The week in local news.

School’s out, and it feels like summer! This Saturday marks the 37th annual Virginia-Highland Summerfest. Hosted by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, the festival will kick off with the 5K Run, followed by an Artist Market, a Makers’ Market, a Kidsfest area and refreshments from vendors and local restaurants. 

On to other local news:

Pat Mitchell, Hala Moddelmog and Monique Ruff-Bell at June 5 meeting of the Rotary Club of Atlanta. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

TEDWomen making Atlanta home for next three years

The intersection of Atlanta and women will be in the spotlight from Oct. 11 to 13.

That’s when TEDWomen will convene up to 2,000 women from around the world in Atlanta to participate in one of the most impactful gatherings for ideas and action.

The TEDWomen conference will be held at the Woodruff Arts Center, and it will feature 40 to 45 speakers and performers over two-and-a-half days. TEDWomen has committed to hold its global conference in Atlanta for the next three years.

TEDWomen has a definite Atlanta theme. Pat Mitchell, who lives in Atlanta, championed the idea of TEDWomen in 2010, and she was finally successful in bringing the conference to her home city.

“It was the easiest decision for us to come here,” said Monique Ruff-Bell, head of events for TED Conferences, at the June 5 meeting of the Rotary Club of Atlanta. 

The TEDWomen conference “is about equity for all,” Ruff-Bell said. The theme of the 2023 event is “Two Steps Forward,” and Atlanta’s diverse population and leadership made it a good fit for the gathering.

TEDWomen brings together “wonderful women who are changing the world” and “showing different ways to lead,” Ruff-Bell added. “It’s a playground for the curious.”

Mitchell then gave two examples of Atlanta women who had spoken at previous TEDWomen conferences: Jasmine Crowe, creator of Goodr, a tech-enabled sustainable food waste management company that strives to eliminate hunger; and Maya Penn, 21, an animator, philanthropist, environmental activist, author and entrepreneur who is CEO of Maya’s Ideas. TEDWomen helped catapult both of them onto the global stage.

“I would love it if Atlanta had a really strong showing of men,” said Hala Moddelmog, CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center. 

People must apply to attend the conference. So far, Mitchell said about 500 applications have been approved.

“The best of the best on our stages. It’s a powerful, global platform,” Ruff-Bell said. “We want to immerse ourselves in the [Atlanta] community.”

— Maria Saporta

Furd Baby Cat and Furcedes Buddy have been adopted. (Courtesy of Pippi’s Place.)

Atlanta cat rescue receives grant from Carvana after purrfectly crafty online campaign

Pippi’s Place, an Atlanta-based cat rescue, recently received a spike in online attention thanks to a clever online campaign. Last week, a volunteer named Kayla rebranded the rescue’s website to “CATvana,” giving the adoptable kitties car-themed puns like Purrari and Furcedes.

The social media posts garnered quite a bit of attention and a few cats have been adopted, including Furd Baby Cat and Furcedes Buddy. A couple from Canada even hopped on a flight to pick up their new furry friend. A man in Germany has also pledged a matching donation for each of the nine kitties who were in the original post.

The posts also caught the Carvana team’s eye and they decided to supply the funds needed for a desperately needed washer and dryer for the rescue. The car company also pledged to clear the rescue’s Chewy wishlist and help cover some hefty vet bills – coming out to over $4,000 in donations.

“The Catvana campaign, and Carvana’s heartfelt response to the whole thing, has beautifully demonstrated that kindness and generosity continue to flourish,” Founder Vicki Grizzard wrote to SaportaReport.

— Hannah E. Jones

The website says, “[The] race is a Fun, Flat and FAST course along the banks of the Chattahoochee River!” (Courtesy of the Chattahoochee Nature Center.)

Possum Trot helps animals, education at Chattahoochee Nature Center

On Jun. 17, the 45th Annual Possum Trot 10K will take place to raise funds for the Chattahoochee River Nature Center (CNC) and help save animals in need.

Racers can choose to run along the banks of the Chattahoochee River or virtually. All proceeds from the race will benefit the center’s environmental education programs, which focus on the river, its watershed and wildlife rehabilitation efforts.

The CNC receives over 700 rehabilitation cases and over 3,500 inquiries about wildlife annually. 

To register, click here.  

— Allison Joyner

Clark Atlanta University
Clark Atlanta University. (Photo by Kelly Jordan.)

Clark Atlanta University hosting fellowship for young African leaders 

Beginning Jun. 21, Clark Atlanta University will host the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) as an Institute Partner for the tenth year.

The HBCU will welcome 25 fellows from 18 African countries for a six-week intensive leadership training program. 

The fellowship program, hosted by the U.S. State Department, will empower young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership development, mentoring, networking and local community engagement. It will also provide economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance and enhance peace and security across the continent. 

“The fellowship has already shown an impact in the fellow’s communities and countries that will be felt for generations to come,” said Dr. Mesfin Bezuneh, Interim Dean for the School of Business at CAU. 

The fellows plan to volunteer during the program with local nonprofits like The Atlanta Community Foodbank, The Metro Urban Farm and The Peachtree Road Race. 

— Allison Joyner

The 2023 Atlanta Student Leaders. (Photo courtesy of Bank of America.)

Bank of America announces five metro Atlanta students selected for paid internship

Bank of America recently selected five metro Atlanta high school students for its Student Leaders program. Through this initiative, the students will complete an eight-week paid internship working with a local nonprofit, the Eastlake Foundation.

In their new positions, the high school juniors and seniors will make $17 an hour. Later this summer, the students will travel for a week-long, expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. for a national leadership summit. There, the 300 Student Leaders from across the country will meet with each other and members of Congress while also discussing the importance of civic engagement.

The 2023 Atlanta Bank of America Student Leaders include:

  • Roland Foster III, Marietta, Pace Academy
  • MiCai Haywood, Fairburn, Westlake High School
  • Elsa Mathew-Lewis, Decatur, Decatur High School
  • Diya Rao, McDonough, Eagle’s Landing High School
  • Isabel Yang, Douglasville, Douglas County High School

“By providing the pathways and resources for young adults to gain the foundational work skills and leadership experience they need to succeed, we are investing in our community’s long-term economic growth,” Bank of America Atlanta President Al McRae wrote in a recent release. “The teens selected for this paid summer intern program are truly extraordinary but may not have had access to opportunities like this until now. The Student Leaders program is just one example of how we connect people to meaningful employment resources that also builds a stronger pipeline of diverse talent for our local workforce.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Emmy-nominated producer Will Packer. (Photo courtesy of SCAD.)

Packer challenges graduates to ‘change the world’ during SCAD commencement

Last month, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) held its 2023 commencement ceremony in both Savannah and Atlanta, celebrating their largest class in university history. 

More than 3,500 graduates received degrees and honorary degrees were presented to philanthropist and entrepreneur Stacy Leebern, actress and social media personality Tabitha Brown and Emmy-nominated producer Will Packer. 

“Perspectives have the power to change mindsets. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that right now — in the time we’re in — that ability to change minds, that’s the ability to save humanity,” said Packer, who gave the keynote address. “I’ve got one simple challenge for you, go out and change the world. Go out and shock the world. I dare you.”

Ninety-nine percent of last year’s graduates reported a success rate for being employed, pursuing further education or both within 10 months of graduation with careers working at top companies like Adobe, Deloitte, Delta Air Lines, Microsoft, Spotify and more. 

— Allison Joyner

(L to R) Beth Howell and Tracy Atwater.

Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities announces new President, CEO

Next month, the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) will welcome Tracey Atwater as the organization’s new President & CEO. On July 31, she will step into her new role, taking the reins from Beth Howell, who has led the organization since 2013.

Established in 1979, RMHC aims to transform pediatric healthcare access and experiences for families. Through its three core programs — the Ronald McDonald House, the Ronald McDonald Family Room and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile — Atlanta RMHC has served over 72,000 families.

Atwater most recently served as Executive Director of LiveSafe Resources, an organization that supports survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. She also serves as President of the WellStar Foundation and Foundation Administration Vice President at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“We are thrilled to have Tracey’s leadership as we enter the next exciting phase at Atlanta RMHC to support the growing demand for specialized medical treatment in Atlanta,” wrote Board Chair Grace Huang. “Atlanta RMHC is well-positioned for its next phase of growth and development as an organization, thanks to the strong and able leadership of Beth and the leadership team.”

Howell, outgoing President and CEO, also reflected fondly on the decade she spent at the helm of RMHC.

“The future remains brighter than ever for Atlanta RMHC, and I am thrilled to entrust this next phase to Tracey’s proven leadership and expertise during this pivotal point in the organization’s history,” Howell wrote in a recent release. “It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career to serve our families, and I will be forever passionate about the important work and mission of Atlanta RMHC.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is a 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...

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