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2022 Lumpkin Literacy Board Officers & Members

Lumpkin Literacy's Board is an all-volunteer board, with members serving one to three year terms.The board meetings are bi-monthly and are open to the public.

For more information about our board, please contact


Co-Chair:  Geoffrey Kridel

Geoffrey is from the island of Manhattan in New York.  He has lived in New York, Connecticut, San Diego, Miami, Atlanta and Napa Valley, CA.  His career has been in marketing and sales in the consumer products industry managing distributor networks and brand management.  He currently is a partner at Descartes Marketing focusing on data based knowledge solutions for the beverage alcohol industry.  His passion for Lumpkin Literacy started 12 years ago when he realized statistically the person in front of him or behind him in line at Walmart was functionally illiterate. He has been past Board Chair, Current Marketing Chair, NAAB chair, EAB chair, BEE committee, board development.  Other positions include:  Executive Committee Buckhead Business Association, Lumpkin County Arts Council Chair, Executive Director Holly Theater, UNG Public Arts Committee, Director of Marketing Miami Arts Museum, Chairman of Lumpkin County Corridor Commission. He has been a resident of Lumpkin County for 14 years.

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Co-Chair:  Karen Shepherd

As a special ed teacher with a Master's degree, Karen understands the importance of literacy and the difficulties that some may have in achieving it. A native Floridian, Karen has lived in Dahlonega for the past 15 years with her husband and 2 sons. Her desire to help others led her to first work as a volunteer with Lumpkin Literacy's Second Chance Library in the Lumpkin County Detention Center. She soon became involved in the goals and workings of Lumpkin Literacy and recently became Co-Chair to help promote the cause of literacy for all ages in Lumpkin County.

Secretary: Pat Wozny

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After retiring from The Washington Post in 2004, Pat moved to Dahlonega, where her son and his family live. In the 15 years since her move to Dahlonega, Pat has given much of her time to various local charities.She has served on the board of NOA (No One Alone), providing support and assistance to victims of domestic violence.  She is also an active member of the Dahlonega Woman’s Club, a service organization supporting many local charities  She held the position of Secretary to Friends of the Library. 


For the past ten years, she volunteered monthly at the Community Helping Place food pantry.  She has also been a volunteer at the Free Clinic of the Community Helping Place since its inception., starting with interviewing potential clients for eligibility and continuing to this day as a front desk receptionist.


For the past 4 years, Pat has been an active member of the Board of Lumpkin Literacy, where she currently holds the position of Chair.  In 2015 she was co-chair of the annual adult spelling BEE, moving on to chair the event in 2016,  2017 and 2018, the 14th year of this amazing fund raiser. 


Given her love of reading and learning, Pat feels that being a part of Lumpkin Literacy is vital to helping increase the literacy rate in our community.  Being able to read and comprehend is the most important thing in helping with future employment and financial security.    

Shirley Christman

After living in the DC metropolitan area most of her life, Shirley has loved living in Dahlonega for the past eight years.  A retired educator, Shirley volunteered as a GED tutor in the Adult Learning Center prior to joining the Lumpkin Literacy board in 2016. 

Shirley works with co-chair Joan Michael to provide a dictionary to every third grader in the county and a classroom sets of novels to each sixth grader with the funding help of the Rotary Club. Her favorite books are The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Little Women, Little House on the Prairie and Gone with the Wind.  She also helps monthly as Librarian for the Second Chances program detention center library.

Past Chair:  Donna Gessell

Dr. Donna Gessell has served on the Lumpkin Literacy board since 2000, serving as Chair from 2002-2003 and from 2014-2016. She has served in many other capacities, including Board Development and Wordsmith for the Spelling Bee. Donna is a Professor of English at the University of North Georgia on the Dahlonega campus, and her areas of teaching include literature (18th C British, Milton, and Jane Austen), composition, linguistics, and pedagogy. Her passion for literacy began after reading an article on illiteracy and realizing that her then six year-old daughter read at a level higher than one-third of the adults in the United States. Since moving to Dahlonega, she has served on the various boards and committees, including the Lumpkin County Development Authority; Leadership Lumpkin; Lumpkin County High School Career, Technical, and Agriculture Education Advisory Council, Dahlonega/Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee; Community Helping Place Free Clinic Advisory Board; Dahlonega Sunrise Rotary; Georgia Appalachian Center for Higher Education; and Lumpkin County Girl Scouts Service Unit. Currently, she also serves on the Dahlonega Literary Festival Board, the past year serving as Treasurer. She enthusiastically believes in the power of reading to learn, which is a lifelong endeavor, one that leads to both economic independence and personal fulfillment.




Lumpkin Literacy has been supporting lifelong literacy programs in our county for 47 years. We currently provide free books to preschoolers by funding the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, provide The Basics early learning program for babies age 0-3, and offer free GED classes and testing fees for adult education. We are a non-profit 501c (3) corporation. Our mission is to increase adult and childhood literacy in Lumpkin County.​

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