Penfield College Launches Leadership Development Program for Georgia Department of Public Health


MCDONOUGH – Mercer University's Penfield College recently launched an eight-month leadership development certificate program for employees in Georgia Department of Public Health District 4.

The program, which consists of 15 biweekly sessions from July 2015 to March 2016, is designed to provide an introduction to leadership development including teambuilding, communication skills, facilitation skills and other topics necessary to construct an effective leadership team in the public health profession.

A total of 50 employees under the supervision of District 4 Public Health Director Dr. Olugbenga Obasanjo are participating in the program, which takes place at Mercer's Henry County Regional Academic Center in McDonough.

“Penfield College's undergraduate and graduate leadership programs in organizational development, non-profit leadership, healthcare leadership and public safety leadership provide an extraordinary foundation for the leadership development seminars the College provides to various public health entities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, now, Georgia's Public Health District 4,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of the College. “We are delighted to play a role in equipping the state's emerging leaders in the field of public health.”

The program coordinator is Dr. Lynn Clemons, associate professor of leadership and Leadership Challenge Certified Facilitator. 

“Working with District 4 Public Health is another great opportunity for us. We continue to hear from organization leaders that want leadership development. They recognize that there is a difference between management and leadership and want their organizations to be equipped with effective leaders who will be ready to lead when called,” said Dr. Clemons. 

“Dr. Obasanjo's visionary leadership recognized this need for his organization. In addition to wanting to prepare his leaders for the challenges they face, he researched programs at other universities and believed Penfield College's cadre of faculty had the ability to design and customize a program to meet their needs.”

Additional faculty involved in the program include Dr. Kevin B. Williams, assistant professor of healthcare leadership; Dr. Susanne Diggs-Wilborn, assistant professor of leadership; Dr. Thomas Kail, professor of leadership and applied studies; Dr. Laurie Lankin, professor of counseling and human sciences; Dr. Pearl R. Smith, assistant professor of organizational leadership; Dr. V. Lynn Tankersley, associate professor of public safety; and Deborah Jones, assistant professor of organizational leadership.

“When I resumed as health director in September of 2013, it was clear that the District's greatest assets were its 300-plus staff. After a year of formal and informal feedback and interaction with them, the leadership in the District and I concluded that a structured leadership training for current and potential leaders would add value to the organization,” said Dr. Obasanjo.

“We researched various programs, and Mercer clearly had the experience and expertise we needed. Mercer's faculty members have public health training so they understand what we do and the unique requirements of our work. They had used this background to give similar training to other public health organizations in the past, so we knew they had the experience and resources. Based on the recent feedback from our participants, our choice of Mercer was apt.”

The Georgia Department of Public Health funds and collaborates with 18 separate public health districts throughout the state. District 4 Public Health offers an array of programs and services related to adult, child and community health in Butts, Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, Heard, Henry, Lamar, Meriwether, Pike, Spalding, Troup and Upson counties in west Georgia. For more information, visit

Penfield College has offered a number of certificate and workforce development programs to clients such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Piedmont Healthcare, GreyStone Power Corporation, Wyle, Leadership Douglas and Leadership Henry. These programs include executive leadership, health coaching and multidisciplinary care coordination, leadership for the medical practice, public safety, and substance abuse counseling.

About Penfield College of Mercer University

Penfield College of Mercer University, established as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2003, is committed to serving non-traditional learners and currently enrolls more than 1,300 students. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to working adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Educational programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary programs that integrate theory and practice. The College offers general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer. Another initiative called the Bridge program transitions students enrolled in Mercer's English Language Institute and other international students to undergraduate programs throughout the University. Areas of study include organizational leadership, counseling, school counseling, human services, human resources, informatics, public safety leadership, nursing preparation, liberal studies, psychology and communication. Programs are offered on Mercer's campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as multiple regional academic centers in Douglas County, Henry County and Newnan, and online. To learn more, visit