Leadership transition
The board of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation. (Special.)

The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a unique initiative that supports innovation throughout Georgia, has just appointed Chris Womack, president and CEO of the Southern Co., as its new board chair.

Womack succeeds G.P. “Bud” Peterson, the former president of Georgia Tech, for serving as the founding board chair and for helping take the vision of the Partnership from its inception to now. Peterson will continue to serve on the board of the organization.

Womack spoke of his dedication to the Partnership while attending the Rotary Club of Atlanta’s Monday lunch meeting.

“I really don’t have time to do it, but this is an investment I care deeply about and glad to support in any way I can,” Womack said. “We need to continue to grow innovation all across this state and the region.”

Chris Womack, CEO of the Southern Co.; and H. P,. “Bud” Peterson, retired president of Georgia Tech.

The Partnership supports innovation across all 12 of Georgia’s economic development districts. Launched in the fall of 2020, the organization has cultivated a robust portfolio of 62 projects across 121 project sites, collaborated with 25 institutes of higher learning and formed partnerships with 29 local governments. 

Through these endeavors, the Partnership has championed nearly 200 entrepreneurs and small businesses, leveraging the state contribution to secure millions of additional dollars for Georgia’s economy, including the most recent addition of the $4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to build a pioneering farm of the future.

In a press release, Peterson reflected on his tenure as board chair.

“The opportunity to help launch the Partnership and see it grow to become the catalyst for change it is today has been a privilege beyond measure,” Peterson said. “I am thrilled to turn over the board leadership to Chris Womack, a leader whose commitment to our region’s overall prosperity truly embodies the Partnership’s mission.”

Womack has had a long-time commitment to fostering inclusive innovation throughout the country. He believes the South is poised to energize the Partnership’s ongoing mission of catalyzing innovation for shared economic prosperity.

As the leader of a major U.S. energy company, as well as his prior experience working on Capitol Hill for the U.S. House of Representatives, Womack will bring a dual perspective to propel the Partnership’s work. In this role, he will focus on scaling the initiative to all parts of Georgia while promoting a new era of public-private partnerships based on long-term value for all — both nationally and on the global scale.

Womack said he will work to build upon the progress the Partnership has made under Peterson’s leadership. 

“I look forward to driving our collective efforts to scale our model of inclusive innovation throughout Georgia and beyond,” Womack said.

Debra Lam, founding executive director of the Partnership, shared her enthusiasm about the new leadership.“Chris Womack’s appointment as board chair markers a new chapter of promise for the Partnership,” Lam said. “His leadership will undoubtedly amplify our endeavors to create a more inclusive, innovative, and prosperous economic landscape.”

Maria Saporta, executive editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. From 2008 to 2020, she wrote weekly columns...

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