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Atlanta Committee for Progress names Kathy Waller as new executive director

Blake, Waller and Bastian

Kathy Waller attends the 2017 annual meeting of Delta Air Lines in New York City standing in between Delta Chair Frank Blake and Delta CEO Ed Bastian. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

By Maria Saporta

Waller will begin her new role on Feb. 14, succeeding Shan Cooper, who served in that role since 2018.

The Atlanta Committee for Progress is a key interface between the mayor of Atlanta and the city’s top business and civic leaders. It has been in a state of transition with a new mayor, a new board chair and a new executive director.

In her new role, Waller will be able to provide leadership and direction for ACP’s various programs, and she will serve as an important voice in the organization’s collaboration with Mayor Andre Dickens.

ACP leadership

When the Atlanta Committee for Progress was meeting in person: Left to right: Doug Hertz, Shan Cooper and Larry Gellerstadt stand behind Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (seated) in December 2018. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Waller is no stranger to Atlanta’s business community. She spent 32 years with the Coca-Cola Co., retiring as its CFO in 2019. Waller currently serves on four corporate boards — Delta Air Lines, Beyond Meat, Cadence Bank and CGI, an independent IT and business consulting company based in Montreal, Canada.

Waller also serves on the board of trustees of Spelman College, the Woodruff Arts Center and is a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta.

“Throughout her career, Kathy has demonstrated the business acumen and leadership skills that we view as critical for this position,” said Ryan Marshall, president and CEO of PulteGroup, Inc., who is serving as the 2022 chair of ACP. “Equally important, she is passionate about the City of Atlanta and committed to supporting its ongoing development as an economic engine that can expand opportunity for all.”

Mayor Dickens welcomed Waller to her new role, and he was involved with her selection.

“For more than a decade, ACP has collaborated with the mayor’s office to advance important business and social programs within the city of Atlanta,” Dickens said in a statement. “I look forward to working closely with Kathy and the ACP’s business leaders as we address the challenges and opportunities facing our great city.”

The Atlanta Committee for Progress was founded in 2003 by then-Mayor Shirley Franklin, who sought to develop a relationship with top leaders in Atlanta’s business, civic and academic communities to work on a long-term vision for the city.

Delta's Atlanta directors

Delta’s Atlanta director in 2016:: Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Coca-Cola’s Kathy Waller, and retired Home Depot CEO Frank Blake. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Former mayors Kasim Reed and Keisha Lance Bottoms continued to work with ACP — often to advance their agenda for Atlanta.

ACP has helped launch a host of initiatives from the Atlanta BeltLine to the Westside Future Fund. It also jumped in to raise the money so the Atlanta community could purchase the papers of Martin Luther King Jr., it helped with the city’s pension reform, it conducted searches for key positions in the administrations of Reed and Bottoms and it launched the Center for Workforce Innovation at the Atlanta Technical College.

The goal of the organization, which serves as a business and civic roundtable, has been to attract residents, businesses and investment. It also has had a high priority on public safety, and it has been seeking to expand economic opportunity for all.

ACP meets on a quarterly basis, and its board includes more than 40 CEOs, university presidents and civic leaders who are available to focus on the city’s most pressing needs as well as help implement the mayor’s agenda.

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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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