You'd be surprised! Now in it's 29th year, the JA Atlanta Business Hall of Fame has honored leaders from virtually all sectors. Check out the full spread of our laureates below to find out who makes up this influential and diverse bunch.
Junior Achievement (JA) of Georgia and Atlanta Business Chronicle (ABC) are pleased to announce Frank Blake, Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Home Depot, and Dan T. Cathy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Chick-fil-A Inc., will be inducted into the JA Atlanta Business Hall of Fame on Saturday, February 24, 2018. They will join the list of 91 influential Atlantans recognized for their significant contributions to Atlanta’s civic and economic vibrancy.
Since 1989, the JA Atlanta Business Hall of Fame, a black-tie gala to benefit JA of Georgia, has been held to honor dynamic business and civic leaders who have shaped Atlanta into the robust city it is today.
Frank Blake’s tenure at The Home Depot began in 2002, and shortly thereafter he found himself, like many other leaders, guiding a large company through the worst recession in decades. He dedicated hours and capital back to the basics of any business: his employees and the products they sold. These ended up being the investments that helped bring The Home Depot out of the recession at an even better position than before it. Prior to being Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Home Depot during those tumultuous years, Blake served extensively in the public sector. Blake obtained his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, and his jurisprudence degree from Columbia University School of Law, then spent time as the general counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the deputy counsel to Vice President George Bush, and law clerk to Justice Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, Blake is involved with many companies and organizations, including the Georgia Aquarium, Proctor & Gamble, Macy’s, Grady Hospital and Agnes Scott College.
As CEO of one of the nation's largest family owned businesses, Dan Cathy represents the next generation of leadership for Chick-fil-A, the Atlanta-based fast-food chicken restaurant chain founded by his father, S. Truett Cathy. Dan has been defining his role in “customer service” for more than 40 years – even before officially joining Chick-fil-A in 1970. Eager to incorporate his own skills and talents into the business, Dan has taken an unconventional, yet personally and professionally rewarding approach to leadership. Under his leadership, Chick-fil-A has experienced tremendous growth — not just in numbers of restaurants and sales, but also geographically with explorations into international expansion. At home, Cathy is first and foremost a family man. He and his wife Rhonda enjoy time with their two adult sons and three grandchildren. As a musician, pilot, avid runner, road cyclist and motorcyclist, Dan is always looking for the next opportunity to share a “REMARK”able experience with friends, family, and customers.
The JA Atlanta Business Hall of Fame will feature a cocktail reception, silent auction, seated dinner and Laureate Induction Ceremony. This year’s gala will be held at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead. Proceeds from the event will benefit JA of Georgia and their efforts to empower the next generation with the knowledge, capacity and motivation to thrive; to build a better future for themselves and their community.
Junior Achievement (JA) of Georgia inducted Paul Bowers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Power, and Larry Gellerstedt, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cousins Properties into the Junior Achievement Atlanta Business Hall of Fame on Sat., Feb. 27, 2016 at the InterContinental Hotel Buckhead. Nearly 700 guests were in attendance to honor Bowers and Gellerstedt as they joined the ranks of 87 influential Atlantans who hold a spot in the hall of fame for their significant contributions to Atlanta’s civic and economic vibrancy.
Since 1989, the JA Atlanta Business Hall of Fame has been held to honor dynamic business and civic leaders who have shaped Atlanta into the vibrant city it is today. This year’s event broke records raising more than $750,000 to support JA of Georgia and its efforts to equip the next generation with the confidence and understanding to take control of their futures.
Paul Bowers has been an influential part of the Southern Company and the Atlanta community for nearly four decades, and his 36 year career with Southern Company has taken him throughout the country and world. He began at Gulf Power in 1979, and has held various leadership positions within the company since. From Chief Financial Officer to President of Southern Company Generation, he went on to become the CEO of Southern Power before being named president and CEO of the company’s former U.K. subsidiary. Through these roles, Bowers has played an integral role in shaping the progress and success of Southern Company. He is the chair for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Chairman of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation, and serves on the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and multiple other boards throughout the state. Today as Chairman, President and CEO of Georgia Power since 2011, Bowers’ leadership continues to be marked by notable contributions to the company and community.
Larry Gellerstedt’s career has spanned more than 35 years and various industries, and his commitment to his community has only deepened over that time. Gellerstedt’s career of leadership began young; at 26 he founded and became president of BCB, a Beers Construction Company (Beers) subsidiary that was focused on the healthcare industry. He went on to grow the company to revenues of more than $1.2 billion before selling and shifting his focus to real estate. In 2009, Gellerstedt was named President and CEO of Cousins Properties after joining the company in 2005. His start at Beers in 1978 laid the ground work for a successful and diversified career that has spanned more than 30 years with numerous leading roles across businesses and local organizations. From Founder and Past Chair of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, to Chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Gellerstedt has played an active role in shaping the philanthropic and civic landscape of the metro area.
The night was marked by many memorable moments, including the keynote speech from Mitchell Alvarado, the math teacher at the JA-MBA at Banneker High School. Alvarado shared moving stories of student discoveries and transformations that have already taken place, as well as the development of the new culture that is building within the program.
“You are truly giving these kids hope when there was none,” said Alvarado. “This is not just educating, this is saving their lives. The role you are playing with JA is truly impacting the future of my students, their community, your career force, and is transforming the system of education.”