GE’s Russell Stokes promoted; will stay in Atlanta

General Electric Co. has named Russell Stokes, its highest-ranking executive in Georgia, as the new CEO of GE Power, the company’s New York-based unit responsible for power generation and water technologies. But Stokes — who will lead the Metro Atlanta Chamber in 2018 — will continue to be based in Atlanta.

Stokes, currently president and CEO of GE Energy Connections, will take over GE Power on July 3.

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Column: Wilton Looney gives Children’s Healthcare $1 million for pediatrics center

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 9, 2017

Retired Genuine Parts Co. executive and philanthropist Wilton Looney has given $1 million to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in honor of his late wife Martha Looney. “Fortunately we talked about it just before she died [in October 2016], and she agreed,” Looney said in a telephone interview June 6. “It’s just something we wanted to do.”

Bill Taggart’s service to be held Friday at 11 a.m. at Morehouse’ MLK chapel

Memorial services for William “Bill” Taggart, an Atlanta business and civic leader who died suddenly on June 7, will be held on Friday, June 16 at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College at 830 Westview Drive S.W.

Since April, Taggart was serving as the interim president of Morehouse College. He also held several important roles in the community, such as chairman of the Atlanta Business League and on the board of the Westside Future Fund.

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Atlanta companies double down on clean energy following Trump announcement

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 9, 2017

Atlanta-based corporate giants and major companies with an Atlanta presence stopped short of joining the chorus of criticism Democrats and environmentalists heaped on President Donald Trump’s decision June 1 to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.

But The Coca-Cola Co., Delta Air Lines Inc., The Home Depot Inc., and others firmly renewed their commitments to pursuing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, goals set forth by the 2015 Paris accord.

Coca-Cola’s James Quincey to Rotary: Never accept the way things are

In his first public appearance since becoming CEO of the Coca-Cola Co., James Quincey reaffirmed the company’s commitment to Atlanta, water conservation, women empowerment and community well-being at the 2017 Rotary International convention.

“We take great satisfaction that Atlanta is also a special place for Rotary, and that you’ve chosen to celebrate your Foundation’s Centennial here,” Quincey told the more than 23,000 people assembled in Hall B of the Georgia World Congress Center.

Rotary International shines spotlight on ‘modern slavery’ – seeking to curb the problem

Rotary International raised the spotlight on human trafficking Monday at its 108th convention underway in Atlanta.

After a morning devoted to the initiative to eradicate polio, the nearly 37,000 Rotarians attending the conference from all over the world listened to ways it can help fight modern day slavery.
“Atlanta Georgia is one of the hot beds for sex trafficking in the entire country,” said actor Ashton Kutcher, who has become an active voice to protect women and children from becoming modern day slaves. Kutcher said one can actually “buy somebody” – a fact he said is hard to believe.

‘Megan Leavey’ – an endearing movie of a woman Marine and a bomb-sniffing dog

“Megan Leavey” had me at “Woof.”

Based on the true story of a Marine and her bomb-sniffing dog, the movie is a well-told weepie, especially if you’re a full-blown animal lover (Full confession…me).

Megan (Kate Mara) has a dead-end job and a deadbeat mom (Edie Falco) in a deader-than-dead town. There’s nothing keeping her in this Rust Belt corner of hell, but she doesn’t have any place she especially wants to go.

Ted Turner honored by the rarefied founders of the America’s Cup

By David Pendered

Ted Turner is now formally honored by the blue-blazer crowd of the yachting world. The New York Yacht Club marked the 40th anniversary of Turner’s victory in the America’s Cup, in 1977, by awarding Turner the highest individual honor the club bestows.

This is a significant bow from a club with an autocratic reputation, one that took its time in even extending a membership offer to Turner. Evidently, back in the day, the club’s leadership had determined that Turner wasn’t a good fit in a private club founded in 1844 by a scion of one of the nation’s founders and led since by a host of mostly Northern bluebloods.

Georgia parks and forests are a lasting legacy of FDR’s New Deal

This week guest contributors REN and HELEN DAVIS, Atlanta-based writers and photographers, look at the many public outdoor spaces we have in Georgia and the Depression-era investment that created or preserved them.

By Ren and Helen Davis

Seventy years ago, on April 12, 1945, the nation lost the president who led it out of the depths of the Great Depression and to near certain victory in World War II. When Franklin D. Roosevelt collapsed at his Warm Springs cottage, Georgians also lost a valued friend and neighbor. From the time of his arrival in 1924 to seek therapy for polio in the soothing springs and on through his years in the White House, this scion of wealth and New York aristocracy was transformed by his day-to-day experiences among the people of Warm Springs and Pine Mountain. All Americans, in turn, were forever changed by him.

Rotary International, Bill Gates and other global partners pledge another $1.2 billion to efforts to end polio

“End Polio Now” was the rallying cry at the !08th convention of Rotary International – bringing nearly 37,500 Rotarians to Atlanta from Sunday through Wednesday.

Led by Rotary International and Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the global health partners meeting in Atlanta reaffirmed their commitment to ending the disease by pledging an additional $1.2 billion to the cause.

Rotary announced alone pledge to raise $50 million a year for three years. And Bill Gates announced he would match that contribution two-to-one – meaning that partnership would provide another $450 million to fight the last vestiges of the debilitating disease.

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Tubas by Kelly Jordan

A busy store on a busy corner

Our intent this week was to talk about Atlanta and her visitors. Any city that attains any sort of momentum attracts interesting visitors…some famous, some not so much. But with every visitor comes a story and this week we were going to tell a visitor story. A pretty good one too. Kind of a Day the Earth Stood Still thriller, only, not the whole earth, just a little corner in Georgia. Anyway, that was all before we discovered Miss Fluffy Raffles.

Fluffy is not a name one just skips past without pausing to at least express, “What the heck?” And to no one’s surprise, there is a bit of a story attached with Miss Raffles. On the surface, it’s a story of a playful woman who for almost two weeks tweaked the collective noses of an entire city and became front-page news in the process.

Georgia Trust’s tour of Southwest Atlanta helps us appreciate the history in our town

Frances Westbrook of Brookhaven was having lunch Saturday in Adair Park – a southwest Atlanta community that she did not know before signing up for the Georgia Trust’s Southwest Atlanta Expedition.

“I thought it would an excellent opportunity to see this area, which I had never been to before,” said Westbrook, who has also been on the Atlanta BeltLine tour. “It’s really a superb opportunity to get to know another part of Atlanta.”

More than 200 people visited the 20-plus sites on the Southwest Atlanta tour – which included houses, industrial buildings and some of the incredible academic institutions that have anchored the communities for more than 100 years.

Faith community stepping up on climate change

By Guest Columnist SUSAN VARLAMOFF, coauthor of the ‘Laudato Si Action Plan’ and author of ‘Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast’

Nature abhors a vacuum. With the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate accord, there is a void in global leadership on climate change that others are willing and able to fill it. Countries like China, Germany and France are stepping up. In the U.S., states, cities, universities, corporations, and even churches are voluntarily reducing greenhouse emissions in the spirit of the Paris climate accord.

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Column: Nearly 40,000 Rotarians from around world coming to Atlanta

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 2, 2017

Don’t be surprised if from June 5 to June 14, Atlanta looks more international than usual.

Rotary International will be holding its 108th annual convention in Atlanta — commemorating the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Rotary Foundation — which happened at the Rotary convention held in Atlanta in 1917. That’s when Arch Klumph proposed creating an endowment with a purpose of “doing good in the world.” The foundation began with a war chest of $26.50, but today it has assets of more than $1 billion, and that’s after it has invested more than $3 billion in philanthropic causes in virtually every corner of the world.