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Column: Crime, education are topics at Atlanta Committee for Progress meet

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, June 28, 2013

Mayor Kasim Reed is galvanizing business community support in his efforts to get the Fulton County judicial system to keep repeat offenders off the streets.

At the June 26 quarterly meeting of the Atlanta Committee for Progress (ACP) — the blue-ribbon group of business leaders who act as a sounding board for the mayor, Reed outlined how the city of Atlanta has been successful in reducing crime and adding police officers.

But the mayor and Duriya Farooqui, the city’s chief operating officer, said that over the last couple of years there have been about 5,000 arrests associated with just 400 individuals. The city would be able to make greater strides in public safety if those 400 people did not keep getting released, the mayor has said.

Business leaders got the message.

“We have got to find a solution,” said Rick Smith, chairman and CEO of Equifax Inc., who is the 2013 chairman of the Atlanta Committee for Progress. At the very least, Smith said there has to be greater cooperation between the city and Fulton County to work on such a solution, but he added that there is “no energy around consolidation” of the two governments.

Also on the agenda of the quarterly meeting was an update on the Atlanta Public Schools — another area that is not under the city’s control.

Smith said that the business community and the mayor are interested in the execution of the strategic plan under the leadership of interim Superintendent Erroll Davis; in attracting the best possible school superintendent in the nation; and in making sure that quality candidates are elected to the school board during this election year.

“What the board is focused on is the superintendent search and making sure we get the best possible person,” Smith said. “If the search committee needs support, ACP is there.”

Although the city of Atlanta has no direct oversight over Fulton County’s courts or Atlanta’s public schools, Smith said it was an appropriate topic for the mayor and the Atlanta Committee for Progress to discuss. Two of the most important issues for the Atlanta business community are “crime and education,” he said.

The Committee also added three new members to its board — Jeff Sprecher, founder, chairman and CEO of IntercontinentalExchange; John Wilson, president of Morehouse College; and Jeff Portman, president and COO of AMC Inc., the parent company of AmericasMart, who will be replacing his father — John Portman — in that position.

United Way

Instead of having an annual stakeholders luncheon, the United Way of Greater Atlanta will hold an all-day, community-focused conference on July 12 with national leaders to talk about how partners in the 13-county region can work together to have a greater impact.

One of the national leaders who will give a keynote talk will be Gerald Chertavian, founder and CEO of Year Up, a national nonprofit that bridges young people who have fallen through the cracks with job training and opportunities.

Atlanta native Stacey Davis Stewart, U.S. president of United Way Worldwide, will speak on the evolution and revolution of United Ways across the country.

A third national leader to attend will be anti-violence activist Mary-Pat Hector, who will speak on how she is making a real difference through her leadership as the national director of the National Action Network Youth Move.

The conference, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, will have a roundtable discussion featuring representatives from local and national funders, including the Nonami/Cousins Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Aetna Foundation, who will discuss how greater community impact sustains funding.

Henry Chamber

The Henry County Chamber of Commerce toasted Kay Pippin, its president for the past 11 years, “a fond farewell” at a reception on June 27 at the Merle Manders Conference Center in Stockbridge.

The event was to honor Pippin as she “sails off into the sunset for her second retirement” and to “raise a glass to toast her many accomplishments.”

David Gill is succeeding Pippin as president and CEO.

Westminster Schools

The Westminster Schools has hired Emilie Henry as its vice president for institutional advancement. Henry, an Atlanta native, has spent the last five years as director of advancement at Trinity School. The move to Westminster is a homecoming of sorts, as she previously worked there as a major gifts officer. Scott Hawkins, chairman of the search committee, said Henry was the “perfect choice” for Westminster, given her position as a thought leader in 21st century education and her experience in social media and branding, as well as familiarity with the school and community.

Mothers & Others

Rebecca Watts Hull, executive director of Mothers & Others for Clean Air, is leaving the organization after six years to pursue a doctorate at Georgia Tech. A new director of the organization is not yet in place, but a recruitment process is underway, Hull wrote in an email.

The American Lung Association of Georgia, the home of Mothers & Others, will be receiving ithe organization’s correspondence in the interim.

Also, the Air Quality Index Flag Program and smog safety outreach program that has been administered by Mothers & Others for Clean Air is moving to the Captain Planet Foundation.

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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