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Column: UPS’s David Abney to be inducted into Horatio Alger Association

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Dec. 21, 2018

Atlanta’s own David Abney, chairman and CEO of United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS), will be inducted into the Horatio Alger Association in 2019.

The annual award recognizes leaders who have overcome significant personal challenges to achieve success. The association provides financial assistance to promising students who have similar backgrounds of the award recipients – students who have faced diversity but are determined to further their education.

Dave Abney

UPS Dave Abney at the World Affairs Council anniversary celebration (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Abney was raised in the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest regions in the United States. His father sold insurance, and his mother was a homemaker. Growing up in a family with modest means, Abney had limited options for higher education and career opportunities.

With his own ambition and the help of a scholarship, he became the first in his family to attend college. In 1976, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Delta State University. Abney and his wife, Sherry, continue to support the university by sponsoring the school’s annual symposium on international business.

Abney was in college when he began his career with UPS. At 18, he began working the night shift at a local UPS facility, washing and loading delivery trucks. Juggling classes and a job, Abney would nap between lectures on a sofa in the student lounge, making up for lost sleep.

Following graduation, he remained loyal to UPS, and he went on to hold 20 different jobs with the company – ultimately ascending to president of its international operations in 2003. Four years later, he became its chief operating officer, overseeing logistics, sustainability, engineering and all facets of the UPS transportation network.

Abney became CEO of UPS in 2014, and he assumed the title of chairman in 2016. Under his leadership, the company has grown to upwards of $66 billion in revenue and employs 454,000 people.

“David’s triumphs are rooted in hard work and his commitment to success is commendable,” said Matthew Rose, president of the Horatio Alger Association and 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “In the face of adversity, he chose a path that required great courage and tenacity. Working his way up from a UPS package delivery driver to the head of that same multi-billion-dollar corporation is a testament to the power of the American Dream.”

Abney has received numerous recognitions throughout his career. He also serves as a trustee of the UPS Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation, and he a member and former chair of the World Affairs Council of Atlanta. Abney was just elected as the 2019 chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and he serves on the board of Macy’s Inc.

“What I learned early on in life is that if you believe in yourself and work hard, you’ll succeed,” Abney said in a statement. “As I join this esteemed membership, I hope to guide Scholars to rise above challenges to achieve their goals, because at the end of the day, what defines personal success is the individual commitment we put into our efforts.”

Since the scholarship program was established in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $159 million to students in need, all of which has been funded solely through the generosity of Association members and friends.

“Mr. Abney’s journey, coupled with his humble character, will undoubtedly challenge our Scholars to set the bar high for themselves,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director of the Horatio Alger Association. “These students can relate to his modest beginnings. His life story of leveraging both talent and sheer determination to become the CEO of one of the country’s most admired companies is sure to inspire.”

Abney and his member class will be formally inducted during a three-day event in April in Washington, D.C.

Other Georgians who have received the Horatio Alger Award include: Atlanta Braves’ Hank Aaron (1978); the late Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy (1989); W. Thomas Johnson, formerly of CNN (1988); the late Donald R. Keough of The Coca-Cola Co. (1988); John C. Maxell, an author and speaker (2019); Valerie Montgomery Rice, president of the Morehouse School of Medicine (2017); Kenny Rogers, singer and entertainer (1990); and Marcia Taylor, CEO of the Bennett International Group (2017).

Goodwill’s new board members

Goodwill of North Georgia is appointing three new members to its board: Kyle Waide, Kofi Smith and Noni Ellison.

“Representation matters, and one of my goals was to include leaders on our board who reflect the dynamic communities Goodwill serves,” said Keith Parker, president and CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia. “I’m excited to work with our new members to drive our business goals, uncover innovative solutions to market challenges and transform our organization.”

Kyle Waide is president and CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

“This organization does amazing work in our community to put people to work,” Waide said in a statement. “I’m excited to do what I can to support Keith Parker and his team as they work to expand and enhance Goodwill’s impact in the years to come.”

Kofi Smith is president and CEO of the Atlanta Airlines Terminal Co. “I am particularly excited that my service on this board will impact little children whose parents are desiring work, the disabled who need work, while also providing viable work to those who are living on the edge of homelessness,” Smith stated.

Noni Ellison is chief compliance officer, general counsel and corporate secretary for Carestream Dental. She said she was thrilled to join the board and help Parker fulfill the organization’s mission of putting people to work.

“Each of the new members will bring a valuable perspective to the board,” said Janine Anthony Bowen, board chair for Goodwill of North Georgia. “I am excited for the added expertise they will bring and look forward to working alongside each of them as we realize Goodwill’s mission in the coming years.”

Goodwill of North Georgia has provided services in the region for more than 90 years. In the most recent fiscal year, it has provided job training and employment services to 50,872 people and helped 24,902 people find jobs or start new businesses. The organization currently operates 61 stores and about 57 attended donation centers. Revenues generated from Goodwill’s retail program help fund job training and placement programs.

American Cancer Society new board

The Atlanta-based American Cancer Society has named three new members to it national board, effective Jan. 1, according to Daniel P. Heist, the nonprofit’s 2019 board chair. The board consists of 21 members, including five officers and directors.

The new board members are:

Dr. Mark A. Goldberg of Boston is a medical oncologist and hematologist on the faculty of Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, a veteran biotech executive, and long-time American Cancer Society volunteer.

Dr. Michelle M. Le Beau of Chicago is the Arthur and Marian Edelstein Professor of Medicine – Section of Hematology/Oncology, director of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center – an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, and director of the Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory at the University of Chicago.

Terri McClements of McLean, Va. is the Mid Atlantic managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC). In her current role, she leads a practice comprised of over 4,000 professionals serving public and private clients across all industry sectors on local, national, and global levels.

Woodruff Arts Center hire

The Woodruff Arts Center has appointed Tarsha Whitaker Calloway as vice president of advancement. Calloway comes to the Arts Center from Emory University, where she was executive director of Corporate Engagement. Prior to that role, she held leadership roles in fundraising and corporate relations at the American Cancer Society as well as marketing roles at Marriott International and Porsche Cars North America.

“We are thrilled that Tarsha is joining us to play a critical role in our advancement organization,” said Janine Musholt, senior vice president of Advancement and External Affairs. “She will bring great energy and experience to us at this very exciting time for the Arts Center. I’m so looking forward to working with her as we continue to increase contributed revenues for the organization.”

Calloway will lead the central development functions for the Arts Center, including the well-known Annual Corporate Campaign, which raises more than $12 million each year from more than 250 generous Atlanta-area companies.

At Emory, Calloway was responsible for developing strategies and providing direction for executive and corporate engagement activities and grew her program from infancy to more than $10 million in annual support.

“The Woodruff Arts Center is a beloved Atlanta organization and I am thrilled join the third largest arts center in the country,” Calloway said in a statement. “As a theater and journalism major, I have a deep passion for the arts, theater and education. This role allows me the opportunity to combine my fundraising expertise with my love for the arts.”

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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