Carolyn Axt may be retiring from the Sandy Springs leadership organization she’s headed since 2001 so she can travel more, but she’s not giving up on civic activities.
“It’s time to cut back,” she said recently. “But I plan to stay involved with the community.”

When Axt took over Leadership Sandy Springs (LSS), the organization had not sponsored one of its annual classes in several years.  Founded in 1988, the organization’s goal is to educate and develop community leaders through a broad series of programs and events.

“I was a graduate of LSS, and I agreed to take it over and revitalize it,” she said. “It was almost like starting from Ground Zero. We had a small checking account and no financial sustainability at all.”

Axt worked to get the program’s leadership classes under way again, develop some funding and build a strong network of alumni. Soon, graduates of the organization were playing key roles in the community and taking important positions in the effort to create the city of Sandy Springs.

“Many of them served on task forces to build the city from the ground up,” Axt said. “We didn’t take any sort of political stance as an organization, but many of us were involved as individuals.”

The creation of the new city also energized Leadership Sandy Springs as an organization, she said. “Municipalization brought in new faces to work with, and it also brought attention to the fact that our community had become an official entity,” Axt said. “The energy associated with becoming a city transferred over to us.”

Today, LSS sponsors annual events other than its leadership class, including Movies by Moonlight, the Better Sandy Springs Day and Youth Leadership Sandy Springs. Axt herself will be in charge of the Sandy Springs Civic Roundtable.

“The roundtable is designed to bring other nonprofits together to discuss common challenges and concerns,” Axt said. “It’s all about sharing ideas with collaborative opportunities.”

After Axt’s formal retirement, Jan Paul, executive vice president of iSquared Communications, takes the role as president of the organization. “This has been in the works for about a year,” Axt said. “I’ve been working with our staff to prepare for the transition, and I’m excited about the future of Leadership Sandy Springs.”

LSS Board of Trustees president Bob Levinson said the organization is in good hands with Paul’s leadership. “She has a passion about LSS that is infectious, and our selection committee felt she would be an excellent choice to be the face of LSS to our community,” he said.

Axt agrees. “LSS has a fantastic future ahead,” she said, “and it will keep growing just as our city continues to grow.”

–By Tim Darnell