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ATL Business Chronicle

Column: A new wave of foreign consuls general arrives in Atlanta

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on July 3, 2015

Several top members of Atlanta’s consular corps will be moving or have already moved on to new posts, bringing a new wave of foreign leaders to the city’s global scene.

The dean of the consular corps, Paul Gleeson, is returning to Ireland in July. He has served as Ireland’s Consul General in Atlanta since the consulate opened in August 2010. It was Ireland’s first new consulate in the United States since the 1930s.

The new dean of the consular corps is Gandy Thomas, Haiti’s consul general in Atlanta. Like Gleeson, Thomas also was the first consul general to serve for his country’s consulate in Atlanta. The Haitian consulate opened in 2011, a year after the earthquake that devastated one of the poorest countries in the Americas.

Other members of the consular corps who are in transitioning in and out of Atlanta include Opher Aviran, the consul general from Israel. A farewell event was given in his honor June 30 before his return to Israel.

Aviran has been in Atlanta since October 2010, just two days shy of when Gleeson arrived. The incoming Israeli consul general – Judith Vernal Shorer – already has visited Atlanta so that Aviran could introduce her to some key players.

She has been part of the Israeli diplomatic corps for nearly 40 years, and she has served as an ambassador to both Hungary and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Another looming departure is the German Consul General Christoph Sander, who has been in Atlanta for three years. Sander is being transferred to Africa where he will be the German ambassador to Togo in West Africa.

Atlanta also has a new consul general from India. Nagesh Singh has been named as the new consul general in Atlanta, succeeding Ajit Kumar, who was appointed as ambassador and India’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

Singh has served as joint secretary/officer on special duty to the vice president of India, director (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) in the Ministry of External Affairs, counselor (UN Administrative & Budgetary Affairs) in the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York, private secretary to the minister of state for external affairs, Government of India and Under Secretary (Pakistan) in the Ministry of External Affairs.

He has also served in the Embassy of India in Dakar (Republic of Senegal) and Embassy of India in Paris. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1995.

Given the nature of the foreign service, it is inevitable that there is a constant turnover of diplomats in Atlanta.

According to the city of Atlanta’s website, the metro area has more than 70 foreign governments that maintain consular offices and/or trade representation in the area.

Before the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, Atlanta only had 38 consular or trade offices.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber and the city boast that the growth in foreign offices is a testament to the growing importance of the region as the gateway of the Southeastern economy.

At a program hosted by the World Affairs Council of Atlanta at the Metro Atlanta Chamber on June 24, Miguel Southwell, general manager of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, also attributed much of the growth to the number of direct flights to international destinations served by Delta Air Lines and other carriers.

As a point, he said Georgia has 1,500 German companies operating in the state. “None of this would take place without Lufthansa or Delta having several flights a day,” Southwell said.

Latin American Association

Jeffrey Tapia, the retiring executive director of the Latin American Association, has announced that Anibal Torres will serve as interim executive director beginning July 6.

Torres currently is chair of LAA’s board. He is stepping down as chair so he can serve as the interim director until a new executive director is named – a process that is expected to completed over the next several months. Torres, who is not a candidate for the permanent spot, is chairing the search committee.

Chair-elect Bob Jimenez will step in as the board chair. Once a permanent director is named, Torres will rejoin LAA’s board.

Tapia announced earlier this year that she would be retiring this summer after 14 years with the association, serving in various leadership positions.

Torres, a former publisher of MundoHispánico, has served on the LAA’s board since 2009.

“Aníbal has been deeply involved in the issues that affect Georgia’s Latino community for years,” Tapia said. “He is passionate about the work of the Latin American Association and its mission. He is a strong advocate for our community and has long sought to increase Latino voter turnout and civic engagement.”

Tapia went on to say that she has no doubt that “Aníbal will do a great job guiding the LAA through this transition as the board finds a successor who can take the LAA to the next level.”

The Latin American Association is the largest and oldest organization serving the needs of metro Atlanta’s Latino community. It was founded in 1972.

Rotary Club of Atlanta

Builder Tommy Holder gave his swan song as president of the Rotary Club of Atlanta June 29 – before turning over the gavel to banker Sonny Deriso.

“It’s been a great year,” Deriso told Holder, mentioning the club’s successful programs, fundraising, prayer breakfast and new members. “You’ve made it fun, you’ve made the programs so enjoyable.”

For the passing of the torch Monday, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner told the group of business leaders that “I’m comfortable I made the right decision 34 years ago when I decided to become an Atlanta police officer.”

He thanked the business community for supporting Atlanta’s police force through the Atlanta Police Foundation, which has been instrumental in supplementing the resources available to the city. That includes providing funds for security cameras, leadership training, technology and fostering cooperation in the community.

Turner also talked about the unique heritage that exists in Atlanta – which hired its first black police officer in 1948 – years, if not decades, ahead of other communities.

He credited Atlanta’s sensitivity to race relations as a reason why it hasn’t been caught up in the kind of racial charges that have occurred in Ferguson, Mo.; in New York and Baltimore.

“Our police department has to be representative of the community that we serve,” Turner said. “It’s not just at the street level but throughout the department. We believe in having good and strong partnerships in our community.”

Turner said that he and Bernice King, CEO of the King Center, will be holding a series of out -of-town sessions with police chiefs about how to build trust and relationships between the police and communities “not just during times of crisis.”

Turner, however, was quick to say that his department is not perfect – saying that the APD received one million calls last year.

“They weren’t inviting us to come to a birthday party,” said Turner – unless the party had turned violent and emotions were running high.

Still, Atlanta is one of the most visited cities in the country, and it’s important economically that people feel safe when they come to the city.

During the question and answer period, Turner was asked about the recent rash of break-ins and home invasions in Buckhead.

Turner said his department is hard at work on the cases with other police departments in nearby communities. “We hope to bring that to a conclusion,” he said.

Choose Success Awards Dinner

Communities In Schools of Atlanta raised more than $80,000 in sponsorships and donations during the 11th annual Choose Success Awards Dinner. That was in addition to BlackRock’s surprise contribution of $250,000 to the nonprofit.

In all, the event brought in a total of $330,000 to celebrate the academic and life accomplishments of the students.

In addition to valedictorian and salutatorian sponsors such as BlackRock, Cox Enterprises and AT&T, the event was made possible by The Coca-Cola Co., Publix Super Markets Charities, Costco Wholesale, KPMG, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and many others.

Rick Rieder, BlackRock chief investment officer of Fundamental Fixed Income, was also honored with the Anne Cox Chambers Champion for Kids Award for his significant contributions to education and philanthropic efforts.

CFY-Atlanta’s new executive director

CFY-Atlanta has a new executive director, Kwame Johnson.

Jeanne Artime announced in May that she was stepping down as executive director of the nonprofit education organization after eight years to start a new chapter in her career.

A national search was conducted. CFY-Atlanta selected Johnson because of his rich background in the educational nonprofit world. Most recently, he served as the director of corporate relations for the national nonprofit Communities In Schools in Washington, D.C., which is the nation’s largest drop-out prevention and fifth largest youth serving organization.

Additionally, his credentials include service as the director of donor-advised services for the Charities Aid Foundation of America and the national director of programs for the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise.

Under Artime’s leadership, CFY-Atlanta’s staff has grown to seven full-time employees, trained 304 teachers on PowerMyLearning, distributed 7,356 computers to students, helped 8,238 parents become learning partners for their students andserved 18,390 individuals in its Family Learning Workshops.

Artime has agreed to serve on CFY-Atlanta’s board.

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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