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Column: Woodruff Arts Center campaign raises record amount

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, June 14, 2013

If the Woodruff Arts Center had failed to make its $9.2 million goal this year, it would have been totally understandable.

The Atlanta economy is still in a recovery mode. It has been Virginia Hepner’s first campaign as CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center. It has been the first campaign in 35 years without the leadership of Beauchamp Carr organizing the effort.

And as if that weren’t enough, shortly after the campaign was launched, the Woodruff Arts Center disclosed that a former employee had stolen more than $1 million by issuing fraudulent invoices.

So the fact that the Woodruff Arts Center surpassed its goal by raising almost $9.3 million, an all-time record, is all the more remarkable.

The campaign was coordinated by Tommy Hills, who agreed to serve as the interim director of development after having retired from Wachovia and as the state’s treasurer and chief financial officer.

“Isn’t it great how Tommy Hills stepped out of retirement to run the campaign and achieved a record?” said Larry Gellerstedt, chairman of the Woodruff Arts Center board and CEO of Cousins Properties. “And how about that Paul Bowers?”

Bowers, president and CEO of Georgia Power Co., chaired the 2012-2013 annual campaign, which ended May 31.

“This shows that people understand that the arts are critical to our community,” Bowers said of the record campaign.

Bowers also gave credit to his 140-member cabinet, especially Jenner Wood, CEO of SunTrust’s Atlanta & Georgia Division, who chaired the successful lead gifts committee.

Also, Bowers said that Hepner and Gellerstedt showed real leadership when they disclosed the fraud.

“The way Virginia and Larry handled that — being transparent — gave confidence to everyone that it was being done right,” Bowers said. “I was extremely pleased to have Virginia and her financial background. It was perfect timing.”

The $9.3 million corporate campaign supports the Center’s four divisions — the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. In total, more than $35 million was donated to the Center and its divisions.

Hepner said that the 2013-2014 campaign will be led by William Rogers, chairman and CEO of SunTrust. He will work with Janine Musholt, recently named vice president of advancement of the Woodruff Arts Center.

Major donors

The major corporate contributors to the Woodruff campaign are The Coca-Cola Co. and the Georgia Power Foundation, giving at least $500,000. Giving at least $300,000 were the Cox Interests (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, James M. Cox Foundation, Cox Radio Group, WSB-TV and Anne Cox Chambers), the Home Depot Foundation, PwC partners and employees, and United Parcel Service.

In the $200,000-plus category were AT&T, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Deloitte partners and employees, Equifax and employees, Sara Giles Moore Foundation, SunTrust Bank employees and Trusted Foundations, and Turner Broadcasting System.

Giving at least $150,000 were Alston & Bird, Jones Day Foundation and employees, KPMG partners and employees, the Rich Foundation and Wells Fargo.

Metro Chamber search

For Joe Goodwin, it’s déjà vu all over again.

The search committee seeking a new president for the Metro Atlanta Chamber has secured Joe Goodwin and the Goodwin Group to help in that effort.

Goodwin actually did the search for the Metro Atlanta Chamber in 1996 when Sam Williams was selected as its president. At the time, Goodwin was managing partner with Lamalie Amrop International’s Atlanta office.

By the way, Goodwin assisted the Woodruff Arts Center in the search that selected Virginia Hepner as its CEO last year.

Ideally, the search committee would like to select a new president by the end of the year when Williams is scheduled to retire.

The committee includes: Paul Bowers, Georgia Power’s CEO (2013 Chamber chair); Carol Tomé, Home Depot’s CFO (2012 chair); Richard Anderson, Delta Air Lines CEO (2014 chair); John Brock, Coca-Cola Enterprises CEO (2011 chair); Jenner Wood; Donna Hyland, CEO of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta; and Sylvia Russell, CEO of AT&T Georgia.

Camp Twin Lakes

After 20 years of serving more than 50,000 campers, Camp Twin Lakes has decided to expand its board — reflecting the nonprofit’s strategic growth and program expansion.

It has added eight new board members, whose terms begin in October.

They include: Lauren Kraselsky Cohen, recruiter at Turner Broadcasting; Steve Farace, director of marketing at SweetWater Brewing Co.; Mike Gomez, senior real estate manager at Chick-fil-A; Kathie Gottlieb, principal at AGH; Michael Hertz, general manager of the craft, boutique and specialty division at United Distributors; Mike Lemberg, chief financial officer at Calstar Products; Spencer Preis, in-house contract attorney at Printpack; and Jeff Sloan, president at Global Payments.

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.


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