2024 Atlanta 500: Government & Infrastructure

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2024 Atlanta 500: Government & Infrastructure
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Photograph by BanksPhotos/Getty

Civic Leaders | Government & Politics | Transportation | Utilities | Legends

CIVIC LEADERS

Atlanta 500: Leona Barr-Davenport

Leona Barr-Davenport
President and CEO
Atlanta Business League

Leona Barr-Davenport is president and CEO of the Atlanta Business League, Atlanta’s oldest minority business development and advocacy organization. As president, she works with the board of directors to increase access to business opportunities for minorities, with specific emphasis on the development of businesses owned or operated by African Americans. Barr-Davenport has more than 25 years of experience in customer service, program development, organizational management, and fundraising for associations and youth-oriented programs.

EDUCATION Benedict College, Clark Atlanta University School of Business (MBA)
HOMETOWN Johnsonville, South Carolina
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame (2019), Carver College honorary doctor of divinity (2014)
LESSON LEARNED The first step is showing up.
BUCKET LIST Tour of Africa and becoming an adjunct professor
WHO’D PLAY ME IN A BIOPIC Angela Bassett


Atlanta 500: Chris Clark

Chris Clark
President and CEO
Georgia Chamber of Commerce

Chris Clark is the longest-serving president and CEO in the century-plus history of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Previously he served as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and as deputy commissioner for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. A graduate of Leadership Georgia, Clark has frequently been named one of Georgia Trend’s 100 most influential Georgians and one of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s most influential Atlantans.

EDUCATION Georgia Southern University, Georgia College & State University (MA)
FEW PEOPLE KNOW I’m a huge, massive Parrothead. I’ve seen Jimmy Buffett over 25 times.
FAVORITE BOOK The Old Man and the Boy by Robert Ruark
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Montana
WHAT I’D TELL MY 18-YEAR-OLD SELF You’re lucky they hadn’t invented camera phones yet! Real lucky!
BUCKET LIST Fly-fishing in New Zealand
WHO’D PLAY ME IN A BIOPIC A young Michael J. Fox


Atlanta 500 Jim DurrettJim Durrett
President and CEO
Buckhead Coalition
Executive Director
Buckhead Community Improvement District

Jim Durrett is president and CEO of Buckhead Coalition and executive director of Buckhead Community Improvement District. Buckhead Coalition is an invitation-only membership organization while Buckhead CID is a local government entity. Buckhead Coalition’s mission is to advocate on behalf of the community within the city of Atlanta and metropolitan region. The mission of Buckhead CID is to create and maintain a safe, accessible, and livable urban environment in the heart of the Buckhead commercial area. Prior to leading Buckhead CID, Durrett was the founding executive director of the Livable Communities Coalition, a nonprofit organization formed in 2005 to promote smart growth development in the Atlanta region. Before that, Durrett served with the Urban Land Institute as the first executive director of ULI’s Atlanta District Council.

EDUCATION University of Virginia, University of Georgia (MS)
HOMETOWN Atlanta
TOUGHEST CHALLENGE Effectively navigating opposition to the Buckhead Cityhood effort FAVORITE SONG ABOUT ATLANTA “Oh, Atlanta” by Little Feat


Atlanta 500: Jerry E. Gonzalez

Photograph courtesy of individual

Jerry E. Gonzalez
CEO
GALEO and GALEO Impact Fund

Jerry Gonzalez is the founder and CEO of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, a statewide nonprofit and nonpartisan organization with a mission to increase civic engagement and leadership development in the Latino community across Georgia. A native of Laredo, Texas, Gonzalez also leads the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund, which promotes voter registration and education, community education, and leadership development, and the GALEO Impact Fund, which was established in 2019 to organize the growing political power of the Latino community in Georgia. He also dedicates time towards philanthropy, serving on various boards. Gonzalez lives in Atlanta with his husband of over 25 years, Ray, an established and practicing pediatrician, and their dog, Zack.

EDUCATION Texas A&M University, Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (MA)
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS Georgia Trend 100 Most Influential Georgians (multiple years); Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Georgia’s 50 Most Influential Latinos (2021, 2020, 2019, 2018), and Latino Hall of Fame (2022)


Atlanta 500: Ryan Gravel

Photograph by David Kidd

Ryan Gravel
Founder
Sixpitch

Chamblee native Ryan Gravel is best known for his Georgia Tech master’s thesis, which presented a vision for what would become the Atlanta BeltLine. But he’s also a planner, designer, and author whose work centers on the cultural aspects of urban design, exploring how its intimate relationship with our way of life can illuminate a brighter path forward for cities. The founder of the urban design consultancy Sixpitch and the ideas-focused nonprofit Generator, Gravel was the lead author of the Atlanta City Design and is the author of Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities.

EDUCATION Georgia Tech (MA)
FIRST JOB Typing bar codes into a computer in the back room of a music store at Ansley Mall. I guess it was Turtle’s, but I’m not sure.
FAVORITE MOVIE Blade Runner 2049
LESSON LEARNED The ideas we need are often unpopular, unwanted, and underfunded.
BUCKET LIST Road trip #2 across America with my family, from Los Angeles to Atlanta


Atlanta 500: Kevin Green

Photograph courtesy of individual

Kevin Green
President and CEO
Midtown Alliance

Kevin Green joined the Midtown Alliance as president and CEO in 2011. Previously, he was executive director of the Clean Air Campaign, a Georgia nonprofit working in partnership with transportation management associations and public and private institutions to improve air quality and reduce traffic. Green was formerly vice president of environmental affairs for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and practiced law for a decade; his litigation experience includes state and federal trial and appellate courts across the Southeast..

EDUCATION James Madison University, Emory University School of Law (JD)
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT I am the drummer in my daughter Mia’s band.
FIRST JOB Delivering Sheetrock off a flatbed truck
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Vietnam (so far)
WHAT I’D TELL A RECENT GRADUATE When the alarm clock rings and you aren’t excited to go to work, it’s time to do something different.
FAVORITE ATLANTA PLACE TO VISIT Oakland Cemetery (it’s strangely affirming)


Atlanta 500: Shannon W. James Sr.

Shannon W. James Sr.
President and CEO
Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance

Shannon W. James Sr. is president and CEO of the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, a public-private partnership working to improve the regional economic competitiveness of the area around Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. A native of Albany, Georgia, James accepted the top job at AeroATL in 2018 following a successful 15-year career in banking. Beginning his career as a part-time teller and customer service representative, James later became the first African American accepted into the management trainee program at the Park Avenue Bank, then went on to serve as vice president of commercial banking for both SunTrust and BB&T.

EDUCATION Valdosta State University
INSPIRING PERSON My mother
TOUGHEST CHALLENGE Becoming a father, because I’ve never met my father
FAVORITE ATLANTA PLACE TO VISIT Center for Civil and Human Rights
FAVORITE SONG ABOUT GEORGIA “Georgia” by Field Mob and Ludacris ft. Jamie Foxx
WHO’D PLAY ME IN A BIOPIC Michael B. Jordan


Atlanta 500: Kali Kirkham Boatright

Kali Kirkham Boatright
President and CEO
Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce

Kali Kirkham Boatright is the president and CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber where she has served since 2018. In 2022, the chamber received 5-Star Accreditation, with perfect scores in five of eight areas, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and opened new offices at 10000 Avalon in Alpharetta. The chamber celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023. Prior to coming to North Fulton, Kali served as CEO of the Douglas County Chamber. She has always worked in nonprofit management.

EDUCATION University of Missouri
WHY I CHOSE THIS WORK Nonprofit management in many ways chose me. I thought I would become a writer, but I went to work for Golden Key right out of college and thrived in an environment where I wore many hats and worked with new leaders each year.
Best advice received No one gets a trophy for not taking vacation. You worked hard, you earned it, so take every vacation hour you earn to rest, relax, and recharge!
FAVORITE BOOK The Alienist by Caleb Carr
FAVORITE ATLANTA PLACE TO VISIT Atlanta BeltLine


Atlanta 500: Katie Kirkpatrick

Katie Kirkpatrick
President and CEO
Metro Atlanta Chamber

In 2020, Katie Kirkpatrick became president and CEO of the 164-year-old Metro Atlanta Chamber. Previously, she was the organization’s chief policy officer, providing a link between the metro Atlanta business community and local, state, and national governments. Before joining the Metro Atlanta Chamber in 2007 as vice president of environmental affairs, she worked as director of environmental engineering for the poultry producer Gold Kist. Kirkpatrick is chair of the Atlanta Track Club Foundation and an executive committee member of Learn4Life, an initiative working to advance educational outcomes for metro Atlanta students. Additionally, Kilpatrick serves on the GRACE Commission, which aims to end human trafficking in Georgia.

EDUCATION Auburn University
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT Catalyzing the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s ATL Action for Racial Equity initiative—a multiyear, multistep effort leveraging the power of the region’s business community to advance racial equity through collective impact
BEST ADVICE RECEIVED As a working mother, there will be times that you can’t give 100 percent to both jobs. Just know that whatever you can give, it is enough and better than most.


Atlanta 500 Odetta MacLeish-White

Odetta MacLeish-White
Director, Georgia Initiatives
Center for Community Progress

Odetta MacLeish-White is the director of Georgia Initiatives for the Center for Community Progress. In this role, she helps communities turn vacant, abandoned, and deteriorating properties into thriving places through systems change strategies that lift up racial equity and rebalance power dynamics. Prior to joining CCP, she was managing director for the TransFormation Alliance, a partnership of nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses working with residents of Atlanta’s southwest neighborhoods to pursue systems changes in access to housing, transit, and jobs. A member of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership class of 2023, she also serves on the advisory board for HouseATL.

EDUCATION Harvard Radcliffe University, Duke University School of Law (JD, LLM)
LESSON LEARNED I re-learn every day that clear communication is vital to the health of every type of relationship.
HOBBIES Reading and nurturing a container garden on my back deck.
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Any beach


Atlanta 500 Veronica Maldonado-Torres

Veronica Maldonado-Torres
President and CEO
Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Veronica Maldonado-Torres is president and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. With over a decade of experience as a small business champion and supplier diversity advocate, Maldonado-Torres is a catalyst of growth for both small businesses and large corporations, bringing thought-leadership and innovation to the supplier development space. Prior to joining the GHCC, she successfully guided the development and growth of more than 150 firms across multiple industries ranging from $1 million to $100 million in annual revenue in her role as program director for the Georgia Mentor Protégé Connection. There, she fostered over 131 Fortune 500 corporate relationships, and supported the supplier development efforts of more than 41 corporations.

FIRST JOB My first official job at 15 was as a hostess in a restaurant. That experience served me well. I love making people feel welcome and valued.
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Cartagena, Colombia. My family hometown!


Atlanta 500: Atlanta 500 Rohit Malhotra

Rohit Malhotra
Founder and Executive Director
Center for Civic Innovation

Rohit Malhotra is the founder and executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation, which seeks to eliminate inequality by empowering people to design public policy from the ground up. With a background in social entrepreneurship, digital communication, open data, and community organizing, Malhotra was an Ash Innovation Fellow in the Obama White House’s Office of Management and Budget, working on social impact bonds and pay for performance, and in 2015 was awarded the prestigious Echoing Green Global Fellowship. In 2020, Malhotra was named to the Emory Alumni Association’s annual class of 40 Under 40.

EDUCATION Emory University, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government (MA)
HOMETOWN Atlanta
WHY I CHOSE THIS WORK I chose to work at the intersection of public policy and finance because I believe that our city needs more effective solutions to address widening inequality in Atlanta. Inequality disproportionately impacts people who share skin color and a story with my family, and like my family, I love my city too much not to fight for it.
BEST ADVICE RECEIVED Call your mom.


Atlanta 500 Nick MasinoNick Masino
President and CEO
Gwinnett Chamber and Partnership Gwinnett

Nick Masino is the first GenX president and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber and Partnership Gwinnett. He has shepherded in the most diverse board of directors in Chamber history, reinvigorated its public policy focus, implemented a new strategic plan, and is currently overseeing a massive renovation to Georgia’s largest Chamber of Commerce facility. He also led the Chamber to receive its first-ever five-star accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2022) and its first-ever global title for the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Chamber of the Year (2023). Before joining the Chamber as chief economic development officer, he was an executive in the staffing industry, while serving as Georgia’s youngest mayor in the City of Suwanee.

EDUCATION Ohio State University
FIRST JOB Dishwasher
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS Most Notable Georgians, Power 100: Most Influential Atlantans, 100 Most Influential Georgians
HIDDEN TALENT I can sleep anywhere: planes, trains, boats, etc.
FAVORITE GEORGIA TEAMS Atlanta Vibe, Georgia Swarm, Gwinnett Gladiators, the Stripers, the Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies


Atlanta 500: Sharon Mason

Photograph courtesy of individual

Sharon Mason
President and CEO
Cobb Chamber of Commerce

Sharon Mason has held six different leadership positions with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce since 2005; she climbed to president and CEO in January 2018, bringing more than 18 years of chamber and nonprofit leadership experience to the position. In addition to sitting on multiple boards, Mason serves on the Regional Business Coalition executive committee, the Council for Quality Growth board of directors, and was named by Governor Nathan Deal to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority Board (GRTA) in 2018 and continues to serve on this board.

EDUCATION Samford University
FIRST JOB Special Times Gift Shop in Snellville
FAVORITE TV SHOW/MOVIE/BOOK Parks and Recreation, Wonder Woman, all John Maxwell books
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS Saint John, Saint Thomas, Saint Maarten
FAVORITE ATLANTA PLACE TO VISIT Chattahoochee River trails
NONPROFITS MUST Ministries, Center for Family Resources, liveSAFE Resources


Atlanta 500: William Pate

William Pate
President and CEO
Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

As president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, William Pate promotes one of the city’s top economic drivers: tourism. He was vice president of the host committee that managed the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship and a board member of the host committee for Super Bowl LIII in 2019. In 2020, the American Marketing Association’s Atlanta chapter awarded Pate its Lifetime Achievement Award; and, in 2019, he was honored as Herman J. Russell CEO of the Year by the Atlanta Business League. The Atlanta Business Chronicle has honored Pate multiple times as one of Atlanta’s Most Admired CEOs. In 2023, through a gift from Pate, the William C. Pate Chair in Strategic Communication in the College of Arts & Sciences at Georgia State University was established.

EDUCATION Georgia State University (MA)
HOMETOWN Decatur
FIRST JOB When I was 12 years old, I raked leaves for Mrs. Brumbeloe at $2 an hour.



Atlanta 500 Anna RoachAnna Roach

Executive Director and CEO
Atlanta Regional Commission

Anna Roach is executive director and CEO of the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), which facilitates community and development strategies to enhance the metro region’s growth and quality of life. Prior to joining ARC in 2022, she served as the chief operating officer for Fulton County, where she oversaw 4,500 employees in 38 departments with a budget of $1.2 billion. Roach also served as Fulton County’s chief strategy officer and assistant county manager. A lawyer by training, Roach has held several key legal leadership positions during her career, including assistant deputy general counsel for the government of the District of Columbia and administrative law judge in the city of New York. She is a current member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and the American Bar Association, serves as an advisory board member at Tyler Technologies and Avenu Insights and
Analytics, and was past board chair of the March of Dimes, Atlanta. Roach is also a member of Leadership Atlanta’s class of 2024.

EDUCATION State University of New York, College at Cortland; St. John’s University (JD)


Atlanta 500 A.J. Robinson

A.J. Robinson
President
Central Atlanta Progress and Atlanta Downtown Improvement District

Since 2003, Knoxville, Tennessee, native A.J. Robinson has been president of Central Atlanta Progress—a private business association and advocacy organization started in 1941—and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District. Both groups are committed to making the Atlanta community, specifically downtown, more livable, vital, and diverse. Previously Robinson was president of the real estate company Portman Holdings, where he managed all aspects of the firm’s real estate development processes, including property and asset management of SunTrust Plaza and AmericasMart.

EDUCATION Emory University, Harvard Business School (MBA)
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT Being a founder of the Center for Civil and Human Rights
FIRST JOB Forklift driver for my father’s company


Atlanta 500: Melinda C. Sylvester

Melinda C. Sylvester
President and CEO
Greater Georgia Black Chamber of Commerce/Melinda the Bridge Builder

Melinda C. Sylvester is the president and CEO of the Greater Georgia Black Chamber of Commerce, which she founded in 2016. Sylvester’s chamber career started when she led the Greater Southwest Louisiana Black Chamber of Commerce in the early 2000s. The St. Martinville, Louisiana, native is also the founder and publisher of Tel-Mel Media & Publishing Co. LLC and publishes Faith & Soul News Magazine. She also established the chamber’s Bridge Builders Accelerator Academy, which fosters economic growth with equity, diversity, and inclusion. She also does public relations and branding.

FAVORITE ATLANTA PLACE TO VISIT Tyler Perry Studios
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Senegal, Africa
NONPROFIT Greater Georgia Black Chamber’s “Bridge Builders”
WHO SHOULD PLAY YOU IN A BIOPIC Kerry Washington


Atlanta 500: Pat Upshaw Monteith

Photograph courtesy of individual

Pat Upshaw-Monteith
President and CEO
Leadership Atlanta

Pat Upshaw-Monteith became president and CEO of Leadership Atlanta in 2005, having started with the organization in 1992 as co-executive director. In her time at the helm, she’s participated in the present and future growth of Atlanta by imparting to new generations of leaders the values that have traditionally been central to the area’s success. Previously Upshaw-Monteith served for 13 years as associate general manager of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

EDUCATION Albany State University, Bowling Green State University (MA)
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT When appointed to my position with the Atlanta Symphony
Orchestra, I had the distinct honor of being one of the first African Americans hired in
management by a major symphony orchestra.
FAVORITE BOOK David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell



Atlanta 500 Kathy N. WallerKathy N. Waller

Executive Director
Atlanta Committee for Progress

Kathy N. Waller is the executive director for the Atlanta Committee for Progress (ACP). ACP, founded in 2003, provides leadership on key issues important to economic growth and inclusion for all Atlantans and includes more than 40 chief executives, university presidents, and civic leaders. Waller retired in March 2019 after 32 years with the Coca-Cola Company where she was the executive vice president, chief financial officer, and president of Enabling Services. As CFO, she led many sectors of the business including mergers and acquisitions, investor relations, and account and controls. In addition to her C-suite role, Waller, a CPA, was the founding chair of the Coca-Cola Company’s Women’s Leadership Council.

EDUCATION University of Rochester (MBA)
FIRST JOB At 16, I worked at the Georgia Department of Revenue in the Tag and Title Office.
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS Induction into the Junior Achievement Atlanta Business Hall of Fame established by Atlanta Business Chronicle and Junior Achievement of Georgia (2023), Savoy’s Most Influential Black Corporate Directors (2016, 2017, and 2021), Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Changing the World Award (2015)


Atlanta 500 Kyle Wingfield

Kyle Wingfield
President and CEO
Georgia Public Policy Foundation

As an opinion columnist for nine years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kyle Wingfield wrote often about state politics and policy, focusing especially on education and school choice, transportation, healthcare, and state and local taxation. In April 2018, he joined the Georgia Public Policy Foundation as president and CEO, gaining a hands-on role in helping shape public policy at the state level after having written about it for many years.

EDUCATION University of Georgia
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT GPPF received State Policy Network’s 2023 Bob Williams Award for Most Influential Research for our work on housing affordability.
BEST ADVICE RECEIVED Everyone needs an editor!
FIRST JOB I spent a summer working in the dining hall at a Boy Scout camp near Rome. I made $35 a week—$32.32 after taxes.
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Jekyll Island


GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

Atlanta 500 Liliana BakhtiariLiliana Bakhtiari
Council Member
City of Atlanta

Liliana Bakhtiari is serving their first term as a member of the Atlanta City Council, representing the citizens of District 5. Bakhtiari is the first queer Muslim person to be elected in the state of Georgia, and the first nonbinary person elected in the city of Atlanta. Bakhtiari identifies as gender fluid and uses “she/her” and “they/them” pronouns. Bakhtiari served as the public affairs manager of Planned Parenthood Southeast and lobbied for voting rights with ProGeorgia. Additionally, Bakhtiari served as a consultant for Echo Market Research as it built out its Social Justice Division. They also collaborated with Partners for Home to establish a hotel program housing Atlanta’s at-risk unsheltered population during the pandemic. In 2023, Bakhtiari was named a David Bohnett Leader Fellow by LGBTQ+ Victory Institute and, in 2022, was named Next Gen Leader of the Year by OUT Georgia Business Alliance.

EDUCATION Georgia State University
HOMETOWN Lilburn, Georgia
HOBBIES Powerlifting, traveling, yoga, riding my motorcycle, anything that involves being outside
FAVORITE ATLANTA PLACE TO VISIT Back deck at Dr. Bombay’s Tea Room


Atlanta 500: Sherry BostonSherry Boston
District Attorney
Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit

District attorney for the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit since 2017, Sherry Boston oversees the prosecution of felony offenses filed in the Superior Court of DeKalb County. She’s the second female district attorney in the history of the office. Previously, she served as DeKalb County solicitor general—the elected official overseeing the prosecution of misdemeanor crimes—and was the first woman appointed as municipal court judge for the City of Dunwoody. Boston has also worked in private practice handling thousands of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases in metro Atlanta.

EDUCATION Villanova University, Emory University School of Law (JD)
FEW PEOPLE KNOW I have a twin sister. Yes, really!
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Mexico


Atlanta 500 Jon BurnsJon Burns
Speaker
Georgia House of Representatives

Georgia House Majority Leader Jon Burns is the 75th speaker of the state House, replacing long-time speaker David Ralston, who died shortly after stepping down in 2022. Majority leader since 2015, Burns has served in the state House since 2005 and represents the 159th legislative district of Georgia that includes Screven County and portions of Effingham and Bulloch Counties. He has sat on the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs; Appropriations; Economic Development and Tourism; Ethics; Game, Fish & Parks; Rules; and Transportation Committees and has been an ex officio member of all other House committees. He lives on his family farm in Effingham County.

EDUCATION Georgia Southern University, John Marshall Law School (JD)


Atlanta 500 Lisa CupidLisa Cupid
Commission Chairwoman
Cobb County

Cupid has served on the Cobb Board of Commissioners since 2013. Some of her accomplishments include expanding transit service, improving citizen education and engagement, and advocating for enhanced public safety measures. Cupid is an attorney and former mediator, policy analyst, and manufacturing process engineer. On the Atlanta Regional Commission Board, she is also a member of the Transportation & Air Quality Committee, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, and the Senior Policy Group of the Urban Area Security Initiative. She is the first Black and first female chairwoman of Cobb County.

EDUCATION Georgia Tech, Georgia State College of Law (JD)


Atlanta 500 Andre DickensAndre Dickens
Mayor
City of Atlanta

Andre Dickens is the 61st mayor of Atlanta. Since being sworn in as mayor in 2022, his accomplishments include the establishment of the Nightlife Division to address bars and clubs with a high history of crime, the reestablishment of the Pothole Posse to rapidly respond to residents’ reports, and leading the successful coalition to keep Atlanta whole in opposition to a de-annexation effort. He has been a member of the Atlanta City Council and is also a businessman, nonprofit executive, engineer, speaker, deacon, and father. An Atlanta native, Dickens is the former chief development officer for TechBridge, a nonprofit that drives community impact by bringing affordable technology and business expertise to other nonprofit organizations. In 2018, he cofounded TechBridge’s Technology Career Program, which prepares unemployed and underemployed people for careers in technology by teaching high-demand skills while helping participants land jobs in IT departments across Atlanta. In 2023, the Atlanta Regional Commission board elected Dickens to serve as chair of its board of directors. He is the first Atlanta mayor to serve as ARC board chair.

EDUCATION Georgia Tech, Georgia State University (MPA)


Atlanta 500: Carmalitha L. Gumbs

Carmalitha L. Gumbs
Councilwoman
City of South Fulton

Carmalitha Gumbs is a member of the South Fulton City Council. Throughout the pandemic, Gumbs worked to make sure seniors had access to food and other supplies while sheltering in place. The winner of multiple awards and a frequent featured guest speaker, Gumbs was recognized by State Rep. Sharon Beasley-Teague for her outstanding public service and her role in ensuring the welfare of the citizens of Georgia.

EDUCATION Norfolk State University, Strayer University (MBA, MPH)
FIRST JOB Working as a potato grader
WHY I CHOSE THIS WORK I love people. I love being a resource, and I am passionate about my community.
LESSON LEARNED Everyone and everything is not for you, and you cannot force it.
FAVORITE MOVIES Grease, Grease 2


Atlanta 500: Eugene E. Jones Jr.

Eugene E. Jones Jr.
Former President and CEO
Atlanta Housing

Eugene E. Jones Jr. was most recently president and CEO of Atlanta Housing, the Southeast’s largest public housing authority, which serves more than 25,000 families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. With more than 35 years of experience in housing and construction, Jones has served in leadership positions in cities across the U.S. and Canada. In Chicago, he was president and CEO of the nation’s second-largest housing authority from 2015 to 2019. Jones was president and CEO of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation from 2012 to 2014, served as executive director of housing authorities in Detroit and Indianapolis, and has held key roles in housing agencies in Kansas City and San Francisco.

EDUCATION University of Albuquerque, New Mexico Highlands University (MBA)
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT Author of Housing Humans: A Vicarious Memorandum
TOUGHEST CHALLENGE Politicians
FIRST JOB U.S. Air Force
HOBBIES Basketball
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Greece


Atlanta 500: Eloisa Klementich

Photograph courtesy of individual

Eloisa Klementich
President and CEO
Invest Atlanta

Eloisa Klementich is president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, Atlanta’s economic development authority. As CEO, she is leading an economic mobility strategy which has generated more than 47,803 new jobs and $8 billion in new capital investment, supported $7.1 million of small business funding, and created 7,824 affordable housing units across the city. Previously, she worked as special assistant for economic development at the U.S. Economic Development Administration and served as California’s assistant deputy secretary for economic development and commerce. She also worked as a consultant for Mexican president Vicente Fox.

EDUCATION Pitzer College, Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (MBA), University
of California, Los Angeles (MA), University of La Verne (DPA)
BEST ADVICE RECEIVED From my father: “Nothing lasts forever.”
BOARD MEMBERSHIPS Latin American Civic Association, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Atlanta Technical College, Atlanta Emerging Markets, Startup Atlanta


Atlanta 500 Nicole Love HendricksonNicole Love Hendrickson
Commission Chairwoman
Gwinnett County

Nicole Love Hendrickson was elected chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in 2020, making her the first African American to hold this position. In her role, she leads the board in setting the direction and formulating policies for county government, overseeing the creation and adoption of the county’s more than $2 billion budget, and ensuring Gwinnett’s services reach all its nearly one million residents. Hendrickson is active on several local and statewide boards including the Atlanta Regional Commission, serving as chair of its Local Leaders Housing Action Committee, which is tasked with developing a regionwide plan to address housing affordability challenges. Other board memberships include Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Aurora Theatre.

EDUCATION University of Rhode Island, University of Georgia (MSW)
HOMETOWN Providence, Rhode Island
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS Georgia Trend 40 Under 40 (2022), Congressman Hank Johnson’s Trailblazer Award (2021), Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Public Service Award (2017)
FAVORITE ATLANTA PLACE TO VISIT Ponce City Market


Atlanta 500: Dawn Luke Arnold

Dawn Luke Arnold
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Invest Atlanta

As executive vice president and chief operating officer of the city’s official economic development agency, Dawn Luke Arnold oversees Invest Atlanta’s community development, finance, information technology, human resources, operations, and investment services departments. Previously, she served as the organization’s senior vice president of community development, responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction in the successful execution of a shared vision of comprehensive community development, quality affordable housing, and economic growth in Atlanta’s 10 tax allocation districts. Arnold also managed and operated Invest Atlanta’s multifamily and single-family housing bond portfolio of approximately $1.8 billion and more than 20,000 units of housing.

EDUCATION Spelman College, Georgia State University (MBA)
HOMETOWN LaGrange, Georgia
WHY I CHOSE THIS WORK After having been homeless for a short period of time, then living in substandard housing, I made it my life’s mission to ensure that people are able to have decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing.


Atlanta 500: Lauren “Bubba” McDonald

Lauren “Bubba” McDonald
Commissioner
Georgia Public Service Commission

Following 20 years as a state representative, Lauren “Bubba” McDonald was appointed to the Georgia Public Service Commission in 1998 by Governor Zell Miller, and then reelected in a special election later that year. He held the seat until 2002. McDonald returned to the commission in 2008 and served as chairman. He was reelected to the commission in 2014 and 2020. He is also a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Committee on Electricity and an executive member of the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition.

EDUCATION University of Georgia
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT Started funeral home business with son in 1997 and now own three funeral homes.
WHY I CHOSE THIS WORK Zell Miller talked me into it.
FIRST JOB Soda jerk in Commerce Drug Company
FEW PEOPLE KNOW Won first place in Georgia boys choir solo at age 12
FAVORITE ATLANTA PLACE TO VISIT The Varsity


Atlanta 500: Robert J. Murphy

Photograph courtesy of individual

Robert J. Murphy
Special Agent in Charge, Atlanta Field Division
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Counting more than 27 years of law enforcement experience, Robert J. Murphy serves as special agent in charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He leads hundreds of special agents, task force officers, intelligence research specialists, diversion investigators, and other employees assigned to Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Murphy began his career in 1991 as an officer in the Orlando Police Department.

EDUCATION Florida State University
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS Three-time recipient of the U.S. Department of Justice Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force’s National Case of the Year Award
INSPIRING PERSON I was working at Publix supermarkets through college. A Tallahassee Police Department officer who worked security at the Publix talked me into doing a ride-along one night, and I was hooked.
WHO’D PLAY ME IN A BIOPIC Kevin Bacon


Atlanta 500: Bee NguyenBee Nguyen
State Director
Office of U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock

The Democratic nominee for Georgia’s Secretary of State in 2022, Bee Nguyen was named state director for U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock in 2023. In this role, she is responsible for advising the senator and managing his Georgia-based team. She had been the first Asian American Democratic woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly, serving House District 89, the seat formerly held by Stacey Abrams. She’s also served as a national policy adviser for New American Leaders, which promotes the political participation of first- and second-generation Americans. Prior to being elected in 2017, Nguyen served as chief of staff for Georgia Representative Sam Park. She’s also worked for the resettlement agency Boat People SOS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute. Nguyen is the founder of Athena’s Warehouse, which supports high school girls in Atlanta.

EDUCATION Georgia State University (MA, MPA)
WHY I CHOSE THIS WORK As the daughter of refugees, I have spent my life trying to honor the courageous legacy of my parents. While I know this is an impossible feat, the work I do is rooted in my family story.


Atlanta 500: Rusty Paul

Photograph courtesy of individual

Russell K. Paul
Mayor
Sandy Springs

Elected mayor of Sandy Springs in 2013, Russell K. “Rusty” Paul brings more than 40 years of government experience to the job. A former state senator, he was elected to Sandy Springs’ founding city council in 2005 and has served on the city’s charter review commission and development authority. Paul also worked for the first Bush administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development as assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental relations.

EDUCATION Samford University
FEW PEOPLE KNOW I’m a chick-flick aficionado; I’m addicted to the Hallmark Channel.
FIRST JOB Picking cotton at age six
LESSON LEARNED Politics is a team sport, and you have to build relationships, looking for common ground with people who disagree or have a different set of solutions than yours.
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION My cabin at the farm on which I grew up [near Birmingham]—land that has been in my family since 1880


Atlanta 500: Robb Pitts

Photograph courtesy of individual

Robb Pitts
Chairman
Fulton County Board of Commissioners

Robb Pitts was elected in 2017 as chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, having previously served on the board from 2002 to 2014. Pitts also served two decades on the Atlanta City Council, including a stint as president from 1997 to 2001. As a Fulton commissioner, he advocated for diversification of revenue sources to relieve tax burdens on property owners. Pitts is also a former college professor and registered real estate broker.

EDUCATION Ohio University, Academia Hispano Americana, Kent State University, La Universidad Interamericana, Emory University (MA)
WHY I CHOSE THIS WORK I wanted to effect positive change and ensure that taxpayers receive the services they pay for in a more cost-effective and efficient manner.


Atlanta 500 Sheikh Rahman

Sheikh Rahman
State Senator
Georgia State Senate

Senator Sheikh Rahman, a Democrat, is the first immigrant and first Asian American to serve in the Georgia State Senate. He is also the first Muslim Georgia Legislator. Elected in 2018, he represents the 5th Senate District in the heart of Gwinnett. Rahman is the former chairman of the Gwinnett Senate Delegation. In the Georgia State Senate, he serves as a member of the Senate committees on Appropriations, Economic Development and Tourism, Government Oversight, Natural Resources and the Environment, and Urban Affairs. Rahman grew up in Bangladesh, where his country was devastated by the Bangladesh Liberation War of Independence in 1971. At 13, Rahman was kidnapped at gunpoint as a prisoner of war. He came to America in 1981, becoming a citizen in 1995.

EDUCATION University of Georgia
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta 100 Most Influential Georgia Muslims (2022), National Caucus of Environmental Legislators Rising Environmental Leader Award (2021), Georgia Asian Times 25 Most Influential Asian Americans in Georgia (2019)


Atlanta 500: Lee Thomas

Lee Thomas
Deputy Commissioner, Film, Music & Digital Entertainment
Georgia Department of Economic Development

Lee Thomas is a deputy commissioner at the Georgia Department of Economic Development and division director of the Georgia Film Office. She’s helped Georgia become one of the top filming locations in the world, with $4.4 billion in direct spending in the state during the fiscal year 2022. A native Atlantan, Thomas pursued doctoral studies in New York before returning to the city in 1996 to work for the Georgia Film and Videotape Office as a project manager, becoming a location specialist for the office in 1998 and director of the film division in 2010.

EDUCATION University of Georgia, Georgia State University (MA), New York University
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT Georgia Trend Georgian of the Year (2019)
INSPIRING PERSON Jimmy Carter
FEW PEOPLE KNOW We owned a restaurant and campground in Rabun County from 2010 until January 2020. It was initially an adventure renovating and running it, but it became way too much to handle!


Atlanta 500 Michael L. Thurmond

Michael L. Thurmond
CEO
DeKalb County Government

Since being sworn in as CEO in 2017, Michael L. Thurmond’s primary mission is restoring trust in county government. His other priorities include adopting a balanced budget, ensuring accurate water bills, removing blight, offering summer youth employment, improving employee compensation, and fulfilling the federal/state sewer consent agreement. Thurmond, a former member of the Georgia General Assembly and the first African American elected to a statewide office without prior appointment, has earned the reputation of being a “turnaround expert” after fundamentally transforming the culture and enhancing operations of complex organizations such as the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, the Georgia Department of Labor, and the DeKalb County School District. His latest book, James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia: A Founder’s Journey from Slave Trader to Abolitionist, will be released early this year.

EDUCATION Paine College, University of South Carolina School of Law (JD)


Atlanta 500: Fani T. Willis

Fani T. Willis
District Attorney
Fulton County District Attorney’s Office

Fani T. Willis is the district attorney for Fulton County. As a career trial lawyer with deep and broad prosecutorial experience, she has led over 100 jury trials and has prosecuted hundreds of murder cases. Willis has prosecuted many other serious crimes, including crimes against women and children. Her 19 years of experience as a prosecutor have given her a deep commitment to focusing her office’s prosecutorial efforts on the most dangerous offenders and removing them from society. She has also served as chief judge of the city of South Fulton.

EDUCATION Howard University, Emory University School of Law (JD)
FIRST JOB Cashier at Bradley’s department store in Laurel, Maryland
MOST INSPIRING PERSON My dad, who was a Black Panther, civil rights activist, and criminal defense attorney.
FAVORITE BOOK AND MOVIE The Godfather


Atlanta 500: Pat Wilson

Photograph courtesy of individual

Pat Wilson
Commissioner
Georgia Department of Economic Development

As commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Pat Wilson leads the agency responsible for creating jobs and investment opportunities in Georgia through business recruitment and expansion, workforce development, and international trade and tourism, as well as the arts, film, and music industries. Before being appointed to the position in 2016 by Governor Nathan Deal, Wilson served as the organization’s chief operating officer, and was previously director of government affairs in the administration of Governor Sonny Perdue.

EDUCATION University of Georgia
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT Georgia has been named the number one state in the nation for business for ten consecutive years by Area Development magazine.
FIRST JOB Picking peaches
FEW PEOPLE KNOW I love karaoke.
HOBBIES Baseball, football, softball, and my kids’ sports at Northside Youth Organization
FAVORITE BOOK In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson


Top Georgia Officials

  • Brian P. Kemp Governor
  • Burt Jones Lieutenant Governor
  • Chris Carr Attorney General
  • Brad Raffensperger Secretary of State
  • Jon Ossoff U.S. Senator
  • Raphael Warnock U.S. Senator
  • Hank Johnson Representative, 4th Congressional District
  • Nikema Williams Representative, 5th Congressional District
  • Rich McCormick Representative, 6th Congressional District
  • Lucy McBath Representative, 7th Congressional District
  • Andrew Clyde Representative, 9th Congressional District
  • Barry Loudermilk Representative, 11th Congressional District
  • David Scott Representative, 13th Congressional District

TRANSPORTATION

Atlanta 500: Allison Ausband

Allison Ausband
Executive Vice President, Chief Customer Experience Officer
Delta Air Lines

In this role, Allison Ausband oversees the end-to-end customer experience that includes the Innovation and Customer Experience teams and the 56,000 team members in Delta’s Airport Customer Service, In-Flight Service, and Reservations and Customer Care divisions who deliver those experiences. Previously, as senior vice president of in-flight service, Ausband led a global team of more than 20,000 flight attendants and supervisory and support personnel, as well as Delta’s onboard global food and beverage operations. Under Ausband’s leadership, Delta’s in-flight service team achieved all-time customer satisfaction scores. She previously served as vice president for reservation sales and customer care. Ausband began her career at Delta in 1985 as a flight attendant. She is also executive vice chair of the University of Georgia Foundation Board of Trustees.

EDUCATION University of Georgia
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Saint Barthélemy
NONPROFIT I lead Delta’s efforts in the fight against human trafficking.
WHO’D PLAY ME IN A BIOPIC Diane Lane


Atlanta 500: Ed Bastian

Photograph courtesy of individual

Ed Bastian
CEO
Delta Air Lines

As CEO of Delta Air Lines since 2016, 25-year company veteran Ed Bastian helms a team of 100,000 global professionals. Under his leadership, Delta has become the world’s most awarded airline, named top U.S. airline by the Wall Street Journal, most admired airline worldwide by Fortune, and most on-time global airline by FlightGlobal. In 2018, Fortune named Bastian among the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. In 2019, he was elected to the membership of the Council on Foreign Relations. Bastian was named among the Top 10 CEOs of 2021 in Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards as a leader who excelled at supporting their people throughout a global pandemic. Finally, in 2023, Chief Executive  magazine announced that Bastian was named Chief Executive of the Year by his peer CEOs.

EDUCATION Saint Bonaventure University
FEW PEOPLE KNOW I was 25 before I first stepped foot on an airplane.
FAVORITE BOOK Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
NONPROFITS Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research, Polaris Project


Atlanta 500 Balram “B” Bheodari

Balram “B” Bheodari
Airport General Manager
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

As leader of the nation’s busiest airport, Balram “B” Bheodari oversees all facets of airport governance, including operations and a multibillion-dollar capital improvement program designed to pave the way for Atlanta’s growth over the next 20 years. Focused strategic planning, a comprehensive safety and security platform, and a full-bodied customer experience program are his priorities, in addition to completing the airport’s critical capital program on schedule and within budget. Bheodari is a retired Army aviator who has had an extensive career in aviation executive management. The native of Guyana rejoined the airport leadership team in 2016 after serving as the chief operating officer for the Houston Airport System. Before joining HAS, he served more than three years as the Atlanta airport’s deputy general manager.

EDUCATION U.S. Army; Troy University
FIRST JOB High school teacher
HOBBIES Cricket
FAVORITE BOOK Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins


Atlanta 500: Rahim Charania

Rahim Charania
Founder and Managing Director
Woodvale

Rahim Charania is the founder and managing director of Woodvale, an alternative investment firm based in Atlanta. Over a career that spans 20 years, Charania has formed and grown multiple organizations that have made significant impacts in their respective industries and in Georgia, including American Fueling Systems—one of the largest alternative fueling companies in the United States—and the media campus Three Ring Studios in Newton County. Charania serves on the board of Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business, as well as on the advisory council of GSU’s Center for International Business, Education, and Research. Also, in 2023, Charania received a GSU Robinson College of Business Alumni Award for his impact in business and the community.

EDUCATION Georgia State University (MBA)
HOMETOWN I was born in Pakistan but moved to the United States as a child, so I always consider my hometown to be Stone Mountain.
LESSON LEARNED When things are at their toughest and life seems to be hopeless, that is the time you need to work the hardest and when you need to recommit yourself to your goals and vision.


Atlanta 500 Jai Ferrell

Jai Ferrell
Chief Commercial Officer and Deputy General Manager
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Jai Ferrell joined Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2015. While her professional impact is global in reach, her passion is making a granular impression on the communities she frequents. She lends her expertise as a board member for the Andrew & Walter Young YMCA and the Wilson Academy (DeKalb County). Core revenue-generating initiatives aside, Ferrell serves as the marketing lead for ATL’s human trafficking initiative, bringing awareness to the millions of passengers that travel to and through the airport annually. The Atlanta native’s award-winning career spans more than 15 years, including work in entertainment television, consumer products and sports contributions to WarnerMedia (formerly Turner), CNN, Major League Baseball, Viacom, and BET Networks.

EDUCATION Spelman College, Georgia State University (MA)
FIRST JOB Summer camp counselor for the City of Atlanta’s Best Friend Program
FAVORITE ATLANTA PLACE TO VISIT Grant Park


Atlanta 500 Collie GreenwoodCollie Greenwood
General Manager and CEO
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority

A 40-year transit veteran with experience ranging from frontline operations to executive leadership, Collie Greenwood joined MARTA as the chief of Bus Operations and Urban Planning in July 2019 and was appointed deputy general manager of Operations and Urban Planning in 2020. In October 2022, the MARTA board of directors named him general manager and CEO. In this role, Greenwood will lead MARTA’s largest and most ambitious expansion and modernization program since its founding over 40 years ago. Greenwood will work closely with his senior leadership team to develop and deliver major capital projects to enhance the customer experience, including the addition of new railcars and electric buses to the MARTA fleet. Prior to joining MARTA, Greenwood served as chief service officer of the Toronto Transit Commission in Canada. Greenwood began his transit career as a bus operator in his hometown of Mississauga, Ontario.

EDUCATION University of Waterloo
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS As of 2023, MARTA balanced its budget for the 12th straight year; 2 AAA bond ratings from credit rating agencies, 17 percent reduction in serious crimes


Atlanta 500 Roderick McLean

Roderick McLean
Vice President and General Manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions
Lockheed Martin

Roderick McLean is vice president and general manager of the Air Mobility & Maritime Missions line of business at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Marietta, responsible for the C-130 Hercules transport, the C-5 strategic airlifter, and other aircraft; McLean is also site general manager for the 5,000-employee Marietta facility. Since joining in 1994 as a radar systems engineer, McLean has held a variety of roles in the company, most recently as vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group programs in Fort Worth, Texas. He serves on the board of directors for the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

EDUCATION North Carolina A&T State University, Georgia Tech (MA), University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business (MBA)
HOMETOWN Jacksonville, North Carolina
FIRST JOB Drove a school bus in high school at 16 and a half years old
HIDDEN TALENT I enjoy playing classical music on the piano.


Atlanta 500: Russell R. McMurry

Russell R. McMurry
Commissioner
Georgia Department of Transportation

In 2015, Russell R. McMurry was appointed by the State Transportation Board as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation—the $3.5 billion, almost 4,000-employee state agency responsible for building, maintaining, and operating the 10th-largest transportation system in the country. The Georgia DOT launched its podcast in November 2022 and McMurry talks about his life and career in the inaugural episode. McMurry began his career with the department in 1990 as an engineering trainee and has served in a variety of roles including construction project manager, district engineer, director of engineering, and chief engineer.

EDUCATION Georgia Southern University
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT Georgia Trend Georgian of the Year (2018)
FIRST JOB At 13, stocking shelves and taking inventory for a building-supply company
FEW PEOPLE KNOW I race motocross. I began riding at the age of 10 and still ride today.
FAVORITE BOOK The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough


Atlanta 500 Alan Shaw

Alan Shaw
President and CEO
Norfolk Southern Corporation

Alan Shaw is president and CEO of Norfolk Southern Corporation, one of the nation’s largest freight transportation companies. Every year, Norfolk Southern delivers more than seven million carloads around the country, filled with everything from agriculture to consumer goods. Since being named president and CEO in 2022, Shaw is leading the company’s focus on rail safety to make Norfolk Southern the gold standard of safety for the industry. Additionally, his leadership strategy includes an increased focus on employee engagement, with an emphasis on transparency and collaboration. With nearly 30 years of experience at Norfolk Southern, Shaw is the 2023 recipient of the Railway Innovator Award given by Progressive Railroading and Rail Trends. Shaw, who completed the General Management Program at Harvard Business School, is a CFA charterholder. He serves on the board of directors of Norfolk Southern and the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Additionally, he is a member of the board of trustees of Pace Academy.

EDUCATION Virginia Tech (MBA)
FAVORITE BOOK Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin


UTILITIES

Atlanta 500: Michael Braswell

Michael Braswell
President, Retail Energy
Southern Company Gas

Michael Braswell is president of retail energy for Southern Company Gas, responsible for ensuring the expansion and continued success of the company’s retail energy operations in multiple states. Braswell is also CEO of SouthStar Energy Services, which serves nearly 700,000 customers; in Georgia it conducts business as Georgia Natural Gas. A Dunwoody native, he has more than 30 years of experience in the natural gas industry and has worked in both regulated and nonutility environments.

EDUCATION Georgia Tech, Georgia State University (MBA)
FIRST JOB At the Georgia Tech Research Institute while I was a student at Georgia Tech
HOBBIES I’m a bicycling and exercise enthusiast.
FAVORITE MOVIE The Shawshank Redemption
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Antigua


Atlanta 500: Pedro Cherry

Pedro Cherry
President and CEO
Atlanta Gas Light

Pedro Cherry, president and CEO of Atlanta Gas Light, is an energy-industry leader with more than 20 years of experience in finance, operations, external and governmental affairs, customer service, and economic and business development roles in domestic and international arenas. A native of Windsor, North Carolina, Cherry took the helm of Atlanta Gas Light in August 2020. Prior to that, he spent almost 10 years in various positions at Georgia Power, rising to the position of executive vice president of customer service and operations.

EDUCATION Auburn University (MBA)
FIRST JOB Picking tobacco on the farms of North Carolina in the summer
BEST ADVICE RECEIVED Always be a student of the business.
HOBBIES Golf, traveling, watching college and professional sports
FAVORITE ATLANTA RESTAURANT Canoe
NONPROFITS Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Zoo Atlanta


Atlanta 500: Bentina Chisolm Terry

Bentina Chisolm Terry
Senior Vice President, Customer Strategy and Solutions
Georgia Power

Bentina C. Terry is senior vice president for Customer Strategy and Solutions for Georgia Power, the largest subsidiary of Southern Company. Terry is responsible for operations, sales, customer service, and economic and community development, as well as external affairs activities for 2.7 million customers across metro Atlanta and statewide responsibility for Georgia Power’s work in underserved communities. She began her career at Southern Company in 2001 and has held a variety of roles within the business. Board memberships include Leadership Atlanta where she is chair, and the International Women’s Forum–Georgia.

EDUCATION North Carolina State University, University of Michigan Law School (JD)
HOMETOWN Fayetteville, North Carolina
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS First senior African American officer in two major Southern Company subsidiaries and the first woman in several officer positions


Atlanta 500 Kimberly S. Greene

Kimberly S. Greene
Chair, President, and CEO
Georgia Power

Kim Greene was named chair, president, and CEO of Georgia Power in 2023. She leads Georgia Power in serving its 2.7 million customers across the state. The company is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation’s leading energy providers. Prior to her current position, Greene served for five years as chair, president, and CEO of Southern Company Gas. In this role, she ensured the delivery of clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas to more than 4.3 million utility customers in Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, and Virginia, and to over 600,000 retail gas customers served by SouthStar Energy Services in 10 states. Greene currently serves on boards for the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Georgia Research Alliance, and Morehouse School of Medicine. She is a member of the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.

EDUCATION University of Tennessee, University of Alabama at Birmingham (MS), Samford University (MBA), Harvard Business School (AMP)
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT In 2022, Greene was awarded the Edison Electric Institute’s inaugural Thomas F. Farrell II Safety Leadership and Innovation Award.


Atlanta 500: Kevin Greiner

Photograph courtesy of individual

Kevin Greiner
President and CEO
Gas South

Kevin Greiner has served as Gas South’s president and CEO since the company’s founding in 2006. Gas South is one of the Southeast’s largest energy marketers, providing natural gas to more than 440,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in competitive markets in 14 states. Gas South also operates a growing wholesale energy marketing operation and is an owner/investor in several solar energy projects. Since its founding, Gas South has doubled its customer base, while growing its sales volumes and workforce by 400 percent. In 2020, Gas South announced the acquisition of Infinite Energy, which more than doubled Gas South’s revenues to nearly $1 billion. The merged company is the largest retail natural gas provider in competitive markets in the southeastern U.S. In 2023, Gas South announced the relocation of its headquarters from One Overton Park to a new office space at the Battery Atlanta as of August 2024. The strategic move represents a significant milestone for the company as it continues to experience growth and strengthen its partnership with the Atlanta Braves.

EDUCATION Wesleyan University, University of Michigan (MBA, MS)


Atlanta 500 Venessa Harrison

Venessa Harrison
President
AT&T Coastal States

As president of AT&T’s Southeast Coastal Region, Venessa Harrison is responsible for developing the overall strategic direction of AT&T’s public policy, economic development, and community engagement activities across the states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Named to her current position in 2022, Harrison works closely with state and local policymakers and business and community leaders to foster an environment that welcomes investment and innovation, focuses on bringing new technologies that drive innovation and create jobs, and provides educational and economic opportunities that improve the quality of life for all. Prior to her current position, Harrison served for three years as president of the Georgia region and six years as president of AT&T North Carolina. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Harrison began her telecommunications career as a telephone operator.

EDUCATION University of Phoenix
FIRST JOB Employed in the utility billing department of the city of Raleigh, North Carolina
WHAT I’D TELL MY 18-YEAR-OLD SELF Always be authentic and remember: Girls
compete, women empower.


Atlanta 500: Michael L. Smith

Photograph courtesy of individual

Michael L. Smith
President and CEO
Oglethorpe Power

Michael L. Smith has served as president and CEO of Oglethorpe Power, one of the largest energy producers in Georgia, since 2013. He previously worked for Georgia Transmission as senior vice president and chief financial officer, and later as president and CEO. Prior to that, he was the first executive director of the Committee of Chief Risk Officers, a nonprofit trade association incorporated in 2002 to compile best practices and standards for risk-management activities for the energy industry.

EDUCATION Louisiana State University (MBA)
FIRST JOB Worked offshore in Gulf of Mexico oil fields
FAVORITE BOOK A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
LESSON LEARNED Every problem has a solution.
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION Ireland


Atlanta 500 Christine WhitakerChristine Whitaker
President, Central Division
Comcast

Christine Whitaker is president of Comcast’s Central Division, headquartered in Atlanta. The division is home to approximately 16,000 Comcast employees with more than 21 million combined video, high-speed internet, and voice customers throughout the 12 states that comprise the Central Division. A 25-year veteran of the cable industry, Whitaker most recently served as senior vice president of finance and administration for Comcast’s Northeast Division. Whitaker has been repeatedly named one of the Most Powerful Women in Cable by Cablefax The Magazine and recognized as a Wonder Woman by Multichannel News. Whitaker was named one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Women of Influence for 2023. Whitaker has completed executive education programs for telecommunications through Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business.

EDUCATION George Mason University
HOMETOWN Washington D.C.


Atlanta 500 Christopher C. Womack

Christopher C. Womack
President and CEO
Southern Company

Chris Womack was named president and chief executive officer of Southern Company, one of the nation’s leading energy providers serving 9 million customers nationwide, in 2023. Prior to his current role, since 2021, he had served as chairman, president, and CEO of Georgia Power, leading Southern Company’s largest subsidiary. A native of Greenville, Alabama, Womack joined Southern Company in 1988 and has held several leadership positions within Southern Company and its subsidiaries. Prior to joining Southern Company, Womack worked on Capitol Hill for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. He is past chair of the board of the East Lake Foundation and is on the national board of First Tee. In 2024, he is chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. And, in 2022, Atlanta Business Chronicle named Womack one of its Most Admired CEOs.

EDUCATION Western Michigan University, American University (MPA)
FIRST JOB Capitol Hill legislative aide
HOBBIES Fishing, hunting, gardening


LEGENDS

Nathan Deal
Deal served as a prosecutor, judge, state senator, and U.S. congressman for Georgia’s 9th District before being elected Georgia’s 82nd governor in 2010 and reelected in 2014. Under his leadership, Georgia was recognized as the top state for business five years in a row. Deal’s tenure was marked by efforts in transportation, criminal justice reform, and education reform.

Pat Epps
In 1965, Epps bought a small fixed-base operation at DeKalb Peachtree Airport and launched Epps Air Service. He grew the original facility into a hub serving local and international businesses. His many honors include the National Business Aviation Association’s American Spirit Award and Lifetime Achievement award. Epps has also been inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame.

Shirley Franklin
Inaugurated in 2002, Franklin became Atlanta’s 58th mayor. She was not only the city’s first female mayor, but also the first African American woman to helm any major Southern city. A former protégé of mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young, she helped bring the Olympic Games to Atlanta. She received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2005.

Keisha Lance Bottoms
In 2018, Bottoms took office as Atlanta’s 60th mayor—only the second woman to hold the city’s highest municipal government seat. She’s also the only mayor in city history to have been elected to all three branches of government, serving previously as a judge and city councilmember. She currently serves as an advisor on international trade to President Biden.

Mary Norwood
Norwood has been an active community advocate in metro Atlanta for more than 30 years. She served as an at-large Atlanta City Council member from 2002-2009 and 2014-2017. A former mayoral candidate, she currently represents Buckhead’s District 8 on the Atlanta City Council.

Patrise Perkins-Hooker
Formerly the county attorney for Fulton County, Perkins-Hooker is now an administrative partner with Johnson & Freeman, LLC. In 2014, she became the 52nd president of the State Bar of Georgia—the first African American and third woman to fill that role.

Kasim Reed
Reed served two terms as Atlanta’s 59th mayor, beginning in 2010. Prior to that, he spent 11 years as a member of the Georgia General Assembly, first elected in 1998 as a state representative, then serving from 2002 to 2009 in the state Senate. He is now a partner with the McDermott Will & Emery law firm.

Leah Ward Sears
Now in private practice with Smith, Gambrell & Russell, Sears was the first woman to serve as a judge on the Superior Court of Fulton County. Four years later she was appointed, and then elected, to become a justice on the Supreme Court of Georgia—the first woman and youngest jurist ever to receive that title. From 2001 to 2005, she became the presiding justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, eventually being named chief justice.

Andrew J. Young
A protégé of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Young was a leader of the SCLC. He helped draft the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was Georgia’s first Black congressman since Reconstruction. President Carter tapped him to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He served two terms as mayor of Atlanta and helped bring the 1996 Olympics here. His accolades have included the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Morehouse College’s Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership is named for him, as is Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

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