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ATL Business Chronicle

Column: Arthritis Foundation reintroducing itself to Atlanta

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on April 1, 2016

Back in the 1970s, the Arthritis Foundation was one of the first national nonprofits to move it headquarters from New York City to Atlanta.

Now – four decades later – the Arthritis Foundation wants to become much better known in the Atlanta community. The Foundation recently sold its building on West Peachtree Street and moved a couple of blocks away to 1355 Peachtree St., where it is leasing one floor.

The foundation held an open house on the evening of March 31 to reintroduce itself to Atlanta.

“We are excited about our new space, and we would like Atlanta to know us better,” said Ann Palmer, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation since September 2013. “We would like for the Atlanta business community to know us better.”

The Arthritis Foundation ranks No. 317 in the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of the top Philanthropy 400 in the United States with revenues of $80.7 million.

The organization made a significant strategic move last November when the board decided to move from a structure of affiliates to becoming one entity.

“We became the home office instead of the national office,” Palmer said. “For the team in Atlanta, that change wasn’t just a change for our affiliates. We are a unified structure – not separate affiliates. We are able to focus completely on our brand and our mission as a ‘Champion of Yes.’ We don’t compete with each other. We are now one foundation with one goal.”

Palmer, who had worked 18 years with the American Cancer Society in Maryland as well as with the American Diabetes Foundation and Cystic Fibrosis in the Washington, D.C., region, said she moved to Atlanta to lead the Arthritis Foundation.

“We have been on a journey in the last couple of years of dusting ourselves off,” Palmer said. “We went through a rebranding and a repositioning of ourselves in Atlanta.”

The new headquarters space is part of that journey. The home office employs about 100 people, and the foundation has more than 400 employees nationwide.

“The space is dramatically different,” Palmer said. “It is much more collaborative and interactive. The building itself has an atrium in the middle, so there is much more light. We are all on one floor, which is what we wanted.”

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States – afflicting more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children. Georgia has about 1.6 million adults and 9,200 kids living with the disease.

Palmer said the mission of the organization is to help people who are suffering from the disease be able to say “Yes” to conquering the daily challenges of joint pain, stiffness and swelling.

Brad Copeland and ICON

On Friday April 1, ICON – a branding company – will celebrate its 35th anniversary. Over those 35 years, however, the company itself has had several different brands. It started out as Cooper Copeland in 1981. Then in 1986, it became Copeland Design – putting together the original Atlanta logo for the Olympics bid.

In 1991, it became Copeland Hirthler Design and Communications – with a major focus on design for the International Olympic Committee and helping cities bid on the games. Then in 2001, it became known as Iconologic before changing its name to ICON in 2015.

“I’m very proud of this rare accomplishment for a small firm in the Atlanta creative industry,” said Brad Copeland, who described ICON as a 35-year-old start-up.

ICON’s client base has included some of the world’s best-known brands – Coca-Cola, Visa, Interface and the IOC. Copeland now describes ICON as a full service brand design consultancy with new capabilities in digital and public relations and a new West Coast presence. Its partners are sharpening ICON’s mission as a global design firm developing ideas at the intersection of technology and humanity.

“For small companies, especially in the creative space, periodic reinvention isn’t an option, it is a necessity for survival,” Copeland said. “In the 35 years since we started as a two-man shop in Midtown — when Midtown wasn’t cool — we’ve embraced change to stay fresh and relevant.”

Women on boards

Pam Kimmet, senior vice president of human resources for Coca-Cola Enterprises in Atlanta, has been named to the board of Toronto-based Manulife Financial Corp. and the Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. With the addition of Kimmet, 36 percent of Manulife’s independent directors are women.

Kimmet, who has been at CCE since 2008, has held senior positions at Bear, Stearns & Co. and Citigroup Inc. From 2001 to 2006, she also served as senior vice president, human resources, for Lucent Technologies.

“Pam has a great deal of experience in many diverse industries,” said Richard DeWolfe, chairman of Manulife’s board, in a statement. “Her more than 25 years in talent management, compensation and organization design make her an invaluable addition to the Management Resources and Compensation Committee as well as the Risk Committee of the Board.”

New women OnBoard

OnBoard, an organization that promotes diversity in boardrooms and C-suites, announced that two of its members have recently been named to boards.

Kelly Barrett, vice president of Internal Audit and Corporate Compliance for The Home Depot, has joined the board of Piedmont Office Realty Trust.

Also, Dr. Frances Murphy, president and CEO of Sigma Health Consulting LLC, has been named to the board of DHL Holdings Corp.

Those positions were celebrated at OnBoard’s luncheon – “A CEO’s Lessons Learned on Leadership” – on March 29 at 103 West.

The guest speaker was Betsy Camp, a former CEO of the Camp Oil Co. who currently is president and CEO of DF Management Inc.

Camp is on the board of Synovus Financial Corp. Last summer, Genuine Parts invited her to join its board, and she will stand for election at the company’s annual meeting.

In her talk, Camp said she learned many of her business skills by modeling herself after her father, Billy Camp. When she went to college, she never gave a second thought to going into the family business. Instead she got her bachelor’s degree in accounting and a law degree from The University of Georgia.

She went to work for a silk-stocking law firm in Washington, D.C., when he paid her a surprise visit and asked her to come back home to Rome and help him run the male-dominated business. Then when he faced health challenges, she became CEO. Together they grew the $30 million business into a $300 million business – going from 65 employees to 600 by the year 2000.

By the time Camp Oil was sold in 2000, Camp said 70 percent of its store managers were women and 50 percent of its management team were women.

She advised people attending the luncheon to “seize opportunities when they appear because the big ones may only appear once in a lifetime.”

She also told people to make bold plans, but “execute them with kindness and patience.”


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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