Managing Crisis Through Experience

Former Augusta, Georgia mayor Deke Copenhaver spent nine years leading his city through adversity, crisis, and change.

America’s cities and municipalities are experiencing an “all-hands-on-deck” moment. There’s no blueprint for our current reality, and whether they admit it or not, no one has the right answers, and there is no “normal” to which we can return. Instead, civic leaders must accept change, and reconcile the old reality with the new. That takes time, commitment, strategy, and above all, experience. Deke Copenhaver is no stranger to these kinds of watershed moments. In fact, his career has been defined by navigating them successfully, steering his city to safe harbor.

Now, Deke is committing himself to sharing his valuable experiences with today’s civic leaders to help our cities and our nation heal through new virtual consulting services. Where there was once uncertainty, Deke’s services help leaders gain clarity. Working with Deke, leaders can get a better handle on:

  • Overcoming adversity
  • Mitigating crisis
  • Managing change
  • Making thoughtful decisions under difficult circumstances
  • Serving the greater good
  • Maintaining and building public trust
  • Inclusive economic development
  • Healing communities
  • Increasing investment in under-served communities

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It was truly a pleasure working with Deke Copenhaver on a project where the ultimate goal was to help lay the foundation for Augusta’s desired growth and vitality as a preferred visitor destination. Deke clearly understands the premise of a city that’s a vibrant place to visit is also a great place to own a business, work and live. This project required all the attributes that he’s known for…vision, good decision-making, leadership, confidence, candor and honesty, commitment, and exceptional people skills, just to name a few. I have no reservations recommending Deke, and highlighting him as a man of humility but who is hard-wired to get things done.

Bennish D. Brown President/CEO - Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Since leaving office, Deke has continued his life’s work of helping build stronger communities at all levels through positive, calm, compassionate, and unifying leadership. In 2017, Deke was recruited to lead the Augusta Economic Development Authority as Managing Consultant on an interim basis after the organization’s Executive Director left unexpectedly. During this time of transition—through the beginning of 2018—he successfully nurtured a 35-million-dollar project while at the same time managing the recruitment efforts of $600 million in active projects. During his time in office, Deke had worked with the organization to recruit more than $500 million in investment in the local economy, making him the ideal candidate to lead this change.

In 2018, he was recruited to help coordinate the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau’s “All In Augusta” campaign to help make Augusta more of a tourist destination. After several months in a supporting position on the campaign, the ACVB board voted unanimously to bring Deke on to run the overall campaign full-time. Through this successful partnership with a local organization for tourism recruitment we were able to successfully bring in 1.3-million-dollars in pledges before moving to the implementation phase in late 2019.

When it comes to an individual who can get it done at a high level, Deke Copenhaver comes to my mind immediately. In Augusta as Mayor, Deke oversaw a huge boom in economic development like we've never experienced in our city before. His soft but strong (when needed) temperament allowed him to unite the City of Augusta which proved to be extremely valuable because Augusta had struggled with the attitude of working together. Deke's tenure as Mayor was just simply outstanding. He has proven to be a strong leader, person and now a great author. The Changemaker was such a great book to read for me that I would recommend this book to anyone.

Henry Ingram Former Chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority

Being a leader while the world sits on a razor’s edge is high stakes work. Each decision made will have long-term and lasting impact on the communities you serve, and each decision will face intense public and media scrutiny. Amid a pandemic and widespread civil unrest, today’s leaders in the wilderness need guidance from individuals who have achieved positive outcomes while actively dealing with crisis.

Get the support your city needs from a proven expert—work with Deke Copenhaver. Together we can emerge from this moment stronger than ever before.

Deke Copenhaver with Governor Nathan Deal

​If you have ever doubted your leadership capabilities, then you need to read Deke Copenhaver's "The Changemaker: The art of building better leaders" book! The Changemaker is an incredible story of Deke's journey as mayor of Augusta, Georgia, and how he applied his leadership strengths throughout various moments in his political career. We chose to read his book for our "Powerful Pages" leadership book program, and it was a big hit with the college students. Deke reached out to us when he found one of our flyers promoting his book, which was an exciting treat for our participants. The following semester we invited Deke to speak on leadership and meet with a few of our student leaders. He is an incredible, down to earth, authentic leader who easily relates to his audience. We even had faculty and staff who attended his presentation, and after they left, they were eager to read his book. I highly recommend you add his book to your reading list and feature him as a keynote speaker for your next college event!​­

Julianne Flores, M.Ed. Coordinator, University of Texas El Paso Student Engagement and Leadership Center