FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — While Forsyth County residents often receive emails, phone calls and letters from the Forsyth County government, the person sharing much of that information might be a bit of a mystery to many.
As the county’s director of communications for 10 years, however, Jodi Gardner has helped shape a department that has grown and developed as much as the county she represents. Since starting her job in 2005, Gardner’s role has evolved from a stand-alone position as a public information officer for administration to running the county’s own communications department.
“I hadn’t worked in government previously, but it was a communications job that really fit my education and interests,” said Gardner, who grew up in Tampa Bay, Florida, and graduated from the University of Tampa with a degree in communications and a minor in advertising.
Gardner, who had long been interested in communications, had two internships out of college with a local hockey team and also with a performing arts center in Clearwater, Florida, where she was later hired to do communications work in their fundraising department.
But after working there for three years, she moved up to Dahlonega to be closer to family. That’s where she heard about the Forsyth County opening.
In the decade she’s been with the county, Gardner has helped with the creation of TV Forsyth, Forsyth’s new logo, Facebook page and website look, as well as assisting with annual reports for the county and the fire department. She also is involved with ribbon cuttings, ground breakings and more.
“I’ve had the good fortune of being involved in some really neat projects like the Public Safety Complex opening in 2006 and the courthouse project,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of progress and had the chance to be involved and plan events around some of those projects. To just have a role in some of those big milestone projects for our county has been very memorable.”
As communications director, Gardner gets to meet and talk to many different people, which she enjoys.
“I feel like it’s an honor to be able to work in this position and serve the citizens of the county and to get to do the job I get to do,” Gardner said. “It’s very rewarding to me.”
However, the position doesn’t come without demands.
“A challenging aspect of my job is that our office is responsible for the communications for all of the county government departments and offices,” Gardner said. “As you can imagine, they have a lot of activities, progress and things going on. It can be a challenge for us because we’re a small office that is keeping up with all of that and making sure we’re getting the information we need to get out to the public.”
But she works with great people day in and day out who make it enjoyable for her to come to work, where no two days are alike.
“An interesting part of the job is that every day is different,” Gardner said. “On any given day, we could be working on something for parks and recreation and switch gears and work on something for the fire department or water department. No two days are alike. There’s a lot of variety in the work we do.”
Nevertheless, through all the craziness of running a county’s communications department, Gardner said she just wants people to know that everyone working in Forsyth County government is there to serve the community.
“We’re here to help with anything they need,” Gardner said. “If they’re looking for information they can’t find, anything at all, they can come to us as a resource for that. We want the public comfortable coming to us and asking any questions we might be able to help with them, too.”