2016 Board of Directors
A.J. Robinson is President of Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID). CAP is a private business association started in 1941, and remains one of the most effective advocacy organizations in the city. ADID represents downtown property owners who invest in public safety operations and capital projects in the area. Robinson manages the overall strategic functions of CAP and ADID, two organizations committed to making the Atlanta community and specifically Downtown, more livable, vital and diverse. Before joining CAP, Robinson was President of the multi-dimensional real estate company Portman Holdings, where he managed all aspects of the firm’s real estate development processes, including development, property management, and asset management.
In recent years, Robinson has had a hand in the creation of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the College Football Hall of Fame, and the new Atlanta Streetcar. CAP is also involved in the redevelopment of Underground Atlanta, the Civic Center, and other major urban initiatives.
Robinson’s articles have been published in The Wall Street Journal, Asian Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Atlanta Business Chronicle, and National Real Estate Investor. He currently serves as on the Board of AmericasMart and the TUFF Foundation. Over the past decade, A.J. has consistently been recognized as one of Georgia Trend’s 100 Most Influential Georgians, as well as one of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 100 Most Influential Atlantans’.
Benjamin Andrews worked as the Community Development Director for his hometown of Americus, Georgia. Ben has been active outside of work as well. While in Americus he served as President of the Board of Directors for the New Horizons Habitat for Humanity Affiliate, and as a member of the Boards of Directors for Sumter Cycling, and the Americus Rotary Club. He was also a member of the inaugural GeorgiaForward Young Gamechangers class in 2012. Since moving back to Atlanta in January of 2016, he has worked as a volunteer with the United Way, Atlanta Junior Achievers, and as a member of the Innovation in Education Workgroup for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Ben has a B.S. in Business Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and an MBA from Georgia Southwestern State University. He currently lives in Chamblee with his wife, Casey, and their two dogs.
Bill Bolling served as Founder and Executive Director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank from 1979 to 2015. In this capacity, he oversaw the distribution of millions of pounds of food and grocery products each year through a network of more than 600 local and regional partner nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry across 29 Georgia counties. As a charter member of Feeding America, the national network of food banks, Bill was instrumental in the start-up of food banks across the country. He is a frequent speaker on topics related to hunger, poverty, regionalism, affordable housing and public policy reform. Prior to his association with ACFB, he served as director of community ministries for St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Georgia Trend Magazine named Bill their 2012 Georgian of the Year, and in January 2015, he joined Georgia Trend’s Most Influential Hall of Fame. His recent awards include the 2015 Dan Sweat Award presented by Central Atlanta Progress, the 2015 Heroes, Saints and Legends Award presented by the Foundation of Wesley Woods, the 2014 Award for Distinguished Service presented by the Atlanta Business League, and the 2009 Beacon of Light Award presented by BoardWalk Consulting.
On June 1, 1972, Amanda Brown-Olmstead founded a full-service public relations firm to serve clients in the Southeast. Before long, her firm had grown to be the largest independent organization of its type in the Atlanta market, with client services spanning local to international programs. Today the full service agency serves such clients as The Georgia Ports Authority, Hannah Solar, CEA Fresh Foods, Chancellor’s House (a new hotel brand), the Beltline Partnership, The Epsten Group, and Ocean Exchange.
Ann W. Cramer is a Senior Consultant with Coxe Curry & Associates after retiring from a career at the IBM Corporation, where she was its Director for IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs for the Americas. Ann’s commitment to and involvement with children and youth has been a lifelong journey. In support of those priority faith and focus areas, Ann chairs the ARC Educated SubCommittee, and serves on the boards of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, the Metro Atlanta Chamber Education Committee, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development and the Georgia Public Education Foundation. She serves on several non-profit organization boards including the Council on Foundations, Woodruff Arts Center, the Alliance Theatre Company, Public Broadcasting Atlanta (PBA), and Georgia Forward!
Hardie Davis’ rise to the mayorship of Augusta is a unique story rooted in an abiding faith.
Born to Hardie and Delois Davis, Hardie grew up in Forsyth, Georgia and relocated to Augusta in 1985. His parents instilled within him the values of hard work, respect for his fellow man and service to others.
Hardie holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Degree from Georgia Tech and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from the Christian Life School of Theology in Columbus. In college, he began teaching bible study which prepared him to be founder and senior pastor of Abundant Life in Augusta, Georgia.
While a senior in high school, he met Evett Plather of Valdosta. Married 20 years, Hardie and Evett are the proud parents of Benjamin Joshua Davis.
Hardie’s career includes 18 years of systems, automation and controls engineering. His public service spans 3 years as state Representative and 5 years as state Senator. A respected leader and public servant, he served as Chairman of the Interstate Cooperation Committee and active member of the Economic Development, Ethics, Finance, and Higher Education Senate Committees.
Economic Development Director, City of West Point
Meghan is a next-generation economic developer who is passionate about collaborating with others to create healthier and stronger communities in which to live. As the Economic Development Director for the City of West Point, Meghan encourages investment, innovation and job growth through her marketing efforts promoting West Point, Georgia as a premier location for domestic and international companies to do business.
Meghan serves on a variety of professional boards and associations including the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) Young Professional Signature Interest Group Committee Chair, and the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) Young Professional Co-Chair.
She is a graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development and participated in GeorgiaForward’s Young Gamechanger Dublin-Laurens County program in the Spring of 2014. Meghan is a recipient of SEDC’s 2015 Chairman’s Award as well as GEDA’s Penn Worden Professional Development grant.
A native of Georgia, Duke was born in Albany and raised in Leesburg. She holds a Mass Media Arts degree from Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Terry College of Business Certificate in Music Business at the University of Georgia.
Amir Farokhi is Director of Strategy for BrightHouse, a BCG company. Previously, he served as Operating Officer at College Advising Corps (2013-2015) and Founder and Executive Director of GeorgiaForward (2010-2013). A ninth generation Georgian, Amir lives in Atlanta where he serves on the boards The Galloway School and the Charles R. Drew Charter School. He is a Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations, a 2011 Marshall Memorial Fellow, and a graduate of LEAD Atlanta and Leadership Atlanta. Amir is a graduate of Duke University and Duke University School of Law.
Mike Ford’s career has been shared between the medical industry and community development. A CPA by trade, he spent the first half of his career in the finance side of hospitals throughout Tennessee and Georgia, finally serving as Chief Financial Officer for Macon-based Charter Medical Corporation.
In 2002, Mike started the second phase of his career as a volunteer with the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail. Soon after he was named CEO of NewTown Macon. During his tenure at NewTown, Ford oversaw the completion of a $21 million campaign and the launch of an $18 million campaign to fund NewTown’s third revitalization phase. Some of his notable accomplishments while at NewTown’s helm include building 11 miles of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and securing the management of a $5 million bond fund from the Development Authority of Bibb County to serve as gap financing in residential projects.
Mike currently serves as the Chairman of Board of the Historic Riverside Cemetery and is the President of the Ocmulgee Land Trust. He remains extremely active in Central Georgia and throughout the State connecting people and ideas.
Hill Hardman serves as Vice President at Granite Holdings and as President of MotionLink, a technology company that provides routing, scheduling and general fleet management technology to transportation, solid waste and public works departments around the country. Previously, Hill was as an attorney at King & Spalding. An Atlanta native, Hill is active in the community and sits on the Emory University Board of Visitors, Dad’s Garage Board of Directors, is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a 2013 Marshall Memorial Fellow, a LEAD Atlanta graduate, and a 2013 Georgia Forward Young GameChanger. He received a B.A. from Duke University, a J.D. degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, and a M.B.A. degree from INSEAD in France and Singapore.
President & CEO, Georgia Cities Foundation
Michael L. Starr is President and CEO of the Georgia Cities Foundation, a Georgia non-profit corporation established to assist cities in Georgia with their downtown revitalization efforts. He has served the Foundation in this capacity since 2000.
Mr. Starr is a retired Executive Vice President and Regional Managing Director for Wachovia Wealth Management. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and he holds an MBA from Wake Forest University. Mr. Starr has previously served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History and as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
Ben Young is Co-Editor In Chief and Publisher of Georgia Trend Magazine. He joined the magazine in 2002 and has written the Sustainable Georgia column about social and environmental issues impacting the state since 2005. Born in Dalton, Young attended college at Wake Forest and graduated with double art scholarship honors in 1994. He has worked on a number of southside newspapers and was a founder of the Atlanta gallery Eyedrum. In 2014 his column “Surf’s Up” won the bronze award from the Association of Area Business Publications. Young serves on the boards of GeorgiaForward, the Georgia Trust for Historical Preservation, and the United Methodist Childrens Home. He has graduated from Leadership Georgia, Regional Leadership Institute, and the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. He lives in Avondale Estates near Atlanta with his wife Temple and son Holden.