Chief Executive, North America
Jimmy Etheredge is Accenture’s CEO of North America and a member of the company’s Global Management Committee. Prior to assuming his current role in September 2019, he was senior managing director, U.S. Southeast, responsible for 10 states. In that role, he extended Accenture’s innovation hub network, including creating a new hub at Georgia Tech. An advocate of inclusive innovation, Etheredge expanded Accenture’s professional apprenticeship program to Atlanta and metro D.C., creating new pathways for workers of all skill levels to thrive in the digital economy.
Education: Georgia Tech
Notable achievements: Atlanta Business Chronicle Most Admired CEO (2018), led Accenture in championing the Safe Harbor Amendment in 2016
First job: Lifeguard
Best advice received: Be present, stay in the moment. Focus on the conversation, issue, or task at hand. Yoga helps too!
Who’d play me in a biopic: Bubba Watson
Bucket list: Snowboarding in Japan
Deloitte & Touche
With more than 30 years of experience in professional services, Ed Heys is the Atlanta and Birmingham managing partner of Deloitte & Touche, responsible for strategy, operations, talent, and business development for the multistate practice. He oversees more than 2,500 Deloitte professionals based in Georgia and Alabama. As lead client service partner and advisory partner, Heys is responsible for managing relationships with some of Deloitte’s most significant clients in the region. Deloitte is one of the world’s largest consulting firms.
Education: University of Georgia
Atlanta Managing Partner
As Atlanta managing partner for professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, Kevin Kelly counts almost three decades of experience working in a variety of sectors with large public and private consumer and industrial products, real estate, and higher education entities, both domestic and international. He has credentials in SEC accounting and reporting, initial and secondary equity offerings, and debt financings and refinancings. Prior to coming to Atlanta, he was a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Birmingham for 11 years.
Education: Auburn University
Managing Partner and CEO
Richard Kopelman serves as CEO and managing partner of Aprio, a nationally recognized, CPA-led business advisory firm. With more than 25 years of experience in public accounting, Kopelman has earned a reputation for providing clients, from start-ups to billion-dollar enterprises, with the highest level of service. Recently Kopelman has directed several strategic combinations for Aprio, expanding the firm into the Charlotte, Nashville, and New York markets.
Education: University of South Florida
First job: Selling funeral services (age 12) with my mother
Hobbies: Traveling, skiing, sailing
Favorite movie: Smokey and the Bandit
Bucket list: Morocco
F. David Leiter Jr. is the managing partner of KPMG’s three Atlanta offices as well as the accounting firm’s mid-South hub, which includes Nashville, Birmingham, Memphis, Knoxville, and Jackson. In addition to leading the almost 2,000 people in these offices, Leiter is a partner in the firm’s Business Tax Services practice. With nearly three decades of experience in the field, Leiter provides multinational tax services to a broad range of KPMG’s audit and nonaudit clients and has served as a lead partner for numerous Fortune 1000 and other publicly traded and private companies.
Education: University of Georgia (MAcc)
Hometown: Marietta, Georgia
Notable achievement: Leadership Atlanta class of 2009
Why I chose this work: Accounting is the language of business.
Best advice received: Put people first.
Favorite travel destination: Paris
Atlanta Managing Partner
Ernst & Young
As Atlanta managing partner for Ernst & Young, a U.S. member firm of the global EY organization, Glenn Mitchell oversees more than 2,200 professionals across EY’s service lines of tax, consulting, assurance, strategy, and transactions, and is strongly connected to the approximately 1,500 IT and advisory professionals in Alpharetta. Since returning to Atlanta with his family in 2015, Mitchell has joined the boards of the United Way of Greater Atlanta, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Woodruff Arts Center, among others.
Education: Auburn University
Notable achievements: Atlanta Business Chronicle Most Admired CEO (2018), Leadership Atlanta class of 2017
Toughest challenge: When I moved my family out of Atlanta to take a leadership position with EY
Hidden talent: I’m a pretty good cook.
Javier Becerra works in the general counsel’s office of the financial services marketing company Primerica as an assistant general counsel in the marketing advisory department. Previously he was a junior counsel at Imerys and a project attorney at King & Spalding. Becerra currently serves as president of the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association. He’s also a board member and copresident of the Atlanta chapter of Echelon, the emerging-professionals arm of the Salvation Army, and chair of the Corporate Counsel Committee of the Young Lawyers Division of the Georgia State Bar.
Education: Georgia College & State University, Indiana University Maurer School of Law (JD)
Hometown: La Boca, Cuba
Lesson learned: Do not let your failures define you. Use those failures as lessons and keep pushing forward until you reach your goal.
Few people know:When I was four years old, I escaped from Cuba with my family and others on a boat built by my family. We were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy and taken to Guantanamo Bay, where I lived for six months as a refugee until we were granted asylum.
Ted Blum is the managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Atlanta office, as well as chair of the Atlanta Corporate Practice. With expertise in corporate and business law, mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, and corporate finance, Blum leads and advises on complex business transactions and provides counsel on day-to-day operations. He’s also a member of the boards of the Woodruff Arts Center and the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, general counsel to and a member of the board of advisers for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, and the chair of a Rotary Club of Atlanta task force to fight human trafficking.
Education: University of Michigan, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law (JD)
Hometown: Champaign, Illinois
Notable achievements: Rotary Club of Atlanta Ivan Allen Club Service Award (2019), Atlanta Business Chronicle Most Admired CEOs (2016), The Best Lawyers in America (2007-2020), Georgia Super Lawyers (2006-2019)
Best advice received: The great Hank Aaron showed me that his success in business is important, but more important is his dedication to the community and his willingness to give back to others, especially children and young adults.
Althea Broughton is a partner at Arnall Golden Gregory and cochair of the firm’s Real Estate Practice, representing developers, government agencies, and tax credit investors in affordable housing and mixed-income development transactions, mixed-use and urban redevelopment transactions, transactions involving the use of public-private partnerships, and conventional real estate transactions. The Atlanta native has played a critical role in the creation or preservation of tens of thousands of units of affordable housing. Broughton served recently as board chair for Literacy Action; other present and past board memberships include Drew Charter School, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Education: Emory University, University of Virginia (JD)
Notable achievements: Atlanta Business Chronicle Women Who Mean Business (2019), Leadership Atlanta class of 2013
First job: Church pianist
What I’d tell my 18-year-old self: Don’t let fear hold you back.
Partner in Charge, Atlanta Office
Alston & Bird
Janine Brown is the partner in charge of Alston & Bird’s Atlanta office, with experience handling multibillion-dollar domestic and international transactions focusing primarily on M&A, joint ventures, and strategic alliances. Brown served eight years as chair of Alston & Bird’s Corporate Technology Practice Group and is currently cochair of the Atlanta Office Diversity Committee. She’s also on the boards of Spelman College, Georgia Justice Project, and the Woodruff Arts Center.
Education: University of Michigan, Duke University School of Law (JD)
Notable achievement: Featured in The Best Lawyers in America continuously since 2001
First job: Counter clerk during high school at the Fannie May candy shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan
Few people know: My husband, daughter, and I have traveled across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. to see all of Shakespeare’s plays.
Jonathan E. Eady is managing partner at Arnall Golden Gregory, where his practice focuses on counseling business and real estate clients in connection with various types of financing, development, investment, acquisition, and operational matters. Eady represents clients in all aspects of the real estate development process, with an emphasis on mixed-use urban redevelopment transactions; he also represents clients in the long-term care and global supply chain industries. Eady has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America and Georgia Super Lawyers.
Education: Emory University, University of Georgia School of Law (JD)
Hometown: Oxford, Georgia
Why I chose this work: I like solving complex problems involving people and money.
Notable achievements: Worked on developing the legal and financial model that helped transform the face of public housing revitalization in Atlanta and across the U.S.
First job: Cook at Burger King
Favorite book: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Jake Evans is an Atlanta attorney at the international law firm Holland & Knight, where he is a member of the Public Policy & Regulation and Litigation and Dispute Resolution groups. Evans represents individuals and companies in matters involving complex litigation; government and regulatory services at the local, state, and national levels; and general business law advice and counsel. A native of Lithia Springs, Evans is also chair of the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission and of the state chapter of the Republican National Lawyers Association.
Education: University of Georgia, University of Georgia School of Law (JD)
Notable achievements: Super Lawyers Rising Star (2018-2020), James magazine Most Influential Politically Connected Attorneys (2018-2020)
First job: Golf course caddy
Hidden talents: I tie my ties backwards.
Favorite book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Favorite travel destination: Charleston, South Carolina
Office Managing Partner
As managing partner of the Atlanta office of the world’s largest global law firm, Sharon Gay concentrates her practice in state and local government law, particularly land use and zoning, economic development incentives, transportation, public- private partnerships, and political law. She’s worked with public- and private-sector clients to amend state and local laws to facilitate brownfield redevelopment, community improvement districts, and water and wastewater privatization projects, and is considered a trailblazer in the use of tax allocation district financing in Georgia.
Education: Vanderbilt University, Emory University School of Law (JD)
Notable achievement: Coordinated the successful effort to amend the Georgia Constitution to confirm that school systems could participate in tax allocation districts to support community redevelopment
Favorite travel destination: Saint Barthélemy
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Atlanta Botanical Garden
Kevin A. Gooch is a partner at DLA Piper, where he serves clients in the Fortune 500; with a diverse practice, he has the most experience serving as outside general counsel as well as negotiating and documenting large debt transactions on behalf of financial institutions or corporate borrowers. Over the course of his career, Gooch has closed loan transactions and restructurings worth over $20 billion. He worked previously for McKenna Long & Aldridge (now Dentons) and Alston & Bird. Gooch is the youngest board chair in the history of 100 Black Men of Atlanta and an adjunct professor at the University of Georgia School of Law.
Education: Emory University, University of Georgia School of Law (JD)
Best advice recieved: Success is leased, not owned, and rent is due every darn day.
Favorite song about Atlanta: “Player’s Ball” by OutKast
Favorite everyday restaurant: Taqueria del Sol
Bucket list: I want to visit South Africa, particularly the place where the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean meet.
Nancy B. Goodman is an estate planning, probate, and contracts attorney licensed to practice in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. She has more than 20 years of experience representing diverse individual and corporate clients on a wide variety of legal matters, ranging from simple planning to complex probate matters and fiduciary litigation. A native of Kingsport, Tennessee, Goodman is also a frequent lecturer on estate planning, estate administration, and trust topics, and serves as a registered mediator on matters pending in the Fulton County Probate Court.
Education: Emory University, University of South Carolina School of Law (JD)
Notable achievements: Represented the South Carolina Senate and argued a case before the South Carolina Supreme Court my first year out of law school
Toughest challenge: Founding my law practice in 2018. When I moved to Atlanta, I had lots of experience practicing law, but didn’t know an attorney or have a single client.
First job: I worked as a mechanic’s helper in a chemical plant that made the components for plastic bottles and cigarette filters.
Ernest Greer is copresident of Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm of over 2,200 attorneys in 40 locations. He served previously as a vice president of the firm from 2013 to 2015, and as Atlanta managing shareholder for nearly a decade. As managing shareholder, he was responsible for the growth and strategic direction of the Atlanta office, which has more than 100 attorneys. Greer has also maintained an active legal practice, trying cases across the country, and is past chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce—the first lawyer to serve in that capacity in the chamber’s 100-year history.
Education: Harvard University, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law (JD)
Notable achievements: ACorporate Recipient, National Bar Association, 40th Annual Mid-Year Conference Heman Marion Sweatt Award (2020), Women Works Media Group, Law and Justice Awards, Man of the Year and Georgia’s Most Powerful and Influential Attorneys (2019), National Law Journal Equality Trailblazer (2019), Gate City Foundation Hall of Fame (2018), Atlanta Business Chronicle Corporate Diversity Champion (2018), Boy Scouts of America Atlanta Area Service Award (2015)
Robert D. Hays
King & Spalding
Robert D. Hays is the fifth chairman in King & Spalding’s 130-year history, currently serving his fifth term. During his tenure, the firm has opened 21 offices and created a global platform. It has launched offices in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brussels and marked a number of milestones, including $1 billion in revenue and 1,100 lawyers. A nationally recognized trial lawyer, Hays led the firm’s Tort and Environmental Practice Group for 12 years. He is a summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead scholar. Hays earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was selected to the Vanderbilt Law Review and was a Patrick Wilson scholar.
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University Law School (JD)
Michael E. Hollingsworth II
Managing Partner, Atlanta Office
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
When Michael E. Hollingsworth II was named managing partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough’s Atlanta office, he was 38—one of the youngest lawyers to hold such a position at a large Atlanta firm. In the decade since, Hollingsworth has led the growth of the office from 83 to 155 lawyers. He’s also cohead of the firm’s Mergers & Acquisitions Group and its Investment Management Group, focusing on middle-market corporate transactions including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and joint ventures.
Education: Tulane University, Samford University Cumberland School of Law (JD), University of Alabama School of Law (LLM)
First job: Sales clerk for my parents’ sporting-goods store
Favorite travel destination: Gulf Coast beaches
Charities: Empty Stocking Fund, Woodruff Arts Center, City of Refuge
Bucket list: Family trip to Africa at some point
Who’d play me in a biopic: Jason Bateman
Candis Jones Smith is a partner in the Atlanta office of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith and a member of the firm’s General Liability practice. Since 2011, Smith’s practice has focused on insurance defense, premises liability, personal injury, and medical malpractice; she has a strong track record in automobile liability and tort/premises liability trials with demands of $1 million or more. Her clients have included several Fortune 500 companies, numerous insurance carriers, and a major metropolitan transit authority. She has successfully tried and won federal and state jury and bench trials.
Education: Spelman College, Georgia State College of Law (JD)
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Notable achievements: Super Lawyers Rising Star (2019-2021)
First job: Party City
Chair, Global Intellectual Property Department
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton
As global chair of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton’s Intellectual Property Department, Wab Kadaba leads a team of more than 300 attorneys in offices across the U.S. and Asia. He concentrates his practice on litigation related to intellectual property as well as strategy and management of intellectual property and technology issues; his experience in patent, trade dress, and trade secret litigation matters has involved technologies as diverse as software, telecommunications, e-commerce, medical devices, footwear, and chemical compositions.
Education: Georgia Tech, Case Western Reserve University (MA), University of North Carolina School of Law (JD)
First job: Dunkin’ Donuts at age 14
Best advice received: My father told me to complete my education because it is that which no one can ever take away from me.
Bucket list: A bike-riding trip through Tuscany
Linda A. Klein is senior managing shareholder at Baker Donelson and a past president of the American Bar Association, the world’s largest voluntary professional association. As the first woman to serve as president of the State Bar of Georgia, she devised a proposal and advocated for the state to allocate funding for lawyers to help indigent victims of domestic violence. Klein served as managing partner of Gambrell & Stolz beginning in 2001, leading the firm’s 2007 merger with Baker Donelson.
Education: Union College, Washington and Lee University School of Law (JD)
Hidden talent: I collect Shirley Temple memorabilia and can even impersonate her.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Center for Civil and Human Rights
Favorite travel destinations: Big city: Toronto; leisure: Hawaii; Old Europe: Zagreb, Croatia
Simon R. Malko
Morris, Manning & Martin
Simon R. Malko brings more than 20 years of courtroom and law firm experience to his leadership role at Morris, Manning & Martin, where he is the third and youngest managing partner in the firm’s 42-year history. His approach is to leverage technology and innovation to position the firm for new challenges and opportunities. Malko began his legal career in New York City, where he represented Fortune 50 companies and large investment banks.
Education: Emory University, Fordham University School of Law (JD)
First job: Mowing lawns
Hidden talent: I am a very good cook.
Lesson learned: Never let your ego get in the way of your success.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Gu’s Dumplings at Krog Street Market
Bucket list: Learning to play the bagpipes
Who’d play me in a biopic: Edward Norton
Twenty years ago, Erica Mason left a successful career running a multimillion-dollar record label to attend law school. Today she is a nationally recognized employment law partner whose business experience helps her defend clients in federal court litigation or advise executive leadership teams on how to protect their three biggest assets: employees, company culture, and brand reputation. In 2019, Mason joined Akerman’s newly minted Atlanta office, where she leads a diverse, multilingual team that assists clients with everything from employment law issues to routine HR advice to class actions. Clients range from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. Her pro bono and community service have included her tenure as president of the Hispanic National Bar Association.
Education: Georgia State University, University of Pennsylvania Law School (JD)
Lesson learned: Your toughest boss or those who seemingly give you the hardest time are often those who teach you the most.
Hidden talent: Face painting and karaoke (purely on style, not for my singing acumen)
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Fellini’s on Ponce—I probably eat salads from there three times a week.
Role models: Top five inspiring females (no particular order): Oprah, Dolly Parton, Sonia Sotomayor, Mother Teresa, Susie Burson (my grandmother)
A partner at Dentons, Ceasar C. Mitchell Jr. is a member of the firm’s Public Policy team as well as the head of its interdisciplinary Local Government Solutions practice, which bridges the public and private sectors to meet the challenges facing local and state governments in the U.S. Mitchell is past president of the Atlanta City Council, where he served two four-year terms as an at-large member while maintaining a legal practice in which he brought his policy advocacy, regulatory compliance, and real estate experience and relationships to bear. An Atlanta native, Mitchell serves on the boards of Hands On Atlanta and the Midtown Alliance.
Education: Morehouse College, University of Georgia School of Law (JD)
Best advice recieved: What people are fussing about ain’t always what they are mad about.
Lesson learned: The best way to get your next initiative done is to tell people about your last initiative.
Few people know: I have to keep a box of tissues handy when watching romantic comedies.
Pete Robinson specializes in issue management, comprehensive government relations coordination, and state legislative and procurement matters. Before joining King & Spalding, Robinson cofounded Troutman Sanders Strategies in 2002; under his leadership, the firm grew from a single office into a national firm with more than 20 federal and state lobbyists. Previously he served 10 years in the Georgia General Assembly as a member of both the House and the Senate.
Education: Emory University, Mercer University School of Law (JD)
Notable achievement: Robinson is the only Senate president pro tem ever to be nominated for that role by both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Georgia Senate.
The sole practitioner at the firm Steven H. Sadow PC, Steve Sadow is a nationally known criminal defense attorney who has practiced law for 35 years. He’s also special counsel for Schulten Ward Turner & Weiss, where he serves as head of the firm’s white collar and high-profile criminal defense section. Sadow’s criminal trial and appellate practice focuses on white collar, cyber/computer, fraud, tax, RICO, drugs, firearms, murder, and forfeiture; notable successful representations have included Joseph Sweeting, T.I., Howard K. Stern, and Rick Ross.
Education: Marietta College, Emory University School of Law (JD)
Hometown: Trotwood, Ohio
Why I chose this work: It was a calling. I knew I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney at age 11.
Hidden talent: College pocket-billiards champion
Favorite movie: My Cousin Vinny
Scriber Law Group
Stephen Scriber is an experienced wills, trusts, and estate planning practitioner who founded Scriber Law Group, a full-service estate planning and probate law firm with offices in Atlanta and Marietta, in 2012. He’s a member of the Atlanta Leadership Committee of Lambda Legal, the Atlanta Bar Association, the Gate City Bar Association, Stonewall Bar Association of Georgia, and the Duke Law Club of Atlanta.
Education: Amherst College, University of Mississippi (MA), Duke University School of Law (JD)
Toughest challenge: Getting out of my own way
Inspiring person: Barack Obama
Favorite movie: Pulp Fiction
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Atlanta United games
Lizanne Thomas leads Jones Day’s corporate governance team and is partner-in-charge of the firm’s Southeast U.S. Region. Experienced in shareholder activism, public and private mergers and acquisitions, takeover preparedness, and executive compensation, Thomas participates in about 100 board meetings per year as counsel to a number of public companies. She represents special committees in control and conflict transactions, as well as in internal investigations. Thomas also lectures on governance to leading business organizations, companies, and universities.
Education: Furman University, Washington and Lee University School of Law (JD)
Board memberships: Atlantic Capital Bancshares, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Georgia Research Alliance, Washington and Lee University, Woodruff Arts Center.
Henry Walker is the chair and CEO of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, an international law firm with more than 600 lawyers in 20 offices. Walker oversees the strategic direction and growth of the firm; as leader of its executive committee, he works closely with members to define and execute the firm’s strategic objectives. Walker is a member of the board of directors and executive committee of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the board of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce; he’s also chair of the Georgia Chamber’s Law and Judiciary Committee. In 2019, the Atlanta Business Chronicle named him one of the city’s Most Admired CEOs.
Education: University of Virginia, Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law (JD)
Hometown: Griffin, Georgia
First job: The summer after I turned 16, I worked in the maintenance department of Dundee Mills, a textile mill in Griffin.
Mark D. Wasserman
Managing Partner and Co-CEO
With more than three decades of experience in corporate law, Mark Wasserman has been the managing partner of Eversheds Sutherland (U.S.) LLP for 14 years and is the co-CEO of Eversheds Sutherland Limited. He’s represented and advised private and public companies in the U.S. and internationally, and has counseled clients on a range of business matters, especially mergers and acquisitions and issues relating to federal and state securities laws. He also serves as chair of the Emory Law Dean’s Advisory Board.
Education: Clemson University (MA), Emory University School of Law (JD)
First job: Owned and operated my own lawn service
Hidden talent: I was an all-American fencer in college.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: The BeltLine
A pioneer in technology law, John C. Yates launched Morris, Manning & Martin’s technology practice more than 38 years ago and has practiced exclusively in that area ever since. Under his leadership, the firm’s technology practice has represented more than 1,000 tech companies and offers comprehensive legal and corporate services to start-ups, growing tech companies, and investors. A prolific author and leading voice in technology law, Yates has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and quoted in publications including the Wall Street Journal and the Economist.
Education: Duke University, Duke University School of Law (JD)
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
First job: Library assistant in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’ll never shelve another book!
Favorite travel destination: The beaches of South Carolina
Sally Q. Yates
King & Spalding
With the Department of Justice for 27 years, Yates rose through the ranks of assistant United States attorneys to become U.S. attorney in Atlanta, deputy attorney general, and acting attorney general. As deputy AG from January 2015 through 2017, she was the second-highest-ranking official in the department. She directed all U.S. attorneys’ offices and DOJ law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Prisons. A lecturer at Georgetown University Law Center, she has specialized in white-collar crime and tried high-profile public cases such as the ones against former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell and Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.
Education: University of Georgia, University of Georgia School of Law (JD)
Notable achievements: A fellow and state chair of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Yates has received the Luminary Award from the Southern Center for Human Rights, a lifetime achievement award from UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Lawyer of the Year from the Bar Association of Washington, D.C., and many other awards and distinctions.
MARKETING & PUBLIC RELATIONS
With expertise in media relations, reputation management, crisis communications, new product launches, and partnership marketing, Kristin Cowart founded the boutique firm Brave Public Relations in 1999. The company has worked with notable Atlanta brands including mall developer Simon, Pike Nurseries, PGA Tour/Tour Championship, Fox Theatre, and Legoland Discovery Center. Before founding Brave, Cowart worked in London for the global public relations firm Edelman, directing campaigns for clients including Ericsson and IMAX. Prior to that she was an account supervisor at Golin in Atlanta.
Education: Boston College
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
First job: Waitress. I was horrible!
Inspiring person: My grandfather. He started as a busboy at Morrison’s Cafeteria and worked his way up to CEO of the company—with only an eighth-grade education.
Few people know: My father was a professional race car driver, and I spent my childhood at the racetrack!
Favorite travel destination: Vietnam
Catherine Ann Downey
CEO and Creative Director
In 1997 Catherine Ann Downey founded the creative agency CATVIDEO, changing the business’s name in 2011 to CATMEDIA to reflect the ways Downey seeks out and embraces technological advances, and the evolving ways people use media. A Virginia native, Downey was previously a promotions manager for Team America and the director of marketing and broadcast promotions for a Memphis television station. In these and other positions, she honed her skills in media buying, staff and project management, and writing, directing, and producing.
Education: George Mason University
First job: Making Christmas wreaths and selling them outside the local supermarket, so that I could earn Christmas money to buy my family presents. I was eight.
Notable achievements: Leadership Atlanta class of 2019, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Southeast finalist (2016)
Toughest challenge: Raising and supporting four kids as a single parent and educating them all through the parochial school system, Saint Pius, and college
Robin Fitzgerald is the chief creative officer for the ad agency BBDO Atlanta, and the first female chief creative officer at any BBDO agency in the U.S. Prior to joining BBDO Atlanta in 2016, Fitzgerald spent 15 years in Los Angeles at Crispin Porter + Bogusky—working with brands including Netflix, Old Navy, and PayPal—and TBWA\Chiat\Day, where clients included Gatorade and Nissan. Fitzgerald’s work has been featured on NBC Nightly News and NPR, nominated for an Emmy, and parodied on Saturday Night Live.
Education: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Hometown: Fort Hood, Texas; Panama; Hilo, Hawaii; Omaha, Nebraska
Notable achievements: Five Cannes Lions in 2019. Seven Effie Awards, including five gold, in 2020.
Mark S. Fogas currently serves as executive vice president of strategic consulting, advanced analytics, and campaign operations for Epsilon, a division of Publicis Groupe, and as managing director of the firm’s Atlanta office. Fogas has more than 30 years of strategic marketing, advanced analytics, product development, and governmental affairs experience, having spent the majority of his career leading teams in the development, execution, and measurement of multichannel marketing programs for brands like AT&T, the NFL, 24 Hour Fitness, the NBA, and Brookdale Senior Living.
Education: University of Alabama at Birmingham, Louisiana Tech University (MA)
Favorite book: The Second Battle of New Orleans: The Hundred-Year Struggle to Integrate the Schools by Liva Baker
In 2020, Rashida Gayle founded Twenty Six Marketing Agency, a sports and entertainment firm that maximizes clients’ brand exposure and income while creating culture and meaningful brand collaborations. The founder of several successful companies with a focus on talent representation, public relations, and digital media, Gayle has secured her clients over $10 million in deals with companies including Pepsi, Reebok, and Marriott. Gayle was previously vice president of talent marketing at GSE Worldwide.
Education: Florida State University
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Why I chose this work: I love everything about sports. My job is to make people money, but my legacy is to make space and foster a culture of support for underrepresented folks, exchanging wisdom with my peers and those to come.
Genna Keller served in executive leadership positions with global public relations firms for 16 years before launching her own agency with longtime colleague Dean Trevelino in the early 2000s. Together they created a digital public relations and marketing firm that is nationally ranked in all of their practice areas. Passionate about emerging companies and projects in the Atlanta area, Keller serves in advisory roles with Tech Alpharetta, Keiretsu Forum, Hub404, and others and recently played a significant role in helping Atlanta land the 2021 HHS SBIR/STTR Conference—a national conference designed to educate health and bio oriented small businesses about America’s Largest Seed Fund.
Education: Wake Forest University
What I’d tell a recent graduate: Do not be afraid of hard work, follow-up, and nondigital interactions.
A longtime leader in Atlanta’s public relations community, Liz Lapidus started her eponymous firm in 1997. Lapidus has promoted the city’s top restaurants, retailers, developers, nonprofits, arts organizations, and health and beauty experts, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, and Food & Wine. She’s on the advisory boards of Dad’s Garage and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and has previously held board positions with the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and the Hambidge Center.
Education: University of Alabama
Hometown: Miami, Florida
First job: Pushing a cookie cart around Coconut Grove during a blazing Miami summer. So not as glam as it sounds.
Few people know: As a creative outlet, I have an under-the-radar food blog called Sustenance and Ceremony. Clearly, it needs PR help!
As vice president of Allied Global Marketing, an international agency with 22 offices, Sloss’s client list contains multiple entertainment and lifestyle brands including Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Universal, Fox Searchlight, Netflix, Cirque du Soleil, MotorTrend Auto Shows, and Van Michael Salon. A Florida native, Sloss serves as a lead adviser from account planning to brand strategy and activation. She was recently honored with the 2019 Synergy Award given by the African American Film Critics Association for her impactful commitment in the arts and entertainment community.
Education: Auburn University
Few people know: I am a great ping-pong player!
Favorite travel destination: Greece
Favorite Atlanta places to visit: SunTrust Park and Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Charities: LifeLine Animal Project, Atlanta Film Festival, Girl Scouts
Founder, Chairman, and CEO
Vince Thompson founded MELT in 2000 and built the company into one of the nation’s leading events and sports marketing agencies. In addition to its 20-year representation of the Coca-Cola Co., MELT also represents Aflac and other national companies. Thompson also built MELT University into one of the industry’s most successful internship and career development programs; his book Build Brand You: Insights for Pursuing Your Dreams, a guide to building personal brands, published in 2020. In 2018, the Atlanta Business Chronicle named Thompson one of its Most Admired CEOs.
Education: Auburn University
Hidden talent: I played the saxophone in high school.
Hobbies: Exercising, fishing, fine wine, cigars
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Chops Lobster Bar
Who’d play me in a biopic: Jeremy Piven
Dean Trevelino had 16 years of experience in executive leadership positions at global public relations firms before he and longtime colleague Genna Keller launched Trevelino/Keller Communications Group in the early 2000s. Together they created a digital public relations and marketing firm that has been ranked as high as the fourth-fastest-growing firm in the U.S. by O’Dwyer’s, and recognized as one of the best North American firms to work for by PRovoke (formerly Holmes Report). Trevelino is a member of the Forbes Agency Council; he’s also a competitive ultrarunner and former Division I college athlete.
Education: Pennsylvania State University, University of Alabama (MA)
Toughest challenge: Rebounding from the loss of a parent as a college student
Hidden talent: Closet modern architect
Bucket list: Run 100 miles in 24 hours
Forrest Tuff is the founder and CEO of One Vision Productions, a multimedia production company with clients ranging from small businesses and government agencies to Fortune 100 companies. Every year since 2015, One Vision Productions has been listed as one of Atlanta’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For by the National Association for Business Resources. A professional speaker, author, and business mentor, Tuff also works to educate aspiring entrepreneurs on how to start successful businesses and attract clients. The Atlanta native hosts the Tuff Talk Show and has received credits on more than 200 films.
Education: Western Carolina University
First job: Chick-fil-A
Toughest challenge: A career-ending injury as a Division I college basketball player. I had to refocus my efforts from becoming a professional basketball player to becoming a professional businessman.
Donald Albright is an entrepreneur, producer, and the president of the content creation company Tenderfoot TV, which he cofounded in 2016 with Payne Lindsey, and which produces an array of entertainment media including podcasts, live shows, television, film, and other digital products. Since its launch, Tenderfoot TV has released multiple successful podcast franchises including Up and Vanished, Atlanta Monster, Radio Rental, and To Live and Die in LA, hosted by the award-winning journalist Neil Strauss. Through Tenderfoot TV, Albright has forged partnerships with media companies including iHeartRadio, NBCUniversal, HBO, Netflix, Cadence13, and Issa Rae’s label Raedio.
Hometown: San Jose, California
Notable achievements: iHeartRadio Audible Audio Pioneer Award (2020), Webby Crime & Justice Podcast Award (2020), iHeartRadio Best True Crime Podcast (2019)
Meredith Artley is the editor in chief and a senior vice president of CNN Digital Worldwide, where she oversees the creation, programming, and publishing of CNN’s journalism on CNN.com, CNNi.com, and CNN Business across mobile, social, desktop, and a variety of emerging platforms and products. A former president of the board of directors of the Online News Association, she leads a global team of hundreds of reporters, producers, and editors.
Education: University of Missouri
Hidden talent: In 2020, I’ve learned that I can actually cook.
Favorite books: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. And my family read Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, aloud to each other this year.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: The Elder art installation by Masud Olufani in Freedom Park, across from the David T. Howard Middle School
Tara August is senior vice president of talent services and special projects for Turner Sports and Bleacher Report, overseeing Turner Sports’ roster of on-air announcers across digital and linear platforms. August facilitates on-air production, sales, marketing, and promotional activities, with an emphasis on serving as the primary liaison to all sport teams, leagues, agents, and celebrities to facilitate contract negotiations and special guest bookings. She also manages the production development of features and special projects for TNT, TBS, and NBA TV networks for Turner Sports’ linear properties and digital platforms.
Education: San Diego State University, University of San Francisco (MA)
Hometown: Sacramento, California
Notable achievement: Seven-time Emmy winner
Few people know: Shaquille O’Neal nicknamed me “She-del Castro” because of my management style.
Brandon Butler is vice president of the advertising agency Dagger and executive director of its in-house media company, Butter.ATL. Since its launch in 2019, Butter—a 2020 Webby Award nominee—has developed original programming featuring Atlanta figures such as Killer Mike, Goodie Mob, and DJ Scream, and gained more than 70,000 followers including Chrissy Teigen, Big Boi, and Tim McGraw. Butler, a seasoned marketing and creative leader, has previously led successful creative and digital teams at Accenture, Edelman, Public Broadcasting Atlanta, and NBA Digital. He’s also an in-demand speaker and panelist who has appeared alongside former mayor Kasim Reed, BeltLine planner Ryan Gravel, and others.
Education: Georgia Southern University, Georgia Tech (MBA)
Why I chose this work: I have a deep love for the city of Atlanta. Launching Butter in partnership with Dagger allowed me to turn Butter into a love letter for the city and its culture.
Public Address Announcer
Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Falcons
A two-time Emmy winner and a member of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, Ryan Cameron was the longtime host of Atlanta’s top morning radio show on V103. He’s the afternoon-drive host on WAMJ Majic 107.5/97.5 and a partner at the branding firm Rakanter. Cameron was the first African American announcer in the history of the Atlanta Hawks. In 2002, he launched the Ryan Cameron Foundation Leadership Academy, which provides opportunities for rising high school students.
Education: University of West Georgia
Best advice received: From Deion Sanders: “If you have more than one skill, get more than one check.”
Hidden talent: Karaoke ninja
Favorite movies: Men in Black and Trading Places
Favorite travel destination: Costa Rica
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Phipps Plaza theater
Pola Changnon is the general manager of Turner Classic Movies, which is part of WarnerMedia; she oversees daily operations including strategy, business development, marketing, branding, digital initiatives, programming, and on-air campaigns. Taking the helm in 2020, Changnon has overseen the successful launches of the first virtual TCM Classic Film Festival, the first TCM podcast, and the three-month programming series Women Make Film. Previously Changnon, an Atlanta native, was TCM’s senior vice president of marketing, studio production, and talent; she has also been a vice president at the Cartoon Network and a producer at Colossal Pictures, and has consulted on projects for Nickelodeon, CBS, Viacom, and Hanna-Barbera.
Education: Duke University, Northwestern University (MA)
Who’d play me in a biopic: Holly Hunter
Author and nationally syndicated columnist Erick Erickson is host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio and a 9 a.m.-to-noon program broadcast across the rest of Georgia. He is a guest host for Rush Limbaugh and a frequent panelist on NBC’s Meet the Press, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and other programs. The Atlantic called Erickson the most influential conservative in America. He’s currently working on his master of divinity degree at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Education: Mercer University, Mercer University School of Law (JD)
Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Notable achievements: Blocked by Kasim Reed on Twitter. Attacked by President Trump.
Bucket list: It’s time for a national radio show.
Jeff Genthner is the senior vice president and general manager of the Sinclair-owned regional networks FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Carolinas, FOX Sports Tennessee, and FOX Sports Southeast. A 40-year industry veteran, Genthner played a pivotal role in developing FOX Sports South into the nation’s largest regional sports network; under his leadership the networks have garnered 93 Emmy Awards and numerous other national awards. A native of Cold Spring Harbor, New York, Genthner began his career in 1980 at SportsChannel New York, where he served in a variety of roles including programming, marketing, and producer on New York Yankees and New York Islanders telecasts.
Education: Michigan State University
Best advice recieved: From Cablevision founder Charles Dolan: “You never learn when speaking, only when listening.”
Favorite travel destination: Our cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia, or a pristine Caribbean beach
Favorite TV shows: Queen of the South, Yellowstone
Sanjay Gupta, MD
Chief Medical Correspondent
Emmy-winning chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta plays an integral role in CNN’s reporting on health and medical news for all of the network’s domestic and international shows, and he contributes to CNN.com. His medical training and public health policy experience inform his reporting from war zones and natural disasters. Gupta is also a member of the staff and faculty at Emory University School of Medicine and an associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital. An Atlanta resident, he regularly performs surgery at Emory University and Grady hospitals.
Education: University of Michigan, University of Michigan Medical School (MD)
Notable achievements: Author of three New York Times bestselling books: Chasing Life, Cheating Death, and Monday Mornings. Named one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive in 2003.
An Atlanta radio and television personality for more than 18 years, Jenn Hobby is the host of Star 94.1’s Jenn & Friends morning-drive radio show, the first and only woman-anchored morning radio show with male cohosts in Atlanta. Her radio career has included WBTS-FM (95.5 The Beat), WWWQ-FM (Q100), and WKHX-FM (Kicks 101.5), and her television work includes HLN, CNN, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and Fox 5 Atlanta. Hobby earned a Gracie Award for her work in radio and an Emmy for her TV work at GPB. In 2010 she was a guest host on Live! with Regis and Kelly.
Education: Florida State University
Hometown: Saint Petersburg, Florida
Toughest challenge: Our daughter’s cancer battle changed our lives. What matters most became crystal-clear: family, love, and good health. The rest is just details.
Hidden talent: I am a kayaker and have kayaked the rapids in the Ocoee River.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: The top of Kennesaw Mountain
Payne Lindsey is a director and documentary filmmaker who cofounded the content-creation company Tenderfoot TV with his friend and business partner Donald Albright. The company has launched several hit podcast series including Up and Vanished, Atlanta Monster, and Radio Rental, all of which Lindsey hosts; he’s also an executive producer of Monster: The Zodiac Killer, Insomniac, and others. In 2020 he brought Up and Vanished to the small screen as a docuseries for Oxygen. Most recently Lindsey partnered with Disgraceland host Jake Brennan on the podcast Dead and Gone, which investigates the cases of Grateful Dead fans who have died or gone missing.
Notable achievement: iHeartRadio Best True Crime Podcast for Up and Vanished (2019)
Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad
Favorite travel destination: Maine
Bucket list: Direct a film or TV series
Who’d play me in a biopic: Milo Ventimiglia
Following stints at South Carolina’s Greenville News and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Seattle native Mike Luckovich became an editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1989. His work has garnered him two Pulitzer Prizes as well as a Reuben Award, the highest honor bestowed by the National Cartoonists Society. Luckovich’s cartoons are syndicated in 150 newspapers, and his latest collection, A Very Stable Genius, was published in 2018.
Education: University of Washington
Notable achievements: Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award (1994), Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning (1995, 2006)
Hidden talent: I’m a pretty good dancer.
Favorite book: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
Lesson learned: Some people you can’t change.
Wes Moss is the managing partner of Capital Investment Advisors, a $2.8 billion registered investment adviser in Sandy Springs. He’s also a financial columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the host of the weekly call-in show Money Matters on 95.5 WSB, the editor of WesMoss.com, and the author of three books, including You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think. Barron’s has named him one of its top 1,200 independent financial advisers every year since 2014, and in 2020 the magazine listed him as one of the country’s top 100 advisers.
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Hometown: Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Why I chose this work: When I was growing up, my dad was a large-animal vet. After going with him on a 5 a.m. farm call, I decided there was no way I wanted to do that for a living. So I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal, and I was hooked.
First job: Mucking stalls at the barn
Hidden talent: Piano
Favotie travel destination: Harbor Springs, Michigan
Tom O’Brien is president of the Weather Group, the parent company of both the Weather Channel and the over-the-top streaming service Local Now, and executive vice president of Allen Media Group. As network president, O’Brien works to ensure that the Weather Channel remains the top-rated and most widely distributed weather network in the U.S. A longtime television and digital business executive, O’Brien was previously a corporate officer for Nexstar Media Group, where he led digital and revenue growth efforts. Prior to that he spent 14 years at NBCUniversal, including stints as president and general manager of NBC’s flagship station, WNBC, and executive vice president and chief revenue officer of CNBC.
Education: Syracuse University
First job: A paperboy with a morning route. Up and out of the house on my bike delivering a stack of newspapers at 5 a.m. on cold, dark winter mornings in upstate New York. What more do I need to say?
Why I chose this work: I’ve been fascinated with television and the outdoors my entire life. I can’t think of a better place to combine these two passions than the Weather Channel.
Michael Ouweleen is the president of Adult Swim, which is part of WarnerMedia. Ouweleen is responsible for all aspects of content planning, development, windowing, marketing, and creative for Adult Swim and its properties globally across all company-owned platforms and third-party partners. As a primary driver of Cartoon Network’s global brand and a principal force behind its strategy for more than 20 years, Ouweleen has held senior content and brand positions including chief marketing officer for Cartoon Network, Boomerang, and Adult Swim, and senior vice president of programming and development at Cartoon Network. He was a key member of the team that championed and launched Adult Swim.
Education: Georgetown University
Hometown: Rochester, New York
Notable achievements: Helping launch Adult Swim, creating Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, and greenlighting unique series like the Ben 10 global franchise, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, and Chowder. But the greatest achievement is helping make Cartoon Network fun and interesting for three generations of kids, many of whom have grown up to work in animation.
Lisa Respers France is a senior entertainment producer for CNN Digital in Atlanta. A 12-year veteran of CNN’s entertainment team, France has covered everything from the deaths of Michael Jackson and Prince to how race factors into criticism of Meghan Markle; her writing looks past the guilty pleasure of pop culture to reveal the deeply serious stories at the intersection of national politics and justice. France previously served as an editor of the alumni magazine for Saint John’s University and, before that, as a journalist for the Baltimore Sun. She got her start in journalism in 1994 at the Los Angeles Times. Her short stories have appeared in two anthologies.
Education: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Inspiring person: Oprah Winfrey was a guest speaker at my grandmother’s church when I was a little girl growing up in Baltimore and I’ve never forgotten how much she inspired me. She’s part of the reason I am a journalist today.
Few people know: I once appeared on an episode of America’s Most Wanted. Not as a criminal, though—as a journalist.
Not just the host of The Rashad Richey Morning Show on News & Talk 1380 WAOK—and Atlanta’s favorite talk news radio host, according to a 2019 AJC poll—Rashad Richey is also an Emmy-nominated political analyst for CBS46 News, a political commentator on V-103, and a professor at Beulah Heights University. He’s also a regular commentator on MSNBC and Fox News, and was recently appointed to Piedmont Atlanta Hospital’s board of directors. Previously Richey was the political director and chief strategist for the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Education: Beulah Heights University (MBA), Clark Atlanta University (EdD), Scofield Graduate School & Theological Seminary (PhD)
Why I chose this work: I had a tough life growing up. Despair, poverty, and a general lack of access surrounded the communities I lived in. Today I seek to transform the narrative of those same communities through education, mentorship, civic engagement, and economic empowerment.
Best advice recieved: Don’t allow your past to limit your future.
Hidden talent: I play piano by ear.
Kevin Riley, a longtime employee of Cox Enterprises, was named editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in January 2011. He started his career in 1983 at Cox’s original newspaper, the Dayton Daily News in Ohio, while a student at the University of Dayton; since taking the helm at the AJC he’s led a rejuvenation of the newsroom with an emphasis on investigative journalism. He also writes a column in Sunday editions of the paper.
Education: University of Dayton
Favorite book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Best advice received: He who knows not, and knows he knows not, is better than he who knows not and knows not he knows not.
First job: Washing dishes in a bar
Notable achievement: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was a 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist in National Reporting.
Senior I-Team Reporter
Senior investigative reporter Dale Russell is the FOX 5 I-Team’s government watchdog. An Atlanta native, he began media work as a freelance newspaper and magazine writer. His 40 years of investigative stories have helped shape Georgia’s political history, toppling people in power, exposing waste and corruption, sparking criminal investigations, and changing laws. He’s broken important stories while covering some of the nation’s biggest events, including the Atlanta child murders of 1979-1981, the Olympic Park bombing, and the 9/11 attacks.
Education: Georgia State University
Notable achievements: More than 50 journalism awards, including broadcasting’s highest honor: the George Foster Peabody Award
Few people know: I once won a stand-up comedy contest at the Great Southeast Music Hall.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: I love driving down Peachtree Street, taking in the seemingly daily changes.
Toughest challenge: I hate confrontations. It was kind of a problem for this job.
President and CEO
Georgia Public Broadcasting
Los Angeles native Teya Ryan was named president and CEO of GPB Media—the fourth-largest public broadcasting system in the country, counting nine television stations and 19 radio stations—in 2009. Her experience includes roles in broadcast management, production, and content creation. Previously she was executive vice president for three CNN networks: CNN, CNN Headline News, and CNN U.S. Ryan is cochair of the Georgia Literacy Commission and a member of the board of councillors of the Carter Center.
Education: University of California, Berkeley
Notable achievement: Created the first live interactive TV talk show, CNN’s Talkback Live
First job: One that paid me: working on the Vancouver Sun
Hobbies: Travel. Travel. Travel. Sheer adventure.
Who’d play me in a biopic: A young Candice Bergen
An Atlanta native who began her full-time journalism career in 1980 with the Macon Telegraph, Maria Saporta is an Atlanta Business Chronicle columnist and reporter and the founder of SaportaReport.com, where a stable of veteran contributors provide updates on business, urban, and civic issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. In 2008 she wrapped up a 27-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, during which she was a business and civic columnist for more than 17 years. She is also part of a group launching a new journalism nonprofit, as a sister outlet to SaportaReport.com, called Atlanta Civic Circle.
Education: Boston University, Georgia State University (MA)
Few people know: My first language was French, and I didn’t know English when I entered kindergarten.
National Food Correspondent
New York Times
Kim Severson is a national food correspondent for the New York Times, and previously the paper’s Southern bureau chief and a staff writer in the Dining section. Severson has won several awards for news and feature writing, including the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for her contributions to the team that investigated workplace sexual harassment and abuse against women, four James Beard Foundation awards, and the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for her work on childhood obesity in 2002.
Education: Michigan State University
First job: Cleaning cages in a vet’s office
Hobbies: Softball—playing and coaching my kid’s team
Few people know: I secretly want to be a stand-up comedian.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Any farmers market
Ivan Shammas is general manager of Telemundo Atlanta, a Spanish-language station providing award-winning local news and programming to the area’s expansive Latino population. Counting more than 20 years of experience in Spanish-language media, Shammas oversees Telemundo Atlanta’s local and national advertising sales, news, programming, marketing, and community-affairs initiatives. Before joining the station in 2013, Shammas spent more than a decade as national account manager for Univision Atlanta. He currently serves as board chair for the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is on the board of the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Education: Georgia State University
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Notable achievements: Georgia Trend 100 Most Influential Georgians (2020), Leadership Atlanta class of 2015
In 2018, Sam Zamarripa led a group of investors in the purchase of Mundo Hispánico—Georgia’s largest Spanish-language publication, and the third-largest Spanish-language site in the country—from Cox Media Group. A prolific entrepreneur, Zamarripa is also the CEO and director of Intent Solutions, a company focused on the development of smart, portable technologies designed to dispense prescription medications. He served two terms in the Georgia Senate, currently sits on the Carter Center’s board of councillors and on the board of trustees of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and is the author of two novels.
Education: New College of Florida, Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (MPA)
Lesson learned: Failure is a given. Anyone who has not failed has been propped up with someone else’s money or they are afraid of the truth.
Babbit is CEO of Narrative Content Group, which he founded in 2009 with Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, and which launched the sustainability website Mother Nature Network (sold in 2020). Narrative has created and distributed content for many of the world’s leading brands, including Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, and Subway.
A partner at Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, Bondurant has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the top 10 trial lawyers in the United States.
Media pioneer Clayton worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, and launched the Trumpet Awards in 1993.
President and cofounder of Hope-Beckham communications firm, Hope was public relations director for the Atlanta Braves in the Hank Aaron era.
Jackson-Ransom is the president and CEO of firstClass, a public relations and marketing firm founded in 1975.
In 1995, Atlanta native Jackson cofounded the marketing communications agency Jackson Spalding with Bo Spalding, and he continues to provide leadership for many of its clients. He’s also the author of the book Preeminence: What It Means and How to Sustain It.
The WABE radio host was the wife of Mayor Maynard Jackson and helped prepare the city for the 1988 Democratic National Convention and the 1996 Olympic Games.
Under Johnson’s leadership, the Los Angeles Times received six Pulitzer Prizes. As president of CNN, he worked closely with founder Ted Turner to pioneer the 24-hour news cycle.
Joel A. Katz
Founding shareholder of the Atlanta office and founding chair of Greenberg Traurig’s global entertainment and media practice, Katz has been ranked as the most powerful entertainment attorney in the music business by Billboard magazine.
The Pulitzer-winning author is now a professor in Emory’s Creative Writing Program. He coauthored The Race Beat.
Pearson was the first woman and first minority to anchor the daily evening news in Atlanta, where she worked for 37 years at WSB-TV. She has won more than 33 Southern Regional and local Emmy Awards.
Reiman was founder and chairman of the global consultancy BrightHouse. In 2018 he cofounded Brand New World Studios, which produces “purpose-inspired movies” to connect businesses to consumers. He also teaches creative and critical thinking at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.
Reitzes began working at WABE-FM 90.1, the National Public Radio affiliate in Atlanta, in 1979 as a music programmer and announcer, becoming program director in 1992. Now, she hosts City Lights and Spivey Soirée.
Retired as publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, founded by her grandfather in 1928, Scott was a longtime member of FOX 5’s Georgia Gang.
Described as a rainmaker of urban radio, Ski began his career as a disc jockey and recording artist and has evolved into a radio, film, and TV personality, motivational speaker, journalist, and philanthropist. Twenty years ago he launched the Frank Ski Kids Foundation, which exposes young people to science, technology, athletics, and the arts.
Founder of CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network, and Turner Classic Movies, the avid environmentalist donated $1 billion to fund the United Nations Foundation.