An ‘outstanding’ year for Outstanding Atlanta

Formed in 1968 as The Outstanding Young People Of Atlanta (“TOYPA”) organization, Outstanding Atlanta (OA) is the City’s premier honor for community involvement, annually recognizing 10 young professionals between the ages of 21 and 40 for distinguishing themselves in their careers and service to Atlanta’s community. Having grown from its initial involvement with the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, OA soon became an independent organization devoted to recognizing some of the most actively involved and dynamic young people in Atlanta who, in turn, helped to promote the leadership qualities that have made Atlanta such an outstanding place in which to live and work.

Maranie Brown is the 2023 President of Outstanding Atlanta. She is a technology executive and an active community leader.

Today, we are a collective of over 500 alumni who are informed servant leaders of action. We are trusted advisors and stakeholders in this city and region. With alumni like Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Rodney Bullard of The Same House, Kate’s Club Founder Kate Atwood, Atlanta community engagement extraordinaire Ann Cramer, and Jay Bailey of the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs, OA alumni have demonstrated the leadership and modeled the service and dedication required to move Atlanta forward.

It’s with that same standard of excellence and community engagement that the OA Board of Directors – Maranie Brown (President), Taos Wynn (President-Elect), Miriam Archibong (Secretary/Historian), Adam Parker (Treasurer), Mercedes G. Ball (Vice President of Governance), Sterling Johnson (Vice President of Selections), Jadrien Grimes (Vice President of Sponsorships), Rachel Sprecher (Vice President of Programs), Martha Revelo-Nguyen (Vice President of Alumni Engagement), Sofia M. Aun (Director-At-Large), and Malik Brown (Director-At-Large) – approached leading and serving in 2023.

As the year comes to a close, we reflect on what we have accomplished.

  • Inducted 11 outstanding leaders into our collective of community involvement: In September, OA hosted its annual induction ceremony at Atlanta City Hall and celebrated the professional and community contributions of this year’s class, which included Mayor Andre Dickens as the organization’s first Honorary Member. The 2023 Honorees are below:
  • Ann Hill Bond, Community Engagement Editor, Capital B News Atlanta
  • Paul Larkin, Director of Community Engagement & Education, Clark Atlanta University Cancer Research Center
  • Kelly Lee, Director of Community Impact, Atlanta Dream
  • Juan Mejia, President, JCM Ventures
  • Allison Ng, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • E. Richard Taylor, Managing Partner, ARRC Capital Partners, LLC
  • Ana Urrego, Managing Partner / HR Manager, GDC Smiles
  • Breanne West, Director of Operations and Finance, Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education
  • Christen Wright, Vice President, Product Management, Reseda Group
  • Anqi Zou, SVP, Fair & Responsible Banking Compliance Analytics Director
  • Mayor Andre Dickens, 61st Mayor of Atlanta, OA Honorary Member
  • Hosted three alumni engagement events that focused on some of the city’s most pressing issues: We developed a programming series focused on bringing alumni together and showcasing the expertise and knowledge that exists with the organization, In May, at the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE), the first event focused on “The Future of Leadership in Atlanta,” and distinguished panelists shared their thoughts on leadership and what’s needed to ensure Atlanta’s continued growth and advancement. Christie Sithiphone (Vice President, Inclusion & Engagement, Marina Maher Communications), Jay Bailey (President & CEO, RICE), Jenn Graham Stokell (Founder & CEO, Inclusivv), Antonio Molina (Junior Partner, Nguyen & Pham & Immediate Past Chairman of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), and Eshé Collins (Chair, Atlanta Board of Education) for sharing their leadership journeys, Outstanding Atlanta’s significance, and the future of our city and region. 

In July, Christopher Perlera (Founder & Principal, Critical Point Consulting), Howard Franklin (President & CEO, Ohio River South), Amy Phuong (VP of Government Relations, Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena), Daniel Blackman (Senior Advisor for STEM Recruitment and Diversity, Biden Administration), Martha Revelo-Nguyen (Associate Director of Government Affairs, ACCG), and Christopher Bruce (Policy & Advocacy Director of ACLU), participated in a conversation on migration patterns, politics, economic development, and the overall landscape of what Georgia, specifically Atlanta, has become. The event also included an overview of the Partnership for Southern Equity’s Metro Atlanta Racial Equity Atlas (MAREA) by Joel Alvarado (Vice President for Strategy and Engagement, PSE). 

Aligning with the “Year of the Youth” and the holiday season in December, the final event included a discussion on impactful ways to support youth-serving nonprofits with the following panelists: Greg Clay (Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services), Brittany Collins (Executive Director, Betty and Davis Fitzgerald Foundation), Jason Esteves (Attorney, Entrepreneur, and Senator for Georgia Senate District 6), Shirley Anne Smith (President & CEO, BCM Georgia), and Rachel Sprecher (Relationships Manager, R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation). Whether awarding financial gifts, serving on a board, or participating in direct service opportunities, all attendees left more informed and armed with advice and strategies that inspire action. We were thrilled that Mayor Dickens could attend, celebrate the year, and share why he’s championing youth programs and initiatives.

  • Coordinated quarterly service projects aligned with the “Year of the Youth”: Many know that Mayor Dickens named 2023 the “Year of the Youth.” Earlier this year, he said, “Atlanta’s young people are our future. Continuing to invest in future generations puts them on pathways to success that will help us Move Atlanta Forward, together.” Hearing the call to action, the OA Board of Directors adopted this as our community focus for this year. Whether distributing backpacks at the Atlanta Public Schools Back-to-School Bash or leading reading and math activities with K-5 students in the Hands On Atlanta Discovery Program or collecting toys during the holiday season for The Grocery Spot, our alumni adopted a posture of action throughout the year, engaged in a number of critical community projects, and invested in Atlanta’s young people and its future.
  • Received two proclamations highlighting OA’s significance and impact – one from Atlanta City Council and one from Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts (also an Outstanding Atlanta alumnus). 

I couldn’t be prouder of the collective impact displayed by our very passionate and active alumni base. Without question, we have had one outstanding year of service, leadership, and impact. OA has become one of Atlanta’s premier organizations with respect to recognizing and connecting top Atlanta business and community leaders, and in 2023, we added to its incredible legacy. I can’t wait to see how next year’s leadership team will carry the torch and move the organization forward.

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