Our Leaders


Lori George

Executive Director, Board Member

Lori George was born and raised in Rome, Georgia. She is a graduate of Armuchee High School. She attended Georgia Highlands and Shorter University. While in college, she worked part-time at the Sara Hightower Regional Library and the Rome Braves. After many years of hard work and dedication, she was promoted at the Rome Braves … Read More


Charlie Schroeder

President and Treasurer, Founding Member

A native of Rome. Graduated East Rome High 1967. Georgia Institute of Technology, Textile Management 1971. Served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Married to Suzanne Barnett Schroeder and father to Three Children Christian, Cory, Caleigh. Served on Board of Directors of Parent to Parent of Ga. including terms as Treasurer and President. Served … Read More


Barbara Monday

Vice President, Founding Member

Barbara is a mother of two sons with speech/language problems. Due to their disabilities, Barbara returned to school and earned her degree in Speech-Language Pathology and CCC. She worked in the field for 25 years serving students in a variety of school-based settings. Her one son, Tom, cannot live independently and she is concerned about … Read More


Rita Lawler


Rita moved to Rome in 1979 with her husband, Dr. Peter Lawler. She has a BA in Government from Centre College, and an MA in Government from the University of Virginia, 1977. Rita was the Executive Director of Network from 1980-1994. She was especially proud of the work the Board did to promote and advocate … Read More


Virginia Word

Board Member

Ginny Word is a retired special education administrator. Beginning her career as a teacher assistant, she has held various roles including director of special education and instructional support teacher. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree from UGA, she continued her education with a Master’s degree from George Mason University and an Educational Specialist’s degree from Georgia … Read More


Mary Patton

Board Member

Mary was born in Atlanta, Georgia. She attended Atlanta Public schools and Graduated from Reinhardt Junior College with an AA degree in 1974. Mary is married to S. Stephen Patton. Mary’s past experience has been working with the Cerebral Palsy Center, which is now known as Network Day Services and has managed an in-home daycare … Read More


Louise Schroeder Branham

Board Member

Louise was born and raised in Rome, Georgia. She graduated from East Rome High School and attended Georgia Highlands and Shorter College. She is married to Robert Branham and they have two daughters, Mary Katherine of Chicago and Linley of Charleston. She has been the Director/Manager of the Habitat for Humanity Restore of Rome. Louise … Read More


Winston Sirmans

Board Member

Winston Sirmans is an experienced, licensed real estate broker with a degree from the University of Georgia in Journalism and Public Relations.  A native of Waycross, GA, he and his wife, the former Millie Starnes, have resided in Rome since 1967.  They have 2 sons and 5 grandchildren. Winston is an active communicant and former … Read More


Gaines Dempsey

Board Member

Gaines is the owner of Dempsey Appraisal. He served previously with Dempsey Auction Company for 15 years. His other accomplishments include graduation from Darlington in 1994 and the University of Georgia in 1998. Gaines’s other contributions to the community include Leadership Georgia Class of 2016, City Champion – Java Joy / ESP Rome, DIGS, Inc. Board … Read More


Joy Wyatt Jones

Board Member

Joy is a life-long resident of Floyd County. She worked as a nurse for 36 years and was the director of Heyman HospiceCare at Floyd Hospital. Joy also contributes her time in the community as volunteer for America Cancer Society and on the Board of Directors of Network day Services, Inc. She has 2 daughters, … Read More


Kimberly McGuiness

Founding Member, Web Content Manager

Kimberly has been involved in special education for some 19+ years. Because of her own daughter’s life journey of living with deaf autism, Kimberly has stepped up to become an activist for deaf and hard of hearing citizens and other individuals living with developmental disabilities. Because of her strong will in making a difference in … Read More


Linda Castellanos

Founding Member

Linda is a founding member of DIGS. She has worked in the field of Special Education for 32 years. Eighteen of those years were in Floyd County as a special education teacher and administrator. She is currently working for the Georgia Department of Education. Linda and her husband Carlos have been married for 33 years … Read More


Suzanne Schroeder

Founding Member

Suzanne retired from Delta Air Lines after working for more than 32 years as a flight attendant. She is married to Charlie Schroeder and they have three children Christian, Cory, and Caleigh and three grandchildren.


Jean Battle

Founding Member

Jean is a retired teacher of 32 years from Pepperell High School. She is married to a wonderful husband of 43 years with two wonderful sons and a grandson. Jean has served with Habitat for Humanity during the years 1988-90. She has also served in many other areas in her community including a co-president of … Read More


Lamar Paul

Founding Member

Lamar was born and raised in Plains, GA. In 1969, he moved to Rome with his wife, Barbara, and their five children. He helped in the construction of many power plants in GA, TN, and Alabama and was a member of the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 766 of Rome, now local 72 of Atlanta. He … Read More


Mary Williams

Founding Member

Mary is a retired school administrator. She was a special education teacher before becoming an administrator. Mary became involved with DIGS because of her sweet son, Noah. She had no idea of all the blessings she and Noah would receive from being part of the DIGS family. As Mary and Noah constantly participate in fundraising … Read More


Mark (“Pop”) Harrison

Founding Member

Julian Mark “Pop” Harrison is a retired U. S. Navy veteran. Mark or “Pop” as he is known in the community as president of Harrison & Sons dba as Happy Day Chrysler-Plymouth, Coosa Motor Co. dba National Car Rentals, and Julian Harrison Finance. He also presided as Vice President of Julian Harrison Ford. Pop is … Read More


Laura Harrison

Founding Member

Laura is a DIGS, Inc. founding member. She has had a variety of interesting occupations to include small business owners, bridal consultants, and activity directors for assisted living. Laura has been active with DIGS because of her grandson Justin. She is glad he has activities to do and is hopeful he will one day have … Read More


Linda Floyd Blackwell

Founding Member

Linda was raised in South Carolina. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in Psychology. She’s married to her husband CQ Blackwell and they have three lovely daughters. Their oldest daughter has a developmental disability.  It was discovered when she was 7 months old that she had bilateral schizencephaly, which meant … Read More

Not pictured John Schroeder, Board Member