Reporter’s Notebook: YWCA salutes women, WCLK’s 50th anniversary, New men’s health clinic in Buckhead


YWCA’s annual Salute to Women of Achievement

YWCA’s Danita Knight stands next to an actress portraying Phillis Wheatley at 2024 Salute to Women of Achievement. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Every year, the YWCA of Greater Atlanta inducts a new class into its Academy of Women of Achievement — plus an overall Woman of Achievement.

But this year, it did not disclose the woman who would receive the top recognition before the event because it wanted it to be a surprise.

The YWCA-Atlanta on April 18 held its annual luncheon at the Marriott Marquis. The surprise honoree was Phillis Wheatley, who was born in around 1753 in Gambia, Africa. She was captured and enslaved in 1761, then she was sold to the Wheatley family in Boston. The Wheatley family educated her, and soon she could read the Bible, Greek, Latin and British literature. She also studied astronomy, geography and began writing poems. She died at the age of 31.

But her legacy lives on.

Saluting the YWCA’s 2024 Academy of Women Achievers at the Marriott Marquis. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

The Atlanta YWCA is planning to reopen the Phillis Wheatley YWCA on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard sometime next year. The Wheatley Y has been dormant since 2015.

“We are more than halfway to our $19.5 million goal,” said Danita Knight, president and CEO of the YWCA of Greater Atlanta, at the event.

Accepting the award was an actress who played the role of Phillis Wheatley.

The 2024 members of the Academy were:

  • Paige Alexander, president and CEO of the Carter Center
  • Deisha Barnett, president of global communications for UPS
  • Julia Houston, chief strategy and marketing officer for Equifax
  • Kaye Husbands Fealings, an assistant director of the National Science Foundation and former dean of Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College
  • Chanel Frazier, head of BlackRock Atlanta
  • Ayesha Khanna, managing director of CARE Enterprises
  • Lauren Koontz, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta
  • Gina Espinosa-Meltzer, CEO of Hope Beckham Espinosa 
  • Maya Penn, CEO of Maya’s Ideas
  • April Ross, executive director of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence

During the lunch, an appeal was made to attendees to fund various programs of the YWCA. More than $125,000 was raised at the event.

— Maria Saporta

“WCLK At 50” celebration begins with “Great Day in Atlanta” photo

Photo by Prime Phocus/Donna Permell.

Last week, local public radio station Jazz 91.9 WCLK began celebrating its 50th anniversary with a historic photograph.

Inspired by the 1958 “Great Day in Harlem” photo, the station organized the “Great Day in Atlanta,” featuring jazz musicians, WCLK alumni and staff, and President of Clark Atlanta University (CAU) Dr. George French. 

Former mayor Shirley Franklin, Bill Campbell and former Atlanta First Lady Valerie Jackson, representing the late Mayor Maynard Jackson, joined current Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens seated in front of CAU’s Harkness Hall.

“Today marks a significant milestone in the history of WCLK. To gather and capture this momentous occasion with a 50th anniversary photograph with so many dignitaries and jazz artists is overwhelming. We are grateful for everyone who participated and their dedication, passion, and hard work, which has made WCLK the vibrant station it is,” said Wendy Williams, General Manager of WCLK.

The station is slated to host more events for the anniversary celebration, including concerts by jazz greats Jeff Bradshaw, Ken Ford, PJ Spraggins, Kathleen Bertrand, and many others. 

Click here for dates and tickets.

— Allison Joyner

YMCA celebrates Healthy Kids Day

The YMCA of Metro Atlanta recently announced it will host several free community events at 19 YMCA of Metro Atlanta locations on April 20 to celebrate Healthy Kids Day. 

In partnership with Publix Super Markets Charities, Delta Airlines and Gas South, the Y will highlight the importance of children’s mental and physical health and offer fun, educational activities. In addition, the organization will celebrate Community Day and offer free access to Y facilities across metro Atlanta.

“We welcome community members to join us in celebrating Healthy Kids Day and learn more about the importance of improving children’s health and well-being,” said Lauren Koontz, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. “We’re dedicated to keeping people and communities active, healthy and connected and supporting healthy lifestyles for all.”

Click here for more information.

— Derek Prall

The Upper Westside is getting a new trail: ‘The Spur

The Upper Westside Community Improvement District (CID) announced groundbreaking on “The Spur” in early April, which is set to connect multiple destinations in the area.

A rendering of ‘The Spur.’

The Westside Paper Spur Trail, or “The Spur,” is the newest installment in the city’s ever-growing network of trails and alternative transit routes. The trail will span 0.73 miles upon competition and feature a 65-foot bridge to “address steep topography challenges between properties.”

The project is a joint effort between the City of Atlanta, Upper Westside CID and PATH Foundation. Project leaders are excited to continue building out the city’s network of trails.

“We are proud to lead a project that enhances connectivity and delivers on the vision outlined in the Upper Westside Masterplan, “said Elizabeth Hollister, Executive Director of the Upper Westside CID. 

The trail is expected to be completed by May 2025.

— Mark Lannaman

U.S. Secretary of Energy announces millions in funding to communities for clean energy future, including Georgia project

Locations of the new projects.

On Thursday, April 4, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced on Thursday $27 million towards 40 communities across the country to advance the clean energy future. The announcement was made at Georgia Tech during a visit from the secretary, which also included a trip to the Atlanta-University Center. 

The grant money comes from the Energy Future Grants (EFG) Program, which provides financial and technical assistance to clean energy transition efforts working across multiple jurisdictions.

Granholm spoke about the importance of localizing the energy transition. 

“A lasting clean energy transition starts with state, local, and Tribal governments in the driver’s seat, taking the wheel in pursuit of their own unique clean energy strategies,” Granholm said.

One of the largest amounts is going to a Georgia-based project, “EmPOWER Georgia: A Tri-City Alliance for Scalable, Equitable, and Innovative Clean Energy Solution” out of Decatur. The project is listed under the “Power” topic area; other topics include transportation and buildings, with a mixture of 2 or more topics falling under cross-cutting.

— Mark Lannaman

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies of Georgia hosts 50th anniversary celebration, conference

From May 2 to 4, maternal health organization Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA) will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a conference and gala.

The events will be held throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area to honor the collective roots, foster deep connections and drive change among a diverse community of parents, caregivers, healthcare professionals and advocates. 

“Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of our moms, birthers, and babies. Our collective efforts can empower families, create healthier communities, and shape a brighter future for generations to come,” said Ky Lindberg, former CEO of HMHBGA. “Let us unite in celebrating our shared roots while renewing our commitment to empowering the future of Georgia’s families.”

Click here to register for the conference.

— Allison Joyner

H. J. Russell and Company hires Leon Gilbert III as first director of procedures, compliance

Leon Gilbert III.

Earlier this month, real estate and construction firm H. J. Russell and Company announced Senior Project Manager Leon Gilbert III’s promotion to Director of Procedures and Compliance. 

 In his new role, Gilbert is responsible for the strategic planning, execution, and continuous improvement of Russell’s operational processes and procedures, working with various departments to ensure efficiency, consistency, and alignment between compliance goals and business operations for the largest minority-owned development company in the U.S.

“Leon has extensive experience in the many facets of our business, from joint venture projects to marketing and business development, which equips him with the knowledge to define and document the way Russell executes work. Leon will ensure managers have the tools and documents they need to set clear expectations and hold their direct reports accountable,” said Michael Swick, Vice President of Construction for Russell. 

Working at Russell for over 17 years, Gilbert implemented billions of award-winning, private, and public projects nationwide and has experience in a number of business industries, including hospitality, healthcare, criminal justice, corporate government, and wastewater treatment plants.

— Allison Joyner

Gameday Men’s Health opens first Georgia clinic in Buckhead

Gameday Men’s Health, a men’s health care clinic, recently announced the opening of its newest clinic in Buckhead. The facility offers a variety of men’s healthcare services including, advanced testosterone replacement therapy, erectile dysfunction therapy, weight loss solutions, peptide therapies and comprehensive vitamin therapy.

“Our goal with this new clinic is to transform the way men approach their health and wellness,” said Casey Burt, Franchise Administrator of Gameday Men’s Health Buckhead. “We provide thoughtful, personalized care that empowers our patients to lead healthier and more satisfying lives. Through innovative treatment approaches and ongoing support, we strive to make a lasting impact on our patients’ well-being.” 

— Derek Prall

Arts and crafts featured during Chamblee Art Fest

On April 20 and 21, the city of Chamblee will host the Chamblee Art Fest, which features over 100 artisans and makers. 

The section of Peachtree Road between American Way and Miller Drive will be filled with paintings, folk art, culinary treats, woodworking, candles and other art mediums will be on sale with food trucks, music and a children’s area to enjoy. 

Click here for sponsorship information, directions and volunteer opportunities.

— Allison Joyner

Recent SCAD grads win big at student Emmys 

Left to right: Abigail Dickinson and Halle Losordo accepting their award. (Photo provided by SCAD.)

Last weekend, the Television Academy Foundation honored two Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) graduates during its 43rd College Television Awards ceremony.

Film and television majors Abigail Dickison and Halle Losordo wrote, directed, and produced their short documentary film “Just Jacob,” which won the Loreen Arbus Focus on Disability Scholarship Award, which honors emerging artists with disabilities. 

The film follows SCAD alumni Jacob Theile, who has a genetic disorder called Treacher-Collins Syndrome, which affects the development of facial bones and tissues, everyday life with friends and family and the challenges he deals with daily. 

“Our film is a reminder that life is more complex and more beautiful than outward appearances. I want to thank SCAD president and founder Paula Walllace and all my incredible professors for helping me make my dreams come true. They are always encouraging us to collaborate with students in other majors and tell important stories,” Losordo said.

Click here to watch the trailer.

— Allison Joyner

Emory announces Morehouse School of Medicine President to deliver commencement address

Valerie Montgomery Rice.

Last month, Emory University announced its commencement ceremony will be held on May 13. Valerie Montgomery Rice, President and CEO of Morehouse School of Medicine, will be the keynote speaker. 

Rice, who completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at its medical school, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the institution that day. 

“Dr. Montgomery Rice’s achievements as a groundbreaking physician-scientist and university leader inspire so many in our great city and beyond,” said Gregory L. Fenves, president of Emory. “During her time as president and CEO, the Morehouse School of Medicine has flourished, solidifying its reputation as a powerhouse in the advancement of health equity. I cannot wait to welcome Dr. Montgomery Rice back to campus so we can present her with an honorary degree and hear her inspiring words and reflections.”

— Allison Joyner

Bill Rogers speaks at Rotary

Bill Rogers and Katie Saez at the Rotary Club of Atlanta on April 15. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

It was a bit like coming home when Truist CEO Bill Rogers came to speak to the Rotary Club of Atlanta on April 15.

Rogers used to live and work in Atlanta when he was CEO of SunTrust. But when SunTrust merged with BB&T of North Carolina, Rogers moved to the combined bank’s new corporate headquarters in Charlotte.

But it was clear many people still view Rogers as a fellow Atlantan given his reception at Rotary, where he was questioned by Katie Saez, Truist’s regional president for Truist.

The two discussed purpose, with Rogers saying his personal purpose “is taking care of my corner” and making sure his “corner is better because I was there.”

Rogers also said that “the real magic happens” when personal purpose intersects with business purpose. 

Saez asked Rogers about how he views downtown Atlanta, which will be hosting the College Football Playoff National Championship in 2025 and the FIFA World Cup in 2026, both at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Atlanta has all the physical assets that every city would want — hotel rooms, Mercedes-Benz Stadium…,” Rogers said. “The challenge will be how do we bring all that together, how do we have Atlanta be the live, work and play” community that is inclusive with a high quality of life.

For starters, Rogers said it’s important for people to get back to work in their offices.

“You have to work downtown and get back to work in the office. We are committed to doing that. We want our people to be physically present,” Rogers said, adding that Georgia is still the largest business base for the bank — with 8,000 employees — despite being headquartered in Charlotte.

When it comes to philanthropic contributions, Saez said that at the time of the merger in 2019, the new bank pledged to double its respective investments in both individual institutions over the next three years. 

“Not only did we meet that, but we exceeded that,” Saez said.

— Maria Saporta

ISB Atlanta and Mayor Dickens mark Eid

Dignitaries gather at the Mayor’s Eid event on April 16 with Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens standing next to Soumaya Khalifa, founder of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

The Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta gathered at Atlanta’s City Hall April 16 to mark the end of Ramadan (a few days late) in a celebration of the city’s diversity.

Soumaya Khalifa, ISB’s founder, has spent the past 23 years working to build bridges between the various faiths and ethnic groups in Atlanta.

Dickens joined in the festivities after performances by Amira and Alif Institute Tabla Drummers. Usually, ISB gathers annually at the atrium of Atlanta’s City Hall for Iftar, the evening meal that breaks the fast for Muslims observing Ramadan. But this was the first Eid event ISB has held.

— Maria Saporta

NCCHR lifts up Brown v. Board of Education

Performers of the play ‘Courageous Steps’ at the Eastern on April 17 benefiting the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. (Photo by Kelly Jordan.)

At its annual Power to Inspire fundraising event, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights used theater and entertainment to enlighten attendees about the importance of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision 70 years ago.

The Supreme Court decision did away with the notion of “separate but equal” in public education. The play “Courageous Steps,” written and directed by Nikki Toombs, tells the story in a riveting way, taking current-day students through the historical journey.

At the end of the show, held at the Eastern, the young actors walked off stage to honor the living legends of people who had fought for the integration of public schools.

Egbert Perry, the new chairman of NCCHR succeeding former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, said how proud he was to be leading the organization, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in June.

Jill Savitt, the Center’s president and CEO, highlighted photos of the expansion that’s underway – adding that $52 million has been raised. 

“We have $4 million left to go,” she said.

Comedian Roy Wood Jr. entertained the crowd in an opening performance that took a few shots at Atlanta.

“This is the only traffic I’ve been in where you have to pack a snack,” Wood said.

— Maria Saporta

Carl Anthony is named new Voice of the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Carl Anthony.

This year Atlanta Jazz Festival audiences will be greeted by the festival’s new voice, Carl Anthony. He’ll host the free festival in Piedmont Park over Memorial Day Weekend, May 25 to 27. 

“Carl has been a friend and supporter of the Atlanta Jazz Festival for more than 30 years,” said Camille Russel Love, Executive Director of the City of Atlanta – Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “His extensive experience as an on-air host and his wealth of knowledge about jazz make him the ideal person to be the voice of the Atlanta Jazz Festival. We look forward to officially welcoming him to the family this year in Piedmont Park.” 

The city shares that music has always been a big part of Carl’s life. He grew up in a household filled with jazz and Broadway soundtracks. During the Sixties he was listening to music emerging from Detroit, Philadelphia, Muscle Shoals, New York, and London, much of it driven by romance and the counterculture that birthed protest songs influenced by the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.

— Derek Prall

Judy Adler named director of GEFA’s Water Resources Division

Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) Executive Director Hunter Hill announced that Judy Adler has been selected as the new Water Resources Division director, effective April 16.

GEFA’s Water Resources Division supports the development of water, wastewater, and solid waste infrastructure projects, which help protect the environment, facilitate economic development, accommodate population growth and safeguard public health.

Prior to joining GEFA, Adler served as vice president, head of global sustainability for Gap Inc., a global company including the Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy brands. She also served as president of the Gap Foundation. Adler directed corporate strategy and operations for environmental sustainability and social impact with a focus on water stewardship, clean energy and climate solutions, women’s empowerment, enabling opportunity, responsible sourcing, corporate giving, environmental policy and ESG reporting.

— Derek Prall

Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta announces $55 million available through 2024 Affordable Housing Program General Fund

Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLBank Atlanta) announced today that it will accept applications for its 2024 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) General Fund round starting June 27, 2024, through July 29, 2024. FHLBank Atlanta is making a record amount available since the program’s inception in 1990 — approximately $55 million — and applicants may apply for up to $1 million in grant funding per project to support the acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of multifamily and single-family housing.

“Each year, the General Fund provides an opportunity for financial institutions to work with for-profit and nonprofit developers and community partners to improve access to affordable housing,” said FHLBank Atlanta President and CEO Kirk Malmberg. “The FHLBank System’s AHP General Fund is one of the largest sources of private funding for affordable housing in the country and our grants make a considerable impact within the communities across our district.”

FHLBank Atlanta will host a series of webinars for member financial institutions and the developer community, offering training on the application process. Webinar information and registration is available on the FHLBank Atlanta website. Sponsors and developers must work with a FHLBank Atlanta member financial institution to complete and submit the online application by the July 29 application deadline. Nonprofit, for-profit, and local government sponsors and developers can learn more by reviewing the AHP Implementation Plan for application guidelines and requirements.

— Derek Prall


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