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Metro Atlanta Chamber

Leadership

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Metro Atlanta Chamber

Leadership

Executive Team Members

Katie Kirkpatrick

Katie Kirkpatrick

President and CEO

404.586.8544 |

Katie Kirkpatrick currently serves as the president and CEO of the 160-year-old Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC). Kirkpatrick is known for her public policy prowess, courageous leadership and more than a decade of driving impact through her work at MAC.

Previously MAC’s chief policy officer, Kirkpatrick served as the link between the metro Atlanta business community and local and national government. She galvanized the Public Policy team’s priorities in business climate, educated workforce, transportation and sustainability – including water, energy and the environment. The Public Policy team continues to fight to protect Georgia’s top-rated business climate against legislation discriminatory in nature or harmful to the region’s ability to create, recruit and retain jobs.

Kirkpatrick joined the Chamber in 2007 as vice president of environmental affairs, previously serving in numerous roles directly related to environmental policy and water-related issues. Kirkpatrick later served as the Chamber’s senior vice president for business higher education, leading the execution of key initiatives strengthening the region’s higher education ecosystem and workforce development. Before joining MAC, she served as director of environmental engineering for Gold Kist, Inc., with responsibilities in regulatory compliance, designing treatment systems, strategic planning and more.

Kirkpatrick currently serves on the GRACE Commission, comprised of public officials, law enforcement, businesses and nonprofit organizations, committed to ending human trafficking in the State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta. She is a vice-chair for the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District and a past board chair for the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. She is also a member of the board of directors for the Atlanta Track Club and a member of the International Women's Forum Georgia.

As a graduate from Auburn University, Kirkpatrick is a registered professional engineer in several states and a member of the school’s 100+ Women Strong group of successful female engineering alumnae. Kirkpatrick is an alumna of Leadership Atlanta, a program designed to propel established leaders to further serve their communities. She is a volunteer with youth sports leagues in metro Atlanta and the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.

Kirkpatrick lives in Atlanta with her husband, Dow, and their two sons, who currently attend The Lovett School, where she regularly serves on the parent volunteer association.

 

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Thomas J. Cunningham

Chief Economist

Thomas J. Cunningham is Senior Vice President and the Chief Economist for the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC). Tom joined the MAC in July 2015 following a 30-year career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He is a specialist in open economy macroeconomic policy and regional analysis. At the MAC, he manages an internal team that supports the research and advocacy roles of the economic development and public policy departments.  

After starting his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as an economist in the Macropolicy group, Tom served at various times as associate director of research, interim director of research, vice president for the Regional group where he was also responsible for the Latin American group, and acting head of the Finance group. He served on the Bank's Personnel, Information Technology, and Risk Management Committees and as a member of the Federal Reserve System's Information Security Group and Technology Services Council. He also was the acting director of, and helped establish, the Bank's Center for Real Estate Analytics. When Dr. Cunningham retired from the Fed, his title was Vice President, Senior Economist and Regional Executive.

A native of Reedley, California, he received a bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, in economics from California State University, Fresno. He earned a master's degree, a master of philosophy, and a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University. He previously worked as an economics instructor at Barnard College at Columbia University and as an adjunct instructor at Iona College, Agnes Scott College, and Emory University. He attended the executive development program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and is a member of Leadership Atlanta’s class of 2018. He is a board member of Atlanta’s Neighborhood Nexus as well as the Georgia Intellectual Property Alliance. Dr. Cunningham has published numerous professional articles and is a member of the American Economic Association, the Western Economic Association, and the Southern Economic Association.

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David Hartnett

Chief Economic Development Officer

404.586.8443 |

As chief economic development officer of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, David Hartnett leads a team focused on the recruitment, retention and expansion of existing companies, from startups to headquarters. His team focuses on key clusters including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, fintech, creative industries (film, music, esports, AR/VR), supply chain, advanced manufacturing, and bioscience (biotech, healthtech, medtech, pharmaceutical).

Before joining the Chamber, Hartnett served as the president and CEO of Maco Pharma® (formerly United Pharma), a privately held U.S. medical device/pharmaceutical company based in Duluth, Georgia, and headquartered in Lille, France. Before Maco Pharma, Hartnett was president and CEO of SteriFx® Corporation, a specialty chemical startup, contracted by U.S. Department of Defense (DARPA). Prior to SteriFx, he served as the executive vice president of the North American headquarters of Given Imaging, Inc., an Israeli startup with corporate headquarters in Yokneam, Israel. Under his leadership, the company commercialized the “PillCam” video capsule, a disposable capsule that captures video after it is ingested by the patient. Hartnett helped to raise close to $30 million in a private placement for corporate infrastructure development and product commercialization before the company went public in 2001 (GIVN-NASDAQ). Hartnett served as vice president of marketing at ERBE Electro-surgery, the largest manufacturer of electrosurgical systems in the world, where he was responsible for commercial marketing throughout North America.

Hartnett has also served in a variety of other senior sales and marketing roles for the following companies: Karl Storz Lithotripsy, Genzyme (formerly Deknatel), STERIS (formerly AMSCO) and the XEROX Corporation.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from San Diego State University with a master’s equivalent in marketing through post-graduate studies.

He currently serves on the following boards:

- Carter Center, Board of Councilors

- Atlanta Science Festival™, Chairman of the Board

- Georgia Global Health Alliance, Board of Trustees

- Global Health Crisis Coordination Center (GHC3™) Founding Director

- Innovation Crescent Regional Partnership, Chairman

- Southeastern Medical Device Association, President Emeritus

- Venture Atlanta™ Coalition Director/Co-Founder

- Georgia Bio (statewide trade association), Director

- Institute for Healthcare Information Technology, Director/Co-Founder

- Quick Start, statewide advanced training program, Board of Advisors

- Kennesaw State University, President’s Community Board

- Leadership Atlanta Alumni 2013

Hartnett is married with four sons. He was raised on Coronado Island, California, and is an active member of the Atlanta business community.

Dan Corso

Dan Corso

President, Atlanta Sports Council

Dan Corso joined the Atlanta Sports Council (ASC) in 1999 after serving as Vice Chair of the Festival Division for the 1998 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.  

The Atlanta Sports Council’s mission is to facilitate the growth and development of sports in metro Atlanta by serving as a recruiter for major regional, national and international sporting events. The organization plays an important role in improving the quality of life for residents in the region through sports, working to drive economic growth and visibility and acting as an advocate for the area teams and annual sporting events.
The Sports Council’s accomplishments include hosting several prominent sporting events such as the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Four, MLB, NHL and NBA All-Star Games, WrestleMania XXVII and ACC and SEC Basketball Tournaments. Most recently, the ASC managed the effort to successfully recruit the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, Super Bowl LIII (2019) and the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four.
During his time at the ASC, the organization has been named Sports Commission of the Year by the National Association of Sports Commissions four times (2000, 2004, 2006 and 2015). 

Corso is President of the Atlanta Football Host Committee Inc., for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and College Football Hall of Fame and Advisory Board for the Celebration Bowl.

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Janice Rys

Chief Development Officer

Janice Rys serves the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) as chief development officer. In this capacity, she is responsible for overseeing and coordinating all revenue generation for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. This includes growing the investor base; cultivating relationships with investors, Board of Directors, and prospective investors; providing strategic leadership and planning for future development needs.  MAC represents the 29-county region with a $15 million annual budget.

She is acknowledged for her leadership capabilities, strategic visioning and negotiating strengths as well as her ability to build partnerships with individuals at all levels in corporate organizations. Her sales skills combined with her intuitiveness, responsiveness and talent for executing on strategies has benefited the organization by providing ever increasing results for Chamber leadership and over 20 plus Chamber Chairs.

She has traveled the world, including Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Georgia, and Romania serving as a Board Member for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). She has been active in the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Association (ACCE) and serves on the Board of Trustees for Leadership Atlanta and the Grady Hospital Ambassador Force.

Prior to coming to MAC, Rys served as Territory Manager for Kellogg’s. She attended the University of Florida and has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. Rys served on the Boards of Clayton State University College of Business Advisory Board, and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).  

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Douglas Ray

Chief Financial Officer

Doug Ray is a certified public accountant with over 35 years experience and has been in charge of overseeing all financial and accounting aspects for several industry leading real estate companies. 

In September 2014, Mr. Ray joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber.  In his current capacity, he is responsible for overseeing the Finance, Information Technology and Building Operations groups for the Chamber, which for over 150 years has been the key organization for attracting new companies to the Atlanta Region and stimulating business growth for the area. 

In October 2011, Mr. Ray joined Invest Atlanta as Chief Financial Officer where he was responsible for managing all financial and administrative matters for the City of Atlanta’s economic development agency.

Prior to joining Invest Atlanta, Mr. Ray was Chief Financial Officer for Elias Brothers Group for 5 years, a well respected Southwest Florida developer, homebuilder and painting/restoration contractor where he was responsible for all financial and accounting functions including bank relations, financial reporting, economic analyses, cash flow management and loan negotiations.

For the 9 years prior to joining Elias Brothers Group, Mr. Ray was Chief Financial Officer of John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods in Atlanta, GA, one of the largest privately owned homebuilders in the United States and winner of numerous awards including National Builder of the Year and America’s Best Builder, both presented by the National Association of Homebuilders.  He was responsible for providing financial and accounting oversight to the entire organization.  Some of his initiatives included implementing a formal economic analysis process for potential land acquisitions, establishing a detailed system of accounting and financial policies and procedures, an annual budget process, an internal audit function and a property tax administration department.

From 1992 until he joined John Wieland Homes, Mr. Ray served as Vice President, Director of Accounting, Administration, Property Management and Construction for Codina Group’s Deering Bay community in Coral Gables, FL during the development of this luxury community which features 286 luxury homes, an 18 home Arnold Palmer golf course, 600 member country club and 2 marinas.     

Starting in early 1981, Mr. Ray served as Vice President, Retail Property Accounting for Carter & Associates in Atlanta.  At Carter & Associates, he managed the economic analysis, financial development, construction and operational accounting for up to 20 regional malls, power strip and strip shopping centers with an aggregate value ranging from $500 million to $1 billion.  Mr. Ray worked closely with major lenders on loan packaging and administration of the projects as well as representing Carter & Associates in the negotiation and completion of property closings.

Mr. Ray is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Alabama.  After graduation, he began his professional career with PWC, where he completed the requirements for his CPA certificate and gained valuable experience auditing a variety of clients.

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Deisha Barnett

Chief Brand and Communications Officer, Head of Diversity & Inclusion

Deisha is an accomplished leader who shapes communications strategies, counsels CEOs, advocates for inclusion and grows teams. She is a passionate driver of transformative initiatives that generate results – whether targeting investors, analysts, consumers, employees or community stakeholders.

Deisha leads the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s strategic focus on promoting Atlanta and is the organization’s head of diversity and inclusion. Her team spans across internal communications, media relations, speech writing, digital communications, traditional marketing and the region’s millennial and gen Z-targeted movement, ChooseATL. She also leads the organization’s inside-out approach to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, including efforts that aim to drive collaboration and collective impact among the region’s diversity and inclusion leaders.

For nearly 10 years prior, Deisha was dedicated to promoting and protecting Walmart’s reputation. She led various aspects of the retailer’s global corporate communications function, including crisis communications, financial communications, consumer public relations, Walmart Foundation communications and CEO-positioning.

Deisha is known for her inspiring leadership approach and impactful approach to storytelling. PRWeek described her as a “pro who represents the future of PR.”

In September 2020, Deisha was appointed to the board of directors for skincare brand Urban Skin Rx. She also serves on the executive advisory council for the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications, on the board of the Atlanta Press Club and on the board of Next Gen Men & Women. Deisha served on communications committees for the Super Bowl LIII Host Committee and the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four Host Committee.

Deisha is a proud alumna of Clark Atlanta University. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications with a concentration in public relations.

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Alex Gonzalez

Chief Innovation Officer

Alex Gonzalez is an innovation, strategy, brand and culture curator, catalyst and storyteller. He has over 20 years of experience at several Fortune 500 and 1000 companies where he held a variety of senior executive roles. He is the chief innovation officer of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, where he leads the work to accelerate the region’s innovation ecosystem and serve as an ambassador to metro Atlanta’s innovation brand. Alex is founder, executive producer and host of the Disruptor Studio, a digital series that showcases inspirational leaders and innovators. He is also founder of Highwire Group, a collective of executives, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders that advise executives on being innovators and change-leaders. Alex is also an author and speaker on innovation and business culture and contributes to several blogs.


Alex has extensive corporate leadership experience. At Equifax he held the roles of chief innovation officer, president – North America Commercial Solution, and senior vice president of strategic marketing, where he built the growth and innovation strategy for the company. At GE, he held a variety of leadership roles including customer experience leader for GE Insurance Solutions, where he connected the brand promise, culture and results. Alex started his career in customer-centered roles at Chubb Insurance and received his degree in finance from the University of South Florida.


Alex is active in helping grow Atlanta. His current and past nonprofit board roles include the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Junior Achievement of Georgia, Georgia Soccer, the Atlanta Conventions and Visitors Bureau and Zoo Atlanta. He is also a member of the Georgia State University Marketing Roundtable and is on the Advisory Board of the American Marketing Association-Atlanta.

Kathryn Putnam

Kathryn Putnam

Chief of Staff

404.586.8489 |

Kathryn serves in a multi-faceted role: she organizes and executes the monthly Board meetings and events and the daily communications for the 175 Board of Director companies. She also assists with a multitude of special projects including assisting the Economic Development team with companies relocating to Atlanta. Kathryn manages the invoicing process for the entire Metro Atlanta Chamber membership.

An Atlanta native, Kathryn graduated from the Lovett School and from Furman University with a business degree. 

Kathryn is a member of Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Junior League of Atlanta, Capital City Club, and a volunteer for Atlanta Charity Clays. Kathryn and her husband, Jeff, live in Buckhead.

 

Georgia

Georgia Yanis

Vice President, Human Resources

Georgia Yanis is an accomplished human resources professional with over 20 years of diversified leadership experience in advertising, publishing, marketing, service industries, technology startups and nonprofits. She is a passionate leader with a proven talent for developing human resources plans to integrate operational business strategy and promote top performance. 

Georgia currently leads human resources efforts for the Metro Atlanta Chamber, where her focus is on advancing the strategic goals of MAC by leading the design and execution of talent management, talent development, performance management and culture. 

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Georgia made her way to Atlanta in spring 1998 after a weekend trip to the city caused her to fall in love with southern hospitality and warmer climates. She attended Western Michigan University where she earned her bachelor's degree in communications and art history. Georgia, her husband, Jason, and their dog, Frida, live in Kirkwood.

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Marshall Guest

Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Business Climate

404.586.8467 |

Marshall Guest is the senior vice president of public policy and business climate for the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC). He joined MAC in 2014 and oversees the Chamber’s work on workforce, education, tax policy, and other issues that impact the region’s business climate. Prior to joining MAC, Guest served as Georgia House Speaker David Ralston’s senior policy advisor and press secretary. He also worked under Governor Sonny Perdue, House Speaker Glenn Richardson, and several leadership offices in the Georgia State Senate.

Guest received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and his MBA from Georgia State University. He is a graduate of Leadership DeKalb and the Regional Leadership Institute (RLI). Guest serves on Leadership DeKalb’s Board of Directors, the State Compensation Commission, the Invest Georgia Board of Directors and the Zell Miller Institute Advisory Board. He resides in Decatur with his wife, Sarah, and three young boys, Griffin, Worth and Archie.

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Dave Williams

Senior Vice President, Public Policy, Infrastructure & Government Affairs

770.846.9000 |

Dave Williams joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) in January 2011 and currently serves as senior vice president of public policy, infrastructure and government affairs. In that role, he works closely with our business leaders, promoting policies that will improve Atlanta’s quality of life and infrastructure. Specific policy areas include transportation, water, and the environment. He also leads MAC’s government affairs activities at the local, state, and federal levels, including managing MAC PAC, which supports pro-jobs candidates for state office.

Williams has an admirable track record of civic leadership. He is a member of metro Atlanta’s MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) and served on the Atlanta Regional Commission Board from 2002-2007. He was elected mayor of the City of Suwanee (2007-2011), served on the Suwanee City Council (1998-2001), and as president of the Gwinnett Municipal Association (2009). While serving as a government worker in Suwanee, he was active in legislative policy matters in the Georgia Municipal Association, leading efforts relating to service delivery strategies and other issues. A graduate of Leadership Gwinnett and a Regional Leadership Institute alumnus, he now serves on the board and executive committee of the Livable Communities Council. He also serves on the board of the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance and Georgia Tech’s NCTSPM (National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management). Williams has also served on the boards of numerous other community institutions including the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, Suwanee Business Alliance, and Kate’s Club. Prior to joining MAC, Williams was the CEO of Southtrac for 10 years, a branded merchandise and marketing company he founded. Williams started his career with the MAC Atlanta Sports Council and AOC, the bid committee which won the 1996 Olympic Games. A metro Atlanta resident since 1973, Williams graduated from Georgia Tech in 1989.

He resides in Suwanee, Georgia, with wife Debbie (a UGA alumna), daughter Ramsey, son Max, and an enthusiastic “schnoodle” named Fozzie Bear.

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