Meet Karen Doolittle, our incoming Chair of Tocqueville Women United. As a member of the Tocqueville Society, Tocqueville Women United Cabinet and our Women’s Leadership Breakfast Host Committee, as well as a member of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2020, Karen is a community leader championing lasting change for Greater Atlanta communities.

Today, hear Karen share why she lives united:



Ready to join Karen and other United Way changemakers? Click here to learn more about Women United. 

If you’re interested in guiding Tocqueville Women United strategy, community impact, and long-term growth, we invite you to inquire about joining the Tocqueville Women United Cabinet.  Tocqueville Women United is a group of female Tocqueville members and community leaders who help generate, organize, direct, and influence the activities and dollars of the United Way of Greater Atlanta.  

For more information, please contact Michelle Marshall, Senior Director of Women’ Leadership Initiatives

You’re working a full-time job, and it’s barely enough for you to support your family, but you get by — many times it’s thanks to the support from your neighbors, resources in town, local nonprofits, churches, etc.

You’re straggling that line of poverty, but things are OK for now. You have a lot to be thankful for — you have your health, your children, a job — but then the unthinkable happens.

You or your spouse gets laid off, you get into a car accident or suddenly somebody needs surgery. Any one of these things can send you spiraling out of control and below the poverty line — the bills pile up; the bank is calling, and they are going to repo your car if you don’t come up with the money soon. You pawn some furniture, a couple of pieces of jewelry and you have enough to get through the week.

But then the next week comes. Nobody would have ever chosen to live in a situation like this.

Just because someone is living in poverty doesn’t mean it’s all their doing. This was a common takeaway from a Poverty Simulation hosted by the United Way of Greater Atlanta Women United Affinity Group on Feb. 21 at the AT&T Mobility, LLC office in Brookhaven.

Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families across Greater Atlanta, and exercises such as these poverty simulations work to bridge the gap of misconception surrounding poverty to an understanding that this can happen to anyone.

It’s an interactive experience. Before checking in, participants were given nametags to corresponding “families,” which were labeled by chairs set up in groups throughout the room — this is your “community.” Those chairs were boxed in by tables that represented community resources: Social services, banks, churches, pawn shops, businesses, schools, etc.

Each of the chairs came with a packet and assignment for each of the family members with a description. Some of the families had single mothers, fathers who had been laid off, children who needed to attend school and basketball practice or toddlers and young children who couldn’t provide for themselves.

You have all of these people to consider, and every one of your decisions can impact those in your family. So, you have to be strategic and work together.

United Way saw two years ago that, statistically, because of what zip code a child was born into, he or she was handed a disadvantage beyond their control. Through a set of 14 child, community and family measures, United Way calculated at the time a child well-being score of 58.9.

On May 9, 2019, United Way announced the regional child well-being score had improved to 61.8, which represents a change in the lives of 82,000 children.

“How are the children in your community doing?” says Kisha Stanley, senior director of Volunteerism at United Way. “When we think about how we go out and educate people about Child Well-Being, we think about the Child Well-Being Index scores, and this encompasses things like third-grade reading and graduation rates.

“Poverty is at the crux of all of that. A kid’s success and the direction they go shouldn’t be determined by the zip code they are born into.”

So, families represented in that room relied on their community for support.

In the 60-minute process, participants went through the full gamut of emotions in this immersive simulation. Several of them lost their jobs and were forced out of their homes, and some of them were living in homeless shelters.

“Also, some of you have been robbed and you don’t know it yet,” Stanley tells the group during one of the breaks.

The anxiety builds with each passing 15 minutes, which represents one week.

“You see these things happen with certain people when you’re already living on the [poverty] line, and then one bad thing can just screw everything up,” says Chasitye Jackson, who participated in the simulation. “I already had sympathy for people, but I think that I’ll have more compassion just thinking about it because nobody chooses to be like this. Everybody wants to provide for their family.”

Jackson was a 15-year-old daughter in the simulation, and she said the biggest thing that struck her from the experience was how the family had put all of its focus on money instead of the emotional needs of the family.

Other families benefitted from having a two-parent household, even though they only had one steady income.

“I was an 8-year-old,” says Sibyl Slade, “so the first thing I noticed is that I couldn’t provide any input. I didn’t see a lot of my mom because she was working, but I saw my dad because he was the one laid off. Dad being more available allowed us to get errands run and dad knew where to get the services.”

But then Slade said her mother was “arrested” because her employer had written her a bad check. She was forced to go to jail, and then they had to make sacrifices to get her out.

The group discussed how they managed the difficulty of each situation.

“This is a simulation, this is fun, but this is real life for a lot of people,” Stanley says. “Regardless of what walk of life we are from, we all had some unconscious bias about people in that situation. But they are people, too. They are part of our community.”

If you want to help care for the people in your community, donate to the Child Well-Being Impact Fund. You can also look for other ways to volunteer and advocate for United Way in your community.

#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!

#WhyWednesday: Kim Youngpeter

“Together we create a much stronger community when those of us that have been very fortunate give back to those of us who haven’t.”

Kim Youngpeter is the Managing Director of Application Development for Rollins, Inc, and former co-chair of the United Way of Greater Atlanta Rollins, Inc. giving campaign. Today, hear why Kim works with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Tocqueville Women United to give back to her community.

Tocqueville Women United is a transformative group of committed business and civic leaders who work to improve the lives of children under United Way’s Child Well-Being agenda. We have several different leadership societies and affinity groups working to make a difference in Greater Atlanta – find out how you can join here.

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

Tocqueville Society Chair
Chris Peck
UPS (Retired)

Ivan Allen Circle Chair
Dan Reardon
North Highland Company


David Abee


Lawrence Ashe
Parker Hudson Ranier & Dobbs


Shan Cooper
Atlanta Committee for Progress


Amy Corn
Marketing Executive


Karen Doolittle


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


Doug Gosden
Holland & Knight


Jeff Hammond


Tricia Holder
PMH Consulting Partners


Doug Hutcherson
Lockton Companies


Laura Mills
Grant Thornton


Angela Nagy


Mike Orr
The Genuine Parts Company


Jimmy Palik


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

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.”

#WhyWednesday: Robyn Roberts

“All of us use the village to raise our children.”

Hear Robyn Roberts, champion for children and our community, share why she’s working to improve child well-being as a member of Tocqueville Women United.

Tocqueville Women United is made up of committed business and civic leaders who take action to improve the lives of children in Greater Atlanta. They join together with our Cole Women United to serve our community and further the child well-being movement in our region. To learn more about joining Tocqueville Women United, click here.

Erika Ford Preval is a leading source for modern and approachable events in etiquette and lifestyle for youth and adults. As Founder of Charm Etiquette, she has delivered expert advice that has improved the social skills and enhanced both the personal and professional lives of guests – from Fortune 100 companies to scholar athletes attending top universities.

While the ideals of leadership, lifestyle, and proper etiquette are a major focus, Erika also strives to foster a sense of community by hosting curated small group events within partner restaurant locations throughout Atlanta. Known for making it “cool to be cordial” her teaching methods are anything but stuffy and rigid – they’re relevant, fun and memorable experiences. After attending Charm events, guests are confident in navigating among any group of people – whether attending a State Dinner at the White House or a casual dinner at Waffle House.

Erika also shares her modern spin on manners through her blog, Erika Preval: simply put and as a contributing writer for Southern Living. She has become a credible “go-to” resource for national media and highly regarded resources like Zagat, the Chicago Tribune and CNN. Her local press features include the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, StyleBlueprint, The Atlantan and Atlanta Magazine. Founded in 2013, Charm Etiquette was named Best Classes and Workshops by Best Self Magazine and Erika has been recognized with honors from numerous organizations, including Georgia Tech University’s Women Out Front. 

Erika holds a degree in Economics and International Relations from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and Certification in Japanese Language and Culture from Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. 

A long-time supporter of the United Way of Greater Atlanta, she serves as a member of the Cole Women United Cabinet as well as its Board of Directors. She is also a Summer 2014 United Way VIP Alumni. Coincidentally, her daughter served on the inaugural Youth United Board. 

Her passion for youth and community is evidenced by years of continued service and philanthropy in Atlanta. Erika is a Lifetime Member and serves on the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. She is also a member of the Junior League of Atlanta and Atlanta Woman’s Club. In the same year that Charm Etiquette was launched, Erika provided ideation and initial funding to Spelman College for what would grow to become the Spelpreneur program – fostering entrepreneurship and innovation amongst its students.

Erika resides in Atlanta with her husband, John, and two teenage daughters.