Column: UPS, UNICEF partner to help protect 580 million kids

By Maria Saporta
Friday, September 18, 2009

Two global organizations are partnering with each other — United Parcel Service Inc. and UNICEF.

The Atlanta-based UPS Foundation is making a two-year, $1 million commitment to UNICEF to improve the emergency response capacity for its disaster preparedness program in the Asia-Pacific region.

The gift, which includes $700,000 in cash and $300,000 in in-kind shipping and logistics support, is designed to help protect the 580 million children who live in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, Daniel Brutto, president of UPS International, has agreed to serve on the board of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. The fund serves as the primary fundraising arm for the United Nations Children’s Fund in the United States.

“I certainly plan to donate a lot of my time, even my personal time, to UNICEF,” Brutto said. “It essentially helps save the lives of children without getting involved with any of the politics.”

Brutto, who researched several international organizations before selecting UNICEF, added that he will spend a week each year volunteering in a foreign country so he can see UNICEF’s operations from the ground up.

After working for UPS for 34 years, Brutto also said he and the company can help UNICEF, which handles more than 200 humanitarian crises each year, with its expertise in logistics.

“I think essentially it’s what our organization can bring to the table,” Brutto said. “Especially when a disaster happens, around the world there’s a lot of inefficiencies in logistics. We can help supply chains run much more efficiently.”

Atlantan Barron Segar, who is senior director for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF overseeing five regional offices that cover 36 states, said Brutto’s decision to join the board was significant for the organization. The other Atlantan on the UNICEF board is Jim Walton, president of CNN.

UNICEF’s mission is to reduce child mortality rates worldwide. According to the organization, about 24,000 children under the age of 5 die very day from preventable causes. Some progress is under way. The annual number of deaths for children under 5 years old dropped from nearly 13 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008.

City bids for Rotarians

Atlanta and Georgia leaders, in a Super Bowl-like bidding process, are aggressively seeking to be picked as the site of the 2017 Rotary International convention.

Atlanta is one of five North American cities seeking the convention, which could bring between 20,000 and 25,000 Rotarians here from around the world. The competing cities include Cleveland; Detroit; Edmonton, Alberta; and Toronto, Ontario.

“This truly has taken a team effort,” said Spurgeon Richardson, who is chairing the effort and is the retired president of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent, during his speech at the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Sept. 14, pledged his full support.

Kent said he had written a letter in support of Atlanta’s bid to John Kenny, president of Rotary International.

“I told John Kenny that Coca-Cola will do everything to ensure the success of that convention, if they have the wisdom to choose Atlanta,” Kent said.

The committee also is working on raising $2 million to help offset the expenses of the convention. The bid was submitted in August. In addition to Kent’s letter, it included supporting letters from key officials from throughout the state.

Richardson also said that the city has secured 7,000 hotel rooms within one mile of the Georgia World Congress Center, the site of the convention, and it would be able to secure more rooms if necessary.

The dates of the convention would be June 10-14, 2017.

Rotary International is expected to select three cities as finalists by early next year, and then it will conduct site visits to those three cities. The winning city will be announced at Rotary International’s 2010 convention in Montreal next June.

The convention will be in New Orleans in 2011; Bangkok, Thailand, in 2012; Lisbon, Portugal, in 2013; San Diego in 2014; Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2015 and Seoul, Korea, in 2016. “The ACVB has been working on this for four to five years,” Richardson said. “We’ve got the best package of any city in the world.”

Franklin’s ‘last meeting’

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin made her goodbyes to the top business and civic leaders at the Atlanta Committee for Progress quarterly board meeting on Sept. 14.

The high-powered committee has served as the mayor’s kitchen cabinet, advising her on a host of issues, including the Atlanta Beltline, the Atlanta Streetcar, homelessness, reform of the city’s finances, education, public safety and Brand Atlanta.

“In some ways, it was my last meeting,” said Franklin, adding that she said her goodbyes and gave thanks to the executives for helping her since the inception of the Atlanta Committee for Progress in 2003.

The committee’s next meeting will be Dec. 7, after city runoff elections when it is expected a new mayor will have been elected. “This has been an important group to the success of my administration,” said Franklin, who expressed hope that the Atlanta Committee for Progress or a similar organization would be adopted by the next mayor.

“It’s a remarkable opportunity for any mayor,” she said. “It’s been invaluable in the way that I’ve been able to develop relationships with the business community.”

Jim Wells, CEO of SunTrust Banks who is chairing the Atlanta Committee for Progress, said the group is meeting with the top mayoral candidates to discuss the city’s future.

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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