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Bill Bolling — first non-profit leader to be named Georgia Trend’s Georgian of the Year

By Maria Saporta

At Georgia Trend’s 100 Most Influential luncheon Wednesday, something became clear — the non-profit leader has arrived.

Bill Bolling, the founder and executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, was honored as the 2012 Georgian of the Year.

Even Bolling has called himself “an outlier” leader — someone who does not mirror our traditional perception of leaders — business executive or elected officials.

“I think I’m the first non-profit executive that has been chosen for this recognition,” Bolling said while accepting his honor from Georgia Trend. “I feel as though I represent all those who work and volunteer for non-profits. I represent all of you.”

Bolling has received numerous accolades for all he has done since he started the food bank out of the basement of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in 1979. From those modest beginnings, Bolling has built an organization that provides food to more than 700 partner agencies across the state, dispersing more than 34 million pounds of food during its past fiscal year.

“The saying that it takes a village to run a food bank is true,” Bolling said with a smile. And then he told the room full of CEOs, political and academic leaders at the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta that we must all work together “to rebuild our community.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also praised Bolling.

“It is an honor to be here with someone who has done so much for our community for so many years,” Reed said. “You really do represent the best in us Bill.”

At last, the non-profit leader has arrived.

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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