Growing up, Katie Dubnik thought being involved and engaged in the community was something everyone did.
She watched her grandfather, James Mathis Sr., orchestrate the Home Federal Curb Market — which eventually became Mule Camp Market — and grow his bank, Home Federal Savings and Loan.
Dubnik said all her life her father, Jim Mathis Jr., has been her biggest fan. She describes him as the “visionary” who helped bring the 1996 Olympic games to Lake Lanier with Steve Gilliam.
“Just watching him make something happen to that magnitude was amazing,” Dubnik said. “Being involved in the community was never an expectation laid out for me. The generations have passed down a sense of truly caring wholeheartedly for the community.”
Dubnik, just like her sister and grandmother before her, was recently named the Jaycees Young Woman of the Year. Years prior her grandfather and father received the Jaycees Young Man of the Year. This year, Phil Bonelli earned that award.
“It was a tremendous honor to be recognized alongside the names,” Dubnik said. “It’s not really about celebrating me, it’s celebrating the fact that all of these people have done all of these great things.”
Dubnik said her 7-year-old child, Davis, expressed an eagerness to earn the award like his family members.
“I told him, ‘I’d like for you to live your life, not for you to get this award, but to live your life in a manner in which you could get this award,’” Dubnik said.
Toward the end of 2012, Dubnik founded the Gainesville-based marketing agency, Forum Communications Inc. Dubnik said she was inspired to start the business after noticing “a thirst for marketing knowledge,” while serving on the executive board of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
She now leads a 10-person staff and provides services to small businesses and nonprofits throughout North Georgia, including Long Street Clinic, Georgia Mountain Food Bank, Good News Clinics, United Way of Hall County and many others.
In addition to her full-time job, Dubnik devotes her time toward volunteering with United Way and the Georgia Mountain Food Bank.
She joined United Way’s board five years ago, but has been involved with the social services organization since 2006.
Jessica Dudley, United Way’s president, said Dubnik served as the organization’s campaign chair in 2016, raising over $1.5 million.
“Katie is absolutely unlike any other,” Dudley said. “She is caring, compassionate, and truly an advocate for our community. We are honored and grateful to have her leadership on the United Ways board of directors.”
As soon as the Boomershine Family Logistics center opened, Dubnik dived into her involvement with the Georgia Mountain Food Bank. Dubnik said her oldest child, James, was a 2-year-old at the time.
“I think their mission really resonated with me as a mom to know there are 46,000 people in the five counties they serve, who don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Dubnik said. “For me, that was jarring.”
Dubnik lives in Gainesville with her two children and husband, State Rep. Matt Dubnik. She said she wanted to raise her family in a place where they can witness people of all backgrounds working together for a better future.
“I think that the people in Gainesville and Hall County understand that if we influence the lives of everyone, we all get stronger together,” Dubnik said. “This is a community that really cares. Gainesville is a place that just wraps its arms around each other.”