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ATL Business Chronicle Maria Saporta

Column: Atlanta Dream co-owner finds inspiration at Women’s World Cup

Kelly Loeffler (far right) at the Women’s World Cup final game in Lyons, France. Also pictured are (left to right) Marie Royce, an assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department; and Shauna Rohbock, a former professional soccer player and bobsled coach (Photo: Special from Kelly Loeffler).

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on July 12, 2019

Several women leaders with Atlanta ties were part of a presidential delegation attending the final match of the FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup in Lyon, France, on July 7.

That delegation included Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the WNBA team The Atlanta Dream.

Kelly Loeffler (far right) at the Women’s World Cup final game in Lyons, France. Also pictured are (left to right) Marie Royce, an assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department; and Shauna Rohbock, a former professional soccer player and bobsled coach (Photo: Special from Kelly Loeffler).

“It was a really unique experience, very inspiring,” Loeffler said in a phone interview July 10. “It was a little different match with lots of enthusiasm and very aggressive play.”

Team USA, considered the favorite, won the World Cup against Netherlands in a 2-0 match.

“The attendance by American fans was really strong,” Loeffler said.

At the end of the game, the crowd began chanting “Equal Pay” as well as “Team USA.” The women’s team has been quite outspoken about the pay disparities that exist between women’s and men’s sports.

“Equal pay is a topic across all industries – sports and business,” Loeffler said. “It’s an important topic, and certainly the women’s national team raised the visibility.”

Loeffler speaks from experience.

“As a co-owner of the WNBA Atlanta Dream, I can speak first-hand on the difference in sponsorship dollars,” Loeffler said. “It’s a challenging situation. There are so many variables.”

Loeffler also is CEO of Bakkt, a technology company that is creating an open and regulated global ecosystem for digital assets. Bakkt was formed by Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange Inc. (ICE), where Loeffler serves as a member of its executive management committee.

Loeffler, who was the only private sector leader to be part of the presidential delegation, received her invitation through the State Department, most likely because she’s been a strong advocate for women in sports.

The head of the delegation was Karen Dunn Kelley, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Before joining the Commerce Department in November 2017 as under-secretary for economic affairs, Dunn Kelly was senior managing director of investments at Atlanta-based investment management giant Invesco Ltd.

Another member of the delegation was Shauna Rohbock, who is part of the U.S. Army National Guard and a member of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, and a former professional soccer player. She also won a silver medal at the 2009 World Championships in the two-woman bobsled event with Atlanta’s Elana Meyers Taylor. She also has served as a coach of the U.S. bobsled team.

Loeffler also mentioned other Atlanta ties. The U.S. Women’s Soccer team includes two former players of the Atlanta Beat, once part of the Women’s Professional Soccer league.

Both Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd are listed as forwards on the Women’s World Cup roster. They signed with the Atlanta Beat in 2010 and played in the 2011 season.

Loeffler deflected questions about the controversies surrounding Megan Rapinoe, the star of the U.S. Women’s National Team, who did not put her hand over her heart during the singing of the National Anthem. She also has been vocal of her dislike of President Donald Trump, saying she would not accept an invitation from the White House, one that she did not expect would be extended.

“Everyone is entitled to their perspective,” Loeffler said. “What makes sports so special to me is the ability to bring people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs together to try to solve challenges.”

Computer Museum to open

A major new attraction will open on July 20 – the Computer Museum of America – to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.

The museum will have one of world’s most comprehensive collections of computing artifacts, preserving the history of computing for future generations.

One of the attractions in the the Computer Museum of America (Special: Computer Museum of America)

An inaugural fundraising event will be held July 13 at the museum’s new permanent home at 5000 Commerce Parkway in Roswell. The event will feature NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus, as the special guest speaker. Magnus flew in space on the STS-112 shuttle mission in 2002, and on the final shuttle flight, STS-135 2011 having spent 134 days in orbit.

“We want the museum to be a center of inspiration for all generations to be encouraged to create and innovate after visiting,” said Lonnie Mimms, CEO of real estate company Mimms Enterprises and founder of the Computer Museum of America.

He has been a major collector of technology. His wife, Karin Mimms, who serves as vice president of the nonprofit, called the Museum a labor of love.

“It is all self-funded to this point,” she said. “This is our give-back to society.” It continues the family’s tradition of giving. Lonnie Mimms’ father, Malon Mimms, donated the land that is now the City of Refuge.

The Computer Museum of America is located in a building owned by the Mimms. The 44,000-square-foot location includes 10,000 square feet for events. There also is another 60,000 square feet above that’s available for expansion and as a technology incubator of new companies.

“We have got to have corporate and community support to make it sustainable,” Karin Mimms said. “Our goal is to raise $55 million for the museum.”

Lonnie Mimms decided to develop the museum because “there’s a void in Atlanta – a city of 6 million people” of having a technology-focused attraction, especially after the closing of SciTrek in 2004.

At-Promise Center and Invesco

The Atlanta-based financial firm Invesco is now the official sponsor of the CHRIS 180 space inside the At-Promise Youth Center in English Avenue.

CHRIS 180 provides an individualized plan for each young person who comes to the Center, and that can include one or several of the other service providers in the facility that was developed by the Atlanta Police Foundation.

The model to prevent young people from getting into legal troubles has proven to be so successful that it is being replicated in other parts of the city.

“Our purpose at Invesco is to deliver an investment experience that helps people get more out of life,” Invesco CEO Marty Flanagan said in a statement. “As part of that purpose, we are deeply committed to playing an active role in the Atlanta community. We’re proud join with other donors, employees and local youth in contributing our time and resources to the At-Promise Center.”

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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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