2013 Advisory Board


Stacey Abrams

Stacey AbramsStacey Y. Abrams is State Representative for the 84th House District of the Georgia General Assembly, where she serves on the following committees: Code Revision, Defense & Veterans Affairs, Judiciary Non-Civil and Ways & Means. She is also Campaign Committee Chair for the House Democratic Caucus. Stacey is the CEO of SageWorks, LLC, a legal advisory firm and serves as General Counsel for the Atlanta Dream WNBA professional basketball team. She is also the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the Insomnia Group, a firm specializing in development, investment and consulting for complex infrastructure projects. Stacey co-founded and serves as COO of Nourish, Inc., a beverage company with a focus on infants and toddlers. Formerly, Stacey was Deputy City Attorney for the City of Atlanta. Prior to her tenure at the City, she was Special Counsel at the Sutherland Asbill & Brennan law firm in Atlanta, with a focus on tax-exempt organizations, health care and public finance.

Stacey is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Next Generation Fellow of the American Assembly, an American Marshall Memorial Fellow and an alumnus of the Leadership Georgia, Leadership Atlanta and the Regional Leadership Institute. She also served as a Georgia delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. She has received the Stevens Award for Outstanding Legal Contributions and the Elmer Staats Award for Public Service, both national honors presented by the Harry S. Truman Foundation. In 2008, she was honored as a Champion for Georgia Cities by the Georgia Municipal Association, and as Going for the Goal Woman of the Year. She received the Georgia Legislative Service Award by the Association County Commissioners Georgia, the Democratic Legislator of the Year by the Young Democrats of Georgia, and an Environmental Leader Award from the Georgia Conservation Voters for her legislative service in 2009. She has been recognized for outstanding legislative performance as an Arnie Award recipient from Creative Loafing for 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Stacey was inducted into the Academy of Women Achievers by the YWCA of Metro Atlanta in 2010. She was chosen in January 2005 by Atlanta Woman magazine as one of its “25 Power Women to Watch.” In addition, she was selected for Georgia Trend’s “40 Under 40” list of young Georgia leaders and for the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Top 50 Under 40” list of metro-Atlanta young leaders in 2004. In 2005 and 2006, she was noted as one of Georgia’s Rising Super Lawyers by Atlanta Magazine and Law & Politics Magazine. This follows recognition in 2003 as one of 16 “legal phenoms” by the Fulton County Daily Report, and as one of ten Outstanding Young Atlantans for 2002. In December 2001, she was featured as one of the “30 Leaders of the Future” for Ebony Magazine. Stacey was selected as a Salzburg Seminar Fellow by the international organization for her work in youth development and civic participation in 2000 and as a Freeman Fellow on U.S.-East Asian Relations in 2002. She is also a 1994 Harry S. Truman Scholar.

She has published articles on issues of public policy, taxation and nonprofit organizations, including pieces with The American Prospect, The Christian Science Monitor, Yale Law and Policy Review, and the Southern University Law Review. She is also an editor of and contributor to the acclaimed project Content of Our Character: Voices of Generation X-Collected Essays on Ethical Leadership in the 21st Century. Stacey has taught courses on law and social policy at Yale University and Spelman College. Under the pen name Selena Montgomery, Stacey is the award-winning author of several romantic suspense novels, which have sold more than 100,000 copies.

Stacey currently serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Joseph’s Health System, the Board of Visitors for Agnes Scott College, the Boards of Directors for Literacy Action and the Gateway Center for the Homeless. She is a member of the advisory boards of Branan Towers Senior Facility of Wesley Woods Foundation and HSTAT—Health Students Taking Action Together.

Stacey received her J.D. from the Yale Law School. She graduated from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin with an M.P.Aff. in public policy. She earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Political Science, Economics and Sociology) from Spelman College, magna cum laude.


David Bakelman

David BakelmanDavid Bakelman began serving as President of the Magic Wand Foundation in September, 2011. David is responsible for providing the overall strategic direction and execution of programs and services to the Magic Wand Foundation, an international youth empowerment charity serving youth in over 24 countries.
Previously, David served as national CEO of StandUp For Kids, a nonprofit serving homeless youth in 47 cities throughout the United States. Prior to StandUp For Kids, David served as the Executive Director of Georgia Transplant Foundation, the largest human service organization in the country that provides financial assistance and advocacy to the organ transplant community.
David built his nonprofit career with the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta as Vice President of Resource Development. David was responsible for the 4th largest United Way fundraising effort in the country, leading an $80 million annual fundraising campaign. Under David's leadership, over one quarter of a billion dollars was raised for distribution to health and human service programs in Atlanta.
Prior to his work with the United Way, David served as Vice President for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Vice President with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and worked at Hillside Hospital, a residential treatment facility for emotionally disturbed children.
David also consults with start-up nonprofits helping them take their organizations to "scale". He also has expertise in events to increase brand awareness including charitable fundraisers with actor/producer Robert Redford, Grammy award winner Zac Brown Band, future Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine, NFL player Keith Brooking and others.
David holds a Masters of Social Work Degree from Florida State University and a Bachelor's Degree from Eckerd College.


Glenn Carver

Glenn CarverGlenn Carver is the Chief Entrepreneurial Officer of HEAT Ventures, LLC, a media production company designed to inspire people worldwide to realize their greatest potential through his speaking, writing, television production and online information products.

In February 2010, Glenn was inspired to write his first book on entrepreneurship called "Stand in the Heat – Lessons from Legendary Entrepreneurs on Staying Cool under Pressure". Stand in the HEAT is a survival guide for entrepreneurs and it is Glenn's personal mission to empower today's entrepreneurs with inspiration and strategies for long-term success.

Stand in the HEAT received early praise from personal development legend, Brian Tracy who said, "This could be one of the most important books ever written." Glenn was recently interviewed by Inc. Magazine on how a corporation can cultivate the "entrepreneurial spirit" within its ranks.


Juan Casimiro

Juan CasimiroJuan P. Casimiro is considered one of the nation's leading experts on youth empowerment and personal achievement. Over the past 21 years he has taught, mentored and coached 125,000 students plus thousands of teachers and parents through interactive, high-energy workshops that deliver lifelong lessons. Juan has delivered programs on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, sustainability and youth success throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. He has co-authored several books including "Making It! A Teen's Guide to Turning Your Hobbies, Skills and Dreams into Entrepreneurial Success". His accomplishments and those of his students have been featured in a variety of media including CNN, NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Juan's work has been featured in 8 US Embassies and at leading universities such as USC, Columbia, and Harvard in addition to leading international institutions. He holds a Masters Degree in Education and began his career as a special education teacher in New York City.


Watch the Class of 2012 Induction Event into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame - Juan Casimiro


Lara Hodgson

Lara HodgsonLara co-founded Nourish Inc, shortly after becoming a mom. As a serial entrepreneur and a motivational speaker on innovation, she saw a need for products to address the fact that moms and kids have busy, on-the-go lives and decided to do something about it. Nourish is a brand dedicated to bringing nutrition, safety and convenience to young children and their families. Nourish introduced its first products, Nourish Baby – a formula-ready bottled water for babies (just add formula, shake, serve and recycle) and Nourish Toddler - a spill-proof bottled water for toddlers this summer in airports, hotels, entertainment venues and retail outlets in the Southeast.

Lara is also the co-founder and CEO of Insomnia, LLC, an Atlanta-based firm specializing in investment, development and management of complex and innovative “world-changing” projects. Current work is focused on finding solutions for and funding large scale infrastructure projects globally. Lara has developed a white paper on the state of global infrastructure and the impending shift in the global balance of power. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on innovative thinking that can reshape our infrastructure and our communities.

Prior to founding Insomnia, Lara spent 5 years at Dewberry Capital Corporation, an Atlanta-based commercial real estate development and investment firm, where she served as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Operating Officer, overseeing development, sales & leasing, property management and marketing.

Prior to joining Dewberry Capital, Lara was the Executive Vice President of Dunk, a performance footwear and apparel manufacturing/retail company built on the concept of mass customization and founded with Shaquille O’Neal & Mike Piazza. She built the operations, IT and sales & marketing groups and worked with the product development team in Los Angeles and the manufacturing team in Macao.

Prior to joining Dunk, Lara was the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Retail and Consumer Products Division of iXL (now Scient), an Internet strategy and consulting firm. She founded the division in 1999 and built it into one of the top performing groups within iXL. The group operated across 26 offices worldwide with clients such as The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Virgin, Nike, Finish Line and Kenneth Cole. She joined iXL in June 1998 as the Vice President of Operations Strategy, where she successfully developed and launched the company’s iD5 methodology.

Lara is an internationally recognized speaker & facilitator, leading seminars on creativity, diversity & innovation. Internationally, Lara has worked in Koriyama, Japan with the U.S. Defense Department’s EAGLE Japan Program and served as the Ambassador to Lebanon for the 1996 Olympic Games.

Lara received an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a BS in Aerospace Engineering with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She was featured in USA Today as one of the top 20 students in the US and was the ODK National Leader of the Year in 1993. Lara was a scholarship member of the varsity Track & Field team at Georgia Tech.

Lara has served on many public and private Boards including: Flag Bank, Central Atlanta Progress, Georgia Tech’s Alexander Tharpe Fund, Society of International Business Fellows, ULI – Atlanta, GoGirlGo Atlanta and HERO for Children. Lara is a member of the Leadership Georgia Class of 2005 and the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2004. Lara teaches Real Estate Finance as an adjunct professor in Georgia Tech’s MBA Program. Lara was recently appointed by the Governor of Georgia to serve on the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) Board and the Transit Planning Board, and she was recently honored by the Georgia Tech Athletic Association with the Total Person Alumnus Award and by the Georgia Tech Women in Engineering as the Alumnus of the Year. She is a member of the Georgia Tech Young Alumni Hall of Fame.


Watch the Class of 2012 Induction Event into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame - Lara Hodgson 


A.J. Robinson

A.J. RobinsonA.J. Robinson is President of Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID). CAP, a private business association started in 1941, remains one of the most effective advocacy organizations in the city. CAP has created and spun off a number of organizations such as Trees Atlanta, Research Atlanta, COPA, Inc. and the Midtown Alliance. In 1995, CAP created the ADID and the Ambassador Force® of downtown to address public safety and cleaning concerns.

In his role, he manages the overall strategic functions of the organizations which are designed to make the Atlanta community and specifically Downtown, more livable, vital and diverse. Key initiatives focus on economic development, planning, public safety, sidewalk environment, transportation, events and overall marketing of Downtown Atlanta. CAP is funded through membership dues and grants from many of Atlanta's major corporations, as well as organizations and foundations committed to the development of downtown.

Robinson has guided the organizations in accomplishments that include the passage of public space vending legislation, the creation of a City wide anti-panhandling program, the continuing revitalization of Woodruff Park, securing more than $80 million in New Market Tax Credits for Downtown projects in partnership with the Atlanta Development Authority, the successful passage of new legislation involving tax allocation districts Statewide, and the creation of the Atlanta Dream, a WNBA team. In addition, he has directed the private side of a public/private partnership with former Mayor Shirley Franklin to advance the building of the Center for Civil and Human Rights, commissioned the development of the “Green Line”(an aspirational plan for the future growth of the real estate corridor between the State Capitol and the Georgia World Congress Center), and the creation of a permanent tribute to former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young. CAP recently began a new initiative titled “GeorgiaForward,” a statewide movement designed to help bridge the gap between the regions of Georgia.

The former President of Portman Holdings, he was responsible for all activities of this multi-dimensional real estate company with offices in Atlanta, Charlotte, Shanghai and Warsaw. During his 22-year career with Portman, he managed all aspects of real estate development process, including identification of new opportunities, securing financing, design, construction, marketing, acquisition, property management, and asset management. Various projects included property and asset management of SunTrust Plaza, a $400 million multi-use urban development in the heart of downtown Atlanta. Other assets included the AmericasMart, Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, Westin Charlotte, Westin Warsaw and Shanghai Centre.

He had primary responsibility for development of Shanghai Centre, a US$200 million multi-use facility in downtown Shanghai, when completed in 1990 was one of the largest foreign investment projects in the People's Republic of China (PRC). In his over 20-year career with Portman, he worked on projects in China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Egypt, Israel, Austria, Brazil, India, Poland, Russia, Hong Kong, South Africa, the United Kingdom and most major US cities.

From June 1980 to January 1981, he participated in the U.S. Department of Commerce's historic creation of China's first business school under the protocol signed by President Jimmy Carter and the Chinese Department of Education.  During that time, he researched, wrote and taught case studies in Dalian, China, and traveled extensively throughout the Chinese cities.

A 1980 graduate of Harvard School of Business, he received a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. With high distinction, he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in June 1977 from Emory University.

A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, he is married to Dr. Nicole Ellerine, a pediatrician, and they reside in Atlanta with their children Micaela, Ethan and Nathaniel.


Scott Shickler

Scott ShicklerShickler is founder and CEO of Magic Wand Foundation, and the founder and CEO of Excent Corporation – a multi-million dollar company that specializes in No Child Left Behind software used in school districts in more than 20 states. During his 20 years as an entrepreneur, he has created seven businesses, all connected to youth empowerment and improvement. Scott is considered one of the world's leading experts on youth empowerment and has personally taught over 20,000 students and 10,000 teachers the art of personal achievement. In the late 1980s, Scott was an early pioneer as Vice President of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and in the early 1990s he founded Educational Designs that Generate Excellence (EDGE) where he coached youth in the art of entrepreneurship. In the late 1990's, Scott helped Young Entrepreneur Magazine grow to a circulation of over one million, in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation. Scott has a business degree from Fordham University in NYC, where he founded the Fordham Entrepreneurs' Club. He is married and the father of two children.


Watch the Class of 2012 Induction Event into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame - Scott Shickler


Doug Shipman

Doug ShipmenDoug Shipman is currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR). Doug was most recently a Principal in the Atlanta office of the Boston Consulting Group. He is the founding Executive Director and has been with the Center since the inception of the project in 2005. He also serves on the Boards of Easter Seals North Georgia, the Butler Street YMCA and the Emory Alumni Association.

Doug has been featured in articles in Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, Business To Business, Southern Voice as well as other publications across the Southeast. He was named one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “40 Under 40” in 2008, one of Georgia Trend’s “40 Under 40” in 2009 and received the New Leaders Council 40 Under 40 award in 2010.

Doug has an extensive educational background in issues of race, ethnicity and gender including the relationship between economics and poverty, the history of American minority groups and religion as applied in social movements including the American Civil Rights movement, the Indian independence movement and the Buddhist environmental movement in Southeast Asia. He has guest lectured at several institutions including Duke, Georgia State, Emory and Bard Colleges.

Doug has an MPP (Master of Public Policy) from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with an emphasis on domestic politics; an MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from the Harvard Divinity School with an emphasis on religion in public situations and politics and a bachelor’s degree with High Honors from Emory University with majors in Economics and Political Science. He is married to Dr. Bijal Shah.


Ken Stewart

Ken StewartMr. Stewart was named the Senior Advisor of Industry Strategy at Georgia Tech in July, 2010. Previously, he was appointed the Commissioner, Georgia Department of Economic Development, by Governor Sonny Perdue in January 2007. As chief marketing officer for the state of Georgia, he led Georgia’s efforts to recruit new businesses and expand existing ones; grow the state’s tourism, international trade and entertainment industries; and support the growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs. He joined state government in September 2004, when he was appointed director of the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC).

Mr. Stewart spent the majority of his career in private industry. He served as vice president of Unisource Worldwide, Inc., where he led the company's south-central sales and distribution division in addition to its retail stores and specialty manufacturing businesses. He also held several management positions at Georgia-Pacific, including director of enterprise development, senior director of strategic planning and analysis of G-P's distribution division, and director of state and local taxes. Mr. Stewart also worked for Weyerhaeuser Company and Mississippi Power & Light.

Mr. Stewart is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, holding a Juris Doctorate from the Woodrow Wilson College of Law in Atlanta. He earned a B.S. in Business and a B.S. in Forestry from Mississippi State University. Mr. Stewart also served as a company commander in the Army National Guard.

Present affiliations include the American Forest Foundation (Treasurer), CDC Foundation’s Atlanta Advisory Council, Georgia Council of International Visitors Board, Georgia Regional Transit Authority Board and the Board of Directors of the Langdale Company. Previously he was the Board of Directors Chair for the Georgia Centers of Innovation, the Georgia Tourism Foundation, the Georgia Justice Project and Governor Perdue’s Growing Georgia Cluster group of state agency heads. He was also on the boards of the OneGeorgia Authority, the Georgia Historical Society, the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Development Authority, Georgia Tech’s Advisory Board, the Governor's Energy Policy Council, State Water Council, Land Conservation Council and the Employee Benefit Plan Council.


Jeff Waller

Jeff WallerJeff Waller is a leading visionary on youth achievement. He has dedicated the last decade to learning and understanding the critical elements that define high achievers. With more than 10 years consulting to the world's leading technology, financial services, and healthcare companies, he understands how the application of these success principles differentiate people both personally and professionally. Jeff has assisted Hewlett Packard, Chase Manhattan Bank, Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Investments, General Electric and Amoco Oil with technology and strategic plans. In the last seven years as COO of Global Education Technologies, Jeff has worked with over 5,000 children assisting them in understanding and appreciating their uniqueness, learning to take action on their dreams, taking risks and learning from setbacks, and maintaining a positive mental attitude about themselves, others and their futures. He is currently co-authoring a book on assisting children in the development of successful life habits. Jeff holds a degree from The Georgia Institute of Technology. He is married and the father of three children.


Watch the Class of 2012 Induction Event into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame - Jeff Waller



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