Two graduates of Cherokee County schools got top grades for what they have accomplished in life when they were honored as Alumni of the Year last week.
Juvenile Court Judge Jennifer Davis and standout broadcaster and business leader Randy Gravely were presented awards by the Cherokee County Educational Foundation for their significant contributions to our community.
Both built on the solid foundation of education they received as students in the Cherokee County School District to go far in life and help others on the way.
A graduate of Etowah High School, Davis serves as chief judge of the Cherokee County Juvenile Court, working daily with children in crisis. She presides over cases involving dependency, delinquency, and children in need of services filings and hearings.
But she has done so much more in her role as chief Juvenile Court judge. Davis works tirelessly to bring stability for children who are in dangerous or unhealthy situations.
She presides over and created the first Juvenile Drug Treatment Court to intervene with children who abuse drugs and alcohol, and is creating a Family Treatment Court which will work toward substance abuse treatment for families.
As an attorney before being appointed juvenile court judge the majority of her practice was devoted to juvenile law. She represented parents and served as a guardian ad litem attorney for children in both dependency and delinquency cases.
Guardian ad litem is an individual appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a minor child in legal proceedings, such as divorce, child custody, child abuse and neglect, and parental rights and responsibilities cases.
Guardian ad litem has a unique responsibility to the child, protecting only his interests in cases that are frequently fraught with high emotions and conflict. Davis provided that to the children in her care.
Outside of the courtroom, Davis has made it a priority to remove obstacles for families in order for countless children to live happier lives. She is known as a “problem solver” for children as she works with others in the community to find resources when a child’s need arises, and she gets to work on behalf of the child.
Davis serves on the boards of several organizations serving children, including the Cherokee County Educational Foundation.
Nelson Mandela might have been speaking of Davis when he said, “History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.”
Having known Jennifer for a long time through several volunteer organizations, I can say with confidence that what she does is not work for her, it is truly her life calling.
A graduate of Cherokee High School, Gravley blends his work as a broadcast journalist, media company owner, and community leader to make Cherokee County a better place for us all.
An astute businessman, self-starter, visionary and hard worker, Gravley is one of those people who didn’t have every advantage when he was growing up, but who has taken advantage of the opportunities he has encountered in school and beyond.
After high school graduation, he attended Reinhardt College and Kennesaw State University, and originally hoped to be a high school government teacher and track and soccer coach.
But sometimes life gets in the way, and for this year’s alumnus of the year the chance to work in radio was something he couldn’t resist.
Gravley got his start in radio as a part-time board operator at the local radio station while attending college and by the age of 25 had purchased his first radio station.
He began his broadcast career in 1992 at Cherokee Broadcasting and WCHK in Canton. From his start as a board operator, he quickly began working on-air, in sales, and as assistant manager.
In 1998, he, along with business partner, the late and great Byron Dobbs, started their own business, Tri-State Communications, where Gravley now serves as president and CEO. Tri-State owns WLJA FM and three other radio stations, as well as Enjoy Magazine Inc.
Gravley also quickly became involved in his community. He was the youngest person to become chairman of the board of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce in 2004, and the youngest to chair the board of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters the following year in 2005.
In 2017, Gravley was inducted into the Georgia Association of Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame.
On the national level, Gravley was chosen chair of the Radio Board of the National Association of Broadcasters in 2017. That level of involvement for someone from Canton, Georgia, is pretty amazing.
Gravley served as chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Elections for a number of years, helping to make sure our election process is fair and well-run.
He has served on the Cherokee County Zoning Board of Appeals and as a member of the Development Authority of Cherokee County.
He is a member of the Cherokee County and the Sequoyah Regional library boards and is on the History Cherokee Board of Directors.
Our inductee has won more awards than I can name for his work as a broadcaster. One I especially remember is when he, Byron Dobbs and I were honored in 1997 for our local cable television show, “Newsmakers.”
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”
My friend Randy has both. From simple beginnings to a place of prominence nationally in broadcasting, Gravley has traveled far.
These two outstanding graduates of our local school system are inspirations of what education coupled with hard work can accomplish.
They are wonderful success stories of making a difference.
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