Collie Greenwood to Head Bus and Rail Operations for Authority; Develop & Deliver Large Capital Projects to Enhance Customer Experience MARTA has named experienced transit professional and current Chief of Bus Operations Collie Greenwood as its new Deputy General Manager, Operations, overseeing all bus and rail operations for the Authority. In this new role, Greenwood will also help develop and deliver major capital projects aimed at enhancing the customer experience, including the largest in MARTA’s history, the procurement of new railcars, and the addition of electric buses to MARTA’s fleet. “Over the course of this unprecedented year, Collie has shown steadfast leadership with his tireless support of our bus operations, and his willingness to make the tough decisions demanded by the pandemic,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “I am confident he will bring that same commitment to the rail side of our operation and lead the way as we prepare for exciting systemwide enhancements and expansion.” Among the transformative projects Greenwood will oversee is the design and delivery of 254 new railcars. The $646 million-dollar agreement with Stadler Rail is the single largest for MARTA and a milestone in its capital improvement program aimed at more efficient performance and enhanced customer experience. Additionally, Greenwood will spearhead the integration of MARTA’s first electric buses and lead the years-long transition to a more environmentally conscious fleet. “Throughout my career, from my early days as a bus operator to this new role at MARTA, my focus has always been the customer,” said Greenwood. “Their safety, comfort, and overall experience is paramount. Getting the basics right, having buses and trains arrive on time and be in good working order sets the foundation for good customer service that we can build upon with new vehicles, amenities, and technology. I’m excited to continue this important work.” When the pandemic hit last March, Greenwood quickly implemented safety measures to protect MARTA’s thousands of bus operators, mechanics, and maintenance employees to ensure essential bus service would still be provided. Additionally, he managed the installation of bus safety features for customers, including antimicrobial air filters, free mask dispensers, and social distancing placards on all 540 buses in the fleet. Greenwood, alongside Chief of Staff Melissa Mullinax, co-chairs MARTA’s Return to New Normal Task Force which for months has developed, coordinated, and implemented employee and customer safety measures systemwide. Under their guidance, this group continues to prepare for post-pandemic logistics such as vaccine distribution to MARTA’s frontline employees, workplace protocols for the return of telecommuting office staff, and service ramp-up necessary when large events and gatherings resume, as well as continually looking for new ways to protect the health of those who work at and use MARTA. Greenwood joined MARTA in July 2019 and immediately got to work improving bus service delivery and reliability. His first order of business was assisting MARTA’s Recruitment Office in filling hundreds of vacancies in bus operations that had resulted in unreliable bus service in the past. He led the Bus Operators Task Force to develop solutions aimed at attracting and retaining skilled bus operators that has resulted in a 16 percent reduction in overtime costs. Under Greenwood’s leadership, bus on-time performance (the benchmark of bus transit service) has improved from percentages in the mid-70s to current percentages in the low 80s. Greenwood will work closely with Deputy Chief of Bus Operations Santiago Osorio and Deputy Chief of Rail Operations George Wright, and report directly to General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. This is sponsored content.
By Metro Atlanta Chamber The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC) announced today that the city has won the bid to host the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Regional, including the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, at State Farm Arena in 2025. The winning proposal was submitted in February and crafted by the ASC in partnership with the Atlanta Visitors Convention Bureau, Georgia Tech and State Farm Arena. Georgia Tech will serve as the host institution for the games. “We are thrilled to work with the NCAA and the city of Atlanta again to bring the Men’s Division I Regional Basketball games back in 2025,” said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council. “After the unfortunate cancellation of this year’s Final Four, we are thrilled to bring a key part of the NCAA Tournament back to metro Atlanta. We are thankful for our partners at the Atlanta Visitors Convention Bureau, Georgia Tech and State Farm Arena for assisting us in creating another successful bid to bring a premier sporting event here.” The ASC plans to oversee the execution of the 2025 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Regional under the organization’s Championship Hosting Division which has been utilized for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, Super Bowl LIII and the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four. The ASC has partnered with the NCAA on several events in recent years. In 2018, Atlanta hosted the Division I Regional, where basketball fans watched a Cinderella story unfold as No. 11 seed Loyola (Chicago) advanced to the Final Four®. The city was also set to host its fourth NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2020, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event would have been the first basketball game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Atlanta Sports Council hopes to bring another NCAA Men’s Final Four event to the city in the near future and is turning its focus to baseball as the city hosts the 2021 MLB All-Star Game at Truist Park. Additional information about the Men’s Division I Basketball Regional and the MLB All-Star Game will be released as available. About the Atlanta Sports Council The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC), a division of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, facilitates the growth and development of sports in metro Atlanta by serving as a recruiter for major regional, national and international sports events. The organization plays an important role in improving the quality of life for residents in the region through sports, working to drive economic growth and visibility and acting as an advocate for area teams and annual sports events. For more information, visit https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/councils/atlanta-sports-council. This is sponsored content.
By Jim Durrett, President of Buckhead Coalition and Executive Director of Buckhead Community Improvement District In the midst of the attention to issues of public safety, homelessness, and potential zoning changes to address housing needs, I have begun to receive calls and emails about a different subject. “Whatever happened with that park project on top of GA 400 in Buckhead?” Great question. Short answer: The HUB404 vision is real, as is the progress. If you don’t know what I mean, let me set the context. Five years ago, the Buckhead Community Improvement District acted on the realization that one of the most significant, thriving urban centers in metropolitan Atlanta did not have a significant gathering place. In this day and time, outdoor space where people can come together in community really matters. We decided to discover what we could and should do about it. The process of discovery led to the conclusion to pursue a multi-functional outdoor space on top of GA 400 and MARTA’s Buckhead Station between Peachtree and Lenox Roads. The space would contain parkland, plazas, gardens, and paths that would create connections in every sense of that word. The path to realizing that vision was through partnership between the public and private sectors. The Buckhead CID would lead the public sector effort and a nonprofit entity would be stood up to lead the private sector effort. The HUB404 Conservancy was established as that new nonprofit, and the CID and HUB404 Conservancy began to plan on taking the next steps of engineering and final design. In late 2019 and early 2020 plans were underway to introduce the opportunity to the community and begin in earnest to attract philanthropic support. Many commercial office building owners in the general area of the HUB404 location made a commitment to help fund the work of the HUB404 Conservancy and advance the project. Funds were also being raised and committed to do the engineering in 2020. And then, COVID. Full stop. The HUB404 Conservancy board (of which I am a member) made the decision to hit the pause button, conserve our funding, and go into hibernation. From the middle of March 2020 until now we have been in that cave, but we have not been slumbering. Since we hit that pause button, our pursuit of 501(c)(3) charitable organization status was approved by the IRS. We grew the board. More building owners became financial supporters of the effort. And we have decided that now is the right time to emerge and pursue our vision with zeal. The pandemic, stark divisions in our society, and the need for resilience in the face of the effects of climate change have emphasized the need for places where people come together, for the shade of trees, for better management of stormwater, and for enhancing opportunities to get around without getting in our cars. Our goal for 2021 is to secure the funding to begin engineering and final design, to further strengthen the board of the HUB404 Conservancy, and to create an unstoppable momentum of support for this truly transformative opportunity. To learn more about the project or to get involved, visit www.HUB404.org. This is sponsored content.
The forgotten forest long known as Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve stands to become one of Atlanta’s largest public parks, an archaeological treasure trove, and a model for urban forestland preservation The original version of this article was published by Atlanta Magazine on December 30, 2020 and can be found here. By Josh Green One Saturday morning about 40 years ago, Shirley Nichols wandered down an overgrown road near her home in the woodsy fringes of southeast Atlanta, enticed by a strange, old sign that read “Lake Charlotte.” Deep in a hilly, oak-hickory forest, she found a few ornate but decaying, vacant houses around a small body of water. The air was so fresh, it felt like a countryside dawn, though Nichols stood just 15 minutes from both downtown and the city’s burgeoning airport. “It’s like you were in a different world,” Nichols, a recent retiree, remembers. “You can’t imagine: It was so serene.” That bucolic air was replaced a few years later by the oppressive funk of a new landfill next to the woods, brimming with household waste. And until recently, the unmarred forest was a constant source of worry for Nichols’s 600-home neighborhood, South River Gardens, where she’s long served as community association president. But thanks to her neighbors’ decades of “badgering city councilmembers to keep an eye on that property,” she says, and no shortage of serendipity, the forgotten forest long known as Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve stands to become one of Atlanta’s largest public parks, an archaeological treasure trove, and a model for urban forestland preservation. The densely canopied property in question consists of 216 acres—picture Piedmont Park and Centennial Olympic Park combined—and an estimated 60,000 trees, including mature species such as shagbark hickory rarely found south of Georgia’s mountains. It’s positioned just south of Starlight Drive-In along Moreland Avenue, bisected by a tributary of the South River and a wide, winding path, with Interstate 285 as its southern border. The land’s natural beauty and resources have drawn people for centuries; Native Americans carved stone bowls from an ancient soapstone ridge still dimpled by their handiwork. According to research by Atlanta writer Hannah Palmer, who’s studied the area for nonprofit the Nature Conservancy, the land’s tumultuous modern history dates back to six country estates in the 1920s, dotted around a lake in a then remote pocket of Fulton County. Atlanta annexed the property in the 1950s; the name “Lake Charlotte” appears on a map a few years later; and, by Mayor Maynard Jackson’s administration in the 1970s, the city had purchased it to create an idyllic nature preserve. But the Atlanta Child Murders saga scuttled momentum when a body was found nearby, and the scenic lake was drained. Then came the opening of DeKalb’s Live Oak Landfill next door in 1986. That cast an odorous pall over the area—and infuriated neighbors—until the Environmental Protection Agency shut the dump down in 2004. Today, the landfill is capped, and conservationists think it could be fully remediated in 20 or 25 years and cleared to become accessible to the public again. The landfill’s owner, Houston-based Waste Management, had owned the Lake Charlotte property since the late 1980s and once tried to wipe out the forest for landfill expansion, per Palmer’s research. Waste Management was recently under contract to sell the forest to an industrial developer, echoing similar land uses in the area. “We would have had a bunch of asphalt, concrete, and essentially nobody working there, but a lot of trucks there, destroying one of the most pristine forests in the city,” says Tim Keane, Atlanta’s planning commissioner. The forest’s saving grace was threefold: A few years ago, a Georgia Tech study of urban tree canopy loss clued in the Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit based in Virginia, that Lake Charlotte should be a top priority. After more than a year of tough negotiations, that group convinced Waste Management to sell to them instead of the industrial developer, says attorney and local acquisition specialist Stacy Funderburke. Meanwhile, the overarching Atlanta City Design project, spearheaded by Keane and BeltLine visionary Ryan Gravel, alerted city leaders about the importance of preserving one of Atlanta’s largest privately owned forests. Around that same time, the city tweaked its tree recompense fund—a coffer filled by developers who pay fees to ax trees—to allow for not just planting replacements but purchasing and protecting forestland. That provided the $5.3 million the city paid in August for Lake Charlotte’s land, its planned improvements, and an upkeep strategy. Says Keane: “This is the first—but not the last—property that we’ll use tree trust money to protect.” Over the past 17 years, the Conservation Fund has helped add more than 400 acres of green space to Atlanta’s portfolio, but Funderburke calls this deal the highlight. “We have a lot of beautiful forests—you think of Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, Fernbank Forest, and Deepdene [Park],” he says. “Honestly, this is like those places on steroids.” Environment assessments have shown the forest wasn’t impacted by the landfill. Following some parking and trail upgrades, as well as removal of kudzu and other invasive species, Funderburke predicts it could be partially accessible to the public in 2021. Passive uses will likely include hiking trails, maybe campsites, possibly educational markers for kids on field trips. “This isn’t going to be a park where we have barbecue grills and playground equipment and all that,” says city councilwoman Joyce Sheperd, who represents the area. Gravel calls the Lake Charlotte purchase integral for a much grander concept he’s working on with the Nature Conservancy: the South River Forest, a potential 3,500-acre linkage of existing nearby parks and forests, plus historic sites like the city’s old prison farm. “It’s metro Atlanta’s last chance to have a forest this big—bigger than Stone Mountain [Park]—inside I-285,” says Gravel. Sheperd, Gravel, and others note the area is relatively unpopulated and ripe for a development boom as Atlanta’s population swells. But Nichols, the longtime neighbor, says most homeowners are happily retired and less concerned …
By: John Hope Bryant Disasters are unpredictable. Even with prior warning, we are rarely, if ever, prepared for the mental and emotional tax excised on us individually and collectively as a community. Right now, we find ourselves in the middle of a global health crisis, an economic shift felt by millions, and in the throes of battling a series of back-to-back natural disasters. Amidst these trying times, we must remember – disasters do not stop, and we cannot sit by idly, becoming victims of circumstance. The best way to fight back against the unknown is by being prepared. Devastation strikes without discrimination and it is never clear when it will impact you and your community. It is often said that the best offense is a good defense, preparedness is just that. Financial preparation for emergencies can save you and your family tremendous heartache and stress after disaster strikes. The simple actions you take, or do not take, today can greatly affect your future and way of life. Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recorded that more than 25 million Americans were impacted by a natural disaster in 2017; and, in the past three years alone, natural disasters have accounted for nearly $500 billion in damage and losses. While it is not possible to control the disruptions that nature can sometimes bring into our lives, we can control our response to them through financial literacy. Financial literacy is the cornerstone of preparedness; the two go together. When you understand the mechanics of money and resources – and how it can be leveraged to bring you to your desired future – you attain a sense of control and empowerment you may not have had before. Many times, individuals can tend to focus on what they do not have as a reason for delaying emergency preparations. Rather than focusing on what you do not have, think about shifting your focus on what you do have and maximizing its output and potential. Remember, consistently taking small actions yields big results over time. Here are a few things that you can do to be prepared for any kind of financial emergency you may find yourself in: Make saving a priority. It is important to understand that federal disaster assistance will not make you whole after disaster strikes – you must make saving and proper insurance a priority. For your savings, consider creating an additional “cash-on-demand” savings account that you add to periodically that you can take with you in case you are required to evacuate in a hurry. Maintain insurance. After Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the average flood insurance payout to homeowners who flooded was $120,000. Conversely, homeowners who took on water and applied for FEMA for federal financial assistance through FEMA received $4,000 to 7,000 on average. Therefore, it is important to understand your risks and ensure your assets have the proper level of coverage. Review your policy options, policies, and other relevant paperwork consistently to ensure that information is up to date. Have a written plan. A comprehensive financial plan serves as your road map reminding you of your desired destination and the actions required to get there. Make copies of all important financial and legal documents. Many times, when disasters strike, property is severely damaged or destroyed. Unfortunately, for many, they lose access to important documents like mortgage information and birth certificates which are helpful in applying for recovery assistance. Additionally, in today’s technological environment, make sure your important documents are available digitally by storing them in the cloud, email, or mobile device. If you need assistance in this process, Operation HOPE may be able to help. For nearly three decades, Operation HOPE has been empowering Americans through financial literacy with a standing commitment to prepare individuals and families for financial disasters, of any kind, and seeing them through to recovery. Through HOPE Coalition America (HCA), the organization provides preparation coaching, at no cost to clients, to help them get back on their feet should they be adversely affected by disaster – be it natural or manmade. Additionally, their financial wellbeing coaches are trained to walk alongside clients in their most vulnerable times to help them regain a sense of dignity and normalcy in their lives. They can help clients build emergency financial plans, negotiate their mortgage payments, apply for eligible post-disaster FEMA assistance, speak to lenders concerning the terms and condition of their loans, and more. Life is an adventure, plan for it and be ready for the unexpected. September is National Preparedness Month and it is the perfect time to make a commitment to ensure you and your family are financially prepared – by doing so, you are investing in your future. For more resources, visit the Ready Campaign and the Financial Literacy and Education Commission.
By Dave Ross, The Task Force for Global Health, and Daniel Stein, Stewards of Change Institute Among the many executive orders that President Biden has signed on his first days in office, it’s heartening to see that he intends to make children one of his primary concerns. Indeed, his plan to significantly expand benefits for children in low- and middle-income families will make a meaningful difference if enacted, mitigating poverty’s corrosive impact on millions of the youngest, most-vulnerable people in our country. We believe that’s only a start, however. There’s a complementary action he can take that will even more pointedly, systemically jump-start fulfillment of his promise to “Build Back Better.” It is this: Issue an executive order to begin coordination of the numerous, disconnected programs and systems that aim to improve the health, safety and well-being of children. Even at this deeply discordant time in our history, we believe nearly all Americans could support that goal. It would be the “moonshot” of our generation, with positive impact that would last far into the future. While there would certainly be costs to fully implement it, the launch would be relatively inexpensive and the return on investment would be enormous. Today, government systems that provide healthcare, social services, education, housing and other programs that assist children and families operate mostly independent of each other. That means parents struggle to get the help they need — or even to figure out where to look for help — while service providers lack the ability to get a full picture of what needs have to be addressed. And that will remain the case even if Biden’s plan to increase tax benefits for children is enacted. The solution is to connect programs and systems with the same methodology that has sparked innovation and yielded positive results in other sectors, including technology, banking and manufacturing. It is called “interoperability” and, quite simply, it means enabling the routine exchange of information across the various “silos” in which data are currently held. We strongly urge the new administration to use an executive order to jump-start a national interoperability initiative that would initiate the seamless, secure and confidential exchange of information as a hallmark of Building Back Better. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) envisioned just this kind of approach to stimulate integration and coordination across the myriad agencies and organizations that serve children and families; indeed, some interoperability efforts were made during the Trump administration. Despite a broad consensus that this approach works, however, it hasn’t been widely implemented for a variety of reasons, many of them cultural and political. An executive order — including creation of a Children’s Advocate in the White House — could mandate actions for states and localities that most already believe are worth taking. Furthermore, provisions of the ACA specify that the federal government can pay up to 90% of a state’s costs of implementing interoperability, which would enable structural changes to permanently connect the relevant systems. The political lens through which some states have viewed the ACA has impeded wider use of those provisions, but a presidential mandate could shift that reality. It isn’t just children who would benefit. By its very nature, an interoperability initiative would lead to systemic changes that would contribute broadly to more-efficient and -effective programs and services for people of all ages, races and socioeconomic groups. But children are the right initial focus. Helping them should be a cause that all sides of the political divide can agree upon and, quite simply, it’s the right thing to do. The prescription we’re suggesting is not controversial. Interoperability has been enthusiastically embraced by the private sector and governments at all levels, irrespective of their leaders’ political leanings. It entails bringing a proven methodology to scale, beginning with leadership from the top, so we can get moving ASAP. Taking this action would improve the lives of tens of millions of children who don’t get enough to eat, don’t have a decent place to sleep, don’t receive equal educational opportunities and, more generally, don’t have routine, equal access to the building blocks of health, well-being and life prospects. Every politician says it: Children are our future. The new administration has the opportunity to demonstrate that they are also our priority. David A. Ross, ScD, is President and CEO of The Task Force for Global Health. Daniel Stein is President of the Stewards of Change Institute This is sponsored content.
Dentons’ US Public Policy practice is pleased to release its annual Policy Scan, an in-depth look at policy at the Federal level and in each of the 50 states. In this document we provide a first look at the key policy questions for the next year in the states, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the new Administration. Additionally, we examine the people who will be driving change. US Policy Scan 2021 takes deep dives into the turbulent political and policy waters swirling around agriculture, cannabis, education, energy and the environment, financial services, foreign policy, health care, housing and community investment, immigration, infrastructure, smart cities and communities, national security, Native American communities, tax, technology, trade, and voting rights and government reform. All with an eye toward providing you with a clear, comprehensive and reader-friendly description of what US public policy will look like in 2021. Download US Policy Scan 2021 Other features include: 2021 Congressional and State House Session Calendars First 100 days of the Biden Administration Biden cabinet nominees and senior White House staff appointees New Committee Chairs and Rankers Analysis of 2022 US Senate races Key decided and pending cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. And as in years past, we have also included a review of state legislative activity in 2020, an overview of legislation passed by the House Democrats in the 116th Congress that didn’t see movement in the Republican controlled Senate, and the policy drivers that will shape state legislative and executive branch activity in 2021. We hope you find this report helpful and informative.
By Bradley Roberts, Content Manager, United Way of Greater Atlanta Laura Salvatore Adams is passionate about public health work. But, more recently, she’s seen how the importance a community places on the health of its citizens can impact a family’s ability to grow its wealth. Adams is one of many United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Young Professional Leaders who volunteered in the LINC and YPL affinity group’s Child Well-Being Hackathon on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. “I think, typically, hackathons are a half day, full of events, and with our hackathon we wanted to sort of replicate what you see in the business world,” Adams, a YPL board member, says. “We wanted to bring together multiple organizations and have them solve some sort of problem in a short time frame.” Lauren Rock, Director of Individual Engagement in the Office of Development for United Way, says this hackathon was an “evolution of United Way’s historical MLK Weekend event” called the Day of Innovation, which was first hosted by United Way with LINC members about six years ago. The event has evolved over time and the format changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it allowed LINC and YPL to host a unique skill-based volunteer opportunity. “This year they are focused on introducing young professionals to United Way’s Investment Priorities, and a more expanded representation of organizations that share in their committment to Child Well-Being,” Rock says. “On Jan. 18, we were joined by: Atlanta CARES, Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency, Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, Everybody Wins Atlanta, Sneaker Ball Atlanta’s FEATS and InspirEDU.” These organizations were selected based on a set of criteria that amplified youth voices, created digital access to literacy tools and increased equitable outcomes for communities impacted by structural racism, Rock says. An event participant said the event was ‘a very fulfilling experience, much better than dropping off goods at the office.” “For an event that typically lasts a half day and that has overwhelming success in person, we knew that the limitations of the virtual world might impact the overall experience,” Rock says. “Fortunately, the feedback has blown us away and encouraged us to begin planning our next hackathon.” Adams moved to Atlanta from Topeka, Kansas for school—but Atlanta’s been her home for the past six or seven years, she says. It’s no longer just “a stop along the way,” but where she has settled and set roots for her family. The Emory University graduate has a master’s in public health with a focus in public policy and management. But the hackathon work on MLK Day centered around the issue of economic stability, she says. “Partner organizations came into the hackathon with a challenge they needed help with,” she says. “I partnered with the Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency, and what they were doing had to do with their overall strategy and branding from where they are now compared to where they want to go.” Making sure families are financially stable starts with making sure a family remains healthy, Adams says. “What brought me to volunteer more with United Way at first is public health, but as I’ve gotten more involved, it becomes apparent that a part of public health is economic stability,” she says. “It’s hard to pay attention to public health when you aren’t [financially stable].” United Way of Greater Atlanta has recently aligned its work to invest in four priority areas to improve the well-being of children, families and their communities across Greater Atlanta. United, we can make sure children grow up as strong learners who are college and career ready—we can make sure families that are economically stable are set up for the best possible success for the future. United Way’s economic stability work focuses on improving job skills while addressing factors like housing, financial education and health costs, which helps ensure families convert an increase in income to sustained wealth—that last point is what grabbed Adams’ attention. “That’s what I’m most interested in these days. It seems crucial to providing long-term sustainable change in these communities,” she says. “I feel like all of the investment priorities United Way has I align with. “I just want to bring whatever skillset I have to make those things happen. Being a [YPL] board member, it’s not just about our ideas, but how we can execute more of what United Way wants to do. We are really passionate about this work.” If you are passionate about giving back to your community, join the LINC and Young Professional Leaders affinity group. This is sponsored content.
Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every year, and more than 10 million people worldwide are living with the disease, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have received a landmark commitment to accelerate the scope and impact of Parkinson’s disease studies and to position Georgia as a hub for collaborative research on this and other neurological diseases. The multiyear commitment from the McCamish Foundation will drive transformational research that harnesses science, engineering, and technology at Georgia Tech and Emory to better analyze the complexities of the brain and transform the treatment of Parkinson’s and other disorders of the nervous system. The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME), an academic collaboration between Georgia Tech and Emory, is uniquely positioned to lead this new kind of translational neuroscience discovery driven by engineering innovation. “This generous commitment will enable Emory and Georgia Tech to build on our powerful biomedical partnership as we work to combat Parkinson’s and other devastating neurological diseases,” Emory President Gregory L. Fenves says. “New treatments and cures require a deep commitment — I am grateful for our friends at the McCamish Foundation who will help us make the progress and find the answers that patients and families so urgently need.” Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera adds, “For 22 years, Georgia Tech and Emory University have collaborated to improve the lives of individuals diagnosed with many of the world’s most challenging diseases. Through the sustained support of transformational philanthropy, the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering has become a national model for academic partnerships. This visionary and generous commitment from the McCamish Foundation will allow us to expand and accelerate collaboration and discovery to the point that an exciting new treatment for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders could be within our reach.” Gordon Beckham Jr. has felt the impact of Parkinson’s personally, with the loss of his father, Hank McCamish, to the disease. Beckham now sits on the board of directors of the Parkinson’s Foundation and works to raise awareness to beat the disease. He says his goal is to build a strong research community in Georgia that will create new frontiers in the treatment of the degenerative disease. “The McCamish Foundation has been in discussions on and off with Georgia Tech, since my dad’s passing, about innovative approaches to dealing with Parkinson’s,” says Beckham, CEO of the Atlanta-based McCamish Group LLC and president of the McCamish Foundation. “We have always been impressed by the amazing depth of talent at Tech.” The McCamish name is well-known at Georgia Tech. Alumnus Hank McCamish, class of 1950, is the namesake of Tech’s basketball arena, McCamish Pavilion. Over the years, the family has supported numerous causes at Georgia Tech. This commitment is one of the largest in the Institute’s history and is the first of its kind for the Institute. “More recently, we met Susan Margulies and learned of the formal biomedical engineering collaboration between Tech and Emory, two of the top institutions in the country in their respective fields,” Beckham says. “At the same time, the University of Georgia (UGA) is making major investments in Parkinson’s research. Given all this momentum within the state of Georgia, with BME as a nexus, the McCamish Foundation felt the timing was right to try something new at Tech and Emory while also leveraging the existing powerful collaboration between Tech, Emory, and UGA.” “We already participate in robust research collaborations with Georgia Tech and Emory,” says UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “We look forward to expanding our partnerships in order to leverage the complementary strengths of our three institutions to bring new hope to those who suffer from this terrible disease.” Beckham says The McCamish Foundation dreams of a day when all Parkinson’s related conversations begin with, “Remember when.” The McCamish commitment will support faculty research on neurological diseases, including establishing a seed fund to support high-risk, high-reward research ventures. It will also provide fellowships for graduate students and create regular interactions among researchers at Tech, Emory, and UGA, including an annual national conference focused on Parkinson’s disease. The idea is to give researchers space to collaborate and brainstorm unconventional ideas that hold the greatest promise for significant discoveries. “Our vision is to create the next frontier in neuroscience and neurotechnology by confronting the enormous complexities of the dynamic brain and nervous system,” says Susan Margulies, the Wallace H. Coulter Professor and Chair in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Our brains engage with, adapt to, and are influenced by the world around us. Studying the changing chemical and electrical brain dynamics is a direct path to detecting and treating Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.” About the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering is a partnership between Georgia Tech and Emory University. Combining the best of research and education, the department is dedicated to improving health and well-being by creating medical breakthroughs driven by engineering innovation and translational research. This is sponsored content.
By Ken Zeff, Ed.D., Executive Director, Learn4Life We all share a lengthy list of grievances against the past year, especially its impact on our children. Articulating these challenges can be overwhelming, but now is not the time to give up on hope, but rather to be energized by the bright spots of success that exist throughout our region. Before 2020, education outcomes in Metro Atlanta had been improving in the key indicators in the cradle to career pipeline. Substantial inequities for students of color still existed at unacceptable levels; however, as a region we were making progress in several key indicators, including third grade reading and eighth grade math proficiency. That progress was real and did not happen by chance. Educators and parents, working alongside nonprofits, philanthropy, and business were coming together to support public education. Part of looking forward is taking some time to understand the past. At Learn4Life, we bring cross-functional leaders together, in the presence of data, to find what has been working and develop plans to scale those interventions to more students. We analyze the achievement data of all schools in the region to identify schools that are outperforming expectations. We then dig into those schools’ strategies, send teams of visitors to understand their successes, and identify interventions we can scale. And there are plenty of bright spots in our region. We have seen improvements in literacy outcomes when teachers receive professional development on proven instructional strategies. Middle school math proficiency accelerates when students have STEM-integrated, project-based experiences. That critical leap from high school to postsecondary is more manageable when there is support to navigate the complexities of preparing for and applying to the right postsecondary program, especially for first-generation college students. All of these obstacles are real, but fortunately, there are notable successes for each of these challenges that are detailed annually in L4L’s State of Education report. We are encouraged that educational solutions can be found when we learn from each other. Thank you to the many leaders and learning partners, in every corner of our region, who have joined this collective effort to build a more equitable and prosperous community for all students in metro Atlanta. This is sponsored content.