Articles by Maria Saporta

Kwame Johnson to become new CEO of Atlanta’s Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta has Kwame Johnson as its new president and CEO, succeeding Janice McKenzie-Crayton, who retired last fall after more than 25 years with the organization.

Johnson currently serves as the director of the Greater Atlanta Region for PowerMyLearning. Big Brothers Big Sisters is known for leveraging the power of mentors on behalf of metro Atlanta’s youth.


Column: Business leaders launch ‘goBeyondProfit’ to promote giving back

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Dec. 1, 2017

A new initiative by civic-minded business leaders is being launched Dec. 1 as a way to make corporate generosity more visible and encourage other companies to give back to communities.

The goBeyondProfit initiative was founded by Jackson Healthcare, and a dozen or more business ambassadors have joined the effort to encourage business owners and company leaders to sigh the goBeyondProfit pledge.

Georgia native Amy Sherald to receive High Museum’s 2018 Driskell Prize

The High Museum of Art has selected Georgia native Amy Sherald as the 2018 recipient of the prestigious David C. Driskell Prize in recognition of her contributions to the field of African-American art, the museum announced on Thursday.

Among her notable achievements, Sherald received the commission to paint former first lady Michelle Obama’s official portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which will be unveiled on Feb. 12.

Mori Luggage & Gifts sold to a west coast company

Atlanta-based Mori Luggage & Gifts, a family based retail chain, was bought by Bergman Luggage on Thursday.

“We had 46 wonderful years,” said Jean Mori, who started the company in 1971 with his wife, Betty, when they opened their first store at Northlake Mall. “But the last couple of years have been a little tough.”

City of Atlanta moves to protect the Patterson-Spring Hill funeral home in Midtown

Update: The Urban Design Commission, at its Jan. 24 meeting, deferred action on this designation until its meeting on Feb. 14 at the request of the owner. The protections will remain in place during this period.

An Atlanta landmark built to serve the dead will soon get a new lease on life.

The City of Atlanta is seeking to give the H.M. Patterson Funeral Home on Spring Street near 10th Street landmark status – a move that will protect the unique building from being demolished for new development.

Opening of new Chick-fil-A on the Westside brings together top CEOs and residents

The eve before the opening of the new Chick-fil-A restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive was a night unlike any other in Atlanta’s history.

The “haves” and the “have nots” huddled indoors and ate dinner in the warmth of a new Chick-fil-A restaurant on the Westside of downtown on Wednesday night braving below-freezing temperatures and ice-covered streets.

Mayor Bottoms and APS reach agreement on property deeds

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has forged a working relationship with Meria Carstarphen, superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools.

During a speech before the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta on Tuesday, Bottoms said the Atlanta City Council at its meeting later in the day would be considering her proposal to transfer the deeds of 50 properties from the City to APS  without restriction or condition.

State Sen. Chuck Hufstelter questions financial plan for Plant Vogtle

At Friday morning’s Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable (SART), State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) strongly criticized the financial plan to pay for the two new nuclear power plants at Plant Vogtle.

Hufstetler, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, openily criticized Senate Bill 31 that passed in 2009 that approved the financial plan for Plant Vogtle. It was called the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act, which permitted the utility to begin recovering the costs of financing the construction of the new nuclear plants from consumers before they came on line. 

Atlanta Mayor Bottoms names 38-member transition team

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Thursday announced a 38-member transition team that includes the CEOs of Delta Air Lines and UPS as well as Killer Mike and rapper T.I.

“The 38-strong transition team represents a tremendous amount of diversity and depth,” said Bottoms, who was flanked by her two transition co-chairs – Vicki Palmer, a retired executive from CCE; and Larry Gellerstedt III, CEO of Cousins Properties.

Agnes Scott College names Leocadia Zak as its next president

Agnes Scott College has selected its next president – Leocadia “Lee” I. Zak – who recently served as director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency under President Barack Obama.

Zak will be the ninth president of Agnes Scott, succeeding current President Elizabeth Kiss, who is stepping down at the end of June. Zak will begin her duties on July 1.

Zak’s appointment comes after an eight-month search with the board of trustees looking for a bold and inspiring leader with a commitment to institutional excellence.


Grady Hospital gets $50 million Woodruff gift to fund expansion

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Dec. 1, 2017

Thanks to a new $50 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff FoundationGrady Health System is within $10 million of reaching its $165 million goal to fund two capital projects that will enable the hospital to become more financially sustainable.

The $50 million is in addition to the $200 million the Woodruff Foundation gave 10 years ago when the public safety net hospital was in dire financial straits. That $200 million was the catalyst in a $325 million private fundraising effort that saved the hospital from going under.


Column: Ben Franklin Academy raises almost $2 million for expansion

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Nov. 24, 2017

The Ben Franklin Academy, an independent, small college-prep high school near Emory University, has raised nearly $2 million to complete an expansion of its campus.

“We finished everything without any debt,” said Dr. Martha Burdette, Ben Franklin Academy’s head of school. “Our goal was $1.75 million, and we raised almost $2 million.