer for Mental Health First Aid and QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) to assist with Suicide Prevention. Before beginning her position with UGA Extension, Jennifer worked for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities for sixteen years, where she served as the Regional Services Administrator for the twenty-four counties located in the southwestern portion of the state. In her current role, Jennifer is helping advance the vision and mission of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities in the Southern part of the state with a focus on rural communities. She also is an advisory Board member for the Georgia Department of Community Health's State office of Rural Health and their Georgia Farmworker Healthcare Program.

Lauren Saporito is in long-term recovery. Thriving in long-term recovery means her hope for today is more significant than the challenges of her past. She is a proud mother, colleague, friend, college student, and the best dog rescue mom. Lauren is here today because people supported her; now, she gets to do the same for others. Her goal is to continue to break the stigma surrounding mental health and sometimes unfortunate outcomes like incarceration.

Lauren recently has been accepted to Valdosta State University to pursue her bachelor's in psychology. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with her associate science in psychology from Georgia Military College March 2024.

She is a certified peer specialist in mental health, addictive diseases, and forensics. Legacy Behavioral Health Services currently employs Lauren as a forensic peer mentor. In this role, she works with the jail-in-reach coordinator at the Lowndes County jail, supporting 'returning citizens' in their return to their communities of choice.

In January of 2011 the Gunter family moved to Valdosta, GA from Incirlik (in-sir-lick), Turkey. While in Turkey, Darcy and Tony’s hearts were broken for those who were in extreme poverty. Upon return to the USA, they found the passion to help those of low income was still ignited. So in the spring of 2014 they opened a non-profit ministry with programs to assist those in desperate financial circumstances and to show them the way to a more stable life. Darcy is the Executive Director managing many of the day to day operations of the ministry while Tony works at his civilian air traffic control job at Moody AFB. In the 10 years since it opened, Living Bridges Ministry has grown and operates roughly a dozen programs and events.

When she is not busy with Living Bridges Ministry, Darcy, loves cooking, reading, crafting, and hanging out creating memories with her family. She is the mother of 4 sons, Steven -37 who is a youth pastor, Zach-34 who works for Edward Jones, Jonathan--25 who just graduated from the FAA academy as an air traffic controller, and Noah-21 who is a department manager with Belk while he is in college. She is also a brand new grandmother (Gma) to Matthew James Mansell who was born in February 2024.

Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resources Coalition (ASPARC) Executive Director Cheryl Dodson, lost a friend to suicide in 2015. She is now an advocate for suicide prevention and is a Certified QPR Gatekeeper Trainer. She has co-hosted over 200 QPR Gatekeeper Training presentations since she began working with ASPARC. Cheryl founded the Annual Wildflower Walk and Wellness Fair in Woodstock, Alabama in 2018 to help raise mental health awareness and provide suicide loss survivors with a public event to honor their loss. Cheryl serves on the Bibb County Board of Education, Indian Rivers Behavioral Health Board of Directors & the State of Alabama Mental Illness Planning Council.

Dr. Jewrell Rivers is a Professor of Sociology, Marriage and Family, and Criminal Justice at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Tift County Commission of Children and Youth (TCCCY) and the Advisory Board for the Department of Social Work at Albany State University. In addition to serving on professional boards, Dr. Rivers was active on the Planning Committee for the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Conference and served as Vice-President and Member at Large for Teaching on the Executive Board for the Georgia Sociological Association (GSA).

Along with his vast teaching duties, Dr. Rivers has also published research manuscripts in the Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research (JEQR), the Journal of Family Social Work (JFSW) and the Law Enforcement Executive Forum (LEEF). Along with his manuscript publications, Dr. Rivers has held professional memberships and presented several research papers at the Georgia Sociological Association (GSA), The Criminal Justice Association of Georgia (CJAG), The National Council of Family Relations (NCFR), the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS), the Southeastern Council of Family Relations (SECFR) and the Rural Sociological Society (RSS). Statewide responsibilities include teaching sociology for eCore, serving on the Regents Advisory Committee for sociology (RAC) and as Director of the African American Male Initiative (AAMI) at ABAC. Most importantly, Dr. Rivers models community leadership and social advocacy for his students and strives to provide opportunities for them to engage civic, charitable and non-profit organizations and agencies.


They will be sent to the email address provided at registration no later than two weeks after the event.

The UCC is located at 1203 N. Patterson St. Valdosta GA 31601. Please see campus map.

Please contact Diane Holliman at for registration instructions.

We will not be taking payment on site. Participants are encouraged to register by the deadline, April 5.

Yes, you will receive an email confirmation. If you do not receive an email confirmation after 24 hours, please contact Laura Starnes at

There will be parking at the University Conference Center, and all attendees are encouraged to obtain a virtual parking permit from the Parking & Transportation Department or University Police Department before parking on campus. Daily permits are free of charge. Weekend Parking, Friday after 3:00pm, Saturday and Sunday, no permit is required. If a visitor receives a parking citation for no parking permit during the week, they should immediately notify the Parking & Transportation Department for instructions. The department will decide if the citation(s) can be cleared as a guest or if the ticket(s) should proceed with an appeal (decision based on the customer’s account and citation violation).

Lunch is provided for those who register for the summit.

Please see the Qualtrics form for information about tables, sharing resources and Voices from the Community.

We recommend business casual. The building might get cold, so please bring layers.

Please contact Diane Holliman at