Communities in Schools of Atlanta
As CEO of Communities in Schools of Atlanta, Frank Brown oversees the organization’s mission to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. CIS of Atlanta has programs in 65 public schools in Atlanta and Fulton, Clayton, and DeKalb Counties. Previously, Brown was the first executive director of the Butler Street Community Development Corporation (formerly the historic Butler Street YMCA) and director of civic engagement and activation at Points of Light.
Education: Johnson C. Smith University, University of South Carolina School of Law (JD)
Inspiring person: Thurgood Marshall
Toughest challenge: Restoring CIS of Atlanta back to prominence after the organization nearly closed in 2013
Few people know: I love practicing yoga.
What I’d tell a recent graduate: Life is more difficult if you’re not prepared to seize opportunities that present themselves.
Bucket list: To lead a national nonprofit that has impact across the country
Ed Chang is the founding director of RedefinED Atlanta, whose mission is to ensure a high-quality education for every student in the city. A longtime champion of public schools, Chang began his career as a physical therapist before entering the education profession as a seventh-grade science teacher. He spent five years teaching at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Southeast Atlanta before going on to found KIPP STRIVE Academy in 2009. Following that, Chang focused on coaching and strategy for school leaders and districts across the country.
Education: Washington University, Mercer University (MA), National Louis University (CAS)
Toughest challenge: My first year of teaching was simultaneously the most challenging and most rewarding time of my life.
Hidden talent: I won a mechanical-bull-riding contest once upon a time.
Favorite travel destination: Machu Picchu
Favorite Atlanta podcast: Everyday Dope
Teacher and Author
The Ron Clark Academy
“America’s educator” Ron Clark is the cofounder of the Ron Clark Academy, an Atlanta middle school that serves as a demonstration school for educational best practices—in the past 10 years, Clark and his staff have provided professional development for more than 85,000 educators. Known for his innovative teaching methods and work with children from various educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, Clark is the author of The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules For Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child.
Education: East Carolina University
Hometown: Chocowinity, North Carolina
Notable achievements: Andrew J. Young International Leadership Award (2017), NAACP President’s Award (2011)
Lesson learned: As long as I am helping others and seeking to be a good person, what others think isn’t worth a hill of beans.
Few people know: I won the Showcase Showdown on The Price Is Right.
Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education
Steve Dolinger became the third president of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education in 2002, leading the organization as it promotes education reform across the state through research and communication, including strong advocacy through its EdQuest Coalition. Dolinger previously served for seven years as superintendent of schools in Fulton County and was a teacher and administrator in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Education: Wake Forest University, George Mason University (EdM), Vanderbilt University (EdD)
Notable achievements: Georgia PTA Visionary Award (2010), Georgia Superintendent of the Year (2001), Georgia School Public Relations Association Leadership Award (2001)
First job: Concrete construction
Why I chose this work: I’ve always enjoyed helping prepare students for the next steps in their lives. Education is the ticket.
Best advice received: From a sergeant major in the U.S. Army Reserve: “Take care of your troops and the troops will take care of you.”
Stuart Gulley is the seventh president of Woodward Academy, the largest college-preparatory school in the continental U.S., with 2,400 students. Previously he served as president of LaGrange College, and before that in several administrative capacities at Emory University, including associate vice president for university development and church relations. An ordained United Methodist minister, Gulley is the author of The Academic President as Moral Leader: James T. Laney at Emory University, 1977-1993, published by Mercer University Press.
Education: Vanderbilt University, Emory University Candler School of Theology (MDiv), Georgia State University (PhD)
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
Why I chose this work: Education is crucial for the growth and development of individuals and communities. It is a privilege to be part of helping people and communities to become all they are meant to be.
Lesson learned: Being challenged is inevitable; being defeated is optional.
Favorite book: The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks
Lisa Nicole Herring became superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools in 2020. She came to APS from Birmingham City Schools, which she led through a significant transformation by stabilizing leadership, improving system performance, and increasing student achievement. Herring built strong civic and corporate partnerships to provide innovative and equitable opportunities for all students across the diverse Birmingham community. The Macon native also served as chief academic officer for Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky, a system with more than 100,000 students, where she successfully restructured the academic division and led the district’s strategic plan.
Education: Spelman College, University of South Carolina (EdM, EdS), Georgia Southern University (EdD)
Notable achivements: Helped launch the Birmingham Promise, which provides college tuition assistance and apprenticeship opportunities to local students, and Ed Farm, a public schools partnership with Apple, Alabama Power, TechBirmingham, and city leadership to build technology skills in students, teachers, and community members
Mike Looney became superintendent of Fulton County Schools in 2019, having served in similar positions in Williamson County, Tennessee, and Butler County, Alabama. Under his leadership in Butler County, the school district realized significant student achievement gains, improved the graduation rate, and established its first magnet school. A public educator since 1994, Looney has also been a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent. Prior to entering education, Looney was a finance manager and served for seven years in the U.S. Marines.
Education: Jacksonville State University (EdM), University of Alabama (EdS, EdD)
Notable achievements: Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) Superintendent of the Year (2016), Greenville, Alabama, Citizen of the Year (2008)
President and CEO
Georgia Charter Schools Association
As president and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association since 2007, Tony Roberts is the leading advocate for Georgia’s public charter schools. Under his leadership, Georgia’s voters approved a 2012 amendment giving birth to the State Charter Schools Commission, making Georgia the first in the nation to pass such a ballot issue. The number of charter schools has grown by 329 percent to 112, and students attending charters have grown by 232 percent to over 70,000 students.
Education: Carson-Newman College, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv, ThM, PhD)
First job: Working in a gas station in the days of full service to customers
Hidden talent: I can do plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work with the best of them. I own two power nailers, for instance!
Hobbies: Collecting and playing vinyl records and turntables, travel, home improvement
Favorite book: The Power of Intention by Wayne W. Dyer
J. Alvin Wilbanks
Superintendent and CEO
Gwinnett County Public Schools
J. Alvin Wilbanks has been superintendent and CEO of Gwinnett County Public Schools since 1996. Under his leadership, the district has earned recognition as an Advanced Placement District of the Year and twice won the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which recognizes urban school districts nationally making the greatest strides in raising student achievement and reducing education gaps. An education leader in the state and nation, Wilbanks was the first chairman of the Georgia Education Coalition, formed in 2006 to give districts a unified voice on education funding and policy, and the founding president of Gwinnett Technical College in 1984.
Education: Georgia State University, University of Georgia (EdM)
Hometown: Nicholson, Georgia
Notable achievements: Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award (2008), Georgia Superintendent of the Year (2005), National Superintendent of the Year Finalist (2005)
Mark P. Becker
Georgia State University
Since becoming president in 2009, Mark Becker has led Georgia State University through a period of growth and transformation. In a consolidation with Georgia Perimeter College in 2016, GSU increased its student population to more than 53,000, making it the largest university in Georgia and one of the largest nationwide. Also one of the most diverse universities in the U.S., GSU has set records for its graduation rates and is recognized for eliminating disparities in student achievement based on race, ethnicity, and income.
Education: Towson State University, Pennsylvania State University (PhD)
Hometown: Havre de Grace, Maryland
Why I chose this work: I wanted to assure American higher education would continue to be an engine of opportunity.
Hobbies: Cycling, ice climbing, mountaineering
What I’d tell a recent graduate: Big Dreams + Hard Work = Opportunity
Raheem Beyah is Georgia Tech’s vice president for interdisciplinary research, executive director of the online masters of cybersecurity program, and a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. An internationally recognized expert in the areas of cyber-physical systems security, network monitoring, and network security, Beyah has secured millions of dollars to support his research program at Georgia Tech, served as associate editor or guest editor for numerous journals in his field of expertise, and published more than 140 technical articles concerning security and networking. The Atlanta native is also the cofounder of the industrial security company Fortiphyd Logic.
Education: North Carolina A&T State University, Georgia Tech (MS, PhD)
Few people know: I’m a huge fan of mindfulness meditation.
Toughest challenge: The myth of meritocracy
Hobbies: Weight training
Favorite book: Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin
In 2019 Ángel Cabrera became the 12th president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, one of the leading and most research-intense public universities in the nation. During his first year as president, he steered the institution through the Covid-19 pandemic and produced a new strategic plan focused on impact, access, and inclusive innovation. Previously Cabrera served a seven-year stint as president of George Mason University. From 2004 to 2012 he was president of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, which is now part of Arizona State University. Born in Madrid, Cabrera is the first native of Spain to serve as president of an American university.
Education: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Georgia Tech (MS, PhD)
Why I chose this work: Education is the best tool we have to shape the world for the better. I have always been an educator at heart and have always known I would be in education one way or another.
Notable achievements: Carnegie Corporation of New York Great Immigrant (2017), Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow (2008), Businessweek Star of Europe (2004)
James Curran, MD
Dean and Professor
Emory University Rollins School of Public Health
Before becoming dean of Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health in 1995, James Curran spent 25 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reaching the rank of assistant surgeon general. In 1981 he was tapped to lead the investigation into the first cases of a mysterious new disease now known as AIDS. The author of nearly 300 scientific publications, Curran led the CDC’s research and public health activities in response to the worldwide HIV/AIDS pandemic. Curran is also codirector of the Emory Center for AIDS Research. In 2009 the Rollins School’s dean of public health position was named the James W. Curran Dean of Public Health in his honor.
Education: University of Notre Dame, Harvard University (MPH), University of Michigan (MD)
In 2020 Gregory L. Fenves became the 21st president of Emory University, joining the school from the University of Texas at Austin, where he had served as president for the previous five years. During Fenves’s 12 years in leadership at UT Austin, including a stint as dean of the engineering school, the university recruited world-class faculty while retaining an impressive network of current faculty, broadened cross-disciplinary research, and significantly increased extramural research funding. As president, Fenves strengthened graduate education and resources; 48 graduate programs at UT Austin are now ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Education: Cornell University, University of California, Berkeley (MS, PhD)
First job: My first real job was as a computer programmer in 1974, back when computers took up the entire room.
Favorite movie: Annie Hall
Favorite travel destination: Paris
Facorite Atlanta podcast: Buried Truths on WABE, hosted by Emory’s own Hank Klibanoff
In 2019, George T. French Jr. became the fifth president of Clark Atlanta University, the largest United Negro College Fund institution in the country. Prior to his appointment, French served for 13 years as the president of Miles College. A nationally recognized leader in higher education and educational policy, French has served three secretaries of education under two presidents as a congressional appointee to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. He is a three-term board member for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges.
Education: University of Louisville, Miles Law School (JD), Jackson State University (PhD)
Notable achievements: Under French’s leadership Clark Atlanta University has exponentially exceeded all fundraising records in the history of the university; maintained stable enrollment in the midst of the global pandemic; and developed corporate and community relationships to position the university for unprecedented growth. His awards include Birmingham Spotlight Man of the Year, NAACP Man of the Year, and the Higher Education Leadership Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Professor, Urban Studies Institute
Georgia State University
Dan Immergluck, a professor in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, is the author of four books, more than 60 scholarly articles, numerous book chapters, and scores of research reports. An expert on housing, neighborhood change, real estate, and community development, he’s been a consultant to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Justice, testified several times before Congress, and served as a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Education: Northwestern University, University of Michigan (MPP), University of Illinois at Chicago (PhD)
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Why I chose this work: I have a passion for making cities more just and equitable.
Toughest challenge: Raising teenagers
Few people know: I once wrote a press release for Illinois state senator Barack Obama.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Buford Highway
Morris Brown College
In 2020 Kevin James became the 19th president of Morris Brown College, a historically Black college founded in 1881, where he had been interim president since 2019. James is responsible for the leadership and management of all aspects of college operations and for the college’s strategic direction. A native of Columbia, South Carolina, James has served in various executive-level roles in higher education and within the nonprofit sector; immediately prior to joining Morris Brown, he was interim CEO of 100 Black Men of America, whose mission is to improve the quality of life and enhance educational and economic opportunities for all African Americans.
Education: South Carolina State University, Winthrop University, Troy University (MS), Nova Southeastern University (EdD)
First job: Cook at McDonald’s
Best advice received: If possible, find a way to say yes.
Toughest challenge: Resurrecting Morris Brown College, the first HBCU in history to earn its accreditation back 20 years after losing it
A global leader in environmental health, Linda A. McCauley is the dean of Emory University’s Woodruff School of Nursing. For over 20 years, McCauley has spearheaded innovative research on children’s environmental health, vulnerable workers and occupational health, environmental justice, and the impacts of climate change on human health. She currently cochairs the National Academy of Medicine’s Committee on Primary Care. In 2020 McCauley was named to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee and received an honorary fellowship in the Royal Academy of Nursing for the international impact of her work.
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (MSN), University of Cincinnati (PhD)
Hometown: High Point, North Carolina
Inspiring person: My mother was a nurse and I grew up seeing how her work was such a defining factor of who she was.
Hidden talent: Played women’s soccer 30 years ago
Valerie Montgomery Rice is the sixth president of Morehouse School of Medicine and the first woman to hold the position. Before joining Morehouse in 2011 as executive vice president, Montgomery Rice was founding director of the Center for Women’s Health Research at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, one of the nation’s first research centers devoted to studying diseases that disproportionately affect women of color. An infertility specialist and researcher, she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2016.
Education: Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School (MD)
Hometown: Macon, Georgia
Notable achievements: Atlanta Business League Visions of Excellence Award (2018), Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Horatio Alger Award (2017), Trumpet Awards Foundation Vanguard Award (2015), American Medical Women’s Association Elizabeth Blackwell Medal (2011)
Jere W. Morehead
University of Georgia
Jere W. Morehead became the University of Georgia’s 22nd president in 2013. Previously he held other key administrative roles, including senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. Morehead has been a faculty member of the Terry College of Business since 1986, coauthored several books, and published scholarly articles on legal topics ranging from export controls to jury selection. He was an assistant U.S. attorney from 1980 to 1986.
Education: Georgia State University, University of Georgia School of Law (JD)
Hometown: Lakeland, Florida
Notable achievements: University of Georgia Josiah Meigs Award for Excellence in Teaching (2001), University of Georgia Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1995), Terry College of Business Teacher of the Year Award (1988, 1998)
What I’d tell a recent graduate: Never compromise your integrity or trust.
Charities: Student scholarships
Loretta Parham is the CEO and library director at Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, shared by Clark Atlanta University, Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. Under Parham’s leadership, the library received the Association of College & Research Libraries’ 2016 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award, and in 2017 Parham was honored as ACRL’s Academic/Research Librarian of the Year. With more than 30 years of experience in the field, Parham has also been director of the library at Virginia’s Hampton University, deputy director of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and district chief of the Chicago Public Library.
Education: Wittenberg University, Southern Illinois University, University of Michigan (MLIS)
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
First job: Cross-reference editor with World Book Encyclopedia, which required me to read an entire set (24 volumes) to search for blind (inaccurate) “see and see also” references in articles
Favorite book: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Mary Schmidt Campbell became the 10th president of Spelman College in 2015. A major cultural force in New York City before moving to Atlanta, Campbell began her career at the Studio Museum in Harlem, serving for 10 years as director. In 1987 she became the city’s cultural affairs commissioner, followed by more than two decades as dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Campbell vice chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She is the author of the award-winning biography An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden.
Education: Swarthmore College, Syracuse University (MA, PhD)
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Toughest challenge: Spelman’s number one goal is to graduate 100 percent of the women who enroll. As a college community our challenge is to find a successful pathway to graduation and a lifetime of career possibilities for each and every one of our 2,100 students.
Hobbies: Skiing, travel, writing, arts
Favorite travel destinations: New York and my home in Montana
Atlanta Technical College
Victoria Seals became the sixth president of Atlanta Technical College in 2016. Previously she worked at Gwinnett Technical College, which she joined in 2005 as a mathematics instructor and left as vice president of academic affairs. Seals began her teaching career in Athens, where she worked for the public school system and Athens Technical College, and also served as assistant coach for the Clarke Central High School girls’ basketball program. In 2020, Seals was recognized as CEO of the Year for the Southern Region of the Association of Community College Trustees.
Education: Spelman College, University of Georgia (MA, EdS, EdD)
Hometown: Norwood, Georgia
Inspiring person: My father, Mr. Tommie Seals. His advice to me at an early age—“Never settle” and “You are the best”—continues to inspire and motivate me daily.
Hidden talent: I am a grill master!
Hobbies: Puzzles, creating photo books
Favorite movie: Tombstone
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Sweet Auburn Historic District
Jagdish N. Sheth is the Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Business at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. The author or coauthor of numerous books and hundreds of scholarly papers, Sheth is known globally for his work in consumer behavior, relationship marketing, competitive strategy, and geopolitical analysis. He has over 50 years of combined experience in teaching and research, including at the University of Southern California, Columbia University, and MIT. Sheth and his wife, Madhu Sheth, established the Sheth Family Foundation to support charities in the U.S. and India. In 2020 Sheth received the Padma Bhushan award, one of the highest civilian honors bestowed by the Indian government.
Education: Loyola College, University of Pittsburgh (MBA, PhD)
Hometown: Chennai, India
Why I chose this work: I chose the field of marketing and consumer behavior because I was very interested in what motivated consumers to buy certain products and brands. I was also interested in globalization and the impact of geopolitical dynamics on markets, trade, and investments.
David A. Thomas
In 2018 David A. Thomas became the 12th president of Morehouse College. Under his leadership, Morehouse raised $107 million last fiscal year—more than any other president in the history of the college. Morehouse has also expanded its profile as a national center for thought leadership on civil rights. Thomas has used his platform as president of Morehouse to speak out against injustice as the nation faces two pandemics—Covid-19 and the persistence of systemic racism. With more than 30 years of experience in the business of higher education, Thomas has served as a professor and executive leader at mostly Ivy League institutions.
Education: Yale College, Columbia University (MA), Yale University (MPhil, PhD)
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Notable achievements: Nationally known for his research on managing diversity in the workplace, Thomas has written two books and numerous academic articles.
Paula S. Wallace
President and Founder
Savannah College of Art and Design
Paula Wallace founded the Savannah College of Art and Design in 1978, and as president has led the school’s expansion to locations in Atlanta and France, and pioneered SCAD eLearning. With more than 100 academic degree programs and almost 15,000 currently enrolled students, SCAD has prepared more than 43,000 alumni for creative professions worldwide. Over the decades, Wallace has emerged as an entrepreneur in both higher education and the art world, and her work in industries from fashion to user-experience design has been heralded across the globe. In addition to other awards, the French Embassy appointed Wallace a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, the Georgia Historical Society named her a Georgia Trustee, the City of Atlanta presented her with a Phoenix Award, the City of Savannah awarded her a key to the city, and DesignIntelligence named her to its 30 Most Admired Educators.
Education: Furman University, Georgia State University (EdM, EdS)
Since Pamela Whitten became president of Kennesaw State University in 2018, the university has experienced record-breaking enrollment, now counting more than 41,000 students. As president, Whitten has made improving student education and experience her top priority by expanding engaged learning opportunities, initiating new faculty and adviser hiring, and raising funds for student scholarships. With KSU’s designation as an R2 research university, Whitten is also strengthening the research capacity of the university.
Education: Tulane University, University of Kentucky (MA), University of Kansas (PhD)
University System of Georgia
As the 14th chancellor of the University System of Georgia, Steve Wrigley oversees 26 public colleges and universities with a $9.6 billion annual budget, 48,000 faculty and staff, and more than 333,000 students. He has focused on three core goals: affordability, efficiency, and graduating more students. Before becoming chancellor in 2017, Wrigley served as executive vice chancellor of administration. Previously, as chief of staff to former governor Zell Miller, he helped create the Georgia Lottery and HOPE scholarship.
Education: Georgia State University, Northwestern University (MA, PhD)
Hometown: Hutchinson, Kansas
Notable achievements: Reduced administrative costs by $32 million; increased the number of students earning degrees and held tuition steady in 2018-2019
First job: Mowing grass
Why I chose this work: Higher education changed my life.
Best advice received: Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
Leocadia I. Zak was appointed the ninth president of Agnes Scott College in 2018, and under her leadership the school has achieved record enrollment, launched graduate programs, and been recognized for three years in a row as the most innovative national liberal arts college in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Zak has an extensive background in international economic development and international project finance. In 2010 she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. Zak first joined the agency in 2000; prior to entering public service, she was an attorney in Boston for 18 years.
Education: Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University School of Law (JD)
Hometown: Lynn, Massachusetts
Notable achievements: Under Zak’s leadership, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency was recognized for five consecutive years as one of the best places to work in the federal government, as measured by the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.
First job: Working in a veterinary clinic
President and CEO
Saint Joseph’s Health System and Mercy Care
In 2003 Tom Andrews became president of Mercy Care, a healthcare provider that serves Atlanta’s homeless population, and in 2012 he was named president and CEO of Saint Joseph’s Health System, which comprises Mercy Care, Mercy Care Foundation, and Mercy Care Rome. Recognized for his leadership in combating tuberculosis, Andrews was previously president of the consulting firm Independent Physician Strategies.
Education: Ohio State University
Why I chose this work: I was drawn to healthcare at a very young age when I witnessed my mother die unnecessarily due to the nonmanagement of a chronic disease.
Few people know: I love dogs. I want to buy a farm and adopt 100 of them.
Best advice received: Always do the right thing.
Toughest challenge: Losing my mother at age 12
Hobbies: Tennis, golf, hiking
President and CEO
Kevin Brown joined Piedmont Healthcare as president and CEO in 2013. Formerly, he was CEO of Swedish Health Services in Seattle. Under his leadership, Piedmont has become the largest healthcare system in Georgia, doubling in size since 2015 with more than 600 locations, including 11 hospitals. The Piedmont Clinic has also expanded from 800 to more than 2,300 physicians. In the last three years, among other clinical improvements, Piedmont has reduced its hospital-acquired infections by 69 percent. Brown has been an advocate for transparency. Piedmont was among the first hospitals to post online patient reviews and emergency room wait times, allow patients to schedule appointments online, and offer a 24-7 virtual care app.
Education: University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Arizona State University (MHSA)
Why I chose this work: I purposely chose the nonprofit side of healthcare because, at the end of the day, we are here to make a positive difference for our patients without having to worry about shareholder interests. I also grew up in the industry. My father was a rural hospital CEO and my mother was a nurse practitioner.
Carol H. Burrell has served as president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System since 2011. Under her leadership, Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, the system’s flagship hospital, has garnered state and national acclaim, including recognition by Healthgrades as one of the country’s 50 Best Hospitals. Burrell also led the construction of NGMC Braselton, the state’s first new hospital in 20 years that wasn’t a replacement or a relocation, and helped the system acquire its third hospital, NGMC Barrow, in 2017. In 2018 she was an Atlanta Business Chronicle Women Who Mean Business honoree. Georgia Trend named her its Most Respected Business Leader in 2017 and, for six years in a row, has placed her on a list of 100 Most Influential Georgians.
Education: Georgia Southern University, Emory University, Central Michigan University (MHA)
Hometown: Carl, Georgia
First job: Teaching private piano lessons
Best advice recieved: Sometimes in life, you are going to have to choose between doing something that will make people like you or respect you. Always choose respect.
Hobbies: Traveling, cooking, lake activities
Walter J. Curran Jr. is the executive director of Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute, the first and only cancer center in Georgia designated by the National Cancer Institute; Curran is also the first radiation oncologist to serve as director of an NCI-designated cancer center. A widely regarded expert on the management of patients with locally advanced lung cancer and malignant brain tumors, he’s been a principal investigator on numerous NCI grants and currently serves as a group chair and principal investigator of NRG Oncology—the largest of the five NCI-funded National Clinical Trials Network groups. Curran is also a professor in and chair of Emory’s Department of Radiation Oncology. Previously he was a professor and chair of radiation oncology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and clinical director of Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center.
Education: Dartmouth College, Medical College of Georgia (MD)
Carlos del Rio is a distinguished professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and a professor of global health and epidemiology at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. He serves as the executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System, and is the codirector and principal investigator at the Emory Center for AIDS Research. Del Rio is the foreign secretary of the National Academy of Medicine, chair of the PEPFAR Scientific Advisory Board, and a member of the UNAIDS Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee. Before joining the Emory faculty in 1996, del Rio was executive director of CONASIDA, the agency of the Mexican government responsible for AIDS policy.
Education: Instituto Cumbres, Universidad La Salle (MD)
Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
Inspiring person: Dr. Bill Foege, whose advice throughout my public health career has been invaluable
Favorite movie: Casablanca
Favorite travel destination: Paris
Charities: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
As chief of the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Douglas Graham helps recruit cancer and hematology researchers who will be able to guide the development of new treatments for pediatric hematology/oncology patients. A physician-scientist with clinical expertise in the treatment of children with leukemia, Graham is involved in children’s oncology and has assisted in the implementation of national clinical trials in pediatric cancer. He leads a research lab developing novel therapeutics for pediatric cancer and has helped develop a new cancer drug that’s in clinical trials at the Emory School of Medicine.
Education: Wake Forest University, University of North Carolina (MD, PhD)
Hometown: Carthage, North Carolina
Hidden talent: Play alto saxophone
Hobbies: Tennis, Hiking
Favorite book: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Bucket list: See the northern lights
Gulshan Harjee is the chief medical officer at Clarkston Community Health Center, a nonprofit free health clinic serving the immigrant, refugee, and uninsured populations of metro Atlanta. Following three decades in private practice, Harjee cofounded CCHC in 2013 and committed herself to it fully in 2016. The clinic has since served more than 10,000 patients, provided free mammograms, insulin, and dental care to asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants, and offered educational experiences to hundreds of area medical and nursing students. Harjee oversees clinical operations and quality of care while forging new collaborations with medical training programs and spearheading a capital campaign.
Education: Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine (MD)
First job: “Doc in a box” in Toco Hills
Hometown: I was raised on a sisal farm in a Karanga village of 500 about an hour from the town of Moshi, Tanzania.
Toughest challenge: The sudden death of my 52-year-old husband by senseless gun violence in 1999
Patrice A. Harris, MD
Immediate Past President
American Medical Association
In 2020, Atlanta psychiatrist Patrice Harris completed her one-year term as the 174th president of the American Medical Association; she was the first African American woman to hold the position. Harris has held numerous leadership positions in the AMA, the American Psychiatric Association, the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, and the Medical Association of Georgia. She was also founding president of the Georgia Psychiatry Political Action Committee. As former chief health officer for Fulton County, Harris spearheaded efforts to integrate public health, behavioral health, and primary care.
Education: West Virginia University (MA), West Virginia University School of Medicine (MD)
Hometown: Bluefield, West Virginia
Few people know: I was a majorette/twirler in junior high and high school.
Lesson learned: Leaders often stand between the “no longer” and the “not yet.” They must remain humble. It is about the work, not the title.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Mercedes-Benz Stadium on a Sunday
John M. Haupert
President and CEO
Grady Health System
As president and CEO of Grady Health System since 2011, John Haupert leads the safety-net healthcare system that serves DeKalb and Fulton Counties and operates the primary Level I trauma center and burn center for metro Atlanta. Previously chief operating officer at Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, Haupert began his career in healthcare management at Dallas’s Methodist Health System, where he became president of one of the system’s hospitals and executive vice president for corporate services and business development.
Education: Trinity University (MS)
Hometown: Fort Smith, Arkansas
Notable achievements: Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, recipient of the ACHE Regent’s Award, 2018-2019 board chair of the Georgia Hospital Association, former board chair of America’s Essential Hospitals
First job: Working in a warehouse, unloading semitrucks filled with 500-pound oil drums for $1.93 an hour
Favorite travel destination: Sante Fe, New Mexico
Monica A. Hum, MD
Colorectal Surgeon, Managing Partner, and Founder
ATL Colorectal Surgery
Monica Hum is managing partner of ATL Colorectal Surgery, a specialized practice she started and expanded within 10 years to a partnership of five high-volume surgeons. She is the first female physician elected as president of the medical staff of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, a member of the Piedmont Healthcare board and the MD Anderson Cancer Network, and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons. A native of New York, Hum began practicing in Atlanta in 2003 after fellowship training at the Cleveland Clinic Florida and general surgery residency at Saint Luke’s–Roosevelt Hospital.
Education: Boston University, Emory University Goizueta School of Business (MBA), State University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine (MD)
Notable achievements: The first to perform several endoscopic surgeries at Piedmont
First job: Soda girl
Why I chose this work: During my freshman year in college, my mother quit smoking. One year later, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She died during my senior year.
Donna W. Hyland
President and CEO
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Donna Hyland has overseen monumental growth and achievement at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, first as chief financial officer, then as chief operating officer, and now as president and CEO. She was instrumental in the 1998 merger of Egleston Children’s Health Care System and Scottish Rite Children’s Medical Center, and the later additions of Hughes Spalding and Marcus Autism Center, into what is now one of the largest pediatric healthcare systems in the country.
Education: Western Kentucky University
First job: An intern for a judge
Favorite books: Patrick Lencioni’s leadership books
Favorite travel destination: Italy or the beach
What I’d tell a recent graduate: Try new experiences and push yourself to keep learning.
As executive director, Kim Jones is responsible for the strategic management and financial operations of NAMI Georgia, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of mental health. Since taking the helm in 2015, Jones has built stronger relationships with affiliates, leaders, and members throughout the state to support NAMI Georgia’s efforts to help families and individuals seeking recovery from mental illness. She is also a cofounder of the Georgia Mental Health Policy Partnership. Previously Jones was part of the senior-level management team of Goodwill of North Georgia. She has 25 years of experience in nonprofit management, education, training, marketing, and business development, and served for more than eight years as a mayoral appointee to Dacula’s Planning and Zoning Board. In 2019 she was appointed by Speaker of the House David Ralston to the state’s Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission, where she sits on the Hospital and Short-Term Stay Subcommittee.
Education: University of Georgia
Hometown: Dunwoody, Georgia
Best advice received: What gets measured gets done.
Jonathan S. Lewin, MD
EVP, Health Affairs
CEO and board chair
Jonathan Lewin, a radiologist and pioneer in interventional and intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging, came to Emory University in 2016 as executive vice president for health affairs and as president, CEO, and board chair of Emory Healthcare. An inventor on more than 35 patents related to MR technology, he has published more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts. Previously he was senior vice president of integrated healthcare delivery for Johns Hopkins Medicine and radiology chair at Johns Hopkins University.
Education: Brown University, Yale School of Medicine (MD)
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Why I chose this work: There is no privilege greater than the opportunity to improve human health and well-being.
First job: Movie theater usher (at the age of 14!)
Hidden talent: Playing jazz saxophone
What I’d tell a recent graduate: Never waste the opportunity to make someone feel valued and respected.
Sarah A. Morrison is president and CEO of Shepherd Center, which she joined in 1984. Since then she’s held a variety of leadership roles, including vice president of clinical services, director of the Spinal Cord Injury Program, director of the medical/surgical and ICU programs, manager of the Spinal Cord Injury Day Program, physical therapist, and physical therapy supervisor. Morrison has written many peer-reviewed publications, presented nationally and internationally, and participated in research studies; in 2003 she received the award for Clinical Excellence in Neurology from the Neurology Section of the American Physical Therapy Association.
Education: University of Miami, Georgia State University (MBA, MHA)
Hometown: Fredonia, New York
Why I chose this work: While on the University of Miami diving team, I injured my back severely enough to be in a body cast for nine months. During my recovery, I underwent physical therapy and realized what I wanted to do with my life—help others recover.
First job: Baskin-Robbins
Robert Quattrocchi is president and CEO of the Northside Hospital health system, which provides care to more than 4.6 million patients annually; Quattrocchi oversees a system comprising five nonprofit hospitals, more than 3,900 physicians, and more than 24,000 employees. In 2017 the Atlanta Business Chronicle named Quattrocchi one of the area’s Most Admired CEOs, and he was included in a list of the country’s top 100 CEOs in the 2019 Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards. He was also one of the 25 best CEOs of 2020, ranked by female employees across large companies, on the career website Comparably. Quattrocchi has been part of Northside Hospital’s senior management team since 1987; prior to assuming the top job in 2004, he served as chief operating officer and executive vice president of finance and administration, chief financial officer, and director of fiscal services.
Robert Redfield, a virologist with expertise in HIV/AIDS, is director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. He was founding director of the Department of Retroviral Research in the U.S. Military HIV Research Program, and he cofounded the University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology. Redfield made important early contributions to the scientific understanding of HIV, including the demonstration of active HIV replication in all stages of infection.
Education: Georgetown University, Georgetown University School of Medicine (MD)
Notable achievements: Past member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (2005-2009) and advisory boards within the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration
Candice L. Saunders
President and CEO
WellStar Health System
As president and CEO of Wellstar Health System, Candice Saunders oversees one of the largest and most integrated health systems in Georgia, with 25,000 employees and 11 hospitals. Under her leadership, Wellstar opened the nation’s second-largest and busiest emergency department, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, during the height of the pandemic; established the state’s largest multilevel trauma network; and has navigated through one of the most challenging periods in healthcare history. Saunders also led Wellstar to embark on an 18-month listening and learning journey to redefine the standard for Georgia healthcare. From this, Wellstar launched the new brand campaign “More Than Healthcare. PeopleCare.” in February 2020.
Education: University of South Florida, University of Alabama at Birmingham (MBA, MHA)
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
First job: Administrative assistant
Notable achievements: Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Georgia Hospital Association W. Daniel Barker Leadership Award (2017), National Association of Female Executives Healthcare Champion (2015)
Anne Schuchat, MD
Principal Deputy Director
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
First joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1988 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, Anne Schuchat has filled a number of leadership roles within the organization, including acting director; she’s currently principal deputy director. The author of more than 230 scientific articles, chapters, and reviews, Schuchat has played key roles in CDC emergency responses including to the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic and the 2003 SARS outbreak in China. She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2008.
Education: Swarthmore College, Dartmouth Medical School (MD)
Toughest challenge: Testing an Ebola vaccine in Sierra Leone in the midst of an epidemic
Few people know: Hiked the length of Vermont (on the long trail) after high school
Who’d play me in a biopic: Kate Winslet already did (see Contagion).
Pamela Stahl is the president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, and has more than 25 years of experience across the healthcare spectrum. She joined Anthem in 2018 as vice president of the company’s sales operations and effectiveness team; previously she served as chief commercial officer for InVivo Therapeutics, a biomaterials and biotechnology company. Stahl has also held leadership positions at UnitedHealth Group, Merck, Astra Merck, AstraZeneca, Orphan Medical (acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals), and American TeleCare.
Education: Saint Olaf College
Notable achievement: Built the marketing and sales organization for the first in-home, video-based telemedicine company in the U.S. two decades ago
Hidden talent: I know how to bake a pretty darn good gingersnap cookie. My mother took first place at the Nebraska State Fair many years ago with this family recipe.
Hobbies: I love interior design. We bought a charming house in Atlanta that was built in 1938, and that gives me plenty of opportunity to dream about possibilities.
Bassam Tomeh became the CEO of First Medical Care after acquiring the practice from his mentor, Dr. Gulshan Harjee. Tomeh, whose practice serves refugees and immigrants from Middle Eastern, African, and Asian countries with cultural sensitivity and care, has a special interest in disease prevention and primary care for ages 15 and up. An Atlanta native, Tomeh serves as an active voting member on the Emory Healthcare Board of Managers and Dekalb Physicians Hospital Organization board and is an active member and a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a member of the National Arab American Medical Association. He was an assistant professor at Mercer University School of Medicine.
Education: Emory University, Medical College of Georgia (MD)
Inspiring people: My father, Dr. Mohammed Tomeh, and Dr. Gulshan Harjee. These two invaluable public servants taught me that it is vitally important to be an active part of our patients’ lives and that compassion and commitment should be foremost in our daily work.
Charities: Al Farooq Masid of Atlanta and RAKSHA, which advocates for the South Asian community
As commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, Kathleen E. Toomey oversees 159 county health departments in 18 health districts and has helped lead the response to the coronavirus pandemic in Georgia, fostering critical partnerships with hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare organizations, business leaders, the agricultural community, and statewide public health and community organizations. Prior to her appointment as commissioner in 2019, Toomey was director of Fulton County’s Department of Health and Wellness. She is an epidemiologist and board-certified family practitioner with a long career in national and global public health, including a stint as Botswana country director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Education: Smith College, Harvard Medical School (MD), Harvard School of Public Health (MPH)
Why I chose this work: The work I am doing now represents the culmination of nearly 40 years of public health service and commitment to improve community health in the United States and globally.
Favorite travel destinations: Peru, Botswana
Mary L. Wilson is president and executive medical director of the Southeast Permanente Medical Group, one of Georgia’s largest multispecialty medical groups, with more than 700 clinicians caring for over 300,000 Kaiser Permanente members statewide. Wilson is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Previously she served as area medical director for the Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center in Los Angeles. Wilson has also served with nonprofits in support of victims of domestic violence, and on overseas medical mission trips.
Education: Colorado College, University of Washington (MD), University of California, Los Angeles (MPH)
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Notable achievement: Having the opportunity to lead physicians in the delivery of high-quality, evidence-based medicine that improves the health of our members and our communities
Brant Woodward is the executive vice president of the American Cancer Society’s Southeast Region, serving Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, Puerto Rico, and Virginia. As the region’s most senior staff executive, Woodward drives development and implementation of the ACS’s mission and engages corporate executives, high-level donors, and leadership volunteers in furthering the fight against cancer. Woodward started his career with the ACS in 1994 and has filled a number of roles in the organization, including income development vice president, regional vice president, and most recently senior vice president of operations for the East Central Division.
Educaction: Elon University
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Few people know: I’m not a bad juggler, traditional and soccer.
Notable achievement: Provided leadership in the building or expansion of 5 Hope Lodges throughout the country
Inspiring person: My father, who is battling cancer for the third time
Vonda Wright is the inaugural chief of sports medicine at the Northside Hospital Orthopedic Institute. A board-certified orthopedic surgeon and internationally recognized authority on active aging and mobility, Wright is the founding director of the Performance and Research Initiative for Masters Athletes (PRIMA) at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she was the inaugural medical director of the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Wright cares for athletes and active people of all ages and skill levels, including members of the Georgia State Panthers, Olympic track and field athletes, and dancers in the Atlanta Ballet.
Eduaction: Wheaton College, Rush-Presbyterian-Saint Luke’s Medical Center (MS), University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine (MD)
Notable achievements: Writing Fitness After 40 (2008) and creating a nonprofit, Women’s Health Conversations
William Foege, MD, MPH
Considered a titan of epidemiology, Dr. William Foege was instrumental in the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. At Emory University, he holds the title of Emeritus Presidential Distinguished Professor of International Health, in addition to being a Gates Fellow and former Carter Center leader.
David Satcher, MD, PhD
A renowned physician, public health leader, and scholar, Dr. David Satcher is best known for serving as the 16th U.S. Surgeon General. Prior to that, he was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is the founding director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine.
Shepherd and husband Harold cofounded Atlanta’s Shepherd Center in 1975.
The facility has grown from a six-bed unit to a world-renowned hospital specializing in research, medical treatment, and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and brain injuries and other neurological conditions.
Louis W. Sullivan, MD
With the exception of his four-year tenure as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which ended in 1993, Dr. Louis Sullivan was president of Morehouse School of Medicine for more than 20 years. Today he’s the chairman and CEO of the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions.
A noted scholar, teacher, author, administrator, and race relations expert, Tatum was the ninth president of Spelman College. Tatum is a licensed clinical psychologist with an MA and PhD from the University of Michigan, as well as an MA in religious studies from Hartford Seminary, and is the author of the acclaimed 1997 book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race.
A champion of education and literacy, Emory Law graduate and former high school teacher Comer Yates has served since 1998 as executive director of the Atlanta Speech School. Yates also serves as chair of the Georgia Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons.