100 Most Influential Georgians
Georgia's Power List
This is the 13th edition of Georgia Trend’s 100 Most Influential Georgians, and it reflects a changing of the guard at the highest levels of state government and business leadership, while furthering the notion of Georgia as, basically, a one-party state.
Republicans now hold every constitutional office, there is a new Republican governor, and politicians across the state continue to leave the Democratic Party in an effort to curry favor with voters. Georgia is redder than ever before.
Meanwhile, there is new leadership at the top of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Fort Benning, the Georgia Ports Authority – four of the state’s most powerful forces for economic and business growth.
These 100 are people who affect the course of events in Georgia, who influence what you think and how you live during the toughest economic era since the Great Depression. [And, for the most part, their phone numbers are publically listed.]
Profiles were written by Candice Dyer, Linda M. Erbele, Jerry Grillo, Karen Kennedy, Bobby Nesbitt, Don Sadler, Alan Sverdlik and Ben Young.
Dr. Michael F. Adams
President, University of Georgia
Severe state budget cuts haven’t kept the students away from UGA although total enrollment is 34,677 this year, down slightly. But there has been plenty of good news: For the second year, UGA set a record for research funding, with sources totaling approximately $176 million. In 2010 the first class of 40 students enrolled in the new medical school at UGA, in a partnership arrangement with the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.
Founder/Managing Partner U.S. India Business and Research Center (USIBRC)
As founder and leader of consulting firm USIBRC, Agnihotri links together the business interests and opportunities of his chosen country, the U.S., and his birth country, India. He founded and chaired the first USA India Business Summit (last May in Atlanta) and in his spare time is CEO of IIIrd Millennium Technologies (a boutique technology company he started) and serves on several boards.
Under his guidance, insurance giant Aflac has been added by the Ethisphere Institute to the list of the world’s most ethical companies, to Fortunes’s Best Places to Work, to the Latina Style 50 as a Best Company for Latinas, and it is one of Black Enterprise’s 40 Best Companies for Diversity. Since 1995, Aflac has raised and donated $60 million to the Aflac Cancer Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s cancer research and treatment.
Richard H. Anderson
Delta Air Lines
For a CEO in a troubled industry, especially with only four years of leadership under his belt, Richard Anderson had to summon his 20 years of aviation experience to integrate the financial and corporate cultures of Delta and Northwest, which merged on his watch. Anderson expects the merged carrier to turn a profit in the fourth quarter of 2010.
University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Angle has helped the college extend its emphasis from traditional agricultural teaching and research into such areas as urban agriculture, agribusiness, food safety, natural resource conservation and environmental protection. His research has been aimed largely at finding ways to improve the quality of soil, focusing in particular on phytoremediation, or the use of plants to remove metals from soil.
Dr. Ricardo Azziz
President, Georgia Health Sciences University; CEO/Chairman,
MCG Health System
Azziz has not slowed down since being named president of GHSU (formerly Medical College of Georgia) in 2010, bringing 20 years of leadership in biomedical research and medical education with him. He has been at the forefront of the reorganization of the university’s clinical and academic enterprises, which pulled the hospitals and clinics back under the university umbrella.
Cheryl A. Bachelder
CEO, AFC Enterprises
President, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Bachelder is the chief peddler of New Orleans-style fast food as the leader of AFC Enterprises, which develops, operates and franchises Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen quick-service restaurants. With approximately 2,000 locations, the restaurant/brand (which originated in New Orleans) has expanded to 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and 27 other countries, most recently Malaysia and Egypt.
Woodruff Arts Center
Bankoff heads the country’s third largest arts consortium, made up of the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art, Young Audiences and the 14th Street Playhouse. He led the search that brought Robert Spano and Donald Runnicles to the ASO and chaired the task force that created the Metro Atlanta Arts and Culture Coalition.
Dr. Mark P. Becker
Georgia State University
Becker is leading Georgia State’s transformation into a world-class urban university with a burgeoning student enrollment (more than 30,000 graduates and undergraduates), proximity to the city’s cultural resources, and vastly improving academics and research (and a new football team). Becker has a five-year plan to bring in 100 new faculty members to fortify GSU’s scholarly reputation.
Bishop survived the closest race of his political career, finally dispatching GOP challenger Mike Keown (a state legislator and pastor) with just 51.4 percent of the vote to win a 10th term in the November midterm election. Bishop, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, led the way in securing $350 million to replace outdated Martin Army Hospital at Fort Benning.
The Home Depot
Blake has emphasized customer service at America’s second-biggest retailer since taking the helm in 2007, prior to which he served as general counsel to the Environmental Protection Agency and General Electric. He was named one of the Best Managers of 2008 in BusinessWeek and sits on the board of the Georgia Aquarium.
Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Force
Chairman, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
Blank’s energy and volubility are in evidence whether the Falcons are winning, as they are this season, or losing. The Home Depot co-founder is a major philanthropic presence in Atlanta. His Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation provides more than $15 million in grants to nonprofit state agencies to improve fitness and reduce childhood obesity.
Atlanta Community Food Bank
For more than 35 years, Bill Bolling has fought hunger by collaborating and creating partnerships. His work in creating a statewide food bank network has resulted in more than 2,500 nonprofit agencies distributing food. He tirelessly advocates for the issues of affordable housing, homelessness and poverty. In Metro Atlanta, the Food Bank provides more than 20 million pounds of food annually.
Brock will continue to run the new, streamlined CCE, whose North American bottling operations were acquired by The Coca-Cola Company in a $13-billion deal last February. The new CCE, focused entirely on Western Europe, will remain headquartered in Atlanta, where Brock will serve this year as chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
Bishop Dale Bronner
Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral
Dr. Bronner leads one of Metro Atlanta’s largest churches, with more than 15,000 members and an outreach that includes many more through his books and national television and radio broadcasts. He also serves on the board and is part owner of Bronner Bros., a family-owned hair care products corporation that has been in business since 1947.
Maj. Gen. Robert Brown
U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence
Brown inherited the difficult task of managing the post in wartime as well as handling the preparation for the troops coming to Fort Benning from Fort Knox, Ky., as part of the $3.5-billion BRAC expansion. Previously stationed in Germany as chief of staff of the U.S. Army’s European operations, he is a veteran of military campaigns in Haiti and Bosnia, as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Bulloch, a fourth-generation Thomas County farmer, is the influential chair of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and vice chairman of the Natural Resources and the Environment Committee. A strong voice for Georgia’s agricultural community, he has been an advocate for food processing safety and is a leader in trying to solve Georgia’s ongoing water needs.
Charles Bullock III
Richard B. Russell Professor of Political Science
University of Georgia
Professor Bullock, author of Georgia Politics in a State of Change, has been inspiring political pundits and future leaders for decades – at least 25 current and past legislators, scores of lobbyists and countless staffers, city council members and other elected officials have been students. He also provides valuable nonpartisan commentary for many media contacts and outlets.
At 28, the Gainesville native became the youngest person ever elected to the Georgia Senate in 1994. In 2006, he became the first Republican to win election as Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor. Cagle, who was easily re-elected for a second term in Novem-ber, was stripped of some legislative powers by Senate Republican leaders. Nonetheless, he has made immigration reform a primary legislative focus for the coming session.
C. Michael Cassidy
Georgia Research Alliance
As leader of an alliance of Georgia’s research universities, business and government, Cassidy draws on their resources to foster economic development, emphasizing high-tech innovation, recruitment of talent and scholarship, and commercialization of scientific findings. He’s directed more than $700 million in public and private funds into research and development at its six member universities and established a foundation with a goal of creating 100 new companies.
Dan Cathy’s goal for his family’s highly successful business is to provide five-star service at what is America’s second largest chicken fast-food chain. In the last two years, all franchise operators have received additional training. He is also actively involved with the WinShape Foundation, started by his parents more than 20 years ago; it provides a number of programs to help families and children.
As Georgia’s senior senator, Chambliss, a Republican, worked this past year to reduce the deficit, introduced leg-islation to protect Geor-gia’s water supply and co-authored an energy bill to expand America’s use of natural gas and nuclear power. He has been a consistently strong supporter of Georgia agriculture and the military.
Georgia Chamber of Commerce
In November, Clark went from protecting the interests of Geor-gia’s natural environment as commissioner of the state’s Department of Natural Resources to becoming president of Georgia’s top business organization. Clark, who has led local chambers and worked for years in the Georgia Department of Economic De-velopment, brings plenty of relevant experience as well as statewide and international business relationships to his new role.
Executive Director & Riverkeeper
Coosa River Basin Initiative
The CRBI was established in 1992 to protect the Coosa, Oos-tanaula and Etowah rivers. Cook has done his part, winning a settlement that provided funding to begin a 120-mile water trail on the Etowah. His basin also includes Daw-son County, where Cook is pushing to increase conservation efforts and streng-then the Interbasin Transfers regulation before a new reservoir is built there.
Mayor of Augusta
Copenhaver, with a strong environmental background, approach-ed last year’s campaign for re-election determined not to go negative or add to the landfills. He asked supporters to contribute to their favorite local nonprofit rather than to his re-election and campaigned online without sending mass mailings. The unusual strategy worked: He won a re-election by a substantial margin.
President, Young Harris College
Since taking the reins at YHC, Cox has overseen the expansion from a two-year to a four-year college, which brought rapid growth in enrollment, doubled the faculty size and raised millions of dollars to pay for essential new facilities. She broke ground on one of the state’s largest solar-powered facilities – designed to make YHC one of Georgia’s greenest campuses.
Craig zealously ad- vocates for Georgia’s life sciences sector, which he calls “robust,” particularly in healthcare, agriculture and biofuels. In spite of a sputtering economy, he is confident that emerging companies ultimately will commercialize their proprietary technologies to everyone’s benefit. Bio, with 300 members, played host to the industry’s largest gathering (BIO International Convention) in 2009, when 14,000 biotech industry leaders descended on Georgia.
Erroll B. Davis, Jr.
University System of Georgia
Hallmarks of Davis’ tenure leading Georgia’s 35 degree-granting institutions include a revision of core curriculum, the introduction of two-year course catalogs and the consolidation of many institutional-based operating functions under a single entity. The USG’s annual economic impact on Georgia has grown from $10.4 billion in FY 2006 to $12.7 billion in FY 2009. Davis will retire as Chancellor in June 2011.
United Parcel Service
Davis pilots a 103-year-old package delivery company that is adapting deftly to increasingly mobile dynamics as applications enable customers to track and ship packages around the world – UPS delivers to about 200 countries and territories. With more than 400,000 employees, UPS operates a fleet of about 102,000 cars, vans, tractors and motorcycles and more than 500 aircraft.
Governor of Georgia
Former U.S. Congressman Deal handily defeated his Democratic opponent (and former governor) Roy Barnes to become Georgia’s governor in November’s election. While he’ll enjoy the advantage of the GOP’s complete control of the state legislature, he’ll have his hands full with a state budget shortfall and living up to campaign proposals to increase spending on education while cutting taxes.
George E. Deese
Under Deese’s leadership, the Thom-asville-based maker of packaged bakery goods has prospered. Now with 40 bakeries scattered around the country, Flowers employs 8,800 people who helped generate sales of $2.6 billion (2009), serving about 50 percent of the U.S. population in 27 states and the District of Columbia. Helping to guide Flowers’ growth, Deese has been responsible for more than 30 acquisitions in his career.
Georgia Lottery Corporation
Under DeFrancisco’s leadership, the Georgia Lottery raised more than $2.4 million every day last year for HOPE Scholarships and Pre-K, in spite of the economic conditions. DeFrancisco is spearheading efforts to increase revenues with a national lottery game, and she helped establish the annual statewide Blanchard Award for Outstanding Stewardship and Ethics in Business.
Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce
Chair, Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District
As head of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, Dunlap is searching for a long-term plan to provide consistent water sources to keep up with explosive population growth. The Cedar Creek and Glades Reservoirs are crucial to her blueprint. She leads the chamber of commerce for Northeast Georgia’s busiest economic development corridor, with more than 1,500 business members.
Georgia Farm Bureau
Duvall directs Georgia’s largest general farm organization, representing producers of all major agricultural commodities grown or raised in the state and providing leadership and assistance to the state’s $65-billion agricultural sector. The Farm Bureau claims some 400,000 families as members and offers services ranging from multi-line insurance to commodities marketing plus hotel, auto and healthcare discounts.
Ellis sought office as a technocrat who would tighten the reins of a county government in disarray. In his second year, he continues to carry out his reformist platform. He made a splash early on in his tenure by firing the police chief and hiring a public safety director. Confronting a $100-million revenue shortfall, Ellis is working to consolidate departments, downsize, restructure and reduce non-essential services.
Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
Essig, head of the independent nonpartisan institute, has a plan to help Georgia improve its current standing as the 12th poorest state in the nation. It involves establishing a state economic security task force with members from the private and public sector. He stresses the importance of accountability for the task force by establishing a target and timeline for poverty reduction, an implementation plan, an annual legislative agenda and an annual report card.
Georgia Republican Party
Everhart was looking for a Republican sweep of Georgia’s constitutional offices in the midterm elections, and she got it. The GOP is more firmly entrenched than ever in Georgia, with Republicans now holding office as governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state school superintendent, attorney general and the commissioners of agriculture, insurance and labor. Additionally, the party gained a Congressional seat.
Georgia Forestry Commission
Farris leads a team of 600 Georgia Forestry Commission professionals who were collectively recognized as Customer Service Agency of the Year in 2009. Farris and his team strive to maintain the state’s 24.8 million acres of forests. Forest-related industries have an economic impact in Georgia of $28.7 billion and account for 128,000 jobs.
Georgia Ports Authority
Foltz is determined to make environmentalism a priority, including the use of electrically operated container crates that re-generate their own power and eliminate the use of more than two million gallons of diesel fuel in shore-based tracking systems for refrigerated commodities. Georgia’s ports have a statewide economic impact of almost $62 billion.
Thomas C. Gallagher
Genuine Parts Company
Genuine Parts was founded in 1928 and Gallagher has been with the company about half of its existence. He became president in 1990, CEO in 2004 and was elected chairman of the board in 2005. He runs one of Georgia’s largest public companies, with some 30,000 employees and revenues of $10.1 billion in 2009 (and likely to exceed that in 2010).
Garrett led Southern Company’s larg-est subsidiary from 2004 through 2010, overseeing the start of construction of Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4, the first new-generation nuclear plants in the United States in 30 years and part of Georgia Power’s commitment to cost-effective and reliable fuel sources to meet rising electricity demands in the Southeast. He is being succeeded by W. Paul Bowers, a veteran South-ern Company executive.
Dr. Helene Gayle
Before joining CARE USA in 2005, Gayle spent 20 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. An expert on health, global development and humanitarian issues, she has also directed programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition, Dr. Gayle chairs the Obama Administration’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
P. Russell Hardin
Robert W. Woodruff Foundation
Hardin presides over a difficult environment for giving. Nonetheless, under his stewardship, the organizations he leads remain steadfast in their missions. The Woodruff and Whitehead Foundations focus largely on Georgia, stressing education, health and human welfare, the environment, volunteerism, community, economic development and the arts. Hardin also oversees the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation and the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation.
Georgia Municipal Association
Higdon represents the interests of 512 municipal governments at a time when cities are reeling from the state budget crisis. While serving as a fierce advocate in the General Assembly, Higdon also counsels his members that there are things they can do to ease the crunch, such as promote economic development, encourage tourism and put aside their differences to work together for common goals.
Donna W. Hyland
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Under Hyland’s leadership, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is expanding its pediatric research and collaborating with clinical and academic partners such as Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine and Georgia Tech to discover treatments and potential cures that will impact children all over the world. CHOA has been ranked among Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America.
The Republican senator’s long and distinguished public service career started with his election to the Georgia legislature in 1974, and in November he was re-elected for a second term in the U.S. Senate. Isakson has been on the front lines of efforts to lower federal spending and taxes, strengthen border security and negotiate a long-term water-sharing agreement among Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
Technical College System of Georgia
TCSG keeps setting enrollment records. In fiscal year 2010, enrollment at the system’s 26 institutions swelled to 190,000, an increase of almost 40,000. This comes as no surprise to Jackson, who understands the appeal of a technical education in an economy that keeps losing jobs. These days, the most sought-after course of study is healthcare.
Mayor of Savannah
The Savannah native and two-term mayor has a simple but bold vision for his city: for Savannah to be a “safe, environmentally healthy and economically thriving community.” To this end, Johnson is focused particularly on neighborhood empowerment, crime reduction, economic development, tourism and support of the city’s rich and diverse heritage.
James R. Jolly
State Board of Regents
Jolly, who has represented Georgia’s Ninth Congressional District on the Georgia Board of Regents since 2003, chaired the committee that recommended a controversial new policy banning undocumented immigrants from some Georgia colleges. A Dalton native, Jolly retired as CEO of J&J Industries – one of the world’s leading commercial carpet manufacturers – in 2007.
Speaker Pro Tempore
Georgia House of Representatives
Jones may well be the most powerful woman ever to sit in the male-dominated Georgia Legislature. When the Repub-lican lawmaker was elected to the second highest position in the House last year, she became the first woman in Georgia history to hold the title. She’s expected to use that power this year pushing for a vote on creating a new county out of the north Fulton County district she represents.
Georgia Secretary of State
Kemp, a Republican who was appointed Secretary of State when predecessor Karen Handel resigned to run for governor, won a contentious race within his own party during the primary then won decisively in November. Kemp has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, so the state can require evidence of U. S. citizenship with voter registration applications.
James Cox Kennedy
Cox Enterprises Inc.
Kennedy has grappled with the circulation nose-dive of the Cox family’s best-known product, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. With considerable foresight, however, the family diversified long ago, particularly into the cable and online markets, and the company remains highly profitable, retaining a high quotient of profit against revenue. Kennedy, a nature enthusiast, has been named a “Philanthropist of the Year” and serves on the board of Ducks Unlimited.
Chairman of the Board and CEO
The Coca-Cola Company
Kent, who was born into a Turkish family, began his steep, steady climb at Coca-Cola as a cross-country, truck-driving salesman, earning a string of promotions based on his knack for increasing market share in Asia and Europe. In July 2008, the man who began his career by distributing crates of soft drinks in the American outback took the helm of the $31-billion soft-drink company.
Turner Broadcasting System Inc.
Kent is plenty busy running one of the world’s largest media empires, but he has also made time to be involved in the Atlanta community. Kent is serving a second year as the chairman of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, a panel of business executives who advise Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and is chair of the Board of Trustees at the Woodruff Arts Center.
Executive Director, Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG)
King stepped into his current role in 2010 with a vision for the ACCG: encourage civic engagement, offer leadership development and training and provide services to help counties operate more efficiently. He also worked with the Atlanta Regional Commission for Higher Education to secure a grant to fund interns in county offices statewide, encouraging the next generation of leaders.
U.S. Congressman, District 1
Republican Rep. Kingston spent much of 2010 trying to mitigate the economic impact of the decision not to bring the anticipated 5th Brigade Combat Team to Fort Stewart. Kingston serves on the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees military funding. With his district home to several military bases, Kingston has a special interest in America’s defense.
Wyck A. Knox, Jr.
Attorney, Kilpatrick Stockton
Knox has focused his practice on complex litigation, having tried numerous cases in state and federal courts and handled appeals to both the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court. Knox serves as a director of AGL Resources and president of Knox Charity Fund. He has been recognized locally and nationally for his legal prowess.
Charles “Chick” Krautler
Director, Atlanta Regional Commission
As head of the regional planning agency for Metro Atlanta, Krautler works with a board of 39 elected officials and citizen leaders to craft strategies to address current needs including transportation, water and quality growth, as well as plan for sustainability. He is leading the development of Plan 2040, a comprehensive blueprint for the region’s future success and livability.
Kuck Immigration Partners
Kuck has spent his professional life in the pursuit of justice for people dealing with what he calls “a broken immigration system” and has testified before Congress on various aspects of immigration law and immigration reform. Frequently quoted in the national press and a regular on television and cable news outlets, Kuck previously served as national president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Musician, Tree Farmer
Rolling Stones keyboardist and co-founder of The Mother Nature Network (www.mnn.com), Leavell is one of Arbor Day’s hippest spokespersons. Even while touring, he keeps busy with environmental advocacy and forest conservation and takes on tractor patrol of Charlane Plantation, his sustainable hunting lodge in Twiggs County. He has twice been named Georgia Tree Farmer of the Year, and he is a member of the Georgia and Alabama music halls of fame.
Atlanta Regional Commission
Leithead is the first citizen board member to chair the ARC (which always has been chaired by elected officials). Leit-head, who left Cousins Properties in 2009 to form his own government relations and consulting firm, also chairs the Cumberland Community Improvement District (CID), responsible for almost $3 billion in transportation improvements in Cobb County.
Georgia College & State University
Leland’s educational mantra is “learning beyond the classroom,” and by this she means study-abroad programs, undergraduate research and community service. More than 6,000 students are enrolled and more than 800 faculty and staff report to her as she works to increase the geographic, economic and ethnic diversity of incoming classes. Under her leadership, GCSU established a natural history museum, a planetarium and its first freestanding art gallery.
The former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Devel-opment (GDEcD), Lesser has joined the private sector as a consultant, providing economic development and government affairs advice and strategy. While at GDEcD (2004-2007), new investment and expansion announcements in Georgia totaled more than $8 billion and created more than 40,000 new jobs. Lesser also chairs the board of the World Chamber of Commerce.
Despite Republican dominance in Georgia’s congressional delegation, Lewis remains one of its uncompromisingly liberal holdouts. A hero of the civil rights movement, Lewis serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Subcommit-tee on Oversight. He recently led efforts to bolster green jobs training and construct the Georgia Transit Connector, which would link key community, tourism and business districts in Atlanta.
Area President, Georgia/South Carolina Regions Bank
Linginfelter oversees the Georgia/ South Carolina divisions of Regions Bank. In 2010 he served as chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and played an important role in the passage of the transportation funding bill. He also chairs the board of trustees for the Georgia Research Alliance and serves on numerous community boards.
Dennis P. Lockhart
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Lockhart is responsible for all activities at the Atlanta Fed bank, including monetary policy, bank supervision and regulation, and payment services. He serves on the Federal Reserve’s chief monetary policy body, the Federal Open Market Committee. The latest FOMC report indicates the declining possibility of deflation in 2011, which has buoyed the spirits of Lockhart and his Fed colleagues around the country.
Mullis was writing legislation similar to Arizona’s tough new immigration laws when Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle recruited him to be part of a committee that will make immigration a main focus of the coming session. As chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, Mullis also secured a $14.2-million federal study grant for a proposed high-speed rail system connecting Atlanta and Chattanooga.
State of Georgia
Olens spent eight productive years as the chairman of Cobb County’s Board of Commissioners and also served an ex-tended stint as chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission before throwing his hat into the ring for the attorney general job. As AG, he says he’ll pursue all legal avenues to oppose the national healthcare plan.
State House of Representatives
A pro-business accountant and tax lawyer who chaired the House Ways & Means Committee and signed off on some key business-friendly legislation, O’Neal lost his bid for Speaker of the House a year ago but was elected majority leader in November by the House Republican caucus. O’Neal is beginning his 10th year as a legislator.
Charles A. Pannell, Jr.
U.S. District Court Judge
In September 2009, Justice Pannell set the wheels in motion for a complete overhaul of Georgia’s mental health system when he rejected a settlement agreement between the state and the U.S. Department of Justice (which filed a lawsuit over unsafe conditions in state psychiatric hospitals). In October 2010 he approved a historic settlement that forces Georgia to improve its entire adult mental health system.
Kennesaw State University
Under Papp’s leadership, KSU is working to become nationally recognized. Last year marked several firsts, including the first Ph.D. program and the first time the school’s athletes competed as full-fledged members of NCAA Division I. And Georgia’s third largest university is moving forward with its assessment of fielding a football team. An exploratory committee found support, and students have voted approval of a “football fee.”
Fortunately for Georgia, New Orleans native Tyler Perry has chosen Atlanta as the home base for his burgeoning entertainment empire. His 200,000-square-foot studios occupy more than 30 acres and employ hundreds of people. Outside of entertainment, Perry has been involved in civil rights issues and charities that focus on helping the homeless.
George P. “Bud” Peterson
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Tech’s 11th president, Pet-erson outclassed the competition for the top spot when Tech named him the sole finalist in February 2009, an appointment made official six months later. His immediate priority is to maintain the university’s high standards amid the state budget crunch. He’s also laid out a 25-year-plan to catapult Tech to the apex of technological research centers.
U.S. Congressman, District 6
Price, a successful orthopedist before entering politics, has used his medical background to be a vocal critic of Demo-cratic healthcare reforms. As chair of the Republican Study Committee, a group of House conservatives, Price works to forward the bedrock conservative principle of reducing the size and power of the federal government.
Usher Raymond IV
Raymond, known to his millions of fans as simply Usher, has won multiple Grammy, Billboard and MTV awards and found success as a motion picture actor. He started his own record label, is part owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, helped launch the career of teen idol Justin Bieber and formed New Look, a nonprofit charity focused on developing leadership skills for young people.
Mayor of Atlanta
Reed has pounded the table on international trade, signing an agreement with a Bahrain delegation to explore ways Atlanta firms can do business with the Persian Gulf island-nation and welcomed Chinamex to its new offices at Atlantic Station. In Reed’s first year on the job, Atlanta has hired 100 new police officers, improved fire response times and dramatically increased city reserves.
Executive Vice President
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company
Rhyant is a leader of one of the state’s biggest employers (more than 84,000 employees). Because more than 500 aerospace organizations now call Georgia home, he has focused much of his attention on how Lockheed Martin will overcome future workforce challenges, given that more than half of Georgia’s current aerospace employees will become eligible for retirement in the next five years. Rhyant is stepping down this spring.
President, Central Atlanta Progress, Atlanta Downtown Improvement District
Robinson leads CAP and ADID with the goals of keeping Atlanta safe, livable and economically vibrant. In 2010 CAP brought leaders together from across the state to discuss common goals and a new vision for Georgia. ADID partnered with the city of Atlanta and MARTA to win $47 million in federal TIGER II grants for the first phase of the Atlanta streetcar project.
Senior Investigative Reporter
Fox 5’s “I-Team”
Russell, a Peabody Award-winning journalist whose bold, shoe-leather reporting has helped change laws and send scoundrels to prison, likes to say: “I rake the muck. It is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Otherwise, there would be more muck.” The Atlanta Press Club named him “Journalist of the Year” for breaking the story of then-House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s alleged affair with a lobbyist.
Georgia has become wired and wireless as never before with Russell calling the shots. AT&T continues to roll out or enhance the fastest networks – according to independent wireless research firms – crisscrossing the state. “Expansion” is Russell’s catchword. She serves on the boards of the Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.
Beverly A. Scott
MARTA’s CEO since 2007, Scott is recognized throughout the transportation industry as a leader. Her career spans more than 30 years and includes leadership positions with some of the nation’s top transit organizations. Scott may be facing some of her toughest challenges as she tries to minimize the effects of budget cuts on MARTA schedules and operations and joins efforts to develop a comprehensive regional transportation plan.
Scott brought nearly three decades of state legislative experience and a reputation as a bipartisan consensus builder to the table when he was elected to Congress in 2003. The Congressman, who has been the target of threats and hate mail for his part in the healthcare reform debate, is known as a pro-business Democrat. He serves on the Financial Services, Foreign Affairs and Agriculture committees.
Beheruz N. Sethna
President/Professor of Business Administration
University of West Georgia
Under Sethna’s guidance, West Georgia has increased enrollment by 50 percent, acquired national accreditation and university status, grown its endowment to about 700 percent of its 1994 level and launched the state’s first advanced academy for exceptionally gifted high school students. Sethna is believed to be the first U.S. university president of Indian origin, and is a dedicated Rotarian with a perfect attendance record for meetings.
Michael E. Shapiro
High Museum of Art
With the High since 1995, Shapiro has brought blockbuster exhibitions to the museum, overseen the reinstallation of the institution’s permanent collection and spearheaded the High’s 177,000-square-foot expansion. He has become known for creating partnerships with institutions from around the world to bring acclaimed art to the High.
Atlanta Gas Light
One of the state’s most dynamic business executives, Sitherwood takes an active role working with state leaders on a variety of issues that affect Georgia’s future: among them, water, transportation and business development. Last year, she became the first woman to chair the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in its nearly 100-year history.
Georgia House of Representatives
Smith, chair of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, is known for championing policies that protect Georgia’s environment. The Georgia Chamber’s 2010 “Legislator of the Year,” she was a key sponsor of the 2010 Water Stewardship Act designed to help the state meet its long-term water supply needs while emphasizing conservation measures.
Thomas A. “Tom” Smith
Oglethorpe Power Corporation
Smith continues to burnish his reputation as a can-do leader of a company with 4 million Georgia customers. In one of the more recent phases of OPC’s expansion plans, the company is constructing a natural-gas-powered generating facility to help meet the growing needs of its members. The facility will gain additional efficiency by capturing wasted heat from the combustion process and using it to generate more power.
Department of Transportation
Smith learned the challenges facing Georgia’s transportation system as a state lawmaker for 16 years and chairman of the House Transportation Committee from 2005 to 2009. Now he is using his knowledge and expertise as commissioner of the DOT, working to implement the $900-million federal transportation stimulus program and launching an aggressive public-private partnership program.
John W. Somerhalder II
Chairman, President & CEO
Somerhalder heads Georgia’s oldest company, a leader in the natural gas industry. In 2011, he will chair the American Gas Association. He serves on the boards of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, BeltLine Partnership and the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta. He has chaired the local United Way’s annual giving campaign for two consecutive years.
Walter C. Sprouse, Jr.
Development Authority of Richmond County
Sprouse has implemented nearly a decade of “face-to-face” marketing for Augusta, and the results keep coming. Just two years after opening, Teleperformance hired 300 more call center employees this year. Convergent ER Solutions, another Augusta call center company, began hiring what will total 400 employees in 2011. His efforts have helped bring Augusta national recognition as a “Top 10” area for business growth.
President & CEO
After a successful tenure at the Bank of North Georgia, Stelling was selected to lead its Columbus-based parent corporation. Synovus, a financial services company with more than $31 billion in assets, has banks in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. Stelling is a member of the state Board of Regents and a trustee of Kennesaw State.
United Community Bank
Under Tallent’s leadership since 1988, United Community Bank has grown from a small, one-branch financial institution in rural Blairsville to the third-largest bank holding company in Georgia with $8 billion in assets and 107 offices in three southeastern states. He is a member of the Georgia Power board and serves as a Trustee of Young Harris College.
With Wagner at the controls, Emory (ranked among the top 20 national universities by U.S. News & World Report) remains one of Metro Atlanta’s most powerful engines, pumping about $3.5 billion into the area economy. Under Wagner, the university also has ramped up its star power and international cachet, adding celebrity scholars such as Salman Rushdie and the Dalai Lama to its faculty.
Savannah College of Art and Design
Wallace has helped transform SCAD into the most comprehensive art and design university in the world. The university’s enrollment has doubled since Wallace was named president in 2000 – there are now more than 10,000 students and 1,500 faculty and staff at campuses on three continents and online, including SCAD Savannah, SCAD Atlanta, SCAD Lacoste (in the south of France), SCAD eLearning, and SCAD Hong Kong.
James M. Wells III
Chairman/CEO, SunTrust Banks, Inc.
The bank Wells runs, with total assets of $170.7 billion as of June 2010, sits at the top of an industry struggling during the challenging economic environment. Despite the economy, Wells says the greatest accomplishment at SunTrust in 2010 was the bank’s success in increasing client satisfaction while investing in future growth.
In September, Wernick was recognized by U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop in Washington, D.C., for the extraordinary leadership he has brought to medicine and healthcare in southwest Georgia during his 20 years at the hospital. With Wernick at the helm, Phoebe Putney has been recognized for excellence in clinical quality, operations and community health.
Sam A. Williams
Metro Atlanta Chamber
Named president in 1997, Williams leads the Metro Atlanta Chamber, which serves 4,000 member companies employing nearly a million workers. In 2010 MAC was involved in recruiting 55 companies and creating more than 5,000 jobs, and achieved a “3 for 3” victory for its top legislative priorities – transportation, water and school board reform. Under Williams, the chamber has taken an active role in civic affairs and public policy.
President Pro Tem
This former onion farmer, school teacher and missionary is currently a Toombs County tree farmer and a strong conservative voice for his southeast Georgia district. First elected to the Senate in 1998, he’s now one of the state GOP’s top leaders as senate president pro tem, chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Assignments and vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Sally Quillian Yates
U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Georgia
Yates became the federal government’s top law enforcement official in Atlanta in March 2010 after distinguishing herself as a tough prosecutor since joining the U.S. attorney’s office in 1989. Known for going after public corruption with a vengeance, she’s handled a variety of high-profile cases, ranging from bank executives indicted for fraud to the prosecution of former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell for corruption.
Michael A. Young
Grady Health System
Young has proven to be the right cure for turning around Atlanta’s ailing public health system. Hired in 2008 as part of a restructuring of Grady leadership, Young achieved a turnaround of almost $75 million and reduced costs by nearly $20 million while making what even many former restructuring critics say are major improvements in care.