Column: Georgia Cancer Coalition rejoining Georgia Research Alliance

By Maria Saporta
Friday, July 15, 2011

It’s coming full circle.

The Georgia Cancer Coalition, which was spun off from the Georgia Research Alliance a decade ago, is now being folded back into the public-private organization.

And Bill Todd, who has been president of the Georgia Cancer Coalition for the past eight years, will be leaving to join the faculty of Georgia Tech’s College of Management, from which he graduated nearly 40 years ago.

Todd also was the founding president of the Georgia Research Alliance, a public-private partnership formed in 1990 to solidify the state’s technology development by partnering with its six research universities.

Mike Cassidy, who is now president of the alliance, said the move is being made to realign Georgia’s economic development efforts.

“The Georgia Cancer Coalition’s vision and mission will continue,” Cassidy said. “It will now be a set of programs under GRA.”

Both GRA and the coalition also will be getting their state funding through the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and there is much more coordination between the three agencies.

“We are now in a much richer partnership with the state,” Cassidy said. “We are now being engaged in the economic development mission of the state.”

Meanwhile, the Georgia Cancer Coalition will no longer have its own board. Its chair, Kathelen Amos, will join the board of the Georgia Research Alliance. Doug Hertz, president and chief operating officer of United Distributors, has been serving on both boards.

Todd said moving the coalition back under the GRA made sense in today’s environment.

“There are many opportunities for it to be strengthened by a closer relationship with the Georgia Research Alliance and the Georgia Department of Economic Development,” Todd said, adding that he was really proud of what the coalition had accomplished in the past 10 years.

The coalition, which has been supported by tobacco revenues, has invested more than $300 million to support research and prevention efforts to reduce cancer deaths. Its goal was to have 150 cancer clinicians and scientists, and there actually are 169.

Taking care of the little ones

Georgia’s first lady, Sandra Deal, has teamed up with former Atlanta Falcons player Warrick Dunn to help parents find quality child care.

They are co-starring in new 30-second public service announcements promoting a telephone hotline and online service that helps parents find quality child care throughout the state. The phone number is (877) ALL-GA-KIDS.

In an interview with Sandra Deal at the Governor’s Mansion, she spoke of her interests in children and education.

“We need to take care of our little ones,” she said. “We do know from research the greatest amount of learning comes during the early years. They are most vulnerable during that time. It’s important that they are taken care of by people who are trained. It’s difficult sometimes to find good care that’s affordable.”

Deal, a former sixth grade teacher, is the daughter of two educators. Gov. Nathan Deal’s parents also were teachers.

Theresa Prestwood, vice president of development and marketing for Quality Care for Children, said it’s important for children to be prepared when they enter kindergarten and first grade.

“Statistics show that less than 24 percent of the child-care programs in Georgia are nationally accredited,” Prestwood said. “I think Georgia has room for improvement.”

For the third year in a row, her organization has seen a substantial decline in the number of child-care programs serving children under 5 years old. Since March 2010, Georgia has lost 1,395 child-care programs that had the capacity to serve about 43,400 children.

Deal said that 65 percent of parents use some form of child care. “You get one chance to rear a child,” Deal said. “Our children are our most precious resource.”

Taggart to lead Atlanta Life

Atlanta Life Financial Group, the historic African-American-owned insurance and financial services firm, has a new president and CEO.

William “Bill” Taggart, who served as chief operating officer for the Office of Federal Student Aid under U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan, succeeds William Clement, who retired earlier this year. Taggart also has 27 years’ experience working in the corporate sector, including Wachovia Corp. and Veritas One Consulting.

Loudermilk lauded

When Charlie Loudermilk’s friends decided to give him a special present for his 84th birthday on July 12, they wanted it to be a surprise.

They had a statue built in his likeness and placed it in the recently renamed Charlie Loudermilk Park, across from the Buckhead Theatre, which was renovated by the founder of Aaron’s Inc. And they invited many of Loudermilk’s closest friends.

“I’m very lucky,” Loudermilk said. “I’m living the dream — a great family, fantastic friends and a business that’s doing extremely well. What else would I want?”

Charlie Smithgall, who helped coordinate the surprise, said that 32 donors contributed a total of $165,000 for the statue. Loudermilk Park will be redone, and then the statue will be moved there as its permanent location.

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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