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Column: Cox’s John Dyer takes helm of Atlanta Committee for Progress

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on De. 9, 2016

The highly influential Atlanta Committee for Progress has a new chairman – John Dyer, president and CEO of Cox Enterprises and a 38-year veteran of the privately-held company.

Dyer is succeeding Paul Bowers, president and CEO of the Georgia Power Co., who chaired his last ACP meeting on Dec. 1.

The organization, which includes many of the top business leaders in metro Atlanta, was formed to serve as a high-powered kitchen cabinet for former Mayor Shirley Franklin, and the ACP was embraced by Mayor Kasim Reed during his administration.

John Dyer

John Dyer

ACP recently hired Duriya Farooqui, former chief operating officer of the City of Atlanta, to serve as its executive director.

The group also selected Larry Gellerstedt III to serve as its vice chairman, which means he will become chairman in 2018.

“Larry will get to go through the transition of a new mayor,” Bowers said.

Up until now, ACP has been a creature of whoever is the mayor of Atlanta, but under Farooqui, there is an expectation that the organization will continue regardless of who is mayor.

As Bowers said, it will be up to the next mayor to decide whether “you are going to use us or not.” He said ACP’s business and civic leaders want to provide the connectivity to “make this a city on a hill.”

Reed said ACP has agreed to take on an even greater oversight role in the allocation of the new transportation bond referendum, which passed in November. He said Atlanta voters need to be assured the money is being invested wisely in city improvements so they will continue to support future referendums.

Reed said he was delighted Dyer and Gellerstedt have agreed to become the future chairs of ACP. One difference will be that in 2017, ACP will hold two of its quarterly meetings at Cox’s headquarters in Dunwoody — outside of Atlanta’s city limits.

“ACP meetings are wherever the chairman is,” Reed said, adding that the other two meetings will be at Cox’s facilities in Ponce City Market.

Horizons Atlanta

John and Mary Brock opened up their home at the St. Regis on Dec. 4 to encourage greater support for Horizons Atlanta, a nonprofit that serves the need for high quality summer learning in metro Atlanta.

And it became quite clear why they are so vested. Mary Brock serves on the national board of the organization. And John Brock serves as chairman of the regional Horizons Atlanta board, which serves about 550 students.

Bud Peterson

Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson talks to Torrence and Tarrence (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Brock said he hopes to be able to scale that up to 2,000 students, with the help of new executive director Emily Hawkins.

“Horizons changes the lives of under-served kids through summer programs,” John Brock said. “Atlanta is lucky because we have an organization model that’s unique. We have eight of the 51 affiliates in the country here in metro Atlanta. It’s very metro centric.”

Horizons works with other educational institutions to provide summer and after-school learning for students. Those include Georgia Tech, Woodward Academy, Atlanta International School, Clark-Atlanta University, Georgia State University, Atlanta Technical College, Holy Innocents Episcopal School and Kennesaw State University.

Twins Tarrence and Torrence Sturdivant, who are in 4th grade at the Drew Academy, stole the show during the event at the Brocks’ residence.

Torrence and Tarrence

Torrence and Tarrence Sturdivant at the home of John and Mary Brock (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“Me and my brother have been at Horizons for three years,” Tarrence said. “We love the science experiments, like the making of crystals. The program has taught me how to be courageous.”

Torrence said that in 3rd grade he had low reading scores. “Now I have high reading scores,” he said.

A priceless moment was when Georgia Tech’s Bud Peterson asked the twins where they wanted to go to college. “Georgia Tech!” The brothers had no idea they were talking to the president of the university.

Grants to Green

The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta has made a $175,000 matching grant to the Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) during its latest “Grants to Green” giving cycle.

Chris Brand

Chris Brand

The $175,000 matching grant will support green upgrades to the nonprofit’s corporate offices and warehouse in Stone Mountain and Tucker. The grant will enable the nonprofit to operate more efficiently and will free up additional funds to support services.

The Grants to Green program done in partnership with Southface and supported by the Kendeda Fund.

FODAC provides durable medical equipment (DME), such as wheelchairs, power chairs, shower benches and patient lifts, for the disabled community, much of it provided at little to no cost to the recipient.

“FODAC has always promoted a ‘green’ initiative,” said Chris Brand, president and CEO of FODAC. “Repurposing and recycling used DME provides much of our inventory to supply the needs of our clients, and keeps almost 350 tons of equipment and related parts, like batteries, out of landfills. This grant and its matching funds will not only deepen our commitment to the environment, but the upgrades to our facilities will create significant savings in operating costs and free up more money that can go to supporting our mission.”

Girl Scouts’ new leadership

The Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta has elected a new board chair – Moanica Caston, vice president of diversity for Georgia Power.

Moanica Caston

Moanica Caston

It also has named two new directors to its board: Garrett Hale, senior vice president of lending solutions for Assurant; and Jed Milstein, chief human resources officer for Asbury Automotive Group. “We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to build girls of courage confidence and character who make the world a better place,” said Amy Dosik, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta.

The other members of the volunteer leadership are Vice Chair Anne Bowen-Long, a vice president of United Parcel Service; Secretary Elizabeth Patrick, managing partner of the Patrick Law Group; and Treasurer Grace Kolvereid, senior vice president of accounting for Southern Company Gas.

GRA and David Allen

Dr. David Allen on Dec. 6 presented his first $50,000 check to the Georgia Research Alliance on a $1 million pledge to support cellular manufacturing research at Emory University, Georgia Tech and The University of Georgia.

“We hope it will encourage other people to do likewise,” said Allen, who is retired from his dental practice. “A lot of my friends can do this.”

GRA President Mike Cassidy said the gift, which will be paid out over 15 years, will be split evenly between the three universities.

Cassidy also said GRA is planning to launch a lecture series in David Allen’s name to focus on the areas of cellular research.

Cassidy, Allen and Gellerstedt

GRA’s Mike Cassidy accepts a check from David Allen as Larry Gellerstedt watches (Photo by Maria Saporta)

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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