5 Under 40:
Bowen Reichert Shoemaker
Bowen Reichert Shoemaker, 39
Civil Chief, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia; arts and culture advocate
Tell us about your job and why you chose your career field.
In my role as Civil Chief, I supervise 16 hard-working employees in the Civil Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. I wanted to be a lawyer since I was a young girl. Growing up, I remember hearing stories about my grandfather and father (both lawyers) and the way they used their profession to seek justice, and that inspired me. Now, I’m grateful to be a part of the Department of Justice and consider it a privilege and honor to represent the United States of America.
Right now, what is the best thing going on in Macon?
There are more good things going on in Macon right now than I can count! But one of my personal favorites is the creation and growth of the Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra. This dynamic collaboration is so unique and really puts Macon on the map for having the best regional orchestra in the entire country. I haven’t missed a concert yet.
What needs to change to encourage continued progress in our city?
We need to encourage Maconites to talk positively about our city. It’s easy to focus on things that we want to be different, but we need to come together and talk about what we love about this place. We need to be Macon’s biggest advocates.
When you talk about Macon to people who don’t live here, what do you tell them?
I tell them how much I love Macon and how proud I am to have deep roots in this place. I’ve lived in New York, D.C., Athens, Atlanta—but, as a seventh generation Maconite, there’s no place like home. There’s a lot of good going on here. And if people don’t believe me, I encourage them to come visit and see for themselves!
What is your vision for our community?
I want Macon to be a healthy, safe, and diverse city where people feel like they are supported and embraced by their community.
What does it mean to be a good leader?
From my perspective, the key is servant leadership. I keep a quote on my desk from Louise McBee, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, that reminds me to focus on my team before myself: “We are born obligated to pour back into the stream that nourished us – to replenish it for others. To the extent we do that, we have lived a good and full life.” In my mind, the concept of replenishing the stream for others and passing on the goodness we’ve been given epitomizes strong leadership.
Tell us about your activities in the community, especially what you’re most excited about.
As the President-Elect of the Board of Trustees of Historic Macon Foundation, I’m excited to watch this organization continue to soar. Macon Arts Alliance, for which I’ve served several board roles, has been working hard to bring together artists, art organizations, and art lovers in Macon. From the Artist’s Village in Mill Hill, to developing and maintaining Macon365.com, to hosting incredible gallery shows in its downtown space, the MAA is fostering smart and collaborative artistic endeavors in this community. I have loved being a part of the Macon Rotary Club, which is one of the oldest Rotary Clubs in the world. I have two young children who are in school at Stratford Academy and I’m proud to be actively involved in their school community by being on the Board of Directors. As a new member of the UGA Alumni Association Board (and a UGA grad – go Dawgs!), I’m excited to learn more about UGA and am proud to represent Macon and Middle Georgia.
As you look to the future, what are your professional and personal goals?
My goal, both personally and professionally, is to stay present. It is to not get so caught up looking forward or backward that I miss what’s happening in the moment.
What are you personally committed to accomplishing in Macon and why?
Macon is at an incredible inflection point where the feeling of progress is tangible. You can see how far we’ve come and, more important, you get the sense that we’re not done moving forward. I’m personally committed to continuing to foster the spirit of collaboration and cooperation that has been so beneficial in helping Macon progress and remain relevant throughout the State.
How do you reach out to others to encourage more good doing?
Despite the fact that I’m a millennial, I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to social media, and I even struggle to keep up with text messages (as my friends can attest!). So, for me, reaching out to others comes in the form of being present and engaged when I’m with other people. By being fully present, I feel like I can build meaningful connections. I’m consistently trying to build bridges in the community and, through that, encourage more collaboration and good doing.