Metro Atlanta Chamber

Leadership

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Metro Atlanta Chamber

Leadership

Executive Team Members

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Hala Moddelmog

President & CEO

Hala Moddelmog is a business and civic leader with more than 20 years in president and CEO roles. She also serves as a corporate director for two NYSE companies – FLEETCOR Technologies and Lamb Weston – and as a board member of several blue-chip nonprofit organizations.

As the first female president and CEO of the nearly 160-year-old Metro Atlanta Chamber, Hala works on behalf of FORTUNE 500 companies and SMEs in the country’s ninth largest metro region. In this role, she recruits companies such as GE and Honeywell to the region and works closely with venture firms, technology companies and universities to secure growth for metro Atlanta’s target sectors – financial technology, cyber security, Internet of Things, health information technology, and digital media and entertainment – as well as companies needing to scale. She also launched ChooseATL, a first-of-its-kind marketing movement designed to attract next-generation talent to the region.

Prior to her current role, Hala led complex, consumer-facing, multi-unit retail organizations driving profit and market share in environments requiring significant collaboration and diplomacy. As president of Arby’s Restaurant Group, then a division of Wendy's/Arby's Group, Inc., Hala led the divestiture of the company to private ownership and dramatically improved the company’s financial performance. Previously, she served as president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer organization. Under Hala’s leadership, Komen achieved the organization’s first 4-Star Charity Navigator rating. Known for overcoming obstacles to grow brands, Hala became the first woman to lead an international quick-service restaurant chain as president of Church’s Chicken. She led through significant change, including the parent company’s initial public offering and subsequent divestiture of the Church’s division.

Hala’s current nonprofit boards include Georgia Public Broadcasting appointed by the Governor of Georgia, Woodruff Arts Center, The Alliance Theatre co-chair for 2017-2019 and Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business.

Georgia Southern University awarded Hala an Honorary Doctorate of Letters. She has a Master of Arts degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Georgia Southern University. She has attended executive education programs on board leadership and director development at Harvard Business School and Kellogg School of Management.

Hala resides in Atlanta with her husband, Steve. They have two adult children. 

Tom Cunningham

Thomas J. Cunningham

Chief Economist

Thomas J. Cunningham is Senior Vice President and the Chief Economist for the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC). Tom joined MAC in July 2015 following a 30-year career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He is a specialist in open economy macroeconomic policy and regional analysis. At MAC, he manages an internal team that supports the research and advocacy roles of the economic development and public policy departments.

After starting his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as an economist in the Macropolicy group, Tom served at various times as associate director of research, interim director of research, vice president for the Regional group where he was also responsible for the Latin American group, and acting head of the Finance group. He served on the Bank's Personnel, Information Technology, and Risk Management Committees and as a member of the Federal Reserve System's Information Security Group and Technology Services Council. He also was the acting director of, and helped establish, the Bank's Center for Real Estate Analytics. When Dr. Cunningham retired from the Fed, his title was Vice President, Senior Economist and Regional Executive.

A native of Reedley, California, he received a bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, in economics from California State University, Fresno. He earned a master's degree, a master of philosophy, and a PhD in economics from Columbia University. He previously worked as an economics instructor at Barnard College at Columbia University and as an adjunct instructor at Iona College, Agnes Scott College and Emory University. He attended the executive development program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Dr. Cunningham has published numerous professional articles and is a member of the American Economic Association, the Western Economic Association, and the Southern Economic Association.

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David Hartnett

Chief Economic Development Officer

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As chief economic development officer at the Metro Atlanta Chamber, David leads the team focused on the retention, recruitment, and expansion of existing and start-up companies within key clusters, e.g., Mobility, IoT, Cybersecurity, Fin Tech, Digital Media, Supply Chain, Bioscience, and Health IT.

Before joining the Chamber, Hartnett served as the president and CEO of Maco Pharma® (formerly United Pharma) a privately held US medical device/pharmaceutical company based in Duluth, Georgia, headquartered in Lille France. Before Maco Pharma, Hartnett was president and CEO of SteriFx® Corporation, a specialty chemical start-up, contracted by U.S. Department of Defense (DARPA). Prior to SteriFx, he was the executive vice president of the North American headquarters of Given Imaging, Inc. an Israeli start-up with corporate headquarters in Yokneam, Israel. Under his leadership, the company commercialized the “PillCam” video capsule, a disposable capsule that captures video after it is ingested by the patient. Hartnett helped to raise close to $30 million in a private placement for corporate infrastructure development and product commercialization before the company going public in 2001 (GIVN-NASDAQ). Hartnett served as vice president of marketing at ERBE Electro-surgery, the largest manufacturer of electrosurgical systems in the world, where he was responsible for commercial marketing throughout North America.

He has also served in a variety of other senior sales and marketing roles for the following companies: Karl Storz Lithotripsy, Genzyme (formerly Deknatel), STERIS (formerly AMSCO) and the XEROX Corporation.

He holds a B.A. in Communication from San Diego State University with a master’s equivalent in marketing through post-graduate studies.

He currently serves on the following boards:

-Chairman, of the Board, Atlanta Science Festival™

-Board of Trustees, Georgia Global Health Alliance

-Vice Chairman, Innovation Crescent Regional Partnership

-President Emeritus, Southeastern Medical Device Association

-Director/Co-Founder, Venture Atlanta Coalition

-Director, Georgia Bio statewide trade association

-Director/Co-Founder, Health IT Leadership Summit

-Director/Co-Founder, Institute for Healthcare Information Technology

-Quick Start, statewide advanced training program, Board of Advisor

-President’s Community Board (CAB), Kennesaw State University

Hartnett is married with four sons, was raised on Coronado Island, California and is an active member of the Atlanta business community.

 

 

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Jorge Fernandez

Vice President, Global Commerce

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Named the Vice President of Global Commerce for the Metro Atlanta Chamber on May 15, 2006, Jorge L. Fernandez leads the Global Commerce arm of Metro Atlanta Chamber’s economic development division. Fernandez is responsible for the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) recruitment efforts and finds innovative ways to connect metro Atlanta area companies and institutions to international business growth opportunities and grow a global connected network for the metro Atlanta region. His goal is to further metro Atlanta’s reputation as a top competitor in the global marketplace.

Prior to joining MAC, Fernandez was the international and alliance Vice President for Delta Air Lines at its world headquarters in Atlanta. His responsibilities encompassed all international operations and sales activities outside of the United States. He was also charged with developing Delta’s alliance strategy, managing the SkyTeam global alliance and overseeing codeshare relationships with partner airlines around the globe. Prior to this role, he was responsible for the development of the airline’s regional strategy for all operational and administrative function for the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Fernandez joined Delta from Veridian Engineering where, as the senior politico-military analyst, he led the company’s efforts in implementing strategic plans for federal agencies and institutions responding to overseas crises. Earlier in his career, Fernandez served over 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a command pilot, strategic planner and international affairs advisor. He held various diplomatic posts, leading air base access rights negotiations for a U.S. Air Force aviation hub and directing mediation between nation states.

Originally from Havana, Cuba, and fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Fernandez holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in international marketing from Texas Christian University. He is a National Defense Fellow in Brazilian Studies from the University of Miami’s Graduate School of International Studies and completed Thunderbird’s Executive Education Program for International Business in Phoenix, AZ. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Institute and the Brazilian Air Force Senior Officer Course. He taught US market practices at China Jiliang University in Hangzhou, China.

Fernandez was named by Hispanic Business magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States” for 2003 and is the recipient of Panama’s 2002 “Friendship Award.” In 2009, he received from the Governor of the State of Georgia the “International Person of the Year Award.” In 2010, the Atlanta Business Chronicle honored Fernandez as one of Atlanta’s International Who’s Who. Under his leadership in 2015 MAC received the Presidential E-Award for Export Excellence. Fernandez is a member of the board of the U.S. Panama Business Council SE, the Advisory Council for the Center for International Business Education and Research at Georgia State University, the Asian Studies Advisory Board at Kennesaw State University, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, and the Atlanta Ballet Advisory Committee.  

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Jennifer Sherer

Vice President, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Jennifer Sherer is the vice president of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC). She leads a team focused on building Metro Atlanta’s innovation capacity – the region’s ability to produce new ideas, technologies, products and processes. Jennifer joined MAC in 2013 and has since led the launch of numerous initiatives that drive collaboration in the innovation community, support high growth entrepreneurs, and elevate Atlanta’s status as a globally recognized innovation hub.  

Prior to joining MAC, Jennifer served as the Executive Director of Southeast BIO (SEBIO), a regional non-profit organization that fosters the growth of the life sciences industry in the Southeastern U.S. SEBIO’s mentoring programs, designed to prepare entrepreneurs for fundraising and cultivate new start-ups from universities, have benefited over 200 companies in the Southeast. Companies participating in SEBIO activities have gone on to raise over $2.5 billion in public and private funding.

Prior to joining SEBIO, Jennifer was a licensing associate in the Office of Technology Transfer at Emory University. She was responsible for assessing intellectual assets for advancement, developing marketing strategies, and generating commercialization plans for technologies generated by university researchers. She also aided faculty members in developing strategic partnerships with industry.

Jennifer serves on the Emory University Center for Ethics Advisory Board and Startup Atlanta Board. She serves in volunteer leadership roles for Southeast BIO and the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), and is a graduate of Leadership Gwinnett. She earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics at the University of Virginia and a B.S. in Biochemistry at Lehigh University.

Jennifer lives in Suwanee with her husband, Todd, and has three stepdaughters and twin boys. 

Katie Kirkpatrick

Katie Kirkpartrick

Chief Policy Officer

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Katie Kirkpatrick is the chief policy officer for the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC), leading the Public Policy team which focuses on public policy, government affairs and political action. Kirkpatrick joined MAC in 2007 as vice president of Environmental Affairs, overseeing the Chamber’s work on sustainability, including water, air, energy, and quality growth issues. She has served in various key roles shaping environmental policy and overseeing water-related issues. Following her environmental role, she served as senior vice president for Business Higher Education, which focused on driving discovery, innovation,and entrepreneurship through collaboration of business and higher education. Before joining MAC, she served as director of environmental engineering for Gold Kist, Inc. Her duties there included regulatory compliance, strategic planning, external affairs, and designing various treatment systems.

Kirkpatrick graduated from Auburn University and is a registered professional engineer in several states. She is currently vice-chair of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District and past board chair for the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. She is a 2011 recipient of Atlanta BusinessChronicle’s prestigious “40 Under 40” award and is an active alumna of Leadership Atlanta. She serves on the Board of Directors of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives and is the chair of the Government Relations Division. She is also a member of the Northern District of Georgia Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel.

She also volunteers for various youth sports leagues, Peachtree Road UMC, and is a member of the parent volunteer association for Christ the King School. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Track Club. Kirkpatrick, her husband, Dow, and their two boys reside in Atlanta.

Dan Corso

Dan Corso

President, Atlanta Sports Council

Dan Corso joined the Atlanta Sports Council (ASC) in 1999 after serving as Vice Chair of the Festival Division for the 1998 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.  

The Atlanta Sports Council’s mission is to facilitate the growth and development of sports in metro Atlanta by serving as a recruiter for major regional, national and international sporting events. The organization plays an important role in improving the quality of life for residents in the region through sports, working to drive economic growth and visibility and acting as an advocate for the area teams and annual sporting events.
The Sports Council’s accomplishments include hosting several prominent sporting events such as the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Four, MLB, NHL and NBA All-Star Games, WrestleMania XXVII and ACC and SEC Basketball Tournaments. Most recently, the ASC managed the effort to successfully recruit the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, Super Bowl LIII (2019) and the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four.
During his time at the ASC, the organization has been named Sports Commission of the Year by the National Association of Sports Commissions four times (2000, 2004, 2006 and 2015). 

Corso is President of the Atlanta Football Host Committee Inc., for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and College Football Hall of Fame and Advisory Board for the Celebration Bowl.

Deisha

Deisha Barnett

Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Deisha is an accomplished communications professional with deep expertise in guiding strategies, counseling C-level executives and growing teams. She is a passionate leader and savvy driver of integrated campaigns that generate results – whether targeting investors, consumers, employees or stakeholders.

Deisha currently leads marketing and communications for the Metro Atlanta Chamber where she’s focused on positioning Atlanta as a great place to live and a great place for business.

For nearly 10 years prior, Deisha was dedicated to promoting and protecting Walmart’s brand. She was tapped for a number of roles, including leading crisis communications, financial communications, consumer public relations, Walmart Foundation communications and CEO-positioning.

Deisha started her career at Ketchum where she rose from intern to critical account team member. She earned several Silver Anvil awards for work supporting brands like Kodak and Procter & Gamble. More recently, she has been profiled in PRWeek and AdAge, and has judged prominent industry awards. PRWeek referred to Deisha as a "young pro who represents the future of PR" and an "inspiring individual.”

Deisha is on the boards of the National Black Public Relations Society and the Atlanta Press Club. She is a proud mom of two and an alumna of Clark Atlanta University, the historically black university in Atlanta, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass media arts with a concentration in public relations.

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Kate Atwood

Executive Director, ChooseATL

Kate Atwood is an entrepreneur and a community leader who has built her career on heading-up social impact initiatives in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors.
At 23, Kate founded Kate’s Club, a nationally-acclaimed not-for-profit organization based in Atlanta that provides support to children and teens facing life after the death of a parent or sibling. Having lost her own mother to cancer at the age of 12, Kate set out to build a world for children and teens where it was ok to grieve. What started with just six kids is today a thriving sustainable community organization that serves thousands of children, and their families through year-round social and therapeutic support programs.  
Following a successful founder transition, Kate left her post at Kate’s Club and went on to serve as the Executive Director of the Arby’s Foundation.  While at the helm of the Arby’s Foundation, Kate refocused its efforts on a new strategic mission that more closely aligned with the Arby’s brand. During her tenure, Kate helped the organization contribute more than $18 million to ending childhood hunger in the United States. 
In 2015, Kate joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber, as Vice President to lead the recently launched ChooseATL campaign. In this newly created role, Kate is responsible for focusing the region’s narrative to showcase all that metro Atlanta has to offer with the purpose to attract and retain top emerging talent.
Kate has participated in her fair share of media along the way. She has been featured in People Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, Huffington Post, and has had appearances on the Today Show, the Meredith Vieira Show, CNN, and ABC-TV’s The View.   She was recognized in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s feature “Up and Comers: Top 40 under 40”, and was honored by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of Georgia’s “40 under 40.” In 2013, she was named to GOOD Magazine’s global “GOOD 100” list for her commitment to helping others.
 Kate remains involved with Kate’s Club as its Founder, serves on the Share our Strength Leadership Council and on the 11Alive Community Service Awards Board of Governors.  She is a published author of “A Healing Place”, and has been featured in six books as a thought-leader on personal giving and social enterprise.  She resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

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Janice Rys

Chief Development Officer

Janice Rys serves the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) as chief development officer. In this capacity, she is responsible for overseeing and coordinating all revenue generation for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. This includes growing the investor base; cultivating relationships with investors, Board of Directors, and prospective investors; providing strategic leadership and planning for future development needs.  MAC represents the 29-county region with a $15 million annual budget.

She is acknowledged for her leadership capabilities, strategic visioning and negotiating strengths as well as her ability to build partnerships with individuals at all levels in corporate organizations. Her sales skills combined with her intuitiveness, responsiveness and talent for executing on strategies has benefited the organization by providing ever increasing results for Chamber leadership and over 20 plus Chamber Chairs.

She has traveled the world, including Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Georgia, and Romania serving as a Board Member for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). She has been active in the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Association (ACCE) and serves on the Board of Trustees for Leadership Atlanta and the Grady Hospital Ambassador Force.

Prior to coming to MAC, Rys served as Territory Manager for Kellogg’s. She attended the University of Florida and has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. Rys served on the Boards of Clayton State University College of Business Advisory Board, and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).  

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Douglas Ray

Chief Financial Officer

Doug Ray is a certified public accountant with over 35 years experience and has been in charge of overseeing all financial and accounting aspects for several industry leading real estate companies. 

In September 2014, Mr. Ray joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber.  In his current capacity, he is responsible for overseeing the Finance, Information Technology and Building Operations groups for the Chamber, which for over 150 years has been the key organization for attracting new companies to the Atlanta Region and stimulating business growth for the area. 

In October 2011, Mr. Ray joined Invest Atlanta as Chief Financial Officer where he was responsible for managing all financial and administrative matters for the City of Atlanta’s economic development agency.

Prior to joining Invest Atlanta, Mr. Ray was Chief Financial Officer for Elias Brothers Group for 5 years, a well respected Southwest Florida developer, homebuilder and painting/restoration contractor where he was responsible for all financial and accounting functions including bank relations, financial reporting, economic analyses, cash flow management and loan negotiations.

For the 9 years prior to joining Elias Brothers Group, Mr. Ray was Chief Financial Officer of John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods in Atlanta, GA, one of the largest privately owned homebuilders in the United States and winner of numerous awards including National Builder of the Year and America’s Best Builder, both presented by the National Association of Homebuilders.  He was responsible for providing financial and accounting oversight to the entire organization.  Some of his initiatives included implementing a formal economic analysis process for potential land acquisitions, establishing a detailed system of accounting and financial policies and procedures, an annual budget process, an internal audit function and a property tax administration department.

From 1992 until he joined John Wieland Homes, Mr. Ray served as Vice President, Director of Accounting, Administration, Property Management and Construction for Codina Group’s Deering Bay community in Coral Gables, FL during the development of this luxury community which features 286 luxury homes, an 18 home Arnold Palmer golf course, 600 member country club and 2 marinas.     

Starting in early 1981, Mr. Ray served as Vice President, Retail Property Accounting for Carter & Associates in Atlanta.  At Carter & Associates, he managed the economic analysis, financial development, construction and operational accounting for up to 20 regional malls, power strip and strip shopping centers with an aggregate value ranging from $500 million to $1 billion.  Mr. Ray worked closely with major lenders on loan packaging and administration of the projects as well as representing Carter & Associates in the negotiation and completion of property closings.

Mr. Ray is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Alabama.  After graduation, he began his professional career with PWC, where he completed the requirements for his CPA certificate and gained valuable experience auditing a variety of clients.