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PhenoMENal Men of Fayette

Four of Fayette's finest share their lives, work and love for our community.

Darryl Hicks

Board Chairman, Fayette County Development Authority

By Pam Reid

Bridge-builder, advocate, and community leader, Darryl Hicks' passion for others is expressed in many ways.  From serving on local and state boards to pursuing his desire to serve at a higher level, Darryl demonstrates a willingness to give of himself — time, talent and treasure — in the most meaningful ways. For those who benefit from his compassion, Darryl’s accomplishments attest to his philanthropic impact.

Eighteen years ago, the school system here drew Darryl, and his wife, Shirelle, to Fayette County. Born in Atlanta and raised in Reynolds, GA, this father of three holds true to his belief, “God put me on this earth to be a bridge-builder. I build bridges over chasms to help people cross.” In 2002 while in his role with Habitat for Humanity, Darryl was recognized by President George W. Bush as the “Outstanding Volunteer of Georgia”.

While Darryl didn’t set out with political aspirations, he asked himself, “What state-wide offices can I run for that fit the managerial skills I’ve acquired?” The answer led Darryl to run for the Secretary of State seat in 2006, and a run for Labor Commissioner for the state in 2010. “I’m indifferent to people’s politics, I just want to know what it is, so I can help them.”

As the current Chair of the Fayette County Development Authority, Darryl also serves on the Fayette County Board of Elections and was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to serve on two state-wide boards — the Georgia Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission, and the Georgia Board of Used Motor Vehicle Dealers. Several other boards, committees, foundations, and advisory councils benefit from Darryl’s love of people and service. “God promised us that He will order our footsteps. Either it’s a trial or it’s a blessing. Either way, I’m on the good side.”

Hadi Rabai

Restaurantuer, The Beirut

By Pauli Reep

It is a rarity to see an open seat at The Beirut in Peachtree City. The aromas of exotic herbs and spices from authentic Lebanese cooking greet your senses with a pleasant "slap" as soon as you open the door. Hadi Rabai, who has been working in restaurants since the age of fifteen, is the man behind the food.

Hadi emigrated from Beirut, Lebanon to Ohio in 1994. In 2007, he moved to Fayette County to be near family. He brought with him a passion and drive to open a restaurant of his own.  In 2010, his dream became a reality when he and his aunt, Fatima Hojaij, opened The Beirut.  Their first few years were challenging and lean. With passion, hard work and determination, diners started to pour in, and in 2019, Hadi doubled the capacity of the restaurant by taking in the adjacent space. 

Hadi makes it clear that Fayette County is his home. He is grateful for family, friends and customers that have helped him to get the restaurant where it is today. Hadi is particularly proud of the loyalty of his employees. Many have been with him since the restaurant opened 12 years ago. There is a close, family-like atmosphere at The Beirut.  “These people are my family, and my home is their home!” said Hadi. 

At gatherings in his own home, Hadi loves to cook and experiment with his Traeger Grill (he calls it "traegering").  His motto is to “slow down and enjoy what you've got." This life philosophy allows him to spend time with his beautiful wife Farah and 2 young daughters. Hadi has built himself and our community a fabulous place to unwind at the end of a long day. We highly recommend you make reservations and tell Hadi we sent you! You won't be disappointed.

Mike Conaway

Executive Director, The Healing Bridge Clinic

By Pam Reid

Mike Conaway's warm smile and kind persona are the outward expression of a servant's heart and strong faith in God. As Mike and his wife, Shirley, made their way from the Midwest to Fayette County, Georgia, Mike gained a great deal of life and business experience that equipped him for the many hats he would wear in service to the church, community, and his local charity — Healing Bridge Clinic.

Mike was asked to serve on the Healing Bridge Clinic board of directors in 2014. His passion for service and impact was immediately evident, and it wasn’t long before Mike was board chair. When his term was about to expire, the governing body was not eager to let him go. In 2018, Mike accepted the opportunity to be the Executive Director of the Healing Bridge Clinic, becoming the organization’s first full-time employee.

The Healing Bridge Clinic, a nonprofit since 2009, provides healthcare to the underserved people of central Georgia. The services offered range from general medicine, orthopedic, chiropractic, dermatology, cardiology, behavioral health counseling, addiction counseling, podiatry, and chronic care management.

To give perspective to the organization’s impact — $250,000 in medical care was provided in 2017, and an amazing $1.3 million in 2021. They’ve partnered with Telehealth to provide continuous service to their patients. “When our doors are not open, patients can be connected to a provider, giving the uninsured population 24-7 access to healthcare. This is huge for us.”

Mike is grateful for what the organization can do for those who are unable to afford medical services but has plans to expand. If you are looking for a way to volunteer — in any capacity, not just medical — or give financially, visit or call 770-681-0157. “Our goal is to be your provider through a season, to help you get well; to help you get what you need; equip you with what you need to go back to work or to go get a job. You could be the next story.”

Jefferson Browne

Owner, Jefferson Browne Architecture

By Susan Walworth

Fueled by a passion for architecture discovered in a seventh-grade shop class, Jefferson Browne has made an indelible mark on Fayette County. A Maryland native, he came here with his wife Debbie 30 years ago to design a friend’s house in Peachtree City.  “We never went back,” Browne said, adding they raised sons Derek, Alec and Huntington here.

Through a stellar reputation, his firm has flourished and is now working on projects in 21 states. Browne’s Fayette County projects have touched the lives of many local residents. The list includes the Pavilion at Drake Field, the SMC3 and Peachtree Professional buildings in Peachtree City, the Treehouse and other Camp Southern Ground projects, several projects at Town at Trilith, Triumph Park’s adaptive reuse of existing buildings in Fayetteville, the Joseph Sams School and Bloom. His architectural firm also designed the treehouses for the television show Treehouse Masters. 

Browne’s firm uses 3D modeling and printing and has a virtual reality studio, which allows clients to walk through their designs before they’re built.  “We look at nature, sustainability, wellness and evidence-based design principles to guide the process,” he said. Browne also wants to build structures that restore and regenerate. “I think that shelter and buildings should inspire and bring people hope,” he said, “I've been told by other people that our architectural styles influence this community. We feel really blessed.”

After 40 years as an architect, Browne feels he’s nowhere near his potential. “I just want to get better and be ready for the next opportunities.” 

About 60 percent of Browne’s architectural projects are medical, which led to his involvement in medical missions where he personally witnessed people starving. “That really got to me. The passion and purpose that God put in my heart are to feed and sustain people,” 

This experience led Browne to begin researching alternative farming methods for indoor growing capable of producing multiple crops per year. From that, Alō Farms was born. The alternative farm grows leafy greens, microgreens, sprouts and fish and creates community around food security and nutrition.