McMillan approaches life and work with enthusiasm
by Matt Shinall
May 06, 2013 | 2846 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Leslie McMillan is vice president of Government & Community Development for the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce, as well as owner of Palooza Photo Booth. SPECIAL
Leslie McMillan is vice president of Government & Community Development for the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce, as well as owner of Palooza Photo Booth. SPECIAL
slideshow
Bartow native Leslie McMillan takes pride in her hometown and her work as vice president of Government & Community Development for the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce.

She can be seen at most chamber events with a smile and an infectious outlook on life. Through work and personal pursuits, McMillan helps others prepare for success as a champion of personal development — most notably as director of the annual Leadership Bartow programs for youth and adults.

McMillan herself was selected as a member of the Leadership Georgia class of 2012, joining the ranks of esteemed graduates, including leaders on the state and national stage.

Taking to heart the chamber’s motto, Chamber Serving Businesses ... Businesses Serving the Community, McMillan has a passion for serving her community by advocating for business owners — a class she recently joined herself.

“The impact the chamber has on the community is tremendous. Our members and the volunteers that share their lives with us make up the chamber team. Without the people in the community striving to succeed, having the initiative and being resourceful in growing their businesses, helping others and making a positive impact in government, education, philanthropically and giving their heart, the chamber would only be a building off Main Street — a nice building — but only a building,” McMillan said. “The people of Bartow County and our members positively impact the community and our role as a chamber is to listen to the stakeholders in the community and represent their needs to the best of our abilities.

“We provide an avenue in which we can help others make a positive impact. In order to move forward, we need a collaborative effort from everyone. Education, government, corporate, small business, nonprofits and faith-based entities all contribute to our success and impact our community as a whole.”

Occupation/Title: Vice President of Government & Community Development for the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce

City of residence:White

Family: Single, taking applications

Education: Bachelor of Science in Sport Management with concentrations in Sport Marketing and Recreation Management from Kennesaw State University and Master of Business Administration from University of West Georgia

Age: 32

What led you to your current role with the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce?

A: I have been with the chamber since January 2010. It was a great opportunity to work in the community I grew up in and hopefully make an impact! I am a firm believer in things just do not happen by chance. This is where I am supposed to be right now.

What are your main responsibilities as Vice President of Government and Community Development?

A: Leadership: I oversee the Leadership Bartow program — the community leadership development program that has a rich history dated back to 1985. Our Youth Leadership program comprised of sophomores and juniors from our five area high schools and our Leadership Bartow Alumni Association made up of graduates.

Government: Coordinates the Governmental Affairs committee, Washington DC Fly-in.

Community Development: Employer Committee/HR Council, Not for Profit Executive Roundtable, Quarterly Luncheon, Bartow County College & Career Academy Advisory, Bartow County Schools Work-Based Learning/YAP Advisory Committee, Cartersville High School Career/Technical Department Advisory.

What is the most rewarding part of your role in the community?

A: The most rewarding part of my role is the opportunity to help others. I love connecting people and being a resource so others can find information. I learn so much about our community from the people leading to the services offered through various outlets and it is always a treat to help others make the connection too. Seeing the good in people helping people is definitely part of a benefits package that I want to be involved in. The friendships that I have made and the opportunities I have been afforded is a bonus. I’ve met so many amazing people that I learn from and that inspire and motivate me to keep working hard.

You also are involved with the Bartow County Recreation Department and a regular at Pine Log Creek Trail and Pine Mountain. What has drawn you to the areas of recreation, and specifically outdoor recreation?

A: I love the outdoors. It is simple in the fact that I love wide open spaces! There’s just something about walking outside, breathing in the fresh air and feeling like you can conquer the world.

The connection to recreation started when I was young. I started taking Tae Kwon Do karate in first grade. I reached black belt by fourth or fifth grade and even was able to fill in as an instructor sometimes. I played basketball at the Bartow County Recreation Department beginning in third grade and received my first set of golf clubs that year as well. At Cass Middle I played softball and basketball and at Cass High I played volleyball, basketball and golf. I love being part of a team. After high school I started working at the Recreation Department and enjoyed coaching tee-ball, soccer and basketball. I’ve been able to coach basketball, volleyball and soccer at Cass High, as well. I enjoy participating, coaching and watching most all sports!

In November 2012, I started working out daily and following a 90 percent Paleo lifestyle, going to the gym and trying to stay active. I love hiking, Pine Mountain and Pine Log Creek Trails are great. In late January I made a deal with LaDonna Jordan, my co-worker that we would hike Pine Mountain 28 days of February! Since then we hike three to five times a week typically. I call it the “Hiking Committee.” With the combination of working out, hiking and following the Paleo lifestyle, I have lost 95 pounds in six months, so at this point in the journey, that has been a draw of hiking the mountains — getting healthy and staying active! Also, it’s a great activity for friends to do together! Join the hiking committee today!

You also recently began your own business enterprise. What services does Palooza Photo Booth offer and how did that come about?

A: Palooza Photo Booth is an awesome feature to add to any special event. We come out to the event and set up a photo booth and props for your guests to enjoy. Your guests can grab all of their friends and step into the photo booth after visiting the prop table in which they can disguise themselves with hats, unique masks, sunglasses, etc. Upon exiting the photo booth a photo strip with your pictures prints instantly. This is a great memento for guests to take home with them! We offer customized logos at the bottom of the photo strip, a scrapbook feature and green screen in our packages. Visit www.paloozaphotobooth.com.

I was serving on the Cartersville Dances with the Stars committee for Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter with Lori Barnette Albea. I shared with her that I had a friend that I met at Chamber Institute, which had a photo booth business in Mississippi. My friend, then, a Chamber President, owned the business with her husband and shared with me how the business worked. I returned home with this business in the back of my mind in late July 2012 and when Lori and I discussed randomly at the committee meeting, she wanted to know more. We researched and in October 2012, took the leap and started our business. We have provided services for special events, fundraisers, corporate functions, proms, school dances, alumni events, holiday parties, reunions and birthday parties.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

A: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I believe if it is in God’s will or plan for me, then it will happen, I just need to stay out of the way.

What would most people be surprised to learn about you?

A: I have my own definition of organization — stop by my office one day and I can illustrate!

Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?

A: Work or outdoors on top of a mountain with people!

What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

A: I took a poll amongst friends; my winning attributes are — Ambitious, determined and enthusiastic

If you were not in this line of work, what would you like to do?

A: I like everything that I do now. I really enjoy it when the pace is fast and juggling is required! I love the chamber, the Recreation Department and Palooza Photo Booth but if I had to do something else, a TV or Radio host — I am picturing being able to give cars, appliances, homes and all of “my favorite things” away!