Business and Leadership Advisor
Entrepreneur Outreach, State Office
Jessica Walden serves a dual role with the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development and the UGA Small Business Development Center. This role is dedicated to south and central Georgia to support business and leadership development efforts in the region. She is responsible for identifying consulting, training and research resources as well as assisting communities in areas of leadership development and business creation, retention and expansion.
Prior to joining Fanning, Walden was a Macon-based small business owner who worked in communications and outreach development for regional initiatives like the College Hill Corridor project, Connect2Compete, and the 2020 Census. She served as a consultant on communications projects with the Peyton Anderson Foundation, River Edge Behavioral Health, Visit Macon, and the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Walden is dedicated to sharing the stories of Georgia’s rich music heritage and co-owns Macon music history tour company Rock Candy Tours alongside her husband Jamie Weatherford. She is also co-founder of The Web, a women-centered work club headquartered in Downtown Macon that offers community, workspace, and online programming.
Walden is a 2013 graduate of Leadership Georgia and previously served on the Leadership Georgia board of trustees. She is also a graduate of Leadership Macon. Other community involvement includes previously serving on the Twiggs County Development Authority, the Otis Redding Foundation board, and the Bragg Jam Festival board. She has been awarded a “40 under 40” designation by Georgia Trend Magazine, a “Five under 40” recognition by Macon Magazine, and a national Modern Healthcare Bronze Impact Award for her work in communications and community outreach.
Bachelor of Arts (Journalism), Georgia State University