AAP & Tocqueville Society Member Spotlight: Youlanda Mack

AAPTocqueville Society Member, Youlanda Mack
IT Technical Lead for Oracle ERP and Cloud Applications
Cox Enterprises, Inc.

Tell us about your role at Cox Enterprises and how you impact the company’s strategic goals?

As an IT technical lead for ERP and Oracle Applications, I am responsible for the operational support of the PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM) and Autonomous Oracle Integration Cloud Applications.  My day-to-day HCM responsibilities include the overall management of data and infrastructures that run applications for all Cox companies (CEI Enterprises, Cox Communication & Cox Automotive). These activities can range from hardware infrastructure support, database management, application modifications\migrations, and batch performance for HR related jobs such as employee benefits and payroll. I also support application modification and system uptime consumptions for the processing of cloud interfaces for with Cox Suppliers and vendors.

Cox is committed to giving back, volunteerism, and mentorship to help server communities. As part of that commitment, all employees of Cox have these values as an individual objective. Cox encourages and offers paid time off for employees to participate and serve local communities and volunteer events that will help to make a better future for the next generation.

As a Cox employee, I have those same values. I am strategically contributing to the Cox company goals by giving and being involved in several corporate and community volunteer events. I am committed to performing my job with integrity while helping to empower people to overcome their challenges and have opportunities to improve their quality of life.


What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in IT?

Almost every aspect of life touches IT and technology so it is a great career choice. Technology continues to grow and change rapidly. I would encourage them explore multiple areas in IT (Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Cyber Security, Mobile, Virtual Reality, Web, etc.) and multiple roles (Architect, Business Analyst, Database Administrator, Developer, Software or Security Engineer, etc.) to find an area that you really enjoy working in. I would also advise them to expand their knowledge with continuous learning in IT, soft skills and leadership, set development goals, read books, attend training on a regular basis, and know yourself and accept your flaws. Lastly, I would advise getting a mentor early on in your career to help guide you and provide open and honest feedback.

 

You have a long list of experience volunteering and mentoring in the community. What first sparked your interest in philanthropy and why did you become an AAP Cabinet member?

My interest in in philanthropy is simply because I am a beneficiary of philanthropy myself growing up in a lower income household with a single mother and it is a passion for me to help others. I know firsthand the difference philanthropy has made in my life. I received financial assistance, college entrance exams, college applications, identify college majors, etc. all of which help me attend college. I often think back and appreciate the mentorship, encouragement, lessons, and inspiring words of people who have crossed my path and made me a better person for the sharing of themselves. I am a person of faith and I truly believe “To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48)”.  Giving back is part of my values, beliefs and gratifying experience. It is also an honor and privilege to share my mentorship, knowledge, finances, service and time volunteering to serve local communities and great causes like the African American Partnership. Being a philanthropist specifically for AAP has the added benefit of being part of my heritage. It is truly a passion and self-fulfillment goal of mine to inspire others to overcome difficult and challenging circumstances. Furthermore, it is embedded in my heart and soul to make a difference in life and beyond myself. Being an AAP Cabinet member provides me the opportunity to do so.

 

You have mentored others in the community, what advice would you give to a younger Youlanda Mack?

First, I would start with the advice of obtaining a couple of mentors. I would have a mentor in my profession to help me navigate my professional career and identify talents that I possibly did not see in myself. I would also have a second mentor that was more experienced in life and a good sounding board to help me with decisions. This second mentor could be another businessperson, coworker, friend or relative that I respect and admire. The two mentors can provide guidance, open and honest feedback from different prospective.

Another piece of advice to my younger self would be to engage in public speaking at a young age. Being an African American female and a minority in the IT field, I believe public speaking would have helped embolden me to communicate more effectively and proficiently. I also believe public speaking builds up your confidence to creatively tell your story to get your idea recognized and shared with others. Ultimately, I believe mastering public speaking improves your overall interactions with others.

As a final point to my younger self; stay true to who you are. Know that what I do now does not define who I am and who I will become later.

 

Who is your favorite American trailblazer that serves as a source of inspiration to you?

I have a list of favorite American Trailblazers but there are two that I really admire. One of my dearest trailblazers is my mother. Her willingness to sacrifice to support me in my aspirations in whatever I chose to do. She supports me 100%. Another great trailblazer for me is Michelle Obama for me. She is one of the most inspiring persons of this decade. I really like her life story and the transparency that she shows in her appearances and speaking engagements. She shares stories and life lessons of her struggles and accolades of how she worked through and succeeded in overcoming life’s challenges. As part of her accolades, she has been presented three honorary doctorate degrees and recently won a Grammy for her spoken word for her memoir “Becoming. Educationally, professionally, personally and her elegance of being the first lady of the 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama represents pure excellence. She certainly inspires African American women to know that we can think differently, dream differently because it is possible to reach our full potential.

#WhyWednesday: Dr. Tameeka Law Walker

Meet Dr. Tameeka Law Walker of Georgia Perinatal Consultants. Why does she invest in Greater Atlanta’s future as a member of our Tocqueville Society and African-American Partnership? For Dr. Law Walker, it’s personal.

Today, hear Dr. Law Walker share the why behind her commitment to her community.

Why child well-being? When children thrive, communities thrive. Across Greater Atlanta, volunteers, donors and community advocates are rallying around the Child Well-Being Movement – so that our region can be a place where every child, regardless of zip code, can reach their full potential. Right now, nearly half a million children in Greater Atlanta live in areas with low or very low child well-being scores. But together, we can change that! Learn how you can get involved.

As we embark upon a new decade, we would like to take a moment to reflect on the past year. The Tocqueville Society helps underwrite the Child Well-Being Movement – in other words, our work wouldn’t be possible without this group of philanthropists! Thank you to each and every Tocqueville Society member who showed up to support the Atlanta community.


Super Bowl LIII

With your support, Super Bowl week was a game changer for kids! We had so much fun with the Super Bowl Experience, supporting Character Playbook, and our virtual reality “Call the Play” game.
View the photo album here.


United Way Day at the Capitol

United Way Day at the Capitol brought our elected and appointed policymakers together, including Governor Kemp and Mayor Bottoms, to build awareness around our Child Well-Being mission.
View the photo album here.


4th Annual African American Partnership Leadership Luncheon

More than 1,000 people came out to the 4th annual AAP Leadership Luncheon to hear from Common, connect with other community leaders and power the academic potential of African-American boys and young men.
View the photo album here.

 

Tocqueville Society & Young Professional Leaders Mentoring Mixer

This annual event provides United Way Tocqueville Society members with the opportunity to share their personal experiences and advice with young professionals in Greater Atlanta. On March 14, we were proud to bring people from different walks of life together for a full evening of networking and insightful discussion.
View the photo album here.

 

State of the Children: Progress through Partnerships

Two years after launching the Child Well-Being Index, the 2019 State of the Children event held on May 9 explored the progress made — and how far we have to go — to ensure that our region’s children are thriving.
View the photo album here.


8th Annual Leading a Life of Purpose

On May 16, attendees heard a captivating panel discussion from some of the most influential women leading in business and philanthropy about breaking barriers and building bridges. Panelists included New York Times Best-selling Author and Former Media Executive, Gail Evans, and Chief Diversity Officer of The Home Depot, Beatriz Rodriguez.
View the photo album here.


Tocqueville Recognition Reception

One of our favorite nights of the year was celebrated on September 19, as we were joined by Governor Brian Kemp as our keynote speaker. Award winners for the evening included Bill and Ashley Rogers and GEEARS.
View the photo album here.


11th Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast

On November 21, Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle spoke on sisterhood, courage, community, leading where you are and finding purpose. Thank you to Glennon, Abby, our Women of Excellence honoree Sally Yates and to all the gamechangers who made the 2019 Women’s Leadership Breakfast a success! Because of you, our Women United Advancement Initiative can break down barriers for more women—so they can in turn empower each other and our communities.
View the photo album here.


We can’t wait to celebrate 35 years of the Tocqueville Society in 2020!

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.