It is not everyday you come across an attorney that walks and interacts with those who she comes in contact with, with such warmth, joy and wisdom. Once in a while we see a tale of such an extraordinary person’s life story made into a movie. Well, I can say with certainty, here in the city of Kennesaw, we are blessed to have such a person. KBA’s 2020 president, Shelley Elder of Elder Law Firm.
As I walked into her office off Barrett Pkwy and Cobb Pkwy, she greeted me with her usual big smile and a genuinely warm hug. Even though I reserve the question of the interviewee’s favorite word for the end of the interview, when giving her the sequence of our time together, without any hesitation, she stated “INTENTIONAL”. This helped us get into the flow of her story very smoothly.
Ms. Elder was born in Delaware in 1950, but had a very challenging upbringing. At 15 years old she ran away from home and divine intervention put her on a course that changed her life. She was found by a good-hearted police officer, processed by a kind social worker, counseled by a wise and friendly court appointed shrink, and represented by an attorney who encouraged her to find her worth.
She said, “I am the most fortunate person”. “I care about what I have become. I have the ability and knowledge to help others and I don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks”.
She put herself through high school, college and law school through night classes while working on a maintenance crew at the same court that dealt with her. She finally found her calling in the law. She has practiced law since 1993. She has practiced in eight states over the span of twenty four (24) years but currently has settled in Georgia. She partners with her son Stephen and primarily practices as a probate, estate planning and real estate attorney in Georgia and also has an office in Virginia.
Ms. Elder has been VERY active in our community for 14 years since she moved to Georgia around 2006. She has been a member of Kennesaw Business Association for many years, but became more active the past five to six years. Her list of charities, non-profits, and associations she is involved with, really reflects where her heart stands regarding helping those who desperately need help. Looking straight into my eyes, she stated, “Charities are substantial to my life!” (The groups are listed at the bottom of this article for your convenience and support). She reiterated over and over the passion she has for the youth who are struggling through life, through no fault of their own and how her heart goes out to them, especially because of what she endured growing up. Many of the youth shared how scare and lost they are. She walks the walk and talks the talk to help them, as well as others in need. She is a strong advocate to prevent the helpless from falling through the ‘system’ and left to fend for themselves. I wholeheartedly agreed with her when she said, “If you want to do it, BE INTENTIONAL. You must be focused to succeed.” I can easily see a whole series of blogs or a book on this subject alone since I see many people come up with excuses why they ‘won’t’ and why they ‘can’t’. It is so comforting that we have someone like her who intentionally does things for the advancement of our society, both at the most basic level as well as a higher level. Understandably, last year she was named the 2018 Kennesaw Citizen of the Year by the Cobb Chamber.
Ms. Elder, has the following thoughts and goals regarding KBA for 2020 (and beyond). “It is time to get back to the BASICS”. “We are an extraordinary group, but we have much work to do to enhance our business community.” Some of her goals are …
- To reduce the business attrition rate of KBA members
- To Enhance and Empower the members, committees, community and businesses
- To go back to the basic ideas in our mission statement
In closing, I share the same sentiment with her regarding being optimistic for CHANGE and to invite new and old members to genuinely be involved for the betterment of our society and quality of lives for all. Yes, let’s be INTENTIONAL about making these changes happen under her leadership.
By Nadja Cook | Communication Team Member | owner of Virtually in Focus Photography
Charities and Organizations Ms. Elder is involved in that you can support or participate
- CCYA (The Center for Children and Young Adults): https://ccyakids.org/
- Kennesaw Teen Center: http://kennesawteencenter.com/
- YMCA (North West Cobb): https://www.ymcaatlanta.org/ymca-locations/kennesaw/
- Live Safe Resources: https://www.livesaferesources.org/
- Kennesaw Public Safety Foundation: https://kennesawpublicsafety.org/
- The Power of Peace Project: https://powerofpeaceproject.com/
- Davis Direction Foundation: https://www.davisdirection.com/
- Haven Academy: http://www.cobbk12.org/Haven/
- Acworth Art Alliance (AKA The Art House): https://www.acworthartsalliance.org/
- North Cobb Rotary: https://northcobbrotary.org/
- Cobb School Foundation: http://cobbschoolsfoundation.org/
- Multiple legal organizations …
… and the list of associations such as KBA, ABA, Cobb Chamber goes on.