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Published on January 28th, 2016 |

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Buckhead Coalition holds ‘diverse’ 27th annual ‘fellowship’ meeting

The small but influential Buckhead Coalition civic organization held its 27th annual luncheon meeting—appropriately on Wednesday Jan. 27—attracting 180 of the top business, civic and political leaders to what was dubbed “more for fellowship than reciting the year’s achievements.”

Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell, left, talks with Buckhead Community Improvement District board chair David Allman before the lunch.

Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell, left, talks with Buckhead Community Improvement District board chair David Allman before the lunch.

In addition to the Atlanta mayor and Fulton County Commission chairman, the entire Atlanta City Council, the majority of the Fulton Commission and Atlanta Board of Education, plus several legislative members, were among the elected officials present, as were a number of foreign consuls located in Buckhead.

In his introduction of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to briefly address the audience, Coalition president and former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell quipped, “You have the full City Council here Mr. Mayor, in case you have a particular piece of business you would like to get done today.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, left, featured speaker Paulette Brown and Coalition President Sam Massell pose for photos at end of luncheon.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, left, featured speaker Paulette Brown and Coalition President Sam Massell pose for photos at end of luncheon.

Reed thanked the Coalition for inviting him to the Buckhead event, which was held at 103 West special events facility, and thanked Buckhead for its “many contributions since becoming part of the city” through annexation. (He did not make clear if he was talking about the 45 percent of the city’s property tax revenues that come from Buckhead.)

Reed, who is in the last year of his second term, said Massell demonstrates “there’s no such thing as retirement for mayors” and praised Buckhead Coalition for assisting in getting through his “toughest summer” in dealing with a spike in local crime. “The point is that we hear you,” he said.

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves, who was given a few minutes to bring greetings from the county, “Thanked Buckhead for its advocacy role. The drumbeat to create a new Milton County has gone away,” he said crediting Buckhead leadership.

Left to right, Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling and board chair Bob Stoner with Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris.

Left to right, Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling and board chair Bob Stoner with Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris.

Eaves spoke about Fulton mayors joining in regional planning for transportation and transit improvements. “I think you’re going to see something miraculous this year” as they collaborate on a possible transportation SPLOST funding package to send to voters, he said.

(BuckheadView had previously been told that the one mayor who has not been attending the planning and work sessions has been Mayor Reed.)

While Massell had said the annual luncheon was “more for fellowship than reciting the year’s achievements,” Reed and Eaves both had to boast of their budget reserves. Eaves won that battle with $155 million as compared to Reed’s $150 million.

Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves addresses those attending the lunch.

Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves addresses those attending the lunch.

The brief addresses by the two African-American local government leaders was a fitting into to the keynote address by Paulette Brown, President of the American Bar Association from Washington, D.C, who spoke on the importance of diversity and inclusion in business and all walks of life.

Mayor Massell complimented Brown as “newsworthy by her very presence” as America’s number one private practice attorney, as a member of the 1,000-lawyer international firm of Locke Lord LLP. In return, Brown complimented the Coalition on the diversification of its meeting list.

“It’s good to know that you bring together private and public concerns, because nothing can be done by one without the other,” she stated.

Brown, who has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of “The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America”, created the

Atlanta Historical Society President Sheffield Hale and Buckhead Historical Society Executive Director Erica Danylchak discuss an issue before the meeting.

Atlanta History Center President Sheffield Hale and Buckhead Historical Society Executive Director Erica Danylchak discuss an issue before the meeting.

American Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Commission.

Saying she likes to reach out to young people regarding dealing with the issues of diversity and inclusion and reaching potentials, Brown said, “We need to start with the kindergartens” engraining in the youth “there is something better than the school to prison pipeline.”

The annual lunch meeting, as it does every year, ended on time, but not before five new members were elected to three-year terms on the Coalition’s board.

The new members are Russ Brockelbank, regional manager of DPR Hardin Construction; Jack Cay, president and CEO of Palmer & Cay, LLC; Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center; Ray Padrón, managing partner of Brightworth, LLC, and Jonathan Rodbell, partner and co-founder of Atlanta Property Group, LLC.

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