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Column: Coke’s Steve Cahillane to lead Woodruff Arts campaign

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on October 4, 2013,

The Woodruff Arts Center has tapped Steve Cahillane, president of Coca-Cola Americas, to head its 2014-2015 annual campaign. He will succeed William H. Rogers Jr., president and CEO of SunTrust Banks, who is the current chair of the campaign.

“Coca-Cola is a proud supporter of the Woodruff Arts Center,” Cahillane said in a release. “We have a rich history together, as evidenced by the Center’s namesake. This partnership began with the visionary leadership of our illustrious former chairman and CEO, Robert W. Woodruff.”

Larry Gellerstedt, chair of the Woodruff Arts Center board and CEO of Cousins Properties, said the board was thrilled Cahillane had accepted the volunteer role.

“His vision and outstanding leadership will undoubtedly help the campaign thrive and continue to grow,” Gellerstedt said.

The annual campaign supports artistic programming, educational outreach and operating expenses for the Woodruff Arts Center and its four partners — the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, High Museum of Art and Young Audiences.

“The Coca-Cola Co.’s ongoing enterprise-wide commitment to the Woodruff Arts Center’s work has made a deep and lasting impact on this institution, our city and the larger region,” said Virginia Hepner, president and CEO of the Center. “We are grateful to Steve for his willingness to advance this legacy of partnership and collaboration.”

Cahillane is the latest in a line of prominent corporate executives to serve as the Center’s annual campaign chair. In addition to Rogers, they include Paul Bowers, CEO of Georgia Power Co., who led the 2012-2013 campaign — raising a record $9.3 million.

Youth Entrepreneurs Georgia

After seven years of working primarily in the Atlanta Public Schools, a novel entrepreneurship program is branching out.

Youth Entrepreneurs Georgia, originally formed as Youth Entrepreneurs Atlanta, has now expanded into the DeKalb County school system.

The program was founded by Georgia-Pacific and Elizabeth Koch, who has been a longtime champion of entrepreneurship education along with her husband, Charles Koch.

Youth Entrepreneurs Georgia was modeled after Youth Entrepreneurs Kansas, which Mrs. Koch had founded. Georgia-Pacific is owned by Wichita-based Koch Industries Inc., one of the largest privately held companies in the country.

In a recent interview, Elizabeth Koch spoke admiringly of former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall and her willingness to introduce the entrepreneurship program in all of Atlanta’s public high schools.

“It wasn’t an easy road in Kansas,” she said. “I had to put on my knee pads, and it took us a year. In Atlanta, it took us three months.”

Since its inception, the Youth Entrepreneurship program has served more than 1,500 students primarily in Atlanta’s public schools and most recently in DeKalb. The organization now plans to expand to more metro Atlanta counties and to other parts of the state.

“Education has always been our hot button. Before we were married, Charles was all about education,” Mrs. Koch said, adding that her husband was upset when he realized that economics was not being taught in high school.

JaKathryn Ross, executive director of Youth Entrepreneurship Georgia, said the goal is to be serving at least 1,000 students a year within the next five years. The organization will be looking for community partners so it can grow the program. But the Koch family and Georgia-Pacific will continue to be major donors.

UPS trees

The UPS Foundation is kicking off its global volunteer month by committing to planting another 1 million trees around the world. The foundation also has awarded $2.3 million in grants to support environmental programs and forestry focused initiatives globally.

United Parcel Service announced in 2011 new Global Forestry initiative to plant, protect and preserve trees around the globe. It adopted a pledge in 2012 to plant 1 million trees and, to date, more than 1.3 million have been planted.

“Investing in tree planting and reforestation is strategic to our environmental sustainability program,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of the UPS Foundation. “It also builds resiliency in our communities and engages tens of thousands of UPSers who help plant these trees around the world.”

Year UP Atlanta

Year Up Atlanta has named Kevin Salwen as the new chair of its board.

Salwen, a journalist, author and entrepreneur, joined the Year Up Atlanta board in 2011.

Most recently he served as vice chair, where he focused on the organization’s fund development efforts.

Year Up Atlanta, launched in 2009, is one of 11 Year Up sites in the U.S.

It provides young adults with technical and professional skills. For the first six months, students earn college credits, and then they participate in a six-month internship program with corporate partners.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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