Meet Collin Holder
“Philanthropy’s kind of my thing,” laughs Collin Holder as he rattles off an impressively long list of career accomplishments, volunteering experiences, and nonprofit involvements for someone as young as he is. A Macon native, Collin attended Mt. De Sales Academy, which he credits for instilling within him the importance of this kind of work; the school requires each student to complete a set amount of volunteer hours in service of the needs of the local community. “MDS got me started,” says Collin, “and I enjoyed doing it, so I just never stopped.”
After high school, Collin attended Middle Georgia State University and Mercer University, where he majored in marketing. Because of his time spent volunteering with the Cherry Blossom Festival when he was younger, Collin was recommended for and subsequently landed a job as merchandising director for the CBF while he was still in college – he helped run the gift shop program, the souvenir program, and helped assist in a volunteer capacity with some events. After graduation, he moved around a bit, gaining experience working several different jobs – he landed in Atlanta for awhile, where he worked as associate director for the American Diabetes Association and then as fundraising coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and he also spent some time in Savannah working as a development associate for the Savannah Music Festival, but when the opportunity arose for him to come back home and work with the Cherry Blossom Festival again, he took it. “Savannah and Atlanta are both great, but Macon’s definitely greater,” Collin says. “That’s why I came back home. In all honesty, I see more openmindedness and movement here than I did in either of those cities.”
Collin’s currently the Director of Events and Merchandising for the Cherry Blossom Festival, which will be kicking off its annual festivities on March 24. There’s a lot of buzz and excitement about this year’s revamped, retooled festival, due in part to the return of beloved events like the Street Party. (This year’s party, which will be held on April 1, boasts a stellar lineup of musical guests, among them Mavis Staples, Chuck Leavell, and a yet-to-be-announced headliner that Collin promises will be “very funky.”) “We’re also going to be trying some new things at Central City Park,” says Collin, “and we’re trying to incentivize downtown businesses to be a part of us – there’s way more inclusion.” As is the case with most events, volunteers are always needed and welcomed – to find out more about CBF volunteer opportunities, get in touch with Collin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In true motivated, entrepreneurial fashion, Collin started his own company – Holder Events – in 2011; event design and florals are his specialties, and he especially enjoys working with weddings. He also finds time to sit on a few local boards – he’s part of both the Bragg Jam and the Jazz Association board, and music is something he’s deeply passionate about. “Music is my outlet,” Collin says. “I’m always seeking out fun new musical experiences here.” What else does he do to unwind from his jam-packed days? “I’m a fan of a cocktail,” he laughs. “The Hummingbird’s a favorite hangout spot, and I love Dovetail and the Downtown Grill, too. I’m into the downtown local scene.” When asked where he’d take an out-of-town visitor to give them the quintessential Macon experience, he has good ideas at the ready: “We’d start at the Museum of Arts & Sciences” – another of his former jobs; he worked as General Assistant there for several years, coordinating events and managing volunteers – “because they’ve always got something cool going on in their gallery, and you don’t have to spend all day there. If it was Saturday, we’d go to Dovetail for lunch, then walk around and explore the city, check out some of the cool shops. Travis Jean’s a fun place to wander through, even if you can’t afford anything there – it’s fun to see what people can afford.”
Patience, organization, and creativity – these are the three things Collin lists off immediately when asked what skills he possesses that enable him to be so good at the many jobs and projects he takes on. “Also, you’ve got to be understanding of the public,” he says. “It’s important to do things a little systematically, to think about how the things you’re doing will affect people.” Collin’s charming demeanor, enthusiasm, and hard-working nature, combined with his innate empathy and great interpersonal skills, make him a natural leader in any role. He didn’t get that way by accident; years of hard work and community involvement shaped him into who he is today, and he encourages others to find a similar path. “If you want to be involved, get involved,” he says. “The only person who can make you get involved is you. There are so many things going on here, and everyone always needs help. Just find what you’re into and start doing it.”