Civic Affairs & Youth Leadership Awards Announced

Civic and Community Engagement Advocate of the Year

The Honorable Van Johnson of Savannah, for his selfless dedication to Georgia youth, was recognized as the 2017 Civic and Community Engagement Advocate of the Year. Ald. Johnson serves as the program chair for the Chatham County Youth Commission and has led the commission for over 20 years. Under his leadership, the Chatham County Youth Commission is a regular participant in the ACCG Youth Caucus. Johnson’s influence can be seen throughout Georgia because of his outstanding advocacy for youth programs. He is an elected official, but finds time to serve as a mentor to newer youth programs and has become a primary point of contact for all things related to youth programs. 

Johnson has a long history of community engagement including serving on the Savannah Regional Youth Detention Center Advisory Board, as Director of the Savannah Youth Council, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Chatham County Department of Family and Children Services. His work extends beyond youth, touching many facets of the communities in which he is involved.

Youth Leadership Award

Inika Jain, Fulton County Youth Commission member, serves as the vice chair and leads the commission’s Social Progress Committee. For her resilience and activism aimed at improving the lives of her fellow youth and community, she was awarded ACCG’s 2017 Youth Leadership Award.  Jain is an astute volunteer, giving as much as 20 hours per month and over 200 hours annually for planning meetings and community projects. Jain has been instrumental in projects that advocate efforts for violence, drug, and homelessness prevention as well as anti-bullying and anti-gang violence among youth. She took the lead among teammates in creating a drug prevention manual that has since been mass-produced and distributed within schools and youth programs.

Jain aspires to be a political leader, balancing her personal and professional development with her community involvement and showing strong academic performance in rigorous courses. Jain is persistent in improving the lives of others, touching many facets of her community and earning her place as both a team player and a leader.