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The Facts About Georgia’s New Noncompete Employment Statute

Today we had a spirited discussion about Georgia’s new noncompete employment statute – House Bill 30.  Our guests were State Representative Wendell Willard, one of the co-sponsors of the statute and William (Chip) Collins Jr, the attorney who heads Burr and Forman’s new noncompete and trade secrets group – he is also the editor of their new Noncompete & Trade Secrets blog.

Wendell Willard/ State Representative 49th District Georgia House of Representatives

Wendell is the co-sponsor of Georgia’s new noncompete employment statute that became effective last year and drastically changed the legal landscape for noncompetes.

State Representative Wendell Willard represents the 49th District in the Georgia House of Representatives. Since being first elected to serve in 2001, Representative Willard has been instrumental in passing several pieces of landmark legislation. Since 2005 Representative Willard has served as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Chairman Willard’s notable legislative accomplishments during his time with the General Assembly include: the 2006 passage of Georgia’s Eminent Domain law, which strengthened personal property rights for all Georgians, and the 2004 Child Protection Law, which protects children against reckless and abusive caregivers. Chairman Willard also points to the 2005 creation of the City of Sandy Springs, his hometown, by the General Assembly and the subsequent creation of the cities of Johns Creek and Milton among his most notable legislative accomplishments.

In recognition of his legislative accomplishments, Chairman Willard has been honored by: the Georgia Council on Aging with their Special Legislator Award, the Department of Human Resources with their Leadership Award, and by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, among others. Most recently, he was honored in 2008 by the Georgia Municipal Association as a “Champion of Georgia’s Cities.”

Representative Willard resides in Sandy Springs with his wife Vicki. When not working at the Capitol, Representative Willard is an attorney in his own private practice, and serves as the City Attorney for Sandy Springs. Active in the Sandy Springs and North Fulton communities, Representative Willard serves on the board of The Newtown Park Foundation. Representative Willard serves as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and also serves on Appropriations, Ethics, Ex-Officio of Judiciary Non-Civil, and Vice Chairman of Rules. He was a member of the Insurance Committee from 2001-2005.

William (Chip) Collins, Jr.

Chip helps his clients successfully resolve multiple types of business disputes, including those involving breach of contract, commercial lending, unfair competition, real estate, and employment issues. He has represented clients ranging from individuals and small businesses to large banks and Fortune 500 companies in matters involving between tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars in dispute. Chip firmly believes in working with his clients at the beginning of an engagement to clearly identify the client’s objectives and develop a strategy and budget for achieving the client’s goals in the most cost-effective manner. Although he is able to efficiently resolve most of his cases through dispositive motions or alternative dispute resolution, Chip is fully prepared to go to trial for his clients when necessary, having tried cases and handled appeals at both the State and Federal levels.

Disputes involving real estate and lending comprise a substantial portion of Chip’s practice. In the recent economic climate, Chip has spent the majority of his time representing several national and regional lenders in litigation involving large defaulted commercial loans, including the institution of receivership proceedings and defense of lender liability claims.

Chip has significant experience and expertise in helping businesses of all types prevent unfair competition through the drafting and enforcement of non-competition, non-disclosure, and non-recruitment covenants and the pursuit of remedies for misappropriation of trade secrets, breaches of fiduciary duties and other similar claims. He has written and lectured extensively on those subjects, as well. Chip has also successfully defended companies and individuals accused of unfair competition.

Chip is also often called upon to handle disputes arising from the break-up of business partners (the “business divorce”). In those cases, he attempts to temper the high emotions usually associated with such matters and work out a fair and common-sense resolution, thereby avoiding costly litigation that rarely provides a true economic “win” for any party in those types of cases.

Everything You Need To Know About The Impact of T-SPLOST on Atlanta and on Georgia

On July 31, 2012, Georgians will vote on a one-cent sales tax to invest in a specifically identified list of transportation improvements in each of our State’s twelve economic development regions. Each region’s election will be separate from the other eleven regions, and each region’s citizens will determine the fate of a new 10-year Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) on all sales in the counties within that particular region.

Today’s guests discussed the impact of T-SPLOST on Atlanta and Georgia.

Rob Hill/Hill Corporate Partners

Rob Hill is a commercial Realtor along with his partner and father Bob at Hill Corporate Partners in Atlanta.  Hill Corporate Partners is one of the few firms in the country that specializes in the exclusive representation of the end-users of commercial real estate: the tenants and the buyers, and for years they have been the most recommended commercial Realtors in metropolitan Atlanta on LinkedIn.

Before entering the real estate field, Rob founded and ran The Historian’s Gallery, a broker/dealer inhistoric documents and artifacts for museums and private collectors.  He has since served as a consultant to major museums and universities in the acquisition and authentication of historically significant items and even entire collections.

He was Program Director for the Leadership Exchange and Analysis Program (LEAP) for the Yale School of Management and has also worked in the field of mergers and acquisitions as well as commercial lending.

Rob is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Metro Atlanta Chamber as well as a sought-after speaker on Atlanta history, transportation, and business.

Bert Brantley/McRae Communications (representing MAVEN)

Bert Brantley joined McRae Communications in January 2011 after serving four years in Governor Sonny Perdue’s Communications Office, including the last two and a half years as Communications Director. Before that, Bert was in state government for nearly eight years at the Department of Transportation and the Department of Economic Development. Since joining McRae, Bert has worked with Southwest Airlines as they entered the Atlanta market, the Metro Atlanta Regional Transportation Referendum campaign and a number of other clients providing public affairs counsel, crisis communications strategy and traditional media relations activities.

Mitch Kaminer/Atlanta Board of REALTORS® and RE/MAX Paramount Properties

Mitch Kaminer is President of the Atlanta Board of REALTORS®, the largest Boards of its kind in Georgia and considered one of the strongest and most successful in the nation.  With nearly 5,000 members, ABR serves as a valuable resource for real estate education, the promotion of professionalism in the industry, and as a force for legislative initiatives geared toward creating positive change for the real estate community.

Mitch has been successfully involved in the metro Atlanta real estate scene since 1994, an active participant in ABR since 2002, and is currently a Associate Broker/REALTOR with ReMax Paramount Properties in Roswell.

Mike Alexander/Atlanta Regional Commission

Mike Alexander is the Chief of Atlanta Regional Commission’s Research Division. This Division provides a broad and accurate base of demographic, economic, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) information to support ARC’s long-range planning efforts including the Regional Transportation and Development plans, functional plans, policies and implementation strategies.

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is the regional planning and intergovernmental coordination agency for the 10-county area including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties, as well as the City of Atlanta. For 60 years, ARC and its predecessor agencies have helped to focus the region’s leadership, attention and resources on key issues of regional consequence.

ARC is dedicated to unifying the region’s collective resources to prepare the metropolitan area for a prosperous future. It does so through professional planning initiatives, the provision of objective information and the involvement of the community in collaborative partnerships.

Greg Harley/Burr & Forman

Greg is a partner in Burr & Forman’s Commercial Litigation group with a concentration on business litigation, class action defense and employment matters. Greg has extensive experience in all aspects of civil litigation and has handled disputes on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants on a broad range of issues including breach of contract, fraud, bad faith, trade secrets, defamation and unfair business practices claims. While Greg’s practice is centered in Georgia and Alabama, he has represented clients in matters across the United States.

Greg’s clients include national banking institutions, insurers and one of Georgia’s largest residential contracting companies. Greg also currently serves as national litigation counsel for a diversified telecommunications company.


Autism Speaks Special Edition

This April is the fifth annual Autism Awareness Month, and on April 2 the World Autism Awareness Day was celebrated in order to recognize Autism as a growing  global health crisis. WAAD activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of the autism epidemic and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.

In today’s Autism Speaks special edition we met with three individuals whose work directly benefits those who are celebrated and honored on this day.

Sheila Wagner/Emory Autism Center

Ms. Wagner is the Assistant Director of the Emory Autism Center at Emory University, and Program Manager for the Monarch School-age program. She is a certified special education teacher and teacher consultant on educating students with Autism for close to 30 years. Ms. Wagner is a teacher and school consultant, national and international lecturer on educating students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, project director for a multi-county Inclusion Project affecting more than 600 students with ASD in the state of Georgia, and is a long term member of an interdisciplinary diagnostic team.

Ms. Wagner is an award winning author of four publications in the area of ASD, including “Inclusive Programming for Elementary Students with Autism” (1999), “Inclusive Programming for Middle School Student with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome” (2001), “Inclusive Programming for High School Student with Autism and Asperger’s” (1999), and “Understanding Asperger’s Syndrome: Fast Facts” (Future Horizons, Inc.,2004). Both the elementary and the high school books won the Autism Society of America Outstanding Literary Work of the Year (2001 and 2010 respectively). She has also published a chapter on educating females with Asperger’s syndrome in T. Grandin and T. Attwood’s book, Asperger’s and Girls (Future Horizons). Ms. Wagner contributes bi- weekly articles on ASD to NBC.Com’s popular television show Parenthood website. She consults with school districts and families throughout the State of Georgia and nation on school issues for students with autism/AS and lives in the Atlanta area.

The Emory Autism Center is a component of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. The program was opened in 1991 as a public, private and University collaboration. Since opening, the Emory Autism Center has become a national model for diagnosis, family support and innovative treatment, as well as a vital source of professional training.

Judy Tatro/Nobis Works

Judy Tatro is the On Site Project Manager for EPA Mailroom with Nobis Works. Nobis Works is a non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities and other barriers to employment find meaningful work. This happens through evaluation, training and employment services both at the center and in the community. Nobis Works serves youth & adults with all types of disabilities, and sees that the population on the Autism spectrum is growing. Nobis Works recognizes that this disability requires special training and support services, and has created employment opportunities to help foster independence and success in the workplace for individuals on the Autism spectrum.

Danny Umali/Strategic Planning Group

Danny Umali helps families with special needs place their loved ones in the best possible financial situation through his Strategic Planning Group. Danny began his career recently as a financial services professional and has decided to place his focus on this special needs planning.

His wife of 15 years, Karen, had a direct link to the special needs community. For the past 7 years she has played a vital role at The Joseph Sams School in Fayetteville, GA where she worked full-time as a member of the speech department. After meeting with some of the families that she worked with, Danny realized that many of them are not aware of the options that are available. It was clear to both of them that these special individuals are bright, capable, and deserving of a full and happy life. It is Danny’s hope that he can work with the families of these special individuals in order to guide and help secure their future.

Karen has recently joined Danny as an associate with his practice in the summer of 2011. Together, they hope to reach out to as many families as possible.


Environmental Sustainability in the City: Atlanta’s Better Buildings Challenge

The city of Atlanta and Property Owners are taking the “Better Buildings Challenge” in order to promote environmental sustainability it the city. What is now being called The Atlanta BBC, was one of the first operations of the national Better Buildings Challenge announced by President Obama early last year. The challenge was implemented by the U.S. Department of Energy and has been created as an energy-efficiency leadership initiative. The Challenge supports commercial and industrial building owners, and any of those owners that decide to participate are provided with technical assistance and proven solutions to energy efficiency.

Atlanta’s Better Buildings Challenge was launched in November 2011 by Mayor Kasim Reed’s Office of Sustainability, in partnership with Central Atlanta Progress and other organizations. The goal of the challenge for Atlanta is to reduce their energy and water consumption by 20%.

In today’s Atlanta Environmental Sustainability Special Edition we had Scott Briskey from Sustainable Atlanta and Craig Jones from Cousins Property Incorporated on the show to discuss this new challenge that Atlanta has taken on.

Scott Briskey/Sustainable Atlanta

Established in 2007, Sustainable Atlanta is a catalyst and facilitator for sustainable progress in Atlanta.  Its core focus lies in convening leaders from business, non-profits, academic, civic and governmental sectors to develop sustainable policy and programs for those who live, work and play in Atlanta.  Sustainable Atlanta leverages its expertise to help orchestrate strategy, best practices, policies and programming that make Atlanta, citizens and organizations more bottom-line efficient, environmentally responsible and more competitive when attracting employers/jobs.

Scott Briskey is Director of Communications and Development for Sustainable Atlanta. With a career spanning more than a 15 years across multiple industries and disciplines, Scott has worked on a wide array of corporate communications and sustainability related projects. His career has included stints with Roy Communications, Jeanine Cooper Entertainment and Communications, Fletcher Martin Ewing and Edelman.  Scott earned a Mass Communication Arts with a focus on Public Relations from Clark Atlanta University

Craig B. Jones/Cousins Property Incorporated

Cousins Properties Incorporated is a leading diversified real estate company with extensive experience in development, acquisition, financing, management and leasing. Based in Atlanta, the Company actively invests in office and retail projects. Since its founding in 1958, Cousins has developed more than 20 million square feet of office space and 20 million square feet of retail space. The Company also provides leasing and management services to third-party investors.

Cousins has built and maintained an industry-wide reputation for innovative and sustainable developments, premium management services and top quality leadership.  The Company creates and maintains value in real estate assets for the benefit of shareholders, partners and clients.  Cousins Properties is a fully integrated equity real estate investment trust (REIT) and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CUZ.

Craig Jones is the Executive Vice President of Cousins Property Incorporated. Craig is responsible for the Company’s debt financings and for dispositions of Company assets and is also involved in acquisitions and in structuring of joint ventures. Previously, Craig has held other positions in the Company, including Chief Investment Officer, Chief Administrative Officer, and President of the Company’s Office Division.

Craig joined Cousins in 1992 as part of the firm’s acquisition of New Market Development Company, an Atlanta-based shopping center developer. As the Executive Vice President at New Market, Craig was involved in nearly all aspects of its business, with an emphasis on development activities and debt and equity finance. Prior to New Market, Craig was a partner with the Atlanta law firm of King & Spalding.

Craig also serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Central Atlanta Progress (aka CAP), a private, not-for-profit that strives to create a robust economic climate for downtown Atlanta. He is also is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, a community improvement district that levies additional property taxes on commercial property owners to fund public safety, transportation, cleaning and other initiatives.

Autism Roundtable: Advocates, Experts and Trusted Advisors Discuss the Alarming New Numbers, the Everyday Struggle, and the Growing Support

The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers now show that 1 in 88 children in the United States are being diagnosed with autism – nearly a doubling of the prevalence since the CDC began tracking these numbers.

At 1 in 88, we now have over 1 million children directly affected by autism. According to a newly released study the annual cost of autism in the United States is a staggering $126 billion annually, more than tripling the cost analysis from six years ago.  The numbers are alarming, but they don’t begin to tell the story of the real families and individuals struggling every day in the United States.

Today’s show featured 5 individuals personally touched in some way by autism, and professionally dedicated to serving those affected . . .


Anise Castleberry / Autism Speaks

Anise Castleberry is the Director of Walk Now For Autism Speaks and Events in Georgia. She works closely with local staff, volunteers, donors, corporate partnerships and families to raise funds in support of Autism Speaks’ mission: to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.

Castleberry began her non-profit career in 2004 and held positions with the Department of Juvenile Justice and the March of Dimes before assuming her current position with Autism Speaks in July 2011.  She also serves on the Board of MDAC (Milton Disability and Awareness Committee).

For More Information About Aurtism Speaks:


Don Mueller / Marcus Autism Center

Marcus Autism Center is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide information, services and programs to children with autism and related disorders, their families and those who live and work with them. They offer integrated research opportunities, advanced clinical, behavioral, educational and family support services through a single organization to reduce the stress for families that use our services.

With the appointment of Ami Klin, Ph.D., Director of Marcus Autism Center, they are pursuing an overarching research strategy, with two main areas of focus—early detection and early intervention. This will be accomplished, in part, by Dr. Klin’s eye-tracking software, which has been shown to diagnose children as young as 6 months old. But none of this would be possible without the generous support of their community of donors and Bill and Bernie Marcus.

Marcus Autism Center had its beginnings as The Marcus Developmental Resource Center at Emory University in 1991. Marcus Autism Center has become a nationally recognized center for excellence for the provision of coordinated and comprehensive services for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities.

Since its inception, Marcus Autism Center has provided services to more than 37,000 individuals, conducted ground breaking research, and provided education and training programs. Children with conditions, such as autism, mental illness, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and disruptive behaviors, are afforded some of the highest quality services by one of the largest teams of professionals and support staff solely dedicated to child development in Georgia.

Together with families, support groups, government agencies, research enterprises and foundations, they are strengthening the community through advocacy at the local and state level. They strive for fuller integration of individuals with developmental disabilities into school and community life, better access for families to appropriate clinical and educational services, and enhanced funding for research and training.


La Toshia Stephens / Autism Society of America Georgia Chapter

The Greater Georgia Chapter is an agent for the National Autism Society of America. The Autism Society of America was founded in 1965 by a small group of parents working on a volunteer basis out of their homes. Over the last 47 years, the Society has developed into the leading source of information and referral on autism.

The Greater Georgia Chapter of the Autism Society of America is a dedicated well informed group of parents and professionals working together to increase public awareness and improve services statewide for individuals with autism. They provide current, accurate information on diagnosis, treatment, research, legislative updates, resources and programs to assist families and professionals as they design intervention strategies for individuals with autism.

The Chapter’s mission statement is to promote, support and provide community inclusion opportunities for all persons with autism across the lifespan in the areas of Education and Public Awareness, Advocacy, Family Support, Research, Choice of Supports and Services and Individualization with Value and Respect for the Person.

La Toshia Stephens is a native of Oklahoma. A graduate of The University of Tulsa, she began her professional career as an Undergraduate Admissions Counselor. After 5 years of recruiting, La Toshia became a full time mother. Bryce is now 19, a freshman at the University of Georgia; Kameron, who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 9 is 17 and plays the Base Drum in the Mill Creek Marching Band and Indoor Drumline and Mia who is 13, attends Osborne Middle and is in the 8th grade. She has been married for 20 years to the love of her life, Bert.

La Toshia and her family had only been in Georgia for a year when she began working at the Autism Society of America- Georgia Chapter.  After 4 years with the Autism Society she joined the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University as their Community Specialist Family Support. She is also a Critical Incident Training (CIT) educator on developmental disabilities for local police forces.

LaToshia rejoins the Autism Society as our New Executive Director. She brings her years of experience as a family member and a former staff member. She is excited to join ASA in a leadership role to further the Georgia Chapter’s mission and vision to serve children with autism and their families in their communities, religious sectors, and public and private education.

La Toshia is a 2012 Graduate of Gwinnett STOPP; 2011 Graduate of Partners in Policymaking Training Program. She is a board member of the Gwinnett County Navigator Team and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.  La  Toshia has worked several years with Parent Teacher Associations both in Oklahoma and Gwinnett County, Quarterback Clubs, Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club in Oklahoma and Mill Creek High School, and the Pride of Mill Creek Band.


Brittain Prigge / Balentine

Brittain Prigge is Director, Client Relationships and a founding partner of Balentine. She is also a member of the Management Committee. Brittain began her career with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith.

In 1994, she joined Balentine & Company  where she became a  partner in 2001. Brittain continued with  Wilmington Trust after the acquisition in 2002,  managing the investment advisory practice in the southeastern United States. 

She is active in the community, focusing on organizations dedicated to helping underprivileged children. Brittan has been an active fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, acting as a National Associate. She is also a board member and chair of the Resource Development committee for Families First, Georgia’s largest notfor-profit family service agency providing holistic services to children and families in jeopardy.

Brittain is a member of the Peachtree Battle Alliance board, serving as Secretary and E Rivers liaison. 

Brittain holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Vanderbilt University. She also holds the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA®) designation, and is a member of CFA Institute and Atlanta Society of Security Analysts.


Jim McCarten / Burr & Forman

Jim is a partner in Burr & Forman’s Corporate, Trusts & Estate, and Tax practice groups. He is a Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and has a broad range of tax experience, including representing clients during audits by the IRS and/or Tennessee Department of Revenue; crafting tax structures for new businesses; counseling clients on the tax aspects of business exit strategies and business succession issues; designing tax-effective executive compensation packages; creating appropriate estate plans; and counseling families on special needs planning.

Jim began his professional tax career with the “Big 8” public accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand. Following law school, he litigated tax cases for the federal government as a member of the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1994, Jim was a founding member of one of East Tennessee’s largest and most respected law firms.

Jim is admitted to practice law in Tennessee, Georgia, and Missouri. He has been named to The Best Lawyers for America since 2003 in the areas of Estates and Trusts, Nonprofit/Charity Law, and Tax Law and named by Mid-South Super Lawyers Magazine to each of its Tennessee lists. Jim has served as the Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Tax Section, as a Trustee of the Paul J. Hartman State & Local Tax Forum, as a Trustee of the Tennessee Federal Tax Institute, and as a Trustee of the Advanced Institute on Corporate Taxation. He is also the author of a professional treatise and numerous tax-related articles as well as a frequent speaker at tax programs for CPAs and attorneys throughout the Southeast.

Jim was honored for his work in special needs planning when inducted into the Special Needs Alliance. He and his wife, Diane, are both active with ASMT (Middle Tennessee’s autism support organization), the ARC of Davidson County and the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (“TRIAD”) program, part of Vanderbilt’s Kennedy Center.