Magistrate Court Judge Rhonda Sexton has worked her way up the ranks of Effingham County government, and it’s not just locals who have noticed.
Sexton was featured in the October issue of Georgia Trend magazine as one of its 40 Under 40, recognizing outstanding Georgians under the age of 40.
“It’s a blessing,” said Sexton, 37. “I’m completely honored with it.”
And completely surprised, she added. She had no idea Chief Magistrate Judge Scott Hinson had nominated her for 40 Under 40.
“They didn’t tell me anything about it,” she said. “I just all the sudden got a phone call from Georgia Trend congratulating me.”
The Effingham Chamber of Commerce hosted a reception Tuesday in Sexton’s honor. Along with family and friends who stopped by, state Sen. Jack Hill and Rep. Jon Burns presented framed resolutions extolling Sexton’s contributions to the community that earned her the 40 Under 40 recognition.
Magistrate clerk Jaime Colbert and deputy clerks Amber Dixon and Samantha Fail presented a bouquet of flowers to Sexton. Fail thanked her for being “an example for the community.”
After five years as the business manager for Effingham County Prison and three years as revenue coordinator for the Effingham Board of Commissioners, Sexton wanted to spend more time at home with her two children. She took a part-time bookkeeping position with Magistrate Court.
Sexton soon took on a full-time role as an executive assistant and before long became the youngest magistrate within the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit. In his 40 Under 40 nomination, Hinson credited Sexton with implementing measures to operate Magistrate Court more efficiently and cost-effectively.
“Judge Sexton’s experience and intelligence has transformed the judicial business side of the Magistrate Court, giving performance measures in what would seem to be an immeasurable governmental department,” Hinson wrote.
Though she enjoys her job, Sexton also sees the limitations it can have in helping victims of certain crimes, particularly domestic abuse. So, she began volunteering with the Effingham Victim Witness Assistance Program in 2011 and now serves on its board.
“There isn’t much this court can do for victims of domestic violence, even though they come to us looking for help,” Sexton said. “I wanted to do what I could, so got on board at Victim Witness. It’s a good feeling to know someone is safe and secure, especially if little ones are involved.”
A military spouse, Sexton is active in the American Legion Post 209 Ladies Auxiliary and the Family Readiness Group of the Alpha Battery 1/118 Field Artillery Regiment. She assists military families with living expenses, sends care packages overseas and to Veterans Administration hospitals and organizes “family days” for soldiers and their families before deployment and after their return.
“Rhonda’s impact on this county and the surrounding low country of Georgia may not be known to a large percentage of its citizens, but is felt by this community as far away as Afghanistan,” Hinson wrote.