GWCC’s COO Khalil Johnson to retire

After 30 years at the Georgia World Congress Center, Khalil Johnson announced today that he will retire as chief operating officer on Aug. 1.

Johnson has been an integral part of GWCC’s operations for decades.

Before he was named COO in 2002, Johnson was general manager of the Georgia Dome. In that role, he was involved in the 1996 Summer Olympics, two Super Bowls, SEC football championships and several basketball tournaments including one Final Four and several NCAA regional matches.

Dan Graveline, GWCC’s executive director, broke the news at the monthly meeting of his authority.

“All of you who know Khalil know that we have a special relationship that goes back 30 years,” said Graveline, with his voice breaking with emotion. “He came in as a part-time employee making minimum wage.”

The first time they met, Graveline noticed that Johnson was wearing sandals as he was working on putting up shows.

Graveline told Johnson’s supervisor: “At least tell that man to get some shoes on.” He was scared Johnson might lose a toe or two wearing sandals.
“It didn’t take us long to realize he was a special young man,” Graveline said.

Johnson did leave GWCC for a short period of time to work as director of sales and services for the Washington D.C. Convention Center. But he soon decided to come back to Georgia, and rejoined the executive team.

“It’s a tremendous loss,” Graveline said. “I consider Khalil not only a partner in crime but a tremendously good friend. You don’t replace a guy like Khalil.”

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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