Column: Nonprofits enjoying influx of executive talent

By Maria Saporta
Friday, January 8, 2010

More and more nonprofits in metro Atlanta are turning to the private sector when hiring executives for their organizations.

It’s a trend that Ann Curry, owner of fundraising consulting firm Coxe, Curry & Associates Inc., has been noticing over the past 18 months.

“It’s a gift to the nonprofit community to get this kind of skilled leadership to help during these recessionary times,” Curry said. “I do believe that this trend is one positive result of the recession and provides an influx of talent to the not-for-profit sector unlike anything I’ve seen in my career.”

Curry said her staff came up with a list of seven Atlanta-area nonprofits that recently have hired leaders with a business background.

The Atlanta BeltLine Inc. hired Brian Leary as its new president and CEO this past October. He is a former vice president of Atlantic Station.

The Atlanta Education Fund hired Bill McCargo as its new president and CEO in December. McCargo had been a vice president of community relations for Scientific Atlanta, which was acquired by Cisco Systems Inc. in 2006.

The Atlanta Union Mission hired Jim Reese as its new president and CEO beginning in August 2008. He was a former president and chief operating officer of CCCi, an Atlanta-based information technology staffing company. Before that, he was CEO of Randstad North America.

The Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta named William Lampley as its president and chief professional officer beginning this past September. He previously had served as president of strategic accounts for the Eastern region for Grubb & Ellis Co.

Cool Girls Inc. named Sandy Welfare as its new executive director, and she began working there this past June. Welfare was the former managing director of Xchanging Global Production and a former senior manager for Lucent Technologies Inc.

Girls Inc. of Atlanta named Vikki Millender-Morrow as its president and CEO beginning January 2008. She was a former general management professional with AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp., working in engineering, sales, product management, regulatory and external affairs, and human resources.

The Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta hired Marilyn Midyette as its CEO in October 2008. She is a former regional vice president of Sprint Communications.

Midyette said she had worked in the for-profit arena for 30 years before going to run Girl Scouts.

“There are more similarities between a well-run private corporation and a well-run nonprofit than there are differences,” Midyette said, adding that it all comes down to people, time and money.

Oftentimes, those in the private sector make the transition as a way to give back.

Reese said he was partly influenced by the book “Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance” by Bob Buford. “The transition has been great,” Reese said. “You are able to take business skills that you’ve developed and apply them quickly in the ministry. The fulfilling piece is that I really have the privilege of seeing lives changed every day.”

Midyette echoed the same thoughts.

“I feel like it’s a blessing beyond measure,” she said. “No matter how long the days or how grueling the pace, I know that we are making a difference in the lives of 41,000 girls. That’s what keeps you going.”

One of the advantages of having business leaders transition to the world of philanthropy is that “it may break down some communications barriers that have existed between the for-profit and nonprofit ways of doing business,” Curry said.

Curry believes the trend will continue. “I talk to a lot of people who are looking for more meaning in their lives,” she said. “They want more than just a paycheck.”

Electrifying schools

Exide Technologies has developed a successful alliance with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta. In six months, the Milton-based battery and electrical products company has 18 employees that have been matched up with students at Hopewell Middle School in Milton, and several other employees are in the process of being matched with students at another neighboring school.

Once a week, each of Exide’s Big Brothers or Big Sisters visits their “little” brother or sister at the school, helping with homework, sports or school projects. Exide also provides financial support for the program.

According to Big Brothers Big Sisters, 75 percent of the at-risk children who participated in its programs improved academic performance; 91 percent graduated from high school on time; 74 percent avoided delinquent behavior; and 84 percent demonstrated a clear sense of their future.

Exide was a gold sponsor at the BBBS Legacy Awards Gala held in September, which raised more than $300,000 to support children in metro Atlanta.

Camp Twin Lakes award

The Home Depot Foundation has awarded $20,000 to Camp Twin Lakes through its fourth annual “Building Community Day” program. The donation will help provide camp experiences for children with serious illnesses and disabilities.

Eric Robbins, executive director of Camp Twin Lakes, said that receiving the gift was an honor for the organization. The Building Community Day program is sponsored in partnership with the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

Kiwanis welcomes Reed

We know where Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will have lunch on Jan. 4, 2011.

Reed spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta on Jan. 5, continuing a tradition of having the Atlanta mayor address the group on the first working day Tuesday of the year. Reed, and the other top mayoral candidates, had committed to attend the Kiwanis lunch at a mayoral forum on Aug. 18.

After Reed addressed the group, Kiwanis President Nancy Bedford thanked Reed for attending. And then she told the group that the new mayor “already has promised to come back next year.”

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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