Name: Kyajuana Gilbert
Family: Husband, Jason Gilbert
Years in the Golden Isles: Six years
School: Savannah State University, B.A., Communications; University of Phoenix, M.B.A.
Occupation: Executive director at STAR Foundation of Coastal Georgia
Favorite landmark in the Golden Isles: The Sidney Lanier Bridge. Seeing the bridge at sunrise or sunset is breathtaking and reminds me of how truly blessed we are to live in such a connected community here in the Golden Isles.
Describe a perfect Saturday for you and your family in the Golden Isles: The perfect Saturday with my husband Jason is breakfast at Halyards on St. Simons Island, followed by golf on Jekyll Island, followed by dinner at Mr. Shucks Seafood.
What is the mission of Star Foundation? STAR strives to educate and empower adults in our community with the foundational skills needed to thrive personally and professionally.
How did you get involved with Star Foundation? My first opportunity to serve at STAR was in the summer of 2018 when I was asked to create a curriculum and teach a one-week “boot camp.” After teaching the workshop and interacting with the students, I fell in love with the organization and its mission. When the previous executive director relocated, I was overjoyed to interview for the position. My passion is to instilling hope and making a positive impact in the lives of youth and adults. Being at STAR I can inspire transformational change daily.
Explain what a typical day looks like for you as executive director for Star Foundation: At STAR, no two days are just alike. When classes are in session, my mornings start by arriving early to greet our team, have a daily huddle, and making preparations for students to arrive. As soon as the doors unlock at 8:45 a.m., our students are coming through our doors getting their temperatures checked and ensuring they are masked up and ready for the work period from 9-11 a.m. Some days I am fortunate enough to participate in student activities, mock interviews, or information sessions, but most days our dynamic instructor, Nickol Shepherd,
works directly with the class. Once all students have arrived and are settled in class, I begin working through email and phone communications with partner agencies, board members, and program graduates. I also usually attend nonprofit webinars and leadership meetings virtually during the morning hours at least once or twice a week. The afternoons are filled with a variety of tasks including grant writing and reporting, fiscal duties, community outreach meetings, program planning, recruitment and follow-up activities, and meeting with prospective and graduate students. Once a quarter we host day and evening workshops, where I serve as a facilitator teaching in the areas of financial planning, computer basics, and college and career readiness. I end each day by planning for the next day’s activities and making a new to-do list.