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Reporter’s Notebook: DeKalb Commissioner opposes working with law enforcement without body cams, Doug Hooker to oversee Midtown Connector Park, SCAD celebrates Black History Month

The week in local news.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, Atlanta. If you’re looking for something to do with your sweetheart, you can check out the Love Stories of Oakland Cemetery, Sips Under the Sea at the Georgia Aquarium or the mass elopement officiated by Mayor Dickens in Piedmont Park. If you’d rather stay home, be sure to grab some chocolate and queue up a classic rom-com

On to other news around the city and metro area:

District 6 DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry.

DeKalb commissioner: Local police should not work with others that don’t use body cams

In the wake of the police killing of a protester at the site of Atlanta’s public safety training center, a DeKalb County Board of Commissioners member is calling for local police to stop working with agencies that don’t use body cameras.

District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry, a longtime critic of the training center, said on Feb. 8 on Twitter that “local leaders should refuse to work with any law enforcement agency” — specifically, the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) — “if those officers aren’t required to wear body cameras.” He said he would introduce legislation to ban the practice in the County if necessary.

During a Jan. 18 raid of the DeKalb County site by a multi-agency police task force, police killed Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran, allegedly after the protester shot and wounded a GSP trooper. State troopers did not wear body cameras during the raid and routinely do so only in very limited situations, like Georgia State Capitol patrols. The DeKalb County Police Department is part of the task force.

On Feb. 8, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) released body camera footage taken from some of its officers during Teran’s killing. The footage does not show the event itself but has stirred controversy for a moment when an APD officer appears to suggest, based on radio talk, that the state trooper was shot by fellow officers. 

— John Ruch

Regional leaders discuss Gwinnett County's vote on joining MARTA, during an Atlanta Press Club forum on Monday. L-R Moderator and reporter Maria Saporta, ARC's Doug Hooker, Gwinnett's Charlotte Nash, MARTA's Jeff Parker and The ATL's Chris Tomlinson. Credit: Maggie Lee

Doug Hooker (second from left) during an Atlanta Press Club forum moderated by SaportaReport’s Maria Saporta. (Photo by Maggie Lee.)

MCP Foundation names Doug Hooker as CEO

The MCP Foundation, a nonprofit supporting the Midtown Connector Park, announced that Doug Hooker will join as its new CEO. 

The Midtown Connector Park is a plan to create a deck park with 17 acres of greenspace over the Connector in Midtown, connecting East and West Midtown. The park would run from North Avenue to 5th Street. Hooker will work with the Foundation’s Board of Directors, Chief Strategy Officer Taylor Morison and funding partners to bring the plans to fruition. 

Hooker was most recently the executive director at the Atlanta Regional Commission for over a decade. In this role, he oversaw regional projects and engaged with local leaders and residents about important issues and growth for the 11-county Atlanta region.

“Atlanta has been my home and my career. I have an insatiable passion for this city and its people,” Hooker wrote in a recent press release. “I’ve dedicated my career to helping Atlanta reach its full potential and the MCP has the ability to transform this city and region like no other project I’ve seen. I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to help deliver this remarkable park project to my city and see the impact it can have on future generations.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Former students, including “American Idol” winner Candice Glover, will be performing. (Courtesy of SCAD.)

SCAD celebrates Black History Month with Black Artists in Music concert

Later this month, the Savannah College of Art Design will be hosting its BAM! (Black Artists in Music) concert near two out of three of its campuses to celebrate Black History Month and Georgia Day (Feb. 12). 

On Feb. 20 the Savannah concert will be at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts and then again at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta. 

The show will explore the chronology of Georgia’s Black music journey, from its 19th-century origins through the revolutionary musical stylings of Ma Rainey to today’s Grammy Award-winning artists like Ray Charles, Gladys Knight, Otis Redding, James Brown, André 3000 and many more. 

Former students, including “American Idol” winner Candice Glover, will be performing along with special guests from Georgia. 

To purchase tickets, visit the Savannah and Atlanta event pages.

— Allison Joyner

Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta receives $15 million from Truist 

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, an organization pursuing equity and prosperity in the region, recently received a $15 million commitment from the Truist Financial Corporation. The majority of the funds — $14 million — will go to the newly launched GoATL Affordable Housing Fund. This housing fund is designed to address community housing needs, including permanent housing for those experiencing homelessness and affordable homeownership for first-time homebuyers.

The remaining one million dollars will go to the GoATL Economic Inclusion Fund to drive job growth for entrepreneurs, including highly flexible capital for marginalized business owners.

The combined $15 million aims to foster more equitable outcomes for Atlantans — in a city that ranks highest in the nation for income inequality — through investment in affordable housing and small businesses.

“Our goal at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta is to give everyone who lives in Atlanta a fair shot at a good life,” wrote President and CEO Frank Fernandez. “The reality in our city is that two children, who live 10 miles and two zip codes apart, will likely have two very disparate outcomes in terms of their ability to build and sustain wealth throughout their lives. Today’s generous commitment by Truist will put us on a trajectory to begin to change that.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Morehouse film festival begins new series featuring local filmmakers

On Monday, the Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival began its new show on WABE featuring films from Atlanta filmmakers. 

“Atlanta On Film” features films curated by the festival and airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on WABE-TV. 

— Allison Joyner

Ryan Wilson.

Young Nonprofit Professionals Network announces recipient of Ann Cramer Civic Leadership Award

The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Atlanta recently named Ryan Wilison, The Gathering Spot co-founder and CEO, for its Ann Cramer Civic Leadership Award. This is a prestigious award that goes to a young person who exhibited strong community commitment and impact.  

The Gathering Spot is a private membership club focused on community and culture, with clubs in Atlanta, D.C. and Los Angeles. YNPN is an organization that supports the growth of young professionals in the nonprofit community.

“It is very humbling to be a recipient of the 2023 Ann Cramer Civic Leadership Award,” Wilson wrote to SaportaReport. “It is an honor to serve my community and I’m grateful for this recognition named after one of the great leaders of our time. The work continues!”

The award was created in Cramer’s honor, a big name in the nonprofit world and a trusted advisor to the organization. Cramer is a senior consultant with Coxe Curry & Associates, providing strategic consultation to nonprofit clients. In 2020, she received the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s first Corporate Social Responsibility Lifetime Achievement Award and Georgia Trend’s Georgia Hall of Fame. 

— Hannah E. Jones

John Marshall Law School, Morris Brown partner to improve educational opportunities in legal education

Earlier this week, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) and Morris Brown College (MBC) announced a new engagement opportunity for eligible law school applicants. 

AJMLS’s Office of Admissions is offering MBC students application guidance and, for those who qualify, priority admission. 

“Students now have an official pathway and opportunity to earn a Juris Doctorate degree once they earn their degree from Atlanta’s most affordable accredited HBCU,” said Dr. Kevin James, president of MBC.

“This partnership signals a change in the future of legal education where institutions work together to improve the educational opportunities for all students,” said Jace Gatewood, Dean and CEO of AJMLS. 

— Allison Joyner

Michigan congresswoman criticizes public safety training center

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, has criticized Atlanta’s public safety training center as the plan continues to grow into a national controversy about policing and environmentalism.

“Shameful that $90 million of taxpayer dollars are being used to build Cop City, a massive police base that will destroy nearly 100 acres of forest next to Black and brown neighborhoods to test explosives, house firing ranges, and further militarize police against communities,” wrote Tlaib in Feb. 6 Twitter posts, using the Defend the Atlanta Forest protesters’ nickname for the training center. “When will our elected officials understand that building lasting public safety means investing in the basic needs of our communities over militarization and criminalization?”

Her comments contained some inaccuracies, though the true answers are unclear due to a lack of transparency. Most of the funding is said to come from corporations via the private Atlanta Police Foundation, though exact budgets and sources of money remain secret, as do most operational details. The site already has an explosives disposal site that the Atlanta Police Department has said will be removed from the future training center. But APD also will not say where the explosive facility would go or what the public input process would be.

— John Ruch

YMCA of Metro Atlanta offers traditional and specialty day camps. (Photo courtesy of YMCA of Metro Atlanta.)

YMCA opens registration for summer camp

This week, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta opened registration for all summer day camp sessions across its 18 locations. YMCA offers a variety of day camps, including traditional camps with arts and crafts, outdoor exploration and pool time or specialty camps focused on sports, art, STEAM and teen leadership.

“The YMCA of Metro Atlanta offers unique summer programming unlike any other camp due to our curriculum’s focus on social-emotional learning and helping youth build academic skills,” President and CEO Lauren Koontz wrote in a release. “Through our camps, kids can try new activities, learn self-reliance and gain independence. We’re proud to provide summer programming that encourages children to learn in a fun, stress-free environment.”

Registration can be completed online or in person at your local YMCA. Space is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

— Hannah E. Jones

Georgia Trust to hold Preservation Gala

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation will hold its annual gala on May 5, marking its 50th anniversary.

The Preservation Gala will honor retiring Georgia Trust President and CEO Mark C. McDonald and his wife, preservationist Carmie. Mark McDonald has led the organization since 2008 and is serving into the fall while a successor is sought. Carmie McDonald previously headed the Fox Theatre Institute and the Buckhead Heritage Society and is now training for the Episcopal priesthood. 

The 1970s-themed gala will be held at Rhodes Hall, the Georgia Trust’s headquarters in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood. Tickets are $200 for members, $300 for non-members (which includes membership) and $125 for those 40 and under. For details, see the Georgia Trust website or call 404-885-7812.

— John Ruch

Goodwill welcomes 2023 board members and officers

Goodwill of North Georgia — recognized for the last three years as the top Goodwill in the nation for connecting people to jobs — recently announced three board members and five board officers who are joining for the 2023 fiscal year. The local leaders will help advance the organization’s mission to put people to work.

The board members will each serve a three-year term. The newest additions include:

  • Alicen Blair, Principal of Global Consumer Practice of Korn Ferry
  • Michelle Jackson, Senior Vice President & Private Wealth Advisor for the Capital Group Private Client Services
  • Winnifer Thomas-Cox, Managing Director and Health and Public Service Lead of Accenture Song

President and CEO Keith Parker also announced the appointment of several new board officers, including:

  • Chair of the Board: Kofi Smith, President and CEO of Keystone Management, LLC
  • Vice Chair: DeRetta Cole Rhodes, EVP/Chief People Capital Officer for the Atlanta Braves
  • Treasurer: Edward Ferguson, Managing Director of Raymond James & Associates
  • Secretary: Ellen Stern, Senior Vice President of CBRE, Inc.
  • Immediate Past Chair: Kirk Halpern, Founder & CEO of Farmers & Fishermen Purveyors

Goodwill of North Georgia covers 45 counties with over 100 stores and 14 career centers. Last year, the local Goodwill helped connect 16,000 Georgians with jobs.

— Hannah E. Jones

(L to R) Lille Louise-Fils, Christopher Goode and Kirk Rich.

Atlanta Habitat for Humanity welcomes new board members

Atlanta Habitat for Humanity announced the addition of three board members. The local leaders will use their experience and community involvement to support the organization’s mission to transform generations of families through homeownership. 

The new board members include:

  • Lille Louise-Fils, executive director for Bank of America. She is also currently a Chair of the Black Executive Leadership Council and Chair for the Consumer Investments Black and African American Initiatives.
  • Kirk Rich, Principal of Avison Young Atlanta’s Agency Leasing Group.
  • Christopher Good, founding partner of Goode Van Slyke Architecture.

“As we honor 40 years of service in Atlanta, we’re keenly focused on engaging servant leaders who will help us deepen our impact on the homeowners and the neighborhoods we serve,” CEO Alan Ferguson wrote in a press release. “From single mothers to seniors and veterans, our organization does more than build homes — we strengthen families and uplift communities.”

He continued: “We are eager to activate these exemplary leaders in our mission. We’re confident in their ability to help raise funds and increase visibility for the many ways Atlanta Habitat helps families achieve their dream of home ownership.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Anne B. Skae.

Center for the Visually Impaired prepares for annual Night Visions fundraiser

The Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) is gearing up for its annual Night Visions fundraiser, which will include dinner, cocktails and a silent auction. The night’s events will help fund the organization’s services and programs for those who are blind or visually impaired.

Each year, CVI honors a board member at the annual fundraiser. This year, CVI will recognize Anne B. Skae, who has served for 40 years as a Trustee and former Chair on both the boards of CVI and the CVI Foundation. Today, she holds the position of Secretary of the Foundation. Skae has also served as a board member and benefactor of the Jerusalem House, Atlanta Girls’ School and Kiwanis Club of Atlanta.

“Growing up, it wasn’t a question of if you’d be involved in philanthropy — it was a question of what you’d be involved in,” Skae wrote in a recent release. “I always picked things that really meant something to me.”

The Night Visions fundraiser will be held at the Atlanta History Center on Thursday, March 23. Additional information can be found here.

— Hannah E. Jones

Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native and Georgia State University graduate, 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 can be reached at hannah@saportareport.com.


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