2019 Spring Conference Banner Image

Join Georgia Employers’ Association and business leaders across the state for our 2019 Spring Conference at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort on March 31- April 2, 2019. The theme for this year’s event is Workforce Development – The Future is Now!  The conference’s valuable networking opportunities and array of expert speakers will provide you with new insights and successful strategies for workforce development.

Sunday, March 31:

12:00 PM – Golf & Spa at the Harbor Club
For those that would to participate in the golf tournament or treatments at the hotel Spa, please contact Buddy McGehee, director@georgiaemployers.org by March 8

5:30 PM – 7:30 PM – Reception at the Club Pavilion *Open to all conference registrants

Monday, April 1:

7:00 AM – 8:00 AM – Continental Breakfast

8:00 – 9:00 Navigating the “Me Too” Movement: Best Practices Going Forward
Jeffery Thompson, Partner, Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

Learning Objective – Developing processes, procedures and practices to combat harassment/treatment/discrimination issues in the workplace.

9:00 – 10:00  Work Based Learning Program – KMMG Business Update
Stuart Countess, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)/Vice President, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG)

Latesa K. Bailey, J.D., M.B.A, Senior Manager – Head of Department, Human Resources, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG)

Learning Objective – Presentation on Kia Motors Manufacturing and Georgia’s Work Base Learning Program to promote workforce development.

10:00 – 10:15 Break

10:15 – 11:15  Georgia Department of Labor 2019 – Update
Mark Butler, Georgia Commissioner of Labor, Georgia Department of Labor

Learning Objective – Presentation on the Georgia Department of Labor’s goals and objectives for 2019.

11:15 – 12:15 Workforce Development: Trends and Training
Dr. Steve Daniel, Ed.D. , Executive Director, Georgia Quick Start

Learning Objective – Discussing trends and training in Workforce Development

12:15 – 1:00 Lunch

1:00 – 2:00  THINC: High School Apprenticeships in Manufacturing
Jamey Jackson, Executive Vice President, Malone Workforce Solutions

Learning Objective – An inside look into creating a high school apprenticeship program that can create sustainable pipelines for your future workforce.

2:00 – 3:00  Strategic Workforce Planning & Development in Healthcare
Kelli Reale, Vice-President, Southeast Georgia Health System Management Plan
Human Resources Organizations: The Bridge for the Business Plan to the Talent

Learning Objective – Moving from a transactional approach to workforce planning to a predictive approach. Understanding and planning for the impact of a potential nursing shortage. Steps to developing a workforce planning model that any organization can use.

3:00 – 3:15 Break

3:15– 4:15  Leadership Development and Job Skills Certification in a Manufacturing Environment
Carol Broadwell Dietrich, Director, Corporate Training and Technical Publications, Blue Bird

Learning Objective – Presentation on Leadership Development and Job Skills Certification in a manufacturing environment with Blue Bird.

Tuesday, April 2:

7:30 AM – 8:30 AM – Continental Breakfast

8:00 – 9:00 Politics and Religion in the Workplace – Dos and Don’ts
W. Melvin Haas, Partner, Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

Learning Objective – Presentation on religion and politics in the workplace. Includes a brief overview of workplace considerations involving religion and politics and helpful information for employers to limit the legal liability for religious discrimination claims under Title VII.

9:00 – 10:00 Labor Update for 2019
Jonathan Martin, Partner, Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

Learning Objective – This presentation will address the significant court cases, government regulations and other legal developments from the last year that impacts a company’s day-to-day employee relations issues and address responses to these changes.

10:00 – 10:10 Break

10:10 – 11:10  Lower WC Costs with Better Claim Investigations Post Accident Drug Testing, Proper Documentation Forms, Top Defenses, Settlement Considerations
Jason Logan, Partner, Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

Learning Objective – Provide an update on changes in the Workers Compensation law, discuss changes in post-accident drug testing, ensuring proper documentation forms and formats, and provide information of top defenses and settlement considerations.

11:10 – 12:10 Youth Apprentice Program – Pratt & Whitney Model
Timothy Vinson , Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator, Muscogee County School District

Learning Objective – Provide information on the Muscogee County youth apprenticeship program with Pratt & Whitney and related information from the high school educational efforts in Muscogee County.


Latesa Bailey is currently responsible for leading Human Resources Employment and Recruitment, Payroll & Benefits, HRIS, Strategic Planning & Compensation, and Training & Organizational Development.  Upon joining KMMG in April 2012, Ms. Bailey served as the Senior Corporate Counsel, Labor & Employment Law for KMMG where she partnered with and advised business professionals in labor and employment related matters under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, National Labor Relations Acts, and other various laws. She also developed and conducted training in areas of EEO compliance.  She is a graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Business Management. She also graduated Cum Laude from Stetson University College of Law and received a Juris Doctorate (JD) and Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Commissioner Mark Butler’s goal is to create valuable workforce solutions through strategic alliances and community relationships. The programs at the Georgia Department of Labor reflect Butler’s dedication to improving the agency’s relationships with employers, job seekers and Georgia’s future workforce. Commissioner Butler formed the Regional Coordinator Program in 2011 and, subsequently, the Business Service Unit in 2013. These programs serve to foster mutually beneficial relationships with Georgia’s employers and economic developers. Prior to taking office, Commissioner Butler served eight years in the Georgia General Assembly, representing House District 18. During that time, he served as the Chairman of the House Appropriations Human Resources Sub-Committee, which oversees all operations of the budget for several of the largest state agencies.

Stuart Countess is responsible for leading the Human Resources and Administration Division including Team Relations, Public Relations, Safety and Security, Environmental, General Affairs, Legal and Sales.  He previously served as the Vice President of Quality overseeing overall vehicle quality for the Kia Sorento, Kia Optima and Hyundai Santa Fe as well as supplier quality, process quality, customer satisfaction, warranty and ISO/TS certifications for Business Management Systems. Originally, Countess joined KMMG in 2008 as the senior manager for the General Assembly Shop. Countess came to KMMG from Mercedes Benz US International in Vance, Ala. where, for more than 13 years, he served in numerous leadership positions within production and quality including being the supplier quality manager, quality manager and assembly manager. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Electrical Engineering and received his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from LaGrange College.

Steve Daniel leads efforts in maximizing connection with the Technical College System of Georgia and all the new statewide workforce development initiatives. As part of this assignment he leads initiatives focused on enhancing connections and partnerships with workforce development, chamber, and employer associations throughout the State. Working with the Deputy Commissioner, he is also helping to establish Quick Start’s strategic direction for the future. Prior to this current role, Steve served as President of West Georgia Technical College [WGTC] from June of 2014 through November 2017, providing leadership to the faculty and staff in creating a benchmark institution within the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). This was affirmed by the State Board in December 2016 when WGTC was named a “College of the Year” finalist among the 22 institutions across the State. Steve earned his bachelor’s (BBA) degree from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in Human Resource Management (MSHRM) from Troy University, and a doctorate of education (Ed. D.) degree at Valdosta State University.

Carol Dietrich has 35 years’ experience in organizational development and training, designed to help people and organizations maximize performance. She has extensive experience in a variety of global industries, including energy, agriculture, technology, health care and manufacturing.  Carol oversees teams responsible for all technical communication at Blue Bird as well as a team develops training and certification programs for job skills, customer sales, leadership development and technical expertise. Carol is the coauthor of two books on leadership, 101 Ways to Supervise Like a Human Being and The New Supervisor.

Mel Haas has practiced management labor law for over 40 years, including 2 years as a trial attorney with the National Labor Relations Board and 2 years as in-house counsel for a major corporation. Some of Mel’s noted accomplishments include: Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Fellow of the American Bar Association, AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated By Martindale-Hubbell, Vice-Chair of the Labor Relations Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Boards of Directors for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Employers’ Association, and the Georgia State Chamber of Commerce. A noted author and speaker, Mel has successfully handled over 150 elections, (five of which involved units of over 1,500 employees), hundreds of campaigns, numerous arbitrations, NLRB trials, appeals, and oral arguments before the United States Courts of Appeals. Mel has also represented employers in hundreds of EEOC charges and other Title VII matters, and litigated employment discrimination, wage and hour, and other related matters.

 Jamey Jackson is a 360 degree talent acquisition and staffing provider headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky with 88 offices throughout the country. Jamey and his team specializes in placing salaried candidates ranging in title from Vice Presidents to staff-level professionals primarily within the automotive and manufacturing industries. Since joining Malone in 2010, he has helped the company to flourish and drive growth. After over a decade of experience in redefining the value and meaning of workforce solutions and opportunities for his partners and candidates, Jamey realized that successful staffing starts with bringing a relationship-oriented and consultative mindset to each partnership. In addition to his over 12 years of experience in the automotive and manufacturing recruiting industry, Jamey possesses his B.A. in Communication from Columbus State University.

Jason Logan represents employers and insurers in all aspects of workers’ compensation litigation, including mediation, subrogation and appeals.  Jason has tried numerous workers’ compensation cases involving various legal issues, such as the idiopathic defense, catastrophic designation, WC-240 (Return to Work), medical benefits, psychological injuries, and diligent job search cases. After many years of representing large, self-insured employers and hospitals, Jason fully understands the intangible costs of workers compensation claims, as well as the importance of sending the right message to the workforce. Jason also defends employers against EEOC charges of sex, race and disability discrimination, which often times overlap with workers’ compensation claims. Jason also represents employers in garnishment litigation. Jason has presented at countless seminars and training sessions for employers and insurers across Georgia on workers’ compensation, ADA, FMLA, unemployment claims and garnishment matters. Jason practices out of Constangy’s Macon office and serves numerous Middle and South Georgia clients.

Jonathan Martin focuses his practice in employment discrimination litigation for management, defending corporations in lawsuits arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as related state laws. Mr. Martin also represents management in traditional labor law issues under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and in wage & hour issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Prior to being in private practice, Jonathan, who is also a Reserve Air Force officer, served as a military lawyer in the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Department. While in the Air Force, Jonathan held an appointment as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, representing the United States in United States Magistrate Court for the Middle District of Georgia. The former chairman of the State Bar of Georgia’s Employers’ Duties & Problems Committee, and a current Chair-Elect of the Executive Committee of the Georgia Department of Labor’s Georgia Employer Committee, Jonathan conducts extensive management training on labor and employment law subjects for corporations and government agencies throughout the South.

Kelli Reale has more than 20 years of human resources experience in a health care environment.  Ms. Reale also oversees Organizational Development/Education, Clinical Education, Health Promotion and Wellness, Volunteer Services and Team Member Health.  During her career, she has focused on workforce culture and has developed recruitment acquisition strategies that bring highly qualified individuals into positions at all levels of an organization.  Before joining Southeast Georgia Health System, Ms. Reale served as the assistant vice president, Talent Acquisition, for Inova Health System in Falls Church, Va., where she was primarily responsible for developing and implementing continuous improvements to the talent acquisition process, ensuring both short and long-term needs were met in a timely manner. Additionally, Ms. Reale has achieved certifications as a leadership development facilitator and a targeted recruitment and selection behavioral based interviewing facilitator from Development Dimensions International.

 Jeff Thompson’s practice focuses on representing management in employment, litigation, labor matters, providing general advice to clients as well as training clients on preventative measures to avoid litigation. Jeff has represented firm clients in both State and Federal Court as well as before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, and the National Labor Relations Board. Jeff is also Labor Counsel to the Georgia Employers’ Association and serves on the Board of Directors for multiple professional and community organizations, including the Macon Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Navicent Health Foundation, and Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia.

Tim Vinson’s career as an educator began 28 years ago at Jordan Vocational High School, where he taught welding, machining and sheet metal fabrication for 18 years. The next ten years of his career he has served as the youth apprenticeship coordinator for the Muscogee County School District. He has developed numerous successful student apprenticeship partnerships with our local companies including the Pratt and Whitney Student internship program that he presented last year at the White House as a best practice example during a National Policy Workforce meeting. He was the Muscogee County School District’s Teacher of the Year in 2004 and has served on the welding and machining advisory boards at Columbus Tech for 20 plus years. He served on the State Youth Apprenticeship Executive committee for the Georgia Department of Education for 3 years. He served as a Division Vice-President of the Georgia Association of Career and Technical Educators for 3 years.

Make Your Hotel Reservations Now

Westin Photo From Golf Course

The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa has reserved a block of rooms for attendees of the Georgia Employers’ Association Spring Conference. Mention the GEA Conference to receive a special room rate which will be available through March 8, 2019. Regular rates will apply if all GEA rooms are booked.

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Westin Room Reservations
or contact the Westin at

Register Now for the GEA Spring Conference:

Registration Costs:

GEA Member – $695.00
Non-Member – $840.00

Deadline for registering for the event is March 15, 2019.

HRCI Recertification Hours: – The conference is being reviewed by the HRCI Certification Process for Recertification Hours.

2019 Spring Conference registration

Register Now for the GEA Conference

Registration Costs:

GEA Member – $695
Non-Member – $840

2018 Georgia Employers' Association Spring Conference
Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa, 1 Resort Drive,Savanna,Georgia-31421
Starting on
April 15, 2018
Ending on
January 17, 2018
Join Georgia Employers’ Association and business associates from across the state for our 2018 Spring Conference at the Westin Savannah Harbor resort on April 15 – 17. The theme for this year’s event is Strategies for a Better Business Environment. We’ll combine fun, networking opportunities, and an array of interesting speakers and breakout sessions that will provide you with new insights you can use to improve your operations, make better decisions, and prepare your organization to succeed in today’s rapidly changing business climate.