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Column: Sam Pettway, Veronica Biggins to lead search for APS chief

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, August 16, 2013

Two veteran Atlanta search consultants have been selected to handle the effort to find the next superintendent for the Atlanta Public Schools.

Sam Pettway, founder of BoardWalk Consulting LLC, and Veronica Biggins, an Atlanta-based managing director of Philadelphia’s Diversified Search, were selected unanimously by the Atlanta Board of Education at its meeting late Aug. 12.

They will assist the search committee to find a permanent successor to “interim” APS Superintendent Erroll Davis.

Ann Cramer, a retired IBM executive who is chairing the search committee, described the selection of Pettway and Biggins as a “great choice.”

“We are thrilled to work with BoardWalk Consulting and Diversified Search,” Cramer wrote in an email. “And as a committee, we are still on track, on target and on time.”

The committee expects to have selected the finalists for superintendent and presented their names to the Atlanta School Board in February.

Pettway, who has been in the search business since 1977, said it made sense for two people who cared deeply about Atlanta to want to be involved in this search.

“Veronica and I think that this is likely the most important search for metro Atlanta in this decade,” Pettway said. “You can’t claim to do what we do and be committed to Atlanta and walk away from the tough searches.”

Biggins also said that since she and Pettway live in Atlanta, they have a vested interest in making sure APS gets the best leader available.

“Every business and every parent in Atlanta should care that we find the best leader to come to the city,” she said. “It is extraordinarily important for the future, and we are going to work extraordinarily hard on this search.”

Biggins started her career in banking before entering the search business. She served as director of presidential personnel under President Bill Clinton, and then she returned to the search business, specializing in adding diversity to boards and executive suites.

This is a second attempt by the Atlanta Board of Education to hire a search firm for a new superintendent.

A month ago, the board fired the previous superintendent search firm — PROAct Search — because it was working on several other superintendent searches at the same time, and it was concerned that the firm’s time and staff was divided between several school districts.

Atlanta Women’s Foundation

The Atlanta Women’s Foundation has just completed its 2013 spring grant cycle — granting a total of $300,000 to 18 organizations focused on the education, health and wellness of women and girls.

Through those grants, more than 5,700 women and girls will have access to programs in the foundation’s focus areas, improving outcomes in reduced teen pregnancy, living wage job placements, health screenings and high school graduation rates.

The Atlanta Women’s Foundation also announced that it will hold its Numbers Too Big To Ignore luncheon on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Georgia World Congress Center. The featured speaker will be Susan Taylor, editor emeritus of Essence Magazine and founder of the National Cares Mentoring Movement.

It will be Kelly Dolan’s first luncheon as the foundation’s executive director. She has been in place for about six weeks.

“We start this new chapter at AWF with a laser-targeted focus — that of breaking the cycle of generational poverty for women and girls in the five-county metro area that we serve,” Dolan wrote to foundation supporters. “This morning, 81,000 girls woke up in poverty — an unacceptable fact.”

EarthShare new board members

EarthShare of Georgia has elected seven new board members to its board — just as its annual campaign season is about to begin. They include Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, executive director of GreenLaw; Amy Lukken, vice president of cultural development and learning for Interface; Denise Quarles, director of the city of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability; Randy Muller, senior vice president of Bank of America’s Environmental Services Department; Matt Wise, a partner with Habif, Arogeti & Wynne’s Audit Group; Rudi Kiefer, a professor and director of sustainability at Brenau University; and Wilf Nicholls, executive director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

Quality child care

The Georgia Alliance for Quality Care for Children, an Atlanta-based nonprofit working to improve access to quality child care, is launching a new field trip program — thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation.

The program will enable child-care providers serving children from low-income families the opportunity to visit more Atlanta educational field trip destinations.

The alliance has nearly 120 child-care programs in the Atlanta area, and the grant will permit at least 5,000 children to attend field trips in the coming year. Quality Care for Children officially kicked off the program on Aug. 14.

Maria Saporta

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.



  1. Burroughston Broch August 20, 2013 10:57 am

    Since there are two APS superintendent search consultants, it’s obvious the Board was again split since only one is needed. Nothing new there. Look for more turf battles to come, more delays, and more expense.Report


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