Column: Points of Light names Hoover to succeed Michelle Nunn as CEO

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on February 27, 2015

The Atlanta-based Points of Light — the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service — has named Tracy Hoover as its new CEO.

Neil Bush, who chairs the Points of Light board, announced that Hoover would be succeeding Michelle Nunn in that role. Hoover has served as president of the nonprofit for the past 18 months while Nunn was on a leave of absence to run as Georgia’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

“Tracy’s an innovative and strategic leader who has done a phenomenal job leading Points of Light for the past 18 months,” Bush said in statement. “She knows the organization — and the volunteer movement — backwards and forwards because she helped build it.”

Hoover joined Hands On Atlanta, a Points of Light affiliate, 20 years ago, and she served on the national board of HandsOn Network. That organization merged with Points of Light in 2007.

Points of Light was founded by former President George H.W. Bush, who famously referred to America’s volunteers and nonprofits as a “brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.”

Hoover is taking the reins in Points of Light’s 25th anniversary year.

Neil Bush also has announced that former CEO Nunn will return to the organization as a member of the board.

“Michelle’s campaign, which inspired so many to think about service in new ways, also led Michelle down new roads,” he said. “And while she decided not to come back to Points of Light as CEO, I’m delighted that she will continue to contribute to Points of Light’s future in many ways and will certainly always be a revered leader in our movement.”

By unanimously selecting Hoover as the CEO, the board also reaffirmed that Points of Light will keep its headquarters in Atlanta.

“Atlanta has given rise to this phenomenal service movement,” Hoover wrote in an email exchange. “With its vibrant community; tremendous intellectual capital; world-class businesses and nonprofits; dynamic leaders and rich civil rights history, Atlanta is the perfect home for this organization and fertile ground for this movement!”

In recent years, Nunn and Hoover expanded the organization’s reach to include affiliates in 30 countries. They built a strong leadership council with 75 companies dedicated to volunteer service; they created a Civic Accelerator to invest in social entrepreneurs and start-ups; and they mobilized tens of millions of volunteers.

“The board has chosen the perfect person to lead Points of Light going forward,” Nunn said in a statement. “Tracy is a great leader, partner, and friend and I know she will usher in terrific new possibilities for the organization and service movement.”

Hoover said it was a real joy to lead Points of Light at this moment “when service is being transformed and really supercharged by 21st Century change-makers.”

She remembered first meeting Nunn 20 years ago at Hands On Atlanta and being struck by the idealism and energy of people who wanted to make Atlanta a better place.

“Today’s Points of Light is alive with that same idealism in action, but now it’s magnified by millions of volunteers, 250 HandsOn affiliates and tens of thousands nonprofit and corporate partners,” Hoover said. “Today, millennials and technology are creating change that’s just as disruptive, still in a good way, for volunteers and for nonprofits and causes that depend on them….

“Imagine if your iPhone let you know when a homebound neighbor needs milk. Or that the local food bank has a shipment of fresh produce that needs unloading. We want to make it possible to reach across your desk, across your backyard, across town and across the globe to help others.”

United Way campaign

It’s too early to declare victory, but René Diaz of Diaz Foods is “very optimistic” that the United Way of Greater Atlanta will make its $75.5 million goal.

Diaz, and his wife, Barbarella Diaz, were the co-chairs of the 2014 United Way campaign.

Atlanta’s United Way President Milton Little introduced them as the “power couple in philanthropy” at the Breakfast of Champions event at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis on Feb. 20.

So far, the Diazes said that the campaign has $63 million that is already “in the house” towards that goal.

That does not include several national campaigns that have not yet distributed the amount of campaign dollars that will be allocated to Atlanta.

“The projection based on the intelligence we have is that we are at $74 million, and that doesn’t include the spring fundraising that we do,” Little said. “That should get us there.”

Meanwhile, there were a couple of key milestones this year. For the first time ever, one company celebrated having a 100-year-long relationship with Atlanta’s United Way (though it was then called the Community Chest).

The company receiving the first “Centennial Achievement Award” was The Coca-Cola Co. In 1914, Coca-Cola’s campaign was headed by Asa Candler, and he was the first “leadership donor” to the organization — writing a check for $300.

In 2014, Coca-Cola’s total campaign was $3.1 million.

The other company to single out is Publix Super Markets, which continued to be the top donor in the Atlanta region, raising $6.9 million — just shy of breaking the $7 million mark.

The other major donors were: $5 million plus, AT&T; $4 million plus, United Parcel Service Inc., Combined Federal Campaign and SunTrust Banks (both new to this level); $2 million plus, Coca-Cola, QT, Wells Fargo, Georgia Power/Southern Co.; $1 million plus: AGL, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Genuine Parts, Deloitte, IBM, Ernst & Young, Delta, Cox Enterprises and GE.

Girl Scouts awards

The Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta will present the 2015 Changing the World Award to Kathy Waller, The Coca-Cola Co.’s chief financial officer, at the Second Century Circle Breakfast on March 3 at the Piedmont Driving Club.

The Changing the World Award is presented to successful women who remain dedicated to their community and believe girls have the opportunity to become leaders in their own communities and the world.

The breakfast ceremony is being hosted by Jack Cay, president of Palmer & Cay, and it raises funds for Girl Scout programs, camps and scholarships while increasing awareness of the Girl Scout Movement.

The chair of the breakfast is Kelly Barrett, vice president of internal audit and corporate compliance for The Home Depot; and the honorary chair is Paul Brown, CEO of Arby’s.

“Kathy is an exceptional woman who represents the Girl Scout mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place,” Barrett said. “We are honored to recognize her leadership and also celebrate the success of girls as they become leaders through Girl Scouting.”

As the premier fundraising event for Girl Scouts, the breakfast brings together nearly 200 business and community leaders. Their donations help sustain more than 300 leadership programs for more than 43,000 active Girl Scouts throughout 34 counties in greater Atlanta.

Diversified Search names CEO

Former Atlantan Dale Jones has just been named CEO of Diversified Search, succeeding founder Judith M. von Seldeneck, who will remain active in the firm as chair.

Diversified Search is one of the nation’s top 10 executive search firms. It is recognized as the largest search firm in the United States to have been founded and owned by a woman, and it is known for bringing a diverse view to senior-level executive and corporate board searches.

Although it is based in Philadelphia, it has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The Atlanta office is headed by Veronica Biggins, who worked with Dale Jones when they were both at the Heidrick & Struggles search firm.

Jones, a Morehouse College graduate, is a seasoned search professional who joined Diversified Search in 2013 after serving as vice chairman of Heidrick & Struggles.

“Dale has brought strategic vision and incredible leadership to our firm,” said von Seldeneck, who founded Diversified over 40 years ago. “In his new role, a part of the firm’s succession planning, Dale will lead new initiatives to enable Diversified to continue to be a market leader with a stellar reputation for integrity, quality and capacity.”

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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