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Fabulous Women of Fayette

Meet five wonderful women doing wonderful things for our community.

Fayette County has no shortage of amazing women doing amazing things and this year's five are no exception. Enjoy reading how some ladies are making Fayette County better in encouraging and inspiring ways. 

Liesa Johnson

By Pam Reid

For 28 years, Liesa Johnson has been an engaged member of Fayette County. Since childhood, Liesa’s father instilled in her the principle of leaving things better than she found them, a philosophy that guides her servant’s heart to this day.

As the first in her family to attend college, Liesa Johnson graduated from the University of Virginia and went on to earn her master’s degree. While she received some academic and financial scholarships, Liesa also worked to make ends meet. Determined to give back, Liesa pledged to support others once she achieved success. True to her word, Liesa established a scholarship to assist a deserving student each year in pursuing their college education. This scholarship, initially valued at $1,000, has since grown to $5,000 and stands as a testament to Liesa’s dedication to helping others. She credits her husband, Jim, for his unwavering support over the past 12 years in this endeavor, which was the first scholarship awarded by the Fortitude Educational and Cultural Development Center (FECDC).

Liesa holds a deep affection for youth, firmly believing in their potential to shape a better world. With 12 years of service at FECDC, 11 years at AVPRIDE, and 48 years as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Liesa has dedicated herself to various initiatives supporting youth, seniors, social action, voter registration, nonpartisan political forums, education on human trafficking, the Overflow End Stage Renal Foundation, Promise Place projects, and more.

Debbie Gronner

By Pam Reid

Debbie Gronner, Founder and CEO of The Women at The WELL, exemplifies unwavering faith, drawing inspiration from John 4:13-14, where Jesus meets the woman at the well. Despite her past mistakes, Debbie finds solace in God’s grace and sees it as the driving force behind her ministry. She believes that her calling to The Women at The WELL is a testament to God’s enduring love and forgiveness, symbolized by the name given to her.

Following several profound losses, God directed Debbie from a 24-year career to full-time ministry. The Women at The WELL, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was established to address the spiritual, mental, and emotional needs of women, serving over 600 to date. Through various programs like single women’s conferences, retreats, a young women’s connection group, and community outreach initiatives focused on raising awareness about human trafficking, sex trafficking, and suicide prevention, the ministry has made a significant impact in supporting women at different stages of their journey.

Stories of Hope stands as a cornerstone of the ministry. Every first Thursday of the month, women gather to share and connect through stories of hope. Featuring guest speakers who share their journeys from brokenness to redemption, these gatherings inspire and uplift women. Word of mouth and social media platforms like Facebook @thewomenathewell serve as avenues for women to discover The Women at The WELL. Visit for more information.

Niki Vanderslice

By Susan Walworth

Georgia native Niki Vanderslice is a wife, mother, and community gatekeeper. As president and CEO of Fayette County Development Authority, part of Niki’s job is welcoming companies and businesses into the county that are a good fit, and saying no thanks to the ones that aren’t. “We’re a world-class community,” she said. “I want Fayette County to look for and seize opportunities that will allow us to be the community we've always been— a county that has a reputation for excellence.”

Niki was appointed to the Authority in 2016. While appreciating the contributions of past leaders, she also sees the importance of developing new leaders.  “We've got to continuously develop leaders to have people that are casting vision for our community,” she said.  

Part of Niki’s vision involves providing opportunities for younger residents. “What are we doing to attract and make it so that our kids want to come back here? That’s what drives me. I want this community to be a place they want to be. I want my girls to be able to call Fayette County home in 30 years,” she said. 

Niki, husband Ed, and daughters Katie, 8, and Addie, 7, live near Brooks. Although she never envisioned herself living in metro Atlanta, Niki is home. “Our girls are the third generation to live on our family farm and I'm not going anywhere.”     

Shalita Thrasher

By Jennifer Conforti

Spend one minute with Shalita Thrasher and you will know her purpose… to advocate, educate, and empower women affected by breast cancer. 

“I had just been seen by a doctor and had a mammogram but it didn’t pick it up. I found my lump in the shower! This was in June of 2020, during the height of the Pandemic. I had to fight for a 3-D mammogram.” And fight, she did. Shalita was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 3 triple negative breast cancer—time to get serious. 

Born in Hollywood, Florida, Shalita moved to GA with her family when she was a child. Since her diagnosis in 2020, another new life started. “I thought this was it. I thought life was over. But it was just beginning.” Throughout all of her treatment, a double mastectomy, and reconstruction surgeries, Shalita found the strength and inspiration to help other women who were facing the same war. She rang the bell on December 12th, 2020, and never looked back. 

In 2023, Shalita founded Shine Through Me, Inc., a nonprofit organization that supports others dealing with breast cancer. Women receive life coaching, care packages full of items they will need for respite and care during treatment, and resources so that they can advocate for themselves and be fully educated. “Speak UP, ladies! Speak up and ask questions. No one knows your body better than you. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it.”

If you or someone you know needs support, go to for help or to donate to the cause. 

Mandy Timmons

By Susan Walworth

Camilla, GA, native Mandy Timmons' 30-year career with Cooper Lighting began while she attended college in Americus.  She moved to the company’s newly opened Peachtree City location in 1997 and is now the senior director of customer operations. She credits her successful career to fantastic managers, parents who taught her to work hard, and a thirst for knowledge.  “You can’t move up in your career without learning something new every day,” she said.  

Mandy also enjoys others’ success and focuses on her team’s development. She has led and is active in the Cooper women’s group and with her team started a leadership development program. 

For Mandy, giving back doesn’t end at Cooper.  She serves on the Harts of Teal board, and as a Peachtree City Rotary member, Mandy is the club's secretary, a major donor, Bequest Society member, the district public image chair, and a Rotary Leadership Institute instructor.   “I have always loved giving back to others,” she said, a trait instilled by her family—the most important thing in her life.  

“My parents are truly my two favorite people in the world, my sister Amy is my best friend, and my brother-in-law, Jeff, has been my mentor,” she said. Mandy is also dog-mom to her “very spoiled child,” Prissy. But her favorite title is GAM—Great Aunt Mandy—to Jace, Cade, Gray, Ellie, and Cash, children of her nephew, Bryce, and niece, Brooke. 

  • Liesa Johnson, Past Board Chair, AVPRIDE
  • Debbie Gronner, Founder & CEO, Women at the WELL
  • Niki Vanderslice, President & CEO, Fayette County Development Authority
  • Shalita Thrasher, Founder & CEO, Shine Through Me, Inc.
  • Mandy Timmons, Senior Director of Customer Operations, Cooper Lighting