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Reporter’s Notebook: Georgia Tech grad elected to U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

Sandra “Sandy” Magnus has been selected for the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. (Photo via coe.gatech.edu)

Mark your calendars, Atlanta! Daylight savings is right around the corner. On Sunday, March 13, our clocks will spring forward by an hour — one of the first signs of spring. Once this cold spurt passes, let’s all get outside and enjoy our extra hour of sunshine.

On to other recent news:

Sandra “Sandy” Magnus. (Photo via coe.gatech.edu)

Georgia Tech grad elected to U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

A Georgia Tech grad and professor of practice has been elected to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. 

Sandra “Sandy” Magnus is to join a rarefied group of 101 astronauts to be inducted, according to a statement from Georgia Tech. The ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Fla., is set for June.

Magnus was selected as an astronaut in 1996, the same year she earned her doctorate in materials science engineering. Magnus has spent 187 days in orbit. She flew aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2002. In 2008 she flew to the International Space Station and lived there four and a half months. Magnus’ final flight was aboard the final space shuttle launch, on Atlantis.

The honor for Magnus’ work in the space program follows her election to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest distinctions for professional engineers.

Magnus serves at Tech as a professor of the practice with joint appointments in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, in the School of Materials Science and Engineering, and the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. 

— David Pendered

Blank Foundation gives $250,000 to immediate relief in Ukraine

The Atlanta-based Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has pledged $250,000 to UNICEF to provide relief in Ukraine. 

UNICEF, a nonprofit focused on improving the lives of children, has increased its efforts to aid Ukraine’s citizens amid the Russian invasion. More than a million refugees have fled the country. Hundreds of thousands of them are children.

UNICEF is working to provide essential services — including health, education, protection and water — to Ukraine’s vulnerable children and families. 

“I am pained by the human suffering that we’re seeing in Ukraine,” said Arthur Blank, the foundation’s chairman. “In this moment of crisis, we must do what’s right and support our brothers and sisters who have been forced to flee their homes or who are trapped in an escalating conflict. Our hearts go out to the Ukrainian people who are in a desperate situation to save their homes, their families and their lives.” 

— Hannah E. Jones

Campbell Road. (Photo by David Pendered. 2017)

Mayor Dickens: Atlanta ‘hyper focused’ on MARTA service along Campbellton Road

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said a top priority of his administration is enhancing MARTA service along Campbellton Road, though he also pursues construction of rail transit along the Atlanta BeltLine.

“Right now, we’re really hyper-focused on Campbellton Road,” Dickens said at the March 2 meeting of the Atlanta Regional Housing Forum. “That project is due. We’ve got to make a direction on BRT or LRT and trying to make sure we push that agenda quickly so we can get funding and get development occurring. Because that transit development along Campbellton Road is going to spur the economic development that allows for us to have more affordable mixed-income housing developments.”

MARTA has recommended the installation of enhanced bus service, known as bus rapid transit, rather than a light rail system, such as the Atlanta Streetcar, to serve Campbellton Road. Atlanta City Councilmember Marci Collier Overstreet, who represents the area, is leading an effort for light rail to be installed. The Atlanta City Council has passed a resolution calling on MARTA to explain its use of sales tax revenues to improve transit in the corridor.

In regards to the BeltLine, Dickens said: “Of course I want to get rail on the BeltLine. That’s a conversation I’ve had with MARTA and the BeltLine just about every week of my administration.”

— David Pendered

Girl Scouts Atlanta: ‘In chaos, there is community’

On Thursday, March 10, over 250 local community leaders gathered at Piedmont Park for the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta’s 2022 Second Century Luncheon. 

The guest of honor was Rosalind Brewer, CEO of the Walgreens Boots Alliance, who was selected for the Changing the World Award. 

The event felt like a big party, serving as a celebration of local Girl Scouts, the larger Atlanta community and resilience through hard times — the latter being a primary theme for the organization. The luncheon is also a major fundraising event for the Girl Scouts, raising $180,000.

And the Girl Scouts themselves weren’t left out of the fun. The event was kicked off by an opening flag ceremony from troop 19717, followed by reciting the Girl Scout law. 

Attendees heard from three Girl Scouts, all with big aspirations — to lead a nonprofit or to become president — who talked about the importance of the organization and sense of community that they’ve fostered, particularly through the tumult of the pandemic.

In CEO Amy Dosik’s opening remarks, she emphasized the organization’s mission to ensure that every child knows they matter.

“Building resilience is part of Girl Scouts’ secret sauce,” she said. “Yes, girls can learn to code their own app and they can set and crush huge goals in the cookie program. But before they even do any of that, they need to know that they are important, they can do hard things and they can fail and try again. Somebody is rooting for them, somebody has their back and they are loved.”

The Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta are accepting donations, and if you’re interested in giving, click here.

— Hannah E. Jones

Photos by Hannah E. Jones

Former APS Superintendent joins Gallup

Meria Carstarphen, former superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools, will be joining the Gallup organization as a senior scientist.

Gallup made the announcement as part of its celebration of International Women’s Day, which was on March 8. In a Twitter announcement, Gallup said a “senior scientist is a leading expert who advises and consults with our researchers and select clients to ensure that our research and development programs are on the cutting edge.” 

Carstarphen will be Gallup’s first senior scientist to focus on education.

Asked whether she would be staying in Atlanta and whether she might run for public office, Carstarphen made it sound as though she would remain in town and would consider opportunities to serve.

“They like practitioners. That’s not an issue for them,” Carstarphen said of Gallup. “They want their scientists to live the dream and help others globally. It’s a dream opportunity.”

She then said she had participated in Emerge Georgia, which looks at potential candidates for public office, but she stopped short of making any announcement of becoming a candidate in one of the 2022 races.

“Everyone is focused on the top of the ticket,” she added. “It’s a worthy focus.”

— Maria Saporta

Delta establishes new partnerships to support female athletes

Delta Air Lines has announced a series of partnerships to help advance female athletes. 

Delta has joined forces with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) to serve as the league’s first-ever airline and travel partner. Delta will support NWSL’s fan engagement events and work with league leaders to develop programs relating to women’s empowerment and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Similarly, in January, Delta signed on as the official airline for U.S. Ski and Snowboard — an Olympic sports organization — through 2023. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Women’s Mentorship Program is a key component of the partnership, where women from the team will meet with women at Delta monthly for empowerment initiatives. 

The Atlanta-based airline is also partnering with the Women’s Sports Foundation for its Athlete Ambassador Program — founded by tennis icon Billie Jean King — which fosters mentorship between athletes and young women. Delta will aid in programming for the program, including panels, celebrations and sports clinics.

“These new partnerships align with Delta’s commitment to invest in and support equity for women,” Molly Battin, Delta’s senior vice president of global brand marketing, said in a press release. “Female athletics are historically less funded than their male counterparts, and through these new agreements, Delta will provide significant investment and meaningful programming to these organizations.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Two acres of Hemphill Waterworks open to the public

On Tuesday, March 8, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens planted an oak tree during the ceremonial opening of The Hill on the Hemphill Waterworks campus. 

The Hill is one of the highest points in the city — offering great views of Atlanta’s skyline. The space is now open to the public for the first time in more than 25 years. The Upper Westside Improvement District was instrumental in reopening The Hill.

The fences at the corner of Howell Mill Road and 17th Street were moved back, offering two new acres for neighbors to enjoy.

Atlanta’s reservoirs were open to the public until the mid-1990s, when the city put temporary — which turned out to be not-so-temporary — fences along the waterworks in preparation for the Olympics. Over the past few decades, the surrounding area has continued to densify and increased the need for communal greenspaces. 

“Upper Westside Community Improvement District’s vision is to promote smart urban growth. Smart urban growth requires parks and places for people to connect with nature and each other,” said Upper Westside CID Executive Director Elizabeth Hollister. “The three surrounding neighborhoods in this formerly industrial area do not have any actual city parks. This greenspace fills a critical parks deficit in addition to being an attraction for the whole city.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Check out this photo gallery from The Hill’s opening ceremony. Photos by Kelly Jordan.

Chattahoochee Nature Center hosts ribbon-cutting ceremony for new river boardwalk trail

On Tuesday, the Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC) will celebrate the grand reopening of the new River Boardwalk Trail and Connection bridge.  

After nearly forty years of use and the treading of hundreds of thousands of exploring feet, CNC’s 2,000-foot river boardwalk has been restored using state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable materials.

“The River Boardwalk Trail and Connection Bridge will provide a conduit for the community to discover the ecology of our area more intimately while fostering a greater understanding of and connection with nature,” said Clarence Jackson, CNC board chair. “We are proud to open this space where our community can safely gather to create lasting memories with family and friends.” 

The bridge and trail were completed as part of Phase I of CNC’s “Bridging. Teaching. Inspiring.” capital campaign. 

The grand opening and ribbon cutting will take place on Tuesday, March 15, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is welcome to attend the community grand opening day on Sunday, March 20, 2022.

— Allison Joyner

Jack Hardin

Buckhead Rotary honors Jack Hardin

Edward “Jack” Hardin, a well-respected attorney and advocate for the homeless in metro Atlanta, received the prestigious Rev. Robert Ross Johnson Humanitarian Award from the Buckhead Rotary on March 7.

Hardin founded the Rogers & Hardin law firm in 1976 and remained a co-managing partner until December 2021 when the firm merged with Smith Gambrell Russell.

During his entire tenure at the firm, Hardin worked on key civic issues — mainly to support the homeless and provide shelter and support to those who have been left behind by society. 

Hardin has been co-chair of the Regional Commission on Homelessness. He also is chairman and a co-founder of the Gateway Center, a nonprofit that offers therapeutic and community support to the homeless population.

Buckhead Rotarian Jim Breedlove, who presented the award, spoke of how Hardin understood that humanity is the best lesson in life. 

Bec Crawford of the Gateway Center spoke of Hardin’s piercingly blue eyes who always is asking people he meets how he can help them.

“Jack is authentic, relatable and an easy-going guy,” she said. “Jack is one of the most Christlike individuals I’ve met.”

Milton Little, president of United Way of Greater Atlanta, described how Hardin had led the search committee that led to Little moving from Boston to Atlanta.

“He has the perfect combination of heart and head,” Little said. “Jack sees homelessness as a whole community problem.”

When Breedlove presented the award, he also announced that Buckhead Rotary was making a $1,000 donation to the Gateway in Hardin’s honor.

After accepting the award, Hardin said it’s time to dispel myths about homelessness — namely that it’s inevitable. During World War II, homelessness in the United States was not an issue.

Over the years, Hardin has seen the ups and downs of Atlanta’s homeless population.

“If you can reduce homelessness by two-thirds, then you can eliminate it,” Hardin said. “You don’t punish people for being homeless. You help them.”

The Rev. Robert Ross Johnson Award is named after a Buckhead Rotarian and humanitarian who died in 2000. One of his mentees was Andrew Young, who is celebrating his 90th birthday on March 12. Young was the first recipient of the award.

— Maria Saporta

Mayor to speak at Buckhead Coalition luncheon

Mayor Andre Dickens will be the keynote speaker at this month’s annual luncheon of the Buckhead Coalition.

The invitation-only luncheon on March 30 will be the first for the influential group of 120 civic and business leaders since the COVID-19 pandemic began and since Jim Durrett took over as president and CEO from former Mayor Sam Massell. Massell made a surprise retirement announcement at the 2020 luncheon.

Since its founding in 1988, the Coalition has hosted influential leaders as keynote speakers at the luncheon, which doubles as the nonprofit’s annual meeting. A newly elected mayor typically gets the speaking slot.

But for Dickens, the appearance is more than just a local tradition. It’s yet another visit to the neighborhood where he and his allies appear to have successfully squelched a controversial cityhood movement for this year and aim to do so long-term. The Coalition is a major cityhood opponent. 

The luncheon was originally scheduled for January, when the cityhood battle was perhaps the hottest, but was delayed due to the Omicron wave of the pandemic. At the time, Dickens had been invited but had not been confirmed as the keynote speaker. Durrett confirmed him as the speaker for the new March date.

The Coalition’s invitation-only group of dues-paying members includes such figures as CNN Founder Ted Turner and the chairmen or CEOs of such powerful institutions as UPS, the Atlanta History Center, the Loudermilk Companies and Piedmont Healthcare. 

The Coalition acts as a kind of unofficial economic development agency for Buckhead and, following a recent mission and branding update, now also focuses on public safety and homelessness. 

Durrett is also executive director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District, a group of local commercial property owners that tax themselves to fund improvement projects. The Coalition now works closely with the CID as well as the Buckhead Business Association and the environmental nonprofit Livable Buckhead. 

— John Ruch

Clark Atlanta, Morehouse partner with online certification companies to provide minority principals

A first-of-its-kind education company, New Leaders, announced it will join forces with Clark Atlanta University (CAU) and Morehouse College to launch the Aspiring Principals Fellowship. 

With the goal of dramatically boosting the number of principals of color leading K-12 schools across the country, the fellowship is an online certification and master’s degree program designed to train the next generation of equity-focused educators who reflect the students they serve. 

“This will create the much-needed pipeline of diverse school leaders who are ready to make bold, transformational changes in service of our schools, our students and their families and our communities,” said Jean Desravines, CEO of New Leaders. 

Studies show that principals of color deliver better outcomes for students of color and are more effective at hiring and retaining teachers of color; however, only 11 percent of principals in this country are Black and only 9 percent are Hispanic 

“Clark Atlanta University undoubtedly understands the importance of diversification in all spaces of our world. Our institution was established on the beliefs that all disenfranchised, particularly people of color, have access to higher education and better opportunities,” said Dr. George French, president of CAU.

Online education network Noodle will develop a virtual learning platform for the fellowship to facilitate an online learning experience and a highly interactive user experience for both faculty and students.

“By using technology to extend the Morehouse experience beyond our campus through the innovative Aspiring Principals Fellowship, we are furthering our mission to develop men with disciplined minds for lives of leadership and service and preparing principals with the skills, perspectives, and insight they need to be compassionate educators with high standards of excellence who embrace the potential of all children,” said Dr. David Thomas, president of Morehouse College.

Cohorts begin in January and August of each year and members of the pilot program, happening now, will graduate in February 2023. Click on New Leaders’ website for more information.

— Allison Joyner

APS launches new program showcasing the Latino Community

Starting on Saturday, Atlanta Public Schools will premiere its new TV show, “¡Hola APS!”

The show will feature news, information and profiles of Latino students and district employees in the metro area. 

You can watch “¡Hola APS!” on the school system’s YouTube channel and the district’s community cable channel APS 22/WABE at the following times:

  • Sunday, 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Monday, 3 and 9:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, 3 and 9:30 p.m.
  • Friday, 3 and 9:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

— Allison Joyner

Four new members join Board of Atlanta BeltLine Partnership

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP) welcomes four new members to its board of directors. 

The new additions to the ABP team include:

These community leaders will offer financial expertise to enhance the ABP’s investments in BeltLine parks, trails and programs. The ABP team raises funds for the BeltLine, engages folks living in the 45 BeltLine neighborhoods and offers services for health, housing and economic opportunity.

“The insights, skills, and relationships these talented leaders provide will be instrumental as we work with Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and other partners to advance the vision of a more equitable, connected Atlanta,” said Executive Director Rob Brawner. 

— Hannah E. Jones

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Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native who recently graduated from Georgia State University, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah is excited about the opportunity to serve the City of Atlanta and its people. Hannah can be reached at hannah@saportareport.com.

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