AAP & Tocqueville Society Member Spotlight: Myra Bierria

AAP and Tocqueville Society Member Spotlight
Myra Bierria
Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Southern Company

Tell us about your role at Southern Company and how you impact the company’s strategic goals?
Myra: My role is Vice President and Corporate Secretary for the Southern Company. One of my core responsibilities is to provide legal and administrative support to the Board of Directors and executive management. My day-to-day activities can range from providing legal advice to the Board of Directors or executive management concerning corporate governance matters to planning logistics down to the last detail for a Board meeting. Southern Company is committed to provide clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers and communities. Sound corporate governance policies and practices are an important part of Southern’s strategy, consistent with the increasing focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters as they relate to the energy industry.

What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in corporate law?
Myra: Earning a law degree is a significant investment of time and resources, but the education and development of analytical skills are well worth it. If you can take time off after undergrad and work in either a law office or corporate environment, it may be helpful in determining whether a law degree is something you really need or desire. As far as practicing corporate law specifically, I’d advise a person to get as much experience as possible at a law firm before moving in-house to a corporate law department. The diverse mix of clients one has the opportunity to advise in a law firm prepares potential in-house lawyers to handle the wide range of legal issues that may come up in a corporation.

If you were to choose another career path, what would it be?
Myra: If I could change my career, I would choose to be an American History professor. I enjoy teaching others and am fascinated with what we can learn from our country’s past and how lessons learned can and will impact our future.

What sparked your interest in philanthropy and why did you become a United Way Tocqueville Society member?
Myra: I was raised in a working-class family. Although an excess of resources was not the norm, my parents taught us to be charitable with our time and whatever financial contribution we could spare. The United Way is one of the first organizations I can recall providing small but, to our family, meaningful donations. Further, the 100 Black Men’s Young Black Scholars program as well as the Girl Scouts program would not have been available to me without the generosity of others. Each of these programs played a critical role in my college and career choices. Being a member of the United Way Tocqueville Society is a logical way for me to pay it forward. Fortunately for me, my company had a step-up program that allowed me to join the Tocqueville Society early in my career and increase my donations over time.

Who is your favorite American trailblazer that serves as a source of inspiration to you?
Myra: My favorite American trailblazer for the longest time has been Justice Thurgood Marshall. More recently, I’ve added First Lady Michelle Obama. Both Marshall and Obama overcame extreme adversity with success not just as individuals but as public figures as part of a larger organization with a significant positive impact on our society. In the legal field, Justice Marshall successfully litigated pivotal desegregation cases in front of our country’s highest court, which he would later serve on. He persevered despite the challenging racial tension of his times and in spite of threats to his personal safety. Similarly, First Lady Obama as part of the executive administration and as a high-profile educated career woman and mother of two served our country with dignity and grace despite unimaginable obstacles.  I’m inspired by her resolve and determination to have a positive impact on the health of children while serving as a role model for women.

#WhyWednesday: Doug Hutcherson

For Doug Hutcherson, CEO of Lockton Partners, LCC Southeast and member of our Tocqueville Society, he wanted to make an impact in Greater Atlanta beyond writing a check. Today, hear why Doug got involved in our Street-to-Home program to combat homelessness—and to learn more about Doug and Lockton’s commitment to philanthropy, read our interview with him here.

In Greater Atlanta, more than 5,000 people are in shelters or on the street on any given night, most of whom are unable to access the support and services they need to help end their homelessness. Street-to-Home seeks to end homelessness through reunification with friends and families, obtaining permanent housing, and referrals to support programs, which led to stability.

#WhyWednesday: Lee Crump

“I think United Way does so much to make this a better place to live for all of us.”

Lee Crump is the CIO and Group Vice President of Business Support for Rollins, Inc. In addition to being a member of our Tocqueville Society, Lee also serves as the Executive United Way Campaign Representative for Rollins. Today, hear why Lee is involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta.

Last year, Rollins raised over $1.1 million dollars for United Way! Interested in increasing your company’s impact on your community? Learn more about how we can partner with your organization to design a custom corporate social responsibility strategy that reflects your company’s values, and helps you meet your philanthropic goals.

#WhyWednesday: John Giegerich

John Giegerich, BB&T Senior Vice President and Atlanta Market President, understands the importance of the work United Way is doing for this community. He’s seen firsthand the difference it can make in one person’s life, and it’s why he continues to give today. Today, hear why John is a passionate Tocqueville Society member and United Way of Greater Atlanta supporter!

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Tocqueville Society, the largest Tocqueville Society in the United States, is a committed leadership group making a measurable and sustainable impact on child well-being in Greater Atlanta through the connected efforts of their philanthropy. Learn more about Tocqueville Society here.

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.”

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Tocqueville Society is a committed leadership group making a measurable and sustainable impact in Greater Atlanta through the connected efforts of their philanthropy. The Cabinet volunteers help uphold this value proposition while advancing the Child Well-Being Movement in our 13-county region.


Tocqueville Women United Chair
Daneen Durr
AT&T

Tocqueville Society Chair
Chris Peck
UPS (Retired)

Ivan Allen Circle Chair
Dan Reardon
North Highland Company

 

David Abee
Synovus

 

Lawrence Ashe
Parker Hudson Ranier & Dobbs

 

Shan Cooper
Atlanta Committee for Progress

 

Amy Corn
Marketing Executive

 

Karen Doolittle
Mercer

 

Kathy Dowling
AT&T (Retired)

 

Steve Evans
Macy’s (Retired)

 

Pat Falotico
Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership

 

Mary Ellen Garrett
The Garrett Group / Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
John Geraghty
SunTrust

 

Doug Gosden
Holland & Knight

 

Jeff Hammond
SVN

 

Tricia Holder
PMH Consulting Partners

 

Doug Hutcherson
Lockton Companies

 

Laura Mills
Grant Thornton

 

Angela Nagy
EY

 

Mike Orr
The Genuine Parts Company

 

Jimmy Palik
EY

 

Charles “Chuck” Palmer
Troutman Sanders

 

Mike Petrik
Alston & Bird LLP

 

Dave Polstra
Brightworth, Inc.

 

Robyn Roberts
RSR Consulting, Inc.

 

Amy Rudolph
Eversheds Sutherland

 

Sylvia Russell
AT&T (Retired)

 

Sidney Simms, Jr.
Eversheds Sutherland

 

Lyn Turknett
Turknett Leadership Group

 

 

For more information, please contact Tocqueville Society Director, Karin Von Kaenel at (404) 527-7227 or kvonkaenel@unitedwayatlanta.org.

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.”

Joseph E. Heatherly
Audit Partner, Grant Thornton LLP

Tocqueville Society Member
Young Professional Leaders Advisory Board Member

 

 

Joseph E. Heatherly is an audit partner at Grant Thornton LLP, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms.

Joseph began his career at Grant Thornton in September 2004 in Charlotte, NC. After spending several years in the audit division of the firm’s Charlotte, NC, and Columbia, SC offices, he completed a two-year rotation within the firm’s national office. In July 2015, Joseph moved to the Atlanta office of Grant Thornton searching for additional career opportunities and was promoted to audit partner in August 2016. Joseph focuses on serving publicly traded and privately held entities within the transportation, retail, service, and pharmaceutical industries.

In addition to his membership in the Tocqueville Society of United Way Atlanta, Joseph is a member of the Young Professional Leaders Advisory Board of United Way Atlanta and serves as Internal Communications Chair. He is also a member of the 2019 Multiple Sclerosis Leadership Class of Atlanta.

Joseph is a native of Jonesville, SC, and received his Bachelors of Science in Accounting and Masters of Professional Accountancy from Clemson University. He resides with his wife, Caroline, and their daughter in Buckhead.

Lee W. Crump is the CIO and Group Vice President of Business Support for Rollins, Inc. Rollins is an S&P500 company based in Atlanta, has annual revenues of over $1.8 billion and is the parent company of Orkin Pest Control, HomeTeam Pest Defense, and other well-known pest control companies. Prior to joining Rollins in 2009 Crump spent ten years as the CIO of the largest and most profitable ServiceMaster subsidiary based in Memphis, TN.  In 2012 Crump was named Georgia CIO of the Year (Global Division) by the GeorgiaCIO Association.

Lee serves as the Board Chair for Year-Up, Atlanta and is a member of the Board of Directors for PowerMyLearning, Atlanta where he is Resource Development Committee Chair. He serves on the Advisory Boards of the GeorgiaCIO Association where he is Board Chair Emeritus, and the Association of Telecommunications Professionals (ATP). He is a past Board Member of Georgia Junior Achievement and CHRIS Kids. He is a volunteer and mentor for Pathbuilders Achieva, as well as Year-Up Atlanta, where in 2013 he received the Year-Up Urban Empowerment Award.

He is a member of American Mensa, the GeorgiaCIO Association, the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Technology Association of Georgia, (TAG), the Association of Telecommunications Professionals (ATP), and the Society of Information Managers (SIM).

He and his wife Tracy reside in Brookhaven. When he’s not working, you can find Lee on the golf course or practicing blues riffs on the electric guitar.