Two of Atlanta’s most civic-minded couples to be honored for giving

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 1, 2015

Two of Atlanta’s most civic-minded couples will be honored at the 2015 National Philanthropy Day on Nov. 3 at the Georgia Aquarium.

Tom and Ann Cousins, founder of the East Lake Foundation and instrumental in a number of other initiatives in Georgia over several decades, will receive the Philanthropist of the Year Award.

John and Mary Brock, who have been dedicated champions of Georgia Tech and several other civic causes, will be honored as Volunteer Fundraisers of the Year.

It will be the 33rd annual celebration of National Philanthropy Day by the Greater Atlanta Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). More than 1,000 business, nonprofit, foundation and volunteer leaders are expected to attend.

“Atlanta has a tradition of the philanthropic community leading major efforts in our region,” said Alicia Philipp, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, which is the title sponsor for the event. “It is our pleasure to award these outstanding individuals for their remarkable efforts.”

The Cousins are being honored for being “visionaries who have not only helped to shape the face of Atlanta’s skyline, but have helped to transform the East Lake neighborhood and create new educational opportunities for the families that live there,” according to AFP.

East Lake has become a national model through another organization that was founded by Cousins, Purpose Built Communities.

Tom Cousins also was instrumental in the co-founding of the Georgia Research Alliance in 1990. The Alliance is a nationally recognized public-private partnership that leverages the research that is taking place at the state’s top universities and helps translate those discoveries into business ventures and new companies.

The Brocks provided “transformative and visionary support” to Georgia Tech in both the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, where they have a Brock Family Chair and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Nanomedicine.

They also have volunteered their time and talents to the intercollegiate athletic programs primarily in football and basketball. And they have shared their philanthropy with both Emory University and Spelman College.

Gwinnett’s JA Discovery Center

Junior Achievement of Georgia’s Discovery Center in Gwinnett is sold out.

JA, in partnership with the Gwinnett County Schools and local corporations, will be bringing JA BizTown and JA Finance Park to the students of Gwinnett County.

The lead partners of the Discovery Center include Assurant, Chick-fil-A Foundation, Cisco and The Home Depot.

The center will open in August in time for the 2015-2016 school year and will serve more than 25,000 sixth and eighth grade students.

Between the original Discovery Center in downtown Atlanta and the new Gwinnett Center, more than 60 percent of all metro Atlanta students will be part of the JA BizTown and JA Finance Park experience during their middle school tenure.

“We believe increasing students’ financial literacy and economic knowledge should be a focus of public education…,” said Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks. “Working together, we will better prepare our students for life after school… a life where they are armed with the confidence and understanding to take control of their financial futures, plan for their careers, and achieve their dreams.”

To provide an authentic experience, each simulation will feature aspects of the Gwinnett community and will include 18 storefronts.

“This blended learning model allows students to apply the lessons they learned in-class through an authentic and fully immersive simulation, which is what makes this such a unique and transformative experience for all students involved,” said Jack Harris, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Georgia.

The 45,000-square-foot facility will be located on the new Discovery High School campus located on Old Norcross Road, near the intersections of 316 and Sugarloaf.

Genuinely happy

Last year was a stellar year for Genuine Parts, CEO Tom Gallagher told shareholders at the annual meeting on April 27. All four divisions of the company performed well, and GPC had record sales, profits and dividends.

Gallagher thanked outgoing directors Jack Guynn and Michael Johns, who had reached the mandatory retirement age, but were staying on as “emerti” directors.

The Gallagher spoke about the company’s share price, which had soared in 2014 before moderating this year.

When asked if there were any questions, retired CEO Wilton Looney stood up and said: “Somebody ought to say something,” adding the company had so much going on he couldn’t keep up.

But regarding the stock price, “our stock got to a point last year it was going up so much… It went up too much,” Looney said, asking CFO Carol Yancey: “How much are we up this year over last year?” She answered: “8 percent.”

Looney, who turned 96 a week before the meeting, sat down with a smile.

CCE ‘strong in diversity’

John Brock, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, promptly started his annual meeting at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center at 8 a.m. on April 28, conducted the business, and declared the meeting over by 8:08 a.m. He then opened the meeting to shareholder questions.

An African-American woman said she was looking through the annual report and she saw no people of color in it (other than a picture of board member Cal Darden).

Brock seemed surprised and apologetic.

“We are very strong in diversity,” he said, adding that CCE has four women directors. “We believe that a diverse and inclusive corporation makes for better decisions. We have a very active diversity program throughout our company. We are constantly looking at how we can have a stronger and more diverse corporation.”

By the way, Genuine Parts has two women on its board but no African-Americans.

SunTrust upbeat

At SunTrust Banks’ annual meeting on April 28, the mood was upbeat — which led to no shareholders asking any questions. Bill Rogers, SunTrust’s CEO, almost seemed disappointed.

But at least he was able to interact with a shareholder over a proposal for the bank to be more transparent and have more concrete consequences on compensation for misconduct of employees. The proposal also called for the bank to be able to recoup incentives if an employee has engaged in unethical or dishonest conduct.

Although Rogers said the board recommended a “no” vote, he said “we take this issue and all governance issues very seriously and will continue to do so.”

The proposal failed, but only 60.6 percent voted against it (a close vote in shareholder world).

By the way, SunTrust has two women directors and two African-American male directors.

Rollins keeps it in the family

For the first time in the history of the company, Rollins has a woman director. But the company did keep it in the family.

At its meeting on April 28, Pamela Rollins, 58, was elected to the board of the pest control company. It was another first. She had never attended a Rollins annual meeting in her life even though her father, Randall Rollins, is chairman of the company.

So how did it feel having a woman on the board? “It feels good,” Randall Rollins said, “particularly being my daughter, it makes me feel especially good.” In the proxy, Pamela Rollins is listed as being a board member for Young Harris College, National Monuments Foundation and the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation as well as a former board member of the Lovett School and an emeritus board member of the Schenck School. But she said the short bio left out something important: “I worked at Orkin for 10 years in customer service,” she said.

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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