Column: Newly refreshed Children’s Museum reopens on Dec. 12

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Decmber 4, 2015

When the Children’s Museum of Atlanta reopens on Dec. 12, visitors will find a completely refreshed attraction aimed injecting education with play.

“Everything is upgraded and updated,” said Jane Turner, executive director of the 12-year-old museum. “As we got our bearings over the first decade, we realized the opportunities for play and art are really diminishing. We began viewing the Children’s Museum as a haven for play — learning through play.”

The Children’s Museum launched a campaign that raised $8.2 million to renovate the facility and set aside funds for an operating and capital reserve fund.

The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, part of the Robert W. Woodruff family of foundations, contributed the lead gift of $2.5 million — also the campaign’s largest gift.

“When we received the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation gift, everybody else jumped in there,” Turner said.

Major corporations — the Home Depot Foundation, the Coca-Cola Foundation, Publix Super Markets Charities, Waffle House and GE Energy — contributed at least $150,000 to the campaign. In addition to the Lettie Pate Evans gift, other major philanthropic organizations giving at least $150,000 were: the Zeist Foundation, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the James M. Cox Foundation, the Marcus Foundation, the Tull Charitable Foundation and some anonymous gifts.

The Children’s Museum has been transformed with multiple new attractions, including Gateway to the World — a globe where children can step inside and turn the Earth.

“We wanted a dramatic visual centerpiece that is fun,” Turner said as she walked through the Museum that was being readied for a VIP opening reception on Dec. 8.

There are countless exhibits, a sand table with special effects, a rocket launcher, the ball machine, a Build-It lab with tools, a studio space, and a “Step up to Science” on the expanded mezzanine floor with stations featuring hands-on learning of robotics, light and energy as well as a lab doing experiments with adult supervision.

When it opened in 2003, there were no other attractions in the area. The Children’s Museum has since been joined by the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coke, the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the College Football Hall of Fame.

“It’s like a neighborhood now,” said Turner.

Year UP completes campaign

After being six years in the city, Year Up Atlanta recently celebrated the completion of its $5.7 million campaign

The two-year “Stepping Up to Opportunity” campaign was led by Cecil Conlee, chairman and CEO of CGR Advisors; and Michael Kay, past chair of the Community Foundation for Great Atlanta. Belinda Stubblefield, Year Up Atlanta’s former executive director, and Kim Williams, the current executive director, were instrumental in the effort.

The organization, a job training nonprofit that provides education and internships for young adults, also has a new chairman, Lee W. Crump, chief information officer for Rollins Inc., who is succeeding board chair Kevin Salwen.

Crump’s “commitment to helping our fabulous young adults reach their full potential, as well as his 35 years of experience in IT, will enable Year Up Atlanta to continue closing the Opportunity Divide for motivated, talented young adults by preparing them for careers in growing fields like quality assurance and business operations,” Williams said in a statement.

In the past two years, Year Up Atlanta has grown by more than 50 percent to serve 250 students annually.

National Association of Corporate Directors

Several women with ties to Atlanta were singled out among the top 100 influencers at the 2015 gala of the National Association of Corporate Directors on the evening of Dec. 2 in New York City.

For starters, Bonnie Hill, a long-time director of The Home Depot Inc., received the lifetime achievement award.

Among the other top 100 honorees with Atlanta connections being honored this year were Veronica Biggins, who serves on Southwest Airlines’ board and is a managing partner of Diversified Search; former CARE CEO Helene Gayle, who serves on the boards of The Coca-Cola Co. and Colgate-Palmolive; and Jacquelyn M. Ward, who serves on the boards of Sanmina and Sysco. Ward also was the first woman to chair the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and first woman to join the Commerce Club board.

Interestingly enough, the NACD lifetime achievement honoree in 2014 was Paula Rosput Reynolds, the former CEO of AGL Resources, who until recently served on the board of Delta Air Lines Inc.

Emory University president search

John F. Morgan, owner of Morgan Timber in Hilton Head, S.C., will be chairing the search committee for a new president of Emory University.

Current Emory President James Wagner announced in September that he intends to retire at the end of August 2016 after a 13-year tenure with the university.

Morgan has served as an Emory trustee for 19 years, and he is an alumnus of both the Goizueta Business School and Oxford College.

“The members of the Presidential Selection Committee represent a wonderfully talented, diverse, and engaged cross-section of the Emory community,” Morgan said in a statement. “I am privileged to have the opportunity to work closely with them as we commit ourselves to the critically important task of identifying Emory’s next president. This is an exciting moment in the history and development of this great university.”

In addition to Morgan, there are 13 members of the committee, including:

  • Rafi Ahmed, director, Emory Vaccine Center; professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology;
  • Susan A. Cahoon, trustee; a 1968 alumna of Emory College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Susan Cruse, senior vice president for development and alumni relations;
  • Michele Davis, president, Emory Alumni Board; a 1987 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences;
  • John T. Glover, trustee; a 1968 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Jonathan K. Layne, trustee; a 1979 graduate of both the Goizueta Business School and the School of Law;
  • Carol Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament;
  • Leah Ward Sears, trustee; a 1980 graduate of the School of Law;
  • Raj Tilwa, president, Student Government Association; a senior in Emory College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Natasha Trethewey, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing; director, Creative Writing; United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry;
  • Chilton D. Varner, trustee emerita; a 1976 graduate of the School of Law;
  • Gregory J. Vaughn, trustee; a 1987 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences; and
  • Michael Watson, trustee; a 1974 graduate of the Candler School of Theology.

 

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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