By Maria Saporta
The Metro Atlanta Chamber has done it again.
The influential business organization has lined up one of the state’s top business leaders to chair the Chamber in 2014 — Richard Anderson, CEO of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.
The executive committee of the Metro Atlanta Chamber voted Thursday morning to make Anderson the 2013 chair-elect, positioning him to lead the organization in 2014.
It continues the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s string of having some of the most powerful executives in that leadership role. Consider this. In 2011, John Brock, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), was the chair. The 2012 chair is Carol Tome, the chief financial officer of the Home Depot. And the 2013 chair will be Paul Bowers, president and CEO of Georgia Power.
Since becoming Delta’s CEO, Anderson has taken on several important community roles. In 2011, he served as campaign chair of the United Way of Greater Atlanta.
Anderson also has been an active participant on the board of the Atlanta Committee for Progress — chairing the committee looking at the City of Atlanta’s infrastructure needs and financial structure. ACP serves as a high level business cabinet for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Anderson joined that board during the administration of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, and interestingly enough, she joined Delta’s board after she left office.
In some ways, it’s a bit surprising that Anderson was willing to take such a critical civic role as chairing the Chamber’s board. Anderson has let it be known he’s not a fan of lots of meetings, viewing them as not being the most productive use of his time. But there’s no way he can avoid meetings as the Chamber’s chair.
Plus, in some ways, the job is really a three-year commitment — the first year serving as chair-elect, the second year as chair and the third year as immediate past chair. Those three positions serve as a super executive committee of the Chamber’s board.
But it is also obvious that Anderson has become attached to Atlanta, where he has lived since becoming Delta’s CEO in September 2007.
“I like Atlanta a lot,” Anderson said in an interview this past February. “It feels very comfortable here. It’s a nice place to live, a relatively easy place to live, a cosmopolitan city, especially if you live in town.”
Later in that same interview, Anderson reaffirmed the relationship that Atlanta and Delta have had for decades.
“Delta is fortunate to be part of Atlanta, and it’s important to our employees to give back to Atlanta,” Anderson said at the time. “Atlanta is central to Delta. When people think of Atlanta, they think of Coca-Cola first, and then they think of Delta.”
By the way, the last Delta CEO to chair the Metro Atlanta Chamber was Ronald W. Allen in 1989.