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Hometown ApolloMD supports SafePath’s Heros Mission Possible 20/20 Gala and Our Community

Comcast’s Smart City Program • Reality U • Alcohol Awareness Month • Women of Achievement


Because we know growing bones. Our pediatric orthopedic team knows kids’ and teens’ spines. They have specialized training in pediatric techniques that you won’t find at most other healthcare providers. Children’s assesses every step of the spine surgery journey looking for ways to improve. This dedication to quality has led to our program achieving some of the best outcomes in the nation with less time in the hospital and high patient satisfaction. When it comes to your child’s spine, trust the specialists at Children’s. ©2020 Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc. All rights reserved.

Visit choa.org/cpgortho to learn more.

Children’s at Town Center Outpatient Care Center | 605 Big Shanty Road NW, Kennesaw



Frank & Llen Ryan Marietta, Georgia


You know the “in sickness and in health” marriage vow? In 42 years, Frank and Llen Ryan have really put it to the test. Heart issues, skin cancer, prostate cancer, debilitating back pain — they’ve faced it all together. And with Wellstar’s expert care, things have come out “for better” — not worse. These days, Llen gardens and walks daily, thanks to a successful spine surgery. And Frank fights back against Parkinson’s with the help of our special boxing classes, prescribed by his Wellstar neurologist. Strength and balance are important to defeat Parkinson’s — and to carry and play a tuba all around Atlanta, with his band. No two happily married couples are exactly alike, and at Wellstar, we would never treat them that way. wellstar.org/peoplecare


Contents Vol. XVI, No. 2 MARCH/APRIL 2020


Children Are Forever


SafePath’s Hearing Children’s Voices Gala will be held on May 9 at Cobb Galleria Centre. Read all about this year’s event, its major sponsors, and SafePath’s mission.

 6 SHARPER FOCUS Find out what’s going on throughout Cobb County with our news updates and calendar of events.


Comcast Business is enabling customers, corporations, and cities to be smarter and more efficient.


The abuse of alcohol continues to be a problem in the United States. Hear from local experts about prevention and treatment.


Connect with local leaders who strive to make Cobb County a better place.


Cobb business and community leaders were honored recently for their service.


Communities in Schools teaches students about personal finance with in-school field trip.


liveSAFE Resources honors women who are making a difference in their communities.


You may be surprised to learn that America’s most generous city is right here in Cobb!

On the cover: Front row (left to right): ApolloMD’s Mike Dolister, MD CPE, FACEP; Amy Katnik; and Evan Howell, MBA, MMSC, PA-C. Back row (left to right): ApolloMD’s Michael Lipscomb, MD; and Brett Cannon, MD, MBA, FACEP. Photo: LaRuche Creative 4


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foreSight COBB


New South Publishing Inc. President Larry Lebovitz Vice President John Hanna Publisher Jamie Ryan Account Executives Sherry Gasaway Ginger Roberts Editor Cory Sekine-Pettite

In this issue, we have an article on how Comcast Business is helping to usher in our connected future. They’re aiding businesses and municipalities with the so-called “internet of things” (IoT), embedded technology in everyday objects that allows for the transfer of data without direct human labor or contact. We’re already seeing a great deal of this technology in our own lives — from refrigerators that know when we’re out of milk to thermostats that know when we’re home to doorbells with security cameras. Speaking of connected doorbells, many of my neighbors have been installing them lately, because of concerns over car break-ins and stolen packages. Of course, doorbell cameras have their own security concerns, which has me wondering about how many IoT devices do we actually need? Sure, what Comcast is doing to assist cities is a logical and useful program, but do individuals need connected hairbrushes, mirrors, or scales? Some things just don’t need to be online. Of course, I’m not completely opposed to the current trend of IoT — I own an Apple Watch for example — and I think that things will work themselves out as consumers decide which devices are more useful with an internet connection and which ones are better off as “normal.” In the meantime, I will be watching to see what our local governments do next with this new technology to make our lives easier and better. You may recall from our Nov/Dec 2018 issue that the City of Marietta has a smart traffic grid that aids first responders. This is the kind of IoT I can get behind. And so is what Comcast is doing with metro cities, which you can read about on p. 8. And on the remaining pages of this issue you can find features on Alcohol Awareness Month, a program teaching finance to local students, the Hearing Children’s Voice Gala, and local awards handed out recently by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

Photo by LaRuche Creative

Contact Cobb in Focus We want to hear from you! Share your story ideas and comments with our editor. Visit cobbinfocus.com or send your suggestions to: cory@newsouthpublishing.net or New South Publishing, Attn: Cory Sekine-Pettite 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210 Atlanta, GA 30350

Associate Editor Amy Meadows Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta Contributors Jennifer Morrell, Writer Lindsay Field Penticuff, Writer Haisten Willis, Writer Jessica Johnson, Photographer Production Coordinator/Circulation Amy Fine Controller Marilyn Walker cobbinfocus.com @cobbinfocus facebook.com/cobbinfocus

Cobb in Focus™ is published six times a year by New South Publishing Inc., 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA, 30350. Direct all editorial queries to (770) 650-1102, ext. 100. Direct all circulation queries to (770) 650-1102, ext. 130. Direct all advertising queries to (770) 650-1102, ext. 142. All information herein has been checked for accuracy to the best of the publisher’s ability. No responsibility is accepted for deletions, omissions, errors and/or inaccuracies. Material in this publication may not be reprinted without written permission from the publisher. Copyright 2020 by New South Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. For address changes, email afine@cobbinfocus.com.


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Sharper Focus

Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on in your community.

Marietta-Based Vertisys Acquired by Accounting Firm Accounting firm TJS Deemer Dana LLP has acquired Marietta-based IT consultants Vertisys. “Vertisys, much like TJSDD, is committed to helping its clients succeed, and we are excited to expand the ways in which we can partner with clients throughout Georgia,” said Tracy G. Sharkey, CPA.

Senator Isakson Honored in Cobb In January, Sen. Johnny Isakson was presented a proclamation by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners in recognition of his years in public service to Georgia and the nation. Isakson served for 17 years in the Georgia legislature in both the House and Senate. He announced his retirement last year.

Gas South and Cobb EMC Break Ground on Renewable Energy Project An estimated 1.85 MW of solar and 1 MW/4 MWh of battery storage is being added to the Cobb EMC campus in Marietta to help power its operations. For perspective, that is enough energy to power approximately 200 homes for an entire year. This project is owned by Gas South for Cobb EMC to support future sustainability efforts for both companies.

WellStar Gives $9M to KSU’s Nursing Program Kennesaw State and WellStar Health System are partnering to address Georgia’s nursing shortage. In support of KSU’s goal of doubling enrollment in its nursing program, WellStar will provide a $2.5-million gift to create an endowment that will fund annual nursing scholarships in perpetuity, and a grant worth $6.2 million over five years to fund the hiring of new nursing faculty and support staff.

Good Game Opens at The Battery Good Game, a distinctive dining and entertainment concept offering Topgolf’s Swing Suite virtual simulator bays, has opened at The Battery Atlanta. The venue also includes an expansive bar and dining area with a diverse menu featuring elevated bar foods and hand-crafted dishes made from fresh, regional ingredients. 6


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Marietta Visitors Bureau Promotes Courtney Spiess The Marietta Visitors Bureau & Welcome Center promoted Courtney Spiess to marketing & public relations manager. Since Spiess’s hiring in 2018, she has been instrumental in the Visitor Bureau’s rebranding initiative, which included a new logo, redesigned website, reformatted visitors guide, and improved social media presence.

Marietta Ranks #2 for Small Cities for Improving Health According to Rent.com’s recent study, Marietta ranks #2 in the country for small cities where it’s easiest to improve one’s health. The findings are based on cities with a population of less than 100,000. Then, research reviewed the number of health clubs, health/diet food retailers, vitamin and supplement stores, weight control services, nutritionists and yoga studios per 10,000 people to come up with a per capita ranking.

Former KSU President Betty Siegel Passes Away Betty L. Siegel, KSU President Emeritus, died on February 11. She was 89. Siegel was KSU’s president for 25 years and helped grow the university from a small state college to the third-largest university in Georgia. “Without her leadership, vision, and commitment to excellence, Kennesaw State would not be what it is today,” said KSU President Pamela Whittten.

American Axes Opens in Marietta American Axes brings the increasingly popular sport of axe throwing to Cobb County. The facility at 821 Livingston Court SE includes the main throwing room, a VIP space for groups, and vintage video games. Learn more at American-axes.com

Town Center CID Launches New Website The Town Center Community Improvement District has a new website (towncentercid.com). “The Town Center area is unique because it integrates natural assets into a prosperous business center. The site perfectly represents its incomparable character as well as the CID’s overall vision — to make Town Center a vibrant, accessible community and inviting regional destination,” said CID Executive Director Tracy Rathbone Styf.

Rugby ATL Kicks Off 2020 Inaugural Season The first season of Atlanta’s professional rugby team is underway. The team plays out of Lupo Family Field in Marietta. For a complete schedule and tickets, visit rugbyatl.rugby.

MARCH 3/1-31 Bubbles & Brews


Adult Spelling Bee

During the entire month, craft beverage enthusiasts can travel to 12 different breweries, distilleries, and meaderies in Cobb and sample each location’s unique beverages. More info: bubblesandbrews.com

The 4th Annual Adult Spelling Bee at Strand Theatre will benefit the Communities in Schools organization. Get ready for a night of laughs! More info: tinyurl.com/adultspelling

3/13-15 American Craft Council Show

Dust off your dancing shoes and don your sparkles for “Diamonds in the Garden,” the Center for Family Resources’ 60th annual black-tie fundraiser. More info: thecfr.org/gala

Diamonds in the Garden Gala

Necklace by Paz Sintes

More than 250 jewelry, clothing, furniture and home décor artists from across the country gather under one roof. More info: craftcouncil.org



Pop-in for Family Fun Come and explore the Marietta Museum of History on the 3rd Saturday of the month with family fun activities. More info: mariettahistory.org


Marietta Community Egg Hunt

3/21 Spring Arts Festival This event at Mable House features an artists & crafters market, food trucks, live music, artist demos, a 5k race, and more! Free admission & parking. More info: mablehouse.org

Overture Gala ArtsBridge Foundation hosts this annual fundraising event to gather community support for its educational program season reaching over 30,000 K-12 students. More info: artsbridgega.org

3/28 Bunny Breakfast Treat your family to Kennesaw’s Bunny Breakfast buffet and visit with the Easter Bunny at the Ben Robertson Community Center. More info: kennesaw-ga.gov

APRIL 4/17-18 Plant Sale and Expo

The Marietta Business Association’s 2nd annual egg hunt will be held at Marietta High School. More info: mariettabusiness.org

Join the Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County as they showcase plants and crafts from Cobb County and beyond. More info: cobbmastergardeners.com

4/20 Bowl-a-thon


Join the Arylessence Foundation at Stars and Strikes Woodstock for a good cause. More info: arylessencefoundation.com


ABA Golf Tournament The Acworth Business Association hosts its annual charity golf tournament at the Brookstone Golf & Country Club. More info: AcworthBusiness.org

4/25 MUST Giving Gala


The 15th annual MUST Giving Gala with a “Roaring Twenties” theme will be held at the Renaissance Waverly. More info: mustministries.org

The 27th annual Taste of Marietta is one of the largest food events in Georgia. More info: tasteofmarietta.com

Taste of Marietta


Spring Jonquil Festival Bring the family and shop, play, eat, drink and just have a great day together. More info: smyrnaga.gov


44th Big Shanty Festival More than 200 booths with one-of-a-kind crafts, as well as food vendors will take over downtown Kennesaw. More info: Kennesaw-ga.gov

4/25 18th Spring Chicken Run Cobb EMC and Sweetwater Mission present their annual race against hunger in downtown Powder Springs. More info: SpringChickenRun.com

4/27 Charity Golf Tournament Join the East Cobb Lions Club at Indian Hills Country Club for the 29th annual event, benefitting local schools and community orgs. More info: eastcobblions.club COBB

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Comcast=Smart How Comcast Business is enabling customers, corporations, and cities to be smarter and more efficient.

By Haisten Willis


omcast provides communications services to businesses and consumers across the country, including Cobb County. In recent years, the company has been expanding those offerings to the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) through a service called MachineQ. MachineQ is a deviceto-cloud platform providing the end user immediate access to the enterprise-grade wireless infrastructure they need to securely collect, transmit, and receive their data.



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Additionally, the company has quadrupled its fiber optic network over the last four years to provide closer-to-the-customer access. Businesses and government entities are taking advantage of this technology through initiatives like Comcast’s Smart City projects, which focuses on resolving issues such as water run-off, leak detection, trash receptacle overflow, and parking constraints. Smart City programs are designed to bring cost savings to cities by increasing efficiency. Last fall, Comcast hosted a Smart Cities Summit event in Atlanta, showcasing how its technology plays a role in a host of IoT enterprises. “With our MachineQ technology, we are uniquely positioned to deliver scalable services to meet our clients’ unique needs,” says Alex Horwitz, metro Atlanta-based VP of public relations for Comcast’s South Region, which encompasses Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Battery Based

“With our MachineQ technology, we are uniquely positioned to deliver scalable services to meet our clients’ unique needs.”

At the company’s Central Division Headquarters, more than 1,000 Comcast employees work in Cobb County inside an office overlooking right field at Truist Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves. Comcast is more than just a sponsor of the Braves staAlex Horwitz, metro Atlanta-based VP of dium. The company propublic relations for Comcast’s South Region vides an all-fiber network with multi-terabit capabilities to Truist Park and the surrounding mixed-use development, The Battery. fans all using their smartphones. The partnership between the Braves “From the outset, we said the Braves and Comcast created one of the most tech- would set a new standard of excellence nologically advanced mixed-use develop- in every aspect of this project, and buildments in the entire United States. As part ing the most technologically advanced of the arrangement, Comcast provides ballpark in history and redefining fan video, voice, and reliable high-speed inter- connectivity is key to accomplishing that,” net throughout the 60-acre development, Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk said even when it’s filled with 41,000 baseball when the partnership was announced.

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The partnership between the Braves and Comcast created one of the most technologically advanced mixed-use developments in the entire United States. “Our partnership with Comcast will keep us head-and-shoulders above other sports venues and mixed-use communities around the country and allow us to meet our fans’ high expectations for engagement, awareness, and access. Shoppers, hotel guests, and office tenants will also enjoy an experience unlike any other community.” Comcast’s network at The Battery

includes two data centers, with 10,000 fiber connections each, all backed by dual 400 Megawatt generators. “This is a truly unprecedented project and I can’t think of a better partner than the Braves, led by the visionary Terry McGuirk, as we bring record Internet speeds and coverage to fans, residents, and businesses,” said Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts. “We’re also excited to make

the community around the park home to 1,000 of our employees as we continue to grow our technology team and develop innovative new products.” When the partnership was announced in 2015, then-Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal praised the arrangement, saying, “I’m particularly excited by Comcast’s plans to create hundreds of jobs and to invest in a new center for technology collaboration. Georgia benefits when imaginative new technology and economic development initiatives like this come to our state.”

Smart Cities Today, Comcast is again stepping up its game, offering a host of Smart City initiatives, which are being implemented or considered by municipalities across metro Atlanta, including those in Cobb County. In January, the City of College Park in Fulton County announced a partnership with Comcast to install smart sensors that would alert designated leaders when city trash bins were full. Utilizing the MachineQ Gateway, Comcast’s sensors connected to the trash receptacles to address concerns by residents and businesses about overflow. “For College Park to achieve its goal of becoming a smart city, we must begin to take a more progressive approach to how we operate and manage our services,” College Park Chief Information Officer Michael Hicks said in a press release announcing the installation. “Our partnership with Comcast opens the door for us to begin using technology to support our daily operations, making us more efficient and effective in the long-run.” 10


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Hicks added that the smart trash receptacles were needed both to beautify the city and to improve its efficiency. “More important, however, was the need for our city to identify some additional long-term initiatives that we could eventually implement, which led us to Comcast,” said Hicks. “For example, we would like our growing business community to become more engaged with the needs of our residents and visitors. Clearly, having this technology at our disposal will be a gamechanger for College Park in the future.” The trash overflow issues were particularly pronounced near College Park’s MARTA station and near businesses along the city’s largest thoroughfares, Main Street and Virginia Avenue. The city also was able to increase the density of the trash cans so they could hold additional waste. “We applaud College Park’s vision to become a true smart city,” says Jason Gumbs, Comcast’s regional senior VP in Atlanta. “As the city explores additional options where technology can improve the user experience, Comcast will partner closely with College Park to deliver those advanced solutions.” But trash bins are only the beginning of what Comcast’s smart cities technology can do. The technology allows cities to link up to 500,000 devices, paving the way for smart parking, smart traffic signals, smart pedestrian counters, and smart self-service devices at cities across metro Atlanta and nationally. “We have witnessed other cities, such as Detroit, use our technology to provide indoor and outdoor surveillance for 24/7 real-time police monitoring, an initiative known as Project Green Light,” says Horwitz. In Detroit, Comcast SmartOffice video monitoring was used to provide both indoor and outdoor surveillance to aid local police. The solution was both effective and cost-efficient, allowing small and medium-sized businesses to participate and link into the system. Along with Comcast, Project Green Light was spearheaded by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Police Chief James Craig. The program aimed to reduce crime and catch potential offenders in the act. Starting in 2016, police were able to access a live feed from onsite cameras, which were concentrated in areas most vulnerable to theft, such as

Today, Comcast is again stepping up its game, offering a host of Smart City initiatives, which are being implemented or considered by municipalities across metro Atlanta, including those in Cobb County. convenience stores and restaurants. The cameras record at resolution high enough to capture details like license plate numbers and individual facial features, and Comcast was able to reduce costs for businesses by offering an equipment leasing option, along with service and maintenance. Duggan has described the program as “a true game-changer in helping to improve security measures across the city.” After Project Green Light launched, Detroit reported a 50-percent crime

reduction in locations where cameras were placed, and more success in post-crime arrests as well. College Park is now experiencing its own sanitation improvements through Comcast, and the future will bring even more advancement as the company continues to innovate. “College Park is part of a growing wave of municipalities in Georgia and across the country that are evaluating how smart-city capabilities can benefit their residents, businesses, and visitors,” says Horwitz. n

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April Is Alcohol Awareness Month (and Why That Matters)



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“So peer pressure today is far more intense and different from what some parents may remember from their youths. The media glamorizes alcohol.” — Jill Mays

By Jennifer Morrell


n 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence designated the month of April as Alcohol Awareness Month, with the goal of encouraging community education about alcohol, alcohol use disorder, and recovery. Since then, the effort to increase awareness and further the understanding of alcohol use disorder has remained steadfast. It is important for communities to understand not only the effects of alcohol use disorder and its causes, but also effective treatments and recovery sustainment. The abuse of alcohol continues to be a problem in the United States. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 70 percent of

people surveyed had consumed alcohol within the last year, and 55.3 percent had consumed alcohol within the last month. What is significant is the number of drinkers aged 18 and older who meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, and that number is at 8.5 percent, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. “The difference between recreational use and alcohol use disorder is that people who have alcohol use disorder experience clinically significant impairment or distress that can be manifested in different ways,” says Jonathan Peeples, M.D. of psychiatry, WellStar Atlanta Medical Center. “These people may repeatedly drink more alcohol than they intended, and

they may have difficulty cutting down on use. People can also become physiologically dependent on alcohol and experience withdrawal symptoms when they don’t drink.”

Use or abuse? It’s important to understand the difference between someone who drinks alcohol and someone who has an alcohol use disorder. “Alcohol users who are low-risk drinkers are generally not preoccupied when they have another drink of alcohol. The use of alcohol is not obviously interfering in any area of their life,” says Vicki Favors, LCSW, clinical supervisor at Northside Hospital Outpatient Behavioral Health Services. “However,


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“The difference between recreational use and alcohol use disorder is that people who have alcohol use disorder experience clinically significant impairment or distress that can be manifested in different ways.” — Jonathan Peeples, M.D. of psychiatry, WellStar Atlanta Medical Center low-risk drinkers may still be in a heightened risk category based on other factors, such as having a medical condition that alcohol could negatively impact or if the person is underage drinking.” Alcohol use disorders vary from mild to moderate or severe, and intermittent misuse of alcohol can lead to risky behaviors and contribute to health problems. “A person with a moderate to severe alcohol use disorder can progress to having difficulties related to mood, family, legal, medical and/or work issues,” Favors says. “An alcohol use disorder is a complex and progressive brain disorder that leads to changes in the brain that impact cognitions, behaviors, and physiology. As the disorder progresses, a person can experience more serious symptoms with a change in tolerance.” When a person cannot stop the use of alcohol without withdrawal symptoms, which can include tremors, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, increase in anxiety, hallucinations, increase in blood pressure and seizures, then medical treatment is needed. Without medical treatment, a person could die at this stage of alcohol use disorder.

“Children of people with alcohol use disorder are at a three to four times increased risk for developing alcohol use disorder, even if they’re adopted at birth by parents who do not have alcohol use disorder,” he says. “There are also higher rates of alcohol use disorder in identical twins of individuals with the condition than in nonidentical twins.” Outside contributing factors include situations that involve the use of alcohol by a younger person, where alcohol use is normalized by family or friends. Factors also include adults spending time with others where the focus is socializing with other drinkers, or being in environments and relationships where the focus is use of alcohol. A third contributing factor is a person being under chronic stress or having an untreated mental health disorder such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress or depression. In attempts to manage the mood or stress level, a person can increase alcohol until it becomes a problem and exacerbates the mental health symptoms.

person abusing alcohol can drink after hours and/or may be drinking alcohol on the job. An employee’s problematic drinking can impact other staff and professional relationships. Substance use disorders cost companies between $33 billion and $68 billion annually. “Alcohol addiction can make it difficult for a person to work effectively,” Peeples says. “Drinking alcohol at work may lead to termination. Even if someone with alcohol use disorder doesn’t drink at work, they may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms that make it harder to concentrate. Alcohol use disorder is associated with absenteeism, job-related accidents, and low productivity.

Alcohol and minors

In a Georgia Student Health Survey of 28,440 students, 19 percent reported having had their first drink at age 8 or younger. A driver of alcohol use in minors is the easy accessibility of it. In Cobb County, of the children who completed the survey and had used alcohol, 6.72 percent started using alcohol in elementary What can happen? school, aged 10 or younger, while 8.44 perAccording to the Substance Abuse and cent started using in middle school, and Who’s at risk? Mental Health Services Administration, 6.33 percent in high school. Peeples says a strong genetic compo- in the United States, 10.8 million full-time “Nearly half of those who drank in the nent of alcohol use disorder does exist. workers have a substance use disorder. The last month did so at their own house or a friend’s house,” says Jill Mays, director of Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities’ Office of Prevention. “There are social norms around it, since alcohol is a part of celebrations, parties, and rite-of-passage events, and is seen on television and in media and social media. “Social media adds pressure to establish identity, challenge author— Vicki Favors, LCSW, ity, and assert your independence,” clinical supervisor at Northside Hospital Mays continues. “So peer pressure today is far more intense and

“An alcohol use disorder is a complex and progressive brain disorder that leads to changes in the brain that impact cognitions, behaviors, and physiology.”



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different from what some parents may remember from their youths. The media glamorizes alcohol.” Signs you might look for in a minor using alcohol are changes in habits, friend groups, behavior at school, focus, memory, or physical appearance. The child may disappear for hours at a time, avoid eye contact, be dishonest about whereabouts, or become evasive with answers to questions. As a parent, you must educate yourself and decide what message you want to send your child about substance abuse. Have a conversation with empathy, compassion, and an understanding of what the world is like for your teen or younger child when he or she leaves home each morning. The last thing you want is to appear judgmental, as that will shut a child down emotionally. The most important thing to remember about early drinking by minors is that it creates a risk factor for alcohol use disorders later in life. Early prevention is key. As a parent, you can advocate for

prevention coalitions in your child’s school and assure your child is participating in existing programs.

The Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) offers 24/7 free and confidential access to crisis services statewide. If you or someone you know is experiencing a behavioral health crisis, call 800.715.4225. Teens can text or chat with caring GCAL professionals through the MyGCAL app, available on the App Store and Google Play.

When you suspect alcohol use disorder In approaching a person with a substance use problem, it is important to avoid blame and an accusatory approach, says Favors. Your agenda should be caring and sincere. Prior to approaching the person, it may be helpful to gather information on substance use disorders, and resources for community support and treatment. Favors says to choose a time to approach the person when they are not using alcohol or experiencing after-effects of abusing alcohol. You might involve more than one supportive person in the discussion, such as a family member, friend, or person in recovery. In conclusion, alcohol use disorders are treatable, but treatment is an ongoing process. The Cobb County community offers free meetings through organizations such

as Alcoholics Anonymous, a fellowship based on the 12 steps of Recovery that support sober living. Sober living and residential programs for substance use disorders offer a higher level of structure to maximize safety and relapse prevention. If a person is having withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, it is important that medical intervention be a first step at an inpatient psychiatric facility. n

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Special Section

Leaders of Cobb


ince its establishment more than 180 years ago, Cobb County has been defined by its people. Some of these individuals have made their mark by becoming pioneers of business, captains of industry and heads of state. And if you’re reading this, you likely know why Cobb is attractive to so many. It hosts exceptional schools, is within close reach to the world’s busiest airport, has all of the convenience of proximity to the



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big city and is fertile ground for entrepreneurship. The list goes on, but it always comes back to the people who have built this county into what it is. On the following pages we have profiled individuals who are among Cobb’s premier leaders. We wanted to find out about their jobs, delve into their personal lives and gain some words of wisdom. And of course, we asked: Why have you picked Cobb County?

Leaders of Cobb

WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: I was recruited to Life University in 2013 and have loved every moment of my life in Cobb County and at Life University. Though the topography and vegetation create an inviting environment, it’s the heart of the people that make Cobb County so great. As a member of Leadership Cobb Class of 2020, this has never been more obvious. As president of the Cobb Library Foundation, I also get to interact with wonderful people focused on Cobb and the value of literacy. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? I love everything about the work that I do at Life University because the mission of the institution is parallel to my personal purpose. Life University was founded on the philosophy of Lasting Purpose — to give, to do, to love and to serve from our own abundance, with no expectation of return. This philosophy is threaded through all of our 20 educational degree programs and makes Life University an almost “magical place” to work. Focusing on service is key. I heard a mentor say: “Service is the rent you pay for taking up space on the planet.” It made sense to me then and continues to make sense to me. Servant leadership is the cornerstone of my existence. We will soon begin a capital campaign that will help us improve our facilities. Our plans are to build a field

Photo by LaRuche Creative

THE STORY: I am a chiropractor, educator, passionate healer, author, professional speaker, and certified personal development/executive coach. I was born and raised in Timmins, Ontario, Canada. After earning my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto in 1975, I went on to earn my Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 1979, and moved into private practice in Northern Ontario until 2004. Then I joined the staff at Parker College of Chiropractic (Parker University). In the fall of 2013, I moved to Georgia to join the executive team at Life University as VP of Professional Relations. In December of 2018, I was named VP of University Advancement at Life University. In addition to those duties, I lead LIFE Vision Seminars, nationally and internationally, as well as the Post Graduate Education Dept.

Dr. Gilles A. LaMarche Vice President of University Advancement Life University

house with change rooms, wrestling room, and a strength and conditioning room. A big goal during my tenure will be to raise the capital to build a Sports Performance and Research Center that can serve Cobb County residents and beyond, including professional athletes. LEISURE TIME: I enjoy cooking, entertaining friends at our home, nature, running, reading, writing, “FaceTiming” with my grandchildren, and serving others. BEST ADVICE: Strive to always be the best version of yourself from a space of gratitude. I carry a gratitude stone in my pocket and every time I see it or touch it, even during difficult times, I’m reminded that we all have so much to be grateful for, and this habit brings me back to center. It will do the same for you. From a space of gratitude everything is better, no matter our difficulties. 1269 Barclay Circle, Marietta, GA 30060 • 770.426.2674 • life.edu COBB

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Photo by LaRuche Creative

Leaders of Cobb For the past 15 years, I have worked as a public servant here in Cobb. I am currently a Senior Assistant District Attorney and head of the White Collar, Elder Abuse, and Public Integrity Unit in the Cobb DA’s Office. I am also an adjunct professor at Emory Law, where I teach a class on sentencing. I am considered one of the foremost experts in Georgia on the prosecution of elder abuse. All felony cases involving a victim age 65 or older cross my desk. I’ve handled cases of public importance for multiple elected Cobb DA’s over the span of my career. I’m the guy who can be trusted to see a matter through, without fear or favor.

Jason Marbutt

Senior Assistant District Attorney Candidate for Superior Court Judge

THE STORY: I was born in Austell and raised in neighboring Douglas County. My mother dropped out of college to raise my older brother and me. She eventually became a bookkeeper at a supply company located on Fulton Industrial where she worked until she retired. She finished her college degree in her 50s while working. My dad started a small business when I was in college, which has grown to be a Cobb Chamber Top 25 Small Business of the Year for the last 10 years. My parents, both from humble beginnings, taught me the value of hard work and perseverance. I was the co-valedictorian of Alexander High School in 1994, and I obtained a degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. After spending a year teaching high school in Hawaii, I joined Teach For America, a service organization that places people in under-resourced areas. I taught middle school math and science in Newark, New Jersey for two years. After teaching, I came home to Georgia to attend Emory Law. I met my wife there, and we were married five days after graduation. We built a home in Cobb while studying for the bar exam.

WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: The people of this County are woven into the fabric of my family. Cobb is the perfect combination of small-town feel with big-city amenities. And, we have great schools — something that is especially important to my wife and me, as we are both former teachers. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? When trouble strikes, some people move the opposite direction. I move toward it. I like making hard decisions. My job puts me in the position to alter the trajectory of someone’s life for the better. I get to stand up for other people who have been wronged. I get to name evil when I see it and shine a light on others’ misdeeds. LEISURE TIME: I am a busy father of three. Most weekends, you can find me coaching soccer for one of my kids, but when I can find the time, I love the opportunity to quiet the noise of the world for a couple of hours while watching a movie. BEST ADVICE: Stand for something. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. WHAT’S NEXT? I am running for Superior Court Judge here in Cobb. It is an open seat. The election is May 19.

1205 Johnson Ferry Rd. Ste. 136-246, Marietta, GA 30068 • marbuttforjudge.com 18


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Leaders of Cobb THE STORY: I was born in Augusta, Georgia, but shortly thereafter, moved to north Florida where I was raised, the middle of five children. At age 14, my mother died of cancer and my father became my primary advisor and mentor. A World War II Marine, orthopedic surgeon, poet, and writer, my father was my hero. As far as finding my calling, he always told me to “find a need and fill it.” After receiving my college degree from the University of Florida, I returned to my Georgia roots for law school at Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law in Macon. I graduated in 1989 in the top quarter of my class, having achieved success in Moot Court and having served as Honor Court prosecutor my senior year. I went to law school to help people, not really knowing at the time what that would be. After six years of civil law, including a two-year clerkship with the late Honorable Robert E. Flournoy, Jr. in Cobb Superior Court, I prosecuted misdemeanors and traffic offenses in Cobb County State Court for 11 years. I began my defense practice over 13 years ago, the last five years as a solo practitioner in Marietta. Having observed judges from the prosecution and defense side of the Cobb State Court bench for the past 24 years has given me insight as to what makes a great judge. Cobb County has been my home for over half my life. Along with my husband of 29 years, I have raised my children in Cobb and have developed truly great friendships here. A member of Mt. Bethel UMC, I have had the privilege of teaching Sunday School and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for over 20 years. For over a decade, I have served as a cabin mom with Cobb County’s non­profit organization, Kidz2Leaders, Inc, which hosts “Camp Hope” annually. Camp Hope is a summer camp for children of incarcerated parents that has achieved great success in ending generational incarceration within families. WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: I have always felt that Cobb was “home” from the beginning. It has been a great place to raise my family, practice law, and serve my community of faith.

Trina Griffiths

Attorney & Candidate for Cobb County State Court Judge

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? As a prosecutor, I achieved my goal of helping those who were victims of misdemeanor crimes. To an even greater extent, as defense counsel, I have helped not only my clients charged with offenses, but oftentimes their families who struggle alongside them as well. So often alcohol and drugs contribute to my clients’ legal situations. Helping the whole family is behind my desire as judge to incorporate Drug, Mental Health, and Family Accountability Courts in Cobb County State Court. LEISURE TIME: My husband and I have always enjoyed mountain biking in the north Georgia mountains, gardening, and water skiing. BEST ADVICE: Vote! My experience and varied perspective in civil law, prosecution, and defense make me the best choice. WHAT’S NEXT? Being your next Cobb County State Court Judge!

247 Washington Ave., Marietta, GA 30060 • info@vote4trina.com • 770.885.2515 COBB

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Leaders of Cobb Photo by LaRuche Creative

and growing their business. In addition to providing expertise in payroll services, we also support businesses with one-to-one personalized client service. This is our most pronounced differentiator among other payroll companies where you can become “a number.”

Michelle Abel Owner, Payroll Vault

THE STORY: I am originally from eastern Montana. In my youth, I excelled at and was passionate about math, so I knew I wanted to work with numbers in my career. After receiving my undergraduate degree in accounting from Oregon State University, I went to work for Arthur Andersen, performing a variety of jobs in their tax department. After five years there, I transitioned into the dot-com industry where I facilitated the launch of several new software products. It was after a few successful projects that I decided to get my master’s in management information systems. I spent the next 15 years working with Wolters Kluwer developing business, individual, payroll, and state tax software for tax professionals. As my children started preparing for college, I felt the calling to make another leap in my career. I really wanted to connect to my community in a meaningful way while showcasing my vast experience and skills. This led me to launch a Payroll Vault location here in Cobb County. Payroll Vault is a locally owned and operated, boutique-style full-service payroll company that relieves business owners of the time-intensive tasks associated with processing payroll. In doing so, they can focus on managing

WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: In 2011, I had the fortunate opportunity to relocate to Cobb County. To-date, it was one of the best moves we have made. The community has welcomed us openly and pulses with a variety of school, church, and community involvement. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? The most rewarding part of my job is building relationships with my clients. By taking the time to understand their business, workforce, or system challenges and helping them deliver their payroll and supporting services effortlessly to their employees is fulfilling on a large scale. LEISURE TIME: I like to volunteer at my daughter’s high school to support the theater program. There is always a need for set painting, costumes, props, ticket sales, and more. My husband and I love to travel and explore new places to eat. BEST ADVICE: My advice is to shake up the status quo. In order to evolve, learn, and improve, we need to challenge the way we do things. Both personally and professionally, when we get too comfortable, it means we have stopped evolving and learning. Don’t just ask yourself what you risk if you make changes, ask what you risk if you don’t. WHAT’S NEXT? Professionally, I will continue to expand my client base while increasing staff to proactively support the community by attending conferences and training sessions to keep up with the frequent changes in payroll taxes, labor laws, withholdings, and compliance requirements. Personally, I will continue enjoying every second with the people I love the most.

michelle.abel@payrollvault.com • 770.988.4656 • 55 Atlanta St. SE, Ste 398, Marietta, GA 30060 • payrollvault.com/165 20


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Cobb Business & Community Leaders Honored


n January, the Cobb Chamber held its 78th Annual Dinner celebration, presented by WellStar. Monica Kaufman Pearson of Cox Media Group served as master of ceremonies. First, Sen. Johnny Isakson was presented with the Chamber’s Senator Johnny H. Isakson Leadership Award, named in his honor. The Chamber also has dedicated its 10th floor at 1100 Circle 75 Parkway, to the East Cobb-based senator. Other individuals honored during the evening include Susan Hampton, Andrew Dill, Tammy Palmgren, Trey Sanders, Chad Koenig, Andrew Walker, and Joyette Holmes. The 2019 Mack Henderson Public Service Award was presented to Susan Hampton. Hampton served as a tireless advocate for the county’s public safety personnel, speaking up for higher wages. She also is an instrumental leader for the continuous work of the Coalition of Cobb County Business Associations. The Len Gilbert Award was given to two individuals: Andrew Dill of Lockheed Martin and Tammy Palmgren of Kaiser Permanente. Dill was honored for his work with the Chamber’s advocacy efforts and its Government Affairs

Committee. Palmgren was honored for her leadership of the Chamber’s brand identity project. The key message for the Chamber’s new logo and brand is, “A Seat at the Table.” The Chairman’s Award, was presented to Trey Sanders of Brasfield & Gorrie, Chad Koenig of Cushman Wakefield, and Andrew Walker of Colliers International for their collective efforts on the Chamber’s landmark building project. Lastly, The Marietta Daily Journal presented its 2019 Cobb County Citizen of the Year Award to Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes. OUTSTANDING BUSINESS PERSONS East Cobb Business Association’s 2019 East Cobb Business Person of the Year* Butch Carter, Honest-1 Auto Care The award is presented each year to the business person that the ECBA feels is the most deserving for their clear demonstration of success in the areas such as customer service, innovation, contribution to economic

growth, and is positively involved in the community. Carter supports ECBA with his time, talent, and treasure — serving as a 2019 Gold Annual Sponsor, Platinum Business Expo Sponsor, and has served as an ECBA Ambassador for several years. Northeast Cobb Business Association’s 2019 Business Person of the Year* Jeffery Wright, CFA, managing director, NovaPoint Capital, LLC Wright serves on the board of the NCBA, the elder board of Piedmont Church, the board of CureCP.org, and serves in the veteran community. NovaPoint Capital is an investment firm founded in 2015 to manage investment portfolios for high-net-worth individuals, family offices, corporations, pensions, endowments, and foundations. Prior to joining NovaPoint, Wright was a VP in the private banking and investment group at Merrill Lynch. He’s also a U.S. Army veteran. *Editor’s note: In the awards section of the Jan/Feb issue of Cobb In Focus, we neglected to include the ECBA and the NCBA. We apologize for the oversight.


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A Dose of Reality

Communities in Schools Teaches Students About Personal Finance with In-School Field Trip By Amy Meadows


hen students walk through the door to take part in Reality U, a financial literacy experience presented by Communities in Schools of Georgia in Marietta/Cobb County (CISMCC), they are no longer teenagers. Suddenly, they’re 26 years old. They have jobs, monthly incomes, credit scores, and possibly student debt. They may even have families that include children. And they have 75 minutes to figure out how to navigate and maintain the new life that literally has just



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been handed to them on a sheet of paper. From securing a residence and transportation, to purchasing food and personal hygiene products, they quickly learn what it really means — and how much it costs — to be an adult. “This is an imaginative way to teach budgeting, and it’s as close to real life as you can get,” explains Natalie Rutledge, executive director of CISMCC. “It gives the students an idea of what they need to be thinking about, and it’s a way to prepare them before they have to make

those real-life choices that can harm them for many years financially. We don’t want them to have that peril. We want to help mold our next generation into thoughtful and fiscally fit people.” That’s why, for several years, Reality U has been offered for students in grades 8 through 12 at middle and high schools across Cobb County. The event originally began in 2002 as part of the Pando Initiative and was adopted by CISMCC six years ago. Since then, more than 31,000 students have participated in the in-school

experience, which is designed to illustrate how important it is for young people to stay in school and concentrate on their academics as they look towards success in the future. In fact, according to Rutledge, the event aligns perfectly with the tenets of the organization itself, which strives to raise graduation rates by encouraging students to focus on their attendance, behavior, and coursework. And that’s exactly where Reality U begins.

Life as they know it Before students participate in Reality U, they are asked to complete an online lifestyle survey that asks them to imagine their lives at 26 years old and what they expect, from their occupation and marital status to their use of credit cards. The survey also asks questions about their current grade point average, study skills, and attendance habits. All of that information is then entered into a trademarked software program and transformed into an individualized life scenario for each student. That scenario is described on the first piece Eof- 7.25x4.875 Cobb in Focus paper that participants receive as they

Garrett Middle School students attend a Reality U program.

begin the Reality U experience. “In the survey, we ask them what they want to be when they grow up,” Rutledge says. “The software then propels them to 26 years old. Their credit score is reflective of their study habits and attendance. Do they have good behaviors like turning in their work promptly? Do they attend school

regularly? Then chances are that they’ll be a good bill payer. Their GPA shows where they are in terms of their goals for their career. If they say they want to be a doctor but have a 1.8 GPA, then they may not be on track for that. Of course, the end result does not say that this is what you are going to be. But it is an exercise to reinforce the importance of

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“This is impactful because it expands the students’ knowledge of what it takes to be an adult. It shows them how far or how limited their prescribed income can be and that all consequences have economic effects.”

— Natalie Rutledge, executive director CISMCC

attendance, behavior, and coursework.” In addition to the life scenario, participants receive a second sheet of paper that serves as their “passport” through the event. It’s on this paper that students must work within their budget, visiting 12 booths to make purchases like homes, cars, auto insurance, food, personal items, and more. They also may have to deal with the costs associated with marriage and raising children, as well as providing or receiving child support, depending on their marital status. There’s even a “Game of Chance” booth at which the students can experience the “oops” or “oh my gosh, that was awesome” moments that happen in life, from breaking



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and having to replace a smartphone to unexpectedly winning $400. The booths are manned by community volunteers who are there to help guide the students as they make budgeting decisions and try to complete the entire event without running out of money. If they do max out their budget, they can visit a financial services booth and sell items, secure a second job, or choose another option to garner more funds so they can finish the exercise. And if they end up with more money than they expect, they can look at what to do with those extra dollars, such as paying off credit cards or student loan debt quickly. “This is impactful because it expands the

students’ knowledge of what it takes to be an adult,” Rutledge asserts. “It shows them how far or how limited their prescribed income can be and that all consequences have economic effects.”

Lending a hand According to Rutledge, the 10 to 12 Reality U events that take place each school year could not happen without the volunteers who offer their time to help guide students through the experience. In fact, every session requires the participation of 25 to 30 volunteers from the community. “We have a very diverse community, and we have volunteers from many different areas,” she notes. From parents and church groups to senior citizen, civic and professional organizations, adults from all walks of life across Cobb County and Marietta have shared their expertise with the young participants of Reality U. No pre-training is required, as Rutledge’s team provides an onsite training session before each event. And, more importantly, each volunteer brings his or her own knowledge to share with the students. Rutledge continues, “That’s where our volunteers are so valuable — real life experience. They are giving a wealth of information from their own lives to help mold these young people to have a better tomorrow and to learn from the mistakes of today. They are there to help affirm that these students are on the right track.” Those opportunities to volunteer will continue to be available and even grow, as CISMCC has set a long-term goal of expanding to every middle and high school in the county, both public and private, as well as during sessions held in the summer or other times of the year in partnership with youth groups and community organizations. For schools, it is a win-win proposition because there is no transportation required and the cost is only $7 per student. In schools where the economically disadvantaged rates are

60 percent or higher, CISMCC works with several community partners and organizations to provide scholarships for students to be able to participate. What’s more, the experience fits perfectly into school curriculum requirements. “It really checks all of the boxes,” Rutledge says. “It meets financial literacy standards, and it’s teaching in a creative way that’s not just from a textbook.”

Making a difference At the end of each session, students are asked to take an exit survey. And, as Rutledge reveals, Reality U is an eye-opening adventure for those who participate. “The students say things like, ‘I didn’t know how important it was to go to school’ or ‘I didn’t know I was so expensive. I really appreciate my parents,’” she states. One high school student wrote, “I think Reality U is very realistic because they took our GPA and showed us how it would most likely be in the future if we keep following the path that we are on. It showed us that if we want a better life than what we had in Reality U, then we need to start preparing for it now.” Delivering that kind of motivation is what CISMCC infuses into all of its programming, which includes an array of wraparound services that are managed by site coordinators at several schools throughout the area. Those services range from academic assistance and behavior interventions to college and career prep and family engagement. “Our mission is to surround students with a community of support and give them someone they can talk to and rely on to help them navigate their way through school and develop skills to be successful in life,” Rutledge explains. “We want to eliminate the barriers to their success. We focus on grade promotion and graduation. We want students to walk away with their diploma, a goal and a plan. And it’s important for the community to support us because we are part of the solution.” And Reality U is just one of the tools used by the organization to fulfill its goal. “Reality U can help students expand their ideas of what they might want to do in life,” Rutledge concludes. “We want to help students achieve greatness. We want to better prepare them to be adults. We want to help build and shape our leaders of tomorrow. This is an investment in our tomorrow.” n

“Bee” There for The Fun On Friday, March 6, Communities in Schools of Georgia in Marietta/Cobb County (CISMCC) will host the fourth annual “The Bee,” a rousing adult spelling bee and fundraising event that will be held at The Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre in downtown Marietta. Each year, local celebrities and civic leaders from across the area join together in sponsored teams of three to attempt to spell some of the most commonly misspelled and difficult words in the English language. The effort comes with lots of laughs, fun on-stage antics, and an allaround great sense of community, with proceeds going towards the programming provided at local schools by CISMCC. The event begins at 7 p.m., with a special VIP reception being held at 6 p.m. General admission tickets are $20; tickets for students under 18 and military and first responders are $15. VIP tickets include a pre-event and intermission party and cost $60. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit cismcc.org.

Hilton Atlanta/Marietta Hotel & Conference Center Ballroom Marietta, Georgia Surprise your little ones with an afternoon of royal, swashbuckling fun at our first ever Princess and Pirate Party! They'll enjoy fun-filled activities, pictures with their favorite characters, and a Broadway-style performance where they are invited to be a part of the show. Costumes are encouraged!

Purchase tickets and find out more at choa. orglprincessandpirateparty


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Left to right: ApolloMD Divisional President Brett Cannon, ApolloMD CEO Mike Dolister, and ApolloMD COO Amy Katnik.



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Children Are Forever

SafePath’s mission aligns well with this year’s Gold Sponsor at the annual gala. By Lindsay Field Penticuff


ith annual medical costs increasing to nearly $6 billion nationally to care for children who are victims of neglect and abuse, it’s even more pertinent than ever for us to come together and learn how we can better America’s youth. “Children are forever,” says Jinger Robins, CEO of SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center in Cobb County, “and what we do today to ensure they have healthy and safe childhoods will determine what our world will look like in the future.” Since 2010, the number of children SafePath serves has increased by 69 percent. And recent data from the center’s 2018 report states that between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018, they served a total of 1,524 clients — 924 children and 600 caregivers. So as the community looks to commemorate National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, Robins and her team at SafePath are excited to be on the forefront of the fight, hosting year-round trainings, prevention seminars, and more. “Anything SafePath can do to educate our community on the prevention of child abuse is a direct investment in a healthy community,” Robins said.


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2020 Hearing Children’s Voices Gala Theme: Children are Forever: Mission Possible 20/20 Chairs: Melissa and Brett Cannon, Susana and Bryant King Date: Saturday, May 9 Where: Cobb Galleria Centre More info: (770) 514-6554 Annestuart.safepath@cobbcounty.org

Sponsorship levels

The office walls at ApolloMD are lined with photos of their hospital affiliations.

•  Presenting, $25,000 •  Diamond, $15,000 •  Platinum, $10,000 •  Gold, $5,000 •  Silver, $2,500 •  Table Host, $1,500

Did you know? • The annual estimated cost of child abuse and neglect in the U.S. is $5.9 billion. • Every 10 seconds a report of child abuse is made. • Neglect is the most prevalent form of abuse. • Child abuse occurs at all socioeconomic levels, across ethnic and cultural lines, and within all religions and levels of education. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The annual awareness month also is why the advocacy center celebrates its annual Hearing Children’s Voices Gala each spring. It has been an excellent way to not only educate Cobb residents about the horrific effects of child abuse in the community, but to help raise money to assist in providing the vital intervention services SafePath provides. The theme 28


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for the 19th annual gala is “Children are Forever: Mission Possible 20/20,” which Robins believes truly captures the heart of who and what SafePath is committed to being and accomplishing. “We know our mission; we can see clearly with 20/20 vision what needs to be done to protect children; and we are dedicated to achieving our goals!” she said. Held on May 9 at the Cobb Galleria Centre this year, the event will once again include a night of fellowship with supporters in the community, music, dancing, a silent auction and raffle, as well as a very special guest speaker, who will be named closer to the event date. This year’s chairs for the gala are Melissa and Brett Cannon, MD, MBA, FACEP, and Susana and Bryant King. “These two couples are wonderful families who live in Cobb County and are actively involved in our community,” Robins said. “I could not have handpicked any better chairs.” The experience in helping plan this year’s gala has been especially wonderful for Dr. Cannon and Melissa. “There are so many deserving causes to support, but it’s hard to think of a better one than SafePath and helping to protect and care for abused children in Cobb County,” Dr. Cannon said. “It’s a great event … and I promise guests will leave knowing they’ve helped children and made our community a little better.” Cannon added that Melissa also has a background in catering and event planning, so supporting the gala has been familiar turf for the couple. He’s especially excited to chair this year’s gala with the

Kings, who are also their neighbors. “They joined us last year for the gala and were so moved that they volunteered on the spot to help us with this year’s event, and Susana has joined the SafePath Board of Directors with me,” said Cannon, who joined the board several years ago at the recommendation of his friend and colleague Avril Beckford, MD, chief pediatric officer for WellStar Health System. “She was kind enough to recommend me as a board member,” he recalled. “Touring their facility, and hearing of the work being done makes it absolutely impossible to not want to be a part of such an amazing place.” WellStar, which treats almost all of the children served at SafePath, has been a longtime partner of the advocacy center. Dr. Cannon also is associated with WellStar in his work as divisional president of ApolloMD, where he brings his expertise in emergency department flow and efficiency, health care economics, and health system logistics, overseeing emergency medicine at 10 hospitals. He joined the team at ApolloMD in 2000. ApolloMD, a multi-specialty, valuebased physician services solution for emergency medicine, anesthesia, hospital medicine and radiology, was started in the early 1980s in what is now WellStar Cobb Hospital in Austell. They are now in 12 states and see more than 3.2 million patient visits each year in more than 100 hospitals. “The roots of ApolloMD started in this community nearly 30 years ago with our partnership with WellStar,” Cannon said.

“Part of our partnership is to maintain focus on enriching the lives of the individuals in this community, especially children.” ApolloMD is dedicated to providing exceptional patient care, and their work in the communities they serve aligns well with SafePath’s mission to improve the lives of children who have been abused. “Supporting such deserving local organizations like SafePath is important for ApolloMD as a means to give back in ways separate from direct patient care,” says Cannon. This partnership with WellStar and dedication on behalf of ApolloMD to the community also is why the company has committed to be a presenting sponsor at this year’s Hearing Children’s Voice Gala. “Like most everyone, physicians feel a calling to help people. We’re fortunate in that we get to do it most every day on the job,” Cannon says. “All of us who have practiced [medicine] any amount of time have taken care of children who have been abused, and every case is absolutely heartbreaking.” However, he adds that there is a difference between helping someone in a

“ApolloMD has a long history of being a partner in the communities that we serve, and supporting SafePath is especially exciting since Cobb County is our hometown.” — Brett Cannon, MD, MBA, FACEP clinical setting and supporting a great cause like SafePath. “ApolloMD has a long history of being a partner in the communities that we serve, and supporting SafePath is especially exciting since Cobb County is our hometown,” Cannon said. “This is our third year supporting the gala, and we’re very excited to be the presenting sponsor this year.” Robins says ApolloMD’s delivery of services and vision are aligned with the manner in which SafePath serves the

community. “Key words cross over both organizations as we strive to be the best at what we do: streamlining, aligning customer satisfaction, highest quality of care, trust and partnerships when delivering services,” she says. And with health care costs for abused survivors in the billions, the partnership between ApolloMD and SafePath is a winwin for everyone. “Mission Possible 20/20 is not a dream, but a reality when we all work together,” concludes Robins. n


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In Your Community

Women of Achievement liveSAFE Resources honors women who are making a difference in their communities. By Cory Sekine-Pettite


n Saturday, March 28, community leaders from throughout metro Atlanta will be gathering at The Fairmont in Midtown to celebrate the achievements of 15 local women who will be honored for their outstanding leadership in their personal and professional endeavors. This special event is Marietta-based liveSAFE Resource’s 35th annual Tribute to Women of Achievement. For 35 years, liveSAFE Resources has annually honored local women who are leaders in business, trailblazers in the notfor-profit world, and generous volunteers



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for their communities. This year’s honorees join the prestigious list of more than 500 women who are forever part of the Academy of Women Leaders. Any worthy woman from Atlanta is eligible to receive this honor and become part of the Academy, liveSAFE says. The organization has a committee of supporters of its cause who choose the 15 honorees each year. Anyone can nominate women they know who deserve recognition. Those nominees are then asked to fill out an application asking about their work, volunteerism, and community history and

involvement, et cetera. The names from these applications are removed and the committee reviews and rates them. They then meet to discuss the ratings and who should be chosen as the 15 honorees. In addition to the recognition, the annual awards dinner includes a silent auction, which is intended to raise funds for liveSAFE’s vital work. At last year’s event, the organization auctioned off nearly 200 items, such as purses, trips, and experiences/ shows/concerts around Atlanta. The event’s hosts will include GBI Director Vic Reynolds and his wife, Holly; Cobb County DA Joyette

2020 Women of Achievement Holmes and her husband, Bridges; and liveSAFE Board Member Jason Saliba and Executive Director Tracey Atwater. If you’re not familiar with the organization (formerly the YWCA of Northwest Georgia), it was founded in 1917 and is committed to providing safety and healing to those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse within our community. By providing an emergency shelter, transitional housing, counseling, legal advocacy, a 24-hour crisis line and many other services, the organization empowers those it serves to rebuild their lives. By raising awareness and fostering support, liveSAFE Resources is dedicated to building a community free from domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse. For details on the liveSAFE Resources’ programs and services, or how to be part of the solution, contact 770-427-2902 or visit www.livesaferesources.org. To reach the 24-hour crisis line, call 770-427-3390. n

LaSandra Boykin, lead project manager, Delta Michelle Cooper Kelly, director Cobb Community Foundation Heidi Dasinger, business development manager, City of Marietta Kimberley Euston, national business development leader, PwC Michelle Fernanders, Cobb County Firefighter Andrea Foard, transit division manager, Cobb DOT Kellie Hill, judge Cobb County Magistrate Court Monique Honaman, CEO of ISHR Group and Contender Brands Lee Hyaduck, operations manager, Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery Operations, KSU Carla Jackson, Cobb County tax commissioner Kari Love, CEO, The Atlanta Women’s Foundation Cecelia Patellis, assistant VP of Community Education & Outreach, WellStar Amanda Seals, senior manager and client relationship executive at Deloitte Shannon Wallace, district attorney in the Blue Ridge Judicial Court Caroline Whaley, executive director at Gateway Marietta CID


A month of special events from the unique spirit makers, breweries and distilleries throughout Cobb County. Visit Cobb’s “Hop Spots” in March to vote for your favorite beverage, win prizes, and attend special classes and events.

To learn more & Participate, visit: BubblesAndBrews.com | #TapIntoCobb COBB

in focus  M A R C H / A P R I L



Final Focus

Most Generous City in America


By Cory Sekine-Pettite n a survey released earlier this year, GoFundMe reported that Marietta is the most generous city in America. According to the crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for celebrations and challenging circum-

stances, Marietta residents have given more money to more causes than any other municipality in the country. The company announced, “The GoFundMe community has made more than 120 million donations, raising over

Surfing in Cobb County... We Make It Easy! No matter where you are, you can now access up-to-date information about what’s going on around the county. With local news, events calendars and the latest issue of Cobb In Focus, you can be instantly connected to your community.

Cobb In Focus magazine is now a partner with

For advertising opportunities in Cobb In Focus magazine and these Cobb County websites, contact Jamie Ryan at 770-650-1102, ext. 142 or jamie@cobbinfocus.com. 32


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$9 billion for people, causes, and organizations since its founding in 2010.” Marietta was highlighted for its generosity for people and causes. The most generous cities in America, based on the number of donations per capita on GoFundMe, are as follows: 1.  Marietta, Georgia 2.  Rockville, Maryland 3.  Santa Monica, California 4.  Parker, Colorado 5.  Somerville, Massachusetts 6.  Bowie, Maryland 7.  Beaverton, Oregon 8.  Whittier, California 9.  Cambridge, Massachusetts 10.  Oakland, California Of course, personal health struggles are a common source of the campaigns on the platform, but donations extended beyond healthcare and far beyond the local communities of the donors. People gave to causes as varied as fire victims in Kyoto, Japan; Hurricane Dorian victims in the Caribbean; and to various campaigns set up to help in the recovery of the Australian brush fires. “We are changing the way the world gives! Every day we see more people taking an active role in making a difference, and our community continues to grow. In fact, nearly 60 percent of donors were new this year,” said GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon. Keep up the giving spirit, Marietta!  n

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Nick Clarington | 678-231-6966 | nicholas_clarington@cable.comcast.com

Profile for New South Publishing

Cobb In Focus March/April 2020