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Spotlight on Leadership Atlanta

Elaine Hudson/Leadership Atlanta 

Elaine Hudson joined the Leadership Atlanta team in December 2011. As Manager of Marketing and Programs, Elaine is responsible for communications, branding, and media relations for Leadership Atlanta and its events. In addition, she also helps plan and execute programs for both Leadership Atlanta and LEAD Atlanta classes.

Previously, Elaine worked as the assistant director of the Atlanta Press Club, a professional membership organization for journalists and other allied-media professionals, from 2007-2011. In that role she oversaw programming, membership, fundraising, and other projects that promoted a free press. During her time at the press club, Elaine earned her master’s in public administration from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Steve Church/Georgia-Pacific 

Steve Church manages communications and public affairs for Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, a leading paper towel and bath tissue maker, and oversees a team that manages communications for all company divisions and facilities. Steve joined GP in 1994 and previously worked in public affairs with a global manufacturer, an engineering firm and a DC-based association.

A Philadelphia native, Steve graduated from James Madison University. He and his wife, Jill, have two children and reside in Fayetteville. Steve serves on the board of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Atlanta and the marketing committee for CHRIS Kids. He has volunteered with his children’s schools and sports, on professional organization boards and a local cycling group’s board. In his spare time, he races on his bicycle in local competitions.

Peggy Still Johnson/Callanwolde Fine Arts Center 

Peggy Still Johnson is currently the Executive Director of Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, on the Advisory Boards of the Georgia State University School of Music, the Recording Academy (Grammy Organization,) and the Atlanta Film Festival. Peggy is a member of the prestigious Leadership Atlanta (Class of 2013) and has worked with Atlanta Music Project (Executive Board,) Dallas Austin Foundation, Buckhead Club, Mainstreet Woodstock (Executive Board,) and the Fulton County Arts Council. Peggy founded the Peggy Still School of Music in 1988 and successfully sold all three locations in 2011. Peggy founded Peggy Johnson Productions and Talent and has performed all over the world and has worked with many well known artists including Stephen King, John Mellencamp, Mickey Thomas, T Bone Burnett and films such as “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Big Momma’s House 3,” and “Parental Guidance.”

Jim Durrett/Buckhead Community Improvement District 

Jim Durrett is executive director of The Buckhead Community Improvement District (CID) – a public- private agency with taxation power. The mission of the Buckhead CID is to create a more walkable and livable urban environment in the heart of the Buckhead commercial area in north Atlanta. They meet the challenges of growth by investing tax dollars collected from commercial property owners within the district, as well as other funds they leverage from outside the district, to make meaningful improvements in the transportation network and public realm that connect people and places. He has in-depth expertise in transportation, land use and creating livable communities, and is a frequent speaker at local and national conferences and workshops.

Prior to heading up the Buckhead CID, Durrett was founding executive director of the Livable Communities Coalition, a not-for-profit organization formed in 2005 to promote smart growth development in the Atlanta region. Prior to that, Durrett served for five years with the Urban Land Institute (ULI), an organization dedicated to land use and real estate development issues, as the founding executive director of ULI’s Atlanta District Council.

In addition, Durrett was with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce as the vice president of Environmental Affairs, and was the senior vice president and chief operating officer of The Georgia Conservancy. Durrett began his professional career as a hydrogeologist in the DeKalb County office of Golder Associates, an international geotechnical and environmental engineering consulting firm.

Durrett is actively involved in the community and currently serves on the following boards and councils: MARTA board of directors (which he chaired in 2011); Council for Quality Growth board of directors; Project for Public Spaces Placemaking Leadership Council; Biophilic Institute executive board; Livable Communities Coalition board of trustees; Project Interconnections advisory board; and VSA Arts of Georgia board of directors. He is a member of Leadership Atlanta’s Class of 2013.


Autism Roundtable

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.

David Glass/Glass Financial Group

David Glass with Glass Financial Group is an independent financial professional and is experienced in the areas of navigating third-party benefits, legal issues and the financial administration involved in planning for a dependent with a developmental disability. He is also the parent of a child with a disability and understands the importance of balancing the complex needs and goals of a family – from retirement to education funding along with the needs of a loved one with a disability.

David is a Governor Appointee and Vice Chairman of the Board for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD). He also serves as vice president of the ARC of Georgia. He is a member of the Atlanta Estate Planning Council and has been a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) for the past 12 years.

Donna Johnson/Center for Leadership in Disability

Donna Johnson is the Coordinator, Georgia Autism Statewide Plan at the Center for Leadership in Disability, Georgia State University. She is also the Executive Director at The Kiss Foundation.

J-Jaye Hurley/Autism Speaks

J-Jaye Hurley is the Autism Response Team Coordinator for the southeast region.  Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Their longtime friend Bernie Marcus donated $25 million to help financially launch the organization. Since then, Autism Speaks has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We are proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and look forward to continued successes in the years ahead.

May Newsletter Article

Results Matter Radio Features the Georgia Council of International Visitors

On Tuesday April 16th, 2013, Elizabeth Gordon, host of Results Matter Radio on Business RadioX® and Burr & Forman Partner Anton Mertens were joined in-studio by Georgia Council of International Visitors (GCIV) Executive Director Shell Stuart along with this year’s Chair of the Consular Ball, Yelena Epova and Annabelle Malins, British Consul-General, Atlanta to talk about the growing importance of being an international city and what GCIV does to support Atlanta’s interest in the global market place.

Executive Director Shell Stuart shared the background and mission of GCIV mentioning that the organization is 50 years old, and does a range of things from hosting dinners in private homes for visiting professionals and dignitaries to their annual Consular Ball which was held Saturday April 27th and is in its 32nd year. She also talked about the professional and networking opportunities that they helped facilitate for international visitors but said the “visitors are often most excited by the dinners they share in private homes” where they get to meet Atlantans on a more personal level.

Yelena Epova, a partner at Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP was still recovering from the firm’s busy tax season, but came to the studio to discuss the 32nd Annual International Consular Ball which she chairedthis year and is very passionate about. Regarding the organization, Yelena added, “I am amazed by true passion of people who want to make Atlanta an international city just because they care about the city.” She noted that these people who give their time volunteering are not doing it as a means of networking or because there is something in it for them, but because they truly care.

Annabelle Malins joined the conversation to discuss her role at the British Consul-General for Atlanta and the southeast and to talk about Atlanta’s growing importance in the international community since the Olympics in 1996. She says, “GCIV offers the opportunity (for Atlantans) to engage in international conversations with incredible people without traveling.” She noted that this an especially great opportunity for young people interested in international careers.

Burr & Forman Partner Anton Mertens, whose focus is on immigration law and who has traveled extensively added, “I commend GCIV for helping to make Atlanta an international city.” He also noted that the Consular Ball is a wonderful event.

To learn more about GCIV and the guests featured, listen to the complete interview on the Results Matter Radio page for Business RadioX®.


Georgia Council for International Visitors

Shell Stuart/Georgia Council for International Visitors

Shell Stuart, GCIV Executive Director, discusses the International Consular Ball and how it became Atlanta’s premier international event, bringing together business, civic, and diplomatic leaders in a celebration of global opportunity and cooperation. The 32nd International Consular Ball will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at the World of Coca-Cola.

Yelena Epova/Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP

Yelena Epova, this year’s Chair of the Consular Ball, is a partner in charge of HA&W’s Tax Group and the International Services Practice. She specializes in advising domestic and international companies on international tax issues and tax planning strategies regarding inbound and outbound operations. She also assists clients with domestic tax issues by providing tax planning and compliance services.

Ms. Epova is an active member in many professional organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants where she served on the task force that reviewed Proposed Treasury Regulations on Transfer Pricing; the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants where she participated in the Leadership Development Program; and Baker Tilly International where she chaired the North American International Tax Committee for six consecutive years. Additionally, Ms. Epova is a founding board member of GlobalEXECWomen and is an active member of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce. She is treasurer of the Georgia Council for International Visitors and is a member of the Georgia District Export Council. She is a graduate of the 2011 Leadership Atlanta program and received the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s 2011 Global Impact Award for Service Providers on behalf of HA&W.

Annabelle Malins/British Consul-General, Atlanta

As British Consul-General, Atlanta, Annabelle Malins acts on behalf of her country and her Majesty the Queen overseeing a six-state Southeastern region of the United States to promote economic development, scientific innovation, and best practices between the two nations. Her office also represents the interests of British expatriates who reside in the area that includes Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

She is the mother of two sons (a teenager and college student in Glasgow, Scotland), the wife of an agronomist (agriculture expert), and an expert herself on the international agricultural industry. With all of that, it’s doubtful that the sun ever sets on Malins.

Having arrived in Atlanta last September from her previous position as the consul general-science and innovation for the San Francisco British consulate, she is the first woman to assume leadership of the Atlanta post.

Anton Mertens/Burr & Forman

Anton Mertens is a Partner in Burr & Forman’s Labor and Employment Practice Group with a focus on immigration law. Anton’s concentration consists of business immigration matters for investors, managers, executives and technical personnel.

Anton’s expertise includes business and professional visas, labor certifications, immigrant visas, consular representation and citizenship for foreign executives, managers and professionals. His background also includes consulting and advising clients on a number of employment issues including compliance procedures in verifying the work eligibility of new employees as required under the I-9 “workplace compliance” provisions of federal law.

Born in Brussels, Belgium, Anton is a member of the Executive Committee of the Atlanta Chapter of the Belgian American Chamber of Commerce.

He received his B.A. degree in Mathematics from Mercer University in 1984 and his J.D. degree from Mercer University School of Law in 1987. Anton is fluent in Dutch and French and is admitted to practice law in Georgia. Anton is a frequent lecturer and has authored a number of articles dealing with corporate immigration matters.

Exciting Community Events Around Atlanta in April

Susan Proper/AIA Atlanta

Susan Proper is with AIA Atlanta URBANfronts Storefront Galleries which activates empty retail space by temporarily altering the urban landscape to reflect the visions of up-and-coming artists through visual, audio and kinetic movement mediums. Launched during National Architecture Week, URBANfronts runs April 7 – 20, 2013.

Jasmine Maleknia/What’s Up Interactive

Jasmine Maleknia is the Director of Digital Marketing at What’s Up Interactive, an Atlanta based interactive marketing agency dedicated in growing their customers’ business. What’s Up focuses on how to showcase, deliver, share and grow brands’ content online. Through innovative web design and strategy, social media strategies, search engine marketing and video marketing, What’s Up strives to be courageous partners who drive results.

Jasmine’s expertise includes social media, search engine marketing, email, and online content marketing. She works to develop online strategies for clients ranging from Georgia Aquarium to AT&T to Ingersoll Rand to American Cancer Society.

Chad Elkins/Foursquare

Chad Elkins is the Community Founder and Organizer of 4sqATL. Foursquare Day is April 16th and Atlanta is celebrating big. The community is coming together to celebrate the national “holiday” with check-in specials all over the city and a social meet-up.

Atlanta is one of the most active communities on Foursquare with a strong user base. Venues, specials and mayorships can be seen and found all over the city. The people, companies and marketing agencies all over town are aiding to grow the usage of Foursquare as a way to bring people closer to their communities and as a way for brands to connect with their audiences.

Womens Leadership Forum

The Atlanta Business Chronicle and The Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University are hosting the 15th Annual Womens Leadership Forum on April 5, 2013. Womens Leadership Forum is a tribute to the growth of women’s leadership and an inspirational way to gather ideas from the brightest minds – all focused on empowering females in future and existing roles. This power-packed half-day event includes a networking breakfast, two motivating keynote speakers, a seated luncheon and four inspiring panel discussions.

Julie Bryant Fisher/Metro Atlanta Chamber

An award winning journalist, writer and broadcaster Bryant Fisher has nearly 20 years of media experience working across the fields of print news, radio, television and public relations.

In her current role as Senior Manager, Communications & Marketing for the Metro Atlanta Chamber, she oversees communications, media and marketing strategy for the economic development team, coordinating multiple industry sectors to steer communications initiatives, media relations, original marketing collateral and new visibility opportunities for MAC-led initiatives.

In her role as Managing Editor of Atlanta Business Chronicle, Bryant Fisher was part of a three-person editing team for the city’s premier business paper, reaching more than 200,000 readers a week. She was also a contributing news anchor for the Chronicle’s nightly GPB business reports, a frequent emcee and speaker at local events and a guest on CNBC.

Before coming to work for the Chronicle, she was a staff writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She also worked as an award-winning general assignment reporter at the Tulsa World. She has been a news director and radio morning show co-host in Greenville, South Carolina and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

She is a 2008 German Marshall Memorial Fund Fellow, a member of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2007 and an active community volunteer, serving on the boards of the Serenbe Institute and the Georgia Council for International Visitors.

Leona Barr-Davenport/Atlanta Business League

Leona Barr-Davenport currently serves as President & CEO of the Atlanta Business League (ABL), Atlanta’s oldest minority business development and advocacy organization. As such, she works with the board of directors to provide increased access to business opportunities for minorities with specific emphasis on the development of businesses owned or operated by African-Americans. Her background combines more than thirty (30) years experience in the areas of customer service, program development, organizational management & fundraising for associations and youth oriented programs.

A native of Johnsonville, South Carolina, Leona received a B.S. Degree in Business Administration & Economics from Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. In 1999, Leona was awarded the inaugural Dean’s Community Improvement Scholarship totaling $28,000 in the School of Business Administration by Clark Atlanta University. She completed the requirements for a Master of Business Administration with a Marketing concentration in the Weekend Working Professionals Program in August 2001.

Leona serves on the Advisory Boards and committees for BusinessNOW of Goodwill Industries of Atlanta, Inc. and the Atlanta Coalition of 100 Black Women of Atlanta. Her current board affiliations include Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Child Care Advocacy, Crossroads Community Ministries, Economic Development Corporation of Fulton County, Minority Entrepreneurship Education, Inc. (Secretary), the Clark Atlanta University School of Business Board of Advisors and the National Business League. She is a 1999 Leadership Georgia graduate, 2002 Leadership Atlanta graduate and graduate of the Diversity Leadership Academy.

Leona resides in Sharpsburg, GA, with her husband, Jewel L. Davenport. She is a member of Antioch Baptist Church North where Reverend Dr. Cameron Madison Alexander is pastor.

Ann Cramer/Coxe Curry & Associates

Ann Wilson Cramer is a Senior Consultant with Coxe Curry & Associates.  In this role, she provides strategic consultation to nonprofit clients to strengthen their capacity in the critical areas of board development, volunteer engagement, corporate relations and fundraising.  She is also available to the business community to provide guidance on the issues of corporate citizenship and social responsibility.

Prior to joining Coxe Curry, Ann served as Director for IBM Corporate  Citizenship and Corporate Affairs for the Americas.  In that position she was a member of the senior management staff overseeing the company’s approach to corporate citizenship, strategic philanthropy and overall social responsibility.

Ann has served on numerous local nonprofit boards, including the Alliance Theatre Company, Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, Georgia Public Education Foundation and Public Broadcasting Atlanta, and currently chairs the board of Atlanta Partners for Education.  Nationally, Ann has chaired the United Way of America’s National Corporate Leaders Council, the Conference Board’s Business Education Council and the Executive Committee of both the U.S. Chamber’s Business Civic Leadership Center and the Institute for a Competitive Workforce.  In 2012, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented her with its first Business Civic Leadership Achievement Award.

Ann is a graduate of Salem College with a degree in mathematics.  In 1991, she received Salem College’s Alumnae Leadership Award in recognition of her commitment and service to community service.  Ann and her husband, Jeff, are long-time residents of Inman Park and are active members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.  They are the proud parents of two adult children.