Jacques Murphy, Chair

Jacques most recently was Chief Managing Partner – Worldwide of the highly visible Gallup Organization. Known most publicly for The Gallup Poll, Gallup generates its revenue and profit as a highly regarded global management consulting firm. During Mr. Murphy’s 22 year tenure with Gallup, he was instrumental in growing Gallup over 100 times. As his career grew, his responsibilities included Regional Managing Partner – Europe, Regional Managing Partner – North America and Regional Managing Partner – Asia, as well as being a member of the Executive Committee and Gallup’s Board of Directors.

Jacques is widely respected for his acumen in organizational development, people development as well as his performance in turn-around and start-up opportunities around the globe. Jacques’ knowledge of human resource operations, marketing and public opinion are core to his experience. Mr. Murphy is a Director of the Buckhead Coalition and a Trustee of The Irwin Family Foundation.

Addison Meriwether, Vice-Chair

Mr. Meriwether is Senior Director of Office Brokerage Services at Cushman & Wakefield.  He assists corporate clients with identifying and aligning strategic business, financial, and operational objectives with optimal real estate solutions. Results are produced through the core process of in-depth market, site and financial analysis, along with long-term strategic planning/development.   Mr. Meriwether earned his B.S. degree in Business Management at Presbyterian College.  He is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta’s L.E.A.D. Atlanta (2009) and Atlanta Regional Commission’s, Regional Leadership Institute (2007).

He has committed to serve a number of organizations in the community including Junior Achievement, Literacy Action, the Atlanta Fire Foundation and Woodruff Arts Center.  Mr. Meriwether serves as a Director of CoreNet Atlanta Chapter’s Board of Directors, Membership Chair (2012-2014).  He is a lifetime member of the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors’ Million Dollar Club and is a recipient of the organization’s Phoenix Award.  A native Atlantan, Mr. Meriwether and his wife, Krissy, have two children, Harris and Caroline.

Michael Anthony Smith, CPA, CGMA, Treasurer

Michael is the Director of Tax Operations for Experis Finance, a division of the Manpower Group. Michael is responsible for ensuring the development and execution of world-class client service for all tax functional areas across the southeastern United States. A graduate of both Mercer University in Macon and Georgia State University in Atlanta, Michael is a certified public accountant and is a member of the Georgia Society of CPAs.

In addition to active monthly participation in meetings, numerous speaking engagements and memberships for the Council on State Taxation, the Institute for Professionals in Taxation and the Tax Executives’ Institute, he now holds the international designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant, a title bestowed on individuals by the American Institute of CPAs for professionals achieving specific levels of accounting expertise and client service excellence in service of multi-national businesses.  He is an active member of All Saints Episcopal Church and an avid tennis player and participant in the Atlanta tennis community for both the Atlanta Lawn & Tennis Association (“ALTA”) and the United States Tennis Association (“USTA”) leagues.

Chris Balish, Secretary

Chris Balish is a Senior Manager in Ernst & Young’s Advisory Services practice. With over 20 years in technology and management consulting practices serving the Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, and Telecommunications industries, Chris has extensive experience guiding organizations through transformational IT and business initiatives to better compete in changing marketplaces.

Chris holds Six Sigma and PMP certifications and is active in the Atlanta community, having served on the Advisory Board for Peachtree Road UMC, Safe Communities Atlanta Executive Committee, and mentoring youth through the YMCA and NYO non-profit organizations. Chris received his MBA from George Mason University and BS from Virginia Tech in Finance with a minor in English. He resides in Buckhead with his wife Susannah and four children.

Pat Warner, Director

Pat Warner is the Vice President and Director of Culture for Waffle House restaurants. His duties include reinforcing and sustaining the unique corporate culture for the restaurant company. He also oversees the Communications and Public Relations Departments. A 13-year Associate, Pat was formerly the Marketing Director and Communication Director for Waffle House. Pat’s “Waffle House Experience” has included weddings, funerals, major motion pictures and Kid Rock. A member of the corporate crisis team, he’s been involved in the Waffle House response to more than ten hurricanes, and numerous ice storms and tornadoes.

A broadcast communications graduate of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN, Pat began his career as sports editor at his hometown newspaper in Tennessee. He then moved to Kentucky and worked 10 years in television as a sports reporter and later as a program and promotions director. In 1999 he moved to Atlanta and began his career with Waffle House restaurants in the Communications Department.

Richard L. Duncan, CPP, Director

Richard L. Duncan, a Certified Protections Professional (CPP), serves as the assistant general manager Public Safety & Security (PSS) at the world’s busiest and most efficient airport. PSS is comprised of the Airport’s Police Division, Fire and Rescue Division, Security Division, Safety Management Group and the Centralized Command and Control Center.

Hartsfield-Jackson enabled more than 930,000 operations and accommodated more than 96.1 million passengers in 2014. Duncan and his team are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of these travelers by delivering airport law enforcement, fire suppression and emergency medical response, emergency preparedness, security and communications, including the airport operations center and emergency operations center. Duncan began his career with the Department of Aviation as an assistant security manager in May 1996. He served in several positions in the Department, including security director for 12 years. As director, he provided technical and security oversight for the design and implementation of diverse security enhancements and development projects, helping to ensure a safe and secure environment at Atlanta’s global gateway to the world.

A retired commissioned military police officer, Duncan has performed challenging law enforcement and security management duties, internationally. Duncan is Board Certified in Security Management by the ASIS International, the largest international organization for security professionals. He is also certified in Homeland Security by the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security. He is the chairman for Airport Council International (ACI) World Security Standing Committee; a past chairman of ACI – North America, Public Safety and Security Committee; and a past chairman of the Greater Atlanta Chapter of ASIS International. In 2004, Access Control and Security Systems Magazine named him, “Security Director of the Year.” In 2006, he was named one of the “25 Most Influential Security Executives” by Security Magazine, Solutions for Enterprise Security Leaders. Additionally, he was featured in the “Who’s Who in Black Atlanta”, 9th and 14th Editions.

Duncan received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Florida and a Master of Science degree in Education from the University of Southern California. He is also a graduate of the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Rita Izaguirre, Director

Rita Izaguirre is an accomplished executive who leads the HR function at Jackson Spalding, a 20 year old marketing and communications agency with locations in Atlanta and Athens, Ga., New York, NY and Dallas, Texas. Previously Rita’s career spans positions in marketing, consulting, and employment law for large companies and public sector organizations.

Rita’s experience includes serving as Senior Vice President for Talent Acquisition, Diversity and HR Compliance at SunTrust Banks, Inc., and Manager of HR Compliance & Diversity at General Electric Healthcare, working across North America and Europe. Earlier, she was the Diversity Officer for the City of Alexandria, Va. Her management consulting clients include the U.S. Mint, Fairfax County Department of Public Works, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the U.S. Veterans Administration.

Rita holds degrees in business, political science and law that are advanced with Certificates of Organizational Development and Human Capital Strategy. Rita and her husband, Amado, have two adult children and now enjoy each other’s company traveling and indulging with a wine club/dinner group.

Sheryl Franklin, Director

Upon graduating from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 2004, Sheryl Franklin decided to continue her Career in the Finance Industry and transferred to Austin, TX with her then employer, American Bank. Several years later, she moved to JP Morgan Chase and earned her Group 1, Series 6, and Series 63 Licenses to become a Licensed Banker. After working in the Banking and Finance Industry for over 10 years, she decided to explore other options for additional opportunity and experience. After researching employers and gaining insight from others, she applied for an entry level Sales Position with UPS. She was hired as a Sales and Service Representative in March of 2008 and began her journey. Through gaining knowledge and performing in the role, Sheryl was promoted to Account Executive only 7 months after her hire date. As a sales professional for 2 years, she learned to successfully negotiate win-win business outcomes as well as solidifying herself as a ‘trusted advisor’ for her customers.

In 2011, she continued her growth with UPS and was promoted into the Senior Account Executive role, where she was responsible for the development of complex sales strategies with larger, middle market clients while proactively searching for new opportunities through the effective use of target marketing and networking. Due to her success in the Senior Account position, Sheryl was asked to take on the responsibility leading people as a Sales Manager the following year. In 2012, she led a team of sales professionals (both entry level and senior account executives) delivering ‘best-in-class’ results through engaging her team to perform at consistently high levels. Her focus, attitude and ability to deliver results through others positioned her to be selected to lead a team of exclusively Senior Account Executives focused on maintaining and growing market share with some of the highest revenue clients in her district geography.

In January of 2014, Sheryl relocated to the South Atlantic district (based in Atlanta, GA), where she was promoted to a position of greater responsibility as a Director of Sales. Focused on the themes of people development, strategy, business acumen and vision, she leads a team of over 80 sales professionals and is responsible for the retention and growth of over $1 billion in annual revenue to UPS. In September of 2015, Sheryl accepted the position of Managing Director of Sales for the South Atlantic District and now oversees the entire Business Development Department for the District.

Throughout her tenure, she has achieved recognition awards for top performance, winning the Bronze World of Champions in 2010 and repeated as a member of the Silver World of Champions in both 2011 and 2012. Sheryl is active in many UPS organizations such as Women’s Leadership Development, Employee Engagement Committee, United Way Champaign and the Ambassador Program. As UPS continues to evolve its Corporate Diversity and Inclusion strategy, she mirrored the corporate structure and built a team to successfully create and launch a new Business Resource Group for Millennials in the South Atlantic District. The Millennial BRG focuses exclusively on attracting, retaining and developing the next generation of UPS leaders. Her leadership also extends to formal Mentorship and the development of “high potential” employees through the Maestro Program.

Willie Palmer, Director

Willie L. Palmer is a native of Northport, Alabama. He spent his school years in Alabama, attending the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa where he graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. Later that year, Willie began his career at Georgia Power in Atlanta as an Accounting Associate. He advanced through various positions of increasing responsibility within the accounting organization before being promoted to assistant to the Region Manager for Georgia Power Central Region in 1995. In that position he coordinated and facilitated region wide activities with the region leadership team and region employees. He also worked closely with elected officials, community and civic leaders and coordinated a number of special projects and activities dealing with performance management.

In November 1997, Willie was promoted to Customer Service Manager for the Central Region where he coordinated all activities related to customer service in the Central Region and provided leadership in implementing corporate policy and procedures. In March 2001, Willie was selected to serve as the company’s manager for Supplier Development. He managed all related Supplier Diversity and Business Development activities which included developing and implementing strategic direction for Supplier Development, increasing minority and women business enterprise utilization, enhancing sourcing opportunities for non-traditional suppliers, providing training and support to all business units and ensuring compliance with government regulations.

Willie is currently, Region External Affair Manager with responsibility for the City of Atlanta and Fulton County government. Through his varied professional experiences, Willie has maintained solid relationships with business, governmental, city and county elected officials. In this role he provides leadership and direction for strategic planning, intergovernmental coordination and the monitoring and review of operational, contractual and jointly coordinated initiatives. Willie is Georgia Power‘s representative at the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency.  A Certified Public Accountant, Willie is active in the community serving on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Black in Energy and serves on the Supervisory Committee for On the Grid Financial Federal Credit Union. Willie is married and they have two daughters.

Jeffrey Nix, Director

Jeff grew up in a construction family, worked as a field engineer/superintendent, and has been involved in construction his entire life. For the past 27 years, Jeff has maintained a legal practice focusing entirely upon construction law representing stakeholders involved in every facet of the industry. Having construction in his blood, Jeff provides common sense, cost effective, business solutions for clients. Jeff’s experience crosses all sectors of the industry including: POWER (nuclear, fossil, renewable); OIL & GAS (midstream, downstream); CHEMICALS (production, processing); INDUSTRIAL (boilers, tanks,); MANUFACTURING (Assembly, Processing); SEWER & WATER (treatment, transfer, storage); INFRASTRUCTURE (locks, dams, tunnels, bridges); MARINE (Wharfs, Dredging); ENVIRONMENTAL (land, air, water); TRANSPORTATION (airports, highways, ITS, subways); UTILITIES (transmission, distribution); INSTITUTIONAL (courts, jails, museums, colleges); MILITARY (bases, barracks,); HEALTH (hospitals, extended care); SPORTS (stadiums, arenas, Olympic venues); ENTERTAINMENT (resorts, casinos, theme parks); TECHNOLOGY (data centers, clean rooms); COMMERCIAL (office buildings, convention centers); HOUSING (condos, apartments, hotels), and other projects. Most of Jeff’s time is devoted to counseling clients in resolving problems and avoiding disputes. He routinely counsels clients upon issues of risk management and dispute avoidance throughout all stages of construction.

In those instances where conflict cannot be avoided, Jeff has counseled clients through more than fifty (50) multi-million dollar disputes, involving claims valued in excess of $3 billion dollars, including acceleration, bidding, changes, defects, delays, economic waste, EMS, force majeure, HS&E, inefficiency, LEED, liens, modularization, pricing, suspensions, terminations, type I & II conditions, and other disputes. Using knowledge gained from a lifetime of experience, Jeff frequently drafts and negotiates contracts to support the many forms of project delivery methods used throughout the industry including: P3, EPC(M)(I), FEL(0-3), FEED, DB, CM, GMP, FDBOM, DBB and other delivery methods. Jeff also drafts the ancillary documents required to ensure these delivery methods run smoothly, ranging from RFP’s, teaming arrangements, joint ventures, subcontracts, purchase orders, crane easements, change orders and other related documents.

Jeff is an ardent supporter of the firm’s pro-bono initiatives. He leads the Wills Project, drafting wills and other estate documents for individuals battling cancer, AIDS, MS, ALS as well as many other forms of debilitating illnesses. Jeff has recently expanded the Wills Project to include the drafting of estate documents for service members and their spouses, including members of the military, police, fire, and EMT’s. He also routinely represents veterans of the military services in seeking disability benefits for injuries or illnesses that are service related. Jeff has assisted in the building of more than 50 Habitat for Humanity homes over the last 30 years. Last but not least, Jeff has taught classes upon construction law, including classes at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and he frequently lectures and writes upon topics of current interest to the construction industry.

Dr. Hany Atallah, MD, Director

Hany Y. Atallah, MD, is the Chief and Medical Director for Emergency Medicine of the Grady Health System. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. His primary responsibility is for clinical service performance in the ED at Grady — inclusive of clinical outcomes, physician performance and professionalism.

Hany holds degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and a medical degree from New York Medical College. He is a member of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma, the American College of Physician Executives, and is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Hany has received several awards for his role as an educator of medical students, emergency medicine residents as well as residents from other services. Most recently he was awarded the Medical Director of Year from Georgia College of Emergency Physicians for 2014. He resides in Marietta with his wife, Dr. Louise Chang, and their 2 children.

Rick Toller, Director

Rick began his career as a television reporter, anchor and executive producer, first in Gainesville, FL and then moving on to larger markets. At Gannet Broadcasting, he helped develop corporate-wide Internet marketing and branding strategies for the company’s 17 stations nationwide. He became Gannett’s youngest executive producer at 26. As a principle at three (www.3atlanta.com), an Atlanta-based integrated marketing communications firm he provides strategic communications counsel and implementation to C-suite executives at Fortune 500 companies and private organizations orchestrated “high-growth” modes. Rick brings broad crisis and strategic and financial communications expertise to a variety of verticals but specializes in policy, healthcare, environment/sustainability, telecomm, emerging technologies and energy.

Recent successes include leading communications initiatives involving Labor/union communications, crisis, mergers/acquisition, IPO, business process outsourcing and improvement (BPO/BPI) planning and communication, analysts and board communications, and rapid growth initiatives funded by private equity.

Rick came to three from Abovo Marketing Group, an integrated B2B powerhouse and one of the nation’s fastest growing firms (three to 110+ in less than two years) where he led new business development and internal strategy/planning. Prior to joining Abovo, Rick served as officer and vice president of marketing for Nuesoft Technologies, Inc. – a company that provides practice management and revenue cycle solutions to physicians and university health centers. As director of consumer brands/corporate services for Duffey Communications, Rick was responsible for strategic planning and brandbuilding for client companies including numerous technology start-ups, established business-to-business technology companies and large consumer-oriented corporations, including Kinko’s CenturyTel, Kroger and AT&T just to name a few.

As licensed pilot with a seaplane rating, Rick’s primary passion is finding any excuse to take to the sky and the water but he also enjoys pushing his limits on the ground as an avid marathon runner and cyclist. He and his wife Allison are the proud parents of an eight-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter.

Marcus Margerum, Director

Marcus Margerum is the Vice President of Government and Community Affairs with the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB). He is responsible for representing the interest of the ACVB and its members with the City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia.

Prior to joining the ACVB, Marcus has held several leadership positions in the Atlanta attractions and hospitality industry. He was the Vice President of Marketing & Communications during the launch of the College Football Hall of Fame & Chick-fil-A Fan Experience, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Zoo Atlanta, President of Hospitality Industry Professionals (HIP), Chair of the Marketing Committee for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the Chair of the ACVB Attractions Taskforce.

Prior to working in the hospitality industry, Marcus worked in the field of consumer package goods as a Brand Strategy Consultant for the Zyman Group and in the field of Brand Management for SC Johnson Wax and L’Oreal USA. Some of the brands that grew under his management include Ziploc, Glade, Raid, Scrubbing Bubbles, Dark & Lovely, Optimum Care and Magic Shave. Marcus has a BS in Business Management from Hampton University and an MBA in Marketing from Clark Atlanta University.

Justice Nwaigwe, Director

Justice began his career in the financial services industry in the year 2000.  Working for Direct Merchant Bank in Texas he was able to learn about consumer and business credit lending.  Intrigued by credit management he began facilitating training classes around establishing personal credit and managing a budget.  Justice then went into the United States Air Force to serve as an active duty helicopter flight engineer.  Justice’s last duty station was Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After exiting active duty military, Justice went back to finance where he worked for Citibank as a loan officer.  Two years at Citibank took Justice from unsecured lending, to business credit, and finally to management.  Wells Fargo bank reached out to Justice and offered him an opportunity to become a Branch Manager.

Over the last 6 years with Wells Fargo bank just has managed 7 branches in 4 different regions and is now the District Manager for Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia.  Justice is responsible for 552 million dollars in deposits and manages 74 employees.  Volunteerism has always been a consistent part of  Justice’s professional career as he’s logged over 300 volunteer hours with Wells Fargo.  Habitat for humanity, Susan G. Komen breast cancer walk, Aids walk Atlanta, and United Way have been a few of the organizations that  he participates in every year. 

Megan Sparks, Director

Megan is a visionary leader with boundless energy for driving organizational productivity and community sustainability. She currently serves as Senior Director of Programs and Communications at Leadership Atlanta, the nation’s oldest sustained community education and leadership development program. In this role Megan is responsible for the design, organization, productions, logistics, and internal and external communications of the Leadership Atlanta and the LEAD Atlanta programs. Together with an annual team of more than 400 alumni volunteers, she crafts program content and oversees annual class selections processes. In 2011 Megan launched the inaugural LEAD Atlanta Alumni Association. In 2013 she was integral to the creation of (co)lab, the region’s innovative collaborative leadership summit, and beginning in 2012 she has led the organization’s information technology design and development. After almost 7 years and multiple promotions, today Megan is also responsible for Leadership Atlanta’s communications and marketing strategy as well as building external strategic partnerships.

Megan’s passion for Atlanta runs deep. Outside of the office she dedicates her time to helping area nonprofit organizations grow strategically with limited resources. Megan serves on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Fire Foundation, and in 2014 she co-chaired their annual Breakfast with our Bravest, increasing revenue by more than 50%. She is the current selections chair and immediate past-president of Outstanding Atlanta, a volunteer consultant for the Greenleaf Center for Service Leadership, and a national political fundraiser. Megan serves as a regional thought leader, holding seats on the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Millennial Advisory Council and the Atlanta BeltLine’s Young Leaders Council. Megan also has served as a member of KIPP Metro Atlanta’s STRIVE Advisory Board, a member of the National Black Arts Festival’s Host Committee, and a trustee of the Alliance for a Better Georgia.

In 2011, Megan was selected by the former city of Atlanta’s Chief Service Officer to participate in a think tank where she helped develop the strategy and activation plan for the Cities of Service initiative branded “I Am Atlanta,” which furthered Mayor Kasim Reed’s strategic imperative for engaging members of the metro Atlanta community in volunteerism. Additionally Megan is passionate about advancing progressive public policies and candidates.