In our world, there seem to be, slowly dwindling, genuinely kind, reliable, trustworthy, advocates and connectors of people. Well, I am very fortunate to be acquainted with such a person, and I would like to introduce her to our community. She recently was recognized as the 2018 Marietta Citizen of the Year, soon after this interview took place, and many, including myself, agreed from all walks of life, including a judge, that she deserved every bit of this recognition. Here is Pam Younker’s story.
When I sat with her, I asked if she would talk about what matters to her and to speak from her heart. Without any hesitation she started by saying she is a product of her parents. Born and raised in McCaysville, Georgia, a copper mining town. Her late father fought in the Korean War and then became a brick mason. Her mother, who had a college scholarship, gave it up to marry her dad. However she was a lifelong learner, studied to become a nurse, and eventually took the Civil Service Exam, and became a postmaster, along with a long list of self-taught projects. This drive to be a life-long learner inspired Pam to make sure she got a college degree to simultaneously fulfill her mother’s dream, along with hers. In her words, “The military background of my father and his work ethic, coupled with my mother’s life-long learning style and drive, and put everything together to make me who I am”.
Pam went to Young Harris Junior College and the University of Georgia (UGA), where she graduated with an accounting degree (so she could land a job), even though she first majored in Management. After working for a short period of time as a management trainee in the early 1980’s at an apparel manufacturing company, straight out of college, she accepted a job as an internal auditor at Lockheed. She was the only woman among the 22 men. She was also the first woman president of the Institute of Internal Auditors. In addition to that, she was awarded the honor of being the Outstanding Young Alumnus from the College of Business at UGA.
Pam met her husband, Ron Younker, at the University of Georgia, where she was a Georgette, and he was the drum major. While at Lockheed, an opportunity to work with a co-worker’s private client changed the course of her life. This opportunity in 1989 allowed her to start her business, Pam Younker Accounting & Tax Service and leave Lockheed. This gave her more time with her two boys (David and John) and family. Initially, she went into businesses and set up their accounting systems for them. She started to do tax accounting, also. Her husband called her tax work her “not-for-profit” and deemed her the “Dot Connector.” because she helped self-employed people and widows for hours for little or no cost. She got to know many new friends, particularly older widows, and helped them in any way she could — including small tasks like taking out their garbage.
Because of her life experiences, she is a firm believer that college students should think seriously about getting a major in something that can prepare them for a job after graduation. “They should look at majors and occupations where they can get a job, and pursue their passions in addition to their occupation,” she said.
But God had more plans for her.
She got yet another call from the same co-worker/auditor/friend who was a catalyst in getting her first client to go on her own. He asked her to call the CEO of a particular engineering and construction firm. She turned it down because she was happy doing what she was doing.
However, in order to honor her friend, she went for the interview and told the CEO that she had three priorities: First, her relationship with God, two, her family, and thirdly, her clients, and she was not about to abandon any of them.
“I said there was no way I could work for them full time, but the CEO was impressed, and he said that he would take any time I could give him,” she recalled. For six months, she worked part-time for them, but it came a point that they really needed her to work full time.
The CEO offered her the position of vice president of the company. This allowed her to be able to set up their infrastructure (benefits, accounting, etc.) to take the company to the next level. However, ten years into working for this company, she found she needed a change.
Both she and her husband started to feel that they needed to do something that mattered in a deeper and a personal way. They prayed, inquired of the Lord, and waited. One day, out of the blue, she got a call from CHOA (Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta). It was the perfect career change for her. She resigned from the engineering firm and accepted the position as the Community Development Officer for the Foundation and External Affairs. To date, she has worked for them for five years and plans to work there until her retirement.
However, this super woman’s involvement with the community does not end there.
She also was accepted to be part of a program called Honorary Commanders in the Cobb Chamber in 2007. This changed her life. In 2008, she was on the board and was asked to chair the program from 2009 to 2011. Twenty five (25) civic leader and twenty five (25) military counterparts are matched for a year to learn about each other’s lives and careers.
On a side note, our own Kennesaw Police Chief, Bill Westenberger, was part of this program as well.
Several years ago, Pam was nominated by the Air Force to be one of 27 National Air Force Civic Leaders on a Council that reports to the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Air Force. She is educated to understand the Air Force and be the dot connector/liaison/bridge to bring up issues and needs to the community and to our elected officials.
Since our military is completely voluntary, currently the US military is only 0.24% of our entire population. And sadly, we are losing an average of 22 military personnel a day, both active and Veterans, to suicide alone.
As many of us already know Pam Younker as one of the faces of CHOA, I could go on and on regarding what Children’s Healthcare does, and the role Pam plays to help bring in the funding to save many children’s lives. However, I would like to challenge all of us, to take our responsibility as a citizen of this community to go above and beyond our comfort zone to be inspired by people such as Mrs. Younker and make a lasting, genuine impact for our fellow neighbors. The one nugget Pam would like for us to get out of her life story is, regardless of our situations and circumstances, that we “love your neighbor as yourself” and put that “love” into action by caring for others first … all year round.
By Nadja Cook | Virtually in Focus Photography | KBA Communications Team Member
Edited by Shelly Browne | KBA Communications Team Director
December 5, 2018