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Column: Families First CEO Anderson stepping down, interim CEO named

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on March 3, 2017

After eight years at the helm of Families First, CEO Kim Anderson is planning to step down on May 1. She will serve as a consultant to the organization through Aug. 31.

The Families First board has appointed Dr. MiShawna Moore, the nonprofit’s chief program officer, as its interim CEO. The organization plans to conduct a nationwide search for Anderson’s successor.

Kim Anderson Headshot 8.2014

Kim Anderson

“On behalf of Atlanta’s families and children, we are incredibly grateful for Kim’s years of service,” said Marybeth Leamer, chair of the Families First board who is also executive vice president of Cox Enterprises. “She has transformed the organization through her leadership and vision, gaining the trust of philanthropy, corporations and community. We know her passion for service will continue to change lives by furthering the hard work required to break cycles of generational poverty, in Atlanta and beyond.”

Anderson, 57, said she plans to take a short sabbatical and then seek a position where she will work on innovative ways to combat poverty and inequity in the greater Atlanta area.

“I do believe I will be engaged for another 10 to 15 years,” Anderson said. “I want to spend the next 10 years addressing poverty and equity in Atlanta in more of a policy role.”

Anderson also said she was pleased with what Families First had been able to accomplish over the last eight years — to move the nonprofit forward by creating closer connections with the community.

During her tenure at Families First, Anderson helped to shift the 126-year-old institution into a more proactive, respected community partner — advocating for children and families.

The organization recently completed a $13.5 million capital campaign to purchase, renovate and move into a new administrative office and resource center in Atlanta’s historic Westside.

Leamer credited the Families First staff, board and volunteers for ensuring uninterrupted service to the agency’s clients during the leadership transition.

“The team of staff and volunteers supporting Families First are some of the most mission-focused individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to be around,” Leamer said. “We are pleased Kim will serve in a consulting capacity to help us effect a smooth transition of leadership and service to the valued clients of Families First.“

Rotary and literacy – Comer Yates

Don’t tell Comer Yates there is no silver bullet to solving the problem of childhood illiteracy.

“Atlanta and our state has the ability and the will to attack the literacy problem in our state and our country,” Yates, executive director of the Atlanta Speech School, told members of the Rotary Club of Atlanta.

Sally and Comer Yates

Sally and Comer Yates at the Rotary Club of Atlanta (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Yates explained that children need to learn the executive function of the brain between birth and five – the ability to make decisions for themselves so they can make good life choices.

From the age of 5 to 8 is when children have the best ability to learn how to read and write, but they need adults who will communicate with them by introducing them to an extensive vocabulary and offer them opportunities to express themselves.

But Yates said that all too often, teachers are “left to do eight years of work in three years.”

Before he began his presentation, Yates introduced his wife, Sally Yates, who was fired as acting U.S. attorney general after she instructed the U.S. Justice Department not to defend President Donald Trump’s original executive order temporarily banning refugees from seven countries from entering the United States.

Some people at Rotary told him that “we had picked the wrong Yates to speak.”

People wanted to express their “gratitude and appreciation” to Sally, he said.

Rotarians then gave a standing ovation for Sally Yates.

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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