Why I Give: providing opportunities for Grady College’s current students

A collage of three photos of Judy Sherling, including two headshots.
Judy Sherling (ABJ '70) has spent 16 years at the Development Authority of the city of Jeffersonville and Twiggs County, Georgia. (Photos: submitted)

Why I Give: providing opportunities for Grady College’s current students

January 16, 2024

Judy Sherling’s (ABJ ‘70) career path is a testament to just how valuable and broadly applicable a degree from Grady College truly is. Now the executive director of the Development Authority of the city of Jeffersonville and Twiggs County, GA, Sherling started her career in the 1970s by becoming one of the Athens Banner-Herald’s first female outside sales representatives. 

Between that first gig and her current role, Sherling made stops in North Georgia, where she worked various positions for the Dalton Daily Citizen-News, including a short stint covering University of Georgia athletics as a photographer, and in Cleveland, TN, where she worked for the Daily Banner as an advertising professional until being recruited by Knight Ridder publishing company to join the advertising team at the Macon Telegraph in Macon, GA. 

For 18 years in Macon, Sherling worked a variety of jobs, from classified manager to general manager in the company’s Warner Robins, GA, office. When Knight Ridder was sold to McClatchy publishing company, Sherling’s career shifted. She started editing the editorial pages and managing Macon.com. 

“It took every ounce of training I ever received to juggle all of the different positions,” Sherling said. “It was after an early retirement from newspapers that I joined the Development Authority in our community as its first director where I am still serving the community 16 years later.”

In her current role, Sherling works to bring new businesses to the Jeffersonville and Twiggs County community, which now hosts a major retail distribution center, two large solar farms, a major mining company and many small businesses, which, together, bring tax revenue to the county while also providing jobs for local citizens.

At Grady College, Judy Sherling studied advertising and public relations.

Sherling said it was largely her education in public relations at Grady College that prepared her with the tools to succeed in her current role. More broadly, Sherling carries the Grady-instilled lesson to keep a balanced approach when evaluating issues in both work and life. 

“The biggest lesson I learned through Grady is to keep an open mind toward the many aspects of life I encounter,” said Sherling. “Learning to gather the facts, do the research and form an opinion based on the full story has helped me be a better journalist and a better communicator with major company executives.”

Sherling, who also spent time serving on the Advisory Board at Grady College, gives back to the College through the High Five and Alumni Board Ex-PRIZE funds. Together, every dollar raised through these funds goes towards removing financial barriers to extracurricular learning, supporting experiential learning through internships and professional development, strengthening the student experience by enabling access to advanced technology and equipment, expanding student programing and more.

“My time on the Advisory Board at Grady College helped me understand how alumni support brings added benefit to the students as well as the school,” said Sherling. “That experience is also a reminder of the many benefits I received because of generous donors during my own college days at Grady. Now, I want to ‘pay it forward’ to this generation of future journalists and public relations practitioners.”

Outside of the office, Sherling loves spending time with her seven grandchildren, watching them grow into young adults and starting their own careers. She also enjoys painting, singing in a church group and playing afternoon cards with her friends. Sherling is a very involved member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, where she attends meetings at the local, state and national levels. And of course, she still cheers on her beloved Georgia Bulldogs. 

Those interested in supporting Grady College through High Five, which enables donors to support any area of the College with recurring gifts of just $5 a month or $60 a year, can visit the High Five webpage. To provide support through the Alumni Board Ex-PRIZE, which provides support for Grady College students to participate in experiential learning opportunities affiliated with a program or department within the College regardless of academic credit, visit the Alumni Board Ex-PRIZE fund page

Author: Jackson Schroeder, Jackson.Schroeder@uga.edu