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Meet Our Governing Board

Governing Board Biographies and Contacts

John LeJeune, Chair

Dr. John LeJeune is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Georgia Southwestern State University. He completed his Ph. D. in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego in 2014 and in 2012-13 was a Junior Teaching Fellow at the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College. He has published research on the intersection of political education and early childhood development, and helped found the GSW Chess Club. He resides in Americus with his wife Ke Wang and their two children.

Katie Minich, Vice Chair

Minich is a native of Blakely, GA where she graduated from Early County High School. She earned a BS in Psychology from Georgia Southwestern State University. She currently serves as a K-12 Outreach Representative for Georgia Student Finance Commission where she provides state and federal financial aid training to students, parents, guidance counselors, and community organizations. She currently resided in Americus, GA with her husband Josh and their two children.

Mariyana Kostov, Secretary

Kostov was born and raised in Bulgaria. She holds a master's degree from the University of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Sofia Bulgaria. She attended geography classes at the University of Montana where she lived with her husband for two years. She has been working for the River Valley Regional Commission (RVRC) in Americus since 2004 as the Geographic Information Systems Manager. She works with 16 counties and cities in the region helping them with tax parcel maintenance, E911 addressing, data analysis and more. Currently she is working with the GA Department of transportation on updating the road data for the RVRC region and with the US Census Bureau on 2020 Census population count. She is married to Dr. Svilen Kostov who teaches Physics at GSW University, and they have one son.

David Luvin, Treasurer

Luvin, originally from Independence, Missouri, has been a resident of Sumter County since his childhood.  He Graduated from Americus High School and has a BS in Computer Information Systems and a MS in Computer Science, both from Georgia Southwestern State University. He owns a local technology firm specializing in supporting small businesses with all of their IT needs. Mr. Luvin resides at Lake Blackshear with his family and they have two sons that attend Sumter County Public Schools.

Benjamin Meador, Parliamentarian

A native of Chicago, Mr. Meador received a B.A. in rhetoric in 2006 and a Ph.D. in exercise physiology in 2010, both from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  He started his post-doctoral career as a business manager, then took a position as a research scientist with Abbott Laboratories.  He moved to Americus in 2017 and is currently a professor of Exercise Science and Wellness at Georgia Southwestern State University. 

Dawn Daniels-McNear

Originally from Denver Colorado and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Mrs. Daniels-McNear has resided in Americus, GA since 2007, transferring to work with Habitat for Humanity International where she is currently the Manager of the Affiliate Support Center.  She graduated in 1987 with a BA in Sociology/Cultural Anthropology and Black World Studies from Ohio Wesleyan University. Her previous work experience has centered on gang, crisis, runaway, pregnancy and suicide intervention related to teens.  She is married to Carl McNear Jr., and they have 3 children.

Darlene Laird

Laird was born and raised on Long Island, New York. After studying English at SUNY Buffalo State, she worked for several national brand firms, both in New York City and Atlanta, and has worked in partnership with clients such as Turner Network Television, Timberland, Thrivent Financial, Ghirardelli, UFC, Ciena and Home Depot, both domestically and internationally. Mrs. Laird has lived in Americus since 2011, currently works as a Projects Manager for Habitat for Humanity International, and is a Certified Volunteer Administrator through the Council for Certification on Volunteer Administration.

Jeanie Smith

Mrs. Smith is a 25 year resident of Sumter County and works at Habitat for Humanity International in the US Grants department. She attended Indian River Community College in Stuart, FL studying computer and accounting. Her volunteer experience includes serving on the board of the Americus/Sumter Boys and Girls Club, Sumter County School Board, Panther Club, FFA Alumni, and currently serves on the New Horizons Habitat for Humanity board. She is a member of the Calvary Baptist Church and serves as church clerk. Mrs. Smith currently resides in Leslie with her husband of 29 years James. They have 2 grown daughters Anne-Elizabeth and Shelby.

Valerie Duff

Valerie Duff is a retired educator, having served 32 years in public education.  Her experience includes 12 years as a classroom teacher, five years as an assistant principal and the remainder as principal of Sumter County Primary School and later Furlow Charter School.  Valerie served on Furlow's founding board prior to holding the principal position.  Valerie and her husband, Pat, have two married children and two grandsons, one of whom is a scholar at Furlow.