Column: Subie Green to retire from Center for Visually Impaired nonprofit

By Maria Saporta

Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, February 15, 2013

Subie Green, one of Atlanta’s most respected nonprofit executives, is retiring as president of the Center for the Visually Impaired at the end of June.

“It’s really time, but it was a hard, hard decision because I have loved this job so much,” said Green, who has been CVI’s top executive since May 2001.

During her tenure as president, Green oversaw an $8 million capital campaign to buy and renovate a new Midtown home for the organization that serves people who are blind or with significant visual disabilities.

She also led the effort for CVI to open its nonprofit VisAbility Store, which sells special products for people with vision loss; and she helped launch the ClearAnswer contact center, a calling center that provides employment for the visually impaired while providing a new source of revenue for the nonprofit.

“I really wanted to be sure that ClearAnswer was on sound footing,” Green said. “We are in the midst of our second year of operation, and we have five full-time employees with vision loss making good salaries. They are busy, and we have a number of contracts.”

During her tenure, CVI has doubled its endowment to $6 million, and it has maintained a $5.5 million budget despite funding cutbacks due to the economy.

Green said she also had completed her two-year term as chair of the national organization — VisionServe Alliance, and that she had reached (and passed) retirement age.

Before joining CVI, Green was vice president of development for the CDC Foundation, and she had also worked for Emory University in various development roles.

Foundation executive John Stephenson recommended Green to CVI’s board chair, Doug Garges, as someone he should consider. Green had never thought about running a nonprofit until the opportunity presented itself.

But she had a deep personal connection. Her husband, Phil Green, began losing his sight about five years after they were married. He retired from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention two years ago, and he uses a seeing-eye dog to get around.

“If you have lived with vision loss, you know how the world changes, and you want to open things up for people with disabilities,” Green said. “Phil said this is the first job I ever got that he was the reason I took it.”

Now her husband is partly the reason she’s leaving. “Phil wants someone to drive him around,” Green said, partly in jest.

Eventually, the Greens plan to sell their Atlanta home and move back to Fort Worth, Texas, to live close to their son.

Torch Gala

The 2013 Torch Gala, which benefits the Georgia chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, will pay special tribute to Southeast Regional Director Marcia Greenburg at its event March 16 at The Ritz Carlton, Buckhead.

The Torch Gala, now in its 23rd year, has raised more than $5.5 million for research, education and support to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these digestive diseases.

Greenburg began as a volunteer in 1985, and she became executive director of the Georgia chapter in 1996. In 2010, she was appointed to regional director, overseeing five chapters with combined revenues of more than $4.1 million.

Diaz joins Cobb Energy board

Barbarella Diaz has been named a director of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Foundation, a nonprofit charged with raising money to support community and educational outreach activities including its ArtsBridge education program.

Diaz is executive vice president of community affairs for Diaz Foods, one of the country’s leading Hispanic distributors serving both retail and food-service establishments in 24 states.

Diaz currently serves on the boards of the Children’s Museum, Instituto de Mexico, the Latin American Association, the Emerging Leaders Committee of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Girl Scouts Hispanic Initiative Committee.

Frida and Diego

Wells Fargo went the extra mile to become the presenting sponsor of Frida and Diego art exhibit, which opened Feb. 14, at the High Museum of Art.

The bank put together funding from10 different Wells Fargo business lines to come up with the necessary sponsorship funding that is “well into the six figures.”

It wanted to support the High’s first completely bilingual exhibit — this one displaying the works of Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

“The Hispanic community is really important to us,” said Michael Donnelly, Wells Fargo’s regional vice president in Atlanta, who is also on the Woodruff Arts Center’s board of trustees.

“This is a groundbreaking exhibit of the work of two beloved Mexican artists that will only be seen in the United States at the High Museum. We are delighted that 10 different business lines came together to support it.”

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