Board of Trustees
The Children's Park of Georgia is a project of Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation.
Sandi McDougal Anderson – Senior Board Member & Treasurer
Sandi formerly worked as the Marketing Coordinator for six years at NAI/Brannen Goddard. As a multi-generation native of Cherokee County, she is well connected throughout the community in the business, medical, government, and media sectors. She attended two years at Reinhardt College where she graduated with a Liberal Arts Degree. She holds a Bachelors of Education from The University of Georgia as well as a current teaching certificate for the State of Georgia. She and her family are members of Canton First United Methodist Church, where she serves on the Missions Board in order to help the community with local missions
“As a mother of three healthy children, I am so thankful for the blessings they have brought into my life. I feel as a mother and a Christian that it is important to support families with children, especially those who have children with disability or have experienced the tragedy of losing a child. After visiting the Children’s Park in Tyler, Texas, I saw first hand what a park like this means to families. I know in my heart that this park will be a joyful place where we can come together and celebrate the lives of all children.”
Alan Bowen – Board Member
Alan is the co-owner of The Bowen Insurance Agency, Farmers Insurance, located in Hickory Flat and owner of Bowen Development Co. He has extensive horticultural experience as the previous co-owner of Sharp Top Trees, an ornamental landscape tree farm for 15 years. He is the past President and Treasurer of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, and also served on the Board of the Partnership for the National Trails System. He is a past President of the Ga. Division of Reenactors Association and the Cartersville Bartow Youth Soccer Association. He is a past Elder in the 1st Presbyterian Church, Cartersville, former Board Member of the Cartersville/Bartow Chamber of Commerce along with being a member of various trade associations and organizations. He has been a member of the 1st Presbyterian Church Choir for 25 years or so and currently sing with the Big Chicken Chorus which is a men’s competitive barbershop group and serve on its board as Treasure.
“I have no doubt that the Children's Park of Georgia, when completed, will be one of the Crown Jewells of North Georgia. This Park will offer many facets of enjoyment to its visitors ranging from a place of reflection, meditation and therapy to a place of celebrating Life itself.”
Florine Brookshire – Advisory Board Member & Bookkeeper
Tim Cavender – Board Member
Tim Cavender is presently Director of Public Affairs for Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services in Canton, Georgia. Cavender is also a well known magician, comedian and motivational speaker. For 35 years, Tim has spoken to hundreds of organizations and groups including Fortune 500 companies. In 2003, the largest organization for magicians inducted Tim into the Order of Merlin at their annual convention in Kansas City. A member of the prestigious International Brotherhood of Magicians, he has performed throughout the country and on Atlanta television. Tim has been featured in numerous newspapers including the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He has also appeared in Current magazine and was the cover story in the June issue of Georgia magazine in 1996 and the December issue in 2010.
He is very active in his community having served as a Ball Ground City Councilman in 1996-1997. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, the Ball Ground Historical Society and the Tater Patch Players Theater Group.
Tim has a tremendous love for children and during the past 40 years, he has been a professional Santa Claus. He has appeared in a regional television commercial that was shown in eleven states. Tim and his wife, Pam, have been the official Santa and Mrs. Claus for the lighting of the state tree at the Georgia Governor’s Mansion since 2009. Santa Tim was also featured on CNN in 2009 for granting a special Christmas wish to a little girl and was featured in 2012 and 2013 on USA Today.
Pam Cavender – Board Member
A life long resident of Georgia, residing in both Cobb and Cherokee counties, Pam Cavender has been actively involved in educational, community and service organizations for many years. She has served as a PTA co-president for The Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, a board member on the Miss Cobb County Scholarship Pageant, and the Leadership Cherokee steering committee.
Pam is a certified Image Consultant and a graduate of The London Image Institute. She has hosted and produced two award winning cable television shows and continues to work in media relations on a volunteer basis in her community where she serves as publicity chairperson for The Ball Ground Business and Community Association as well as for The Ball Ground Historical Society.
Pam was chosen as The Magic Spark Plug recipient in her graduating class of Leadership Cherokee and as Mrs. Congeniality in the Mrs. Georgia USA pageant and continues to coach and prepare young women on stage presence and interview skills in pageant competition.
Mrs. Cavender is happily married to her husband, Tim ( AKA Santa ) and enjoys portraying Mrs. Claus by his side throughout the state of Georgia. She is the proud mother of one adult daughter, Lyndsey, who she says is “the best work she ever did!” Her deceased baby girl, Courtney, resides in Heaven and says she is an angel on our shoulders…Pam and her family live in north Georgia and continue to live by her personal creed, “savor the journey of life.”She has vision and a passionate heart for the project of The Children’s Park of Georgia and is humbled, honored and grateful for her appointment to the board of trustees.
“Together, by God’s grace, and our dedicated efforts we can make this very necessary park a reality.”
Lynn Gunkler – Advisory Board Member
"The vision of this park is emotional and amazing all at once. My first born son, Devyn, passed away shortly after birth and then we nearly lost our daughter to complicated seizures and our son to cancer. Knowing that there could be a place that I would not feel alone in this journey and it's reason for existence is children, healing, love and support gives me the hope that for myself and for others that there will be a place for peace".
Lisa Hootselle – Senior Board Member
Lisa has held several leadership and management positions with organizations such as Regal Entertainment Group, Guardian Savings and Loan, and most recently, Cartoon Network. She has a strong creative background and a reputation for meticulous attention to detail. She holds a Bachelor of Science in English Education from Kennesaw State University. Lisa is an active volunteer at her children’s elementary school and for Sidelines, an organization that provides counseling to families coping with high-risk pregnancies.
“Being a part of this amazing project to build a park that will celebrate the lives of all children pulls at my heart strings on a personal level. After experiencing the loss of my daughter, Emma, I know the feeling of heartbreak and unimaginable grief that comes from the loss of a child. Because of this, I understand first hand the pain families feel who are faced with this new reality. Although each of our stories are unique, parents who have experienced the loss of a child deeply grieve for their children and seek a way to heal the wounds the loss has created. I want to help build this park that will celebrate the love every parent has for his or her child; no matter how long we hold our children in our arms, we still love them the same.”
Peggy Moore – Board Member
Peggy brings extensive board leadership experience to RGCF as well as a heart for giving back to the community. She has served on boards for the Sequoia Regional Library System, Cherokee County Arts Center, and Must Ministries Capital Campaign for Cherokee County. She was also a founding board member for the Cherokee County Education Foundation. Peggy is an active volunteer in her church as well serving on the Staff-Parrish Relations Committee of Canton First United Methodist.
She has a degree in Journalism from University of Georgia and worked for more than 35 years specializing in the radio, television and motion picture industries.
In 1985, Peggy delivered twin boys: Richard Jonathan and Rusty. Sadly, Richard Jonathan died at birth and Rusty passed away three years later in 1988 with complications of brain injury from birth. To this day, Peggy remembers, and is still deeply touched, by the outpouring of kindness and support she received from the community as so many volunteered and did their best to help her son Rusty overcome his tremendous challenges of brain injury. With a memorial fund established for Rusty, Peggy and her husband Mark developed a playground at a local Cherokee County school which was revolutionary at the time to provide playground equipment for children with special needs.
Peggy and Mark are now the proud parents of three grown sons. Peggy has a passion for giving back to the community and hopes that the Children’s Park of Georgia will provide joy as well as peace and comfort to all families for years to come.
Alison McDougal Higgins – Advisory Board Member
Alison McDougal Higgins, a life-long resident of Cherokee County. Her previous roles with Northside Hospital-Cherokee and the Chamber of Commerce have allowed her to be well connected in the community to many of Cherokee County ’s key leaders and businesses. Alison holds a Bachelors Degree in Marketing and Communications from the University of Georgia.
“After spending the first 5 weeks of my son’s life in the NICU at Scottish Rite-Egleston, my eyes were opened to the trials that many families experience. My husband and I were blessed by God to bring our son home while we saw others that were not so fortunate whether it was due to the loss of their child or a debilitating illness that confined them to constant healthcare attention, and this was heartbreaking to us. I feel this park will bring a glimmer of hope and happiness to all families and allow them the opportunity to celebrate the lives of their children through beauty, peace and serenity.”
Jennifer Newsom – Advisory Board Member
Jennifer formerly worked as a Project Leader for General Electric Corporation. She holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and she is Six Sigma Green Belt certified. Jennifer uses her project management, organization and public speaking experience to orchestrate efforts to promote awareness and raise funds for Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation.
“My husband and I have been blessed with two healthy children. My oldest child, however, experienced unexpected medical complications shortly after birth, and her first two years of life were filled with doctors, procedures, and the like – all things we hadn’t envisioned having to endure when we started down the path to parenthood. Through all of the uncertainty during those years, I came to truly understand and deeply appreciate the gifts each day brings. I believe The Children’s Park is needed in our community, as a place of solace and healing for those experiencing unimaginable grief, but also as a place that embraces and celebrates each child as the unique gift from God that they are.”
Brittany Richardson – Board Member & Secretary
Brittany is a life-long resident of Cherokee County. She is the Braille Clerk for Cherokee County School District. She holds a degree in Special Education as well as Brialle certification through the Library of Congress.She is a Mother to an "Angel baby," Carter Combs 1-7-2015. After having her baby, she decided to create a website in memory of Carter called 3angelbabies.com. She knew she needed to help others who had gone through loss and share Carter's story as her own testimony.
"It's a Mother's instinct to protect her child but when her child dies, it's her instinct to protect their memory. The Children's Park is where we can go to get away…along with others who have been in our shoes. This park will help families who are grieving to know that they are not alone. Families can bring their living children, grandchildren and future babies to the park and enjoy the moments while honoring those lost. It's a wonderful feeling to know that we have support in a time that we need it the most. I could not me more honored, humbled and excited to be a part of this project!"
Deborah Smith – Board Member
Deborah is a teaching professional with 17 years of experience working in a wide range of educational areas, including early childhood education, interrelated special education, teaching children with visual impairments, and orientation and mobility instruction for children. Her education includes: Master of Arts: Western Michigan University - Teaching Children With Visual Impairments, Kalamazoo, MI, Master of Arts: Western Michigan University - Orientation and Mobility for Children, Kalamazoo, MI, Internship, Center for Visually Impaired, Atlanta, GA, 2010-2011, and a Bachelor of Science: Valdosta State University - Early Childhood Education, Valdosta, GA, USA
With her extensive professional experience in Special Education as well as her personal experience of being the parent of a medically fragile child, Deborah gives an important perspective and voice to the vision, design details and future programming within the Children’s Park of Georgia.
Christy Cox Zeigler – Founder/ CEO / Executive Director
Christy has a strong business and I/T management background with more than 15 years of full-cycle application and web development experience. She was formerly a Project Manager and Senior Programmer Analyst for a Fortune 100 company in Atlanta. In this role, she received multiple awards for excellence including: President’s Circle, Catalyst, Department Head, and three Service Leader Awards. In addition she attained multiple job related certifications. In her professional experience, she has developed extensive skills in leadership, strategic planning, problem solving, facilitating, leading multiple interest groups, presenting, training, and full cycle project management. Prior to this experience, while working for a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management at The University of Georgia, Christy demonstrated leadership and commitment to excellence early on by working her way up from a front desk clerk to Manager on Duty of a 308 room Holiday Inn in downtown Athens.“In cases of loss, parents have such a deep desire to have their child remembered. Regardless of how long the child’s life was, they impacted this world by touching the hearts of those who loved them. Every life is important and has purpose. The Children’s Park of Georgia will provide a place to honor the LIVES of all children. It is not a place that focuses on loss but instead on celebrating the lives of our children. It will provide a window into the journey of others to grow understanding and empathy in our community…an amazing collection of stories of the families that make up the community. It will be a beacon of encouragement and inspiration to those who need it most. It will be a lasting contribution to our community that will continue to touch hearts decades from now.”