About Us

Meet our team below!

Connie Thomas - CEO

Connie was raised in Clay County and is a 1979 graduate of Orange Park High School.  She received a BA from Newberry College and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work from the University of Georgia.  She is a Board-certified Licensed Clinical Social Worker and presently has a private practice at Grace House Counselling Center.

While residing in Georgia in 2006, Connie engaged with her community to spearhead a response to a severe environmental crisis that impacted her family and her neighbors.  With broad community support, she led the effort to create a local Environmental Task Force to address toxic substances emitting from a wastewater treatment plant. She ultimately spoke before the Georgia Senate Oversight Committee and was appointed to a federal panel through the Centers for Disease Control (ATSDR), with which she worked to identify ways to mitigate toxic substance emergencies across our nation.

Connie returned to Clay County in 2010, and in 2014 she and her husband Tony Steve moved into Orange Park – drawn there like many others because of the beautiful live oaks and the surrounding waterways. Her passion for community quickly found a voice as a founding member of Citizens for a Greater Orange Park – a group seeking to promote a dynamic and inclusive community vision for the Town.  This community activation led her to be sworn in as Councilwoman to serve on the Orange Park Town Council in May 2016 and elected Mayor in 2019.

In 2020, Connie led the way to create the College Drive Initiative due to the synergy of the many helping organizations settling there. Through the CDI the citizens were engaged in Deliberative Dialogue where many action steps were brought to light resulting in the present work on the Pond to Park Project on College Drive and the Impact Clay Professional Center. These efforts have also culminated in meetings with the Urban Land Institute resulting in four panels of experts from across our nation looking at Initiative Corridors in Clay County and advising our leaders of the great possibilities for the future.

In late 2022, Connie accepted the position to become President and CEO of Impact Clay to further their mission in the community for collaboration among the four community sectors – business, faith-based organizations, non-profits, and government.  She sees this work as vital as the County continues to grow and community services need to be expanded among helping organizations.

Connie reports that she has never “worked” a day in her life since 1989 and does not take her journey in life for granted.  The goal has always been to leave this world a little better than she found it.

thomas--new
Donna Drake

Donna Drake - Director of Operations

Donna Drake is a seasoned operations director with a unique background in interior design and travel. With a passion for both fields, she has dedicated her career to making a difference in the lives of others and has made a significant impact through her work.

As the Director of Operations for Impact Clay, Donna oversees the organization’s dayto-day activities and ensures that it runs smoothly and efficiently. With her experience as the owner of an interior design firm and the manager of a cruise travel business, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role, helping to streamline processes and improve overall effectiveness.

Thanks to her dedication and leadership, Impact Clay has become a respected and effective force for good, serving as an inspiration to others in the non-profit sector. With her passion for design and travel, Donna brings a unique perspective to her role as Director of Operations, and her commitment to making a difference in the world is an inspiration to everyone around them

Gregg Kaufman

Gregg Kaufman commenced his work with Impact Clay in August 2023. As a Citizen Engagement Coach, he works with people and organizations from all four Impact Clay sectors.

After 30 years of serving four Lutheran congregations, including 17 years in Princeton Jct., NJ, Kaufman directed the Georgia College & State University Coverdell Institute and coordinated the university’s American Democracy Project (2004-2014). He taught in the Department of Government & Sociology. In 2014, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities American Democracy Project awarded Kaufman the inaugural Barbara Burch Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement Award.

A former National Issues Forums Institute Board Member (2014-2017) and graduate of the Kettering Foundation Democratic Centers for Public Life program, Kaufman participated in a variety of Kettering Foundation research exchanges over the past 15 years with a particular focus on deliberation in faith-based settings. Kaufman currently works for the National Issues Forums Institute as the “Transition Facilitator” and is helping to reshape NIFI as an independent, self-sustaining organization.

Kaufman remains active in deliberative work in the Jacksonville, FL vicinity and has worked with the University of Florida Extension and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Extension programs, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, UNF OLLI program, Cathedral District Jacksonville, Mayo Clinic Enterprise, and is engaged in multiple projects in Clay County, FL.

Kaufman earned degrees from Waterloo Lutheran University B.A. Political Science (1971), the Graduate Theological Union, and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity (1975), and Princeton Theological Seminary, Master of Theology (1993).

Gregg is married to Linda, and they have two children and three grandchildren all of whom live in Oak Leaf.

SCR-20231120-sv2