Arts | Film, Music, & Entertainment | Sports | Legends
Owner and Director
For 15 years, Atlanta native Susan Bridges curated pop-up shows around the city in churches, U-Haul facilities, shipping containers, and an underground parking garage. In 2006, she opened Whitespace Gallery in a former carriage house behind her Victorian home in Inman Park. Today, the gallery represents more than 40 local and national artists, who’ve shown work at the Smithsonian Institution, the Venice Biennale, and Art Basel Miami Beach.
Education: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
First job: Receptionist, ad agency
What I’d tell my 18-year-old self: Everything’s going to be okay.
Few people know: I love to dance.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: My garden
Yehimi Cambrón Álvarez
Artist, Activist, and Public Speaker
Yehimi Cambrón is an artist, activist, and public speaker born in Michoacán, Mexico, and raised in Atlanta whose work focuses on celebrating the humanity, resilience, and contributions of immigrants. Cambrón’s series Family Portrait was displayed at the High Museum in 2019 and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in 2020. In June 2020 she completed her tallest mural to date, We Give Each Other the World, a community-responsive piece cofunded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of Hapeville. In August 2020, Cambrón completed Monuments: Atlanta’s Immigrants, a mural at the Home Depot Backyard at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Cambrón’s work centers on immigrants and predominantly reflects the experiences of undocumented Americans.
Education: Agnes Scott College
Notable achievements: Atlanta Business Chronicle 40 Under 40 (2020), Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia (2018-2020)
Why I chose this work: I am an artist because I don’t know how else to exist. Creating art has allowed me to create certainty for myself throughout my life.
Founder and Executive Director
A native of Peru, Monica Campana moved to the United States in 1998. As the founder and executive director of the mural program Living Walls, The City Speaks, she’s facilitated the creation of more than 100 public murals throughout the metro Atlanta area from a diverse array of national and international artists. Campana has also served as curator at WISH ATL and project manager for Philadelphia’s Open Source, and curated an exhibition at Moscow’s Artmossphere biennale.
President, CEO, and Founding Director
Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia
Annette Cone-Skelton founded the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in 2000 with a mission to support the state’s artists. MOCA GA is currently home to more than 1,300 pieces, as well as a library and a voluminous archive. A longtime educator, curator, and editor, Cone-Skelton is also a respected artist whose work is collected in the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the High Museum of Art, among other places. She received the Governor’s Award for the Arts & Humanities in 2012 and Atlanta Contemporary’s Nexus Award in 2019.
Education: Atlanta College of Art
Hometown: LaGrange, Georgia
Hidden talent: Played the French horn in high school
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Atlanta Botanical Garden
Charities: Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences, Idea Capital, MOCA GA
Favorite travel destination: Barcelona
Artist Shanequa Gay exhibits her works and procures residencies within the United States, Europe, Japan, and South Africa. She is a Do-Good Fellow recipient and an Emory University Arts and Social Justice Fellow (2020). Currently, Gay is a visiting professor at Spelman College and the visual artist-in-residence at Oglethorpe University. Her accomplishments include selection for Off the Wall, a city-wide civil rights and social justice mural initiative led by the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee (2019). Recent exhibitions include the European Cultural Centre Personal Structures-REFLECTION, 59th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, (2022); Atlanta Biennial, Atlanta Contemporary (2021); Le Monde Bossale, Montreal, Canada (2021); Adorned, McColl Center for Arts and Innovation, Charlotte (2020); and Holding Space for Nobility: A Memorial for Breonna Taylor, Ackland Museum, Chapel Hill North Carolina (2020).
Education: Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia State University (MFA)
Omari J. Henderson
Founder and Co-Owner
Omari J. Henderson has managed to fuse his educational background, business acumen, and love of art to strike a delicate balance between his passion, personal, and professional life as a partner and co-owner of ZuCot Gallery. Through his leadership, ZuCot has become the largest African American art gallery in the Southeast, endeavoring to elevate the careers of artists while providing a unique customer experience for collectors, corporations, and private consultations. A Decatur native, Henderson also works in Strategy & Innovation for Chick-fil-A, while serving on the board of directors for several organizations including Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, Park Pride, and the REACH Georgia Foundation.
Education: Tuskegee University
Why I chose this work: Since my youth, art has always been a real passion. I was not skilled in creating work, but really appreciated what I saw my father and other artists create (across many platforms). I’ve always been an innovator with an entrepreneur mindset.
Best advice received: You have a responsibility to build a legacy that can propel generations to come.
Favorite book: Any book by Walter Mosley
Onaje Henderson is a partner and gallery director of ZuCot Gallery in Atlanta. Under his leadership, ZuCot has advanced the careers of countless African American artists and currently stands as the largest African American fine arts gallery in the Southeast. A community educator, Henderson regularly collaborates with art enthusiasts, high-end collectors, and corporate executives to promote the necessity of owning one’s culture and has also advised countless clients on art selection. The Decatur native is also a member of the Fulton County Arts Council and sits on the boards of Hammonds House Museum and Art Papers.
Education: Tuskegee University
Best advice received: Talk less, listen more.
Toughest challenge: Building a business that has the ability to adapt and pivot with the times or circumstances is paramount to staying viable and profitable.
Favorite movie: Kill Bill
Nonprofits: Hammonds House, Art Papers, Youth Challenge Inc.
Bill Lowe Gallery
Donovan Johnson has a decade of experience in world-class contemporary art galleries, in both New York, having worked at Lisa Cooley Gallery, and in Atlanta, at Hathaway Contemporary and Bill Lowe Gallery, where he worked very closely with its founder as assistant director, directing exhibit operations and sales before becoming the gallery director in 2021. He has experience in art curation and collection; more notably, he has curated shows such as Michael David’s The Mirror Stage and Jimmy O’Neal’s An Introspective.
First job: Intern, Bill Lowe Gallery
Why I chose this work: Art has always been and will be my first true language.
Best advice received From Bill Lowe: “Know who you is and who you ain’t.”
Toughest challenge: The passing of my friend and mentor, Bill Lowe.
Favorite travel destination: Parent’s home
As executive director of Atlanta Contemporary, Veronica Kessenich led the art center’s transition to daily free admission in 2015—and has seen a subsequent attendance increase of more than 109 percent. She continues to work alongside staff to create and implement unique programs and strategic funding initiatives to maintain free admission. Prior to becoming executive director in 2015, Kessenich was Atlanta Contemporary’s development director, closing out a $625,000 capital campaign and reimagining the center’s annual Art Party fundraiser. Kessenich is also an adjunct instructor in the art history department of Agnes Scott College.
Education: Saint Mary’s College, University of Saint Andrews (MPhil)
Why I chose this work: I fundamentally believe that we need art in order to understand our place in the world.
Best advice received: What’s the worst thing they’ll say, no? Who cares. Just ask again.
Favorite movie: Blow-Up
President and CEO
Woodruff Arts Center
Hala Moddelmog is president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center. She has spent nearly a decade serving in volunteer leadership at the Arts Center. She served on the Woodruff Arts Center Board of Trustees from 2011–2017 and has served on the Woodruff Governing Board since 2017. She also served on the Alliance Theatre Board of Directors from 2011–2020 and led the Alliance Theatre Board as co-chair from 2017–2019. Throughout her career, she has served in top executive roles and has served as a corporate director for four NYSE companies and a Carlyle Group private portfolio company board. In 2014, she became the first female president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Previously she was president of Arby’s Restaurant Group, president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the first woman to lead an international restaurant company as president of Church’s Chicken.
Education: Georgia Southern University, University of Georgia (MA)
Why I chose this work: I truly love and believe in Atlanta. This region has been very good to me.
In 2016, Gennadi Nedvigin became the fourth artistic director in the 87-year history of the Atlanta Ballet. Born in Russia, Nedvigin was accepted into the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy at age 10, and joined the Moscow Renaissance Ballet upon graduation. He joined the San Francisco Ballet in 1997; promoted to principal dancer three years later, Nedvigin has performed as Albrecht in Giselle, Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. Since joining Atlanta Ballet, Nedvigin, with choreographer Yuri Possokov, assembled a world-class design team and created a world premiere production of The Nutcracker for Atlanta Ballet in 2018, followed by the company’s debut performance at the John F. Kenney Center for the Performing Arts in 2019. Under Nedvigin’s guidance, the Company has grown to 39 dancers and has established the Academy training program and Atlanta Ballet 2, a top-tier performance ensemble.
Education: Bolshoi Ballet Academy
First job: Soloist dancer at Moscow Renaissance Ballet
Notable achievements: Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (2001, 2010, and 2017), Erik Bruhn Prize (1999)
Cofounder and Producing Artistic
Ann-Carol Pence is the producing artistic director of Lawrenceville’s Aurora Theatre, which she cofounded more than 20 years ago with Anthony Rodriguez. Under their leadership, the theater grew from 120 to 5,000 season subscribers; it produces 800 events annually for 80,000 visitors, and is the second-largest theater in Georgia by membership and budget. The company recently moved into its new $35 million, 59,500-square-foot Lawrenceville Arts Center. Pence continues her work as an advocate of radical inclusion, creating space where people of all backgrounds gather to celebrate the arts. She’s also been a pianist and/or musical director in productions nationally and in Atlanta.
Education: James Madison University
Hometown: Harrisonburg, Virginia
Why I chose this work: As a musician by trade, I believed Gwinnett County deserved and could sustain a professional theater, capable of producing world-class musicals in a way I had not seen produced in Atlanta.
First job: Church organist at age 12
Inspiring person: Oprah Winfrey
Wieland Family Curator of Contemporary and Modern Art
High Museum of Art
Since joining the High Museum in 2010, Michael Rooks has curated or managed dozens of exhibitions and increased the museum’s collection by a quarter, including work by Julie Mehretu, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, and Kara Walker. He was also commissioner and cocurator of the U.S. pavilion at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2010 Venice Biennale. A 2015 Atlanta Contemporary Nexus Award winner, Rooks previously held curatorial positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Honolulu’s Contemporary Museum, and the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Education: School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MA)
Hometown: Ottawa, Illinois
First job: Paper route
Lesson learned: The necessity of compromise to enjoy the pleasure of consensus-building
As the founder of the dance company glo, conceptual artist and choreographer Lauri Stallings has transformed the Atlanta dance scene, collaborating with artists including Robert Spano, Janelle Monáe, and Big Boi. Stallings’s work has been commissioned and presented by venues including the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the High Museum of Art, Art Basel Miami Beach, and the Zuckerman Museum of Art. In 2018, she received the Hudgens Prize from the Hudgens Center for Art & Learning. She is also a MOCA GA Fellow (2017) and Rome Prize nominee (2013). In 2019, Stallings was the first choreographer in residence at the High Museum of Art and shared her choreographies in the XII Florence Biennale, where she was one of 400 artists representing 55 countries. In 2022 Georgia Trend included Stallings in its list of 100 Most Influential Georgians.
Education: Point Park University
Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
Nancy and Holcombe T. Green Jr. Director
High Museum of Art
Randall Suffolk became the High Museum’s director in November 2015. Since his arrival, he has championed a commitment to community engagement, placing particular emphasis on collaboration, inclusivity, and access. To support these objectives, the museum has reduced admission fees, focused programmatically on the demographics of its audience, reinstalled its entire collection, and added numerous important acquisitions.
Education: Connecticut College, Columbia University (MA), Bryn Mawr College (MA)
Hometown: Tallmadge, Ohio
First job: Waiter
Best advice received: Always live within walking distance of the office.
Troy T. Taylor
Founding Partner and Owner
Troy T. Taylor is a founding partner and owner of ZuCot Gallery, the largest African American-owned fine art gallery in the Southeast. Its mission is to promote original works of art by living African American artists. Taylor has helped to develop a go-to-market strategy that was highly indexed at attracting the growing wealth of the city’s young African American professional population. He has amassed a client list of over 1,000 collectors and a social media following of over 10,000 followers. He has also developed an educational program with Atlanta Public Schools where over 2,500 students visit the gallery during the school year.
Education: Penn State, University of Pennsylvania (MS)
Favorite hobby: Boating
Favorite movie: Star Wars
Favorite travel destination: Singapore
Allan C. Vella
President and CEO
Allan C. Vella has worked in the facility management field since 1986, managing theaters, arenas, amphitheaters, and exhibition facilities. His experience spans a wide range of events, including NCAA tournaments, MLB and NHL games, ballet, concerts, and presidential visits. As president and CEO of the Fox Theatre, Vella is responsible for all operations and programming. The Fox averages more than 150 performances and hosts more than 600,000 guests annually, with events ranging from rock concerts to Broadway, ballet, comedy, and movies.
Education: University of Iowa
Toughest challenge: Assisting with recovery efforts for Southeast Texas after Hurricane Rita
Hidden talent: I’m an amateur rock drummer. My realization that a future as a successful musician was highly unlikely led me to my career.
Favorite travel destination: Saint George Island
Anna Walker Skillman
Jackson Fine Art
Anna Walker Skillman is the owner of Jackson Fine Art, a Buckhead gallery that emphasizes a mix of 20th-century and contemporary fine art photography. With a degree in art history, Walker Skillman began her career at the Haines Gallery in San Francisco, moving to Atlanta in 1993 to manage the studio of artist Todd Murphy. Joining Jackson Fine Art in 1998, she purchased the gallery in 2003 from Jane Jackson, who founded it in 1990. Jackson Fine Art’s clients include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Education: University of Georgia
Artistic and Executive Director
Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre
With four other veterans of the Atlanta Ballet, John Welker cofounded Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre in 2017 after a long career in dance. Debuting as a professional dancer at age 16, the Ohio native spent 22 years as a principal dancer for the Atlanta Ballet, where he performed lead roles in productions including Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, The Four Seasons, and Seven Sonatas. In 2010 he founded the contemporary dance company Wabi Sabi, which commissioned 35 new works over seven years.
Education: Kennesaw State University
Why I chose this work: Dance combines athleticism, spirituality, science, and art into the human form, and when combined, dance becomes a powerful communicator—there is nothing else like it.
First job: Newspaper route with the Columbus Dispatch
Hidden talent: I can hit a high G-flat into an F-sharp with my voice. It’s extraordinarily terrible.
Favorite movie: The Godfather: Part II
General and Artistic Director
The Atlanta Opera
Tomer Zvulun has been general and artistic director of the Atlanta Opera since 2013, directing more than 15 new productions including Dead Man Walking and The Flying Dutchman. During Zvulun’s tenure the opera has tripled its fundraising and doubled its annual number of productions; his focus on innovation has led to a Harvard Business School case study, a TED Talk, and an International Opera Awards nomination. A celebrated director, Zvulun has staged work at the Washington National Opera, the Seattle Opera, and internationally; prior to coming to Atlanta, he spent seven seasons on the Metropolitan Opera’s directing staff.
Education: Open University of Tel Aviv
Hometown: Ashqelon, Israel
Why I chose this work: Opera’s combination of music, theater, and design is the most powerful artistic style I was ever exposed to.
First job: Worked in the Israeli opera in every entry position imaginable: usher, stagehand, prop operator
FILM, MUSIC, & ENTERTAINMENT
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
Kenny Blank is executive director of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival—the largest film festival in Atlanta and the world’s preeminent Jewish film fest. A communications and journalism veteran, Blank worked for Atlanta mayors Maynard Jackson and Bill Campbell in the early 1990s, and won an Associated Press award for special coverage of the 1996 Olympics as a producer at WSAV-TV in Savannah. Most recently, Blank was an executive producer for WXIA-TV, where he received an Emmy for breaking-news coverage. A recipient of the IMAGE Film Award and Atlanta Contemporary’s Nexus Award, Blank previously chaired the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund.
Education: New York University
Best advice received: Four things that can never be recovered: the stone after it’s thrown, the word after it’s spoken, the occasion after it’s missed, and the time after it’s gone.
Favorite movie: Lawrence of Arabia
Favorite vacation destination: Hilton Head Island
Who’d play me in a biopic: Jake Johnson
Festival Director and Executive Director
Out on Film
Jim Farmer has served as the festival director and executive director of Out on Film, Atlanta’s LGBTQ film festival, since 2008. Under his leadership the festival has won ArtsATL’s Beacon Award for Community Engagement and the Center for Civic Innovation’s Civic Impact Award, and received an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences grant for its visiting-
filmmaker series. It was also named an Oscar-
qualifying festival in 2020, one of only six such LGBTQ+ film festivals in the world. MovieMaker magazine listed the festival in its 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list in 2022. Farmer has been an Atlanta Pride grand marshal as well as a longtime arts writer for outlets including ArtsATL, Georgia Voice, and Project Q Atlanta.
Education: University of Georgia
Hometown: Milledgeville, Georgia
Notable achievement: Leading Out on Film’s growth from a seven-day film festival to its current incarnation as an 11-day festival and becoming one of the most respected LGBTQ+ film festivals in the country
Few people know: I am incredibly shy.
Who’d play me in a biopic: Dan Levy
Actor, Writer, Director, and Musician
Raised in Stone Mountain, Donald Glover is the creator, writer, producer, and director of the FX series Atlanta, which debuted in 2016 and has received numerous Emmy and Golden Globe awards. The final season of the series aired in 2022. As an actor, he’s appeared in several films including Magic Mike XXL, Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Martian, and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Glover joined the writing team of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock while he was a student at New York University, and his musical alter ego, Childish Gambino, has garnered seven Grammy nominations for his albums. His single “This is America” won four Grammys for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap/Sung Performance, and Best Music Video.
Education: New York University
Montero Lamar Hill (Lil Nas X)
Hill is a rapper, singer, songwriter, and media personality whose genre-bending work has made him an international star. He first gained national attention for his 2019 country rap single, “Old Town Road,” which made him the most-nominated male artist at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, where he won Best Music Video and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The song also earned two MTV Video Music Awards, including Song of the Year, and the American Music Award for Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Song. The song, with a remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, became the longest chart-topper in U.S. history. He is the first openly LGBTQ+ Black artist to win a Country Music Association award. His full-length debut album, Montero, featured Doja Cat, Elton John, Megan Thee Stallion, and Miley Cyrus.
Education: University of West Georgia
London Holmes (London on da Track)
As a teenager London joined a rap crew called Dem Guyz and developed his musical skills by playing piano at his local church. In 2011, he released his first track, “Curtains,” with Young Thug. In the next few years he collaborated with Waka Flocka Flame, Gucci Mane, and Rich Homie Quan before signing with Cash Money Records. He’s become known for breaking new artists and has produced hits for artists such as 21 Savage, Summer Walker, Saweetie, G-Eazy, and more.
With albums including The ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady, and Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe creates music that pushes the boundaries of rock, funk, hip-hop, R&B, and electronica. As a musical innovator, the eight-time Grammy nominee has been influenced by Prince, Stevie Wonder, and George Clinton, and is the founder of the Atlanta record label Wondaland Arts Society. Monáe is also an actress (Moonlight, Hidden Figures, Harriet, The Glorias, and Antebellum), CoverGirl model, author (The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer), and activist who’s spoken up on behalf of LGBTQ+ rights and raised money for Flint, Michigan, following the contamination of its water.
Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas
Paula D. Murphy
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Soul Circus Inc.
Paula D. Murphy is the executive vice president and chief operating officer and co-owner of Soul Circus Inc. and producer of the UniverSoul Circus which is one of the top family-focused entertainment touring shows in the world. Murphy has played a key role in navigating the growth of Soul Circus Inc. from under 30 shows in one market to over 500 performances annually. Murphy has over three decades of proven business experience on six continents and in dozens of countries. One of her career highlights includes producing Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition, in conjunction with the Royal House of Mandela, which opened in London in 2019 and is currently on tour in the United States. A dedicated advocate for education, Murphy is chair of the board of directors of Resurgence Hall Charter School in metro Atlanta.
Education: Georgia State University
Hometown: Fairfield, Alabama
Lesson learned: Balance is a hard lesson: how to be a mother, wife, friend, leader, business owner, and keep it aligned.
Few people know: I speak sign language.
Who’d play me in a biopic: Tracee Ellis Ross
Will Packer Productions/Will Packer Media
Will Packer has produced and executive-produced a wide range of movies that have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide at the box office, including 10 films that have opened at number one. Packer’s most recent films include Beast, The Photograph, Little, and What Men Want. Girls Trip and Night School were the highest-grossing comedies for 2017 and 2018, respectively. Packer’s television, digital, and branded-content company, Will Packer Media, produces episodic scripted and unscripted series including That Girl Lay Lay on Nickelodeon; Ready to Love and Put a Ring on It on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network; and Fight Night and Lower Bottoms podcasts on iHeartRadio. Packer was selected as the producer of the 2022 Academy Awards 94th Oscars Ceremony—receiving an Emmy Award nomination as Producer, Outstanding Variety Special Live, for the 2022 Oscars.
Notable achievements: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture for Girls Trip (2018), BET Award for Best Movie for Think Like a Man (2013), Florida A&M University Meritorious Achievement Award (2007)
President and CEO
Frank Patterson is the president and CEO of Trilith Studios, where the films Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Passengers were produced, among others. He led the transition of the studio from a facilities business to an ecosystem intentionally built for the creative industries. Prior to Trilith, Patterson co-founded and served as the CEO of Pulse Evolution Corporation, a technology company that produces hyper-realistic digital humans for live and virtual reality applications. While at Pulse, Patterson produced the immersive live production of Michael Jackson’s “Slave to the Rhythm” at the Billboard Music Awards, which featured an original performance by Pulse’s digital human likeness of the late Michael Jackson.
Education: Baylor University (MA)
Antwan Patton (Big Boi)
Antwan André Patton, aka Big Boi, is a songwriter, rapper, record producer, and actor. As the iconic Southern hip-hop duo OutKast, Big Boi and collaborator André 3000 created a string of platinum-selling albums, won seven Grammys, and created the soundtrack for the 2006 film Idlewild—which the pair also starred in. Big Boi’s first solo album, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 chart upon its release in 2010. He’s collaborated with Missy Elliott, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z, and helped launch the careers of Janelle Monáe and Killer Mike. Born in Savannah, Big Boi is also the founder and CEO of the Big Kidz Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting leadership skills, fostering exposure to the humanities, and developing social consciousness in young people.
Actor, Director, and Producer
Tyler Perry Studios
One of the most commercially successful African American filmmakers in history, Tyler Perry created his famous character Madea on the stage before bringing her to the screen in 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which grossed more than $50 million. In 2008 in Atlanta, he opened Tyler Perry Studios—the country’s first major African American-owned film studio. In 2019 Perry opened a new production facility, one of the nation’s largest, on the site of the former Fort McPherson. Perry has also created television shows including House of Payne, served as an executive producer of the Lee Daniels film Precious, and starred in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, among other acting projects.
Hometown: New Orleans
Michael Render (Killer Mike)
Run the Jewels
Michael Render might be as famous for his activism as he is for his music: Raised in the Adamsville–
Collier Heights neighborhood, the Grammy-winning rapper served on Keisha Lance Bottoms’s mayoral transition team and was a prominent supporter of Bernie Sanders. Render’s advocacy on behalf of the #BankBlack movement helped move an estimated $60 million to Black-owned banking institutions, and he was appointed to the board of the High Museum of Art. In 2020, he partnered with Bounce TV founder Ryan Glover and former Atlanta Mayor and civil rights activist Andrew Young to create Greenwood Bank, a Black-owned online bank that caters to economically underserved Black and Latino communities across the United States. Render performs as Killer Mike in the hip-hop duo Run the Jewels. The duo is working with Nike SB on a sneaker collaboration that will reportedly be launched this year. Render also launched a television talk show, Love & Respect with Killer Mike, on PBS and Revolt TV.
Best advice received: Alice Mary Johnson, an executive of the Atlanta Area Commission on Children and Youth, taught me how radical Martin Luther King Jr. was.
Alyssa Michelle Stephens (Latto)
Latto won the first season of the reality television series, The Rap Game, in 2016, when she was going by Miss Mulatto. She notoriously did not sign with Jermaine Dupri, breaking through as an independent artist with her 2019 single, “Bitch From Da Souf.” She released her debut album, Queen of Da Souf, through RCA in 2020. That same year, she was nominated for Best New Hip Hop Artist at the BET Hip Hop Awards. Currently, she is nominated for Best New Artist and Best Melodic Rap Performance in the 2023 Grammy Awards, which will be announced in February.
Nonprofit: Win Some Give Some Foundation
Michael Williams, II (Mike WILL Made-It)
Michael Williams grew up Marietta surrounded by music. His mother was a recording artist, his father DJed in clubs, and one of his sisters was a drum major. As a high school student, he started supplying tracks for Gucci Mane. He attended Georgia State but soon had his first hit with Meek Mill and Rick Ross. The multiple Grammy winner’s many hits include “No Lie” by 2 Chainz, “Bandz a Make Her Dance” by Juicy J, “Pour It Up” by Rihanna, “Body Party” by Ciara, “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus, “Formation” by Beyoncé, and “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar.
Kavi Vu is a Vietnamese American storyteller and community organizer who was raised in South Georgia. As a daughter of refugees, she strives to tell stories that foster more empathetic and inclusive communities. Vu co-founded Wake Up Atlanta, a web series designed to increase Asian American Pacific Islander civic engagement in Georgia and co-created the ABC’s of AAPIs Coloring Book and Atlanta BeltLine exhibit. She was a 2019 Civic Innovation Fellow for the Center for Civic Innovation. And, also in 2019, for her digital organizing, Vu received the Rising Star Award from Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. Vu is committed to being a part of the movement that brings more Asian Americans to screens, to the stage, and her favorite—to the polls.
Education: University of Georgia
Favorite song about Atlanta: “ATL Hoe” by Baby D
Best advice received: It doesn’t have to be forever.
Vice President and Technical Director
In 2015, Carlos Bocanegra joined Atlanta United as vice president and technical director following a 15-year professional career, which included stops in the MLS, English Premier League, Spain, France, and Scotland. In college, he played at UCLA, where he was a national champion. Bocanegra was twice a FIFA World Cup participant, captaining the United States in 2010 in South Africa. As an executive, he has won four trophies with Atlanta United and oversees the day-to-day soccer operations of the club, including the scouting department, the USL team, and the Academy. In 2021, he was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Education: University of California, Los Angeles
First job: Pizza Royal
Best advice received: Wherever you move, the weather will never be as perfect as it is in Southern California.
Charities: Bert’s Big Adventure, Soccer in the Streets
Bucket list: Aspen for New Year’s
[Now Vice Chairman, AMB Sports and Entertainment, updated 1/23]
In 2016, Stephen Cannon was named CEO of AMB Group, leading the for-profit arm of Home Depot cofounder Arthur M. Blank’s family of businesses, including the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta United, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the PGA Tour Superstore. Previously Cannon served as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, which generated record sales under his leadership, with annual revenues exceeding $20 billion. Cannon also oversaw the relocation of MBUSA’s headquarters from New Jersey to metro Atlanta. An Army veteran who served as a first lieutenant in West Germany during the fall of the Iron Curtain, Cannon speaks fluent German and graduated with academic honors from West Point.
Education: United States Military Academy
Hometown: Paterson, New Jersey
First job: In high school, my brother and I owned a house-painting business that helped pay for college.
Best advice received: Spend time outside your comfort zone. You’ll learn more about who you are, what you’re capable of, and what more you have to learn.
Atlanta Sports Council
Dan Corso is president of the Atlanta Sports Council, the arm of the Metro Atlanta Chamber that serves as a recruiter for major regional, national, and international sporting events. The ASC was instrumental in the selection of Atlanta as the site for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, Super Bowl LIII in 2019, and the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four (ultimately canceled due to Covid-19). Atlanta will be the first city to host the College Football Playoff National Championship again in 2025, and in 2026, the FIFA World Cup will be held in the city. Corso is also president of the Atlanta Football Host Committee, which helped plan the CFP National Championship. He serves on the boards of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and College Football Hall of Fame. Prior to joining the ASC in 1999, Corso was vice chair of the festival division for the 1998 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Education: Florida State University
As CEO since 2014, Steve Koonin oversees all business, financial, and strategic operations of the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club and State Farm Arena and represents the owners as the head of the organization. Under Koonin’s leadership, State Farm became the new naming-rights partner for the team’s venue; following a $192.5 million renovation, the rechristened State Farm Arena was named Best New Concert Venue by Pollstar in 2020, and the Hawks ranked first in the NBA for Overall Game Experience. The team also built a state-of-the-art practice and training facility at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex in Brookhaven. An Atlanta native and a veteran of the entertainment and marketing industries, Koonin previously served as president of Turner Entertainment Networks.
Education: University of Georgia
Notable achievement: Atlanta Sports Council Lifetime Achievement Award (2020)
Board memberships: Chairman of the Board for the Georgia Aquarium, WWE, and the Atlanta Police Foundation. He is also on the executive committee of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
As chairman of the 2021 World Series Champions Atlanta Braves since 2001, and the team’s CEO until 2018, Terry McGuirk oversees all aspects of the MLB franchise. Major changes during McGuirk’s tenure at the helm have included the team’s 2007 sale to Liberty Media and the construction of what is now Truist Park, the $672 million new home the Braves moved into in 2017. McGuirk began his career in 1972 as an intern at Ted Turner’s recently acquired television station in Atlanta, rising through the ranks to eventually become chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting System.
Education: Middlebury College
President and CEO
[Now CEO, AMB Sports and Entertainment, and CEO, Atlanta Falcons, updated 1/23]
Rich McKay became president and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons in 2011, having first been hired by owner and chairman Arthur M. Blank in 2004 to serve as the team’s general manager. During McKay’s tenure, the Falcons have made it to the playoffs seven times, attended three NFC Championship Games, and played in Super Bowl LI. In addition to his Falcons duties, McKay played a central role in the development, opening, and operation of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. McKay previously spent 10 years as general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Education: Princeton University, Stetson University College of Law (JD)
Notable Achievement: Atlanta Business Chronicle Most Admired CEOs (2022)
Co-owner and Vice President
Renee Montgomery is part owner and vice president of the WNBA Atlanta Dream. Montgomery has won three Girls State Basketball Championships and graduated from the University of Connecticut as a two-time All-American in 2009. She was drafted fourth in the WNBA and won two WNBA championships while also being named an All-Star and Sixth Woman of the Year in her 11-year professional career. She retired in 2021 after sitting out the 2020 season to focus on social reform and justice. That same year, she became co-owner and vice president of the Atlanta Dream, making her the first WNBA player to become an owner and executive of an WNBA team. Montgomery also serves as a sports analyst and a celebrity host to numerous media outlets and host of her weekly podcast Montgomery & Company.
Education: University of Connecticut
First job: My first “real job” was being a broadcaster for NBA TV.
Best advice received: Control your controllables.
Toughest challenge: Opting out of the 2020 WNBA season
Favorite movoie: Love Actually
Vice President, Government Relations
Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena
Amy Phuong is vice president of government relations for the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena—a position that signifies an expansion of the Hawks’ efforts to unite the broader Atlanta community through basketball while deepening the organization’s relationships with local and state leaders. Prior to joining the Hawks in 2019, Phuong spent nearly a decade in public service. As parks and recreation commissioner, she oversaw some of Atlanta’s most ambitious park projects, including Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry, the Grant Park Gateway, and the largest strategic expansion to date of Piedmont Park. An Atlanta native, Phuong was also the city’s first chief service officer.
Education: Georgia Tech (MBA)
Notable achievements: Atlanta Business Chronicle 40 Under 40 (2017), Georgia Asian Times 25 Most Influential Asian Americans in Georgia (2015)
First job: Server at Baskin-Robbins
Favorite travel destinations: Patagonia, South Africa
Favorite Atlanta places to visit: Grant Park, Oakland Cemetery
President and CEO
As president and CEO of the Atlanta Braves, Derek Schiller manages all business functions of the front office and sets the strategic vision for the Braves business. Schiller joined the Braves in 2003 as senior vice president of sales and marketing and became executive vice president of sales and marketing in 2007. As part of the Braves’ executive leadership team, he was instrumental in securing plans for what is now Truist Park and the Battery Atlanta and played a pivotal role in the design and execution phases of the project.
Education: Vanderbilt University
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado
First job: Selling ice cream sandwiches—Chipwiches, to be specific. I think I ate more than I sold!
Favorite movies: Anything with Clint Eastwood, including the old spaghetti westerns
Charities: Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation
Bucket list: Heli-skiing in Canada or Alaska
Who’d play me in a biopic: Clint Eastwood (the version from High Plains Drifter)
President of Basketball Operations
A veteran of the NBA for more than 20 years, Travis Schlenk joined the Atlanta Hawks in May 2017 after 13 seasons with the Golden State Warriors, including the final six as assistant general manager. Schlenk hired Lloyd Pierce as head coach in 2018, and under his guidance the team has acquired Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, and Cam Reddish, adding veteran center Clint Capela at the 2020 NBA trade deadline. Schlenk oversees operations as the Hawks continue to build on their goals of adding young talent and preparing for the future in terms of salary cap and roster flexibility.
Education: Bethel College, Wichita State University (EdM)
Hometown: Selden, Kansas
First job: Working on my grandfather’s farm in western Kansas
Favorite TV show: Billions
In 2015, Kirby Smart was appointed head football coach at the University of Georgia, his alma mater. At press time, he had claimed five SEC Eastern Division championships, two SEC titles, and five bowl victories, and had led the Bulldogs to two appearances in national championship games—winning the 2021 national title by defeating Alabama. Smart’s 2019 Bulldogs became the first team in Bulldogs history to win 11 or more games in three straight seasons. Previously, Smart was a defensive coordinator at the University of Alabama, and has coached at Valdosta State University, Florida State University, and Louisiana State University. The son of a high school football coach, Smart played defensive back during his college career.
Education: University of Georgia, Florida State University (MS)
Alex Urban became the executive director of the PGA’s Tour Championship in 2022. Formerly, he had served as general manager and executive director of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, and was instrumental in Sentry Insurance’s onboarding as the event’s new title sponsor and subsequent extension. A Tour employee since 2013, Urban previously held roles in the Corporate Partnerships and Communications departments.
Hometown: Powell, Ohio (outside Columbus)
Education: Clemson University, University of Georgia (MA)
Best advice: My dad had a very successful career in business, but I’ll always remember him telling me that pursuing passions in life is more important than chasing a paycheck. If you have passion for what you do, the rest will fall into line.
Few people know: I have been in several bands in my life and can play myriad instruments.
Nonrprofits: The First Tee of Metro Atlanta, East Lake Foundation, Purpose Built Communities, and more
Vice President of Basketball and Special Adviser to the CEO
Represented by an 18,500-pound bronze statue at the entrance to State Farm Arena, Dominique Wilkins is one of Atlanta basketball’s most celebrated players. The 14th all-time leading scorer in league history, Wilkins played 12 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, leading the team to the playoffs in eight. Today he serves as Hawks VP of basketball and special advisor to the CEO, and offers team analysis during broadcasts on Bally Sports Southeast.
Education: University of Georgia
Hometown: Washington, North Carolina
Notable achievements: Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame, National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame
Inspiring person: My mom
Toughest challenge: Growing up in Baltimore with a single parent
Bucket list: Egypt
Who’d play me in a biopic: Denzel Washington
Rayford Trae Young
Acquired by the Atlanta Hawks from the Dallas Mavericks, Trae Young officially signed a contract with the Hawks in 2018. Young was a unanimous NBA All-Rookie First Team selection as he averaged 19.1 points, 8.1 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in 30.9 minutes in 81 contests during the 2018-2019 season. In the 2020-2021 season, Young led the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals, the team’s first appearance since 2015. By November 2022, Young’s 28 games of at least 40 points and 5 assists were the most such games in franchise history, while his 28 games of 40 plus points are third-most in franchise history, trailing only Hall of Famers Dominique Wilkins and Bob Pettit. The two-time NBA All-Star debuted his second signature basketball shoe, the Adidas Trae Young 2, in 2022.
Most inspiring person: My grandfather who passed away when I was 10.
Now retired, Anthony founded the Center for Puppetry Arts in 1978. Under his leadership, the center received a record 12 Citations of Excellence from UNIMA-USA, the U.S. division of Union Internationale de la Marionnette, the international organization for the art of puppetry. A native of Sarasota, Florida, Anthony has also received a personal Citation of Excellence from UNIMA-USA—puppetry’s most prestigious award.
Christopher Bridges (Ludacris)
One of the first Dirty South rappers to achieve mainstream success, Ludacris rose to the number four slot on the U.S. Billboard 200 with his 2000 major-label debut, Back for the First Time. He founded the Atlanta record label Disturbing tha Peace and has won Screen Actors Guild, MTV Video Music, and Grammy awards.
Brown is the founder, front man, and lead vocalist for his eponymous, multiplatinum, Grammy Award–winning Southern rock group. He is a songwriter, producer, record label head, businessman, and philanthropist.
Cleage is the author of 15 plays, eight novels, two books of poetry, two books of essays, a book of short stories, and a memoir. She worked in politics as speechwriter/press secretary to Mayor Maynard Jackson and as a consultant in many local political races. She is currently the Mellon Playwright in Residence at the Alliance Theatre.
As president of Live Nation Atlanta, Conlon books the city’s top venues, from Chastain Park to State Farm Arena. He cofounded Music Midtown in 1994 with the late Alex Cooley, whom he befriended in the 1970s while arranging concerts for Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. The longtime collaborators became the city’s most powerful music promoters.
A former pro infielder, Cox led major league teams for three decades, racking up more than 2,500 victories. In the 1990s, he led the Atlanta Braves to 14 straight division championships, five National League pennants, and a 1995 World Series title.
Lisa M. Cremin
During a quarter century with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Cremin oversaw an innovative suite of programs serving local arts organizations—including the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, which she helped found to support small to midsized groups.
Radric Davis (Gucci Mane)
Born Radric Davis in Bessemer, Alabama, the rapper known as Gucci Mane moved to East Atlanta at the age of nine and is considered one of the architects, along with T.I. and Jeezy, of trap music.
A renowned producer, singer, and songwriter, Jermaine Dupri founded So So Def Recordings in 1993 as a joint venture with Columbia Records—and helped put Atlanta on the national hip-hop map. Dupri has produced and written hits for Kris Kross, Monica, Usher, Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, and Mariah Carey, and released several albums of his own. In 2018 he joined the Songwriters Hall of Fame as the youngest songwriter ever inducted, at age 45—and only the second hip-hop artist following Jay-Z.
Gold pioneered contemporary art in Atlanta. For more than 30 years, she has staged groundbreaking exhibitions of artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Robert Rauschenberg, Alex Katz, Keith Haring, Irving Penn, Andres Serrano, and Robert Mapplethorpe.
Performing together since high school, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers released a self-titled record for Epic in 1989 that became the first of six consecutive gold- and/or platinum-certified albums. One of the most successful folk duos in history, they have enjoyed a 35-year career that began in clubs around their native Atlanta.
Now retired from his longtime role as artistic director of the Theatrical Outfit, Key has appeared on many national stages as well as those of the Alliance Theatre, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, and the Atlanta Opera. He has received the Governor’s Award in the Humanities and the Georgia Arts and Entertainment Legacy Award.
A conservationist, sustainable-development advocate, tech entrepreneur, and the Rolling Stones’ musical director for more than 20 years, Leavell cofounded the Mother Nature Network, which he sold in 2020. He’s also a Grammy-winning keyboardist who has recorded with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and the Allman Brothers Band.
Kevin Lee, aka Coach K, is the cofounder and chief operating officer of Quality Control Music and the manager of some of Atlanta’s biggest hip-hop stars. His roster of acts has included Migos, Lil Yachty, Jeezy, and Gucci Mane. With his Quality Control partner, CEO Pierre “Pee” Thomas, Coach K also runs the music and entertainment management firm Solid Foundation.
Leon is the former artistic director of Atlanta’s True Colors Theatre Company, which he cofounded with Jane Bishop in 2002 following 11 years as artistic director of the Alliance Theatre. Leon is a Tony Award–winning film and theater director whose Broadway credits include Fences, A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington, and The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.
A lawyer, real estate developer, and former UGA football star, Payne is best known as CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games and then president and CEO of the games themselves. He chaired Augusta National Golf Club for more than 10 years, during which women were first admitted to membership.
Camille Russell Love
A former art gallery owner, Love has served as executive director of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs since Bill Campbell was mayor. She has overseen programs such as Chastain Arts Center, the city’s Public Art Program (including Elevate), and the Atlanta Jazz Festival.
A Baltimore native, Schuerholz began his baseball career with the Orioles, helping build a Kansas City Royals team that won the World Series in 1985. In 1991, he teamed up with Bobby Cox to help the Braves go from “worst to first” and win the National League pennant. Then from 1991 to 2005, the Braves finished first in their division in every completed season. He was the first general manager whose teams captured World Series titles in both the American and National Leagues.
Stanley founded her eponymous studio in 2004, and has long been a vibrant presence on the Atlanta art scene—as a private art consultant, artist representative, and curator who’s organized shows at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Hathaway Contemporary Gallery, and Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia.