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12/16/2020 Citizen of the Year
Cobb Chamber Announces the 2020 Acworth, Kennesaw & West Cobb Citizens of the Year

The Cobb Chamber’s Northwest Cobb Area Council, which represents Northwest Cobb’s three distinct districts of Acworth, Kennesaw and West Cobb, has selected three community advocates as 2020 Citizens of the Year: Janet Paulson for Acworth, Cris Eaton-Welsh for Kennesaw, and Mary Chatman for West Cobb.

The Citizen of the Year Awards, created by Cobb County Rotary clubs and co-sponsored by the Cobb Chamber Area Councils and Cobb County business associations, have been presented to extraordinary individuals for the work they have done in Cobb County. These outstanding citizens are chosen for their definable, exceptional deeds, with which he or she have made their community a better place to live. Awards are given based on local area nominations. The 2020 Northwest Cobb Citizen of the Year awards were presented at the Northwest Area Council luncheon at Governors Gun Club on Dec. 16, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and Kennesaw State University.

Janet Paulsen, 2020 Acworth Citizen of the Year
Janet Paulsen, a speaker and advocate for domestic violence, is an engaged and active member of the Acworth Community who shows her passion for defending the defenseless in everything she does.

On the night of November 5, 2015, Paulsen’s then-husband attempted to kill her by shooting her six times. The shooting left her in critical condition, with a spinal cord injury that paralyzed her right leg. After years of invasive surgeries and grueling physical therapy, she began working as a domestic violence advocate and public speaker. She fought to close a loophole in state law that allowed some domestic violence perpetrators to keep their firearms, a provision that could have prevented her attack. She has spoken at many engagements on domestic violence, including the liveSAFE Resources Domestic Violence Candlelight Vigil in 2017, and in 2020 was appointed by Governor Kemp to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.

“Janet Paulsen’s survival story and her work to prevent domestic violence is truly inspiring,” says Sharon Mason, President and CEO of the Cobb Chamber. “She displays such bravery and commitment to ending domestic violence and she has made a lasting positive impact on her community.”

Prior to the attack, Paulsen was heavily involved in her Acworth community, was the Vice President of the Acworth Baseball Association, and was even named Volunteer of the Year by the Georgia Recreation and Park Association.

To this day, Paulsen lives in the same house where she was attacked and nearly killed. She has made every moment count since that night she overcame and survived. Her two sons are football and baseball standouts at Allatoona High School and have both committed to playing baseball at the collegiate level—and she will be there to support them every step of the way.

Cris Eaton-Welsh, 2020 Kennesaw Citizen of the Year
Cris Eaton-Welsh, owner of Eaton Chiropractic, is a crucial fixture within the Kennesaw community. From sitting on the City Council to founding the Swift Kids Running Club and the Kennesaw Grand Prix Race Series, Eaton-Welsh is passionate about promoting a healthy, happy and productive community. She was heavily involved in the fundraising efforts for Swift Cantrell Park, including championing its skate park, and served on the Cobb2020 Steering Committee to promote health in the county.

“Our community is lucky to have Cris Eaton-Welsh,” says Mason. “Cris is an outstanding community leader for Kennesaw. She has served on the city council, on many non-profit boards, and she works tirelessly to make Kennesaw a vibrant place to live, work and play.”

Cris Eaton-Welsh was named Chiropractor of the Year in 2009 by the Georgia Council of Chiropractors, named Citizen of the Year by the Kennesaw Business Association in 2013, received the Cobb Chamber’s Health Hero Award in 2013, and was honored as a Cobb Chamber Top 25 Small Businesses in 2016.

Eaton-Welsh is always eager to help someone find the resources to better themselves physically and mentally. She often hosts drives to meet the needs of her local non-profits. She is generous, loving and truly believes in lifting up those in need in Kennesaw.

Mary Chatman, 2020 West Cobb Citizen of the Year
Mary Chatman, Executive Vice President/President of Wellstar Health System’s Kennestone and Windy Hill Hospitals, has spearheaded the fight against COVID-19 throughout Cobb and Northwest Atlanta.

Chatman currently works for Wellstar Health System, but has worked on the healthcare frontlines since 1988, with Vidant Medical Center and Memorial Health. On a daily basis, she displays effective leadership, fiscal management, program development, quality improvement and interdisciplinary collaboration—all crucial to Wellstar Health System’s organized fight against COVID-19.

“Mary Chatman is a deserving recipient of the West Cobb Citizen of the Year award,” said Mason. “She is serving on the front lines for Cobb, fighting COVID-19 and working with local leaders to help us through the pandemic challenges this year.”

Along with her work in healthcare, Chatman is deeply involved in Cobb County’s community life. She has volunteered with Girls Inc. and BUY Cobb, and serves on many local, state and national boards, including the Georgia Board of Nursing and the Georgia Hospital Association. She has been heavily awarded for her work, including receiving the 2020 STEM Award, 2018 Women of Excellence Award and Nursing Achievement Award—and was even recognized by MBA Diversity Magazine as a Top 50 under 50.

Through her leadership and hard work, Chatman has helped lead the battle against COVID-19 throughout the region, and is a true hero in our community.

For more information about Area Councils, please contact Katie Guice at kguice@cobbchamber.org or 770-859-2334. Thank you to Series Presenting Sponsor, Kaiser Permanente, and Program Sponsor, the Kennesaw State University Foundation.