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ATL Business Chronicle Maria Saporta

Column: Andrew Young’s love song for Atlanta, past, present and future

bud peterson, andy young GT

Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson gives Andrew Young the Ivan Allen prize as Georgia Tech first lady Val Peterson takes a picture (Photo by Maria Saporta)

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Sept. 21, 2018

When former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young received Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen Jr. Prize in Social Courage on Sept. 13, he turned it into a love song for Atlanta – past, present and future.

Sam Nunn Andrew Young Bill Foege

Sam Nunn, Andrew Young and Bill Foege at the 2018 Ivan Allen Jr. Prize in Social Courage event (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Young remembered meeting with Allen in the mayor’s office in the middle of the 1968 Atlanta sanitation workers strike.

“I stayed there for an hour,” Young said. “I got a course on how to be mayor of Atlanta.”

Receiving the prize helped close a circle for Young. He is the first Atlanta mayor to receive the annual $100,000 prize that was named after another Atlanta mayor. That history was not lost on Young.

“What Ivan Allen did, and what we are most famous for, is making us like a family,” Young said, referring to Allen’s leadership during the Civil Rights era. “Ivan Allen gave his life to give us the good life. We should share it.”

bud peterson, andy young GT

Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson gives Andrew Young the Ivan Allen prize as Georgia Tech first lady Val Peterson takes a picture (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Young also acknowledged former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn and Dr. Bill Foege, the first two winners of the Allen Prize. Nunn has been working to remove the international threat of weapons of mass destruction. Foege led the effort to eradicate small pox from the world.

Young said they “helped us realize we can change the world from this city.”

Young then added, “I don’t think God is through with us yet.”

He unveiled his vision to making “Atlanta a city of peace,” mentioning local efforts to host the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates here in 2020” and having Atlanta become “a capital of peace-making.”

In a panel discussion before the lunch award ceremony, Young said many don’t appreciate the fact that Atlanta is not a government-run city but a capitalist-run city.

Andrew Young

Andrew Young speaks to Georgia Tech students and faculty from the podium at a panel discussion before the award ceremony (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“We have learned to make capitalism work with democracy,” Young said. “I don’t believe that anybody but Atlanta can save Africa.”

By the turn of the next century, he said Africa will be home to half the world’s population. “We need every American industry to start thinking about how to make this a peaceful world.”

Young, 86, also referenced getting ill after the events surrounding the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination this past April. He remembered that King and he used to say: We may not make it to 40, but if we do, we will make it to 100.” King was 39 when he was killed.

“I’m still here,” said Young, who pledged to continue to help lift up Atlanta. “Something special is here. We must bring peace among nations.”

Joe Bankoff stepping down

For nearly seven years, Joe Bankoff has served as chair of Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. Bankoff will be stepping down from that role at the end of the academic term, according to Jacqueline Royster, dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. The Sam Nunn School is a unit of the Ivan Allen College.

It is actually a third retirement for Bankoff, who retired as a partner of King & Spalding and then went on to be president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center, a position he held for six years until 2012.

Georgia Tech said a search for a new chair is underway. Anna Westerphal Stenport, chair of the School of Modern Languages, is leading the search committee.

“I am excited to see the results of the many projects Joe is pushing forward in his final year as chair,” Royster said. “He already has positioned us well for the future.”

Bankoff said the timing is now right for him to make way for a new chair. “The faculty here now feels empowered,” he said. “And we are moving forward and have a sense of momentum.”

Aaron’s and Boys & Girls Clubs

Atlanta-based Aaron’s Inc. will renew its national partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America with a three-year, $5 million commitment.

The continued partnership will support the Keystone Club, BGCA’s premier national teen leadership and character program.

“We knew when we began our partnership in 2014 with Boys & Girls Clubs of America Keystone Club, and believe even more strongly today, that this program is a vital resource for thousands of youths in communities across America,” said John Robinson, CEO of Aaron’s.

The renewed partnership will build upon the successes the two organizations have achieved since launching the partnership. Aaron’s has sponsored the last four national Keystone Conferences, where thousands of teen leaders from across the world gather and discuss important issues in their lives and communities. The last conference was held in Atlanta in June.

“We’ve seen the positive and life-changing effects of our partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs over the last four years,” Robinson said. “We’re committed to continuing our support of this incredible organization that not only provides a safe place for teens after school, but also helps in shaping our leaders of tomorrow.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which dates back 150 years, also is based in Atlanta.

Georgia Historical Society

Two well-known Atlanta business leaders, Frank Blake and John Schuerholz, have been selected as the 2019 trustees of the Georgia Historical Society.

Blake is a retired chairman and CEO of The Home Depot Inc., and Schuerholz is the vice chairman emeritus of the Atlanta Braves.

They will be inducted as the newest Georgia Trustees on Feb. 16, 2019, at the Trustees Gala in Savannah.

“Frank Blake and John Schuerholz reflect what is best in the original Georgia Trustees,” said W. Todd Groce, president and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “Their commitment to the common good and their insistence on putting others first are in keeping with the leadership of James Oglethorpe and the other visionary founders of Georgia. Through their character, modesty, and comportment, Frank and John are prime examples of everything a great leader should be.”

In conjunction with the Governor’s Office, the Georgia Historical Society reestablished the Georgia Trustees in 2009 as a way of recognizing Georgians whose accomplishments and community service reflect the highest ideals of the founding body of Trustees.

Girl Scouts’ Second Century luncheon

In its annual event to honor its top donors, the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta held its Second Century luncheon at the Druid Hills Golf Club on Sept. 12.

The sold-out luncheon was hosted by Kathy Waller, the chief financial officer of The Coca-Cola Co. The luncheon brought together influential corporate, social and philanthropic leaders, including top donors to the Girl Scouts.

Guests had the opportunity to experience a special Girl Scout moderated panel featuring three Atlanta women leaders in the business and entertainment sectors.

The panel was moderated by 11-year-old Girl Scout Cadette Temple Leigh Lester of Troop #18575 and it included Grammy award-winning writer and singer Keri Hilson, Emmy award-winning journalist Jovita Moore, and Ann Cramer, a senior civic consultant.

“The Girls Scouts is about empowering girls from all backgrounds and building them into women who can influence their communities to change the world,” Moore said. “I’m happy to help support programs that maintain these efforts as part of its mission.”

In addition, there was a special joint welcome from Amy Dosik, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, and Charity Joy Harrison, a Girl Scout Brownie whose cookie sales video went viral and landed her in the national news.

Support from Second Century Circle members has contributed to outreach and financial assistance to more than 10,000 at-risk girls in Greater Atlanta, training for 17,000 adult volunteers, and scholarships for Gold Award Girl Scouts, who earned their recognition.

Gov. Deal’s swan song    

At his annual address to the Atlanta Press Club on Sept. 18, Gov. Nathan Deal actually choked up at three different moments during his talk – obviously feeling the weight of his legacy.

Gov. Nathan Dea

Gov. Nathan Deal gives his final gubernatorial to the Atlanta Press Club on Sept. 18 (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Deal, who will leave his second term as governor in January 2019, used his final gubernatorial talk to the Atlanta Press Club as an opportunity highlight his accomplishments while taking a few jabs at the journalists in the room.

When he took office in 2011, Georgia’s unemployment rate was 10.4 percent, a fact the press pointed out repeatedly.

Today, Georgia’s unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, and that is barely mentioned at all in the media, a frustrated Deal pointed out.

When he first took office, Georgia’s “rainy day” fund would only have covered about two days of the state’s operations. Because of the Great Recession, the state had dipped into its reserves to the tune of $1.4 billion. Deal proudly said the reserves are now at $2.5 billion, a fund that would cover about 40 days of the state’s operations.

Deal also touted Georgia’s success in attracting companies, corporate headquarters and 700,000 private-sector jobs during his two terms as governor.

But what made Deal so emotional during his talk was when he talked about his success in criminal justice reform – the creation of accountability courts, reducing Georgia’s prison population and helping people transition from incarceration to employment.

Deal also lamented the “political fault lines” that have been created in recent years between the political parties. It used to be that Georgia was divided into metro Atlanta and the rest of the state. But now, the division is more red and blue.

“Today, I see much more opposition that takes a partisan tone,” Deal said. “That is unfortunate. We should all be focused on important issues that should guide our future and our children’s future.”

Lastly, Deal did offer an olive branch to the press.

“I hope you don’t mind me kidding you a little bit,” Deal said. “I appreciate your views, your opinion, and I’ve enjoyed serving as your governor. You have treated me fairly. That’s all I can ask of the press.”


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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