115th Annual Meeting: A Night of Celebration of Service

The 115th Annual Meeting of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce was held on Thursday March 8, 2018 at 5:00 PM at the Classic Center.

In lieu of the traditional keynote speaker, the program served as a “Roast and Toast” for outgoing President/CEO, Doc Eldridge. Pat Allen, retired Director of Community Relations for The University of Georgia and 1993 Board Chair; Michael Morris, Shareholder with Blasingame, Burch, Garrard and Ashley and 2013 Board chair; and Tom Hodgson, lifelong friend and partner-in-crime and Christy Terrell, Region External Affairs manager for Georgia Power and 2014 Board Chair took turns providing jabs at some of Doc’s well-known pursuits (most notably his one-term stint as Mayor), but also highlighted his accomplishments in his nearly twelve-year tenue as President/CEO of the Athens Chamber. Doc was able to offer a rebuttal, but took the opportunity to thank his wife, Sheri Eldridge and children Doc Eldridge IV and Gini Eldridge Reeve, for their support. As a small token of thanks, the Chamber of Commerce presented Doc with a custom painting by local artist, Jamie Caulkin.  

Outgoing board chair, Dean Mannheimer offered his thoughts on 2017 and highlighted the Chamber’s accomplishments under his “Fostering a Spirit of Service” theme. This past year the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with and highlighted numerous non-profits including, Wee Read, the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, Toys for Tots, the Red Cross, Extra Special People, Hope Haven, and Action Ministries, just to name a few.

Incoming board chair, Dr. Shannon Wilder, unveiled her theme for 2018: Leadership in Motion. Dr. Wilder stated in her remarks that, “Throughout this year of change, we will have an opportunity to think about what the Chamber needs to be going forward as an organization that provides value to its membership; we will develop a shared vision for the future that we can be proud of and that our community is excited to invest in; and we will take the time to carefully consider who the next leader for our Chamber needs to be in order to move us forward. I emphasize “we” because all of you are part of this conversation.”

Additionally, the 115th Annual Meeting also served as a forum for presenting several prestigious awards to community leaders. Congratulations to the following individuals for their well-deserved recognition:

  • Kathy Hoard – ATHENA Award (Sponsored by Heyward Allen Motor Company)
  • Charlie Upchurch – Spirit of Athens (Sponsored by Athens First Bank & Trust)
  • Greg Huberty – Educator of Excellence
  • Lindsay Brannen – Chamber Champion
  • Emily O’Rear – Ambassador of the Year
  • Phil Bettendorf – Bentley Award

Finally, the 115th Annual Meeting serves as the Chamber’s largest fundraiser, and we owe much thanks to the following event sponsors. Their generosity enables the Chamber to serve the community and its membership.


  • Athens Banner-Herald/OnlineAthens
  • Athens First Bank & Trust
  • BankSouth
  • Blasingame, Burch, Garrard and Ashley
  • Carrier Transicold
  • Classic Center
  • Epting Events
  • Fortson, Bentley and Griffin 
  • Georgia Power
  • Jackson EMC
  • Oconee State Bank
  • Piedmont Athens Regional
  • Southern Mutual Insurance Company
  • St. Mary’s Healthcare System
  • The University of Georgia


  • ABB
  • Akins Ford
  • Aldridge Kellar
  • Atlantic Capital Bank
  • Bone Dry Roofing
  • First American Bank & Trust
  • Grahl Construction
  • Heyward Allen Motor Company
  • Jackson Spalding
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Kevin Price Construction
  • State Bank & Trust


  • AT&T
  • Athens Orthopedic Clinic
  • Caterpillar
  • Epps, Holloway, DeLoach & Hoipkemier, LLC
  • Express Employment Professionals
  • Foot Palace
  • Georgia United Credit Union
  • Landmark Properties
  • Off the Wall Photo Booth
  • Peach State Federal Credit Union
  • Pinnacle Bank
  • Primrose School of Athens
  • SmartCare Urgent Care
  • The Sign Brothers
  • Vickery Financial Services