2019 Atlanta 500: Government & Infrastructure

Atlanta 500: Government opener

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

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


Atlanta 500: Leona Barr Davenport

Photograph courtesy of the Atlanta Business League

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
Board memberships: Crossroads Community Ministries, Economic Development Corporation of Fulton County, National Business League
Notable achievements: Leadership Atlanta class of 2002, Leadership Georgia class of 1999

Atlanta 500: Kali Kirkham Boatright

Photograph courtesy of individual

Kali Kirkham Boatright
Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce

Kali Kirkham Boatright is the new CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, coming to the organization from the Douglas County Chamber, where she served as CEO from 2004 to 2018. In a 14-year career at her previous workplace, Golden Key International Honor Society, Boatright rose from regional director to chief operating officer.

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.
Favorite book: The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Favorite travel destination: Australia
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Walking and eating along the BeltLine
Bucket list: Empty-nesting!

Atlanta 500: Taifa Butler

Photograph courtesy of individual

Taifa Butler
Executive Director
Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

As executive director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Taifa Smith Butler leads a team whose mission is to improve economic opportunity for all Georgians. The organization examines the state’s budget, taxes, and public policies in order to provide analysis and propose equitable solutions. Butler, who joined GBPI in 2011, counts more than 20 years of experience in strategic communications, public policy research, and data analysis in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors.

Education: Mount Holyoke College, Carnegie Mellon University (MS)
First job: Gift shop cashier, Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia
Favorite TV show: This Is Us
Best advice received: From James White: “Being a public servant is not about having your name in lights, it’s about solving public problems.”
Favorite travel destination: Paris
Hidden talent: I played the violin for nearly 10 years.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Center for Civil and Human Rights
Bucket list: Sprint-level triathlon

Atlanta 500: Chris Clark

Photograph courtesy of individual

Chris Clark
President and CEO
Georgia Chamber of Commerce

Peachtree City resident and Georgia native Chris Clark is president and CEO 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: Jerry E. Gonzalez

Photograph courtesy of individual

Jerry E. Gonzalez
Executive Director
Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials

Jerry Gonzalez is the founder and executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, a statewide nonprofit and nonpartisan organization with a mission to increase civic engagement and leadership development of 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.

Education: Texas A&M University, Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (MA)
Why I chose this work: I made a conscious effort to dedicate my work toward improving our state.
First job: Closer at Wendy’s
Toughest challenge: GALEO was a startup 15 years ago.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Friend’s pool in East Atlanta
Bucket list: Trip to South Africa
Who’d play me in a biopic: Chris Pratt, but not sure how he would look with a shaved head

Atlanta 500: Ryan Gravel

Photograph by David Kidd

Ryan Gravel

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 an urban planner, designer, and author working on infrastructure, concept development, and policy as the founder of Sixpitch. Gravel recently completed the Atlanta City Design—an extensive blueprint for smarter urban growth—and in 2019 plans to open a nonprofit startup, Generator, alongside a new BeltLine-adjacent restaurant called Aftercar.

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: Tokyo

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 18-year-old daughter Mia Green’s band—second album coming out soon!
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: Doug Hooker

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Doug Hooker
Executive Director
Atlanta Regional Commission

Cincinnati native Doug Hooker is executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, an agency that coordinates the policies and strategies of at least 10 county and 71 city governments to prepare for Atlanta’s regional growth challenges and opportunities. Previously he served as Atlanta’s commissioner of public works and executive director of the State Road and Tollway Authority, and in engineering roles with Georgia Power. He’s focused throughout his career on projects related to transportation, transit, water, energy, and education.

Education: Georgia Tech (MS), Emory University Goizueta Business School (MBA)
Best advice received: From my wife, when as a young man I said I wanted to be a significant leader in the Atlanta community: “What’s stopping you?”
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Lullwater Road near sunset. Prettiest street in Atlanta.
Few people know: I record books for blind and print-impaired people with Georgia Radio Reading Service.
Inspiring person: My maternal grandfather, whose education had to stop at eighth grade, but who sent eight of nine children to college.

Atlanta 500: Daniel Kaufman

Photograph courtesy of individual

Daniel Kaufman
President and CEO
Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

Formerly a brigadier general in the U.S. Army and the founding president of Georgia Gwinnett College, Daniel Kaufman has served since 2013 as president and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, one of the nation’s largest suburban chambers. Kaufman is responsible for all Chamber programs and leading regional strategic initiatives for a more competitive economy and an enhanced quality of life in Gwinnett and metro Atlanta.

Education: U.S. Military Academy, Harvard University (MPA), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)
Notable achievements: Received the Bronze Star for heroism and two Purple Hearts for wounds sustained during combat in Vietnam.
Best advice received: Learn to distinguish what is important from what isn’t.
Hobbies: Golf
What I’d tell a recent graduate: There is always another adventure awaiting you.

Santiago Marquez
President and CEO
Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

As president and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Santiago Marquez leads an organization that promotes economic development for 1,100 businesses and individuals and provides a link between non-Hispanic entities and the Hispanic market. Before taking the helm in 2017, he served as GHCC’s vice president and chief financial officer. Marquez, who was born in Cuba and came to the United States in 1971, previously led Latino outreach efforts for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Education: Georgia State University, University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business
Notable achievements: Alumnus of Buckhead Business Leadership Class and Leadership Atlanta, served on multiple boards including the Gwinnett Citizens Budget Review Committee and a supplier diversity advisory committee for Delta Air Lines

Atlanta 500: Sharon Mason

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Sharon Mason
President and CEO
Cobb Chamber of Commerce

Sharon Mason has held five different leadership positions with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce since 2005; she climbed to president and CEO in January 2018, bringing more than 16 years of chamber and nonprofit leadership experience to the position. One particular source of pride is her partnerships with business and government leaders to establish a proactive job-creation strategy called SelectCobb, which has now created more than 24,000 new jobs with more than $2.5 billion in private new investment since 2013.

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 destination: Saint John, Saint Thomas, Saint Maarten
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Chattahoochee River trails
Charities: MUST Ministries, Center for Family Resources, liveSAFE Resources
Bucket list: Hot-air balloon

Atlanta 500: Hala Moddelmog

Photograph courtesy of individual

Hala Moddelmog
President and CEO
Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce

In 2014, Hala Moddelmog became the first female president and CEO of the nearly 160-year-old Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, where she works on behalf of Fortune 500 companies and small to medium-sized businesses in the country’s ninth-largest metro region. 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, and I’m fortunate to be able to give back by promoting metro Atlanta for business development and much more. I never hesitated or gave it a second thought when this opportunity came along.
Toughest challenge: The death of my mother when I was just 17 years old was a pivotal moment in my life. It really sparked my independent streak.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Alliance Theatre

Atlanta 500: William Pate

Photograph courtesy of individual

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, which brought nearly 53 million visitors to metro Atlanta in 2017. He’s also vice president of the host committee that managed the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship and will manage Super Bowl LIII in 2019 and the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four. A leader in the hospitality industry nationally, Pate serves on the board of the U.S. Travel Association.

Education: Georgia State University (MA)
Hometown: Decatur, Georgia
First job: When I was 12 years old, I raked leaves for Mrs. Brumbeloe at $2 an hour.
Few people know: I was a college cheerleader.
Lesson learned: Maintain your perspective. What you think is a crisis today will just be a memory next year.
Favorite movie: Animal House
Who’d play me in a biopic: Jerry Seinfeld

Atlanta 500: AJ Robinson

Photograph courtesy of individual

A.J. Robinson
Central Atlanta Progress

Since 2003, Knoxville 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 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
Best advice received: Get a good night’s sleep.
Toughest challenge: Getting a good night’s sleep
Favorite books: Teddy Roosevelt biographies
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Downtown

Atlanta 500: Pat Upshaw Monteith

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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
What I’d tell my 18-year-old self: There is no elevator to the top. You must take the stairs.
Who’d play me in a biopic: Halle Berry

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 so long.

Education: University of Georgia
Notable achievement: UGA Grady College John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award (2006)
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.
Inspiring person: One of my journalism professors, the late Conrad Fink
Few people know: I’ve been to all seven continents.


Atlanta 500: Stacey Abrams

Photograph courtesy of individual

Stacey Abrams
2018 Nominee for Governor
Democratic Party of Georgia

A graduate of Avondale High School, Stacey Abrams has served in her career as deputy city attorney of Atlanta, a state representative from 2007 to 2017, and state House Democratic leader from 2011 to 2017. As cofounder of NOW Account, a financial services firm that helps small businesses grow, she has also helped create and retain jobs in Georgia, all while finding success as a novelist.

Education: Spelman College, University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs (MPAff), Yale Law School (JD)
Notable achievement: I founded the New Georgia Project, which submitted more than 200,000 registrations from voters of color between 2014 and 2016.
First job: Speechwriter for a congressional candidate
Inspiring person: Johnnetta Cole of Spelman College
Hidden talent: I am an award-winning author under the pen name Selena Montgomery, and have written eight romantic novels, which have sold more than 100,000 copies.

Maria J. Batres
Assistant District Attorney
Cobb Judicial Circuit

As an assistant district attorney, Maria J. Batres prosecutes felony cases in the Cobb Judicial Circuit, following a four-year stint prosecuting misdemeanors as an assistant solicitor in Fulton County. Previously she was an immigration attorney with a focus on removal/deportation defense, family-based petitions, and visa options for crime victims. Batres is finishing her second term as president of the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association, and was recently appointed to the Georgia Commission on Interpreters.

Education: Trinity University (MA), Georgia State University College of Law (JD)
Why I chose this work: I decided to become an attorney after over a decade spent as a teacher because I’d always had a passion for learning about the law, teaching about justice, and trying to make a difference in my community. I felt that I could continue all of that on a larger scale with a law degree.
Favorite books: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Bucket list: Maybe culinary school . . . or traveling to the Maldives

Atlanta 500: Sherry Boston

Photograph courtesy of individual

Sherry Boston
District Attorney
Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit

Appointed as district attorney for the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit in January 2017, Sherry Boston oversees the prosecution of felony offenses filed in the Superior Court of DeKalb County, including murder, drug and sex offenses, child and elder abuse, theft, and corruption. She’s the second female district attorney in the history of the office. Previously she was the first woman appointed as municipal court judge for the City of Dunwoody.

Education: Villanova University, Emory University School of Law (JD)
Few people know: I have a twin sister. Yes, really!
Favorite travel destination: Mexico
Hobbies: I love to cook and have recently become obsessed with the Instant Pot. Truly, I’m obsessed with it!
Bucket list: Traversing Europe with my two beautiful daughters. I can’t wait to experience the culture, sights, and sounds with and through them.
Who’d play me in a biopic: Kerry Washington, please and thank you.

Atlanta 500: Keisha Lance Bottoms

Photograph courtesy of City of Atlanta, Mayor's Office of Communications

Keisha Lance Bottoms
City of Atlanta

In 2018, Keisha Lance 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. A native of Southwest Atlanta and an advocate for affordable housing, Bottoms also serves as chair of the Community Development and Housing Committee of the United States Conference of Mayors.

Education: Florida A&M University, Georgia State University College of Law (JD)
Notable achievements: Awarded the 2018 FAMU Distinguished Award, the highest given by FAMU’s National Alumni Association

Atlanta 500: Chris Carr

Photograph by Andrea Briscoe

Chris Carr
Attorney General of Georgia

A motivated opponent of gang activity, elder abuse, human trafficking, and other major crimes, Chris Carr was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal as Georgia’s 54th attorney general in November 2016. He believes there’s no more solemn responsibility than to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution and laws of Georgia, and the interests of Georgians. He also serves on Georgia’s Judicial Nominating Commission, the body charged with reviewing and recommending judicial appointments.

Education: University of Georgia Terry College of Business, University of Georgia School of Law (JD)
Notable achievement: Selected to be on the National Association of Attorneys General Human Trafficking Committee by my peers
First job: I worked at Camelot Music in high school.
Hidden talent: I can play the piano.
Favorite TV shows: Two of my favorite shows are filmed in Georgia: The Walking Dead and Stranger Things.

Atlanta 500: Stephen Louis A. Dillard

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Stephen Louis A. Dillard
Chief Judge
Court of Appeals of Georgia

Nashville native Stephen Louis A. Dillard was appointed as the 73rd judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia in 2010 by Governor Sonny Perdue; he was elected by his fellow Georgians in 2012 and reelected in 2018, and in 2017 he was sworn in as the appellate court’s chief judge. Prior to his appointment, Dillard was in private practice with James, Bates, Pope & Spivey in Macon, serving as chairman of the firm’s appellate practice group.

Education: Samford University, Mississippi College School of Law (JD)
Notable achievement: Samford University Alumnus of the Year (2017)
First job: Bob Cherry’s BBQ in Nashville
Hidden talent: I can do impersonations of political figures.
Favorite book: Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts by Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner
Favorite travel destination: Birmingham, Alabama
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: I love my job, so I’d have to say the Court of Appeals of Georgia.
Who’d play me in a biopic: Jason Segel

Atlanta 500: Sean Gallagher

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Sean Gallagher
Field Office Director, Atlanta Field Office
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

As field office director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in the Atlanta Field Office, Sean Gallagher directs immigration enforcement in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The Buffalo native previously served as director of the ICE ERO Boston Field Office and the deputy director of the Buffalo Field Office, as well as the assistant director over the Cleveland suboffice.

Education: State University College at Buffalo
Notable achievement: The Atlanta Field Office was awarded the agency’s Field Office of the Year Award for 2016-2017.
Why I chose this work: Working in federal law enforcement allowed me to continue to serve the nation post-military service.
Favorite book: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
First job: Lifeguard
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Little Five Points
Charities: Wounded Warrior Project
Bucket list: Attending a Liverpool FC soccer game in Liverpool, England

Atlanta 500: Paul L. Howard Jr.

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Paul L. Howard Jr.
District Attorney
Fulton County

Currently serving his sixth term as Fulton County district attorney, Paul Howard Jr. first assumed the office of Atlanta’s top prosecutor in 1997, becoming the first African American to be elected district attorney in the state of Georgia. He’d previously served for four years as Fulton County’s solicitor general. Howard’s law career began in 1976, when he joined the City of Atlanta as an assistant solicitor.

Education: Morehouse College, Emory University School of Law (JD)
Notable achievement: Gate City Bar Association Hall of Fame (2008)

Atlanta 500: Johnny Isakson

Photograph courtesy of U.S. Senate

Johnny Isakson
U.S. Senator

In 2016, Senator Johnny Isakson became the first Georgia Republican ever to be elected to a third term in the U.S. Senate. He also holds the distinction of being the only Georgian ever to be elected to the state House, state Senate, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate. The Atlanta native is a respected businessman with more than 40 years of experience in the real estate industry.

Education: University of Georgia
Notable achievements: As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve accomplished on behalf of our nation’s veterans. In 2017 and 2018, the Senate passed 18 major pieces of veterans’ legislation—all of which have been signed into law—that reform the VA and strengthen veterans’ healthcare, benefits, and services.
First job: Helping out at my grandparents’ farm in Fitzgerald, Georgia, in Ben Hill County
Inspiring people: Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan
Favorite movie: The Sound of Music
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: The Varsity

Atlanta 500: Timothy J. Keane

Photograph courtesy of individual

Timothy J. Keane
Commissioner of Planning
City of Atlanta

As Atlanta’s commissioner of planning, Tim Keane leads design, zoning, buildings, housing and community development, preservation, transportation planning, and other aspects of Atlanta’s growth. A native of Charlotte, he was appointed to the position in 2015. Previously Keane worked in Charleston, South Carolina, as director of planning, preservation, and sustainability, and as planning director for Davidson, North Carolina.

Education: University of North Carolina at Charlotte (MS)
Few people know: One of 12 kids. Six sisters and five brothers.
Lesson learned: Planning isn’t about taking notes.
Favorite book: The Grapes of Wrath
What I’d tell my 18-year-old self: Get a haircut.
Bucket list: Learning to golf

Atlanta 500: Vernon M. Keenan

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Vernon M. Keenan
Georgia Bureau of Investigation

Vernon Keenan’s law enforcement career began in 1972 when he became a uniformed officer with the DeKalb County Police Department. He became a special agent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in 1973; now, as twice-appointed director of the organization, he’s responsible for managing 878 employees for an agency with a 2018 budget of $108.5 million. Keenan has participated in leadership programs worldwide and serves on several national professional working groups.

Education: Valdosta State College, Columbus State University (MPA)
Favorite travel destination: Israel
Lesson learned: Do not criticize a court decision or jury verdict.
Hidden talent: Picture-frame maker. My motto is “I will frame anything but you!”

Atlanta 500: Brian Kemp

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Brian Kemp
State of Georgia

Brian Kemp built his first business more than 30 years ago with a shovel and a pickup truck. He’s since created hundreds of jobs in banking, agriculture, agribusiness, manufacturing, and real estate. Most recently secretary of state, Kemp will be sworn in as governor in January. As governor, Kemp has promised to grow jobs, invest in public education, strengthen rural Georgia, lower taxes and healthcare costs, and keep Georgia families safe.

Education: University of Georgia

Atlanta 500: Eloisa Klementich

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Eloisa Klementich
President and CEO
Invest Atlanta

Eloisa Klementich is president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, the City’s economic development authority. Her key accomplishments include helping create more than 32,000 new jobs and $3.5 billion in new capital investment. 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)
First job: Big 5 Sporting Goods
Best advice received: From my father: “Nothing lasts forever.”
Board memberships: International Economic Development Council, Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, WorkSource Atlanta, Latin American Civic Association, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Atlanta Technical College, Atlanta Emerging Markets
Few people know: I wrote my dissertation on how policy can drive innovation.

Robert McBurney
Chief Judge
Superior Court of Fulton County

A former prosecutor, Chief Judge Robert McBurney has served on the Fulton County Superior Court since 2012. He also serves on the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, a group of community leaders, legislators, judges, and law enforcement officials dedicated to reducing and eventually eliminating domestic violence in Georgia. Prior to his tenure on the bench, McBurney worked for a decade as an assistant U.S. attorney in Atlanta and, before that, for three years as a Fulton County assistant district attorney.

Education: Harvard College, Harvard Law School (JD)
Notable achievements: As a federal prosecutor, McBurney focused on cases involving public corruption, terrorism, and child sexual exploitation. His work on the Northern Exposure international counterterrorism operation earned him and his colleagues the FBI Director’s Award.

Felicia A. Moore
Atlanta City Council

President of the Atlanta City Council since January 2018, Felicia A. Moore has spent nearly three decades as a public servant, beginning as president of Riverside Neighborhood Association. She then served as chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit D, becoming an advocate for community economic development. Moore was subsequently elected as Atlanta city councilmember for District 9, serving for 20 years prior to her election as council president. She’s also a licensed real estate broker and resident of the historic Collier Heights community.

Education: Central State University, Central Michigan University (MS)
Notable achievements: Instrumental in the opening of a Publix supermarket in Northwest Atlanta where there hadn’t been a grocery store in decades, as well as the installation of the Agape Youth & Family Center, offering programs in technology, recreation, and health and wellness for seniors, children, and families.

Atlanta 500: Robert J. Murphy

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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 207 special agents, 280 task force officers, 36 intelligence research specialists, 48 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 Forces 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.
Favorite book: Atlas Shrugged
Who’d play me in a biopic: Kevin Bacon

Atlanta 500: J. Patrick O'Neal

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J. Patrick O’Neal, MD
Georgia Department of Public Health

J. Patrick O’Neal was appointed commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health by Governor Nathan Deal in 2017. He also serves as DPH’s director of health protection, overseeing emergency medical services, trauma, emergency preparedness, epidemiology, infectious disease, immunizations, and environmental health. A longtime emergency medical practitioner and trauma specialist, O’Neal previously worked for the Georgia Department of Community Health and, before that, for 29 years at DeKalb Medical Center, including as regional medical director for EMS in the greater Atlanta area.

Education: Davidson College, Tulane University School of Medicine (MD)
Notable achievement: Georgia Public Health Association Sellers-McCroan Award (2018)

Byung “BJay” Pak
U.S. Attorney
Northern District of Georgia

A former three-term state representative, Byung J. “BJay” Pak was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2017 as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia—an office in which he previously prosecuted narcotics and economic crimes as an assistant U.S. attorney. Pak has also been in private legal practice handling complex civil litigation and white-collar investigation and prosecution matters, and was a member of Georgia’s Judicial Nominating Commission and the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform.

Education: Stetson University, University of Illinois College of Law (JD)
Notable achievement: I am told I may be the first presidentially nominated and Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney of Korean descent in U.S. history.
First job: Chicken-wing cutter
Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad
Bucket list: Go fishing in Alaska

Atlanta 500: Rusty Paul

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Rusty Paul
Sandy Springs

Elected mayor of Sandy Springs in 2013 and currently serving his second term, 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
Favorite travel destination: My cabin at the farm on which I grew up [near Birmingham]—land that has been in my family since 1880
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Sandy Springs
Who’d play me in a biopic: I’ll let Steven Spielberg decide.

Atlanta 500: David Perdue

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David Perdue
U.S. Senator

Warner Robins native David Perdue, the junior U.S. senator from Georgia, is the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress. He counts more than 40 years of business experience as the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General. In the 115th Congress, Perdue serves on the Armed Services, Banking, Agriculture, and Budget Committees. He was an early supporter of President Donald Trump and continues to be one of the president’s closest Senate allies.

Education: Georgia Tech (MS)
Best advice received: “Never worry about the next job—always take care of the one you’ve got.” This advice from my dad has carried me throughout my career.
Few people know: If only a few people know about it, there’s a reason!
Favorite book: Right now, The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury

Atlanta 500: Robb Pitts

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Robb Pitts
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.
Notable achievements: Played a key role in presenting Atlanta’s bid to the International Olympic Committee, and has participated in numerous international cultural-exchange programs, including Friendship Force and Sister Cities

Danny Porter
District Attorney
Gwinnett County

Danny Porter was elected district attorney of Gwinnett County in 1992 and has held the position since. His career with the Gwinnett DA’s office began in 1981, immediately following his graduation from the University of Georgia School of Law. Porter worked as a trial assistant for three years and was then promoted to senior assistant district attorney. Later, he headed the trial division of the DA’s office, supervising trial attorneys, and assumed the duties of drug prosecutor, initiating the creation of a special drug prosecution unit.

Education: University of Georgia School of Law (JD)

Atlanta 500: David RalstonDavid Ralston
Speaker of the House
Georgia House of Representatives

Ellijay native David Ralston has served as Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives since 2010, and as a state representative since 2002. He began his legal career in 1980 as an associate at the Athens firm of Cook, Noell, Tolley & Aldridge. Three years later, Ralston returned to his North Georgia roots and opened the Law Offices of David E. Ralston in Blue Ridge, where he’s practiced for the past 30 years.

Education: North Georgia College and State University, University of Georgia School of Law (JD)
Notable achievement: Georgia Trend Georgian of the Year (2011)

Atlanta 500: Kasim Reed

Photograph by AP/David Goldman

Kasim Reed
59th Mayor
City of Atlanta

Kasim 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’s a former partner in the litigation practice of Holland & Knight, an international law firm with offices in Atlanta, where he specialized in entertainment law. Reed grew up in the Cascade community.

Education: Howard University, Howard University School of Law (JD)
Notable achievement: Appointed as Howard University’s youngest general trustee in 2002

Atlanta 500: Vic Reynolds

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Vic Reynolds
District Attorney
Cobb Judicial Circuit

As district attorney of the Cobb Judicial Circuit since 2013, Vic Reynolds manages a staff of 140 employees, including 45 prosecuting attorneys. A native of Rome, he was previously a police officer, assistant district attorney, and chief magistrate judge, as well as a former partner in the law firm of Berry & Reynolds. Reynolds chaired the Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force and serves on the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.

Education: Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University College of Law (JD)
Few people know: I enjoy playing the guitar, although not very well.
First job: Delivering newspapers
Hobbies: Working out, especially Krav Maga. And I try to read two books a month.
Charities: The Zone, SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center, liveSAFE Resources
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Kennesaw Mountain
Who’d play me in a biopic: Tom Hanks

Atlanta 500: Erika Shields

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Erika Shields
Atlanta Police Department

Following a career as a stockbroker, Erika Shields joined the Atlanta Police Department in 1995 as a patrol officer. In 2016 she was appointed the city’s 24th chief of police. In 2017, Shields’s first full year on the job, major crimes were down 8 percent overall, with murders dipping by 29 percent and armed robberies by 32 percent compared to 2016, according to FBI Uniform Crime Reporting.

Education: Webster University, Saint Leo University (MA)
Hometown: Morris, New York
Why I chose this work: Challenging criminal behavior and criminals has always appealed to me, and it’s equally important to me to help people who don’t have a voice and are most inclined to be forgotten. Policing is a natural fit.
Few people know: I love opera.
Charities: LifeLine Animal Project

Atlanta 500: Thomas W. Thrash Jr.

Photograph by RCL Portrait Design

Thomas W. Thrash Jr.
Chief Judge
Northern District of Georgia

Thomas W. Thrash Jr. has worked as an assistant district attorney on the Atlanta Judicial Circuit, an adjunct professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law, a partner in a law firm, and as a sole practitioner, among other positions. In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed him U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Georgia, and in 2014 he was confirmed as chief judge. He’s an elected member of the American Law Institute.

Education: University of Virginia, Harvard Law School (JD)
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Notable achievement: Nomination and confirmation as a federal judge
Board memberships: American Shakespeare Center Board of Trustees, Georgia State University College of Law Board of Visitors

Atlanta 500: Michael L. Thurmond

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Michael L. Thurmond
DeKalb County Government

Raised as a sharecropper’s son in Clarke County, Michael L. Thurmond was elected in 2016 as CEO of DeKalb County, one of the most diverse counties in the Southeast. His top priority is to restore faith in county government. In office, he eliminated a $14 million budget deficit in the DeKalb County School District, creating an estimated fund balance of $80 million, and worked to generate a rainy-day fund of nearly $90 million in the county’s general budget.

Education: Paine College, University of South Carolina School of Law (JD)
Notable achievement: Led passage of the first-ever special-purpose sales tax in DeKalb County, which passed with 70 percent voter approval and resulted in a projected $600 million in capital improvements
First job: Working on my father’s vegetable truck
Hidden talent: Stand-up comedian
Favorite book: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Bucket list: Visit Robben Island in South Africa

Atlanta 500: Pat Wilson

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Pat Wilson
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 prevously director of government affairs in the administration of Governor Sonny Perdue.

Education: University of Georgia
Notable achievement: Georgia was named the number one state in the nation for business for five consecutive years by both Site Selection and Area Development magazines.
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
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: SunTrust Park


Atlanta 500: Robbie Ashe

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Robbie Ashe
Chairman of MARTA Board of Directors
Partner at Bondurant Mixson & Elmore

As chairman of the MARTA Board of Directors, Robbie Ashe has helped enhance and expand the system to accommodate growth and attain solvency. He counts MARTA’s expansion into Clayton County in 2014 and taxpayer approval of billions in new transit funds in the City of Atlanta in 2016 as major wins. As a partner at leading law firm Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, Ashe helps clients resolve and win business and governmental disputes in courts throughout Georgia.

Education: Dartmouth College, Georgia State University College of Law (JD)
Notable achievements: At MARTA, over the last several years, we have balanced our budget, rebuilt our reserves, service, and credibility, and are hard at work expanding transit throughout the region.
Why I chose this work: I do it to pay my civic rent. I was born here, and love this city.
Best advice received: Don’t confuse being popular with being correct.
Few people know: I’m a certified barbecue judge.

Atlanta 500: Allison Ausband

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Allison Ausband
Senior Vice President, In-Flight Service
Delta Air Lines

Allison Ausband is senior vice president of in-flight service for Delta Air Lines, leading a global team of 24,000 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 has 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.

Education: University of Georgia
Favorite travel destination: Saint Barthélemy
Hidden talent: Before taking to the skies, I was a radio announcer.
Charities: I lead Delta’s efforts in the fight against human trafficking.
Who’d play me in a biopic: Diane Lane

Atlanta 500: Ed Bastian

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Ed Bastian
Delta Air Lines

As CEO of Delta Air Lines since 2016, 20-year company veteran Ed Bastian helms a team of 80,000 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. The company has also returned to sustained profitability. Prior to joining Delta, Bastian held senior finance positions at Frito-Lay International and Pepsi-Cola International.

Education: Saint Bonaventure University
Hometown: Poughkeepsie, New York
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
Charities: Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research, Polaris Project

Atlanta 500: Russell R. McMurry

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Russell R. McMurry
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. 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
Charities: Amigos for Christ, a nonprofit that facilitates leadership, water, health, education, and economic development in rural Nicaraguan communities

Atlanta 500: George Shultz

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George Shultz
VP and GM, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions; Site GM, Marietta
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics

George Shultz is vice president and general manager of the Air Mobility & Maritime Missions line of business at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Marietta. He’s also the site general manager, responsible for day-to-day operations of the 5,000-employee manufacturing facility. Shultz began his career working with Lockheed Space Operations at Kennedy Space Center. He’s on the boards of Lockheed Martin UK Holdings and Lockheed Martin Canada, and a member of the Kiwanis Club of Marietta and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

Education: Kent State University, University of Tennessee (MBA)
Notable achievement: National Management Association Executive of the Year (2017)
Toughest challenge: Accidents involving our aircraft that cost heroes’ lives
Favorite film: Rudy
Charities: United Service Organizations, Chad’s Bracket, March of Dimes, Kiwanis
Bucket list: Create my own small business


Atlanta 500: Maurice Baker

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Maurice Baker
Manager, Community Relations
Georgia Natural Gas

Saint Louis native Maurice “Moe” Baker is manager of community relations for Georgia Natural Gas, which serves nearly half a million customers as part of Southern Company, one of the largest energy companies in the U.S. At GNG since 2002, Baker supervises community relations, philanthropy, and volunteer programs, and has been responsible for millions of dollars in charitable giving for the company. He began his career as manager of WSB-TV/Radio’s Consumer Action Center.

Education: Boston University
Best advice received: Yolanda King advised me to always bring a tape recorder to an interview. I was working for my high school newspaper at the time.
Favorite travel destination: South Africa
Hidden talent: I’m actually a pretty good painter.
Favorite TV shows: Blackish, 60 Minutes
Lesson learned: The world isn’t fair. I’ve seen a lot of disparity based on zip codes.
Who’d play me in a biopic: Donald Glover. LOL.

Atlanta 500: Paul Bowers

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Paul Bowers
President and CEO
Georgia Power

Paul Bowers is chairman, president, and CEO of Georgia Power, the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation’s leading energy providers. He joined the Southern Company system at Gulf Power in 1979 and has held executive leadership positions at multiple subsidiaries. Prior to his current position at Georgia Power, he served as chief financial officer of Southern Company, where he was rated by Institutional Investor as one of the industry’s Top Three CFOs in America.

Education: University of West Florida, Troy University (MS), Harvard Business School AMP
Notable achievements: Four Pillar Award (2018), Georgia Trustee (2018), Junior Achievement Atlanta Business Hall of Fame (2016), American Jewish Committee National Human Relations Award (2015)

Atlanta 500: Michael Braswell

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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, Braswell has more than 25 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: Tom Fanning

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Tom Fanning
Chairman, President, and CEO
Southern Company

A native of Sandy Springs, Tom Fanning has been chairman, president, and CEO of Southern Company since 2010. He’s worked for the energy giant for more than 35 years, holding 15 different positions in eight business units—most recently as chief operating officer, responsible for Southern Company’s generation and transmission, engineering and construction services, research and environmental affairs, system planning, and competitive generation business units. Previously Fanning was president and CEO of Gulf Power.

Education: Georgia Tech (MA)
First job: Financial analyst
Hidden talent: I have coached youth sports in Atlanta for decades and was the 2018 recipient of the CEO Coach of the Year Award, the highest honor bestowed by the American Football Coaches Foundation.
Favorite travel destination: Maine

Atlanta 500: Kevin Greiner

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Kevin Greiner
President and CEO
Gas South

Kevin Greiner has served as president and CEO of Gas South since the company’s founding in 2006. Since that time, Gas South has become one of the Southeast’s leading retail natural gas providers, roughly doubling in size to serve more than 300,000 residential, business, and governmental customers in competitive markets in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Previously Greiner worked at Southern Company and Enron.

Education: Wesleyan University, University of Michigan (MBA, MS)
Notable achievement: YMCA of Metro Atlanta Volunteer of the Year (2017)
First job: Working in a bagel shop on Long Island
Favorite TV show: Mad Men
Toughest challenge: Launching Gas South in 2006 in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and sky-high natural gas prices
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: The BeltLine
Bucket list: A bike trip in Europe

Atlanta 500: Bill Leahy

Photograph courtesy of AT&T

Bill Leahy
President, Georgia and Southeast

Bill Leahy was appointed president of AT&T Georgia and Southeast Region in 2015, managing AT&T’s legislative, regulatory, and external affairs initiatives in nine southeastern states. He has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, beginning as a management trainee with New England Telephone. Leahy has held various positions at AT&T companies in financial analysis, marketing, and government affairs management. Currently, he serves on the boards of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Education: Merrimack College, University of Massachusetts (MBA)
Notable achievement: Served as a senior lecturer of mathematics at Boston University

Atlanta 500: Hank Linginfelter

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Hank Linginfelter
Executive Vice President
Southern Company Gas

Since 2007, Henry P. “Hank” Linginfelter was been executive vice president of Southern Company Gas (formerly AGL Resources), responsible for all operating functions of the utilities, including field operations, customer experience, gas operations, construction, energy-efficiency programs, and utility marketing and sales. The Saint Simons Island native has 35 years of experience in utility operations with Southern Company Gas and is a member of the Southern Company Gas Management Council. He was chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in 2016.

Education: Georgia Tech, Georgia State University (MBA)
Toughest challenge: Loss of each parent at young ages, which made me stronger but was deeply painful
First job: Cutting grass on Saint Simons Island
Hidden talent: Once survived a tornado—no talent required
Favorite travel destination: The beach—almost any beach will do.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Fox Theatre

Lauren “Bubba” McDonald
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 now serves as its chairman. He’s 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. 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 TV show: Fox News
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: The Varsity

Atlanta 500: Michael L. Smith

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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—and, prior to that, as 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
Charities: Catholic Charities USA

Atlanta 500: Russell Stokes

Photograph courtesy of GE

Russell Stokes
Senior Vice President of GE
President and CEO of GE Power

Russell Stokes is president and CEO of GE Power and a senior vice president of GE, responsible for leading the company’s strategy on technology, solutions, and services across the entire energy value chain, from the point of generation to consumption. Prior to taking the helm at GE Power in 2017, he was president and CEO of GE Energy Connections, the electrification, grid, and controls business of GE. Stokes joined GE in 1997 in the financial management program.

Education: Cleveland State University
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Center for Civil and Human Rights. The lunch counter sit-in simulation is something I will never forget and that all people could learn from by experiencing.
Charities: Junior Achievement of Georgia, Usher’s New Look
What I’d tell a recent graduate: If you aren’t multilingual already, invest in your future by learning other languages.


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 has been recognized as the top state for business five years in a row. He is also known for his 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 has grown 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 Profile in Courage Award in 2005.

John Lewis
Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis was active in the civil rights movement. He was a Freedom Rider, chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, spoke at the 1963 March on Washington, and helped lead the Selma march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Among many honors, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. In 1986, Lewis was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he continues to represent Georgia’s 5th District.

Sam Massell
Beginning his career in real estate, Massell served 22 years in elected offices, including eight as president of Atlanta’s Board of Aldermen and four as the city’s mayor from 1970 to 1974. As mayor, Massell established MARTA and developed minority opportunities in city government. Later, he became the founding president of the Buckhead Coalition, which he continues to helm.

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 African American 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.