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Reporter’s Notebook: Same leader, new chair for Fulton elections

Maggie Lee
Spring tree in Piedmont Park. File/Credit: Bruno Girin/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Georgia will open five more mass COVID-19 vaccination sites, Gov. Brian Kemp announced this week.

That will bring the total to nine sites.

The ones convenient to metro Atlanta are the Delta Flight Museum in south Fulton, which is already open. And the LakePoint Sports Complex in Bartow County, which is one of the new ones opening March 17.

The new sites will roughly double the state’s vaccine capacity to 42,000 doses per week.

But there’s still a waiting list. Check your eligibility and join the waiting list for these sites at MyVaccineGeorgia.com.

And you can also keep checking with pharmacies and your county health department.

On to other news in metro Atlanta:

Fulton election leader barely keeps job; Alex Wan put in charge of board

Fulton County Registration and  Elections Director Rick Barron will keep his job, after a 4-3 vote Wedneday by the county commission.

That’s going against a 3-2 recommendation from February by the county registration and election board.

The Commission considered that recommendation last month, but Commissioner Natalie Hall held off voting at that time, saying she wanted to review more information.

On Wednesday, she said she voted to keep him after reading his performance evaluations.

“It is not based on opinions, it is based on facts,” said the south and west Atlanta-area commissioner.

North Atlanta and Sandy Springs-area Commissioner Lee Morris voted to fire Barron because the election board recommended that.

“The folks who supervise him and to whom he reports made that decision,” Morris said.

Separate but related, former Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan is the new chair of the Fulton Board of Registration and Elections.

Previous chair Mary Cooney resigned her seat early.  Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts tapped Wan to replace her. The commission approved it in a 5-0 vote with two members not voting.

-By Maggie Lee
Ser Familia’s new board chair
Hanna Dafne Bauer is the newly-elected chair of Ser Family, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening Latino families. Bauer, a leadership development coach who is founder of HEARTnomics Enterprises, succeeds Enrique Garza, a strategic sourcing professional with the Clorox Co.

Hanna Dafne Bauer

Hanna Dafne Bauer

Ser Familia was founded in 2001 by Belisa Urbana (its executive director) and her husband, Miguel Urbina to increase the communication skills within families and decrease risky behaviors. It assists families in crisis and serves as an advocate for Latino families in partnership with other organizations serving Latinos in metro Atlanta.

Ser Familia also announced other new officers and board members, including Marta DeLoach, the new treasurer, who is contact center director of Southern Gas Co.; Ramon Reyes, the new vice chair, who is general manager of the Omni Hotel at the Battery Atlanta; and Linda Perez, the new board secretary who is the senior marketing manager at Morrison Healthcare.

Other new members on Ser Familia’s board include: Rose Walker, a senior account executive for Assurant; and Shelli Willis, an attorney at the Troutman Pepper law firm.

-By Maria Saporta

A feminine theme at Atlanta Rotary

For Rotarian daughter day on March 1, women took center stage.

Jennifer Jones during the Rotary Club of Atlanta March 1 meeting (Screenshot by Maria Saporta)

Two women were inducted as new members – Ciara O’Flonin, the new Irish Consul General in Atlanta; and Erica Qualls-Battey, Atlanta area general manager for Marriott Hotels and the Marriott Marquis.

They were introduced by Helene Lollis, CEO of Pathbuilders, who was stepping in for President Cannon Carr.

The meeting also highlighted two special women guests.

Jennifer Jones, a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland in Ontario, Canada, will be the first woman president of Rotary International for the 2022-2023 term.

Jones, who is now founder and president of Media Street Productions, remembered first covering Rotary as a “rookie reporter” in 1987 when the organization did not allow women to be members.

Kat Cole

Kat Cole

“Today 24 percent of our organization is feeling,” Jones told Atlanta Rotarians participating in the virtual meeting. “I’m feeling a tsunami of female energy coming our way.”

Lastly, Kat Cole, the former president and chief operating officer of Focus Brands, was the keynote speaker for all the participating daughters of Rotarians. She talked about her incredible life story as a 9-year-old – the oldest of three girls – when her mom became a single-mom and had to work three jobs. Cole basically helped raise her sisters.

She went on to work as a waitress at Hooters – becoming a vice president at 26. She has just wrapped up a 10-year career at FOCUS Brands, where she served as president of Cinnabon. And now she’s writing a book, serving on boards and becoming an angel investor.

“I’m a proud daughter,” Cole told the Rotarians and their daughters, and she said the four qualities essential for leadership are: humility, courage, confidence and curiosity. During a period of crisis, Cole said that “what people need is clarity; they don’t need positivity.”

-By Maria Saporta

NBA takes stand for voting access, again

The NBA is teaming up with More Than A Vote for the 70th NBA All-Star game, scheduled for Sunday, March 7 at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena.

State Farm Arena was turned into an early-voting precinct in 2020 (Photo by Maggie Lee)

They will use the national event to shed light on the potential voter suppression impact of the many election bills introduced this year in statehouses across the country.

“We all need to continue to use our platform. This last election won’t change anything if we don’t keep working. #Blackvotersuppression,” wrote L.A. Lakers star and More than a Vote founder LeBron James in a Tweet Tuesday.

The work will include a social media campaign and interviews on the topic with NBA stars, the New York Times reports.

In the Georgia statehouse just down the road from the State Farm Arena, the Republicans in control are suddenly facing statewide wins for Democrats for the first time in a generation. Republican voting bills introduced in Georgia this year, weeks after big Democratic wins, could introduce new ID requirements or curtail absentee or weekend voting or end the use of ballot dropboxes.

This isn’t the first time the NBA has advocated for increased voter access and turnout. Last year, More Than A Vote worked with the  league to secure the arenas of 23 NBA teams to convert into polling places.

The home of the Atlanta Hawks was one of the first arenas to offer their space for voting.

The executive director of the NBA Player’s Association said in a statement that players have “pledged to use their voices to join others in the fight against those who seek to deny equal justice in our communities.”

-By Hannah Jones

Atlanta’s reinforcing its role as a global health center

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investing an initial $10.7 million in the Atlanta-based Task Force for Global Health to help up to 50 low- and middle-income countries with their COVID-1 immunization programs.

The investment includes $3.5 million for the Global Health Crisis Coordination Center to launch COVIED, an information equity program to ensure COVID-19 vaccine information is accurate, trusted, culture-specific and equally accessible for all communities and demographics in the United States.

David Ross

David Ross, CEO of the Task Force for Global Health, in 2018(Photo by Maria Saporta)

The global initiative will tap expertise from three Task Force programs: the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction, which supports expanded access to influenza vaccines in low- and middle-income countries; the Brighton Collaboration, which evaluates vaccine safety; and the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network, which trains field epidemiologists in more than 100 countries.

The work will span countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe, and it will include countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mongolia, Lao PDR, Albania, Georgia and the Kyrgz Republic.

“This is the kind of daunting job that requires an enormous range of expertise and experience and a vast array of trusted partners,” said Dave Ross, president and CEO of the Task Force. “The Task Force is perfectly suited to take on this kind of crucial, large-scale challenge, bringing together skills across our programs and partnerships to safeguard the health of entire populations.”

COVIED (COvid Vaccines Information Equity and Demand) is an information equity program to ensure COVID-19 vaccine information is equally accessible for all communities and demographics in the the country.

“It is clear that a ‘one-size fits all’ approach for communication will not effectively ensure that those who are at disproportionate risk of COVID will accept immunization,” said Dr. Robert Breiman, GHC3’s chief science officer, who is also a professor of Global Health and Infectious Diseases at Emory University and project director for COVIED. “This project will fill gaps in equitable access to information on vaccines, leading to vaccine acceptance, which will reduce illness, save lives, and get us back to productive, social, and economic activities.”

These two initiatives further reinforce how global health entities based in Atlanta are having a tremendous impact in improving public health in the country and around the world.

-By Maria Saporta

City of South Fulton bans some single-use plastic 

In the city of South Fulton, grabbing an old-fashioned plastic bag from the grocery store is a thing of the past.

Starting this month, the city has officially implemented its ban on some plastic products. The prohibited items include plastic cups, straws and food containers, along with plastic bags used for groceries, newspapers, door-hangers and dry-cleaning.

Bags and containers that are certified compostable, 100 percent recyclable or created using recycled materials are allowed.

Around the globe, one trillion plastic bags are used every year, plus 500 million plastic straws every day, as estimated by Earth Day Network.

Find details of the City of South Fulton’s plastic ban here.

-By Hannah Jones

Operation HOPE and Delta announce workplace partnership

Atlanta-based Operation HOPE and Delta Air Lines will have the first national “HOPE Inside the Workplace Model” to serve the airline’s employees in Delta hubs around the country. The expanded partnership will give Delta employees resources that promote financial empowerment and inclusion.

Ed Bastian John Hope Bryant

Delta CEO Ed Bastian gives a thumb’s up during his visit with John Hope Bryant at the 2018 Global HOPE Forum (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“We are excited that with this innovative collaboration, Delta will become our first-ever, national HOPE Inside the Workplace partner, offering comprehensive financial coaching as a standard workplace wellbeing practice,” said John Hope Bryant, founder and CEO of Operation HOPE. “We commend Delta as it demonstrates its commitment to all the men and women who work for the airline. Helping its workforce plan ahead in good times and deal with bad ones is in all stakeholders’ interests, as Delta continues to invest in its employees.”

Below is a special message from Chairman John Hope Bryant about the announcement.

Through HOPE Inside the Workplace, a program that specializes in credit and money management through workshops, as well as one-on-one debt counseling and financial coaching opportunities, Operation HOPE’s virtual coaching services will be available to the entire Delta workforce of 80,000 employees in key hub cities starting with the largest base – Atlanta.

In a recent employee Town Hall meeting, Bryant joined Delta CEO Ed Bastian to announce the launch. The idea behind the initiative is to “meet people where they are” – to provide people access to the American dream with programs available where they work.

Operation HOPE is America’s largest nonprofit financial inclusion and financial literacy organization for the underserved, and America’s financial coach for all.

Operation HOPE is all about financial inclusion and empowerment,” said Joanne Smith, Delta’s executive vice presiden. and chief people officer. “This new partnership follows a year of economic downturn caused by the global pandemic, as well as historic disparities and injustice. Delta is committed to taking care of and investing in financial health resources for our people.”

-By Maria Saporta

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Maggie Lee
Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.

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