Column: Park Pride names Michael Halicki executive director
By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, August 9, 2013
Park Pride, the nonprofit advocacy organization that seeks to expand and improve green space in Atlanta, has named a new executive director — Michael Halicki.
Halicki has served as chief operating officer of the Southface Energy Institute for nearly three years and has been involved in the Atlanta environmental community for more than 15 years.
“Throughout his career, Michael has shown a passion for improving communities and focusing on greenspace and environmental issues,” said Matt Gove, president of Park Pride’s board and chief marketing officer for Piedmont Healthcare. “He will help raise our profile, enhance our strategy and ultimately lead Park Pride to deliver more and better parks throughout Atlanta and DeKalb. We’re lucky to have him.”
Dennis Creech, executive director and founder of Southface, agreed.
“Both Park Pride and Southface are lucky — Park Pride for getting Michael and Southface for having his considerable talents for almost three years,” Creech said. “Southface is a stronger organization today due to his good work.”
Halicki is succeeding Margaret Connelly, who stepped down as executive director at the end of June after two years so she could spend more time with her two young children.
Halicki’s last day at Southface will be Aug. 23, and his first day at Park Pride will be Aug. 26. He said his first task will be getting up to speed with all the work that Park Pride is doing with all its partners. The goal is to improve Atlanta’s offerings in parks and green space.
“Atlanta is still in the bottom half of ParkScore’s top 50 cities,” Halicki said. “To be a truly great city, we have to move up in the rankings.”
Park Pride will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2014, which Halicki called a “watershed” year for the organization. Great progress has been underway in Park Pride’s two focus areas — Atlanta and DeKalb County — with the development of the Atlanta Beltline and other investments in green space.
“Especially in the intown neighborhoods, these parks are the places where you create community,” said Halicki, who also serves as board vice chair of Earth Share of Georgia. “One of the things I really like about Park Pride is being able to have a tangible physical impact on the world around us.”
Meanwhile, Creech said that Southface has not yet decided how it will address Halicki’s position.
“Anytime there’s a transition like this, you want to pause and evaluate where you are and what your needs are for the next decade,” Creech said, adding that he has no immediate plans to retire. “I’m on a three- to five-year plan.”
“Ann Curry has touched virtually every major fundraising effort in Atlanta for several decades and has had a tremendous impact on our community,” said Joe Evans, chairman and CEO of State Bank.
Curry joins two other women on State Bank’s board — Kelly Barrett, vice president – internal audit and corporate compliance for The Home Depot Inc.; and Virginia Hepner, president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center.
Since acquiring Coxe Curry in 1993, Curry has led several of the highest-profile campaigns in Atlanta, including the Grady Health Foundation, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Spelman College and Trust for Public Land.
Charlie Harman began his new job as vice president of government affairs at Emory University on Aug. 5.
Most recently Harman served as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, who announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking re-election in 2014.
Harman is serving as chief government affairs officer for both Emory University and Emory Healthcare.
“Charlie Harman is an experienced leader with a deep understanding of government at the state and federal levels as well as extensive knowledge of the health-care field,” said Emory University President Jim Wagner in a statement. “He is just what Emory needs.”
Harman is well known to Georgia’s business community. He was president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He also was chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Georgia, and he worked for Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Georgia.
He also has served as co-chair of the Senate Bipartisan Chiefs of Staff group, which aims to foster trust and friendship among the staffs of both parties.
“Charlie has been an invaluable member of my team for six successful years, and his dedication and enthusiasm for my office will be missed,” Chambliss said. “Emory University will benefit greatly from Charlie’s understanding of government at the federal, state and local levels. I congratulate Charlie and wish him well in his new position.”