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Philanthropy Thought Leadership

Racial and economic equity strategic plan supported by counsel of respected Board and Committee leadership

By Debbie Schumacher-Jones, executive administrative assistant to the CEO and board liaison, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta is at a pivotal time in 2021 and as we look ahead to our strategic plan for the next five years, we are excited by the opportunity that lies ahead. The Foundation launched a new era last year when Frank Fernandez was named President and CEO, succeeding Alicia Philipp who had led the organization for 43 years. The transition happened as the Foundation was embarking on a bold new mission and vision for improving equity across the region and I was honored when Frank asked me to join him in bringing this vision for equity to life. 

A strong cohort of advisors is essential to a nonprofit’s success. In my role as staff liaison to our Board and Committee members, I see first-hand how important it is to have diverse perspectives among our advisors – diversity in all forms – age, gender, lived experience, professional sector and race, as well as diversity of thought and voice. 

The Community Foundation recently announced new Board and Committee members and these dedicated volunteers are already adding value, jumping in even before the official start of their tenure. I am heartened and energized by their enthusiasm and engagement. Among the new Board members we have added a nonprofit leader, a highly respected member of the community we serve. Her unique perspective and willingness to be the voice for her community is critical to our success. Other new volunteers include entrepreneurs who create jobs and support startups that encourage innovation and foster new career opportunities for our region. These voices help amplify other advisors with deep business experience in a broad array of industries.

Part of my role as liaison to these volunteers is to ensure that everything we do is grounded in community and collaboration. This means that we approach our work knowing that our mandate is to improve the communities we serve, through collaboration with stakeholders on all levels. We are fortunate that our Board and other volunteers are partners with us in the work we do, they aren’t simply figureheads. They appreciate the role our staff has in our greater success and are ready and willing to work with staff experts to dig deep into our priorities of the day, as opposed to dictating our direction in a top-down manner. 

Our cohort of advisors is led by our Board Chair, Susan Grant, continuing in her second year of a three-year term. Seven new members added to the Foundation’s Board in 2021 include:

These seven new Board members join the 14 continuing their service to the Community Foundation as they champion building equity across the region. The Foundation’s Board also leads six committees that support our work of community grantmaking, finance and audit, governance, impact investing (GoATL Fund), investments and philanthropy. The committee chairs of the Foundation’s Board of Directors are noted in the paragraphs below and alongside the returning Board members:

Joining at the Committee leadership level for a three-year term of service are:

  1. Community Committee: Peter Berg and M. von n’Kosi, co-chairs
    1. Tjuan Dogan, Emory University
    2. Josh Penny, Mailchimp
    3. Ayanna Buckner, MD/MPH, Community Health Cooperative 
  2. Finance and Audit Committee: Jerry Wilkinson, chair
    1. Sean Taylor, Smith & Howard
    2. Marcus Oglesby, Aprio
  3. Impact Investing: Ron Alston, chair
    1. Adrienne White, Citizens Bank
    2. Kweku Forstall, The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  4. Investment Committee: Bryan Rand, chair
    1. Dekia Scott, Southern Company
    2. Jingwun (Grace) Moore, Georgia Tech Foundation
  5. Philanthropy: Studie Young, chair
    1. Brian K. Ford, Northwestern Mutual
    2. Veronica Morrisette, Merrill Lynch

The complete list of the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors with their full biographies are available here.


PHOTO ATTACHED from the 2/10/21 Board of Directors meeting, held via Zoom:

Row 1, L to R: Jerry Wilkinson • Elyse Hammett (staff) • Susan Grant (Board Chair) • Diana Champ Davis (staff) • Debbie Schumacher-Jones (staff)

Row 2, L to R: Terry Mazany (staff) • Frank Fernandez (staff) • Julia Houston • Alison O’Carroll (staff) • Ben White 

Row 3, L to R: Lita Pardi (staff) • Ron Alston • Studie Young • Millard Choate • David Roemer

Row 4, L to R: Gregory Vaughan • Bert Clark • Ryan Wilson • Richard Courts IV • Kelli Stewart

Row 5, L to R: David Cummings • Peter Berg • Barbara Bing Pliner • Jewel Burks Solomon • Francesca D. Gary

Not pictured: Frank Bell • Doug Hooker • Wonya Lucas • Bryan Rand


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