An expert on mental health and counseling, Donna Pitman worked in housing and recalls helping a young woman at the time. The woman was recommended to work at a higher level, and it was that experience that inspired her to move forward in her own career. She served as a counselor for children with behavioral disorders in the State of Georgia, as well as the superintendent of the Diversion Center at the Georgia Department of Corrections in Rome and a teacher of deaf adults throughout the state. The center served as an alternative for housing probationers while they held gainful employment in the community for the purpose of paying restitution, fines, fees and other court ordered monies. In addition to this tenure, Ms. Pitman regularly answered questions about substance abuse for WALB-TV Channel 10 News.
Notably, Ms. Pitman is the first female superintendent of the Georgia Department of Corrections, a position in which she was named runner-up for Employee of the Year in Corrections out of 65,000 employees in the State of Georgia. In education, she attained the equivalent of a master’s degree between her training and 30 years of experience in the field. Outside of her primary trade, Ms. Pitman headed the Council of Substance Abuse Professionals. In light of her accomplishments, the council named her Professional of the Year and Volunteer of the Year, and awarded her the Pioneer Award. She was also honored with the Heart of COSAP Award by the Council of Substance Abuse Professionals. Every time she received an accolade, she would reach for the next one. She has a book of accomplishments, where she has 20 years’ worth of letters and certificates. When she gets really down, she takes the book out and it builds her back up.
Feeling very insecure when she started at each milestone Ms. Pitman would reach, people would tell her what a good job she was doing. When she started to receive awards, she started feeling better about herself. Her parents gave her away when she was 6 weeks old, so she grew up thinking that something must be wrong with her. Even though she has been a counselor and she knows in her head that it wasn’t her fault, it is still hard to acknowledge. Ms. Pitman has several goals she wants to work towards, namely to further help women that need someone to boost them up and give them encouragement. There is a program in Rome for battered women, and they have asked her to come there and instructor classes. She was a battered woman herself when she was 17, so she can relate to them. Her motto in life is to “Do onto others that you would want done to you.”
Ms. Pitman is married to her loving husband of 27 years, Randy. She has raised one wonderful son, Jerry Michael Poole, and is also a doting grandmother to two beloved grandsons, Joshua David Poole and Aaron Jacob Poole. When Ms. Pitman retired, the department retired her badge, which they have never done before, and this made her proud.
Ms. Pitman spent 34 years in various fields in working for the state. They say that it you find a job you really enjoy, you’ll never work a day in your life. She was blessed to have great supervisors from the Atlanta area, whom she would like to recognize, including Jim Laine, who supervised and nurtured her along to superintendent, and her family, who supported her on the nights that she would have to get up at 2 or 3 a.m. and have to go look for escaped probationers from the center. The center had the lowest escape record of any center in the state of Georgia. Achieving that record was a chore, but was made much easier with the staff that Ms. Pitman had. She called her team the “dream team.”