Column: $3 million Woodruff Foundation gift will help expand Atlanta Beltline

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, November 16, 2012

The Atlanta Beltline will continue expanding its trails, thanks to a $3 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation.

The gift will go toward two projects.

Half of the donation will go towards extending the Eastside Trail by 1.5 miles from DeKalb Avenue through the Krog Street tunnel to Glenwood Avenue.

The other half will go toward buying a strip of land between the Beltline’s Eastside Trail and the Historic Fourth Ward Park as well as developing “the Gateway” — a connecting trail between the Beltline and the park.

“To me, it is a fantastic affirmation of the Woodruff Foundation’s belief in the Beltline and the impact it is having on Atlanta,” said Charlie Shufeldt, chair of the BeltLine Partnership, the nonprofit organization that has been raising private funds for the project.

This is not the first time the Woodruff Foundation has supported the Beltline vision. In 2007, the foundation gave an $8 million gift for the creation of the Historic Fourth Ward Park. The gift helped the city acquire the land needed to create the new park, which is just south of North Avenue.

Shufeldt said the focus of the Woodruff Foundation has been on trails and green space, and its most recent gift continues that support.

Russ Hardin, president of the Woodruff Foundation, said that his board of trustees has been impressed with how well the opening of the Eastside Trail has been received in the community. The foundation wanted to help keep up the momentum of the project.

The extension of the Eastside trail will have a gap between where it currently ends at Irwin Street and DeKalb Avenue. Shufeldt said that before that leg can be developed, the city has to build a new Edgewood Avenue bridge to go over the Beltline trail.

“We sat down with Atlanta BeltLine Inc. to see what we can do to keep the ball rolling,” Shufeldt said, adding that Atlanta BeltLine Inc.— the public-sector organization overseeing the project — is prepared to develop the Irwin-DeKalb leg of the trail once the bridge is completed.

Valarie Wilson, president of the BeltLine Partnership, said the total cost of the Gateway connection between the Eastside Trail and the Historic Fourth Ward Park is $2.8 million. And the total project cost for the extension of the Eastside Trail is $6.2 million.

“Having just received news of the gift, the board has not yet made decisions about specifically how and when the projects will proceed,” Wilson said. “But we look forward to them getting under way shortly.”

BDN becomes OnBoard

At its annual dinner meeting Nov. 13 at the Renaissance Waverly, the Board of Directors Network (BDN) announced that it was changing its name to OnBoard.

The 20-year-old organization has been dedicated to increasing the number and percentage of women serving on the boards of Georgia’s public companies.

Rona Wells, executive director of OnBoard, said the new name “gives a sense of energy and inclusion that we want.” It also reflects how the organization has expanded to the areas of advocacy, networking and impact.

For 20 years, OnBoard has been keeping tabs of the number of women serving on Georgia’s public company boards. For the first time ever, the 2012 study showed that more than 10 percent of all the board seats are now held by women. In 1993, that number was about 4 percent.

The organization also felt as though the new name would convey the idea that companies and individuals can “get on board” with the effort to add diversity — both in boardrooms and in executive suites.

At the dinner, former BellSouth executive Julia “Judi” North was given the prestigious Lettie Pate Evans Whitehead Award. The award is named after one of the first women to serve as a director of a major American corporation. She is a former board member of The Coca-Cola Co., a position she held for nearly 20 years.

Today, North is a director of Acuity Brands. She is the former CEO of VSI Enterprises, a Georgia-based manufacturer of videoconferencing systems. She has been a director on the boards of Simtrol Inc., Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., MAPICS Inc. and NTELOS Holdings Corp.

OnBoard also added three new members to its Executive Leadership Honor Roll: Ann-Marie Campbell, president of the Southern division for The Home Depot Inc.; Ann Daiss, vice president, comptroller and chief accounting officer of Georgia Power Co.; and Penny McIntyre, who most recently served as group president of Newell-Rubbermaid’s consumer portfolio.

CEOs Against Cancer

The American Cancer Society has named Morgan Kendrick, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, as chairman of the Georgia chapter of its CEOs Against Cancer committee.

The committee works with companies with at least 1,000 employees to improve the health of employees, organizations and communities.

“We have a real problem here in Georgia — and across the nation — surrounding the rising costs of health care,” Kendrick said in a statement. “This group of like-minded CEOs is committed to finding ways to make a difference in their employees’ lives — and hopefully save lives in the process.”

Several other “founding vice chairs” also are joining the CEOs Against Cancer initiative — Peter Canalichio, CEO of Licensing Brands Inc.; John Dewberry, founder and CEO of Dewberry Capital Inc.; John Fox, president and CEO of Emory Healthcare; Dillon Schickli, CEO of DS Waters of America Inc.; and Lizanne Thomas, partner in charge of the Atlanta office of Jones Day.

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Jana Miles
Jana Miles

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Deborah Marie
Deborah Marie

Need to get some of that money to help me :-)