PHILADELPHIA – In the eight years since he became a pastor at First Immanuel Baptist Church, Todd Johnson says he’s seen his congregation’s politics make a subtle shift.
The Philadelphia church, which recently hosted a Donald Trump campaign event reaching out to black voters, has “more people now who are more open to voting for someone other than a Democrat,” Johnson said.
The president’s meagre support among African Americans has shown few signs of increasing from the 6% of black voters he won in 2016, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. The president’s standing with black evangelical Protestants is similarly low. According to AP VoteCast, about 8 in 10 black evangelicals who voted in the 2018 midterm elections disapproved of his performance.
But that isn’t stopping the campaign from trying to make inroads, hoping to persuade African Americans to back a president known for racially provocative rhetoric. The campaign’s visit to First Immanuel suggests that, as tough as that pitch will be for the GOP, faith-based appeals may provide a valuable way to start the conversation.
“All black people are not the same, but in the larger scale, we’re very religious and very family-oriented people,” said South Carolina pastor Mark Burns, a black televangelist who led Republicans in a prayer for Trump at the party’s 2016 convention. “So therefore, the black church is still the gateway to the black community.”
Johnson described himself as a longtime Republican and “a conservative constitutionalist evangelical.” He also acknowledged that his congregation has a diversity of views.
Discussion at Thursday’s event at First Immanuel focused on the Trump-era economy, which has been strong enough to reduce black unemployment to a record low in 2018, even as the president exaggerates his involvement in a shift that began under former President Barack Obama. But abortion was on the mind of Melanie Collette, one of a few dozen people in the audience.
Collette, first vice-president of the New Jersey Federation of Republican Women, touted Trump’s opposition to abortion and wondered whether the issue had “been ceded to just the white evangelicals to talk about.”
“I don’t hear us talking about it in the black community,” added Collette, 49, who described herself as a non-evangelical Christian.
Trump’s anti-abortion stance is out of step with most black Protestants, 64% of whom said abortion should be legal in most or all cases, according to Pew data from last year. But as Republicans boost their outreach to Latinos, women and black voters by visiting swing states, even a small uptick could pay dividends.
Another attendee, 53-year-old John Petty of Philadelphia, supports Trump. He said some of his relatives “hardly ever go to church,” but they have “strong moral standards.”
“If you tell them, ‘You agree a lot with the evangelical community,’ they balk at that,” Petty said.
DeJuana Thompson, a Democratic National Committee veteran who founded WokeVote to communicate with young black and faith-based voters, noted that “the black church is not monolithic.”
“Just because it’s a black church, just because members of that church come from communities that are historically under-served, under-engaged and under-resourced, I can’t say there are people there who don’t align with some of the value sets of this administration,” Thompson added.
Even so, she pointed to a much broader consensus among African Americans and their faith leaders “calling for a standard of justice that is not seen in this administration.”
Democrats are making their own concerted efforts to speak to black voters of faith as well as the broader African American community.
Former Vice-President Joe Biden warned Wednesday in a speech to a meeting of the National Baptist Convention — which describes itself as “the nation’s largest African American religious convention,” with 7.5 million members — that Trump has given “oxygen” to forces of hate.
Biden, who has led with black voters throughout his party’s primary campaign, will be joined Monday by at least three Democratic rivals for events at South Carolina churches to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “Black Voices for Trump” is set to hold its own Monday event for the King holiday in Raleigh.
Rev. Traci Blackmon, a leader in the United Church of Christ and the Black Lives Matter movement, acknowledged that abortion is a “deciding factor” for some voters of all races. But she said Trump would face problems courting people of faith because of broader policies that fall short of biblical values.
“It is impossible for me to only recognize that element of ‘pro-life’ and see what is happening to health care coverage, see what is happening to children who are being separated from their parents at the border … people who are watching wealthy people’s income grow exponentially,” Blackmon said.
Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.
The present is female. And the future will be as well. This past week, as hands were wrung over whether a female president is possible, we learned that there are now slightly more women in the workplace than men. It happened before briefly in 2009, when the Great Recession destroyed industries where men were disproportionately represented. But the new stats, in a period of low unemployment, represent something like the new normal. Other recent stats have found ever-more female triumph: As of 2017, there were 2.2 million more women than men in college, and the Department of Education predicts that by 2026, women will make up 57 percent of college students, leaving men far behind.
Women now dominate the service sector, especially in health and education, where most new jobs will be found. In December 2019, a full 95 percent of net jobs added went to women — a stunning statistic. To give some perspective on this, in 1970, almost 30 million women accounted for 29 percent of the workforce; nearly 50 years later, in 2019, 74.6 million women accounted for 50.3 percent of the non-farm labor force. If that isn’t a massive victory for feminism, what would be?
Yes, the gender pay gap persists — but in attenuated form. The number most commonly cited — 81 cents to the dollar — is just the raw annual total of all male annual wages compared with all female wages. It doesn’t tell us if women are paid less than men in the same job; it doesn’t account for choice of profession, or working hours, or use of parental leave. When you adjust for all that, women now earn 93 to 95 percent of male hourly earnings: not good enough, but still at record highs. In the past decade, parental leave has expanded, as has working from home, both hugely beneficial to tens of millions of working women. And as the economy shifts toward the sectors where women dominate, and as women get more education than men, this trend looks highly likely to continue and even intensify. NPR notes: “Women hold 77 percent of the jobs in health care and education — fast-growing fields that eclipse the entire goods-producing sector of the economy.”
Yes, there are still notable exceptions at the very top: Most C-suite executives (four out of five) are male, even though women’s presence there has grown 25 percent in the past five years. First-level managerial positions are still disproportionately held by men, which affects the rest of the pipeline. But all the stats point upward, and, for much of corporate America, a more diverse workforce is increasingly valued. In 1970, there were no women in the Senate; now there are 26 — more than half the entire number of female senators in U.S. history. In the House, as recently as 1980, women accounted for only 3.2 percent of the members; now it’s 23.7 percent, and the Speaker is a woman. There’s work to be done. But this rise in women’s earnings and power seems real and inexorable.
I’m not dismissing the resilience of sexual harassment, although great journalism and the Me Too movement have undoubtedly helped raise the costs for abusive men. Nor am I dismissing all the myriad ways women meet obstacles where men don’t. I see a lot more now than I used to, and I’m grateful for having my blind spots pointed out. I’m just noting that comparing the condition of women today with women in an era that, say, denied them suffrage, education, careers outside the home, or treated them as properties of their husbands, it’s a whole universe of advance.
And yet feminist rhetoric has intensified as all this remarkable progress has been made. A raft of recent books have been full of the need for renewed rage against the oppression of women. The demonization of “white men” has intensified just as many working-class white men face a bleak economic future and as men are disappearing from the workforce. It is as if the less gender discrimination there is, the angrier you should become.
This is not just in feminism. You see it in the gay-rights movement too. I get fundraising emails all the time reminding me how we live in a uniquely perilous moment for LGBTQ Americans and that this era, in the words of Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Charlotte Clymer, is one “that has seen unprecedented attacks on LGBTQ people.” Unprecedented? Might I suggest some actual precedents: when all gay sex was criminal, when many were left by their government to die of AIDS, when no gay relationships were recognized in the law, when gay service members were hounded out of their mission, when the federal government pursued a purge of anyone suspected of being gay. All but the last one occurred in my adult lifetime. But today we’re under “unprecedented” assault?
The right is not immune to the same syndrome. Donald Trump talks about crime as if we are still living in the 1980s. Here’s a great tweet from the acting DHS secretary, Chad Wolf, this week: “There has been a complete breakdown of law and order in NYC.” Really? Last year, there were 295 murders in New York City; as recently as 1990, there were 2,295. Trump himself speaks of a surge in illegal immigration overwhelming the country. And it’s true that we are close to a record percentage of foreign-born Americans, and that last year there was a surge of asylum seekers from Guatemala (many fraudulent). But in 2018, to provide some perspective, there were 400,000 people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally on the southwestern border; under Reagan and George W. Bush, those numbers peaked at over 1.6 million. It was only when such apprehensions were back down at levels not seen since the early 1970s that an insurgent anti-immigration candidate won the presidency. Go figure.
Why this sudden ratcheting up of rhetoric? On the right, it’s fueled by the kind of absurd hyperbole that Trump uses all the time. On the left, it’s Trump himself. His extremism, misogyny, transphobia, and racism have all provoked a sharp turn to the left among Democrats. But, as you can see from the workforce numbers for women, there’s little he can actually do to prevent the future from being female. He could tip the Court, which could, in turn, repeal Roe, but that would be a highly unpopular ruling and likely provoke a backlash that could lead to more moderate federal legislation in its place. Marriage equality is settled law, according to the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Gay visibility is ubiquitous. Black unemployment is at record lows; black women are seeing real improvement in their careers and earnings; crime in urban neighborhoods is a fraction of what it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Yes, we have a bigot in the Oval Office — but his ability to influence these broader cultural tides is quite limited.
Some of the rhetorical excess is also about money. Interest groups for various subpopulations have a financial interest in emphasizing oppression in order to keep donations flowing.
But a recent psychological study suggests a simpler explanation. Its core idea is what you might call “oppression creep” or, more neutrally, “prevalence-induced concept change.” The more progress we observe, the greater the remaining injustices appear. We seem incapable of keeping a concept stable over time when the prevalence of that concept declines. In a fascinating experiment, participants were provided with a chart containing a thousand dots that ranged along a spectrum from very blue to very purple and were asked to go through and identify all the blue dots. The study group was then broken in two. One subgroup was shown a new chart with the same balance of purple and blue dots as the first one and asked to repeat the task. Not surprisingly, they generally found the same number of blue dots as they did on the first chart. A second subgroup was shown a new chart with fewer blue dots and more purple dots. In this group, participants started marking dots as blue that they had marked as purple on the first chart. “In other words, when the prevalence of blue dots decreased, participants’ concept of blue expanded to include dots that it had previously excluded.”
We see relatively, not absolutely. We change our standards all the time, depending on context. As part of the study, the psychologists ran another experiment showing participants a range of threatening and nonthreatening faces and asking them to identify which was which. Next, participants were split into two groups and asked to repeat the exercise. The first subgroup was shown the same ratio of threatening and nonthreatening faces as in the initial round; subgroup two was shown many fewer threatening faces. Sure enough, the second group adjusted by seeing faces they once thought of as nonthreatening as threatening. The conclusion:
When blue dots became rare, purple dots began to look blue; when threatening faces became rare, neutral faces began to appear threatening … This happened even when the change in the prevalence of instances was abrupt, even when participants were explicitly told that the prevalence of instances would change, and even when participants were instructed and paid to ignore these changes.
We seem to be wired to assume a given threat remains just as menacing even when its actual prevalence has declined:
Our studies suggest that even well-meaning agents may sometimes fail to recognize the success of their own efforts, simply because they view each new instance in the decreasingly problematic context that they themselves have brought about. Although modern societies have made extraordinary progress in solving a wide range of social problems, from poverty and illiteracy to violence and infant mortality, the majority of people believe that the world is getting worse. The fact that concepts grow larger when their instances grow smaller may be one source of that pessimism.
This study may help explain why, in the midst of tremendous gains for gays, women, and racial minorities, we still insist more than ever that we live in a patriarchal, misogynist, white supremacist, homophobic era. We constantly adjust our view of our fast-changing world to ensure we don’t believe it has changed at all! Maybe this is simply another way of describing each generation’s shifting of the goalposts. Or maybe it’s because we’ve made so much progress that the injustice that remains appears more intolerable, rather than less. Or maybe, as these psychologists suggest, “holding concepts constant may be an evolutionarily recent requirement that the brain’s standard computational mechanisms are ill equipped to meet.”
But whatever the cause, the result is that we steadfastly refuse to accept the fact of progress, in a cycle of eternal frustration at what injustices will always remain. We never seem to be able to say: “Okay, we’re done now, we’ve got this, politics has done all it reasonably could, now let’s move on with our lives.” We can only ever say: “It’s worse than ever!” And feel it in our bones.
But Can They Beat Trump?
I watched the Democratic debate in Iowa with only one objective: to figure out who could best beat Trump. At this point, I don’t care about their policies, although I’m sympathetic to many and hostile to a few. All I care about is their capacity to end this emergency in liberal democracy. And, even with that prism firmly set, it wasn’t that easy.
The Democrat I think is most likely to lose to Trump is Elizabeth Warren. I admire her ambition and grit and aggression, but nominating a woke, preachy Harvard professor plays directly into Trump’s hands. And picking someone who has bent the truth so often about so many things — her ancestry, her commitment to serving a full term as senator, the schools her kids went to, the job her father had (according to her brother), or the time she was “fired” for being pregnant — is an unnecessary burden. The video she produced insisting that she was partly Native American, using genetic markers, should have been a disqualifier by itself. The lack of judgment was staggering.
And, to be honest, Pete Buttigieg’s appeal has waned for me. Yes, technically, he’s still the best debater of the bunch. And I don’t take anything back that I wrote here. But, over time, the combination of his perfect résumé, his actorly ability to change register as he unpacks a sentence, and his smoothness and self-love have begun to worry me. My fear is that his appeal will fade. Klobuchar, to my mind, is the better midwestern option. She is an engaging and successful politician. But there’s a reason she seemingly can’t get more traction. She just doesn’t command a room, let alone a stage. Setting aside everything else, Warren is presidential in a way that Klobuchar is not.
And I so want Biden to be ten years younger. I can’t help but be very fond of the man, and he does have a mix of qualities that appeal to both African-Americans and white working-class midwesterners. What I worry about is his constant stumbling in his speech, his muddling of words, those many moments when his eyes close, and his face twitches, as he tries to finish a sentence. Perhaps these are ways to cope with a stutter, as John Hendrickson posits — but they definitely seem more pronounced than I remember. He looks like a man past his prime. I worry whether Biden could stand up to Trump’s psychotic energy and lies.
Which leaves us with Bernie. I have to say he’s grown on me as a potential Trump-beater. He seems more in command of facts than Biden, more commanding in general than Buttigieg or Klobuchar, and far warmer than Elizabeth Warren. He’s a broken clock, but the message he has already stuck with for decades might be finding its moment. There’s something clarifying about having someone with a consistent perspective on inequality take on a president who has only exacerbated it. He could expose, in a gruff Brooklyn accent, the phony populism, and naked elitism of Trump. He could appeal to the working-class voters the Democrats have lost. He could sincerely point out how Trump has given massive sums of public money to the banks, leaving crumbs for the middle class. And people might believe him.
Is he an American Corbyn? I worry about that a lot. Sanders has been on the far left all his life, and the oppo research the GOP throws at him could be brutal. He’s a man, after all, who sided with a Marxist-Leninist party that supported Ayatollah Khomeini during the hostage crisis in 1979. He loved the monstrous dictator Fidel Castro and took his 1988 honeymoon in the Soviet Union, no less, where he openly and publicly criticized his own country and praised many aspects of the Soviet system. He saw the USSR and the USA this way: “Let’s take the strengths of both systems. Let’s learn from each other.” As he was saying this, the Soviet Union was already collapsing. And he paid no visits to dissidents. I think it’s fair to say that he has never met a leftist dictator he hasn’t admired.
But Corbyn? The British Labour leader had a net favorability rating as low as negative 40. Bernie, with huge name recognition, is only at negative 6. After the GOP has nailed him as an ayatollah-supporting commie who’s going to take your health insurance away and crash the economy, his negatives will rise. But it’s worth noting that Trump’s favorable rating is negative 10. It was striking to me, too, that some leading conservatives rallied to Bernie in his spat with Warren this week. Some are actually quite fond of the old coot.
On two key issues, immigration and identity politics, Bernie has sensibilities and instincts that could neutralize these two strong points for Trump. Sanders has always loathed the idea of open borders and the effect they have on domestic wages, and he doesn’t fit well with the entire woke industry. He still believes in class struggle, not the culture war. But he doesn’t seem to be trying to capitalize on any of that. Take a look at his immigration proposals. They are the most radical I’ve seen: essentially an end to any control of illegal immigration, with enforcement of the law at the border solely for human traffickers and gun smugglers; a moratorium on all deportations; an end to any detention of illegal immigrants; an open-ended amnesty for basically anyone who has gotten here. How you distinguish these policies from the “open borders” Sanders used to oppose is beyond my understanding. I believe that immigration control will matter in this election. The Democrats don’t. That’s their gamble, and Sanders is doubling down on it.
So where am I? Not thrilled, I have to say. Bernie has the edge on energy and populism, but he’s so far to the left the Democrats could end up where the British Labour Party just found itself: gutted. Biden has an advantage because of Obama, his appeal to the midwestern voters (if he wins back Pennsylvania, that would work wonders), and his rapport with African-Americans. But he also seems pretty out of it. The others are longer shots. Bloomberg? The ads are good, but a billionaire who helicopters into a race late isn’t the right messenger in these times.
I should point out that I’ll vote for whichever of these candidates wins the nomination. I regard a criminal, corrupt, impeached, delusional, and clinically sociopathic president as by far the greater threat to liberal democracy, or what remains of it, than any potential Democrat in the office. But between the front-runners, Biden and Bernie? Bernie, maybe, but by a smidgen.
Of Royalty, Choice, and Duty
I wonder if Meghan Markle has ever carefully watched an episode of The Crown. The entire story of the British monarchy for the past half-century has been the extreme difficulty for the queen or any member of her family to be a fully realized human being in public and private. And that’s why the series has only magnified respect for Elizabeth II. Her resilience in performing public duties without ever revealing any political or cultural views is pretty remarkable. She showed grace even when her family was coming apart — when her sister, Margaret, acted out in public, her daughter-in-law Diana tried to escape the inhuman scrutiny of royalty, or when her favorite son, Andrew, was credibly accused of raping children. She has had amazing staying power in her measured restraint and commitment to duty.
You can feel a great deal of sympathy for those human beings consigned by genes to this constricted if luxurious life. Harry had no choice to be prince or not — and a spare heir as well. But for those who willingly join this family, and become a princess or prince through marriage? I’m less forgiving. The fantasy of being a princess depends on it’s being rare. For a young American woman to become an official princess — to have a wedding with a carriage, global adoration, and national applause — must have seemed like a fantasy. And, of course, it was. The bargain the modern monarchy has made with the British people is that, in return for the glamour, the royals have to do some kind of public service, stay uncontroversial, and not rock the boat. Harry paid his dues: a ten-year stint in the armed forces, including fighting in Afghanistan, and the usual patronage of various charities. He was a bit of a rogue at times, but that was fine. We liked that.
But Meghan? She has been in the royal family for less than two years and now wants out. Her husband, who has hinted before at his discomfort with his princely duties, will leave with her. She has had all the perks of a princess but didn’t want to be treated by the press the way it usually treats royals: with aggressive tabloid coverage of various levels of truth. There have been spells when the tabloid press adored her and others when it seemed to hound her. Last fall, Harry wrote a letter describing the toll this takes: “My wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences — a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son. There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face — as so many of you can relate to — I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been.”
Some are claiming that Markle is being treated differently because of her mixed ancestry. But she is certainly not being treated any worse than Diana, that whitest of princesses, whom the press effectively murdered. Or Margaret, who was always in the tabloids, to everyone’s great embarrassment. There are definitely some unfair tropes aired in the shifting contrasts between Kate Middleton and Meghan, but it’s hard to disentangle this from everything else princes and princesses are subjected to.
It’s also very understandable, given what happened to his mother, that Harry would be intensely aware of the damage the press can do. But deciding to quit the royal family, move to Canada part time (if they’ll have him), and make money through the celebrity industry is quite a leap from royal duty and stiff upper lips. The Sussexes already had their new house, Frogmore Cottage, renovated at a cost to taxpayers of $3 million, after finding Kensington Palace unsuitable to their needs. They fly free and have all their security provided by public funds. But all of this was too much for Meghan, who described royal life as “toxic”: “She felt she had to escape because living within the royal confines was soul-crushing,” a friend told theDaily Mail. “She told her inner circle of friends that her soul was being crushed and that the decision to leave was a matter of life or death — meaning the death of her spirit.”
Sorry, but if you choose to marry into royalty, you have to take the rough with the smooth: The fame and luxury of being a princess comes packaged with bad press, intrusive photographers, and constant public duty. If Meghan didn’t expect this, it’s hard to understand how not. The press coverage she will now get will be even worse: According to one poll, 72 percent of the Brits want them gone, 71 percent think posting the news on Instagram before telling the queen was shoddy, 60 percent want them out of their renovated cottage and forced to pay back the renovation, and 76 percent want them stripped of their royal security. In the same poll, the public supports their decision to adopt a new role and to pursue their own happiness — but outside any connection to the royal family.
It’s quite simple: You can’t eat your royal cake and have it too. And Meghan and Harry now have no cake at all.
As the country prepares to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the city offers plenty of family friendly activities to enjoy.
The Hyde Park Art Center is hosting its MLK Day Freedom Family Celebration. There will be free movies and documentary screenings of several films, including Hidden Figures and The March. Other activities include live performances and art. For more information visit https://www.hydeparkart.org/event/mlk-freedom-family-celebration/
The Chicago History Museum is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s day with a host of events for the family that include MLK themed crafts and storytelling. Other highlights are the Writers Theatre’s production of The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights and a performance by the Chicago Chamber Choir. Also, please stop by the Remembering Dr. King exhibit featuring over 25 riveting pictures showcasing his work during the civil rights movement and focusing on his time in Chicago. For more information, visit https://www.chicagohistory.org/event/martin-luther-king-jr-day/.
The DuSable Museum of African American History is having its annual King Day 2020 celebration complete with family-friendly arts and crafts, musical performances, poetry, film screenings, lectures, and more. For more information visit https://www.dusablemuseum.org/event-directory/
The South Side Community Art Center is hosting a free screening of the movie Selma, followed by a discussion centered on today’s issues in the African American community. To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/filmversation-sscac-tickets-88964486173?aff=ebdssbdestsearch.
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After serving 11 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, including seven as minority leader, Stacey Abrams became the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia in 2018. The first black woman to receive a major-party nomination in a gubernatorial race in the U.S., Abrams got more votes than any Democrat in the state’s history. Following the election, Abrams launched the organization Fair Fight to register voters, advocate for electoral reform, and fight voter suppression. In January 2019 she was tapped to give the Democratic response to the State of the Union address.
Education: Spelman College, University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs (MPAff), Yale Law School (JD) Notable achievement: Founded the New Georgia Project, which submitted more than 200,000 registrations from voters of color between 2014 and 2016 First job: Speechwriter for a congressional candidate Inspiring person: Johnnetta Cole of Spelman College
Liz Coyle Executive Director Georgia Watch
Liz Coyle oversees the operations, programs, and staff of Georgia Watch, the state’s leading nonprofit consumer-advocacy organization. Georgia Watch advocates for policies that improve individual and family financial security, increase access to affordable healthcare, and lower the energy burden on struggling families. In addition to her role with Georgia Watch, in 2018 Coyle accepted an appointment to the Consumer Advocacy Board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She is also vice chair of the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative board of directors and is board chair of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy and the BeltLine Network.
Education: University of Virginia Why I chose this work: I’ve been standing up for people I think are being wronged my whole life. Hidden talent: I love to cook, especially on Sundays listening to TED Talks! Favorite TV show: I’m a huge fan of Rachel Maddow. Favorite place to visit: Rural Georgia, especially driving on country roads
Mawuli Mel Davis Founding Partner Davis Bozeman Law Firm
Mawuli Mel Davis leads the Civil Rights Division of Davis Bozeman, and has represented and helped organize legal support for activists engaged in protests including the Occupy movement, Moral Mondays, and Black Lives Matter. He is a cofounder of Let Us Make Man and the Black Man Lab. Most recently, Davis was awarded the 2019 Ben Johnson Public Service Award by Georgia State University College of Law, which is the highest award the College of Law bestows.
Education: United States Naval Academy, Bowie State University (MPA), Georgia State University College of Law (JD) Notable achievements: Named humanitarian of the year by the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, the Kappa Alpha Sigma chapter of Phi Beta Sigma, and the Atlanta alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, and an outstanding advocate of the year by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Urban League, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and the Gate City Bar Association. The DeKalb Lawyers Association named the Mawuli Davis Legal Warrior Award in his honor.
Jeff Graham Executive Director Georgia Equality
Jeff Graham began advocating on LGBTQ and AIDS-related issues as a college student in the mid-1980s and has been an advocate ever since. As executive director of Georgia Equality, he seeks to advance fairness, safety, and opportunity for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities throughout Georgia. He is a board member of ProGeorgia and the national Equality Federation and served as grand marshal of the Atlanta Pride Parade in 1999, 2010, and 2012.
Education: Trinity University Hometown: Loveland, Colorado Notable achievements: Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award (2017), League of Women Voters of Georgia Health Advocate Award (2016), Health Initiative Healing Angel Award (2014), National Center for Human Rights Education Human Rights Guardian Award (2004) First job: Costume designer Why I chose this work: I want to help create a society where people are not judged, harmed, or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.
Kwajelyn Jackson Executive Director Feminist Women’s Health Center
Kwajelyn Jackson is the executive director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center, overseeing the organization’s operations, abortion clinic, civic engagement, and education and outreach teams. First hired in 2013 as community engagement coordinator, Jackson has led the expansion of FWHC’s statewide and national programming, deepened community partnerships, and worked to prevent new abortion restrictions proposed in the Georgia legislature. Prior to joining FWHC, Jackson was the program manager for WonderRoot Community Arts Center. A respected voice on reproductive justice at the national level, Jackson is on the boards of All-Options, Abortion Care Network, Soul Food Cypher, and ProGeorgia.
Education: Spelman College, Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (MS) Hometown: Saint Louis, Missouri Notable achievement: First black woman to lead Feminist Women’s Health Center in the organization’s 43-year history Inspiring person: Gloria Washington (maternal grandmother) Favorite TV show:My So-Called Life
Tiffany Roberts Community Engagement and Movement-Building Counsel Southern Center for Human Rights
Tiffany Williams Roberts, a civil rights and criminal defense attorney, joined the Southern Center for Human Rights in 2018 as community engagement and movement-building counsel. A founding member of the Atlanta chapter of Black Lives Matter, she chairs the Ebenezer Baptist Church Social Justice Ministry and serves on Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’s Progressive Agenda Working Group. Roberts cofounded Building Locally to Organize for Community Safety, a police accountability organization, and Lawyers United for a New Atlanta, which supports criminal justice reforms.
Education: Emory University, Georgia State University College of Law (JD) Notable achievements: Southern Center for Human Rights Gideon’s Promise Award (2018), NAACP Atlanta Jubilee Day Award (2018) Inspiring person: Ida B. Wells, an African American journalist and activist Few people know: I sang in Emory’s all-female a cappella group, the Gathering. Favorite book:Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land by Joseph E. Lowery
Azadeh Shahshahani Legal and Advocacy Director Project South
Azadeh Shahshahani works to protect the human rights of immigrants and Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities throughout the Southeast. She helped produce a widely read 2017 report, Imprisoned Justice, exposing conditions in two of Georgia’s largest immigration detention centers. She also played a key role in convincing the City of Atlanta to stop detaining immigrants in the city jail. A past president of the National Lawyers Guild, Shahshahani has served on international delegations focusing on election monitoring and political prisoners. She previously worked as the national security and immigrant-rights project director with the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.
Education: University of Michigan (MA), University of Michigan Law School (JD) Notable achievements: Emory Law School Outstanding Leadership in the Public Interest Award (2018), Fulton County Daily Report Distinguished Leader Award (2018), U.S. Human Rights Network Human Rights Movement Builder Award (2017), American Immigration Lawyers Association Advocacy Award (2012)
Nathaniel Q. Smith Founder and Chief Equity Officer Partnership for Southern Equity
Nathaniel Smith founded and serves as chief equity officer of the Partnership for Southern Equity, which promotes racial equity and shared prosperity for all. PSE focuses on energy equity, economic inclusion, and equitable development, and created the South’s first equity-mapping tool, the Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas. PSE led a coalition of diverse stakeholders to support a $13 million transit referendum that expanded MARTA into a new county for the first time in 45 years.
Education: Morehouse College, New School (MS) Notable achievements: Smith’s advocacy was instrumental in the ratification of a 15 percent set-aside of Atlanta BeltLine Tax Allocation District dollars for affordable workforce housing. Received the Atlanta Housing Association of Neighborhood-Based Developers Affordable Housing Champion Award (2007). Inspiring person: Civil rights leader Hosea Williams Hidden talent: I’ve run the Peachtree Road Race multiple years. Favorite book:Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King Jr.
Sara J. Totonchi Executive Director Southern Center for Human Rights
As executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, Sara Totonchi leads a team with a mission of dramatically transforming the criminal justice system: SCHR seeks to end capital punishment, mass incarceration, and other practices that deprive poor and marginalized people of equality, dignity, and justice. Totonchi and SCHR worked in partnership with Governor Nathan Deal’s Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform to promote commonsense criminal justice reforms.
Education: Berry College Hometown: Glenview, Illinois Notable achievements: Led successful campaign to end cash bail in Atlanta Municipal Court (2018), named a Strengthening Democracy Fellow with the Rockwood Leadership Institute (2017), led successful advocacy to create a statewide public defender system in Georgia (2003) First job: Transcribing dictations for my father’s urology practice Few people know: I’m a heavy-metal karaoke aficionado.
John Ahmann President and CEO Westside Future Fund
John Ahmann is president and CEO of the Westside Future Fund, a nonprofit formed by public, private, and philanthropic partners to promote the development of Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood. Ahmann has been driven for more than 25 years to improve the way communities and institutions function in Atlanta: Following a stint as a U.S. House of Representatives staffer, he worked for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and later for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. In 2004 Ahmann became executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress. He also has his own public affairs consulting firm and served two terms on the City Schools of Decatur Board of Education.
Education: Emory University, Yale School of Management Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia Notable achievements: As executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, Ahmann was involved in launching the Atlanta BeltLine, securing the collection of Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal papers, the 2015 Renew Atlanta bond program, and ACP’s Westside Redevelopment Task Force, which led to the launch of the Westside Future Fund.
Terri L. Badour Regional Executive American Red Cross of Georgia
Now at the helm of the American Red Cross of Metropolitan Atlanta, Terri Badour became the first female executive of the Red Cross of Georgia in 2011, leading the organization as it responded to disasters from home fires to hurricanes, offered services to members of the armed forces and their families, organized blood collection, engaged volunteers, and provided health and safety training.
Education: Western Michigan University, Florida State University (MS) Hometown: Saline, Michigan Notable achievements: Junior League of Atlanta Isolene Campbell Founder’s Circle Award, YWCA Academy of Women Achievers (2012), president of the Junior League of Atlanta (2001-2002), founder and first president of the Atlanta chapter of the Executive Women’s Golf Association (1992) Why I chose this work: I’ve always been drawn to service and giving back to my community. It’s a privilege to represent this iconic, worldwide emblem and to help others during the worst of times.
Mark Banta President and CEO Piedmont Park Conservancy
Mark Banta is president and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy, a donor-funded organization that enhances and preserves the park as a cultural and recreational resource for Atlanta. Prior to the Conservancy, Banta served as president of Klyde Warren Park and general manager of Centennial Olympic Park for 16 years, beginning with its opening in 1996.
Education: Berry College Hometown: Unincorporated DeKalb County (now Brookhaven, Georgia) Inspiring person: His mother encouraged a love of the outdoors: “With five children, Mom’s rule was, ‘If the sun is out, kids are out.’”
Rodney D. Bullard VP, Corporate Social Responsibility Chick-fil-A Executive Director Chick-fil-A Foundation
Rodney Bullard leads community-engagement, philanthropic and sustainability strategy as vice president of community affairs for Chick-fil-A and executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation. Bullard previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting complex criminal cases, for which he received the Department of Justice Director’s Award. Bullard released his first book, Heroes Wanted: Why the World Needs You to Live Your Heart Out, in 2018.
Education: U.S. Air Force Academy, University of Georgia Terry College of Business (MBA), Duke University School of Law (JD) Notable achievements: White House fellow working at NASA, congressional legislative liaison in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force Best advice received: Don’t ever let the expectations of others limit your expectations for yourself. Few people know: I love to sing. (Whether I can sing or not is a matter of debate.) Favorite Atlanta place to visit: My childhood neighborhood in South DeKalb
Juliet Cohen Executive Director Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
Juliet Cohen joined Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in 2008 as general counsel and has served as executive director since January 2015. She previously worked as a staff attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, as a program manager for the South Carolina More Than a Port project of the Coastal Conservation League in Charleston, and for the environmental-education organization Earth Force in Washington, D.C.
Education: University of Miami, American University Washington College of Law (JD) Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico Why I chose this work: I grew up surrounded by and immersed in pristine tropical waters and rain forests and developed a love and respect for the natural world. Lesson learned: Learn to understand how other people think and work. Bucket list: I want to visit all of the national parks. Who’d play me in a biopic: Jessica Biel
Kathy Colbenson President and CEO CHRIS 180
A licensed marriage and family therapist with 40 years of experience, Kathy Colbenson has been the CEO of CHRIS 180 since 1987. Under her leadership, CHRIS 180 has grown to include eight group homes, a permanent supportive housing program, a counseling center, a comprehensive community program designed to strengthen families, a drop-in center for homeless youth and young adults, an adoption program, a homeless outreach and community housing program, the At-Promise Center in partnership with the Atlanta Police Foundation, and a training institute—all of which focus on behavioral health, recovering from the impact of childhood trauma, and helping people develop the skills necessary for self-sufficiency. CHRIS 180 opened the Southeast’s first outreach program for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, created the first supportive housing program in the state for homeless youth and youth aging out of foster care, and spearheaded many other innovations in services for children and families throughout the state.
Education: Georgia State University, University of West Georgia (MA) Notable achievements: Atlanta Business Chronicle Most Admired CEO (2019), Turknett Leadership Character Award (2013)
Thomas W. Dortch Jr. National Chairman 100 Black Men of America
Thomas W. Dortch Jr. is a founding member and the national chairman of 100 Black Men of America, which seeks to positively influence the lives of inner-city youth and improve at-risk communities. Dortch led an expansion of its mentoring program to more than 125,000 young people and grew the organization from 43 to 102 chapters. An entrepreneur, he holds other positions including chairman and CEO of Atlanta Transportation Systems and the consulting firm TWD, and chairman of Lancor Parking.
Education: Fort Valley State University, Clark Atlanta University (MA) Notable achievements: Trustee for Florida A&M University and Clark Atlanta University, chairman of the boards of the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority and the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation Inspiring person: My father, Thomas W. Dortch Sr. Toughest challenge: Defeating one of the deadliest cancers documented Hidden talent: I blend wines. What I’d tell a recent graduate: True leaders don’t seek followers, they inspire them.
Curley Dossman Jr. President Georgia-Pacific Foundation
The president of the Georgia-Pacific Foundation since 1994, Curley Dossman Jr. leads the organization’s charitable-giving program, which focuses on four areas: education, environment, enrichment, and entrepreneurship. He also oversees Georgia- Pacific’s community-affairs efforts, including national disaster relief. Previously, Dossman spent a decade as the state vice president of government affairs for AT&T.
Education: Morehouse College, Washington University School of Law (JD) Hometown: Ville Platte, Louisiana Notable achievements: Supported Georgia-Pacific’s leadership role in securing funding for the restoration of Ebenezer Baptist Church, past board chair of 100 Black Men of America Few people know: I have a law degree. Hobbies: Travel, golf Favorite book:The Firm by John Grisham
George A. Dusenbury IV State Director, Georgia and Alabama The Trust for Public Land
As Georgia state director for the Trust for Public Land, George Dusenbury oversees the organization’s work on urban parks, green infrastructure, and the Chattahoochee River. TPL is partnering with the City of Atlanta to build the 16-acre Rodney Cook Sr. Park in Vine City, and working with the Atlanta Regional Commission, Cobb County, and the City of Atlanta to create a master plan for a 100-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River from Buford Dam to Chattahoochee Bend State Park. In November, he was elected to Decatur’s City Commission.
Education: Cornell University, Emory University School of Law (JD) Previous positions: Commissioner of the Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation, executive director of Park Pride, legislative director and district director for Congressman John Lewis Best advice received: Get in the way. Inspiring person: Congressman John Lewis Hidden talent: I enjoy freestyle rapping in front of my family (though only my wife seems to enjoy it). Favorite book:A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
David Edwards CEO Purpose Built Communities
David Edwards has a diverse background in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors working on innovative initiatives that address some of the greatest challenges facing cities around the world. As CEO, he’s responsible for expanding the number of Purpose Built Communities across the country and ensuring they deliver transformative outcomes for families and children. Previously Edwards was the global offerings manager for IBM’s Smarter Cities program and worked for eight years as senior policy adviser to Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin.
Education: Franklin & Marshall College, Duke University (MA) Lesson learned: When I worked for Shirley Franklin, she made decisions as if she didn’t care if she got reelected. It made her bulletproof. Favorite book:The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein What I’d tell my 18-year-old self: Try to lead an interesting life. Who’d play me in a biopic: The young version of Gary Busey
David Eidson President and CEO Coxe Curry & Associates
David Eidson is president and CEO of Coxe Curry & Associates, a fundraising consulting firm that works with major local institutions including the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Grady Health Foundation, Trees Atlanta, and the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. He joined the organization in 2012 after 27 years in the financial sector; previously Eidson was chairman and CEO of the SunTrust subsidiary RidgeWorth Capital Management, where he worked with nonprofit boards and finance committees to oversee the management of their organizations’ investable assets.
Education: Auburn University Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama Why I chose this work: The first 27 years of my professional career I worked in various parts of the SunTrust organization and I was introduced very early in my career to the nonprofit community. SunTrust encouraged me to be involved in leadership roles—on various boards and on committees of nonprofits. That exposure to those organizations created a desire to be more involved, and I decided I wanted to turn my avocation for the nonprofit world into my vocation.
Frank Fernandez Vice President of Community Development Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
Frank Fernandez joined the Blank Foundation in 2014 to lead the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, a program designed to contribute to the revitalization of Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill, and adjacent neighborhoods. He also supports the foundation’s efforts in global giving, health access, and community development. An expert on housing, transportation, and economic development, Fernandez served for eight years as executive director of Green Doors, a nonprofit group devoted to transforming lives and neighborhoods for people in need in the Austin metro area. He has worked extensively to help create housing solutions across the income spectrum.
Education: Harvard University, University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs (MPA) First job: Landscaper for my high school to pay for tuition Hobbies: Reading, watching sports, hiking Favorite travel destination: La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Bucket list: Hiking El Camino de Santiago in Spain Who’d play me in a biopic: Tony Gonzalez
Lisa Y. Gordon President and CEO Atlanta Habitat for Humanity
Shortly after joining Atlanta Habitat for Humanity in July 2015, Lisa Gordon set a new course for the nonprofit homebuilder to become a catalyst for holistic neighborhood revitalization. Atlanta Habitat is focused on increasing homeownership, investing in targeted neighborhoods, and building capacity to preserve quality affordable-housing options in Atlanta. Previously Gordon was vice president and chief operating officer of the Atlanta BeltLine and a cabinet member in the administration of former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin.
Education: Georgetown University, Syracuse University (MPA), Nova Southeastern University (MAcc) Notable achievements: YWCA of Greater Atlanta Academy of Women Achievers (2017), National Academy of Public Administration fellow (2016) Best advice received: From Mayor Shirley Franklin: “Self-preservation is the first rule. If you don’t save yourself, you cannot help others.” Few people know: I self-published a book on marriage and relationships.
F. Sheffield Hale President and CEO Atlanta History Center
F. Sheffield Hale became president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center in 2012. Previously, he was chief counsel of the American Cancer Society and a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, where he practiced corporate law. An Atlanta native, Hale is a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Fox Theatre, Buckhead Coalition, and the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. He is past chair of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Atlanta History Center, and the Judicial Nominating Commission of Georgia.
Education: University of Georgia, University of Virginia School of Law (JD) Notable achievements: Buckhead Business Association Sam Massell Bullish on Buckhead Award (2015), Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Mary Gregory Jewett Award for Lifetime Preservation Service (2014), State Bar of Georgia Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service (2001) First job: Clerk at Brookwood Hardware Best advice received: It’s the last 5 percent that counts. Favorite book:A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Michael Halicki Executive Director Park Pride
As executive director since 2013, Michael Halicki leads fundraising, public relations, and program development at Park Pride, a nonprofit organization that works with neighborhoods and community groups to improve parks and greenspace in Atlanta and DeKalb County. Halicki was previously the first chief operating officer of Southface, which promotes sustainable development and green building practices.
Education: Indiana University, Georgia State University (MPA) Notable achievements: Graduate of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership (2013) and the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Leadership Institute (2009) Why I chose this work: I care deeply for our city and the role parks can play in strengthening neighborhoods and communities. Neighborhoods without parks aren’t neighborhoods—they are just housing. First job: Newspaper delivery boy Best advice received: People don’t care what you know unless they know you care. Who’d play me in a biopic: Ed Helms
Paul Russell Hardin President Robert W. Woodruff Foundation
Russ Hardin directs a broad range of charitable giving as president of the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, and Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation. With combined assets of more than $6.7 billion at the end of 2018, the foundations primarily support organizations in metro Atlanta. They were created by Robert W. Woodruff, a philanthropist and former president of the Coca-Cola Co., and the family of Joseph B. Whitehead, one of the original Coca-Cola bottlers.
Education: University of Virginia, Duke University School of Law (JD) Board memberships: Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., Genuine Parts Co., SunTrust Bank Atlanta Advisory Council, Commerce Club Why I chose this work: Opportunity for impact First job: Newspaper delivery boy What I’d tell a recent graduate: Work at something you love. Favorite Atlanta place to visit: SunTrust Park
Clyde A. Higgs President and CEO Atlanta BeltLine
As president and CEO of the Atlanta BeltLine since 2019, Clyde A. Higgs leads the executive team in overseeing the design and construction of transit, trails, and parks, plus affordable housing, economic development, real estate, external affairs, and procurement. Higgs joined the BeltLine organization in 2015 as chief operating officer; previously he served as executive vice president of a collaborative, multibillion-dollar revitalization and economic development effort led by the state of North Carolina and real estate developer Castle & Cooke. He has 20 years’ experience in economic development, real estate, intellectual property, technology, strategic planning, design, real estate development, grant and donor funding, government relations, and urban innovation.
Education: University of South Alabama, East Carolina University (MPA) First job: Shrimp boat laborer Hidden talent: Ping-pong champion! Notable achievement: Appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Emerging Technology Venture Fund for early-stage companies working on innovations in the fields of biotechnology, healthcare, energy, and information technology.
Nancy A. Flake Johnson President and CEO Urban League of Greater Atlanta
Nancy Flake Johnson returned to Atlanta from Detroit in 2008 to become president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta and engage her passion for promoting economic development and equity by empowering African American youth, adults, and families. By building partnerships, Johnson increased the League’s impact on housing, education, business development, and employment in underrepresented communities. She started her career as an accountant and was the first woman to lead the Howard University Small Business Development Center.
Education: Howard University, DePaul University (MS) Hometown: Detroit, Michigan Notable achievements: National Urban League Woman of Empowerment (2017), Atlanta Business League Most Influential Women of Atlanta (2012-2018), Operation PUSH Community Empowerment Award. Created and cohosted a public television series featuring successful minority entrepreneurs. Inspiring person: Martin Luther King Jr.
Jay Kaiman President The Marcus Foundation
As president of the Marcus Foundation, Jay Kaiman’s role is to facilitate the philanthropic vision of Bernie Marcus, cofounder of Home Depot. The foundation focuses its giving on children, medical research, free enterprise, Israel, and Jewish causes. Kaiman joined the foundation in 2002. He moved to Atlanta in 1996 to become Southeast director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Education: University of Florida Hometown: Pensacola, Florida Notable achievement: Anti-Defamation League Milton A. Senn Award for Professional Excellence (1999) Why I chose this work: Inspired by the opportunity to have impact on making a difference in people’s lives, fulfilling the entrepreneurial agenda set forth by Bernie Marcus. Serving in this capacity is an honor and true adventure—approaching problems with creative ideas and solutions. Few people know: I collect hourglasses. Time is our most precious treasure. Toughest challenge: Life balance What I’d tell a recent graduate: Do not blame your bosses. It is not always their fault.
Dena Kimball Executive Director The Kendeda Fund
As executive director of the Kendeda Fund, Dena Kimball leads a philanthropic organization that seeks to empower communities to solve their problems, particularly by supporting underrepresented voices and leaders willing to challenge conventional thinking. She also oversees the fund’s Girls’ Rights program, which aims to empower girls worldwide. Kimball previously served as vice president of network support for Teach for All and vice president of alumni affairs and deputy vice president of admissions for Teach for America.
Education: Emory University, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government (MPP)
Raymond B. King President and CEO Zoo Atlanta
In 2010, Raymond King became president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta, the city’s oldest cultural institution and one of its largest. During his tenure, King has grown attendance from 675,000 to 1 million annually, and led the institution in raising more than $63 million in philanthropic support to modernize the facilities—more than was raised cumulatively in the past 25 years. King previously spent 22 years with SunTrust Banks, most recently as senior vice president for community affairs in Atlanta, and has chaired and served on numerous boards.
Education: Georgia Tech Notable achievements: United Way Chairman’s Award (2009), Woodruff Arts Center Charles R. Yates Award for Outstanding Service (2003)
Lauren Koontz President and CEO YMCA of Metro Atlanta
The first woman president and CEO in the history of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, Lauren Koontz leads the organization’s efforts to ensure that all people—especially children—experience an equal opportunity to fully reach their potential. She works to make the YMCA a best-in-class provider of education, wellness, and youth development programs designed to strengthen Atlanta communities. Koontz joined the organization in 2012 as its chief development officer and became executive vice president in 2016. Previously she served in leadership roles at Coxe Curry & Associates, Emory University School of Medicine, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Education: University of Georgia, Georgia State University Robinson College of Business (MBA) Hometown: Saint Simons Island, Georgia Notable achievement: 2016 recipient of the YMCA’s highest honor: the “Sully” Award, named for Thomas Sullivan, YMCA’s founder in the U.S. Favorite book:The CEO Next Door: The Four Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders by Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell
Milton James Little Jr. President United Way of Greater Atlanta
Milton J. Little Jr. became the first African American president of United Way of Greater Atlanta in 2007. In that role, he’s helped raise more than half a billion dollars for local community needs and redirected the organization’s focus to increasing the well-being of the region’s children. Before joining United Way, Little served as chief operating officer and interim president of the National Urban League. He serves on many board and advisory groups, including the Southern Education Foundation and the J.W. Fanning Institute at the University of Georgia.
Education: Morehouse College, Columbia University (MA) Hometown: Roosevelt, New York First job: Busboy at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, New York Why I chose this work: To live a life of service in honor of my parents, who taught me the value of making a difference in the lives of others. Few people know: I’ve studied Eagle Claw kung fu and the Israeli fighting style Krav Maga for many years and I meditate.
Rohit Malhotra Founder and Executive Director Center for Civic Innovation
Rohit Malhotra is the founder and executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation, which seeks to eliminate inequality by empowering people to design public policy from the ground up. With a background in social entrepreneurship, digital communication, open data, and community organizing, Malhotra was an Ash Innovation Fellow in the Obama White House’s Office of Management and Budget, working on social impact bonds and pay for performance. In 2015 he became the youngest member in recent history on the board of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and was awarded the prestigious Echoing Green Global Fellowship.
Education: Emory University, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government (MA) Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia Why I chose this work: I chose to work at the intersection of public policy and finance because I believe that our city needs more effective solutions to address widening inequality in Atlanta. Inequality disproportionately impacts people who share skin color and a story with my family, and like my family, I love my city too much not to fight for it. Best advice received: Call your mom.
Eduardo Martinez President The UPS Foundation Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer United Parcel Service
As president of the UPS Foundation and UPS’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, Ed Martinez is responsible for the operations and management of UPS’s global philanthropic, employee engagement, corporate relations, and diversity and inclusion programs. Martinez also represents UPS on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Humanitarian Response and serves as UPS executive liaison to the Council of Independent Colleges. He is a member of the corporate advisory board of UnidosUS, corporate liaison to the Points of Light’s Corporate Service Council, and a member of the board of directors of the International Association for Volunteer Effort and chair of its Global Corporate Volunteer Council. He is also cochair of the National Academy of Sciences Resilient America program. Martinez is a member of the American Bar Association, Florida Bar, and Hispanic National Bar Association.
Education: University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University (JD)
Mary Pat Matheson President and CEO Atlanta Botanical Garden
Its leader since 2002, Mary Pat Matheson has built the membership of the Atlanta Botanical Garden to more than 40,000. She spearheaded a $55 million capital campaign, completed in 2012, that doubled the garden to 30 acres and added a visitor center, parking facility, canopy walk, and edible garden. A more recent $50 million campaign provided other enhancements, including a new restaurant and renovated children’s garden. Matheson was also responsible for the development of a 185-acre satellite garden in Gainesville.
Education: University of Utah (EMPA) Why I chose this work: The job really chose me when a colleague of my husband’s called one day to say there was a position for a horticulturist at a new botanical garden. I got the job and was hooked forever. Notable achievements: American Horticultural Society Professional of the Year (2005), Public Broadcasting Atlanta Lexus Leader of the Arts. Past president of the American Public Gardens Association. Responsible for introducing Atlanta to the work of internationally acclaimed artists such as Dale Chihuly, Henry Moore, and Niki de Saint Phalle through garden exhibitions.
Edwin McBrayer Executive Director PATH Foundation
PATH Foundation executive director Ed McBrayer formed the organization with two friends who decided, on a 1991 cycling trip to Stone Mountain, that Atlanta needed more safe, enjoyable places to ride, walk, run, or skate. PATH’s network now encompasses more than 270 miles of interlinking trails, including the Silver Comet Trail. McBrayer, an aerospace engineer, previously worked on NASA’s Skylab space station project and as a homebuilder.
Education: Georgia Tech Toughest challenge: Graduating from Georgia Tech when you’re not so smart Hidden talent: Instrument-rated pilot Hobbies: Teaching cycle classes What I’d tell a recent graduate: Enjoy being your age. Every age has its own rewards. Bucket list: A monthlong trip in an RV to places I’ve never been
Penelope McPhee President and Director Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
As its president, Penelope McPhee directs the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s focus on fostering opportunities for children and youth and enhancing the quality of life in Atlanta and beyond. One of the largest family foundations in the region, the Blank Foundation has made grants totaling nearly $350 million since its formation in 1995. Previously McPhee led the grant-making programs for the Knight Foundation in Miami. In her career as a television producer, she won five Emmys.
Education: Wellesley College, Columbia University (MS) Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky Notable achievements: Author of text for the pictorial histories Martin Luther King Jr.: A Documentary: Montgomery to Memphis (1976) and King Remembered (1986) Why I chose this work:Tikkun olam—to repair the world Best advice received: At age nine or 10, when I couldn’t sleep because I was worried about an unfinished school assignment, I woke my mom in the middle of the night and she said, “If something is keeping you awake, get out of bed and take care of it.”
Carol R. Naughton President Purpose Built Communities
Carol Naughton is president of Purpose Built Communities, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in urban neighborhoods nationwide. She previously served as executive director of the East Lake Foundation and general counsel for the Atlanta Housing Authority, where she played an instrumental role in revitalizing traditional public housing communities into economically viable, self-sustaining, mixed-income communities. Naughton was a key member of the leadership team that transformed AHA into a national leader in community development.
Education: Colgate University, Emory University School of Law (JD) First job: Camp counselor at Tawasentha Park in New York Best advice received: When someone offers to help, let them. Favorite book:To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Bucket list: Alaska
Michelle Nunn President and CEO CARE USA
Michelle Nunn joined CARE USA as president and CEO in 2015, introducing an ambitious strategy to reach 200 million people by 2020. Nunn has devoted her career to public service, cofounding the volunteer-mobilization organization Hands On Atlanta, growing it into a national network, and overseeing its merger with the Points of Light Foundation. She served as CEO of the resultant organization, Points of Light—the world’s largest dedicated to volunteer service—from 2007 to 2013.
Education: University of Virginia, Harvard University (MPA) First job: Park ranger. I operated the elevator of the Washington Monument one summer! Toughest challenge: Entering into the political arena in my run for U.S. Senate in 2014 was the hardest thing I have ever done. And it was awfully tough to lose. Fortunately, I had family and friends to lift me up and put things in perspective. Hidden talent: I am still pretty good at basketball and can sometimes beat my 15-year-old in H-O-R-S-E!
Keith T. Parker President and CEO Goodwill of North Georgia
Keith T. Parker is president and CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the Southeast. It spans a 45-county territory, operating 60 stores, 58 donation centers, and 13 career centers. Store revenue enables Goodwill to connect tens of thousands of North Georgians to jobs every year. Before joining Goodwill in 2017, Parker served as CEO of transit systems in several cities, including San Antonio, Charlotte, and, most recently, Atlanta.
Education: Virginia Commonwealth University (MURP), University of Richmond (MBA) Notable achievements: Member of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council since 2016, American Public Transportation Association Outstanding Public Transportation Manager (2015), Texas CEO of the Year (2011 and 2012) Why I chose this work: I love the purity of Goodwill’s mission to put people to work. Nothing changes a person’s life more than finding sustainable employment. First job: Cutting grass Favorite pastime: Playing with my five-year-old son
Mary Ann Peters CEO The Carter Center
Mary Ann Peters joined the Carter Center as CEO in 2014, overseeing a global workforce in the implementation of projects in global health, conflict resolution, democracy, and human rights. Previously she was provost of the U.S. Naval War College and dean of academics at the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany. A career diplomat, she served as U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh from 2000 to 2003.
Education: Santa Clara University, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (MA) Why I chose this work: Who could resist working for an organization that embodies commitment to human rights, compassion for those less fortunate, and the determination to help the poorest people improve their own lives? First job: Blowing up helium balloons at the zoo in Grand Rapids Favorite Atlanta place to visit: The Flying Biscuit Cafe for breakfast Bucket list: A really good view of the northern lights
Alicia Philipp President Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
When Alicia Philipp joined the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta in 1977, the philanthropic anchor institution had $7 million in assets. Today, with $1.1 billion under management, it provides grants to organizations in 23 counties with the goal of strengthening the Atlanta region. Philipp leads a team focused on providing quality services to donors and innovative leadership on community issues.
Education: Emory University, Georgia State University (MBA) Why I chose this work: It chose me! I was in the right place at the right time. I never imagined back then that this would become my life’s work, but looking back I wouldn’t change a thing. First job: The one I still have! Few people know: I have completed three sprint triathlons. Inspiring person: Longtime civic leader Dan Sweat Favorite TV show:Grace and Frankie
Andrea Pinabell President Southface Institute
As president, Andrea Pinabell is responsible for the strategy, management, and growth of the Southface Institute, a nonprofit leader in sustainable advocacy, building, planning, and operations across the U.S. Before joining Southface in 2017 she served as a vice president of global citizenship at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. With 25 years of experience in sustainable business and operations, Pinabell has also worked for the Home Depot Foundation as director of its Sustainable Cities Institute and program manager of sustainable community development.
Education: Iowa State University Board memberships: 2030 Districts, Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership, Center for Responsible Travel
Jennifer Pipa CEO, Georgia Region American Red Cross
As CEO of the American Red Cross in Georgia, Jennifer Pipa oversees the execution of the humanitarian organization’s mission across the state. In fiscal year 2019, under Pipa’s leadership, the Georgia Red Cross helped 14,000 people following home fires and other disasters, installed more than 11,000 free smoke alarms, and collected more than 200,000 units of blood. Pipa began her Red Cross career in 2004 as a volunteer; she became a paid staffer shortly after leading a service center that aided Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Raleigh. Before coming to Georgia in 2019, Pipa was regional executive of the Red Cross of Central Florida.
Education: North Carolina State University Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina Notable achievements: Raising an incredibly smart and kind daughter, Madison. Testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee in 2018. First job: Waitress at Outback Steakhouse Toughest challenge: Supporting a Red Cross shelter with no water, no power, and no communications
Helen Smith Price President The Coca-Cola Foundation Vice President, Global Community Affairs The Coca-Cola Co.
Helen Smith Price is vice president of global community affairs for the Coca-Cola Co. and president of the Coca-Cola Foundation, which has awarded more than $1 billion in grants to support sustainable community initiatives around the world since its inception in 1984. Price was previously the foundation’s executive director; she came to the Coca-Cola Co. in 1993 as corporate external affairs director. She’s licensed as a certified public accountant in Georgia.
Education: Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University (MBA) Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Jonathan T.M. Reckford CEO Habitat for Humanity International
Under the leadership of CEO Jonathan T.M. Reckford, Habitat for Humanity International has greatly expanded its impact, serving 125,000 individuals annually when he arrived in 2005 and 3.5 million per year in 2017. Before coming to Habitat, Reckford was executive pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church near Minneapolis. He spent much of his earlier career in executive and managerial positions at for-profit companies including Goldman Sachs, Marriott, Walt Disney, and Best Buy.
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Stanford Graduate School of Business (MBA) Notable achievements: Member of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the World Economic Forum’s Urban Steering Committee; author of the book Creating a Habitat for Humanity: No Hands but Yours Why I chose this work: I believe that a safe, decent, affordable home is the foundation for a better life for a family. First job: Delivering the Chapel Hill newspaper beginning in fifth grade
Gary M. Reedy CEO American Cancer Society
As CEO of the American Cancer Society, Gary Reedy oversees more than 4,700 employees and 1.5 million volunteers, and is working to double the organization’s annual research funding, to $240 million, by 2021; ACS already runs the country’s largest nonprofit cancer research program. Before becoming CEO in 2015, Reedy was a longtime volunteer leader at ACS. He spent 37 years in healthcare business and advocacy, most recently as worldwide vice president of governmental affairs and policy at Johnson & Johnson.
Education: Emory & Henry College First job: Newspaper delivery boy Hidden talent: I write right-handed and play sports left-handed. What I’d tell a recent graduate: Always follow your passion. Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Centennial Olympic Park—a reminder to always be Olympian in our efforts to eliminate cancer
James H. Reese President and CEO Atlanta Mission
Atlanta Mission president and CEO James Reese considers it a privilege to see lives altered every day, and witness people coming off the streets, asking for help, and finding their way out of homelessness and into a new life. Prior to Atlanta Mission, he was CEO of Randstad North America, chief operating officer of the Honey Baked Ham Co. and CCCi, and division vice president of Frito-Lay. He also managed General Foods’ Maxwell House Coffee plant and cofounded First Coast Manufacturing Association, which today includes more than 300 Florida manufacturers. Reese is a board member of the Chick- fil-A Foundation, D&W Fine Pack, and Matchstic; he’s chair of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and a past member of the board of the American Staffing Association.
Education: Western Michigan University Notable achievements: Rebranding of 70-year-old organization to Atlanta Mission, capital expansion at Atlanta Mission’s facility (Potter’s House), acquisition of Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children, execution of a new client-focused services model First job: Collection Agency
Jill Savitt President and CEO National Center for Civil and Human Rights
In January 2019, Jill Savitt was named CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. A longtime human rights advocate with special expertise in genocide prevention, she was formerly acting director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She also curated the exhibit on global human rights at the CCHR, while consulting with other organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, Freedom House, and Physicians for Human Rights. In 2007, Savitt founded and directed Dream for Darfur, which successfully pressed the Chinese government to change its policies on Sudan in the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Education: Yale University
Laura Turner Seydel Chairperson Captain Planet Foundation
Laura Turner Seydel, an environmental advocate and eco-living expert, is chairperson of the Captain Planet Foundation, which seeks to inspire and empower generations of environmentally aware children. She cofounded and is board chair of Mothers and Others for Clean Air and cofounded Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. As a director of the Environmental Working Group, she works to limit toxic chemicals in food, air, water, and consumer products. Seydel also serves on the boards of her family’s foundations, including the Turner Foundation.
Education: Oglethorpe University Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia Why I chose this work: I believe it is our moral responsibility to protect the natural systems that support all life—our water, air, biodiversity, and land. We must create a sustainable and healthy future for our children and future generations. Hobbies: Horseback riding, travel Favorite books:Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken, and Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
Lain Shakespeare Corporate Citizenship Director Mailchimp
As Mailchimp’s director of corporate citizenship, Lain Shakespeare leads a program that now invests $2 million a year in the Atlanta community. Another of Shakespeare’s initiatives, Mailchimp Community College, is a partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta that connects employees with civic leaders with the aim of fostering greater equity. A native of Decatur, Shakespeare was formerly executive director of the Wren’s Nest, dedicated to the legacy of his great-great-great-grandfather, the folklorist Joel Chandler Harris.
Hometown: Kenyon College First job: Summer-league swim coach at Cherokee Town Club Favorite book:Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner Favorite travel destination: Taking Amtrak to New Orleans Who’d play me in a biopic: Robert Redford 40 years ago, or present-day Tilda Swinton
Steve Stirling President and CEO MAP International
As president and CEO of MAP International since 2014, Steve Stirling helps provide life-saving medicine to 14 million people around the world each year. His passion is personal: As an infant in South Korea, he contracted polio, which could have been prevented by a vaccine. He previously worked for pharmaceutical firms including Johnson & Johnson and American Home Products, and for nonprofits World Vision, Heifer International, and ChildFund International. Stirling’s autobiography, The Crutch of Success: From Polio to Purpose, Bringing Health & Hope to the World, was published in 2019.
Education: Cornell University, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management (MBA) Why I chose this work: I transitioned from the corporate world to nonprofits in order to be a voice for voiceless children who need help in life. Best advice received: All things are possible. Toughest challenge: Overcoming obstacles related to having polio Few people know: I took a dog-mushing class at the University of Alaska.
Cati Diamond Stone Executive Director Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta
Cati Diamond Stone is the executive director of Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta, one of the largest Komen affiliates in the U.S. She joined in 2013, three years after being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Under Stone’s leadership, Komen Atlanta has grown to serve more than 3 million people and was named Komen Affiliate of the Year in 2015. Previously a litigation attorney, she changed careers after learning that a drug that made her survival possible was funded by Komen.
Education: University of Southern Mississippi, University of Alabama School of Law (JD) Hometown: Guntersville, Alabama Notable achievements: Ford Motor Company Warriors in Pink Model of Courage (2014 to present), WNBA Atlanta Dream Inspiring Woman Award (2014) First job: Waitress at the Chicken Shack in my hometown Best advice received: From a wise friend: “Be bold in the care of yourself.” What I’d tell a recent graduate: When it comes to your career, don’t follow the money. Follow your heart.
Jason Ulseth Riverkeeper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
A Georgia native who grew up fishing and boating on the Chattahoochee River, Jason Ulseth developed an early love for the waterway and the natural environment. In 2015 he took on the role of riverkeeper for the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper organization, serving as spokesperson and lead advocate for river protection. Previously he was CRK’s technical programs director. Ulseth also serves as the group’s patrol boat captain and is licensed as a merchant marine officer by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Education: University of Georgia Hidden talent: I can juggle swords. What I’d tell a recent graduate: Public speaking is not as hard as you think it is. Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area Bucket list: Catching a record brown trout
Peter S. Berg Senior Rabbi The Temple
Peter Berg became senior rabbi of the Temple, a Reform synagogue in Atlanta, in 2008—the fifth such leader since 1895. An advocate for social change, he is committed to teaching, building community, and addressing the needs of his congregants. Berg is president of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association and serves as a chaplain for the Georgia State Patrol. He serves on numerous boards and works with advocacy groups on issues including civil rights, the death penalty, gun safety, and hate crimes.
Education: George Washington University, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (MA and rabbinic ordination) Hometown: Ocean Township, New Jersey First job: Cashier at a thrift store Hobbies: Skiing Favorite travel destination: Jerusalem Who’d play me in a biopic: Actor and filmmaker Peter Berg
Plemon T. El-Amin Imam Emeritus Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam
Plemon El-Amin became imam of Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam in 1985, growing its membership from 200 to more than 2,000; it’s now one of the largest and most progressive mosques in the country. A leader in Atlanta’s interfaith community and a close aide to the late W. Deen Mohammed, El-Amin is former director of Sister Clara Mohammed Elementary School and W. Deen Mohammed High School. He converted from Christianity to Islam in the wake of the Vietnam War.
Education: Harvard University Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
John Foster Senior Pastor Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
A former academic who taught electrical engineering and computer science at institutions including Tuskegee University and Morehouse College, John Foster brought technological advances like live video and audio streaming to Big Bethel AME Church, where he serves as senior pastor. He’s also focused on enhancing youth and young-adult ministries. Foster previously served as pastor for AME churches in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, and has held administrative positions including vice provost, dean, and department head at various academic institutions.
Education: Tuskegee University, Interdenominational Theological Center (MDiv), Stanford University (MS, PhD) Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Louie Giglio Pastor Passion City Church
Louie Giglio is pastor of Passion City Church and the original visionary of the Passion movement, which exists “to call a generation to leverage their lives for the fame of Jesus.” Since 1997, Passion has gathered college-aged young people in events across the U.S. and around the world. Passion 2020 will start the new year in Mercedes-Benz Stadium with more than 60,000 college students. Giglio is the bestselling author of Not Forsaken, Goliath Must Fall, Indescribable: 100 Devotions about God & Science, The Comeback, The Air I Breathe, and I Am Not but I Know I Am.
Michael R. Griffin Public Affairs Representative Georgia Baptist Mission Board Public Affairs Ministry
In 2014 Mike Griffin became the public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Convention, representing 1.7 million Georgia Baptists at the Capitol and speaking on religious issues around the state. A Southern Baptist pastor for 35 years, Griffin is also president of the board of Ten Commandments Georgia and a past vice president of Georgia Right to Life, where he also served as a lobbyist and state field director. He is a senior pastor at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell.
Education: Baptist College of Florida Why I chose this work: The very unique work of being a pastor and a lobbyist goes back to when God called me to preach when I was 16. I preached my first sermon at Dawson Street Baptist Church in Thomasville, Georgia, in 1977. First job: Working in sheet metal for the purpose of installing heating and air-conditioning duct work Best advice received: From my father: Never leave a job undone. Always complete your work. Always do your best. Hobbies: Golf, hunting, fishing, and hiking
Richard Kannwischer Senior Pastor Peachtree Presbyterian Church
Richard Kannwischer became senior pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in 2017, taking on the leadership of the largest Presbyterian congregation in metro Atlanta. Before coming to Atlanta, Kannwischer served as lead pastor at Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California. He has served as a trustee of all undergraduate and graduate schools he attended.
Education: Trinity University, Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv), Fuller Theological Seminary (DMin) Hometown: Waco, Texas Why I chose this work: To help reveal the delight and impact of a life with God Best advice received: From former professor Dallas Willard: “God’s primary aim is not getting us into heaven as much as getting heaven into us.” First job: Magic store assistant—like Steve Martin Few people know: I used to teach tennis and be in a country-and-western dance troupe.
Bernice A. King CEO Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
A global thought leader, orator, and peace advocate, Bernice A. King advances her parents’ legacy as CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Since taking the helm in 2012, she’s guided an expansion of the center’s Nonviolence365 education and training initiative, engaged young people around the country in interactive virtual talks, launched a series of Beloved Community conversations on difficult racial issues, and updated the King Center campus.
Education: Spelman College, Emory University (MDiv, JD) Notable achievements: Spoke in her mother’s stead at the United Nations at age 17, spearheaded the global event Let Freedom Ring and Call to Action to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, authored Hard Questions, Heart Answers First job: Summer camp counselor Best advice received: Don’t make a decision in anger. Favorite travel destination: Paradise Island, Bahamas
Eric M. Robbins President and CEO Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
Eric Robbins came to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta in 2016 with a vision to increase its relevance in the community and share its inspirational story. For the previous 12 years he led Camp Twin Lakes, a network of camps for children with serious illnesses and other life challenges. Robbins directed a strategic planning process that led CTL to add additional sites and a working farm and increase camper capacity by 50 percent.
Education: Georgia State University, Yeshiva University (MSW) Notable achievements: Georgia State University Alumni of the Year (2017), Atlanta Business Chronicle Who’s Who in Nonprofits (2014, 2015, 2016), Leadership Atlanta class of 2009 Toughest challenge: Cancer Few people know: I was in a Subaru commercial. What I’d tell my 18-year-old self: Don’t do anything different. Follow your dreams! Favorite Atlanta place to visit: The Varsity
Andy Stanley Senior Pastor North Point Ministries
Andy Stanley cofounded the nondenominational North Point Community Church in Alpharetta in 1995 with a vision of creating churches that “unchurched people love to attend.” It’s now the second-largest church in the nation. North Point Ministries encompasses six churches in the metro Atlanta area and a global network of more than 70 churches. Stanley’s online messages and sermons are accessed over a million times a month, and he’s the author of more than 20 books.
Education: Georgia State University, Dallas Theological Seminary (MA) Notable achievement: Named one of the 12 “most effective preachers in the English-speaking world” in a national survey by the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University
Raphael G. Warnock Senior Pastor Ebenezer Baptist Church
Raphael Warnock became senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home of Martin Luther King Jr., in 2005. At age 35, he was the youngest person ever to assume the position at the historic congregation, which was founded in 1886. Under his leadership, Ebenezer has added more than 4,000 new members and enhanced and expanded its facilities. In recognition of his activism, Warnock’s footprints were placed on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in 2016.
Education: Morehouse College, Union Theological Seminary (MDiv, MPhil, PhD) Notable achievements: Delivered the closing prayer at the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service and the sermon for the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast in 2016; author of The Divided Mind of the Black Church: Theology, Piety, and Public Witness
Robert C. Wright Bishop Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
Robert C. Wright is the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, which encompasses 116 worshipping communities in North and Middle Georgia. He has been a vocal opponent of the death penalty and an advocate for Medicaid expansion, and he addressed the Georgia legislature on gun control. Wright helped establish the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing. Before his election as bishop in 2012, he served as rector of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta.
Education: Howard University, Virginia Theological Seminary (MDiv) Lesson learned: The best evidence of strength is the combination of perseverance wrapped in genuine kindness. Hidden talent: I am a certified aircraft mechanic with an FAA license. Hobbies: Rebuilding old cars Favorite book:The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin What I’d tell a recent graduate: Reach out! Ask questions! Relax and stay positive. Bucket list: A trip to Ethiopia
Michael Youssef President Leading the Way
In 1988, Michael Youssef created Leading the Way ministry “for people living in spiritual darkness to discover the light of Christ.” What began as a small, Atlanta-based radio ministry now transmits across the globe in 25 languages on television as well as the radio. Youssef also founded the evangelical congregation Church of the Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adult members; today it has a congregation of 3,000. He is the author of more than 30 books.
Education: Moore Theological College, Fuller Theological Seminary (ThM), Emory University (PhD)
Billye Aaron Originally an English teacher, Aaron launched her TV career in 1968 as a cohost for WSB’s Today in Georgia, which made her the region’s first African American woman to cohost a daily, hourlong talk show. She also held many leadership positions with the Atlanta branch of the United Negro College Fund, helping launch the Mayor’s Masked Ball. After retiring in 1994, she and her husband, baseball icon Hank Aaron, started the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation to help low-income children pursue their educations.
Sally Bethea Bethea was the founding director and riverkeeper of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper for two decades—helping downstream communities sue the City of Atlanta and forcing it to clean up the river. She has served on the national boards of Waterkeeper Alliance and River Network, the Georgia Board of Natural Resources, and EarthShare of Georgia.
Bill Bolling Bolling founded the Atlanta Community Food Bank in 1979 and directed the organization until 2015. During his tenure, the Food Bank distributed more than half a billion pounds of groceries across 29 Georgia counties. As a charter member of Feeding America, the national network of food banks, he also helped launch food banks across the country.
Jimmy Carter The 39th president of the United States, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. A longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity, he and his wife, Rosalynn, founded the Carter Center in 1982 to promote human rights and ease suffering around the world. He is the author of more than 30 books.
Rosalynn Carter Carter is a longtime advocate for mental health, caregiving, early childhood immunization, human rights, and conflict resolution. A cofounder of the Carter Center with her husband, former president Jimmy Carter, she created and leads the Center’s Mental Health Task Force. She also heads up the board of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving at her alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University, in Americus, Georgia.
Ann Q. Curry Curry purchased Coxe Curry & Associates, a fundraising consulting firm, from prior owner Frankie Coxe in 1993, and helmed it until 2015. She has also held leadership positions with the League of Women Voters, the board of Research Atlanta, and Atlanta-Fulton Public Library. Still actively advising many clients, her major campaigns have included the $325 million Greater Grady campaign for the Grady Health Foundation, Spelman College’s $150 million campaign, and the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s $41.2 million expansion.
Ingrid Saunders Jones A past national chair of the National Council of Negro Women, Jones was formerly a senior vice president of the Coca-Cola Co. and directed many of the company’s philanthropic efforts, including overseeing contributions of more than $460 million for community initiatives.
Joseph Lowery An ordained Methodist minister, Lowery became involved in the early days of the civil rights movement. He helped lead the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and others to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He continued to serve the organization, retiring as president and CEO in 1998.
Bernie Marcus A cofounder of Home Depot, Marcus retired in 2002 and has devoted himself to many philanthropic causes. He founded the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Israel, as well as the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta. In 2002 Marcus gave $3.9 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create an emergency anthrax response center. He also spearheaded the Georgia Aquarium.
Charles H. “Pete” McTier For many decades, McTier led the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and several other Atlanta foundations funded by the corporate and bottling arms of Coca-Cola. He played a role in the creation of Centennial Olympic Park and the Chattahoochee River Greenway, as well as supporting the Woodruff Arts Center, Central Atlanta Progress, Emory University, and more.
C.T. Vivian As a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Vivian participated in the Freedom Rides and was appointed to the executive staff by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He later trained ministers at the Urban Training Center in Chicago and as dean of divinity at Shaw University Seminary. In 2008, he founded the C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
The Reader A tarot reading for a brave audience member will inspire an improv set in this “half-tarot, half-comedy” show. (Belltown, $10)FILM
Lynch: A History: Documentary with Director David Shields See a documentary about the life and career of professional American football player Marshawn Lynch (the running back for the Seattle Seahawks). Director David Shields will be in attendance to discuss the film. (Greenwood, $10 suggested donation)MUSIC
Blue Glass, 16 Ghost, The Thrill Local solo artist Blue Glass will play tracks from his new album, Pale Mirror, with support from 6 Ghost and the Thrill. (Eastlake, $8/$10)
Chronic Town (REM Tribute), Vertigo Zoo (U2) The music your Gen X dad played on his college radio show will take over West Seattle, thanks to R.E.M. tribute band Chronic Town and U2 tribute band Vertigo Zoo. (West Seattle, $8)
Crazy Eyes, Velvet Q, Powerbleeder Dave Segal has written, “Crazy Eyes give us what not enough Seattle bands offer: rock that’s as comfortable getting unhinged and coloring outside the lines of decorum as it is bedazzling you with melody. Feedbacking guitars in odd tonalities and tunes that unleash streamers hither and yon recall early Mercury Rev, and the spasmodic dynamics and raucous vocals hint at Ty Segall at his loosest. Crazy Eyes are adding much-needed wild energy and attractively ramshackle songcraft to our music scene, which is often too polite for its own good.” They’ll headline with support from garage punks Velvet Q and experimental outfit Powerbleeder. (Pioneer Square, $8)
Danny Newcomb & The Sugarmakers and Friends Danny Newcomb, a veteran of many local bands including Goodness, the Rockfords, and Shadow, now builds catchy indie rock with a folksy bent with his current band the Sugarmakers. (Columbia City, $10)
The Djangomatics The Djangomatics live up to their name in that they play a style of jazz deeply influenced by iconic Romani guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt. (Downtown, free)
Emily McVicker Emily McVicker will sing songs about self-love off her first album, Mermaid Antidote, and others. (First Hill, free)
Francie Moon, Baywitch, Tiny Room Before getting your face pleasantly melted off by New Jersey psych-rock headliners Francie Moon, enjoy opening sets from local beachy goths Baywitch and heavy noise outfit Tiny Room at this Halfshell Records showcase. (Belltown, $8/$10)
Greta Matassa Popular local jazz songstress Greta Matassa will take the stage for a free set. (Georgetown, free)
Happy 4tet Earshot Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year nominee Tarik Abouzied leads this ensemble of jazz and funk musicians. (Downtown, free)
Johnny Astro Johnny Astro will play “surf, lounge, and spy-movie music” until late. (First Hill, free)
Pop Secret: Inzo Festival-bill frequenter Inzano will take over the edition of Pop Secret, a dance party for musically indecisive party people. (Capitol Hill, $10)
Swoon Seattle with DJ Essex QTPOC, GNC, and femme party people can dance into the wee hours with DJ Essex and go-go dancers and buy goods from local artist Elaine Lin. (Downtown, $3-$10)
W Music: Bodies On The Beach Local songwriter Navid Eliot’s new dreamy rock trio, Bodies on the Beach, will play for free. (Downtown, free)PERFORMANCES
Bearded & Beautiful Vol. 1 Who says you can’t be gorgeous and feminine while sporting a beard? These performers will prove it once and for all: Jane Don’t, Karma Amor, Kenzie, SHE, and host Dion Dior Black. (Downtown, $9)READINGS & TALKS
@rlysrslit Presents: Poetry and Pierogis Nourish your body with Eastern European dumplings and your mind with poetry read aloud by C. C. Hannett, Bryan Edenfield, Ilsa Olsen, and others. (Eastlake, free)
Dani Boss and Melissa Korbel: Burn It Down Dani Boss and Melissa Korbel, two contributors to Burn it Down: Women Writing About Anger, will appear live to debunk the somehow pertinent myth that “ladies don’t get angry.” Local writing teacher Theo Nestor will also read. (Capitol Hill, free)
Jim Moats, Kim Lorenz Two local business writers out with new books (Leading from the Edge of the Inside from Jim Moats and Tireless from Kim Lorenz) will talk about how they’ve achieved success through leadership. (Lake Forest Park, free)
Magda Newman: Normal Newman shares her experience as parent with a son diagnosed with the craniofacial condition Treacher Collins syndrome. Join her and her son, Nathaniel (who’s 15 now), for a reading. (Ravenna, free)
Michael Damian Thomas with Caroline M. Yoachim: The Best of ‘Uncanny’ Celebrate the launch of Uncanny Magazine‘s new anthology The Best of Uncanny with co-editor and publisher Michael Damian Thomas and contributing authors Caroline M. Yaochim and E. Lily Yu—the creators promise “stunning cover art, passionate science fiction and fantasy, gorgeous poetry, and provocative nonfiction.” (University District, free)
A Scribe Called Quess?: ‘Sleeper Cell’ Poet, educator, and Take Em Down NOLA coalition founder A Scribe Called Quess? will read from his new book of poems, Sleeper Cell, which investigates institutional racism and the disenfranchisement of black youth. (First Hill & Rainier Valley, free-$5)
Snow Day SLU Denny Park’s winter light display will provide a magical, twinkly respite from dark Seattle winter days. (Queen Anne, free)
Friends of Dorothy Queer Improv Join queer darlings like Shannon Bass, Richard Templeman, Leah Engel, Kathleen Nacozy, and Michael Pirkle in the improv group Friends of Dorothy, plus Michael Castillo and friends in Subs Who Can’t Host. Plus, Honey Bucket will host an open mic contest. (Capitol Hill, free)
Swipe Right Bandit Theater will ask one brave audience member to share their dating site profile for critique. (Don’t worry, the Bandits are nice people; you’ll be in good hands.) Then, talented improv comedians will take inspiration from their volunteer’s Tinder (or whatever) to play out some scenes. (Fremont, $10)COMMUNITY
Bellevue Lunar New Year Celebrate the Year of the Rat a week early with an afternoon of dragon and lion dances, Chinese flower arrangement and lantern-making workshops, and “zodiac cotton candy-making” (sugar-spun confections in the shape of rats, perhaps?). (Bellevue, free)FOOD & DRINK
Assemblage: Juice Club x Disco Nap x Double Sunrise Club The irreverent natural wine pop-up Juice Club, “party supplies and design services” Disco Nap, and disco DJs Double Sunrise Club will come together for a trifecta of party vibes. (Chinatown-International District, free)MLK DAY
Ceremony Presents 20 20 20 If you didn’t get to go to a ’20s-themed New Year’s Eve party, here’s your chance to dance into the night with DJs Drew and Evan Blackstone in an outfit inspired by trends from 100 years ago. (Downtown, $6)
The Cupholders, Drunken Prayer, Hillstomp The Cupholders will bring their signature blend of classic rock, outlaw country, and soul to Ballard after opening sets from southern country-rockers Drunken Prayer and Hillstomp. (Ballard, $10)
Eric Haines Guitar-slinging comedian Eric Haines will entertain the whole family in this “part rock concert, part comedy show and part twisted, bizarre circus.” (Mount Baker, $5)
Frankiie, Biblioteka, The Other Truckers Local rockers Biblioteka and Drive-By Truckers tribute band Other Truckers will warm up the stage for Vancouver’s folksy dream-rock band Frankiie. (Pioneer Square, $10)
GULP! DJ Suss Out will lay down juicy R&B and disco cuts. (White Center, no cover)
Tinsley, Jake Crocker, ALKI The synthy sounds of Seattle-based singer-songwriter Tinsley’s music are 1980s nostalgia as seen through a uniquely 2010s lens. It’s poppy, too. And somehow very glittery. Though her tracks sometimes careen into pure sugar, the strength of the production along with her voice steer her sound in a good direction, perfect for bopping around your room to. The show will also serve as a release party for Tinsley’s self-titled five-song debut EP, which comes out that same day. She’ll be joined by Tinsley producer and collaborator Jake Crocker, as well as Seattle band ALKI. JASMYNE KEIMIG (Capitol Hill, $10)
Tremulant: Philip Chedid Noted in press materials for his “groovy hypnotic melodies and driving basslines,” Philip Chedid will DJ this edition of Tremulant. (Downtown, $10)PERFORMANCE
RED (Ravishing Erotic Drag) Let host Kaleena Markos and queens Stacey Starstruck, Kitty Glitter, and Solana Solstice, plus special guests, initiate you in a spectacle of kink and sex positivity. (Capitol Hill, $10)READINGS & TALKS
Bruce Taylor: Kafka’s Uncle Bruce Taylor is out with a prequel to his Kafka’s Uncle trilogy, a series that examines real-life cultural and political trends through magical realism and a “sardonic Kafkain point of view.” The author will appear for a reading. (Greenwood, free)
Liska Jacobs: Catalina, Liska Jacobs visits with The Worst Kind of Want Following her fiction debut, Catalina, Liska Jacobs will visit Seattle with her new psychological novel, The Worst Kind of Want, about an American woman who travels to Italy on a family-related mission, only to find herself drawn into situations fueled by “forgettable recklessness.” She’ll be joined by local author Kristi Coulter. (Capitol Hill, free)
Playwright Talk with Susan Lieu The writer of the autobiographical show 140 LBS: How Beauty Killed My Mother (soon to be staged as Over 140 Lbs.) at ACT, will talk theater, beauty standards, and racism. See a video excerpt and ask questions. (Chinatown-International District, free)SHOPPING
Cumbiaton WCC Day Market Club Sur will celebrate its second anniversary with daytime Cumbia DJ sets from T Reverie and Lady Jane, plus treats from Cafe con Leche. (Sodo, free)SPORTS & RECREATION
UFC 246 Matches The Seahawks lost the playoffs last weekend, but your sports-watching opportunities are about to pick up again: Today, former two-division Mixed Martial Arts champion Conor McGregor will return to face off against his rival Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the welterweight headliner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship 246 card, which also includes a match between women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm and ex-title challenger Raquel Pennington. Watch the action at these local bars (a few of which promise $10-and-under covers). (Various locations)VISUAL ART
Scarfff Comic Release Party Celebrate with the creators of this brand-new comix newspaper uniting artists from Seattle and San Francisco. (Georgetown, free)
Tết in Seattle Celebrate the Year of the Rat at this annual festival in anticipation of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year in early February. As always, there will be hands-on cultural activities, traditional food, crafts, martial arts performances, a market, and more. (Seattle Center, free)
MLK Youth Kick-Off! Young people will get the spotlight during this all-day celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.—take in African drumming, dance performances, spoken word, and more. (Central District, free)MUSIC
In Motion Quartet Swing around to some lively experimental jazz from saxophonist Steve Treseler and trumpeter Kevin Woods’s quartet. (Columbia City, free)
Intrinsic Factor, Cyclia, Triceraclops Enjoy the synth-rock qualities of the Glockenspiel from local band Intrinsic Factor. They’ll be joined by funky psych-rockers Cyclia and punk-rock outfit Triceraclops. (Fremont, $8)
Moon Palace, Cartalk, Timothy Robert Graham Seattle quintet Moon Palace will bring their hypnotic, nature-focused psychedelia to Ballard with support from LA alt-country outfit Cartalk and Seattle singer-songwriter Timothy Robert Graham. (Ballard, $10)
Lunar New Year Lion Dance Performance Mak Fai Washington Kung Fu Club Lion Dance Team will perform a lucky lion dance outside Uwajimaya for the Lunar New Year. (Chinatown-International District, free)SHOPPING
Big Flea Pop-Up “Seattle’s original flea market” will present you with all the flannels your wintry Northwest heart desires, plus antiques and collectibles. (Fremont, free)
FOOD & DRINK
Chinese New Year Celebration Cofounders Raymond Kwan and Barry Chan named their Ballard craft brewery Lucky Envelope for the colorful red envelopes traditionally stuffed with money and given out on Chinese New Year to bring good fortune. So it only makes sense that it’s the perfect place to usher in the Year of the Rat. Today, they’ll unveil a bevy of brews inspired by Chinese tea. JULIANNE BELL (Ballard, no cover)MLK DAY
King Day The Northwest African American Museum’s annual MLK Day program promises arts and crafts activities for kids and families, local vendors, an interactive story hour led by Seattle Children’s Theater, film screenings, food, and remarks from local leaders. (Atlantic, free)
2020 Seattle MLK Day March and Celebration Garfield High School’s 38th annual day of events celebrates the life and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. with an opportunity fair, workshops, and pre- and post-march rallies. This year’s theme is “2020 Vision,” which the organizers say “reflects the clarity of Dr. King’s dream.” (Central District, free)MUSIC
Dr. Martin Luther King – Open Mic Celebration In addition to an open mic, the South Hudson Music Project will host live performances by dreamy sister duo La Fonda, folk outfit Reggie Garrett, Craig Suede of Happy Heartbreak, and spoken-word artist Jamaar Smiley on MLK Day. (Columbia City, free)
Loon, Gestalt, Matt Wettig Sway to jazzy Americana from local quartet Loon (whose bassist, it’s worth noting, is named Peter Van Winkle). Gestalt and Matt Wettig will share the bill. (Ballard, $10)
Talking Pictures Eponymous Theater Project will stage a reading of the film script Inside Rosie Lang by Mike Petty and Kevin D. Guzowski. (Capitol Hill, free)
Wild Beauty: MLK Day Performance Four black artists—Gabrielle Civil, Randy Ford, Neve Mazique-Bianco, and Fox Whitney—participating in Velocity’s weeklong residency program will combine forces for a “ritual/black movement intensive” under the ensemble moniker Wild Beauty on MLK Day. (Capitol Hill, free)READINGS & TALKS
From Struggle to Survival: Creating Beauty out of Tragedy Classical guitarist and composer Hilary Field will pair up with local poets Claudia Castro Luna and Lena Khalaf Tuffaha to kick off this evening of original music and poetry celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Next up, storyteller Merna Ann Hecht and cellist Michelle Dodson will offer little-known traditional and contemporary stories that they hope will “[bring] hope forth in dark times.” (Capitol Hill, free)
Reclaim the Runes: Separating Viking Mythology from Hate Groups Hate groups ruin everything, including the ancient mythological Norse alphabet Odin’s Runes, which some neo-Nazi groups have appropriated into their image. This event with historical researcher Sean Pratheraims aims to divorce Nordic culture from these misinformed groups. (Ballard, free)
Robert Frank: How Peer Pressure Can Save The Planet Succumbing to the pressure of our social environment isn’t always a good thing, but sometimes it is—like when it comes to changing our lifestyles to reduce our carbon footprint. Robert Frank, author of Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work, will visit to discuss “how altering our social context could help us redirect trillions of dollars annually in support of carbon-free energy sources, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone.” (First Hill, $5)
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) presents renowned painter, sculptor and activist Titus Kaphar in the MIAD Creativity Series, Wed., Feb. 5, 6 – 7:30 p.m. in MIAD’s 4th Floor Raw Space, 273 E. Erie Street.
In his public presentation “Making Space for Black History: Amending the Landscape of American Art,” Kaphar confronts the history and canon of Western art head on – exposing troubling histories of our nation’s past and amplifying the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves.
This is a ticketed event and is open to the public. Tickets are free, and available at miad.edu/creativityseries. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Seating is first-come, first-served to ticket holders.
The public presentation for the MIAD Creativity Series is part of a short-term residency at the college, during which Kaphar will engage with students in the classroom.
The MIAD Creativity Series is generously supported by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s African American Art Alliance and the Layton Visiting Artist Fund.
ABOUT TITUS KAPHAR
Kaphar’s numerous accolades include being named a 2018 MacArthur Fellow, 2018 Art for Justice Fund grantee and 2016 Robert R. Rauschenberg Artist as Activist grantee. His artworks capture the spirit of social justice and change in America today (exemplified in his TIME cover portrait of the Ferguson protests).
ABOUT THE MIAD CREATIVITY SERIES The MIAD Creativity Series brings distinctive and internationally renowned creatives to Milwaukee to enrich the experiences of MIAD students while engaging the community in new ways of thinking about, and appreciating, the arts and the world of design. miad.edu/creativityseries
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
That question is getting some serious thought after a University of Pittsburgh report last month revealed, “A black resident automatically by moving their life expectancy would go up, their income would go up, their educational opportunities for their children would go up as well as their employment.”
Trump attended the national championship game in New Orleans, which LSU won 42-25, and he received an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. It’s unclear what could be on the menu for the team, but the president took much delight in serving last year’s champions hamburgers and pizza during the partial government shutdown.
Coming to Film Forum in New York City is “Black Women,” a 70-film screening series that spotlights 81 years – 1920 to 2001 – of trailblazing African American actresses in American movies.
Scheduled to run from January 17 to February 13, the series is curated by film historian and professor Donald Bogle, author of six books concerning blacks in film and television, including the groundbreaking “Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films” (1973).
“Last year, Bruce Goldstein, the repertory programmer at Film Forum, asked me if there was something I was interested in doing, and this was a topic that I had been thinking about, because I recently updated my book on the subject, ‘Brown Sugar,’ which dealt with African American women in entertainment from the early years of the late 19th century to the present,” said Bogle. “That’s really the way it came about, and it just developed from there.”
The festival, for which filmmaker and visual artist Ina Archer served as consultant, includes Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning performances by black women, beginning with Hattie McDaniel, who in 1939 became both the first Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning African American actress, for her supporting role in “Gone with the Wind,” and Dorothy Dandridge, who in 1954 was the first African American actress ever nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Otto Preminger’s “Carmen Jones.”
“Imitation of Life” (1934)
Other Oscar nominees and/or winners highlighted in the series includes Cicely Tyson, Ethel Waters, Diana Ross, Angela Bassett, Diahann Carroll, Oprah Winfrey, Juanita Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, and Halle Berry, the first African American actress to win Best Actress for “Monster’s Ball” in 2001, the year that the screening series ends.
“There’s so much that’s happened in the 19 years since 2001, and initially we were going to end it at 2000, but I thought since Halle Berry winning her Oscar was such a seminal moment in film history, I decided to move it up a year,” Bogle said. He’s considering a sequel to the series that begins in 2002 and ends in the present.
In selecting which films to include, Bogle wanted to represent every decade within the 81-year period. Featured are silent-screen African American actresses like Evelyn Preer in “Within Our Gates” and Iris Hall in “The Symbol of the Unconquered,” both directed by the pioneering Oscar Micheaux; following through to Nina Mae McKinney in King Vidor’s 1929 talkie “Hallelujah;” and moving forward with Louise Beavers and Fredi Washington in the original 1934 “Imitation of Life;” Josephine Baker in the French films “Zou Zou” (1934) and “Princess Tam Tam (1935);” to performances by notable stars from the 1940s and on, like Lena Horne, Ruby Dee, Eartha Kitt, Abbey Lincoln, Gloria Foster, Pam Grier, Alfre Woodard, Lynn Whitfield, and more.
“Cabin in the Sky”
Bogle especially recommended rarely seen films like “Pinky” and “The Member of the Wedding,” both starring Ethel Waters; “Amazing Grace,” with Jackie “Moms” Mabley; and the Maya Angelou-written “Georgia, Georgia,” starring Diana Sands and Minnie Gentry.
He also spotlights films that had a great cultural impact when originally released, like “Sounder” with Cicely Tyson, “Lady Sings the Blues” with Diana Ross, and “Claudine” with Diahann Carroll – each earning Oscar nominations for their stars.
Black women directors are also celebrated, including Julie Dash (“Daughters of the Dust”); Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou”); Maya Angelou (“Down in the Delta”); Leslie Harris (“Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.”); Kathleen Collins (“Losing Ground”), and Cheryl Dunye (“The Watermelon Woman”).
“The focus on black women directors was to show the shift that happens when black women tell the story, which was, and still is very rare, especially in Hollywood,” Bogle said. “So highlighting the work of was important.”
Bogle would like the series to travel beyond New York, but there are no current plans to do so.
Given his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of African Americans on screen, what does Bogle make of the current black film and television “renaissance”?
“Daughters of the Dust”
Cohen Media Group
“I’m excited, but I’m also a bit of a skeptic, because, looking back to the early ’70s, ’90s and 2000s, I’ve seen this kind of excitement before, when it seemed like things were really changing, but never really did,” he said. “For example, in 1972, almost 50 years ago, people forget, or just don’t know that you had Diana Ross, Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Lonne Elder III, and Suzanne de Passe, all receiving Oscar nominations in various categories. There was so much excitement over all those black nominees, but it didn’t really spark anything.”
Bogle does applaud the rise of filmmakers like Jordan Peele and Ava DuVernay, actresses like Viola Davis and Regina King, praising their talents as well as their business savvy.
He is concerned about what the “Disneyfication” of Hollywood might mean for black talent. But the opportunities that streaming platforms like Netflix provide black creatives also provides some optimism for the future.
“I’m hoping that this is not just a trend, and that it’s a part of something new that’s still becoming,” Bogle said. “We just have to stay on point if we are to sustain this momentum. Ultimately, it’s still a white male-dominated system, no matter what inroads we’ve made. And there have been significant ones. But when it comes down to it, they’re still in control.”
“Black Women” runs from January 17 to February 13 at Film Forum in New York City.