Jeff Hammond is a Principal at Sperry Van Ness (SVN) Commercial Realty with more than 20 years of experience in the sale, investment, development and property management of commercial and residential real estate. His track record has earned him nicknames such as “The Bulldog” and “Mr. Networker.” Prior to his current role, Jeff committed over a decade to longstanding United Way partner, United Postal Service (UPS).

Jeff and his wife, Vicky, became United Way of Greater Atlanta Tocqueville Society members three years ago. He also dedicates his time to the Tocqueville Society Cabinet, allowing his naturally gregarious personality to shine as a volunteer on the Engagement & Retention Committee. However, his involvement with United Way began long before he came to us.

Why did you decide to get involved with United Way?
“The reason I got involved with United Way was through the UPS campaign. I walked in, first day on August 17th, and my boss was the district chairman. She said, “This is what you do at UPS,” so I thought that’s what you did. That’s how I initially got involved with United Way.

Before then, I’ve always given to the community from my church, Boy Scouts, and also my fraternity (Sigma Nu at UNC Charlotte). I was a community service chair, raised money for different events… so when I got to UPS, it just took off from there.”

How did you decide to become a Tocqueville Society member?
“It was a decision that my wife and I made. The step-up program was really the key. We’d been giving what they call “Leadership Giving” at UPS… Then we’re like, “Why aren’t we doing step-up? We’re here in Atlanta, this is the biggest Tocqueville Society in the nation, this is what we should do.” We always kind of dreamed to do that.”

If you were to choose another career path, what would it be?
“I’ve had two career paths – one, I worked at UPS, that was my dream job. Then I went into real estate, and it’s definitely my passion. If there was another job that I would ever take, it would be a CEO of a United Way-type organization. I wake up every day trying to help somebody, even in my own business.”

Where is your favorite spot in Atlanta to grab a bite to eat?
“Atlanta MSA, or…? I’ve got several places I like to go. Local watering hole is The Wing Café, I love wings. Another restaurant, up in Roswell, Peach & The Porkchop, that is probably the best in Fulton County. Going south of the city in Villa Rica, Evan’s BBQ is a great place.”

Mary Ellen Garrett

Tocqueville Society Chair & Tocqueville Women United Member

“Could any force be more powerful than thousands of women philanthropists working hand-in-hand with nonprofits, neighborhoods, companies, schools, and other-who all share the same goal of a safe, stronger region?”

Count on Mary Ellen Garrett to ask that important question.

The 34-year Merrill Lynch veteran is no stranger to success. In addition to numerous internal accolades, she has received multiple years of recognition from Forbes as one of the nation’s top wealth advisors.

However, one thing that has always set Mary Ellen apart is her ability to leverage her own talents for the benefit of others. Many Atlanta-based nonprofits can attest to the value she has brought to their organizations: Mercy Care Foundation, Atlanta Catholic Archdiocese, Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, The Carter Center… just to name a few.

She is a trailblazer in every sense of the word, but especially at United Way.

Twenty years ago, Mary Ellen joined the Tocqueville Society at the recommendation of her colleague and mentor, Jere Goldsmith.

It didn’t take long before she decided she had an important role to play in uplifting other women, too. Mary Ellen was a guiding force in establishing Women’s Legacy (which is now called Women United), and later, Tocqueville Women United.

Shortly afterwards in 2004, Mary Ellen and her husband Scott became the very first household – which includes their son, Alex, and twin daughters, Anna and Patsy – to establish themselves as Legacy Leaders with a planned gift to United Way of Greater Atlanta.

Mary Ellen joined United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Board of Directors, and in 2012, she brought her talents to United Way Worldwide’s U.S.A. Board of Trustees.

Most recently, Mary Ellen became the chair of United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Tocqueville Society—the first woman to hold that position. As Chair, Mary Ellen represented our Tocqueville Society in Omaha, Nebraska, meeting with the family of Peter and Warren Buffet to open the doors for transformational giving.

It is an understatement to say that we are grateful for Mary Ellen Garrett’s decades of support – Atlanta is a better place because of her joy in philanthropy.

Kelly Janzen
Chief Accounting Officer, WestRock

Say hello to Kelly Janzen, Chief Accounting Officer for WestRock and a Tocqueville Women United Cabinet member who started her United Way journey in Houston.

“While I was living in Houston, a really good friend invited me to a few Tocqueville events, and I had a greater realization of the impact that United Way has on communities. Thus, I decided at that time to make a larger commitment and join the Tocqueville Society.”

Kelly started with WestRock in August 2017 from Baker Hughes, a GE company, based in Houston, Texas where she served as the Vice President, Controller, and Chief Accounting Officer.

“I’ve been involved with United Way for many years in various capacities, starting with campaign captain at my previous employers.”

Prior to Baker Hughes, she was with McDermott International, Inc. as Vice President, Finance and Chief Accounting Officer. She also had a successful career with General Electric, where she started as a global controller with GE Security and continued in controller leadership roles with GE Healthcare, an assignment with GE Corporate in Hong Kong, and GE Power & Water.

Kelly started her career as an auditor with Arthur Andersen LLP. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Louisiana State University and is a Certified Public Accountant. Kelly is also a member of the WellStar Health System Foundation Board, in addition to her service as a Tocqueville Women United Cabinet member.

“It was important to me when I moved to Atlanta to continue my involvement with such a great organization.”

AAP Member Spotlight: Ashaki T. Wilham
Principal Scientist, Flavor Research and Development,
The Coca-Cola Company


AAP: Tell us about your role at The Coca-Cola Company and how you impact the company’s strategic goals.
The Coca-Cola Company is an industry leader in the beverage category and is one of the most recognized brands worldwide. I lead the Global Flavor Research and Development team which focuses on flavor development in the areas of continuity, innovation and productivity for The Company. Our work ensures that there is continuity of supply for strategic agricultural ingredients. We provide customized flavor solutions enabling innovation and growth. My team has supported productivity initiatives which help generate savings that are reinvested into the business. We also support strategic reformulation initiatives to reduce sugar in core company brands.


AAP: What suggestions could you offer to an individual interested in pursuing a career, such as yours?
Food Science is a very broad and diverse field of study offering many diverse disciplines, one of which is Flavor Creation. Becoming a Flavorist takes years of careful training and is a role that requires diligence and perseverance. Flavor Creation allows you to explore your technical side while tapping into your creative side in order to curate an experience that consumers will want to enjoy time and time again.  Although it is not a widely known career choice, it is both lucrative and rewarding. The tangible nature of the work offers the satisfaction of seeing your finished product in the local grocery, restaurant, or convenience store shelf.

 

AAP: Tell us about your experience at the AAP Day of Service last year when you operated a booth at the S.T.E.A.M. career fair last summer.
When I was in the 10th grade, I had a phenomenal biology teacher that instilled in me a passion for science. I was always curious and loved science in elementary and middle school, but she helped make it fun and relevant to me. Once I decided to pursue science as a field of study, I initially wanted to be a doctor, not realizing that Flavor Chemistry even existed. Since I’ve been in this industry, it has been a passion and purpose to share careers in Food Science with our youth from kindergarten through college. I believe that children of all ages are like sponges who, once exposed to knowledge, will soak it up. It gives me honor to provide that exposure. S.T.E.A.M. events energize me, and I am always overwhelmed by the sense of engagement and inquisitiveness that the students display.

 

AAP: Who is your favorite trailblazer that serves as an inspiration to you?
The trailblazer that inspires me is Dr. Mae Jemison. She began studying at Stanford at 16 years old, received her doctorate in medicine from Cornell University, and orbited the earth 126 times as an astronaut. Dr. Jemison didn’t stop there, she also found ways to give back by first volunteering with the Peace Corp and later founding the Jemison Group, an organization that encourages the pursuit of science. Her passion for science, quest to be the best and to offer a hand back makes Dr. Jemison a truly motivating force.

 

AAP: Why is philanthropy important to you? How do you give back to the community?
Philanthropy, defined as the desire to help others, through the donation of money, time or skills, is integral to my core value system. I take pleasure in serving others, using my gifts and talents to make things better in the communities where I live and work. It is also important to me that I model the behavior for my children, taking the opportunity to create a family culture of compassion. My favorite ways to give back include performing random acts of kindness, supporting the First Impressions, Children’s and Cleaning Ministry’s at church and educating children about the field of Food Science.

 

AAP: What is your favorite quote?
Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you. ~Mother Teresa